Articles By Patrick Snow

Path: /college-football/13-statistical-highlights-lsu-vs-ole-miss-games

LSU and Ole Miss will meet for the 102nd time on Saturday, when the Tigers hosts the Rebels in Baton Rouge. Les Miles’ crew bounced back from the heartbreaking loss to Alabama and defeated Mississippi State last week, 37-17. Ole Miss has dropped two in a row but could make the postseason for the first time since 2009 with a victory over the Tigers. In honor of its famous Halloween game, here are 13 statistical highlights focusing on the history between these two longtime rivals that first played in 1894.

1959: This Halloween night game was one of the best in SEC history. Both teams were 6-0 with amazing defenses. LSU had outscored its opponents 103-6 on the year, while Ole Miss had bested its foes by a whopping 189-7 differential. The game’s only touchdown would come on one of the most famous plays in all of college football, Billy Cannon’s 89-yard punt return to beat Ole Miss 7-3. Cannon would go on to win the Heisman Trophy that season.

1: Bowl meeting between Ole Miss and LSU. It took place on January 1, 1960, at the Sugar Bowl. Johnny Vaught’s Rebels got revenge for the aforementioned 7-3 loss earlier in the season, beating the Tigers in dominant fashion by the score of 21-0.

3: National Championships for each school. LSU won it all in 1958, 2003 and 2007, while Ole Miss claimed titles in 1959, 1960 and 1962.

4: Games in this series since it was termed the “Magnolia Bowl”. Ole Miss won the trophy in 2008-09, while LSU has prevailed in the last two meetings.

101: Meetings in this series, with LSU leading 57-39-4.

13: Consecutive seasons with at least eight wins for LSU. That mark is an all-time school record.

1: Player in Ole Miss history to score a passing, rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game. Quarterback Bo Wallace achieved the feat earlier this season against Auburn.

1998: LSU’s first-ever overtime game, a 37-31 loss to Ole Miss. The Rebels held a 28-10 halftime lead, but the Tigers would storm back with 21 fourth-quarter points. Romaro Miller hit Cory Peterson for a 25-yard TD pass to start OT, and the Ole Miss defense held LSU’s Herb Tyler and Kevin Faulk-led attack out of the end zone for the win.

1: Day game at Tiger Stadium this season. That will be Saturday’s matchup at 2:30 pm CST.

5: Tigers with over 50 yards rushing in last year’s 52-3 win over the Rebels. The five LSU ball carriers were Alfred Blue, Spencer Ware, Kenny Hilliard, Terrence Magee and Michael Ford.

38: Uniform number at Ole Miss of the late Chucky Mullins, who was paralyzed in 1989 after making a tackle against Vanderbilt. A Rebels player is honored each year with the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, and this season No. 38 is senior defensive end Jason Jones.

26: Total points allowed by LSU in the first quarter this season (10 games).

33: Times that Ole Miss has scored in 35 red zone trips this season. That 94.3-percernt mark tops the SEC.

<p> 13 Statistical Highlights from LSU vs. Ole Miss Games</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 14:00
Path: /nfl/kansas-city-chiefs-vs-pittsburgh-steelers-preview-and-prediction

Two AFC teams headed in different directions will meet on Monday Night Football, when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Kansas City Chiefs at 8:30 pm EST on ESPN. The Steelers have won three in a row since starting the season 2-3, and they have won all three games at home in the Steel City this year. On the other hand, the Chiefs stand at 1-7 and amazingly still have not held a lead in regulation this season.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers have the ball:
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is having one of the better seasons of his career, throwing for 2,203 yards and 16 touchdowns against only four interceptions. He will be missing one of his key weapons (Antonio Brown is out ankle injury) tonight, but receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Heath Miller have both been very productive this year. And despite a multitude of injuries, the Steelers running attack has come to life during the current winning streak. Jonathan Dwyer topped the 100-yard rushing mark against the Bengals and Redskins, while Isaac Redman had 147 yards on the ground last week versus the Giants.

The Chiefs have struggled on defense mightily, and they are going through some major changes halfway through the season. Head coach Romeo Crennel has removed the title of defensive coordinator from himself, promoting linebackers coach Gary Gibbs to take over a unit that is allowing an alarming 30 points per game. Kansas City also released cornerback Stanford Routt this week, despite signing him to a three-year, $18 million deal this offseason. Gibbs’ group must play much-improved football to limit the suddenly-balanced Steelers offense.

When the Kansas City Chiefs have the ball:
The Chiefs have run the ball very well this season (149.9 yards per game), but the passing game has been lacking with both Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn at the helm. The biggest problem for the Kansas City attack has simply been turnovers, as the Chiefs have given the ball away a staggering 29 times. Coming into the weekend, that total was 10 more than any other team in the NFL. Cassel has thrown 11 interceptions and fumbled eight times on the year, and he must protect the ball tonight against a Steelers unit that has started to find its groove.

The Pittsburgh defense had some issues earlier this year with injuries and preserving leads in the fourth quarter, but Dick LeBeau’s group has played nasty football over the last three games. The Steelers recent surge has them back to the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense (262.6 yards per game) and playing more like last year’s unit that topped the league. The area where Pittsburgh needs to improve down the stretch is takeaways, as Steelers defenders have only caused eight turnovers in eight games.

Key Factor:
With the constant problems of the Chiefs and the current momentum of the Steelers, it is difficult to project a close game in this one. The critical issue for Pittsburgh will be not letting down and playing to the competition. The Steelers have not lost a home Monday Night Football contest since 1991, and we see that trend continuing tonight at Heinz Field.

Steelers 27 Chiefs 13

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Monday, November 12, 2012 - 05:15
Path: /nfl/houston-texans-vs-chicago-bears-preview-and-prediction

Two of the NFL’s best teams will clash on Sunday Night Football, when the Chicago Bears host the Houston Texans at 8:20 p.m. EST on NBC. Lovie Smith’s club stands at 7-1 after six straight victories, and Chicago has been led by an aggressive defense that seems to score on a weekly basis. The Texans are also 7-1, led by a balanced offense and a stingy defense of their own. Quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub are both 11-1 in their last 12 starts, and this game should be a well-played one between two clubs with Super Bowl aspirations.

When the Chicago Bears have the ball:
Chicago ranks 25th in the league (325.3 yards per game) in total offense, but Cutler and crew have shown flashes of becoming a solid attack. The Bears have run the ball well lately, with Matt Forte totaling 376 rushing yards over the last four games. Cutler has not thrown for big yardage, but he did toss three touchdown passes last week in Tennessee. All three went to Brandon Marshall, who has been huge with 59 receptions for 797 yards and seven touchdowns this year. The key tonight for the Bears will be limiting the Texans pass rush, as Cutler has already been sacked 28 times on the year.

 The Texans rank third in the NFL in both total defense and scoring, allowing only 285.6 yards and 17.1 points per game. Houston has given up some big games to elite quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, but the league’s second-rated run defense has been excellent. The Bears will have to game plan for defensive end J.J. Watt, who leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks. As a team, the Texans have 25 sacks and will look to add to their total of nine interceptions against the sometimes-erratic Cutler.

When the Houston Texans have the ball:
The focus with the Houston attack always starts with the running game, which ranks fourth in the league at 138 yards per contest. Arian Foster leads the NFL in total touchdowns with 11, but rushing yards may be difficult to come by versus the Bears stellar defense. Schaub has been very efficient – a big key tonight – this season, throwing for 1,918 yards and 12 touchdowns against four interceptions. The Texans may have to play this one without tight end Owen Daniels, who is questionable with a back injury.

The Chicago defense has been incredibly productive this season, ranking second in the NFL in points allowed (15.0 ppg) and first in the league in takeaways (28). In fact, the Bears already have seven interception returns for touchdowns this year (just two away from the all-time NFL record of nine). If Houston’s Watt is not the favorite for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, then it has to be the Bears’ Charles Tillman. The veteran cornerback has an amazing seven forced fumbles in eight games, along with 43 tackles, two interceptions and two scores.

Key Factor:
This is easily the NFL’s marquee matchup of the weekend, and it should be decided by the Texans offensive line versus the Bears defensive line. If Julius Peppers and company can control Foster’s productivity, Chicago can force Schaub into some rare mistakes. Look for a physical game that comes down to the fourth quarter, and we’ll take the Bears opportunistic defense with the home crowd to prevail.
Bears 20 Texans 17

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Houston Texans vs. Chicago Bears Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 11, 2012 - 05:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-eleven-links-day-4

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for November 9.

• Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times believes Lane Kiffin is on the hot seat at USC after its latest incident and loss.

• ESPN SEC blogger Edward Aschoff looks at Alabama’s emotional ride from winning at LSU last week to facing “Johnny Football” and Texas A&M this Saturday.

• There is a debate going on in Dallas about the revealing nature of the “uniforms” worn by Mavericks dancers. No one here has found a problem yet, but we’ll do more research on the subject.

• The NFL weekend does not appear to offer many compelling matchups, but the Texans-Bears game will be must-see TV.

• It should be a fun opening night of college basketball.

• An exclusive peek into Tim Tebow’s email?

• The Jaguars remained winless at home last night against the Colts, and Mike Mularkey’s club looks like the worst team in the NFL.

