Start Em / Sit Em – Week 13

Start Em:

Nate Burleson (WR, Detroit Lions) : The Lions go on the road to play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night, and for anyone who watched the Monday Night game this week, it’s pretty obvious there will be a lot of points scored. The Saints look unbeatable and unstoppable at home on the offensive side of the ball, but when they grab a large lead there will be a lot of time for Burleson and the Lions offense to produce in garbage time. Over the last 3 weeks, Burleson has 20 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown. His counterpart Calvin Johnson has only 16 catches over that same span. Teams are starting to double up on Calvin and it is leaving room for Burleson to maneuver across the middle of the field. He is the dominant WR2 for the Lions. Oh, and did I mention that Victor Cruz, WR2 for the Giants, just had 9 catches for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns on Monday Night on the road against New Orleans? Burleson has his breakout game on Sunday night. Oh, and he’s available in 83.2% of ESPN leagues.

Eli Manning (QB, New York Giants) : It’s hard to ever recommend a quarterback that is coming off a short week, but Manning is also coming off of a 400+ yard, 2 TD game. The Giants can’t run the ball at all, and they are playing a must-win game against the undefeated Green Bay Packers. Will they win? Not even close. They are going to get demolished again, which means a ton of garbage fantasy points for Eli. Even though they are 11-0, the Packers are giving up 278.8 yards per game through the air – good enough for 2nd to last in the league. In order for the Giants to have any chance in this game, they are going to have to throw a lot. Don’t be surprised if Eli ends up around 50 pass attempts. He should easy clear 300 yards, and have at least a couple touchdowns. He’s averaging 316 yards and just under 2 touchdowns a game in his last 5 starts.

Roy Helu (RB, Washington Redskins) : Is it finally time to trust a running back that is coached by Mike Shanahan? My vote is yes, and Roy Helu is that guy. The 23 carries that Helu received last week was the most by a Redskins RB since Tim Hightower in week one. Add that he had 162 total yards, including seven catches, and Washington may have finally figured out they have to heavily involve Helu into the game plan in order to give themselves a chance to win. The biggest advantage for Helu is that he is healthy, and very well rested. Helu only has 27 carries over the last 6 weeks, so there should be plenty of gas left in the tank. The matchup isn’t great, as Rex Ryan and the New York Jets are known for their tough run defense; however, the Jets have given up 10 rushing touchdowns on the ground this year – good enough for the 7th most in the NFL.

DeAngelo Williams (RB, Carolina Panthers) : I know I know, he has had an absolutely abysmal season, and if it hadn’t been for his two touchdowns last week it would have been another average at best day for someone who was drafted as a top 15 RB. Hear me out on this one though, the 25 carries he has in the last 2 games is the most of any two game span this season. He also has 174 total yards over the last two games, which is more than Frank Gore, Michael Turner, Reggie Bush, and Mike Tolbert. If Carolina just finds a way to stay in the game, Williams will get his carries and the chance to control the clock. With defenses now zoning in on Newton closer, they seem to forget about whose coming out of the backfield. The last factor is that Carolina is playing at Tampa Bay, who is sporting the 3rd worst rushing defense in the league – averaging just under 140 yards a game, and has given up 13 rushing touchdowns in 11 games.

Antonio Brown (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers) : Brown started the year on the depth chart as the Steelers number 4 WR, but has worked his way up and is now Pittsburgh’s WR2. With defenses zoning in on Mike Wallace, Brown is becoming one of Roethlisberger’s favorite targets, and his production in the last month and a half shows that. Brown has 30 catches for 445 yards over his past 5 starts – both of those totals are higher than those of Mike Wallace. He only has one touchdown, but it hasn’t been due to a lack of targets. Cincinnati boasts a good pass defense, but 3 weeks ago Brown had 5 catches for 86 yards against them, which makes him a pretty solid flex start.

Dez Bryant (WR, Dallas Cowboys) : Bryant was supposed to be one of the most dynamic receivers this year, and when Miles Austin went down a lot of owners thought this would help Bryant even more. The exact opposite happened – defenses have been playing press coverage on Bryant all the way down the field and making somebody else on the field beat them, thus the emergence of Laurent Robinson. With Miles Austin expected to be back this week, the depth of the Cowboys receiving core will be back, and Bryant will be the beneficiary. Dallas is also playing at Washington – the 8th worst pass defense in the league.

