The Thrill of Skill


Even without two of the best players in the world suiting up, there will still be plenty of skill on display in Ottawa over All Star weekend. Canada’s favourite Sidney Crosby would love nothing more than to join his peers and be there for the fans, but he’s still on the road to recovery due to those lingering concussion symptoms. Boo. On the other side we have Alexander Ovechkin, who’s made a personal decision to sit out the festivities as he’s serving a suspension. And while I agree he shouldn’t have to participate in a situation that would lead to nothing but fodder for the media, the timing is good for Ovie-Wan Kenobi, who’s 39 points so far this year has been a lightsaber short of a Jedi.

I wonder where Ovie would have been picked had he participated, but if you base it on his stats he might have been driving away with a brand new Honda Crosstour. For a bizarre change, it’s nice to see guys like Jaime Benn and Tyler Seguin enjoying a more productive season than Ovechkin. Who better to see suffer the last pick blues than the Great 8, as his display of laughing and camera pointing at last year’s ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ was nothing short of childish and classless.

The rest of the world’s best barn burners are in the Nations capitol and are ready to put on a show, from sick saucers to dazzling dangles and everything in between. Some might argue that the All Star weekend is boring, that there is no hustle or defense. If you can’t appreciate the skills that these athletes posses and understand how difficult it is to pull off these moves, then you’ve probably never played. The hand-eye coordination, the incredible vision, and the ability to hit the tape in stride while going full speed is what it’s all about. When it’s time to watch the best in the world caress and control the puck like it’s on a string, it’s supposed to be heart warming, because I know for me, I get goose bumps.

All Star weekend is not about blood sweat and tears, it’s a time to relax and have some fun. So for all you naysayers out there that find something to complain about, think about the smiles on the kids faces, as their idols dance before them on the same sheet of ice.

xoxo

Patriot Games

Please excuse me as I write this because my Ugg boot is inserted in my mouth. Once again the New England Patriots prove me wrong and are now one win away from a definite "dynasty" title beside their name, and deservingly so.

Sitting on my couch enjoying the thriller of the game with the Baltimore Ravens, awaiting an overtime classic, one thing came to mind…..“Ray Finkle”. Wide left, wide left. The laces were in. Billy Cundiff blows the game tying kick and I felt sick for the whole Ravens organization. Ray Lewis. Ed Reed. Joe Flacco. And I guess a little for the goat himself.

It’s ironic that the Patriots punched their ticket to the Super Bowl thanks to their defense. A red zone stand at the end of the game to force the field goal was the deciding factor. Although Lee Evans, buddy, you have to hold on to the rock. Again, give respect to the Pats D on knocking it out of his hands. The Ravens defense deserve a ton of credit too, they did the unthinkable by shutting the Golden Boy down. Brady posted mediocre numbers, failing to reach the end zone thru the air for the first time since the 2009 season. He also threw two interceptions. But, he did walk away with the game winning score as he plunged into the end zone on a 1 yard TD run.

My hat goes off to New England, they always seem to find away to get it done. It’s another run for the Brady Bunch at being World Champs. For many that would have been an obvious choice to start the year, but not as easy a prediction as to what Coach Belichik will wear.

While I have my hat in the air, I’m going to turn it into a crown and place it on the head New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. What else can you say about the gritty performance against the league’s most dominant defense in the San Fran 49ers. That was nothing short of spectacular. He looked like a prize fighter as he kept getting up after getting teed off on from vicious hit after vicious hit. Just like ‘Irish’ Micky Ward, he absorbed the blows and moved the brigade forward. In doing so, he gained my respect and I’m sure many others the same.

As I remove the Ugg from my mouth, it brings me to that ugly performance from Niners second year player Kyle Williams. Fumbling in the NFL is unacceptable; it’s the easiest way to find your self out of the league.Watching him cough it up the first time was tough to see. It hurts the heart as I write this, for all the 49’ers faithful who have been dreaming of these moments for many long miserable seasons. While holding the streaking Giants and forcing them to punt, all the momentum was shifting to the home team. Then it happened, the ‘fumble heard round the world.’