• Is Auburn preparing to fire Gene Chizik?

• Ken Davidoff of the New York Post ranks his top ten general managers in baseball.

• The Jon Gruden rumors have started in Philadelphia as the Eagles continue to struggle.

• This nation has become obsessed with bad singing, so look for Dallas Mavericks’ star Dirk Nowitzki to be a judge on The Voice, American Idol or X Factor after this performance.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

November 8

• SB Nation’s Bill Connelly details why unbeatens Oregon and Kansas State are on upset alert this weekend.

• Falcons wide receiver Roddy White believes his team has everything it takes to finish the season undefeated.

• The borders of Colorado after Election Day?

• Many around college football assumed the Heisman Trophy was Collin Klein’s to lose, but Oregon’s Kenjon Barner is closing in. Dave Miller of the National Football Post looks at the top candidates to win the award.

• To honor legendary coach Darrell K. Royal after his passing this week, Texas will wear a DKR decal and start the game in the wishbone formation against Iowa State. Great tribute Longhorns.

• The Lakers shot 28 more free throws than the Jazz last night, but Utah won 95-86 and sent Los Angeles to 1-4 on the season.

• The Colts will look to continue their 2012 magic in Jacksonville tonight.

• The nation’s top football prospects, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche of Georgia, has decommitted from Clemson. Many believe he will soon verbally commit to Ole Miss, where his brother plays.

• Embattled Eagles quarterback Michael Vick had to shut down his brother’s ‘tweeting’ after another Philly loss.

• The Rockies named former big league infielder Walt Weiss as their new manager.

• Awwww…look at singer Rod Stewart crying after his favorite soccer team, Celtic, beat Barcelona. No word yet if the pop star’s favorite football player is Alabama’s A.J. McCarron.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

November 7

• There is sad news from Texas today, as legendary Longhorns coach Darrell Royal has passed away at the age of 88. Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman details Royal’s amazing accomplishments, colorful nature and sound character.

• Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has reportedly shaved his head in support of coach Chuck Pagano, who is battling leukemia.

• Could Texas A&M’s up-tempo offense give Alabama trouble? Brent Zwerneman has the latest on “Johnny Football” and the Aggies.

• Thank you to for making a positive out of Election Day coverage, or non-coverage.

• Will the Reds move their talented closer, Aroldis Chapman, to the rotation next season?

• Blake Griffin should start tonight for the Clippers, but coach Vinny Del Negro says the injured elbow of his star forward is a concern.

• The Falcons are 8-0, and many writers are giving quarterback Matt Ryan the lead in the NFL MVP race.

• Can the West Virginia offense regain its mojo?

• Rangers starter Yu Darvish will not pitch in next spring’s World Baseball Classic, a tournament where he previously was a star.

• Two Indiana basketball players, Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea, have been suspended for nine games each by the NCAA in an unusual case.

Wishful thinking from Clippers forward Lamar Odom?

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

November 6

• On this Election Day, we look back at probably the best athlete to become President of the United States. Gerald Ford was a center on Michigan’s 1932 and 1933 undefeated national title teams, and he had his jersey retired by the Wolverines.

• Would Alabama actually want the high-octane Oregon Ducks as its BCS Championship Game opponent? Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee says yes.

• Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News looks at the free-falling Eagles, who have lost four in a row and have issues all over the field.

• Here’s an interesting political candidate who could transform the election.

• Red Sox slugger David Ortiz responded strongly to last month’s claim by former Boston manager Bobby Valentine that Ortiz quit on the team this season.

• The 3-0 Knicks are off to their best start in 13 years.

• Tired of politics? You can always check out some “MACtion” tonight, when 8-1 Toledo meets 6-3 Ball State.

• A write-in Presidential ballot with Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide golf coach? Yep, it is Alabama.

• Check out these GIFs of nutty people in infomercials.

• College basketball starts in a few days, and here are CBS’ top 25 games before Christmas.

• The most talked-about play in last night Saints’ win over the Eagles was Philadelphia’s attempt at the ole Titans “Music City Miracle.” Philly took it a step further by having Riley Cooper lay flat in the end zone to disguise him, but much like the rest of the Eagles season it failed because of bad execution on a forward pass.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

November 5

• Most LSU fans were livid with the wild gambles of coach Les Miles for giving away the Alabama game, but Gannett’s Glenn Guilbeau says defensive coordinator John Chavis deserves much of the blame as well.

• Bleacher Report’s Michael Felder looks at the Heisman candidacy of Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, who rushed for 321 yards and five touchdowns in the Ducks’ 62-51 win over USC.

• The sports and broadcasting world is mourning the loss of ESPN radio’s lead NBA voice, Jim Durham, who passed away at age 65.

• Titans owner Bud Adams sounds ready to make some changes after their 51-20 home loss to the Bears.

• Ouch, that shark bite is going to leave a mark.

• Does it make sense for the NFL to void the contract extension of suspended Saints coach Sean Payton?

• Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III get much of the NFL rookie attention (and deservedly so), but Buccaneers running back Doug Martin is quickly becoming a star in Tampa Bay.

• Is there a possibility that Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein would miss the TCU game this Saturday?

• After spending big money last offseason (and not making the postseason), the Angels have let veterans Dan Haren and Torii Hunter go.

• Can Missouri win an SEC basketball title in its debut season?

• The Colts moved to 5-3 on the season with a 23-20 win over the Dolphins, and quarterback Andrew Luck set an NFL rookie record with 433 passing yards. But the best moment of the day was when Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano, who is battling leukemia, was able to attend the game and give this inspiring post-game speech.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 10:19
Path: /college-football/12-statistical-highlights-texas-am-vs-alabama-games

Alabama and Texas A&M will meet for the fifth time on Saturday, when the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide hosts the Aggies. There are many fascinating storylines with this game, from A&M’s success in its SEC debut to Bama’s quest to repeat as national champions to the many football connections between these two institutions. In honor of Tide greats like Kenny Stabler and Joe Namath as well as Texas A&M’s 12th Man, here are 12 statistical highlights on both the history and current matchup between two programs with elite fan bases and tradition.

4: Common head coaches between these two schools. Both Bear Bryant (A&M 1954-57; Alabama 1958-82) and Gene Stallings (A&M 1965-71; Alabama 1900-96) won national titles with the Tide after being the head coach at Texas A&M. They faced each other as coaches in the 1968 Cotton Bowl (following the ’67 season), a 20-16 decision for the Aggies as Edd Hargett outdueled Stabler. Stallings actually played for Bryant in College Station from 1954-56. Coach Dennis Franchione led Alabama from 2001-02 before departing for College Station and coaching the Aggies from 2003-07. Additionally, one of the best names ever — Dorsett Vandeventer "Tubby" Graves — led the Tide from 1911-1914 and Texas A&M in 1918.
1: Heisman Trophy winner coached by the legendary Bear Bryant. That player was Texas A&M star John David Crow in 1957.
4: Games this season where Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has compiled over 400 yards of total offense.
2001: The last time Alabama allowed an opposing player to compile more than 400 yards of total offense in a game. LSU’s Rohan Davey had an amazing 540-yard performance (528 passing, 12 rushing) in the Tigers 35-21 victory in Tuscaloosa.

1988: The last time these two schools meet on the gridiron. It was dubbed the Hurricane Bowl after being moved from September to December because of Hurricane Gilbert.
1-10: The Aggies’ record in 11 previous games against the No.1-ranked team in the AP Poll. That lone Texas A&M victory was in November of 2002, a 30-26 decision over Oklahoma as freshman quarterback Reggie McNeal came off the bench to throw for four touchdowns.

12: 100-yard receiving performances in the career of Aggies wideout Ryan Swope.

2010: The last time Alabama allowed an opposing player (Rueben Randle, LSU) to reach the 100-yard mark in receiving.
0: Times that Texas A&M has played in Tuscaloosa. The first two meetings in this series were split in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl (1942, 1968), followed by Alabama wins in Birmingham (23-10 in 1985) and College Station (30-10 in 1988).

58-3: Alabama’s record under Nick Saban when leading at halftime.

8: Consecutive games where Texas A&M has gained 400 or more yards, a school-record.

65.8: Percentage of Alabama games under Nick Saban where the Tide has allowed less than 300 yards of total offense (50 of 76 contests).

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> 12 Statistical Highlights from Texas A&amp;M vs. Alabama Games</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 05:15
Path: /college-basketball/shaquille-oneal-big-namesake

Shaquille O’Neal was a one-of-a-kind talent with a one-of-a-kind name when he burst onto the national scene at LSU in the early 1990s. Now, two decades later, the name is no longer a novelty. In fact, there are dozens of players in college athletics named Shaq — all of whom were born following O’Neal’s rise to prominence.

We looked at every roster in the Athlon Sports college football and basketball magazines from 1995, the year The Diesel played in his first NBA Finals with the Orlando Magic, and there wasn’t a single player in the nation with the first name Shaq or Shaquille. Now, it’s becoming commonplace.

Here are some of the more prominent players named Shaq in collegiate athletics.

• Shaq Wilson: Senior linebacker at South Carolina.


Shaquille Thomas: Redshirt freshman basketball player at Cincinnati; top-100 national recruit in Class of 2011.