Antonio Gates (TE, San Diego Chargers) : Missed 4 weeks earlier in the season due to injury, but after the Chargers bye it’s like he never lost a step. In the last 4 games Gates is averaging just under 6 catches a game, for 65.5 yards and has 3 touchdowns. Now, he gets to face a Jaguars defense that allows the 2nd most fantasy points to tight ends… you probably weren’t sitting Gates anyway, but now you can start him with confidence.

New England Patriots D/ST : Last week, the Patriots defense got destroyed by the Eagles, and Vince Young threw for over 400 yards. However, the 20th ranked fantasy defense of the Patriots are playing the 0-11 Colts this week, which doesn’t even have a fourth of the fire power that the Eagles do. Indy announced today that Dan Orlovsky will be starting over Curtis Painter, and if that makes you nervous when you deploy the Patriots defense you are crazy. Remember, Orlovsky is the QB that ran 5 yards out of the back of the endzone for a safety when he was with the Lions. He is also the QB that led Detroit to an 0-16 season. The Colts can’t run, they can’t throw, and Julian Edelman returned a kickoff for a touchdown a couple weeks ago so there is some hope there.

Every Patriot : As I just mentioned, they are playing the 0-11 Colts… it’s going to be a blowout. Brady, Welker, Branch, Gronkowski, Hernandez, Green-Ellis, and even Woodhead in 12 team of deeper leagues all should start.

Lance Moore (WR, New Orleans Saints) : If you are in a deep league and are looking for a risky play, give Lance a go. Anyone except for Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles on the Saints roster is a risky start, but Moore does have 4 TD’s in his last 4 games… something to consider.

Automatic Starts: QB – Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Stafford, Newton, Fitzpatrick, Romo; … RB: McCoy, Foster, Rice, Forte, Peterson, Jones-Drew, Turner, Sproles, Gore, Murray, Matthews, McGahee, M. Bush (if McFadden out); … WR: Welker, Cal. Johnson, Smith, Cruz, Wallace, Jennings, Nelson, Fitzgerald, V. Jackson, White, Bowe, Nicks.

Sit Em:

Nate Washington (WR, Tennessee Titans) : Week 11 was a fluke. He is getting a significant amount of targets but he is the only receiving threat on that team since Kenny Britt got hurt. Not including week 11, Washington has averaged 2.4 catches for 24.8 yards a game. Those are barely rosterable numbers. If Tennessee wants to go any where they are going to have to learn how to run the ball, and although Chris Johnson finally figured out how to do that last week, don’t count on it to be consistent. Washington is a dud in an offense that hasn’t found a way to be successful as a unit all year. Leave Washington on your bench this week until he proves he can perform on a weekly basis.

James Starks (RB, Green Bay Packers) : I honestly don’t understand why he gets such high projections on ESPN each and every week. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since week 1 and he hasn’t had more than 13 carries in a game all season. The Packers are a strict pass offense, and with all the weapons in that lineup, Starks will not get the touches that he needs in order to be placed into your lineup. When Grant was hurt, Starks was given the opportunity to show the organization that he was going to be the guy going forward, and he failed to do that. With Grant healthy, there is just no reason to start him.

Toby Gerhart (RB, Minnesota Vikings) : If Adrian Peterson plays then this is a no brainer sit, but even if AP doesn’t play I still don’t think you can rely on Gerhart to produce. He got the start last week and scored a touchdown, but if he doesn’t score you are absolutely screwed. He has terrible hands out of the backfield, adds nothing to the passing game, and he just isn’t a downhill runner that can commend a starting job. He’s a great short yardage guy that you love to throw in on 3rd or 4th and 1’s, like how the Steelers utilize Isaac Redman, but as a starter he’s not going to do much. Last week he had 17 carries for 44 yards… so if you want a guy whose going to average 2.6 YPC… Gerhart is your guy.

