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Under the Radar Rookies

We all know about the top rookies in the league such as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Doug Martin since the media likes to overhype and over expose these rookies to the utmost degree but there are several other rookies that have been making an impact for their respective ball clubs. Here are a few rookies that are going virtually unnoticed for their excellent play on the field regardless of whether their teams are winning or losing.

RYAN BROYLES – WR – DETRIOT LIONS


Ryan Broyles has started to come on strong for the Lions as of lately in the absence of both injured wide receiver Nate Burleson and disgruntled wide receiver Titus Young. Broyles is one of the best college wide receivers in recent history coming out of Oklahoma and he showing his potential especially among his teammates. Matthew Stafford has taken note of Broyles’ talent telling reporters “Every time I throw him the ball, he makes a play,” according to detroitlions.com.

Broyles was able to score a touchdown in back to back weeks in Weeks 7 and 8. He has since caught six passes in two more games and reached the 100 yards receiving milestone for the first time during the Thanksgiving Day game against the Houston Texans. Expect bigger and better things from Ryan Broyles in the future for the Detroit Lions. Playing alongside Calvin Johnson should open up a multitude of possibilities.

LAVONTE DAVID – LB – TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS


This has started at the middle linebacker position all season for the Buccaneers and he doesn’t receive much attention because there is another guy in the same division named Luke Kuechly that seems to receive all the media attention. Although Luke Kuechly is among the league leaders in tackles despite being a rookie, everyone kind of expected it from him but David on the other hand is only trailing Kuechly by seven tackles for seventh best in the league.

Lavonte has been excellent as the defensive signal caller for the Bucs and is able to diagnose plays, shed blockers and fly to the ball carrier and make the tackle at the line of scrimmage or for a loss. Both Lavonte David and second year linebacker Mason Foster have been able to shift the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ run defense from worst in the league last year to first in the league this year. Look for a dynamic linebacker duo in Tampa for several years to come.

MOHAMED SANU – WR – CINCINNATI BENGALS


Very similar to Ryan Broyles, Sanu has been playing lights out as of recently for a young and improved Cincinnati Bengals offense. Mohamed was drafted in the third round by the Bengals in order to fill a void left by the released Jordan Shipley and the departure of Jerome Simpson from last season. Sanu has found himself in an increased role on the offense as he has averaged a little over 3 receptions per game and has also proven to be quite versatile having thrown a 73 yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green in a game.
Sanu’s four touchdown receptions in the last three games has given him some much needed recognition from the media and is a sign that he could be the Bengals’ number two option heading into the last quarter of the regular season. With his improved play and the accompany of fellow rookie wide receiver Andre Hawkins and stud A.J. Green with young quarterback Andy Dalton throwing the football, watch out for the Sanu and the Bengals in the future.

CASEY HAYWARD – CB – GREEN BAY PACKERS


Casey Hayward was drafted in the second round by the Packers coming out of Vanderbilt. Hayward was given a rare opportunity to start as a rookie when both future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson and Sam Shields went down with injuries early in the season. Casey has not let that opportunity go to waste as he is currently tied for the second most interceptions in the league with 5. He is one of only two rookies to have an interception in three straight games since 1990 with Jairus Byrd being the other in 2009.
Hayward has averaged nearly 5 tackles a game since his first start and you can guarantee that it will not be easy for Sam Shields to regain his starting position once healthy. Hayward has been an integral part in the Packers’ five game win streak from Weeks 7 to 11 making big plays in the secondary. Watch out for Hayward in the future whether he stays with the Packers or finds himself a starting role on another team.

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Top 5 Super Bowl XLVII Contenders

With only a couple of weeks remaining in the regular season, we can now begin to figure out which teams are the real contenders for Super Bowl XLVII. I will identify which five teams I believe have the best chances of representing and winning the Super Bowl come this February 3rd.

