• Popularity of NFL set to diminish

    In this day and age, the NFL is regarded as the most popular sports league in America as 35 percent of sports fans call the NFL their favorite sport, followed by Major League Baseball (14 percent) and college football (11 percent).

    Most fans consider Pete Rozelle, the late former commissioner, to be responsible for the NFL’s immense popularity; however, over the last decade, the NFL’s success can be attributed to elite quarterback play.

    When mentioning the NFL’s elite quarterbacks Denver Bronco’s Peyton Manning (age 38), Green Bay Packer’s Aaron Rodgers (age 30), New England’s Tom Brady (age 37), New Orleans’ Drew Brees (age 35), and Pittsburgh Steeler’s Ben Roethlisberger (age 32) are always at the top of every NFL analyst’s list.

    Their résumés are impressive and illustrate why they are considered elite and so entertaining to watch.

    Collectively, these five quarterbacks have eight Super Bowl victories, 13 Super Bowl appearances and 32 division title in the past twelve years. There have only been two years since 2002 when none of these quarterbacks were playing in the Super Bowl (Super Bowls XXXVII and XLVII).  Not to mention, all five quarterbacks this season are in the top ten for most passing yards and touchdowns.

    So what will happen to the NFL when they all retire?

    Football fans everywhere should feel blessed to have had the privilege to watch these great quarterbacks in action on Sundays over the past decade. When they retire, the league will not be the same. Their successors have shown potential but they aren’t as consistent as the current elite quarterbacks.

    Most NFL analysts believe that the quarterback position will continue to evolve from a pocket passer style of play to a dual threat style of play, meaning a quarterback who is a threat to throw the ball downfield and rush for big plays.

    This dual threat style of quarterback play has been problematic for many defenses around the league as quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin III have all thrived in this new era of NFL football.

    However, the NFL is a league of adjustments. As defenses have been able to figure out how to contain these dual threat quarterbacks, their style of play has been less impactful. This season, these dual threat quarterbacks are a combined 20-23-1 and none of their respective teams are a lock to make the playoffs, as all of the quarterbacks have struggled.

    Of all the younger quarterbacks in the NFL, Indianapolis Colt’s quarterback Andrew Luck has shown the most potential in becoming one of the elite as he currently leads the league in passing yards and is second in touchdown passes. However, Luck is considered to be more of a pocket passer than a dual threat quarterback.

    This dual threat style of play at first seemed like the future of the NFL but has proven to be less effective and not as enjoyable to watch for NFL plans.

    The NFL will most likely still be the most popular sport in America but the switch from pocket passing quarterbacks to dual threat quarterbacks will diminish its overall popularity.

  • Lydia Ko sets record as Stenson holds on to win in Dubai

    Seventeen-year-old New Zealander Lydia Ko finished her rookie campaign of the LPGA Tour on top. 

    As she entered Sunday in a three-way tie, she won $1 million bonus in the inaugural “Race to CME Globe.”  For the tiebreaker, the PGA committee chose the No. 18 hole to playoff since four birdies had occurred at the shot during the week.  Ko finished for par all five times to come away with the victory

    On top of the win, Ko won another $500,000.  She finished with a total of $1.5 million and the biggest pay off ever in women’s golf.  Excluding the million she won entering the playoff, Ko extended her earnings to over $2 million, making her the first ever LPGA Tour rookie to surpass the total. 

    As much as Ko is credited for her win, she had help from competitors Carlota Cingada of Spain and Julieta Granada of Paraguay. 

    Granada was the first to be knocked out of the playoff as her five-foot putt on the 18th hole spun out.  Cingada with a score of 70 had two opportunities to take the lead.  At the No. 17 hole in regulation, Cingada missed a 3-foot birdie along with a five-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole in the third playoff.      

    On the fourth time at the No. 18 hole, Cingada pulled her shot from the fairway, but watched as it rolled down the slope.    

    At the season ending event in the European Tour, the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai was a tight race among the top four. 

    Henrik Stenson entered Sunday 2-under 70, but won by two strokes and a total of 16-under 272.  Ryder Cup teammates Rory McIlroy, Victor Dubuisson and Justin Rose all shared second with 14-under 274.

    This was the first time in Stenson’s career where he successfully defended his title.

    Following the tournament, Stenson was very excited and is looking forward to trying to win the tournament for a third straight year.

    McIlroy, on the other hand, felt that no one appeared to take control of the tournament, but he acknowledged he knew he did not play well.  

  • Three stars of the NHL

    There is no holiday better than Thanksgiving. It's a simple fact.

    You got football, family, and food with the food being the best of all. I'm not going to bore you with a list of Thanksgiving food here, but rest be assured, I love a good pumpkin pie, some stuffing (not dressing), and a turkey leg. It's just the perfect holiday, so gluttonous and mellow. It is this holiday spirit that has compelled me to take a look around the league and find the plumpest of turkeys in the NHL.

    Turkeys are the star of the Thanksgiving show. While your side dishes can be excellent role players, a perfectly roasted and seasoned butternut squash is worthless without a plump and juicy turkey. Keeping turkey's part in the Thanksgiving play in mind, I picked out three rotund stars of the NHL.