Andre Johnson (WR, Houston Texans) : Coach Kubiak admitted that he thought he played Johnson a little too much last week after he hadn’t played in over 2 months due to injury. If Schaub was at the helm, I would say deploy him as you usually would. But he is coming into a situation with a quarterback who he has never taken reps from in his career. I believe that defenses are going to load the box in order to stop Arian Foster, but the risk of T.J. Yates being able to throw Johnson back into fantasy relevance just seems like a pretty large task. If you have no one else, then you have to start him, considering you drafted him real high, but don’t expect anything above 50 or 60 yards.

Anquan Boldin (WR, Baltimore Ravens) : I can make this one short. Cleveland gives up the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and he only has 7 catches in the last 3 games. There are definitely better options.

C.J. Spiller (RB, Buffalo Bills) : When Fred Jackson went down everyone thought that Spiller would step up and become a top ten fantasy running back. Well, we all learned real fast that Jackson was just an absolute beast this year and that Spiller won’t even come close to that hype. 19 carries for 55 yards last week, and now that Tashard Choice has been around for more than a week, expect him to get involved more in the offense and take touches away from Spiller.

Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas (RB, New Orleans Saints) : Sproles is the only back in this offense that you can start with any confidence. Ingram’s 13 carries last week were the most he’s gotten since week 7 – he’s just too unpredictable. Pierre Thomas is the same way, you can’t start him with any confidence. He’s only had 10+ carries in a game once this year, and with all the weapons in New Orleans you just never know who will be holding the ball in the end zone.

Tim Tebow (QB, Denver Broncos) : Denver will probably win again behind the spiritual powers of Tim Tebow, and I know that he runs the ball a ton which is great for fantasy; however, somebody is eventually going to figure him out. I think that it’s Willis McGahee who runs all over the Dolphins this week, not Tebow. I enjoy watching him play because the offense that Denver runs is like nothing else in the league, but I just can’t recommend that you start a quarterback who is averaging 105 passing yards a game in his last 3 starts.

Eric Decker (WR, Denver Broncos) : Touchdowns in 3 of his last 4 games… he also has only 7 catches in those 4 games. He is Tebow’s favorite target, but Tebow just doesn’t throw the ball enough to risk starting him.

Every Kansas City Running Back : Don’t try to get cute, neither McCluster, Jones, nor Battle has proved they deserved to be started in a fantasy lineup.

Owen Daniels (TE, Houston Texans) : Hasn’t had a touchdown since week 4, hasn’t had more than 71 yards or more than 4 catches in a game since week 5, and now his quarterback is T.J. Yates… find somebody else.

Jabar Gaffney (WR, Washington Redskins) : Had a great week two weeks ago and really showed some promise in the world of fantasy football. That is until last week when he showed us that it was an absolute fluke. He only has two touchdowns since week 1, and only one game of more than 100 yards receiving. On top of it all, he faces a New York Jets defense ranked 7th against the pass.

Matt Ryan (QB, Atlanta Falcons) : He has been a top 10 quarterback all year, but I don’t see him putting up anything special against a Houston defense ranked 2nd in the league in pass defense. The Texans only give up 176 yards per game through the air. Atlanta will implement Turner and Snelling more into their game plan and it will be a bland game for Ryan. He’s been hot the last 4 weeks, but Houston will put out the fire.

Green Bay Packers D/ST : This week’s game against the Giants is going to be an absolute shootout. The Packers are a top 10 fantasy defense, but you’ll want to avoid them this week in a game where they will give up a bunch of garbage yards in the second half.

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5 Reasons NBA Fans Should Watch the NHL This Season

The NBA is back, and that noise you heard when it was announced was every NHL fan in America shrieking knowing that Sportscenter will once again be taken over by routine dunks, alley oops, and buzzer beaters. I understand that the American bias is shifted toward the NBA because after the NHL lockout the popularity of the sport dropped dramatically. I’m not trying to make an argument that the NHL is better than the NBA because it comes fully on preference. I will however, give NBA fans five reasons why they should tune in and watch some hockey this year.