I believe Britney Spears said it best. “Oops I did it again”. This time however, there was no chance for a comeback.









xoxo,

The Ravens are Coming

Tom Brady and his team deserve every record, accolade, Super Bowl ring, super model girlfriend and MVP award that’s ever been brought back to Foxboro since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, but this year the New England Patriots are simply overrated. As I comb through their season of high scoring success, yes they put up an intimidating record of 13-3, but none of those wins were against playoff bound teams. In their matchups against playoff bound teams? Put two in the L column, as they stumbled against the Steelers and Giants, their only real competition of the year.

Give the momentum to the Pats though, they earned it with their ‘no mercy’ game play against the stumbling Broncos, but come game time it could easily shift if their 30th ranked D performs the way it did against gutted teams like the Colts and the Raiders. Each managed to throw up over 350 yards in relatively close games. The Ravens are coming off a poor showing last Sunday despite putting down the Texans, and are underdogs for just the second time this year.

While it seems safe for the Pats to be favoured, there are some unsavoury stats that put this game into question. The Ravens, a model of consistency, put up seven of their 14 wins this year against teams that made it to the playoffs. In their only other game as the underdog, an outright win was the fitting end. And while Brady is substantially better in the pocket than his counterpart Joe Flacco, Flacco ain’t no Tim Tebow so don’t expect a blowout. The Ravens had another stellar year defensively, with Top 5 finishes in passing yards per game, and rushing yards per game. This is the biggest game of Flacco’s career, and since he got there four seasons ago, now’s his ultimate chance to show Raven Nation he’s ready to bring them all the way. As for the notable Ray Rice, the oh so notable Ray Rice also drafted alongside Flacco, his stinker last week against the defensive minded Texans I can live to forget. I’m guessing he’ll rebound nicely against a defense cushier than my pillow. It’s been a long time coming, but the Ravens are here.

xoxo,

Leafs Lust for Post-Season Action

It’s been six excruciatingly long and strung out miserable seasons, but this is the year the Leafs make the playoffs. Coming from a Montreal girl who’s really had more pleasure than pain watching the locals endure the torture, there are signs that point to the return to the Promised Land. No no, not the land of Lord Stanley, there’s no promises there, but just the possibility of tasting the first round fling once more now seems closer than ever.

They started 2012 off right with four straight wins, including 17 goals for and two shutouts. Queue the three game losing skid that’s pushed them out of a playoff spot, and consider tonight’s game against an equally struggling Wild team as the opportunity that puts them back on track. Similar to Vinnie and Pauly D, high scorers Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul’s budding bromance has hit a brick wall. So Coach Ron Wilson has taken care of the situation by splitting the duo to promote productivity. Drastic move. But drastic times call for drastic measures. It’s become too obvious that the Leafs lack secondary scoring, making it easy for the opposition if they can shut down their top unit. Lupol’s playmaking ability and hockey IQ should spark his fellow line mates Tim Connolly and Nazem Kadri, who both need the jolt badly. Wilson’s move promotes balance which is desperately needed in the club, since putting all their eggs in one basket doesn’t seem to work.

If you compare the dark days of former General Manager Cliff Fletcher and Head Coach Paul Maurice, the Leafs have made great strides. The induction of Americans (GM) Brian Burke and Wilson, who’ve both had impressive runs out West, was really the page turner to the next chapter of Leafs nation. Everything from whip cracking to bags packing, the duo has a no-nonsense attitude that commands the team, and neither of them is shy to pull the trigger on poor attitude and performance.

As we enter the second half of the season, teams like the Leafs jockeying for playoff contention will be highly pressured to be either buyers or sellers come the Trade Deadline. Fortunately over the last few years, Leafs fans can rest assured Burkie knows how to cut a deal, as his track record for low-balling his way to big ticket items makes him an easy contender for a seat on Dragon’s Den. The acquisition of All-Stars Joffrey Lupol and Dion Phaneuf, while dumping overpaid underachievers like Nicklas Hagman, Matt Stajan, Francois Beauchemin and Jason Blake, has brought life and hope to such a huge hockey market that’s been struggling for so long. As the deadline draws near, a bona fide center man and a defensive minded guru could be the missing pieces that solve the playoff puzzle.