    Dustin Byfuglien is a defenseman for the Winnipeg Jets who is 6-foot-5 and weighs 260 pounds. He's a big dude. But, he has also been an All-Star twice and played for a Cup. He's always been a solid player, playing an offensive-minded defensive game with that big body of his. At times, he's also played the power forward position, intimidating opponents with his strong shot. He's a scary sight on the ice as well as in a Google image search.

    Two-time All-Star Phil Kessel is one of the best offensive players in the league. He has been a top-10 scorer three years straight, the only player to do so. He's also 6 foot and weighs 202 pounds. We all know that he's one of the best snipers in the game capable of taking on the best in world. His world-class reputation was affirmed when in 2014 at the Sochi Winter Olympics, he was named the best forward of the tournament after leading everyone else in scoring. So, yes, he's a bit bigger than most, but he's also a fantastic player.

    This last one is a former three-time MVP. He's 6-foot-3, 230-pound Alexander Ovechkin and he's wants to be formal, but he's just here to party. The big Russian has had an illustrious career. While he hasn't played for a Cup yet, he's won almost every major award and given Sidney “The Chosen One” Crosby a run for his money. His size has allowed him to be a hard-hitting scorer, a rare combination in the league. His size has also allowed him to look like he was wearing a few too many Kosovorotkas underneath his uniform. But, no matter his size, Alex Ovechkin is a one-of-a-kind player who already has a hall of fame resume.

    These stars are the Thanksgiving turkeys of the NHL. They rule their teams and deserve your attention, just like that big bird in the middle of the table.

  • Longhorns look to keep top wide receiver recruit

    On July 27, 2014, the Longhorns football program received one of its biggest commitments of the year, when wide receiver John Burt committed to come to Austin, and be the top receiver commit for the Longhorns in the Class of 2015. 

    Burt, the 6-foot-3 receiver from Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Florida, was an impressive commit for the Texas program as Burt was also being heavily recruited by perennial SEC power Auburn, and hometown school Florida State.

    While Burt is not one of the fastest receiving prospects in the nation, his size and route-running ability makes him one of the top high school receivers in the country and a lethal red-zone threat. Many compare Burt to current NFL receivers Brandon Marshall and A.J Green as well as current Texas senior receiver John Harris. 

    Longhorn fans were ecstatic to receive the ninth best receiving prospect in the nation per rivals.com, however, Burt’s commitment to play for the Longhorns next year is currently in doubt. Following his commitment to Texas, Florida State has ended their recruitment of Burt, but Auburn has not let up, believing that ultimately Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and his staff can lure Burt away from Texas, and have him spend his Saturday’s at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. 

    Burt recently made his fourth visit to Auburn on Oct. 4, and was quite impressed with the Auburn program as it dismantled the LSU Tigers 41-7. 

    "It went really well," Burt said after his visit. "That was my first official visit and everything went pretty much as expected, from what I've heard official visits go. I had a real good time. It was a real good experience.”

    The battle for Burt will be hard fought up until national signing day in February, and the Longhorns must continue to show Burt that the Longhorn program is not only stable, but on the rise. Texas sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has shown improvement at quarterback throughout the year and the Longhorns are coming off three-straight wins, but if they want to secure their commitment of Burt, they must end the season strong against TCU and in their upcoming bowl game. 

    With Harris graduating this spring, the Longhorns receiving corps will be in desperate need of players who can not only stretch the field, but become premier red-zone targets for Swoopes and the Longhorns offense. If the Longhorns can secure the commitment of Burt, it will go a long way to bolstering the Texas offense in years to come. 

  • NFL Thanksgiving Preview

    I can’t begin to start listing the things I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for my family, my incredible fiancée, my amazing friends, and the many dogs in my life. And you know what? I’m thankful for football on Thanksgiving.  It’s fun watching the men in my family hover from their plates to the TV trying to catch a glimpse of the game. On a day we spend so much time with family, we also spend time with our pals Calvin Johnson, Tyron Smith, and Matt Forte.

    This particular turkey day gives us three in-division matchups with huge implications in the standings. The Bears travel to the Motor City for a matchup with Matthew Stafford and the Lions. Two 8-3 teams in the Eagles and Cowboys square off with a division lead in their sights. And finally in the nightcap, the defending NFC champion Seahawks take a trip South to San Fran to meet up with Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers.

    Let’s take a minute to break each down (obviously with an eye towards fantasy) and get a better taste of what’s to come this Thursday.

    ***At the bottom of the article, I’ve listed some fantasy D’s to keep an eye on when looking towards playoff matchups.***

    Email me at FantasyDecisions@gmail.com with any questions you may have or any lineup help you need. I’m the expert tool at your fingertips

    Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

                For the visiting Bears, this matchup is very fantasy unfriendly and reality-unfriendly as well. The Lions may be coming off a beating at the hands of one Tom Brady, but don’t think for a moment that they’re going to lie down for this game. They know it’s going to take their best effort to beat the Bears and keep pace with the in-division rival Packers. The Lions rank as the 3rd, 4th, and 9th toughest defense, respectively, against QBs, WRs, and RBs. With such a tough matchup, I’m not a fan of Jay Cuter this week. While he has great receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, Cutler has struggled recently (failed to reach 10 fantasy points in three of the last five weeks). Temper expectations for your Bears pass catching options. As for Forte though, he’s an automatic play and you hope he can continue his momentum from last week’s two-touchdown performance. If Chicago is going to have a chance, it’s key for them to get the ground game going early.