5. Fighting

A brawl in the NBA happens once in every ten or so years, and don’t get me wrong, the malace in the palace was absolutely awesome. Well, except for the fan who got destroyed by Ron Artest. There has for some reason been a debate in the NHL for years as to whether or not they should ban fighting in the NHL, which is absolutely absurd. How about we ban hitting, passing, skating, and scoring too? Lets just have a bunch of Canadians stand on dry concrete and throw a ball around, oh wait, that’s Steve Nash. A lot of uneducated hockey fans think that fighting is just a brawl on skates, but it’s not, it’s an absolute art form. I know some of the biggest people in the hockey world who are terrible fighters simply because they don’t have the balance, stamina, or technique to drop with the best. Aaron Asham proved that fighting in the NHL isn’t dead in his fight against Jay Beagle, which is a good reason why you don’t go after star players if you don’t plan on paying the price for it. In no other sport (except obviously MMA and boxing) can you legally fight and it’s just a 5 minute break and you can go back out and play. It adds an element that no other sport can create. Cheap shot an opposing superstar? Expect a little more than just a technical foul or a 15-yard penalty. I’ve added the Asham fight for your viewing pleasure.

4. Crosby/Ovechkin Rivalry

Yeah yeah yeah I know there are rivalries in the NBA like Lebron vs. Kobe. But when has either one of them gone off the record to talk about the other one in a negative fashion? I’ll take never for 400 Alex. Crosby and Ovechkin publicly hate each other, and it is one of the greatest stories in the sport. No matter what side you are on, you have to appreciate the talent that the other one brings to the table. These are by far the two most talented players in the world and they want nothing more but to shove their Stanley Cup ring down the other ones throat when it’s all said and done, and add that Crosby’s Canada and Ovechkin’s Russia are rivals on the international circuit makes it that much better. Pretty sure at the end of this season you aren’t going to hear of Crosby, Ovechkin, and Stamkos all taking their talents to South Beach. Why? Because they want to prove they are the best leader of their

Best Rivalry in Sports

perspective organizations. A main reason why the NHL is so great is that the best players stay put for years and years after finding a good fit. They don’t lose one year and demand to be traded to a better team like a bunch of pissed off 5th graders who got knocked off in dodgeball first and claimed immediately “unfair teams!!” Crosby is leading the cup race 1-0, but with Ovie’s Caps on the rise it could be their year. NBA fans should tune in every time the Caps and the Pens play and watch a true rivalry between two future hall of famers who can’t stand one another.

3. Defense

I can’t stand to watch a single NBA regular season game because there is absolutely no attempt to play defense. I could go to the YMCA and watch volunteer fire fighters put on a better defensive display than these guys who get paid tens of millions of dollars to play professionally. After the lockout, the NHL did a lot of things to try and improve scoring: such as eliminating the 2-line pass and restricting goalie equipment, but the art of defensive hockey never died. The amount of courage it takes to block shots for example, can’t be matched by taking a charge in the NBA.

Would you want to lay down in front of that?

Defenseman have to be the toughest guys on the ice because 10-15 times a game you’re forced to go back and make a play knowing you are about to get hit by a forechecking forward going full speed. There is no dynamic in the game of basketball that compares to the ability it takes to play defense in hockey. Sacrificing the body, blocking shots, switching from man on to zone in a single shift, while still maintaining the tendency to know where the puck is at all time is an aspect of the game that is commonly misunderstood, and definitely under-appreciated.

4. The Winter Classic

The NBA has their tradition where the Lakers play on Christmas day, but no other sport has a tradition like the NHL does with the Winter Classic. What football is to Thanksgiving, and baseball is to the 4th of July – hockey is to New Years Day. When the idea was first sprout up, there were a lot of critics wondering if the NHL could pull off such a ludicrous idea. An outdoor game? It’s something straight out of Mystery Alaska! The first Winter Classic game was held on New Years Day of 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and it was between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It couldn’t have went smoother.

As real as it gets

The throwback jerseys, Ryan Miller wearing a beanie over his helmet, the snow falling for the entirety of the game, and the atmosphere were all a combination that a professional league has never seen. The game ended in dramatic fashion, with Sidney Crosby sliding a goal five hole through the snow passed Ryan Miller in the shootout to give them the win. The game was so successful that the leauge immediately scheduled one for the next year at Wrigley Field, which ended up having 72,000 plus fans – setting a new NHL attendance record. Since then, the tradition has flourished and it is something that NHL fans look forward to every year. If there is one game that NBA fans could watch and appreciate, it is The Winter Classic.