The last time the Leafs were in the playoffs, social networking site Facebook launched exclusively to students of Harvard. 800,000,000 users later, the Leafs status has changed, and pretty soon it’s going to read ‘Holy Mackinaw it’s playoff time!’


xoxo

The Final Four!

The Captain Morgan Playoff Challenge continues and below is a Sunday’s Conference Finals preview brought to you by InGamer co-Founder and fantasy sports expert Nic Sulsky. Enjoy the read and come try the coolest new sports game around at http://football.ingamer.sportsnet.ca

BAL @ NE

There is one offensive juggernaut left. Can the Raven’s D do what the 49’ers did to the Saints and the Giants did to the Packers? I doubt it. The Ravens have a very good Defense, but they are not elite in any aspect of their game. They have 3 elite players in Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata (Ray Lewis is no longer elite, folks) and one of them is dinged up (Reed). You can stop the Patriots if you can get heat on Brady and force him into making bad decisions; but I don’t think the Ravens can stop what Brady & co. have in store for them.

Rob Gronkowsi and Aaron Hernandez are a match-up nightmare...and it’s getting worse for defenses. They seem to be getting better and Belichik is starting to get even cheekier with how he deploys them. Hernandez, the 2nd best TE on the Pats, was their leading rusher last game. These two are big, fast, explosive weapons with great hands and a mean streak. My gut: The Ravens will do everything to limit Gronkowski. Hernandez is going to be the star in this game. Wes Welker will get a ton of underneath looks and Brady should have a solid game (but he always throws a pick or two against the Ravens). Terrell Suggs will be coming hard and fast all game and should be good for 1.5+ sacks. Ladarius Webb is a playmaking corner who also returns kicks; he’s a great play.

The Ravens offense runs through one man, and that man will have a huge day. Ray Rice is going to be an absolute beast. He will likely get 20+ carries and 6+ catches. The Patriots will try and bottle him up, and Jerod Mayo will play a key role. Rob Ninkovich has been making plays all year and he (along with DE Mark Anderson) are the Pats key pass rushers. They will have some opportunities to get pressure on Joe Flacco, but they are risky 1st half bets. If the Pats build a huge lead, then they will pin back their ears and attack Flacco, who is a risky start in his own right. The Pats secondary is leaky, but they have been playing better since the return of SS Patrick Chung. Flacco will try and stretch the field with Torrey Smith while looking at Anquan Boldin in-between the hash-marks. Boldin is the only other Ravens offensive player to seriously consider.

The two stars of this game may end up being the kickers. Both Cundiff and Gostowski could see a ton of chances as the Ravens D is tougher as it’s back get closer to their goal-line and the Pats have a bend-but-don’t-break D. Also look for 2 entirely different halves of football here. Don’t rush to make player changes if your 1st Quarter/Half picks start slow.

My Starting 6:
Captain: Ray Rice - RB, BAL
Patrick Chung - DB, NE
Wes Welker - WR, NE
Tom Brady - QB, NE
Aaron Hernandez - TE, NE
Terrell Suggs- LB, BAL

Keep an eye on: Rob Gronkowski (i know what you’re thinking), Billy Cundiff, Anquan Boldin, Stephen Gostowski

NYG @ SF

This is a hard game to get a grasp of as there doesn’t seem to be any consensus building when it comes to predicting the outcome. The one thing folks seem to agree on is that each defense is going to pose a much stiffer challenge to each offensive unit than they faced last week. My take: If the Giants front 7 can get 5 sacks on Alex Smith, they win. The Giants need to get in Alex Smith’s face and make him significantly more uncomfortable then the Saints did last week. I think they can and will. Osi, Tuck, JPP and, surprisingly, Boley need to step up huge again and if they do that, Eli and the Offense should muster enough points to beat the 49’ers.

Vernon Davis was an absolute monster last week. The Giants will undoubtedly learn from the Saint’s ill-fated man-on-man strategy and double Vernon most of the day. Can Crabtree make some plays? Can one of the other SF wideouts do anything? The 49’ers will get Frank Gore involved early and often. They will use him to set up some play action and if the WR crew can make a couple early plays, the Giants D will need to take notice. If Alex Smith can scare the Giants away from stacking the box, coming after him play after play, the 49’ers will win. If Frank Gore goes for 125+ total yards, that willl do the trick.