HOUSTON TEXANS


The Houston Texans are currently tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the best record in the league with only one loss each. The Texans have elite players on offense and defense that will be able to compete with the best teams in the league on any given Sunday. The offense features elite running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson with Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Schaub under center. The defense is also making a name for themselves with “Defensive Player of the Year” candidate in J.J. Watt and cornerback Jonathan Joseph. Out of all the Super Bowl contenders, the Houston Texans probably have the easiest remaining schedule and should be able to secure a first round bye week in the playoffs as well as home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Texans found themselves in the playoffs for the first time last year but with a rookie quarterback leading the way in T.J. Yates. This year should be a different story as the starters will have a chance to rest late in the season and gear up for the Super Bowl run.

ATLANTA FALCONS


The Atlanta Falcons are the other team with a 10-1 record. It should not be any surprise to faithful football fans that the Falcons are more than likely going to make the playoffs this year but what is surprising is how they are doing it this year as compared to last year. We all knew that the Falcons were a decent team before drafting Matt Ryan out of Boston College but Ryan has led the team to the playoffs every year in his professional career. Although Ryan has made the playoffs each year, he has not been anywhere close to sniffing the Super Bowl but this year may be different due to the emergence of second year wide receiver Julio Jones, a guy the Falcons went “all-in” for in the 2011 draft. The Falcons also have a much improved defense this year compared to past seasons, which could launch them straight to the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

SAN FRANSISCO 49ERS


The San Francisco 49ers were the surprise team of last season, going 13-3 and claiming a first round bye week in the playoffs. They made the NFC championship game last year but two muffed special team plays sent them packing. The 49ers have an elite defense that they rely upon in close games but the 49ers were able to sign a few offensive weapons during the offseason. They were able to lure away both Brandon Jacobs (who has not been able to do anything for the team thus far in the season) and Mario Manningham from the defending champion Giants. They were also able to sign veteran wide receiver and retired free agent Randy Moss to the team as a vertical threat. As of recently however, second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick has gained favor with head coach Jim Harbaugh over long time starter Alex Smith in the offense. Switching starters this late in the season could be the recipe for disaster or it could be the necessary ingredient for the 49ers to make a strong push to the Super Bowl.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS


The New England Patriots are the current reigning AFC champions and are considered to be on “cruise control” right now in the regular season. The Patriots have much of their same offense from last season’s Super Bowl run but the defense has been overhauled, by bringing in many young players. The Patriots were able to draft three stud defensive starters in Chandler Jones, Donta Hightower, and Tavon Wilson. Also, when predicting and previewing potential Super Bowl contenders, you can never count out Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as they have seen five Super Bowls together. Look for the Patriots to duke out the second first round bye week position with the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos. If the Patriots are able to secure a first round bye, they could have an easy time reaching the Super Bowl yet again.

BALTIMORE RAVENS


The Baltimore Ravens currently hold the second best record in the AFC only behind the Houston Texans. The Ravens are without their future hall of fame linebacker Ray Lewis although there are rumors that he may play in Week 15 but regardless of whether Lewis is on the field, the Ravens have a tough defense. The saying is “defense wins championships” and the Ravens have the offense and the defense to support that claim. The Ravens’ offense has been much improved every year since Joe Flacco’s arrival in Baltimore and this year Ray Rice and Torrey Smith are having career high statistics and will play vital roles in the Raven’s Super Bowl run come playoff time.

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2012 NFL Top 5 MVP Candidates

There are no clear candidates for this year’s NFL MVP award which should make for an intense and close race toward the end of the season. Listed below are the top five candidates to win the award and the reason why they should win the award.

ADRIAN PETERSON


Everyone who knows the NFL knows that Adrian Peterson had serious knee surgery less than a year before the season started, rehabbed his way back from his torn MCL and ACL injury, started Week 1 and is having one of his best seasons as a professional. He currently leads the league in rushing with 1,128 rushing yards and he is doing it virtually by himself without much help on offense being on the Minnesota Vikings. We don’t know what lies ahead for the Vikings but they are currently sitting on a record of 6-4 with the Bears and Packers to deal with in their division, which may decrease Peterson’s chances of winning the award. Also, the award gives higher priority to the elite quarterbacks of the league but Peterson should be in a two man race for the Comeback Player of the Year award with Peyton Manning.