5. Competitiveness

A reason why the NBA is tough to follow is because the same teams are always good, and the same teams are always miserable. Don’t get me wrong, there are powerhouse teams in the NHL like Detroit and Pittsburgh that seem to be good every year, but the overall competitiveness of the leagues aren’t even comparable. For example, since 1999 there has only been three different franchises from the Western Conference in the NBA finals (the Lakers 7 times, the Spurs 4 times, and the Mavericks twice); and for good measure the Jazz went in back to back seasons in 1997 and 98. There were six different champions over that span, but the fact of the matter is the same teams were in the same situations every season. Lets compare that to the NHL: over the same 13 year span, but remember there was a lockout in 2004-05 so only 12 seasons, there have been eight different representatives from the Western Conference (Dallas [2], Colorado, Detroit [3], Anaheim [2], Calgary, Edmonton, Chicago, and Vancouver) and seven different representatives from the Eastern Conference (Buffalo, Carolina [2], New Jersey [3], Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Pittsburgh [2], and Boston). There have also been 10 different champions in the 12 season span, with Detroit and New Jersey being the only teams to win it twice. The numbers don’t lie, the overall competitiveness of the NHL overpowers anything the NBA can offer.

 

Ndamukong Suh: The Thanksgiving Day Stomp

If for some reason you live on a different planet and didn’t see the “Thanksgiving Day Stomp” by Ndamukong Suh of my beloved Detroit Lions then you missed perhaps the play that could cost the Lions a playoff spot. With 9 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Packers were facing a 3rd and goal from the Lions 3 yard line. After Aaron Rodgers’ pass fell incomplete, a scuffle broke out ar0und the line of scrimmage. After shoving Evan Dietrich-Smith’s head into the ground three times, Suh stood up and delivered a kick to his midsection while Dietrich-Smith was still on the ground. It was an unnecessary and dirty penalty that proved costly in more then one way.

Lets break this down shall we?

First off, the penalty cost the Lions 4 points. Although the final score might not have indicated it, this game was very close for about the first 45 minutes. As I mentioned earlier, the Lions stopped Green Bay on the 3 yard line on 3rd down before the penalty occurred. If Suh keeps his head, the Packers would have been limited to a Mason Crosby field goal and would only have been up 10-0 with just over a quarter and a half to play. The penalty gave Green Bay an automatic first down, and they scored a touchdown on the very next play. The penalty also made momentum swing 180 degrees. After the stop, the crowd was back into it, and finally there was some life and something for the Lions to build on. The penalty took the wind out of Detroit’s sail.

Now the aftermath: according to some of ESPN’s sources, Suh is facing at least a 2-game ban. The Lions are 7-4 and for the first time since Barry Sanders was around, Detroit is in the conversation when talking about the NFC wild card. The Lions are 9th in total defense, and Suh is the presence in the middle of the line that brings it all together. After drafting Nick Fairley in the first round of the draft this year, Detroit was expected to have one of the scariest defensive lines in the league, and they haven’t disappointed. With Suh out of the lineup for the next two games, teams will not be afraid to run the ball up the middle against them, something that no team has been able to do all year. Did I mention that Detroit plays at New Orleans next week? They’d have their hands full even if Suh was available.

The most pathetic thing about the whole thing is the post game comments that Suh made. You screwed up Ndamukong, now apologize and hopefully the league shows you some mercy. I’ve posted the interview here:

“What I did was remove myself from the situation the best way I felt,” said Suh, and apparently his intention wasn’t to kick anybody. Are you kidding me? He acts like people haven’t seen the replay. It sickens me that this guy is representing my city. Getting to put on the blue and silver and rep the Detroit name is an absolute privilege, and it is quite frustrating to hear this guy ramble about nonsense.  You want to apologize to your true fans? You act like there is a nation of people that jumped on the Suh bandwagon when you got drafted. If anything you have been making people hate you ever since you entered the league.

He did apologize though… through a statement on his facebook page. Suh is the prime example of someone that just doesn’t get it.

If only Detroit actually looked like this...