Shaq Lawson: True freshman defensive end for Clemson; top-40 defensive line recruit in Class of 2012.


Shaq Thompson: True freshman safety at the University of Washington; No. 6 overall recruit in Class of 2012.


Shaquille Cleare: True freshman basketball player at Maryland; top-40 national recruit in Class of 2012.


Shaquille Johnson: True freshman basketball player at Auburn; top-150 national recruit in Class of 2012.


Shaquille Richardson: Junior cornerback at the University of Arizona.


• Shaq RolandTrue freshman wide receiver for South Carolina; top-50 national recruit in Class of 2012.


Shaqquan Aarron: Top-50 Class of 2014 basketball prospect.


Shaquile Carr: Top-75 Class of 2014 basketball prospect.

<p> Shaquille O'Neal: The Big Namesake</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 04:53
Path: /college-football/12-statistical-highlights-lsu-vs-mississippi-state-games

LSU and Mississippi State will clash Saturday in Baton Rouge in a battle of 7-2 teams. The Tigers are coming off a heartbreaking loss to Alabama, while the Bulldogs have dropped two straight (Alabama and Texas A&M) after beginning the season 7-0. LSU has dominated this series lately, winning 19 of the last 20 games. Here are 12 statistical highlights (LSU’s current win streak over MSU) on both the history and current matchup of these two SEC foes.

105: Games in this series, with LSU leading 69-33-3. The Tigers have played Mississippi State more than any other opponent, while Bulldogs have only faced Ole Miss more times than LSU.

20: Games in this series played outside of Baton Rouge or Starkville. The other locations were Columbus, Miss. (1906, 1910), Gulfport, Miss. (1911), Jackson, Miss. (1926-30, 1958, 1962-63, 1971, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1986, 1990) and Monroe, La. (1932-33).

452-144: LSU’s scoring advantage during the Tigers’ current 12-game winning streak in the series.

5: The longest wining streak for Mississippi State in this series. It took place from 1980-1984 under coach Emory Bellard.

18-1: Record for LSU’s Les Miles following a loss. His only time losing back-to-back games was in November of 2008, when the Tigers dropped consecutive decisions to Ole Miss and Alabama.

1991: The last time Mississippi State won in Tiger Stadium, a 28-19 victory with the Bulldogs being led by quarterback Sleepy Robinson and running back Kenny Roberts in coach Jackie Sherrill’s first season at MSU. It’s also the last time this game took place as late as November until this year.

248: Yards receiving by LSU’s Todd Kinchen in that 1991 loss. That mark set a then SEC record.

1896: The first meeting in the series takes place in Baton Rouge, a 52-0 LSU victory.

27: Wins for Mississippi State in 27 games under Dan Mullen when the Bulldogs were leading going into the fourth quarter.

15: Games in this series when LSU has topped the 40-point mark. Mississippi State has scored more than 40 twice, a 55-31 win in 1980 and a 45-26 victory in 1983.

1999: The last time Mississippi State beat LSU, a 17-16 decision in Starkville. A 1-yard touchdown run by Rod Gibson was the game-winner with less than two minutes to go.

3: Games in this series from 1934 to 1970 played outside of Baton Rouge. Those three (1958, 1962-63) took place in Jackson, Miss.

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> 12 Statistical Highlights from LSU vs. Mississippi State Games</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/indianapolis-colts-vs-jacksonville-jaguars-preview-and-prediction

Two AFC South teams with drastically different 2012 results will clash on Thursday Night Football, when the Jacksonville Jaguars host the Indianapolis Colts at 8:20 p.m. EST on the NFL Network. The solid play of No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck and the inspiration of coach Chuck Pagano, who is currently battling leukemia, has the 5-3 Colts in contention for a playoff spot. Conversely, the 1-7 Jaguars have lost five in a row and are in search of their first victory since winning in Indianapolis on September 23.
When the Indianapolis Colts have the ball:
Luck has been as advertised since taking over as the franchise quarterback. Despite a low completion percentage and a mediocre passer rating of 79.0, Luck already has four games with over 300 yards passing (tying former Colts QB Peyton Manning’s rookie record) and he set the all-time single game rookie record with 433 yards passing against the Dolphins last week. Luck is also tied for fourth (with Manning) in the NFL with 2,404 passing yards on the season. One of the biggest keys to Luck’s and the Colts’ success has been veteran wideout Reggie Wayne, who leads the NFL with 835 receiving yards.
The Jacksonville defense has struggled this year, ranking 29th in the league in total yards (allowing 392.9 per contest) and 26th in scoring (27.4 points per game). Besides a suspect run defense, the Jaguars biggest problem has been generating pressure on opposing signal callers. Jacksonville is dead last in the NFL with a meager eight sacks in eight games, and Jags defenders have compiled only nine takeaways this season. Despite giving up 437 total yards in the Colts win in September, it was the only time this season that a Jacksonville foe did not reach the 20-point mark.
When the Jacksonville Jaguars have the ball:
The picture is not any better for the Jacksonville offense, which ranks dead last in the league with a putrid average of only 254.4 yards and 14.6 points per game. The Jaguars have been hurt greatly by the absence of intrepid running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who will miss his third straight game because of a foot injury. His backup, Rashad Jennings, has totaled 148 yards on 50 carries as the lead option over the last three games. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has had a rough go in his second season, throwing for nine touchdowns and five interceptions while being sacked 18 times.
The Indianapolis defense is adjusting to a new system, but there has been improvement as the seasons has progressed. The Colts rank 18th in the league with 352.3 yards allowed per contest, but they have only given up 46 combined points in the last three games — all wins. One area where Indy must improve is in causing turnovers, as the Colts have a league-low three takeaways in eight games. Indianapolis should benefit immensely from the Jags not having Jones-Drew, who has torched the Colts many times including 177 yards rushing earlier this season.
Key Factor:
The Jaguars have been awful at home this year, and they must find away to limit Wayne and keep this game low-scoring. The bad news is that Luck found other weapons in last week’s win over Miami, with both T.Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery eclipsing the 100-yard mark in receiving. The Colts have rallied around Pagano’s fight, even shaving their heads this week to support their coach. While Jacksonville should play desperately hard on national television, look for the Indy magic and the solid play of Luck to continue.
Colts 23 Jaguars 16

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 05:30
All taxonomy terms: Politicians, Monthly
Path: /monthly/15-athletes-turned-politicians

Many athletes hit the campaign trail once their playing days are over. And on the other side of the aisle, quite a few politicians were once on-field leaders. Here are 15 former players who became important leaders in the field of politics.

Gerald Ford
38th President of the United States (R)
Linebacker/Center, University of Michigan
An iron man on the Wolverines’ 1932 and 1933 undefeated national title teams, Ford’s No. 48 has since been retired.

Dwight Eisenhower
34th President of the United States (R)
Linebacker/Running back, U.S.M.A. at West Point
Ike tackled the legendary Jim Thorpe in 1912, but suffered a career-ending knee injury in the same game.

Ronald Reagan
40th President of the United States (R)
Offensive guard, Eureka College
Before he played “The Gipper” in the movie Knute Rockne, All American, Reagan played football.

George H.W. Bush
41st President of the United States (R)
First baseman, Yale University
H.W. played in the first two College World Series. His son, George W. Bush, co-owned the Texas Rangers before becoming the 43rd President of the United States.

Kevin Johnson
Mayor (D-Sacramento, Calif.)
Point guard, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers
K.J. averaged 17.9 points and 9.1 assists over 12 seasons before becoming the first African-American mayor in Sacramento history.

Bill Bradley
Senator (D-New Jersey)
Small forward, New York Knicks
The Rhodes Scholar was the Final Four MOP at Princeton in 1965 before winning two NBA championships with the Knicks.

Jim Bunning
Senator (R-Kentucky)
Starting pitcher, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, L.A. Dodgers
The righty threw a no-hitter in 1958, a perfect game in 1964 and was a Veterans Committee selection in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Governor (R-California)
Bodybuilder, Austria
Mr. Universe became the Terminator and then the Governator. Schwarzenegger was also married to Maria Shriver, the niece of JFK.

Dave Bing
Mayor (D-Detroit, Mich.)
Shooting guard, Detroit Pistons, Washington Bullets, Boston Celtics
Named one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players in 1996, Bing was a steel magnate before taking the top office in the Motor City.

Jesse Ventura
Governor (I-Minnesota)
Pro wrestler, WWF
The Body fought in the Vietnam War and alongside “Macho Man” Randy Savage before becoming the Governing Body.

Steve Largent
Congressman (R-Oklahoma)
Wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks
An eight-time All-Pro and 1988 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Largent finished with 819 catches and 100 TDs.

Heath Shuler
Congressman (D-North Carolina)
Quarterback, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints
The Blue Dog Democrat was a Heisman Trophy runner-up at the University of Tennessee and No. 3 overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft.

Tom Osborne
Congressman (R-Nebraska)
Wide receiver, Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers
A quarterback at Hastings College and a wideout in the NFL, Osborne won three national championships as the head coach at Nebraska.

Jack Kemp
Congressman (R-New York)
Quarterback, Buffalo Bills, L.A. Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bob Dole’s running mate in the 1996 Presidential election, Kemp carried a 122–105 record as a starting quarterback.