MATT RYAN


Ryan and the Falcons came out of the gate full force making cases for all the awards and the Super Bowl. Recently however, they have looked mortal with Ryan throwing for 5 interceptions in Week 11 against the Cardinals and barely squeezing out victories. Ryan put up MVP like numbers early on in the season with above 70% accuracy and a high yards per game average however those numbers have fallen but the Falcons continue to win and stay on top of the football league which has a bunch of weight when it comes to MVP voting.

AARON RODGERS


He is the reigning MVP and has statistics to back up his argument for winning the award again this year however Rodgers had such an unbelievable 2011 season that many voters will see a decrease in numbers. Not only has Rodgers been “un-Rodgers-like”, but Rodgers’ Packers started the season with a sub .500 record early on in the season. He has been able to steer the ship in the right direction despite numerous injuries to his wide receivers and offensive line. If the Packers can continue its winning streak and notch the top spot in their division, Rodgers could make a strong case for a repeat award.

TOM BRADY


It seems like Brady could win this award every year with different rosters and players surrounding him. This season has been no exception as Brady has been playing at an elite level yet again. He is currently third in total passing yards with 3,299 yards and leads the highest scoring offense in the league. Let’s not forget that Brady also threw for over 5,000 yards last season, a feat that would have been commended if it weren’t for Drew Brees. He is also leading his team toward yet another AFC playoff appearance and possibly another first round bye week in the playoffs. The fact that he keeps leading his team year after year and puts up elite numbers year after year, voters may become “numb” to Brady’s consistency and neglect what he has actually been able to accomplish year after year. He should still get a lot of attention come award time.

PEYTON MANNING


When teams are essentially being interviewed by a “player” during the offseason means the player is a sure fire Hall of Fame player which was most definitely the case when Manning “chose” the Broncos as his new home and team. Manning has not disappointed either despite not playing in a regular season in almost two calendar years prior to the start of this season. Manning has everything going for him this season to claim his fifth MVP trophy. He has led his team to a 7-3 record among the AFC, thrown for 2,975 yards, 24 touchdowns, and only 7 interceptions with a 68.5% completion percentage. He has been able to turn around a franchise that cringed every time a pass was thrown to elite playoff contenders. Manning could be collecting his record fifth MVP award along with a Comeback Player of the Year award if he continues on this same path by the end of the season.

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Top Super Bowl Predictions in the NFL

Even though the Super Bowl isn’t set to arrive for another month or two, we are still thinking about who is going to play in the big game. There’s nothing wrong with making a few predictions amongst friends, right? And since you’re all considered to be friends of our brand new site, we figured we’d kick things off right by talking about Super Bowl predictions.

There are a few teams that we really love right now:

The Green Bay Packers. Look, let’s not even bring up the controversy from earlier this year. In our opinion, it was a bad call and the NFL missed a chance to make things right. That’s not sour grapes, that’s just facts.

However, we’re going to set that aside. Right now the Packers are running 9.75 to 1 at the big sportsbooks, so if you’re a betting person…study carefully.  What we like — 3rd in the NFC North. That’s nothing to sneeze at, though a lot of fair weather fans are already sleeping on the Packers. We’ll see what happens from here.


So, how ’bout them Texans? Yeah, we went there — the Texans can seriously bring a fierce game. There’s a good solid defense here, and the league needs to be watching the Texans if they want to keep their edge. Odds are good that we are going to hear about more good things from the Texans pretty soon.

Cowboys fans out there… we haven’t forgotten about you. The truth is that we just don’t think that Tony Romo can honestly deliver the type of ground game as a quarterback that the fans want — and that he’s going to need in order to lead his team to victory.  If the Cowboys end up going against the Broncos? Let’s not even talk about that. This isn’t just about Tebow, either. We’re not going to talk about him right now.

There’s something about the Miami Dolphins, but we’re not super impressed just yet. QB Ryan Tannehill is promising, but the road of shattered Super Bowl dreams has been paved with numerous rookies that just couldn’t deliver under pressure. Reggie Bush continues to shine…but for how long?

As we’re a new site, we’re going to want as much feedback and interaction with you as possible. So, tell us — what are you thinking about in terms of Super Bowl sports predictions? Feel free to always sound off in the comments — we don’t mind at all!