The plain and simple fact is that Suh needs to grow up and realize how crucial he is to not only the team, but to the city. Lions fans have sat through the last decade praying for a playoff team. We went through an 0-16 season, perhaps three of the worst first round draft picks in history (Charles Rogers, Joey Harrington, and Mike Williams), and a promise from John Kitna that he couldn’t keep. The heart of the city lies in it’s sports teams. Detroit was one of the cities hit hardest by the recession, and it hasn’t really recovered. The city smells like depression. This season, the city has actually been able to enjoy motor city football for the first time in what feels like forever. Citizens look at the situation as a metaphor for the city as a whole: If the Lions can go from 0-16 to a playoff team in just a few years, why can’t the city rise out of this recession and once again become a crucial piece of domestic production? We finally have some hope, and if guys like Matt Stafford, Jahvid Best, and Ndamukong Suh don’t want to except the fact that they aren’t just football players in the city of Detroit, then ask to be traded.

At 7-4 the next two games are crucial to whether or not the Lions will be able to take the wild card this year, and unfortunately we will not have access to our biggest defensive weapon. Hopefully this matures him a little bit… but I’m not so hopeful, we’re pretty used to disappointment.

Happy Veterans Day

If you are like me and had to schedule a Friday class, then today you are more than amplified to be able to sleep in and enjoy the feeling of a hangover from last night. However, please find the time in your day to seek out a veteran and thank them. If you really take a couple steps back and look at your life as a whole, ask yourself “what have I done for this country?” Like myself, I feel like most of the answers will be nothing. I recycle, but that’s really not thrusting our country forward.

I know so many people who wake up for 6 am PT’s, hell I play hockey with one of them, and the amount they are doing for the student body of our nation is unbelievable. If you have never surrounded yourself with people serving, now is the time to educate yourself on how different their lives are from ours. While we worry about the smaller things in life like school work, social life, and finances, they are overseas fighting a battle in the name of liberty.

I wanted to keep this short and sweet, and just wanted to show my gratuity for everyone serving our country. So to my buddy in Kuwait right now, to the guy who I will lace the pads up with tonight, and everyone in between, I just wanted to say thank you. God Bless America.

My Reaction to the Joe Pa and Jerry Sandusky Scandal

The allegations around Jerry Sandusky have shocked the sporting world, there is no doubt about that. Penn State alums everywhere are tearing up, including ESPN analyst Matt Millen, about what might have happened in the Penn State football facility.But how as a sports fan am I supposed to react? The first emotion is disgust. I’ve watched shows like To Catch a Predator and breezed them off like it is some sort of fake world that these people are living in. It’s like they aren’t even real people, just actors paid to make terrible decisions. The sad reality is that these people exist – there really are people out there who enjoy presenting their deviancy to our youth. The fact that many now grown adults have to deal with the misery of what “allegedly” happened to them while they were innocent kids frustrates me to the highest degree.

If these allegations are proven true, what should happen to Jerry Sandusky is not up to me, but goddamn it I wish it was. There is not a place in the world for people like Jerry Sandusky. There is no other crime that makes me cringe more than what Sandusky is accused of, and I am someone who has seen the terror of downtown Detroit. It’s a sad world where inner city kids are killing each other because they were born on the wrong block, but it is even a sicker world when somebody in a position of respect is taking advantage of 10 year old kids. There is a reason why it’s not murderers or kidnappers, but child molesters who receive the harshest hazing in our state penitentiaries.

But the main question has been: “How will this contribute to Joe Paterno’s legacy?” As of now, I say not at all. He has been the head coach of Penn State for 45 years, and if you have seen any of his recent press conferences, I feel like his reaction is nothing but sincere. This week he announced that he will be retiring at the end of the season, and I am the first to understand his decision. This is a man who coached through serious health conditions that may have cost him his life, but his dedication was still embedded through everything. I am sick and tired of hearing people talk about how Paterno did “absolutely nothing to stop what was going on.” I never curse in my blogs, but it is bursting from my soul right now. This isn’t fucking talk around the water cooler. If Jerry Sandusky was doing what he is alleged of doing, do you really think he was running into his bosses office and bragging about it? It sickens me that people are pointing the finger at Paterno, and not at the person who was doing this unspeakable crime.