Eli Manning and Hakeen Nicks have been playing lights-out football. No QB-WR combo has been hotter in recent memory; only Warner/Fitzgerald have been close to the explosiveness the Giant’s duo is showcasing. Victor Cruz has disappeared of late, but with Carlos Rogers likely glued to Nicks all day, it’s Cruz that may supply the explosiveness in this game. But the 49’ers D has the ability to shut down any team, any game. Yes, Drew Brees put up 30+ pts, but that’s the Saints. The Giants will have a hard time getting their running game going (as the Saints did) and Eli Manning (as great as he has been playing) is not Drew Brees. And, the Giants don’t have a weapon like Jimmy Graham that can force constant mid-field attention. Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman and Dashon Goldson are studs. They will be play huge in this game. And Donte Whitner, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith will also make plays. This D is for real and the Giants better hope they can get some big plays or it’s going to be a long day.

Similar to the 1st game, the kickers may be stars for us InGamers. Davis Akers, my captain pick, did break the all-time FG record this year, and unless this game is played in a torrential down pour, he will have 3+ FGs.

My Starting 6:
Captain: David Akers - K, SF
Navarro Bowman - LB, SF
Patrick Willis - LB, SF
Victor Cruz - WR, NY
Frank Gore - RB, SF
Michael Boley - LB, NY

Keep your eye on: Dashon Goldson, Jason Pierre-Paul, Hakeem Nicks, Osi Umenyiora

Good Luck Everyone and see you in the games!!

The Cheese has been Grated

Just like Swiss cheese, the Green Bay Packers showed they had plenty of holes in their game. The biggest stinker to their Munster season? The plain sight exposure of their moldy defense. The gun slinging super hero Aaron Rodgers and company put up so many points that it was almost an afterthought defending their Super Bowl title required a bit of defense. Those emotionally invested with the Packers knew deep down the Giants had a fair shot of winning. But dominating at Lambeau Field? That’s a totally different brick of cheese. The Packers exposed their weaknesses early in the year with close calls against poor teams like the Panthers and the Vikings, but they still barged on to an almost perfect season to downplay those faux-pas. Pound for pound the Giants outplayed the Pack, everything from the pivot to the pass rush. Speaking of rush, Rodgers should NOT have been his teams’ leading rusher with only 66 yards. It may have been cold out but the run game was softer than brie. It was the power of the turnover that put up the points this weekend inthe NFC, and not the power of the arm. By halftime there were more emotions in the stands than an entire season of The Bachelorette, and in the end Aaron didn't get the rose in this one.







xoxo

Round TWO!: Sunday Conference-Semi Game Previews

The Captain Morgan Playoff Challenge continues and below is a Sunday’s Coneference Semi-Finals preview brought to you by InGamer co-Founder and fantasy sports expert Nic Sulsky. Enjoy the read and come try the coolest new sports game around at http://football.ingamer.sportsnet.ca

HOU @ BAL

Arian Foster or Ray Rice. Pick your poison. This will be a game with two offenses focusing on getting the ball into their best player’s hands as often as possible, and that means 25+ touches for each starting running back. They are as talented running between the tackles and outside of them as they are catching passes out of the backfield. Because they will be the focal point of both offenses, the starting MLB’s and SS’s will be the focal point of each defense. While each team plays a 3-4, usually diluting the effective of a single MLB, Brian Cushing and Ray Lewis are clear favorites to post 8+ tackles. The guy I really like this week on the defense side of the ball is Bernard Pollard. The Ravens SS and former Texan starter has an axe to grind and a prime opportunity to do so.

Neither team wants to rely on their passing game to win this match-up. Baltimore has the more experienced QB in Joe Flacco who isn’t exactly described as explosive while TJ Yates has looked comfortable in recent weeks, but he is still not someone who can take a team on his shoulders, so to speak. While Andre Johnson is the games best wideout, Anquan Boldin & Torrey Smith offer more hope through the air. If shutdown corner Jonathan Joseph is stapled to Boldin, Torrey Smith could have a big game. Don’t forget about TE’s Owen Daniels (HOU) and Ed Dickson who will be used in play action to keep these two aggressive defenses honest.