J.C. Watts
Congressman (R-Oklahoma)
Quarterback, University of Oklahoma
Julius Caesar Watts led the Sooners to back-to-back Orange Bowl wins and was MVP of the 1981 Grey Cup for the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders.

<p> 15 Athletes Turned Politicians</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - 10:22
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, Monthly
Path: /college-football/ask-athlon-sports-sports-movies

Q: My son and I love to argue about the best sports movies. But which sports movie is the most successful in history?

— Irene Delores Chervitz, St. Louis, Mo.

A: There have been blockbusters with a sports component — “M*A*S*H,” for example, had that hilarious football game — but I assume you mean movies that are actually about sports. If you adjust for inflation, four of the top five all-time box office champs (among sports films) are Rocky movies. But just looking at total dollars, the winner is “The Blind Side.” The heartwarming biopic of Ravens lineman Michael Oher and his surrogate Memphis family made almost $256 million (according to It also earned Sandra Bullock an Oscar. Meanwhile, you didn’t ask, but my favorite sports movie is “Kingpin.” It’s the Farrelley brothers at their infantile best. Woody Harrelson is sharp as a one-handed, down-on-his-luck bowler Roy Munson, but Bill Murray, sporting a flyaway combover, steals the movie as Munson’s nemesis, Ernie “Big Ern” ­McCracken. Watch it with your son and tell us what you think.

Rob Doster, Senior Editor

Have a question? Email us with any sports-related questions at [email protected]
Please include first and last name, plus hometown

<p> Ask Athlon Sports: Sports Movies</p>
Post date: Monday, November 5, 2012 - 18:17
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/ask-athlon-sports-players-hair-length-nfl

Q: Why doesn’t the NFL restrict hair length so it doesn’t cover the player’s name?  It’s gotten way out of hand.

— Bob Rook, Liberty Hill, Texas

A: Bob, I tend to agree — players are starting to let their locks grow and letting their freak flag fly. From Clay Matthews’ flowing blond mane to Chris Johnson's dreadlocks, hair has been steadily creeping down the backs of jerseys for some time now; pretty soon we'll have Cousin It suiting up. There’s no rule against long hair; in fact, the NFL considers hair that extends out of a player’s helmet as part of the uniform and therefore can be used to make a tackle. But there is a safety issue at play here, and in this era of heightened awareness of player health and safety, the league may need to address hair-grabbing like it did with horse-collar tackling.

Rob Doster, Senior Editor

Have a question? Email us with any sports-related questions at [email protected]
Please include first and last name, plus hometown.

<p> Ask Athlon Sports: Players' Hair Length in the NFL</p>
Post date: Monday, November 5, 2012 - 18:15
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, NBA
Path: /college-basketball/ask-athlon-sports-basketball-raising-goals

Q: With today’s basketball players so tall, why don't they raise the goals? Let's get the game back to where it really is a game, and not just a sideshow.

— Leroy Heldman, Knoxville, Tenn.

A: The basketball goal at 10 feet is rather arbitrary, but it’s been that way since Dr. James Naismith hung his first peach basket in Springfield, Mass., in 1891. It’s true that players have gotten taller and more athletic over time, but I don’t believe the baskets will ever be raised — for the same reasons the bases will always be 90 feet apart on a baseball diamond and a football field will be 100 yards long (120 if you count the end zones) and 53 yards, one foot wide. We value tradition and history in our sports, and making such a drastic change would have too big of an impact on the game. Plus, I believe a majority of basketball fans enjoy what you call the "sideshow." It makes the game exciting.

Mitchell Light, Managing Editor

Have a question? Email us with any sports-related questions at [email protected]
Please include first and last name, plus hometown.

<p> Ask Athlon Sports: Basketball Raising the Goals</p>
Post date: Monday, November 5, 2012 - 18:12
Path: /nfl/philadelphia-eagles-vs-new-orleans-saints-preview-and-prediction

Two NFC teams in desperate need of a win will meet on Monday Night Football, when the New Orleans Saints host the Philadelphia Eagles tonight at 8:30pm EST on ESPN. New Orleans’ tumultuous offseason has morphed into a terrible start on the field, with the Saints standing at 2-5 after going 13-3 last year. The 3-4 Eagles have been filled with turmoil as well, with a fired defensive coordinator and a budding quarterback and head coach controversy topping the Philly headlines this season.

When the New Orleans Saints have the ball:
The New Orleans offense ranks fifth in yardage in the NFL, but that’s been solely because of Drew Brees and the aerial attack. The Saints average a league-best 316 passing yards per game, while putting up a league-worst 72.6 rushing yards per contest. Expect more of the same tonight, as Brees looks to spread the ball around to receivers Marques Colston and Lance Moore plus tight end Jimmy Graham. New Orleans will be without one key weapon, however, as Darren Sproles (second on the team in catches and third in receiving yards) will miss this game after having surgery on his broken left hand.

The Philadelphia defense has been pretty average in terms of yards and points allowed, but head coach Andy Reid felt the need to make a critical change at coordinator after six games. Juan Castillo was fired and replaced by secondary coach Todd Bowles, but the Falcons ran all over the Philly defenders in his debut last week. The key area for improvement with the Eagles will be in putting pressure on opposing signal callers, as Philadelphia has totaled only nine sacks and eight takeaways this season.

When the Philadelphia Eagles have the ball:
The Eagles offense centers on Michael Vick, and the controversial quarterback is now fighting to keep his job. Philadelphia ranks 28th in the NFL in scoring at 17.1 points per game, and Vick has turned the ball over 13 times (eight INTs and five fumbles lost) this season. The Eagles offensive line has been ravaged by injuries, and defenses are attacking accordingly. Vick has been sacked 20 times already, and his 78.6 passer rating ranks 25th in the league. It would help the embattled QB greatly if Philly could get more on the ground from LeSean McCoy, who had 17 rushing touchdowns a year ago but only two this season.

The New Orleans defense has simply been awful this season, ranking last in the league in yardage allowed (474.7 per game) and 30th in scoring (30.9). In fact, new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s group is the first defense since 1950 to allow 400-plus yards in seven consecutive games. Much like the Eagles, the Saints defenders have also struggled in generating turnovers and sacks. They will need to harass Vick tonight and force him to make the same mistakes that have defined the Philadelphia quarterback’s 2012 campaign.

Key Factor:
There should be plenty of points scored in the Big Easy tonight, and this game will be decided by the more effective quarterback. Both Brees and Vick are coming off meager performances, and whoever bounces back to a higher level and plays well in the red zone will give his team a big advantage. This one looks to be a tossup between two squads with their backs to the NFL wall, and we’ll go with the home team by a field goal.

Saints 27 Eagles 24

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<h3> Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Prediction</h3>
Post date: Monday, November 5, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-vs-atlanta-falcons-preview-and-prediction

Two NFC teams with drastically different 2012 results will clash on Sunday Night Football, when the Atlanta Falcons host the Dallas Cowboys at 8:20 p.m. EST on NBC. Mike Smith’s club is the only undefeated team left in the NFL, especially impressive since four of the Falcons’ seven victories have come on the road. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have limped to an inconsistent 3-4 start that has frustrated the rabid Dallas fan base.

When the Atlanta Falcons have the ball:
Quarterback Matt Ryan and his elite targets in the passing game have been excellent this season, leading Atlanta to an average of 28.7 points per game. The Falcons trio of wideouts Roddy White and Julio Jones plus tight end Tony Gonzalez may be the best receiving group in the league. All three have at least 450 yards and four touchdowns through just seven games. Atlanta will look for more from veteran runner Michael Turner as the season progresses, as he has averaged just 3.8 yards per carry this year.

The Dallas defense has some very talented players but has performed inconsistently this year. The Cowboys rank fourth in the NFL in total defense (giving up only 292.4 yards per game), but they are 18th in the league in scoring (allowing 23.1 points per contest). The Falcons obviously present a huge challenge in the passing game, but Dallas has the third-best pass defense in the NFL. That’s especially impressive since the Cowboys have totaled just 13 sacks on the season.

When the Dallas Cowboys have the ball:
Perhaps nothing more defines the Dallas frustrations this year than quarterback Tony Romo’s game last week against the Giants. He threw four interceptions that dug an early 23-0 hole, but Romo ended the game with a career-high 437 passing yards and almost led the team back to an improbable win. However Dallas fell short and dropped to 3-4. The Cowboys are also battling injuries right now, and they will still be without leading rusher DeMarco Murray for a third straight game. Additionally, receivers Dez Bryant (hip) and Kevin Ogletree (hamstring) are listed as questionable for this game.

The Atlanta defense has played a bend-but-don’t-break style so far this year, benefiting greatly from an electric offense that provides many leads. The Falcons rank 20th in the league in total defense (353.3 yards per game) but seventh in scoring (18.6 points per contest). Atlanta has struggled against the run, but Dallas does not provide much of a threat in that area without Murray. The Falcons allowed a season-best 270 yards against Philadelphia last week, and they will try to carry that momentum into tonight’s game. However Atlanta will be without second-leading tackler Sean Weatherspoon, who injured an ankle in last week’s victory.