People are talking about how Paterno’s legacy is going to be crushed from this, and I don’t understand it at all. The 409 wins forgotten? All because something was going on behind his back? This is what pisses me off. If you know me personally at all, you understand that my world spins round solely because of the sporting world – it is all I care about outside of my own life. I believe that at the end of this scandal it will be shown that Paterno did not know a damn thing. Sandusky hid what he did from everyone, because he has to know in his own sick and twisted head that what he was doing was blatantly wrong.

So as a sports fan what can we do? All we can do, and remember this is coming from an atheist, is pray. Pray that somewhere, there is somebody who can help heal the boys he tortured. Pray for Jerry Sandusky, because maybe one day he will gain the sadistic courage to admit what he did. I understand these are still “allegations,” but 40 counts, and multiple people stepping up saying what happened has me brushing that word off my shoulder. As a sports writer, a sports fan, and an athlete who showered around teammates and coaches since I was about 12, these allegations affect me in the harshest of ways. I can’t even imagine the trauma that these children encountered. When I look at Jerry Sandusky, I see somebody worse than the fictional jigsaw murderer.

As for your thoughts on Joe Paterno, please have patience. Patiently wait for the truth to come out on his side of the story, because we know nothing yet. Send your heart out to the victims of the families that are being overwhelmed; however, if it is proven that Paterno knew about this and didn’t have the common decency to tip off the authorities, then please feel free to condemn him as well.

I know it is innocent until proven guilty, but to Jerry Sandusky, if you are proven guilty, may you burn, rot, and decompose in Hell.

5 Most Surprising Teams in the NFL Thus Far

With the midway point of the NFL season having just passed, I figured it was only justifiable to discuss the teams that have been surprising sports fans the most. Not just those that are overachieving, but also those that can’t seem to complete a pass this year.

5. Cleveland Browns

Cleveland fans haven’t had anything to seriously cheer about since the Cavaliers were making runs at an NBA title, but then The Decision happened and well… the rest is history. Two months ago however, there was definitely hope in the Browns this year. Eight games in to the season, the Browns are 3-5, have only 12 total touchdowns, and look like they’re getting worse. Colt McCoy looked like the emerging quarterback they were hoping for when he was drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft out of Texas, but his ego seems to be the only thing that is growing. His numbers aren’t horrible, although they are far from dazzling – he has a +4 TD/INT ratio, and is averaging 220 yards through the air per game; however, he has moments where he looks like he shouldn’t even be starting in a high school game. Bad reads, bad throws, and a talentless receiving core are all issues that have plagued him this year. Perhaps the biggest disappointment this year has been Peyton Hillis, who was the break out player in the NFL just a year ago. He has only played in four games (hes been dealing with a hamstring injury), and even in the games he played he was far from stellar.

The Madden Curse is No Joke

He has only 3.5 yards per carry this season, and Cleveland recently announced that they would allow him to shop around the free agency market due to his plea for more money. He had one good year, but after claims he turned down a 3 year/15+ million dollar contract from Cleveland, it seems fairly unlikely that any team is going to fork up more than that to receive an injury prone running back who has hardly proved himself – the Madden Curse has struck once again. The browns defense had shined until yesterday, when the Houston Texans offense ran all over them on route to what seemed like a fairly easy 30-12 victory, but their offense has been absolutely brutal. They are ranked 30th in total offense,  25th in passing yards, 31st in rushing yards, and have the 2nd most fumbles. It is hard to fathom that they would have gotten out of a division that contains AFC powerhouses Pittsburgh and Baltimore… but as this fan puts it, “We don’t even expect you to be good, we just want you to be watchable. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW LOW OUR EXPECTATIONS ARE?”

4. Detroit Lions

I honestly wish I could put this at number one, but it was honestly only a matter of time. After having a top 5 draft pick in every draft since I can remember Detroit was bound to have a breakout season. The Detroit Lions are 6-2 heading into their bye in week 9. Let me say that again, the DETROIT LIONS are 6 and 2! The equation was simple, get Matt Millen the hell out of office! Ever since he has departed, the Lions have made great draft picks, and have finally implemented a coaching staff and a system that is firing on all cylinders. Their defensive front may be the toughest in the NFL, Matthew Stafford is finally working his way into being a notable quarterback in this league, Calvin Johnson is proving he might be the best wide receiver in the game, and Jim Schwartz has been the roman candle that Detroit needed to spark them into their winning ways.