This 1st quarter may involve two very long, very run heavy drives, so look to start your game with a very un-sexy combination of runners & tacklers. As the game progresses at least one offense will likely be forced to open it up, the question is who?

My Starting 6:
Captain: Ray Rice - RB, BAL
Bernard Pollard - DB, BAL
Ed Dickson - TE, BAL
Brian Cushing- LB, HOU
Arian Foster - RB, HOU
Ray Lewis - LB, BAL


Keep an eye on: Terrell Suggs, Torrey Smith, Billy Cundiff, JJ Watt

NYG @ GB

I can’t think of anything I’m looking forward to more this weekend than seeing how the Packers deal with the 3-headed NYG D-Line monster. If the Giants can get to Aaron Rodgers and make him uncomfortable, the Giants will win. That simple. The Giants offense is good enough to score against a mediocre Packers D, so the question is: will Aaron Rodgers throw for 350+ and 4 scores? I think that’s what he’ll need to do in this game...and i think Osi, Tuck and the otherworldly Jason Pierre-Paul will make that a bigger challenge than Rodgers has had all year.

On the Packers side of the ball, you know the big 3: Greg Jennings (now healthy), Jordy Nelson and Jerimichael Finley. They could all have huge games, the question is who and when? James Jones and Donald Driver also could merit consideration as we see how the Giants decide to deal with the ‘Big Three’. Running-wise, James Starks is coming back, but who cares? I don’t. Ryan Grant, even less. Aaron Rodgers will get more rushing yards than either of those guys; you heard it here first. For the Giants D, you can’t go wrong with any of the aforementioned big 3, but don’t sleep on tweener OLB Mathias Kiwunuka. SS Kenny Philips might be the best Giants defender to use if you’d like to roll with some consistent pts. JPP, Tuck & Osi may provide the grand-slam pts, but sometimes in InGamer, singles work too.

The Giants are going to use the run to set up the big play ability of their 3 main WR targets: Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and, yes folks, Mario Manningham. Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Charles Woodson have the skill and speed to match up well, but they are all ball-hawks who like to gamble. There is a lot to lose this game. Eli is a slow starter and the 1st quarter will likely find Tom Coughlin trying to establish Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, but Eli loves to take his shots down field so you never know. Clay Matthews Jr. will have a hard time finding rushing lanes with the way the Giants O-line is playing, so look to LB Desmond Bishop and SS Morgan Burnett to put up some solid second level tackle numbers.

A sleeper this game: Randall Cobb. He’s the return man and has seen an increased number of offensive snaps with Jenning’s recent injury.

My Starting 6:
Captain: Jordy Nelson - WR, GB
Aaron Rodgers - QB, GB
Desmond Bishop - LB, GB
Jason Pierre-Paul - DE, NYG
Ahmad Bradshaw - RB, NYG
Randall Cobb - WR/KR, GB (No kidding, you watch!)

Keep your eye on: Greg Jennings, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Kenny Phillips

Good Luck Everyone and see you in the games!!

Stats and Data, Data and Stats

Morning InGamers,
Just a quick note to let you know that we take stats extraordinarily seriously, maybe more so than anyone on earth. In light of that and some of the data issues we encountered during Saturday's NFL Playoff games, we are going through every play with a fine tooth comb.

Expect to see stat corrections applied to those games over the next couple days. So, if you're currently at the top of the Leaderboard in either of those two games, take a screen shot now....because it's likely to change ;)

Thanks for InGaming and see you in the games soon!

Best
Nic & The InGamer Team.