                As for the Lions, this game sets up picture-perfect for Stafford and his receivers. Megatron (Calvin Johnson) could easily go off for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns on this weak secondary that’s been getting lit up week after week. I could see the Lions jumping out to an early lead on the arm of the Georgia product. Therefore, I really like the potential of Joique Bell this week. I think they’re going to try to control the clock and force Cutler to sling it around on the other side of the ball. If Reggie Bush is announced as being inactive, Joique moves to top 15 RB status for me. And for one last note on the Lions: I really like Matt Prater. You won’t catch me talking about kickers too frequently but this matchup is the best you can hope for at the position. The Bears have allowed the most points to kickers on the year and Prater has a booming leg. And a booming leg inside Detroit’s cozy dome spells fantasy success.

    Prediction: Lions 27 – Bears 17

    Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

                For the Eagles, this game is a chance for them to stake their claim as the best team in the division and a legitimate super bowl contender. Their warp-speed offense under Chip Kelly will look to showoff on the national stage. A couple guys to note in this fast-paced frenzy are Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy, though, I’m afraid Maclin is really going to struggle this week. For as much as they were criticized for their awful defense last year, the Cowboys have patched together a very formidable group. Before getting torched by Odell Beckham Jr. Sunday night, the Cowboys secondary had only allowed three touchdowns to receivers in the past seven weeks. Since Mark Sanchez has taken the reins, Maclin has taken a hit, having only accumulated 23 points over the past three weeks combined. However, Eagles fans, there is hope. And that hope is in the form of one shift RB named LeSean McCoy. After seemingly being primed for a big game all year long, McCoy finally put the yards and touchdowns together last week against the Titans, going for 130 yards and a touchdown on only 21 attempts. And I think “Shady” continues his success in Big D. The Boys have given up five rushing TDs over the past four weeks and RBs are averaging better than four yards a carry as well. This screams big game for one LeSean McCoy.

                As for “America’s Team”, this game against the Eagles presents one huge, huge mismatch and I fully expect the Cowboys to exploit it. Over the past five weeks, the Eagles have given up nine touchdowns to WRs. Dez must be getting his “Throw up the X” celebration ready. I think he might absolutely go off. I’m not doing rankings this week, but he would probably be my top option at the position. The Eagles are not only the worst in the league against receivers, but they’re the second worst against QBs as well. The Romo-to-Dez connection is going to be visited frequently Thursday and I expect a smashing success. But, no Cowboys preview is complete without mentioning the league’s leading rusher, Mr. DeMarco Murray. The Eagles are giving up an average of 18 points to RBs over the past four weeks, and I think Murray makes that number even bigger. Do me a favor, please start your Dallas studs, not that you weren’t already. Dez and DeMarco are as automatic as can be, and I think Romo should be an absolute start unless you have Luck, Manning, Rodgers, or Brady.

    Prediction: Cowboys 31 – Eagles 20

    Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

                For the Seahawks, this looks like a bad, bad matchup on almost every level. Russell Wilson is a “sit” for me this week going up against the number one fantasy passing defense. I could be wrong, but I just have a feeling Russell really struggles. And to make matters worse, Marshawn Lynch has some tough sledding as well. The 49ers have been the fifth toughest run defense on the year and will look to slow down “Beast Mode”. Having given up only one touchdown in the past 4 weeks, San Francisco has been stout when it matters. However, Marshawn remains a must start, and there is some light in the situation. Four of the last seven RBs to face the 49ers have had at least 100 yards rushing. While I think Lynch’s ceiling may be somewhat limited this week, I think he gets enough yards to make you comfortable starting him. 

                Much the same for the team by the bay, this looks like a defensive struggle in the making. Colin Kaepernick is going up against the second toughest team against the pass, and his receivers are going up against the top rated secondary in football. With only one passing touchdown allowed in their last three games, this is the week to bench your 49er passing options. And the news doesn’t get much better for the backfield. Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde will have a tough time finding many holes against a defensive front that has allowed a 100 yard rusher only twice through week 12. Both backs are touchdown-dependent anyways so play at your own risk.

    Prediction: Seahawks 17 – 49ers 14

    Best Defensive Matchups in Playoffs (Week 14-17)

    Week 14

    1.     Texans

    2.     49ers

    3.     Lions

    4.     Vikings

    5.     Rams

    Week 15

    1.     Cardinals

    2.     Ravens

    3.     Lions

    4.     Chiefs

    5.     Seahawks

    Week 16

    1.     Eagles

    2.     Bills

    3.     Titans

    4.     Dolphins

    5.     Packers

    Week 17

    1.     Dolphins

    2.     Texans

    3.     Seahawks

    4.     Colts

    5.     Broncos