Jim Schwartz's Detroit Swagger Has Them In Position to Make the Postseason

They aren’t beating bottom tier teams either. They destroyed Tampa Bay 48-3 in week two. Came back from huge second half deficits to beat Minnesota and Dallas, and after losing two straight, showed their resiliency by defeating Denver by 35. A team that once couldn’t buy a win on the road is now 4-0 on the road this season! Hockeytown finally has another sport that can help feed that dying economy, and help spread hope throughout the city. However, don’t get too excited yet, remember when John Kitna predicted a 10 win season? Then they started 6-2, and ended 8-8 and missed the playoffs… like the little kid in Angels in the Outfield said, “It can happen.”

3. San Diego Chargers

This seems to happen every year. The Chargers are without a doubt one of the most terrifying teams on paper. Rivers, Gates, Jackson, Matthews – their offense is absolutely stacked, and their offensive line is one of the more stable ones in the NFL. They’re still the 6th best offense in the league, averaging over 400 yards of total offense per game; however, Rivers has made way too many mistakes this season and is basically costing them games by himself. Do I even have to mention the fumbled snap with a minute left last week against KC? ALL he had to do was hand the ball off and the game is over.

Click the picture to see the video of the fumbled snap.

Yesterday against Green Bay, he threw consecutive interceptions that were both taken back to the house – they would go on to only lose by 6. The Chargers are now 4-4 and are still tied for first because they are in perhaps the weakest division in the NFC. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense when you look at the statistics, they have the 6th highest rated offense, and the 7th highest rated defense, yet they keep finding ways to lose. The elite teams out there like the Packers always find ways to win, even when they aren’t playing at their highest level. The Chargers keep finding ways to lose even when they’re playing well. If it keeps up, they’ll be watching the playoffs from their recliners once again.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Remember all the pressure that was on Alex Smith? About how he was going to be put in the same sentence as Ryan Leaf when talking about QB busts in the NFL draft? Remember when Mike Singletary got fired and the entire sporting world counted out the Niners and urged them to trade Frank Gore in order to help rebuild the entire program?

He Kind of Looks Like Ryan Leaf Though

Well with all the doubts aside, the 49ers are somehow 7-1. They’ve won six straight games, and it is very possible that they could receive home field advantage in the playoffs. They are easily going to win to their division, which they could clinch in as soon as two weeks, which shows how poor that division is (Seattle, Arizona, and St. Louis have 5 wins combined). The biggest different thus far has been their defense, which is currently ranked 9th overall in the league. Frank Gore has continued to shine and has five consecutive 100-yard games. Alex Smith hasn’t had to be amazing, but he’s been good enough for them to win ball games. The 49ers remind me of the Ravens team that won the superbowl back when Trent Dilfer was QB. Don’t be surprised if they make a deep run come playoff time.

1. Cincinnati Bengals

Who dey? Dey are somehow 6-2 behind the arm of highly criticized Andy Dalton. I was the biggest skeptic when it came to the Bengals in the beginning of the season. If you would have said at week 9 the Bengals would be tied for first atop probably the hardest division in football, I would have said you were nuts. Their offense hasn’t been stellar, but they’re only giving up 300 yards per game on defense, which is good enough for a top five slot in the NFL. They were hardly a top-15 defense last year so that has definitely been the largest improvement. They’ve won five straight, and the 4th overall pick in last years draft A.J. Green has filled every expectation that organization could have ever asked from him in his rookie campaign.

Andy Dalton is Finally Giving Cincinatti Fans Something to Cheer About

Are they a playoff bound team? I still say no. If you look at their remaining schedule, they still have to play Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice, and they’ll play the Texans at home. There offense is going to have to improve if they want to make a serious run toward the wild card. I think they’ll finish at 10-6, but will fall short when Pittsburgh and Baltimore both finish at 11-5 or better.

Honorable Mention: Indianapolis Colts

Everyone knew that Peyton Manning was good, but the fact that he turns a Super bowl contender into a team that’s 0-9 is nothing short of incredible.