It's an offence to dismiss the defense


We all know the saying ‘Defense Wins Championships’ but with teams like the Pack, the Pats and the Saints all still slinging their robot-like arms in what appears to be a ‘Race to 40’ every week, does defense really stand a chance? With hits to the head and 'interfered-with' receiver flags being thrown around like party favours at the Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries wedding, this years controversial play-calling has opened the doors for an offense-minded brand of football. It’s the year of the quarterback and there`s no denying it. Prior to this years campaign, only two pivots, Dan Marino and Drew Brees, had thrown for over 5,000 yards in a single season. This year, Brees, Tom Brady and Matt Stafford each surpassed the milestone mark, with Brees smashing Marino’s all-time record by nearly 400 yards, finishing with a whopping 5,476 yards. Wowza! Throw Cam Newton into the mix as he broke Peyton Manning’s rookie record for most passing yards in a season, and it’s pretty clear QB’s are having more success now in the air than ever before. It’s a fact that some of the best teams in the league struggle mightily on defense, but it doesn’t stop them from winning games. This allows the fans to dismiss more effectively the power of the D, if it means they’ll just keep scoring. One player that comes to mind when I think of a passing great is 2012 Canadian Football League Hall of Famer Damon Allen, who knows a thing or two about throwing the rock around and putting up points. Maybe he'll share his VIP opinion as a new and valued member of the InGamer family! Hey Damon...is defense overrated when a quarterback has a golden arm? When NFL fans are betting up the lines on offensive teams, usually smart money is on the defense. Stylistically, this weekends matchups are the perfect formula to decide this equation, and should offer up some of the most exhilarating football seen in years. While it looks like a change of the guard is near, this weekend I`m putting my value bets on the Ravens and 49ers.

xoxo

To Tebow or not to Tebow?

The Captain Morgan Playoff Challenge continues and below is a Saturday’s Coneference Semi-Finals preview brought to you by InGamer co-Founder and fantasy sports expert Nic Sulsky. Enjoy the read and come try the coolest new sports game around at http://football.ingamer.sportsnet.ca

NO @ SF

I am hear by naming this The “When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object” Game.
The Saints have the most potent and diverse offensive attack i have ever seen. Pundits will talk about playing away from the Superdome, but SanFran isn’t exactly Lambeau Field. Brees is dialled in. They have 3 healthy and strong RBs. They have 2 elite pass-catchers and another 3 high-level ones. 8 real weapons. EIGHT. What team has EVER had that? The fact that they are being led by a QB playing at a level few have ever played at just seems unfair. But, they are heading straight at the NFL’s number one-ranked defense.

As impressive as Brees, Graham, Colston and Sproles are, ladies & gentlemen: I give you Patrick Wilis, Navarro Bowman, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith. The Niners defence has studs too. They are fast, strong and smart. If any defense can slow down the Saints it’s the Niners, but I don’t think they can. Brees is just playing too well. That being said, don’t expect 400+ yards passing. Think 280 with 3 TDS and 1 INT.

While it’s impossible to truly get a read on who Sean Payton & Drew Brees are going to feature, it’s not hard to call Frank Gore the singular feature of the 49’ers offense. If he rushes for 100+ yards San Francisco has a chance. They will use two-TE sets and play action to loosen up the Saints D, but if New Orleans can bottle up Gore (i’m looking at you Roman Harper & Jonathan Vilma), forcing Alex Smith to throw 30+ passes, the 49’ers are in trouble. Speaking of play action, that is where Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis will be dangerous, but Crabtree is no Megatron.

My Starting 6:
Captain: Frank Gore - RB, SF
Roman Harper - DB, NO
Marques Colston - WR, NO
Drew Brees - QB, NO
Darren Sproles - RB, NO
Patrick Willis - LB, SF


Keep an eye on: John Kasay, David Akers, Vernon Davis, Dashon Golson

DEN @ NE

Unbelievable. I’m not going to look back on last week outside of saying that one word. Now, the question is can Bill Belichik derail the confidence Tim Tebow and the Broncos offense will be bringing with them into Foxboro? The Patriots D has not had a good season, but they finally have both Jerod Mayo and Patrick Chung healthy and active. They are the two keys in stopping the rushing attack of the Broncos. The bigger question is, who is going to cover Demaryius Thomas? Kyle Arrington will likely get the call, and Thomas will eat him alive if Tebow gets the time to throw. Losing Eric Decker hurts, so look for Eddie Royal to play the key role on Saturday. If Royal can loosen up the slot, the Broncos vaunted rushing attack led by McGahee and Tebow will have success. Playing Tebow in the 1st Quarter, though, is a very risky proposition: Away from Mile High, Bill Belichik/Josh McDaniels, his lacklustre 1st Q last week ...all ingredients for a rough start.