Key Factor:
The Cowboys are desperate for a victory, and their pass defense will be critical tonight. Dallas must limit Atlanta’s big plays by White and Jones and not allow the Georgia Dome crowd to get loud with a Falcons lead. It’s difficult to keep winning every week, but Ryan and company play especially well at home. Look for that to continue tonight and for the Falcons to stay unbeaten in a close one.
Falcons 27 Cowboys 23

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Dallas Cowboys vs. Atlanta Falcons Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 4, 2012 - 04:38
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-eleven-links-day-3

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for November 2.

• Rob Moseley of The Register Guard looks at the pressure for Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota on the eve of the huge Oregon-USC matchup.

• Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star writes the Chiefs possess “the kind of relentless, tenacious, opening-kickoff-to-final-whistle, never-take-a-snap-off stink against which all future generations of terrible teams will be judged.” Well done.

• A 12-chambered Taco Cannon?! This could be the greatest invention since the DVR.

• The normal logistics of an NFL week were changed greatly in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy for both the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, who will play on Sunday afternoon in New Jersey.

• LSU’s Les Miles and Alabama’s Nick Saban will face each other once again in a game with championship implications.

•’s Richard Justice has an interesting piece on the National League’s recent success, especially on the art of building a roster.

• Three Pittsburgh, including top runner Ray Graham, have been charged in an assault and conspiracy case. The Panthers play at Notre Dame tomorrow.

• Kobe Bryant decided to speak for his coach in telling everyone to “shut up” about the Lakers 0-2 start.

• How will controversial but talented cornerback Aqib Talib fare with the Patriots?

• Arizona edged UCLA for the preseason favorite at Pac-12 men's basketball media day.

• Interviews with coaches in the middle of games have never been a good idea, but networks insist on them. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is definitely not a fan of these interviews (or really any others), and he makes it very uncomfortable for TNT’s David Aldridge and the audience.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

November 1

• SB Nation’s Andrew Sharp looks at the 0-2 Lakers, who have more questions than answers as well as a hobbled Steve Nash.

• Alabama and LSU are old-school SEC foes, but ESPN blogger Edward Aschoff pens that their rivalry has reached national status.

• Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent blames Mike Ditka for the 1985 Bears not repeating as the Super Bowl champion.

• Check out these behind-the-scenes pics from famous films.

• Who knew there was a website dedicated to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ photobombs?

• These Dooley, Holgorsen and Snyder costumes are funny, but I think we have a Halloween winner in Baby Mangino.

• Former Marlins catcher Mike Redmond has been hired by Miami as its new manager.

• Mississippi State will have the hashtag #SNOWBOWL12 painted in the end zone for this weekend’s game against Texas A&M. The move is to commemorate the 2000 Independence Bowl, where the Bulldogs topped the Aggies 43-41 in overtime in a rare Louisiana snowstorm.

• Baseball trades are already happening, with the Royals acquiring right-handed starter Ervin Santana from the Angels.

• Former Penn State president Graham Spanier has been charged for his role in the Jerry Sandusky coverup.

• He’s back. Uncle Drew returns to the court, and he brings Bill Russell and Kevin Love along as guest stars.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 31

• Well, it’s Halloween. And the most redeeming quality of this day for men is that many women will wear some very revealing costumes — enjoy.

• The new-look Lakers had a Halloween-like performance in a season-opening loss to the Mavericks. Los Angeles shot a scary 12-for-31 from the free throw line, with big man Dwight Howard going 3-for-14.

• Demaryius Thomas of the Broncos scares us all with his Halloween costume.

• The World Series of Poker started with 6,598 players, but Greg Merson of Maryland won the main event title along with $8.53 million last night.

• brings us the inevitable Bobby Petrino-Jessica Dorrell Halloween costume.

• Did Mike Trout deserve the American League center fielder Gold Glove?

• The internet was abuzz yesterday over Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the “Star Wars” franchise. Ideas for synergy between the two famous brands were rampant.

• Predictably, USC coach Lane Kiffin says Oregon is the best team in the country.

• The Falcons will get more attention as each undefeated week passes.

• Is that Nick Saban with a “Mike the Tiger” tail?

• Elevators can be pretty scary for many people. Check out what the guys at LG did to these very surprised workers.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 30

• Jon Cooper of Saturday Down South previews this weekend’s mammoth Alabama-LSU matchup.

• With the NBA season beginning tonight, many fans are eager to see how the Lakers will blend the talents of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

• The NFL moved its trade deadline back to Thursday due to the destruction done by Hurricane Sandy.

• The next Packers wideout? Nope, just LeBron James as a high school receiver.

• CBS’ Bruce Feldman ranks college football’s biggest-impact freshmen.

• If 49ers quarterback Alex Smith plays like his 18-for-19 performance last night in a 24-3 romp of the Cardinals, look out NFL.

• It looks like Oregon will go with the “stormtrooper” look for this weekend’s huge game at USC.

• Many Eagles fans want to see a change at quarterback, but former Philadelphia signal caller Donovan McNabb is standing by Michael Vick.

• Check out this Halloween idea: Linus and his “blanket.”

• How will the Knicks fare without Amar’e Stoudemire for the first six weeks of the NBA season?

• We usually stick to sports here, but yesterday was obviously very unique with Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast. Check out these reporters out in the rain and wind.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 29

• Mark Purdy of the Mercury News looks at the amazing postseason run of the San Francisco Giants, who battled constant elimination before sweeping the Tigers in the World Series.

• While the East Coast braces for Hurricane Sandy, several NFL teams are looking at contingency plans for this unusual week.

• The gruesome knee injury to South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore saddened football fans from all over the country, and SBNation’s Jason Kirk details the heartfelt reaction.

• The Jets dropped to last place in the AFC East with a shocking 30-9 home loss to the Dolphins.

• Wonder how this guy did at his Halloween party?

• Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson had a breakthrough game at Oklahoma, as the Irish moved to 8-0 on the year with a 30-13 win over the Sooners.

• Many Eagles fans are ready to see rookie quarterback Nick Foles on the field instead of the controversial Michael Vick.

• USC’s Marqise Lee had a record-breaking day against Arizona, but the Trojans’ national title hopes died with the 39-36 loss.

• Did the Oklahoma City Thunder get better by trading James Harden to the Rockets?

• Wisconsin basketball suffered a big loss over the weekend with point guard Josh Gasser tearing his ACL in practice.

Colts rookie Vick Ballard had a spectacular game-winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Titans yesterday. That’s a long way from the NFL Combine earlier this year, where this happened.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 11:58
Path: /college-football/12-statistical-highlights-lsu-vs-alabama-series

LSU and Alabama will meet for the 77th time on Saturday night, when the Crimson Tide travels to Death Valley to battle the Tigers. Bama leads the all-time series 46-25-5, with the first game being played in 1895 and the last meeting in the BCS Championship Game at the conclusion of last season. Les Miles’ crew has the longest home-winning streak in the nation at 22, but Nick Saban’s bunch is ranked No. 1 and has dominated its eight opponents. These two schools have been a popular regional rivalry for decades, but the recent success of both Alabama and LSU has made this game a national event. Here are 12 statistical highlights on both the history and current matchup of these two SEC stalwarts.

5-3: LSU’s record against its former head coaches. The Tigers beat Paul Dietzel’s South Carolina bunch in 1966 and 1973, and they have gone 3-3 versus Nick Saban over the last five years.

20-5-1: Bear Bryant’s career record versus LSU. The legendary coach went 16-4 against the Tigers while he was leading Alabama, 2-1-1 at Kentucky and 2-0 as the Texas A&M head man.

2-14: LSU’s record against Alabama under Charlie McClendon.

36-1: LSU’s record in Saturday Night games in Tiger Stadium under Les Miles. The lone loss was a 13-3 decision against Tim Tebow and No. 1 Florida in 2009.

5: Wins in the last 10 meetings for the team trailing at halftime. Two of the games (2011 and 2008) were tied at the break, so only three times in the last 10 games has the squad with the halftime advantage (Alabama, 2011 BCS game; LSU, 2003 and 2006) gone on to victory.

7.4: First-half points average allowed by the LSU defense in 48 games under defensive coordinator John Chavis.

26: Points scored average for Alabama in the first half this season. The Tide has scored 21 or more in the first half of all eight games.

14: National titles that Alabama claims to have won.

6-7-8: Much closer to the actual number of national titles that the Crimson Tide should claim. Five are no doubters (1961, 1979, 1992, 2009, 2011), while four others (1926, 1930, 1934 and especially 1941) are laughed at outside of the Yellowhammer State. There are solid debates to be had on the five others (1925, 1964, 1965, 1973 and 1978), but most college football historians would not see the Tide having more than two or three of those at the most. Here are a couple of examples (A, B) of the many articles on this subject, and of course, a well-produced video by an Auburn fan would only be fitting.

4-1: Nick Saban’s record against Alabama when he was LSU’s head coach from 2000-04.

34: Times Alabama has scored points in 35 red zone trips this season. That 97-percent mark is tied for first in the country.

1: Touchdown scored in the last eight quarters (and an overtime period) of this series.

