• Vick's Ability as a Starter, Leader in Question

    It’s week nine in the football world, and with many predicted contenders beginning to play as expected, things are finally starting to make a little sense.  The Patriots blew out the lowly Rams in London 45-7, the 49ers crushed the Cardinals 24-3 on Monday Night Football, and the Broncos became the latest team to put a pounding on the Saints. Finally, some stability. But alas, it’s still the NFL, and things can turn around quickly in this league. That being said, here are a few things to look for this week in pro football:

    1) Michael Vick to be replaced?

    The four-time pro bowler and 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year has struggled all year with ball security, turning the ball over a total of 17 times. Nobody expected this type of play from Vick when the Eagles signed him to a six year, $100 million contract back in 2011, especially Andy Reid. With his job hanging in the balance, Reid is desperate to win, and rumors are circulating that Vick’s time as the Eagle’s quarterback is running out. Will he step his game up, or will we see Nick Foles under center for Philadelphia soon? Much of that depends on how Vick plays on Monday Night Football against the Saints.

    2) Power Outage

    The San Diego Chargers looked awful on Sunday, suffering an ugly 6-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Bolts have now lost their last three games, and are faced with a short week as they play the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. Though it’s still early and they’re only a game behind in the division, the Chargers have a history of losing streaks in the Norv Turner era that have cost them shots at the playoffs. They need a big win over an awful Chiefs team to get back on track and stay on the Broncos’ heels.

    3) Marquee QB Matchup of the Future

    When the Panthers and Redskins take the field in Landover, MD, on Sunday, the two teams will have combined for a 4-11 record so far this season. However, these teams share a common bond beyond their poor play this year: hope. Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III have already become arguably the most electrifying players since entering the league in the past two seasons, and are expected to do great things for their franchises. Though both quarterbacks have a ways to go, this matchup could be a preview of much greater games to come between the two.

    4) Can the G-Men Keep Their Magic Going?

    The New York Giants are 6-1 since losing their opener to the Cowboys, a span that includes several games that easily could have been losses. After stunning the Redskins a week ago, New York did it again on Sunday, squeezing out a 29-24 win in Dallas thanks to Dez Bryant’s massive hand grazing the back of the end zone on what would have been the game-winning catch. They face another tough test on Sunday, when Big Ben and the Steelers come to town in what should be a great game.

    5) Boys-Falcons on National Television

    Sunday Night Football’s matchup features two teams headed in opposite directions, with the Dallas Cowboys heading into the Georgia Dome to face the Atlanta Falcons. Although they’ve had some close games, the Falcons have looked dominant over the first half of the 2012 season, jumping out to a 7-0 record. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have looked inconsistent not only from game to game but also from half to half, nearly erasing a 23 point deficit on Sunday’s against the Giants after turning the ball over 4 times in the first 17 minutes. What makes this game interesting is that the Cowboys have a history of handing undefeated teams their first losses, beating the 9-0 Colts in 2006 and the 13-0 Saints in 2009. Can they do it again? Tune in on Sunday night to find out.

  • Dallas Mavericks Preview

    No team has undergone a more profound roster makeup over the past two years than the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are the only remaining productive pieces from the 2011 NBA Championship team.

    The current backcourt of OJ Mayo and Darren Collison screams potential. OJ Mayo, former 2008 #3 draft pick, had averaged nearly 20 points as a starter during his first two seasons in the NBA. Darren Collison averaged nearly 18 points and double digit assists when running the pick and roll offense in New Orleans. Now that these two players are put in positions where they can succeed-OJ Mayo as a starter and Darren Collison utilizing the pick and roll tool in the flow offense he will be commanding, it is quite possible that these players will reach the zenith of their basketball productivity.

    The frontcourt of Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, and Chris Kaman at first glance seems like an outstanding asset. A top-10 player in the league, an elite defender, and a top 5 low-post scorer is not indicative of too much concern. However, it should when Dirk Nowitzki will be absent for the first month of the season, recovering from an arthroscopic surgery, and Chris Kaman is one of the most injury prone centers in the league. It seems like the frontcourt really cannot get any consistency until midseason. That will translate to a lot of initial struggles for the Dallas Mavericks, having to learn to play without an offensive legend in Dirk Nowitzki and then having to put him back into the system. There is certainly a tall order on the Mavericks roster this season.

    Last but not least, the bench of Elton Brand, Brandan Wright, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dahntay Jones, and Jae Crowder is a highly effective and variegated unit that complements the starting lineup. This group has gritty defenders, shooters, paint players, veteran experience, and young athleticism to help establish a productive unit. So, let us hope that Rick Carlisle will somehow mesh these pieces in the right manner to extend that streak of twelve consecutive years in the NBA playoffs. Let us hope. 