As for the Patriots, you know who’s getting the ball in the passing game. Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez all had stand out seasons, but it may be Hernandez who stars in this one. He had 120+ yds and score in their first meeting this year, and the Broncos may again focus on stopping Welker and Gronk. Chances are, they all have solid games, big question for us InGamers is who is going to start off hot? My bet is Hernandez. While the passing game is cut and dry, the NE running game isn’t. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the early season starter and is the goal-line back, but it’s Stevan Ridley who has emerged as more of the rushing workhorse. I have more trust in the ‘Law Firm’ to score a TD but in here, where every yard counts, Ridley does definitely merit consideration...especially in the 1st Quarter. If the Pats can run the ball effectively, this will be a blow out.

Finally, the question everyone is asking themselves: do I captain Tim Tebow? Do you believe in lightning striking twice? I believe in Belichik.

My Starting 6:
Captain: Wes Welker - WR, NE
Tom Brady - QB, NE
DJ Williams - LB, DEN
Aaron Hernandez - TE, NE
Willis McGahee - RB, DEN
Patrick Chung - DD, NE

Keep your eye on: Tim Tebow, Stevan Ridley, Eddie Royal, Jerod Mayo

Sunday’s game previews coming soon...
Good Luck Everyone and see you in the games!!

If you believe... You achieve



There always seems to be a major upset in the NFL playoffs, but very few predicted this. After a three-week hiatus, the comeback kid with the warrior spirit and hopeful heart is back… and he’s taken the Mile High route on what looked like a busted Bronco, but is in fact a stud on a mission. After being the Mayor of Brutesville the last month, Tim Tebow officially left his post yesterday finally starting the game off right. It only makes it fitting that he’d have the most prolific game of his career when all the odds were stacked against him and it seemed many of his believers had lost the faith. While in Houston, we have liftoff! After watching Shuttle AF23 rip through the core of the Bengals defense, it’s clear the deployment of Andre Johnson is what launched the running game into orbit. The win marks a milestone of cosmic proportions for the Texans, their first playoff victory. Not short of playoff victories are the Manning bros, and with only one Manning in the playoffs this year, Eli sure played like a $97 million man. Without having to revert to their previous successful formulas, the Giants were able to Cruz passed the Falcons sans Victor. After squeaking into the playoffs it’s déjà vu for the defense, with a performance like yesterday we were all taken back to blurred memories of that improbable Super Bowl run from a four years back. And finally, we go from the Big Apple to the Big Easy, where it wasn’t that easy until the fourth quarter. In true NFL record-holding fashion Drew Brees did what he does best, he turned up the volume late in the game, and the party’s still going in the French Quarter. What a wild card weekend! Only the strong survive, and this time around the Steelers aren’t one of them. Salivating for the Divisional Round- if it’s half as good as the first round, I’ll be thoroughly impressed. I'll see you in the game!




xoxo

Wildcard Weekend means...

The only thing better than spending time with your loved ones during the holidays, are the shenanigans that occur immediately after… the start of the NFL playoffs. Where just like the Denver Broncos’ odds of beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, you and your in-laws are miles and miles apart. Whether you were doing the Two-Step or the Electric Slide to ring in the New Year, the dance of choice in the Big Apple is the Salsa. If the Atlanta Falcons can stop Victor from Cruz-ing into the End Zone, the music will shift from Celia Cruz to something a little harder, as they’ll be doing the Dirty Bird dance in Hotlanta. Let’s give a warm welcome back into the post-season for Detroit; they’re rewarded with a road trip to ‘Nawlins. And though they may be Lions, they’re defense has proven to be anything but ferocious. The Saints’ record setting aerial attack has kept them perfect at home, so unfortunately for Motor City, their tank is going to run out of gas. Texas usually makes an appearance in the playoffs, but this time it ain’t the Cowboys. The Houston Texans reach the second season for the first time in franchise history. It’s an old fashion Texas showdown against the Cincinnati Bengals, with two rookie quarterbacks T.J Yates and Andy Dalton squaring off. Texas will try to rely more heavily on the run game of Arian Foster and Ben Tate, while the Bengals will need the Red Rifle to be locked and loaded if they want to survive the first round. So clear your schedule and pack the fridge, make sure the phone and laptop are fully charged – it’s going to be a busy weekend. The worst part about the start of the playoffs? In just a month it’ll all be over.