<p> 12 Statistical Highlights from the LSU vs. Alabama Series</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 16:00
Path: /nfl/kansas-city-chiefs-vs-san-diego-chargers-preview-and-prediction

Two divisional foes who have not won since September will clash on Thursday Night Football, when the San Diego Chargers host the Kansas City Chiefs at 8:20 p.m. EST on the NFL Network. The Chargers started the season 3-1 before blowing double-digit, second-half leads against New Orleans and Denver, and then losing 7-6 in Cleveland last Sunday. The Chiefs have struggled all season on the way to a 1-6 start, which includes a 37-20 home loss to the Lightning Bolts in Week 4. Amazingly, Kansas City has not led in regulation this year.

When the San Diego Chargers have the ball:
What has happened here? San Diego had played pretty well on offense with the exception of its Atlanta loss, but the Chargers have only scored six points in their last six quarters of football. A turnover-laden second half against the Broncos was followed up by a completely flat performance versus the Browns. Quarterback Philip Rivers obviously must play much better, and he should be able to get back on track against a Chiefs defense that has given up a ton points. Running back Ryan Mathews also needs to pick it up, as he does not have a carry over 20 yards on the season or a 100-yard rushing effort.

The Kansas City defense has some very talented players but has been very inconsistent this season. The Chiefs rank 18th in the NFL in total defense (giving up 348.7 yards per game), but they are 29th in the league in scoring (allowing 29.9 points per contest). A major issue for K.C. defenders has been getting pressure on opposing signal callers. The Chiefs have produced only 13 sacks and seven takeaways in seven games, and that will need to change against a San Diego club that has a penchant for turnovers.

When the Kansas City Chiefs have the ball:
The quarterback tandem of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn has produced very meager results this season. Quinn suffered a blow to the head against the Raiders last week, so Cassel will be back as the starter tonight. He will look to favorite target Dwayne Bowe for a spark, while also trying to protect the ball. The Chiefs lead the league in turnovers, and that must improve quickly. Kansas City has had success running the ball at times, but Jamaal Charles has totaled only 44 rushing yards on 17 carries over the last two games.

The San Diego defense has been excellent against the run this year, ranking second in the league at 80 yards per game. However the Chargers are 21st in the NFL versus the pass, and those second-half lapses in the Saints and Broncos losses were killers. San Diego has struggled to generate a pass rush, totaling only 12 sacks this season. Charles and the K.C. running game will be the focal point tonight, as the Chargers look to make the Chiefs one-dimensional and create turnovers.

Key Factor:
Both AFC West teams are in desperate need of a victory, and each coach — San Diego’s Norv Turner and Kansas City’s Romeo Crennel — is under major scrutiny in his respective city. The Chargers have struggled lately, but a strong run defense and Rivers should be able to turn things around at home against a flawed Chiefs squad. San Diego has dominated Kansas City at Qualcomm Stadium recently, and look for that to continue tonight.
Chargers 23 Chiefs 13

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /nfl/13-athletes-who-scare-other-athletes

We love to watch the fearless nature that many of our favorite sports stars exude in their respective games. But even professional stars have to feel a little scared of their competition from time to time, right? To celebrate Halloween, Athlon Sports asked hundreds of pro athletes, "Which athlete scares you the most?" Here are our favorite responses.

“I would say probably Jon Runyan (the former Eagles tackle) because I was a rookie and he was a big guy. He had these bear claws and he would grab the s—t out of you. I remember one play he literally just reached out and grabbed me and held me for the entire play. I struggled and I looked over at the ref and he said ‘You’re not going to get that call rookie.’ I said ‘Oh, so I’m playing against both of you?’ So it was Runyan.”
—Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants

“I think my first at-bat against Brian Wilson, it kind of took me a minute to stare back at him with the beard and everything. He looked intimidating, but I think after facing him a couple times, I was like, 'Alright, it ain't anything. Another pitcher.’”
—Eric Young, Rockies

“Dale Earnhardt. It was scary the first time I met him — he really was intimidating on and off the track.”
—Matt Kenseth, NASCAR

“Aroldis Chapman as far as pitching goes. When I first faced him I didn’t know if he knew exactly where it was going. Now, he’s got pretty damn good control. But anytime you’re facing lefty on lefty who throws 100-plus miles per hour, it’s not a comfortable at-bat. That would be mine. And the other one would be … Scott Rolen. Scott Rolen would fit that category of guys barreling in on me (at second base on the double play). I never like to see Rolen at first and a chopper to shortstop. That doesn’t sit with me very well.”
—Skip Schumaker, St. Louis Cardinals

I would say DeMarcus Ware, coming off the edge and I’m having to block him. He’s just such a strong presence it’s hard to sit there and take a bull (rush) from him, but at the same time I don’t want to get juked out by him… He totally ran me over. Bad. Embarrassed me. When I was with the Eagles. It was embarrassing. He got me good.”
—Owen Schmitt, Oakland Raiders

“LSU had this guy named Herman Johnson. He was 6-9 or 6-10 [6-7, 360 actually]. He was huge. My coach harped all week on how big he was. It was like the second or third play and they ran an iso to me, and he came up and I wanted to hit him in the mouth, but it went the other way. He hit me in the mouth. That's probably the scariest guy I've ever played against.”
—Craig Robertson, Cleveland Browns

“Mario Lemieux was the scariest in terms of what he could do on the ice. I remember playing against Brian McGrattan when he had a three-foot Mohawk dyed red and his eyes were bulging out of his head and scratching himself at the blue line. What a freak. It’s two different types of scary.”
—Hal Gill, Nashville Predators

“I’m not scared of anybody.”
—Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

“Randy Johnson. I guess you got to overcome that fear to hit against him. I loved the challenge; I really did. I got some hits off him. At that time, he was the best pitcher in the game and arguably with what he was doing at that period of time one of the best of all-time. But it was fun. If you wanted to really challenge yourself, step in there being left-on-left was what you wanted to do. Him being 6-10, it looked like the ball was being released right in front of you. And he kind of sidearmed a little bit. He was just wild enough, too, to make you nervous. And he threw hard, that was the thing that made him tough.”
—Jason Giambi, Colorado Rockies

“Dwight Freeney, back when I was in Jacksonville, like if it was a third-down and long situation. He’ll get you on your toes…. He had every move you could do. He had just everything. A lot of guys have two or three moves. He pretty much has seven or eight. So that’s what makes him so good…. He’s strong, too.”
—Khalif Barnes, Oakland Raiders

<p> 13 Athletes who Scare Other Athletes</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /nba/nba-preview-will-heat-repeat

Last year, the only thing NBA fans knew was what they didn't know — like, would the season ever start? One convincing Miami Heat title and blockbuster trade later, and fans just know that it will be Miami and L.A. in the Finals. C’mon guys, it’s the NBA, no one knows everything. So...
 1) Who’s Next?
Turns out, teaming LeBron James and Chris Bosh with Dwyane Wade was a decent idea after all. But we all can’t have a Big Three. There aren’t enough All-Stars. Or max deals. Or money. So the Nuggets stole Andre Iguodala from Philly in the mega-deal that made Dwight Howard the centerpiece of a Big Four in L.A. (see No. 2), content to play as many bouncy wing players as the rules allow. The Rockets are making a Moneyball-style commitment to squeezing value from underappreciated tweeners and sleepers. The Timberwolves are essentially mimicking a strong Euroleague team. The Spurs will take one more shot with that mystical Spurs-ian thing. And the Clippers will go old-school again, betting on a great point guard and the two-handed dunk. As long as they all know they’re playing for runner-up, everyone should do just fine.
2) Will L.A.’s Ensemble Deliver?
The Lakers are not short of star power. “Just on paper, you’re obviously talking about defensive players of the years, MVPs, All-Stars,” Kobe told the Los Angeles Times. “You’re talking about a myriad of things where guys are on top of their position and have been at the top of their position.” But you’re also talking about one of the league’s oddest mixes. In Bryant and Howard, the Lakers lineup pairs two of the game’s premier scorers (and unapologetic ball-stoppers) with, arguably, the NBA’s best back- and frontcourt passers in Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. Now, add a coach whose authority is perpetually in doubt, a short bench, and the performance artist formerly known as Ron Artest. If it all goes just right, this could be the hardcourt version of “Ocean’s 11” — a bunch of talented stars having fun together as they abscond with the big prize. But if it goes wrong — if, say, someone gets hurt, old or grumpy — this could look much more like “The Expendables”: a bunch of big names joylessly going through the motions, waiting for someone to yell “cut.”
3) Is There a Dark Horse?
Yes, but he won’t be running for a while. Miami may have ended 2011-12 as champs, but it wrapped up the regular season like everyone else in the East: looking up at the 50–16 Chicago Bulls. And then Derrick Rose went down with a torn ACL. He’ll begin this season on the mend, and the rest of the league is breathing a sigh of relief. They may be fooling themselves. Coach Tom Thibodeau’s discipline and the team’s maniacal defense and talented frontcourt should keep them close until Rose’s expected return in the new year. Then, watch out. “I don’t know how I’m going to play,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I don’t know what’s going to be new about my game. I just know it’s going to be exciting.” As horses go, a team that will spend much of the season without its best player is a dark one indeed. But if Rose is galloping at full speed down the stretch, the race for the East could go down to the wire.