  • NBA Eastern Conference Preview

    There is a remarkable disparity in the quality of teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. That disparity though is quite simple to understand-the Miami Heat and the rest of the field. The Miami Heat have separated themselves from any other playoff contender in the East, ever more strikingly with the absence of Derrick Rose. However, nothing is a guarantee in the NBA. So, let’s get down to business.

    The Miami Heat are the unquestioned number one in the Eastern Conference power rankings. Lebron James was a near perfect player last few years. He could guard all five positions at an elite level, had the versatility to play 1-4 on offense, and the physical athleticism to annihilate any opposing athlete. The only tool missing was his mental toughness. Now that Lebron James has proved to the world that he can perform in the most critical moments of a basketball game, he does not really have too much internal pressure constantly weighing down on him. Expect a surreal Lebron James, a revived Dwayne Wade, and a scrappy Chris Bosh to fit well with their new shooters Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis and ultimately challenge the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls 72-win record.

    The Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics remain the two biggest threats to the reigning NBA Champions. Both teams boast a largely intact starting lineup that can match the chemistry of any other team. Talent is no shortage with these two teams. Rajan Rondo is arguably the best pass-first point guard in the league and will maximize the remaining productivity of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and new addition Jason Terry along with young guns Jeff Green and Courtney Lee. For the Celtics to have any chance of beating the Heat in the playoffs though, they will need Rajan Rondo to perform at his maximum, delivering triple doubles on a nightly basis. The Indiana Pacers on the other hand are largely dependent on the performance of their front court. With Roy Hibbert, David West, and Danny Granger starting at the front court positions, the Pacers have the talent to match up against the Heat. However, they really have not added much over the offseason and are relying on Paul George, second year shooting guard, to lift the Pacers into a new stratosphere.

    Teams in New York are talented. The New York Knicks and New York Nets have rosters that when put together hold sufficient talent to make an all-star team. However, chemistry issues will stall the productivity and talent of these two teams. The Knicks will rely on Jason Kidd to somehow rid them of their dysfunctional use of Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony simultaneously. The Nets on the other hand need to figure out how to fit new face Joe Johnson along with returning Brooklyn Lopez and adjust to their rising expectations.

    The Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, and Atlanta Hawks should fill up those last few playoff spots. All these teams have a critical flaw that prevents them from performing much better. The Bulls don’t have Derrick Rose. However, Tom Thibodeau, a defensive mastermind, will muster enough defense and scoring from his relatively productive unit last year. The 76ers have the potential to be an amazing team if Andrew Bynum grows into a reliable franchise player. But, who thinks that’s really going to happen? Last, the Hawks made a great move by getting rid of Joe Johnson’s burdensome contract and making Josh Smith the new focal point. However, they did get rid of arguably their best player.

    Finally, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic, and Toronto Raptors are just undergoing too many fluctuations to make a viable push for the playoffs. There are definitely some quality players and rising starts on these teams-Kyrie Irving, Monte Ellis, and Brandon Jennings. But, the majority of these teams are a couple of solid first round picks away from making a solid impact on the playoff standings.

  • LB Jordan Hicks (hip) will not play this week against Texas Tech

     

    Texas strongside linebacker Jordan Hicks is out for Saturday's game against Texas Tech stemming from a hip injury he suffered in the third game of the season against Ole Miss.
     
    This is a huge blow for the Texas defense with Hicks out for the sixth game in a row. Hicks was the team’s leading tackler through three games, and was the rock of the linebacking core. He made adjustments at the line and kept the younger players on the unit accountable.
     
    “It’s a big loss,” cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “Like I said he’s our defensive leader. He makes everybody a lot more comfortable.”
     
    Reports that Hicks was lost for the season were denied by Texas. If he did not play the rest of the year, Hicks would likely receive a medical redshirt as he’s played less than 30 percent of the team’s total games.
     
    The medical redshirt won’t be approved until the end of Hick’s senior season, so if he decided to come back another year he would be available.
  • David Ash named Longhorns starting quarterback vs. Texas Tech

    David Ash is listed as the starter on the depth chart for Texas’ game against Texas Tech. After being replaced by Case McCoy in the fourth quarter in Saturday's game against Kansas, his status as the starter was questioned. He went 8-for-16 with two interceptions. McCoy entered the game and led the team to a narrow 21-17 win. Other than Texas' games against Kansas and Oklahoma, Ash has been playing consistent with 12 touchdowns, 1726 yards and five interceptions.

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