<p> NBA Preview: Will the Heat Repeat?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 15:09
All taxonomy terms: Halloween, NFL, MLB, Overtime
Path: /nfl/10-things-scare-athletes-field

Our favorite athletes play their respective games with reckless abandon, often making the very difficult look very easy. But we all know there has to be some internal fear during the highest level of competition. With Halloween upon us, Athlon Sports Monthly polled some sporting stars on "What scares you on the field?"

“I don't have any phobias. Probably too dumb. I've been in the scariest (setting) — played seven years for the Yankees. Played at Yankee Stadium. Been in the rivalry with Boston.”
—Jason Giambi, Colorado Rockies


“Nothing, can’t play with fear. You’re beat if you play with fear.”
—Shea Weber, Nashville Predators


“I would say what would scare me most on the field is not living up to the expectations of Cardinals fans. If that makes sense. Not living up to the great names who have pitched before here. The respect I have for them, for the organization, the town, that’s why. True story. I’m not trying to be sappy. That’s the driving force for me.”
—Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals


“I played in the USA All-America Game coming out of high school. I think we had like 20 players who now are in the NFL playing in that game. Reggie Bush, Steve Smith, Donte Whitner... It was intimidating to see some of those players from other states you had only heard about.”
—Tarell Brown, San Francisco 49ers


“Well, me. I'm scared of what I might do. That's an honest answer."
—Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat

“Pre-snap penalties. I’ve had a few. You just don’t want them to happen. You don’t want to be the only guy singled out, because when you mess up you’re the only guy out there.”
—Khalif Barnes, Oakland Raiders


“Messing up and getting somebody else hurt.”
—Owen Schmitt, Oakland Raiders


“I would say when you can’t see the puck. It’s just a bad feeling, you’re kind of lost in there a little bit and you can’t see the puck. That’s probably one of the worst feelings I have on the ice.”
—Chris Mason, Nashville Predators








<p> 10 Things that Scare Athletes On the Field</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 06:16
All taxonomy terms: Halloween, NFL, MLB, Overtime
Path: /nfl/15-things-scare-athletes-field

Many professional stars seem fearless on their respective fields of play. But away from the game, many of them have the same fears that all of us share. With Halloween approaching, Athlon Sports asked hundreds of athletes, "What scares you off the field?" Here are our favorite responses.


"Passing a police car.”
—Sam Hornish Jr., NASCAR


“Bats, I don’t like bats. I used to do siding and painting in high school and college. I was up on a ladder and a bat came and slapped my face. Fangs were flying. I’ve just never been comfortable with them. They don’t know where they’re going. They’re blind. They just come by and get in your hair. They’re nasty.”
—Hal Gill, Nashville Predators


“The only thing is when I was a kid I hated roller coasters and heights. That was the only thing I was intimidated by. The rest of my family would be like, 'Come on. Let's go.' I'd say, 'I'm cool. I'll just chill over here.' I think the biggest thing is just not being in control. I haven't been back to an amusement park in a long time.”
—Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals


“That would be my mom. Oh yeah. I was an only child, grew up with my mom. I don’t know if I can say this, but she beat me a few days when I was a bad little kid. I deserved it, obviously. Yeah, mine would be my mom.”
—Michael Huff, Oakland Raiders


As a kid, I was always scared of getting lost. Not knowing where your parents were was pretty scary. We didn't have a GPS when I was little.
—Craig Robertson, Cleveland Browns


“I’d say the potholes in New York City. I feel like they search my rims out just to do damage. I’ve got one I have to fix right now. Honestly, that’s what scares me. I have to remind myself not to swerve the car when my daughter’s in there because I’m so used to jerking the wheel at the last second.”
—Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants


“Elevators. I was terrified of being stuck in an elevator. Actually, it happened after I had the fear. My older sister got stuck in an elevator and then I was always scared of it and then one time at the dentist I got stuck. It was only like five minutes, but it felt like forever. Yeah, the elevator is horrible.”
—Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


“Probably sleeping, and it's dark and you hear stuff at night and you don't know where it's coming from. You just keep your eyes closed and wake up in the morning.”
—Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs



“Scary movies. Still to this day, I don’t really watch many of them. That’s probably the only thing I’d own up to. I don’t care for those too much. The last one I saw was Friday the 13th maybe. It left me scarred.”
—Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys


“I've been afraid of heights as long as I can remember. I'm the guy who always puts the shade down as the plane taking off. I jumped off the balcony from the second floor when I was small, and broke my leg. But that's not really why I'm afraid of heights. My cousin told me if I jumped first, he'd do it after me. But then he didn't jump.”
—Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat

—Khalif Barnes, Oakland Raiders


“I don't like roller coasters. I don't ride anything that's not on the ground, except airplanes.”
—Tarell Brown, San Francisco 49ers

<p> 15 Things That Scare Athletes Off the Field</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 17:54
Path: /nfl/san-francisco-49ers-vs-arizona-cardinals-preview-and-prediction

Two divisional foes with excellent defenses will meet on Monday Night Football, when the Arizona Cardinals host the San Francisco 49ers tonight at 8:30pm EST on ESPN. Arizona got off to an excellent start at 4-0, but Ken Whisenhunt’s club has since dropped three in a row and needs a win at home. San Francisco stands at 5-2 and atop the NFC West, having won three of its last four games.

When the Arizona Cardinals have the ball:
The Arizona offense began the season with John Skelton at quarterback, but an early injury saw the Cardinals turn to Kevin Kolb. After a Kolb injury (ribs) two weeks ago, Skelton is back at signal caller. He has a pair of targets in Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts who have been very productive this season, but the Arizona offensive line must protect is quarterback. The Cardinals have allowed a league-high 35 sacks, and that must change versus the 49ers tonight. The running game received a boost last week from LaRod Stephens-Howling (104 yards and a score), Arizona’s first 100-yard rushing effort since last season.

The San Francisco defense ranks No. 1 in the league, allowing only 272.3 yards per game. The 49ers have been solid against the run (10th in the NFL), but they have been especially stingy versus the pass (giving up a league-best 173.4 yards per contest). That says a lot for the Niners coverage ability, given the fact that they have totaled only 11 sacks on the season. San Francisco will be tested in that area tonight, as the Fitzgerald-Roberts combo has already produced 848 yards and eight touchdowns this year.

When the San Francisco 49ers have the ball:
The 49ers offense is known for its physical running attack, which ranks second in the league with 176.6 rushing yards per game. Top runner Frank Gore compiled a season-high 131 yards on the ground last week against Seattle, as well as totaling a season-best 51 receiving yards. Quarterback Alex Smith played very well in the first five games with eight touchdown passes and only one interception, but he has struggled in the last two contests with one scoring pass and four picks. San Francisco will need him to play better tonight while protecting the ball.

The Arizona defense has been solid as well this season, ranking seventh in the NFL with 312.1 yards allowed per game. The Cardinals have been excellent against the pass, keyed by 22 sacks and 15 takeaways on the year. That will need to continue tonight against the Niners, who do not tend to give the ball away. Arizona has been susceptible to giving up rushing yards, and the defense must play well in that area versus the powerful San Francisco offensive line and Gore.

Key Factor:
The Cardinals have lost eight of their last nine games on Monday Night Football, but they have won three of four contests at home this season. It will be critical for Arizona to keep it close early and not become one-dimensional on offense. The 49ers may not have high sack numbers this season, but their defense could change that fact against a Cards team that allows way too much pressure against its quarterbacks. Look for the Niners to play their usual brand of physical football and stay atop the NFC West.

49ers 23 Cardinals 16

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 05:59
Path: /nfl/new-orleans-saints-vs-denver-broncos-preview-and-prediction

Two of the NFL’s best field generals will meet on Sunday Night Football, when the Denver Broncos host the New Orleans Saints at 8:20 pm EST on NBC. Peyton Manning and the 3-3 Broncos come off a bye week that followed the biggest comeback in Monday Night Football history, a 35-24 victory over the Chargers where Denver trailed 24-0 at halftime. The 2-4 Saints have struggled on defense all season, but Drew Brees always gives New Orleans a chance to win.

When the Denver Broncos have the ball:
Manning has returned to his four-time MVP form during the last month, throwing for 1,314 yards and 11 touchdowns against only one interception over the last four Denver games. However, the Broncos are only 2-2 in those contests because of an inconsistent defense. Manning will need to keep up his stellar play to beat the Saints, and receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker should do well against a meek New Orleans secondary. Denver could also use a solid performance by running back Willis McGahee, who could eat away time of possession and keep Brees off the field.

The Saints defense ranks last in the league, giving up an alarming 465.5 yards per game. The offseason turmoil and new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo seems to have a caused a disconnect for New Orleans defenders so far this year, and they will be challenged greatly by Manning and the Broncos attack. The Saints will need to do a better job of stopping the run (31st in the NFL) and try to make the Denver offense one-dimensional.

When the New Orleans Saints have the ball:
Brees has also been excellent lately, leading New Orleans to two wins in a row after starting the season 0-4. During the last four games, Brees has thrown for an outstanding 1,433 yards and 14 touchdowns. However he may be without Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. Receivers Marques Colston and Lance Moore should have plenty of opportunities for a big night, and New Orleans would be helped greatly by any contribution from the NFL’s lowest-rated rushing attack.

The Broncos defense has been very susceptible to bad starts this season, struggling in the first half on multiple occasions. A repeat of those early woes would be a dangerous formula against the intrepid Brees, who can torch any defense when he gets into a rhythm. Denver has been fairly solid with takeaways (10) and sacks (18), and interrupting Brees’ timing will be critical for the Broncos to have success tonight.

Key Factor:
There should be plenty of points scored in Denver tonight, and the defense that gets off to the better start will have a huge advantage in this one. If the Saints can force the Broncos defense into another first-half lapse, then Manning and the offense will have to dig out of another early hole and the crowd will be less of a factor. But if Denver solved some of its defensive issues during the bye, the Saints could be in for an uphill battle. With the raucous home crowd, we’ll take Manning and the Broncos to prevail in a shootout.

Broncos 31 Saints 27

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> New Orleans Saints vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 09:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-eleven-links-day-2

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for October 26.

• Randy Rosetta has the LSU reaction to four former players — including Tyrann Mathieubeing arrested on marijuana possession charges.

• The Giants won Game 2 over the Tigers to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the World Series, and every break seems to favor San Francisco in the postseason.

• Be careful driving in this neighborhood.

• Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network looks at some the league’s top candidates to become head coaches.

• Oklahoma has only beaten Notre Dame once in nine tries. The Sooners host the Irish in a huge Top 10 matchup this weekend.

• Rookie Doug Martin was the dominant running back in Minnesota as the Buccaneers beat the Vikings, 36-17, on Thursday night.

• Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez did not make the trip to London for Sunday’s game versus the Rams.

• The Penn State-Ohio State matchup this weekend may have a “bowl” feel to it, since both schools are ineligible for the postseason.

• Yankees closer Mariano Rivera may be having second thoughts about returning to the field next season.

• Could the Clippers challenge the Lakers in the Pacific Division?

• Everything seems to be going San Francisco’s way in the World Series, except for this local anchor who gets torpedoed by a bird during a live broadcast.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 25

• Jack Curry has an interesting piece on Giants star Pablo Sandoval, who hit three home runs in San Francisco’s 8-3 victory in Game 1 of the World Series.

• The Vikings will try and move to a surprising 6-2 on the season when they host the Buccaneers tonight.

• Why Steelers, why?

• Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt, a former Kansas State linebacker, has an interesting perspective on this weekend’s huge Big 12 matchup between the Red Raiders and Wildcats. Here’s his interview with Chris Level on 104.3 in Lubbock.

• ESPN is reporting that NBA Commissioner David Stern will retire in 2014.

Ginger convention?

• Georgia was blown out at South Carolina, but the Bulldogs can keep their SEC East hopes alive by upsetting the Florida Gators.

• The Jets will look to punish Dolphins running back Reggie Bush this weekend.

• Two-time Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones is now a member of the U.S. bobsled team.

• Top UCLA hoops recruit Shabazz Muhammad was injured in practice yesterday.

• Many hockey and baseball teams grow playoff beards, but we can all participate in “Movember”. Who better to give us tips on growing that mustache than Ron Swanson?

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 24

• Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star looks at a few of Oklahoma’s past losses to Notre Dame, and how they affected the Sooners.

• The World Series starts tonight in San Francisco, with the resilient Giants taking on the rested Detroit Tigers.

• Check out some of these epic man caves.

• ESPN Pac-12 blogger Kevin Gemmell looks at the surprising undefeated start by Mike Riley’s Oregon State Beavers.

• The ACC race is wide open this season, with Florida State favored in the Atlantic and a complete free-for-all in the Coastal.

• A Lakers preview cover without Kobe Bryant?

• The NHL can’t seem to get a season started for the second time in a decade, but the Islanders have found time to announce their relocation to Brooklyn in 2015.

• Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine caused a stir last night by saying that slugger David Ortiz “decided not to play anymore” after Boston traded Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers.

• The NBA is taking the position of “center” off its All-Star ballot, and fans will now vote on three “frontcourt” players.

• Could Nick Saban be lured to the Browns?

• There is no good way to lose a close football game, but these Memphis-area youngsters show us an extra-painful way to suffer a defeat. Are you serious?!

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 23

• The World Series is now set, with Buster Posey and the cardiac San Francisco Giants meeting Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.

• Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman has an interesting piece on the origin of “Play Like a Champion Today.” Did it start with Notre Dame, or did Sooners legend Bud Wilkinson coin the popular phrase?

• Type the URL “” into your browser and see what happens. With Derek Dooley struggling, Vols fans are thinking big.

• Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee says the undefeated Mississippi State Bulldogs have no chance to beat No. 1 Alabama.

• The St Louis Cardinals choked away the NLCS versus the Giants, and it was a complete team effort.

• Check out this bearded ninja.

• Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert has torn labrum in his left shoulder.

• Wyoming coach Dave Christensen has been suspended one week and fined $50,000 for his tirade following the Cowboys’ loss to Air Force.

• CBS Sports lists its Top 50 point guards in college basketball, with a Murray State star topping the list.

• A survey of NBA general managers predicts a repeat for LeBron James (MVP) and the Miami Heat.

• ESPN Sunday Soundtracks provided the football public with a gem last night. Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt tells running back Ray Rice of the Ravens, “I've eaten burritos bigger than you.”

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 22

• RG3 was impressive against the Giants, but Eli Manning added to his amazing fourth-quarter legacy in New York’s 27-23 win over the Redskins.

• CBS’ Tony Barnhart recaps the college football weekend, including telling Oregon fans that the Ducks will be fine in the BCS.

• Check out this Patriots fan’s jersey — well played.

• The San Francisco Giants have all of the NLCS momentum against the Cardinals, but the storied franchise has never won a winner-take-all Game 7.

• Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein has become the new clear-cut favorite in the Heisman race.

• The Red Sox got their guy, trading with the Blue Jays to bring back former pitching coach John Farrell as manager.

• Check out these awful first movies for some of Hollywood’s top actors.

• Lakers big man Dwight Howard tallied a double-double in his preseason debut with Los Angeles.

• The Redskins are bringing back veteran tight end Chris Cooley after Fred Davis was lost for the season with an Achilles injury.

• Rick Pitino has suspended Chane Behanan for Louisville’s exhibition opener and has banned the forward from talking to the media for a semester.

• We’ve seen several people run onto playing fields over the years, but it’s usually not right in the middle of a play like this idiot at the Florida State-Miami game. It’s too bad one of the Seminoles linemen did not level the guy.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 13:15
Path: /nfl/tampa-bay-buccaneers-vs-minnesota-vikings-preview-and-prediction

Two NFC foes with drastically different 2012 results will meet on Thursday Night Football, when the Minnesota Vikings host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 8:20 p.m. EST on the NFL Network. The Bucs have struggled to a 2-4 record this season, and they travel to Minnesota coming off a heartbreaking last-second loss to the Saints. Meanwhile, the Vikings have played well during a 5-2 start and have been energized by the healthy return of intrepid running back Adrian Peterson.

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the ball:
The Buccaneers have been inconsistent on offense this year, but they have scored four touchdowns in both of their last two games after a Week 5 bye. Quarterback Josh Freeman threw five touchdowns against four interceptions in Tampa’s first four contests, but he has tossed six TD passes and only one pick the last two weeks. The Bucs passing game has been improved greatly by the free agent addition of receiver Vincent Jackson, who already has 586 yards and five scores through six games. Running back Doug Martin has been solid in his rookie campaign, compiling 480 yards on 100 carries.

Minnesota ranks ninth in the NFL in total defense, as well as sixth in points (18.7) allowed. The Vikings rely on getting solid pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and they stand third in the league with 22 sacks this season. The defensive end tandem of Jared Allen and Brian Robison has compiled 10 of those sacks, and they will draw the attention of the Buccaneers game plan tonight. Linebacker Chad Greenway is also having a stellar season, ranking third in the league with 68 tackles.

When the Minnesota Vikings have the ball:
There were many questions around the health of Peterson following his knee injury late last season, but the All-Pro running back has returned to his old form with 652 yards and three touchdowns this year. He did miss practice earlier this week with an ankle issue, but Peterson should be good to go tonight. Quarterback Christian Ponder has been solid enough to win games during his sophomore season, throwing for nine scores against six interceptions. His favorite target has been electric receiver Percy Harvin, who already has 53 catches for 577 yards on the year.

The Bucs defense has been especially stingy against the run this season, ranking third in the league by allowing only 76 yards per game on the ground. However Tampa Bay has struggled mightily versus opposing passing attacks, giving up an alarming 323 yards per game through the air. A major issue has been a lack of pass rush, as the Bucs have totaled only eight sacks this season. They will look for improvement in that area against Ponder, who has already been sacked 16 times this year.

Key Factor:
This NFC battle should come to Peterson versus Tampa’s nasty run defense. If he has any kind of success, it will be a long night for the Bucs. Minnesota should play well with a raucous home crowd, and that factor could be huge in pressuring Freeman. Tampa Bay has won five straight in this series dating back to 2001, but look for the Vikings to ride their current momentum to a close victory tonight.

Vikings 20 Buccaneers 16

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 06:49