I’ll see you in the game,

xoxo

NFL Playoffs are here!!

The Captain Morgan Playoff Challenge begins this Saturday and below is a Wildcard Weekend preview brought to you by InGamer co-Founder and fantasy sports expert Nic Sulsky. Enjoy the read and come try the coolest new sports game around at http://football.ingamer.sportsnet.ca

CIN @ HOU

We have 2 playoff rookie QB’s facing off against each other in what looks to be a very close, running-based game. The Texans are going to rely on their imposing rushing attack led by Arian Foster, supported by Ben Tate and bolstered by the best run-blocking line in the league. The Bengals are a solid yet unspectacular team. They will have their work cut out for them on both sides of the ball, but if they can get Cedric Benson some 1st down yardage, they will be in a good position to let Andy Dalton let some balls fly to their explosive combo of AJ Green & Jerome Simpson. Look for the MLB’s and SS’s to be good plays here as each team will look to set up the pass with the run to take some pressure off their inexperienced QB’s. That will mean lots of tackles to be had. With Andre Johnson still rusty and hobbled from late season injuries and shut-down CB Jonathan Joseph likely keying on phenom AJ Green, Jerome Simpson may be the best WR in this game.

My Starting 6:
Captain: Arian Foster
Neil Rackers
Thomas Howard
Daniel Manning (don’t forget Return Yards!)
Jerome Simpson
Andre Johnson

Keep an eye on: Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Owen Daniels, Reggie Nelson

DET @ NO

Can anyone say “shootout”. Listen, I know most people will Captain Drew Brees, but remember that if he throws a couple INTs (major negative penalty) you’ll have a hard time winning. It might be better to simply start him and captain someone else, like Darren Sproles! Sproles will be guaranteed a ton of yards (don’t forget special team return yard points) and have a great shot scoring at least once. Obviously both QBs are going to throw and thow lots with Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston seeing the majority of targets, but don’t disregard the Safeties in this game. Both Roman Harper and Amari Spievey are going be extremely active. Think those guys will be putting up some tackle pts?? And do any of you remember what the Saints did to defend Megatron in their game earlier this year? They treated him like a special teams gunner on almost every play with 2 DBs literally bracketing him wherever he went. They will try and take him out of the game as best they can.

My Starting 6:
Captain: Darren Sproles (seriously folks)
Drew Brees
Matthew Stafford
Amari Spievey
Jimmy Graham
Marques Colston

Keep your eye on: Chris Ivory, Titus Young, Roman Harper, Stephen Tulloch

ATL @ NYG

This might be the hardest game to pick players for this week. How will the Falcons fare outdoors? Can they keep the imposing Giants pass rush away from Matt Ryan? Can the Falcons handle both Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks? How will the leaky Giants secondary handle the best WR tandem in the league in Roddy White and Julio Jones? And, most significantly for 1st quarter picks: what will the weather be like? Both teams will try and get their running game going early on, but the Falcons have a solid run D, so Ahmad Bradshaw & Brandon Jacobs will have a hard time finding yards. Both QBs have had great years, and could be considered captain potentials, but Matt Ryan outdoors is a tricky proposition. I won’t be starting Eli in the 1st Quarter as he’s typically a slow-starter, but he has been the best 4th Quarter QB in the league this year so unless the G-men have a huge lead, make sure he’s in your lineup for the beginning of the 4th.

My Starting 6:
Captain: Roddy White
Matt Ryan
Jason Pierre-Paul
Curtis Lofton
Victor Cruz
Lawrence Tynes

Keep an eye on: Curtis Lofton, Matt Bryant, Justin Tuck, Eli Manning, Michael Turner

PITT @ DEN

You know you want to, you really do. Captain Tim Tebow. You wanna laugh? I think he would be a better captain than Big Ben Roethlisberger. I’m scared about his ankle. I’m scared about his creaky O-line. I’m scared about the loss of Mendenhall. I’m scared about Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil teeing off. Now, I still think the Steelers will prevail, but I think points are going to be few and sacks are going to be a’plenty. I could see someone selecting 4 pass rushers (the two Broncos I mentioned plus James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley) and competing for the top game score. I wouldn’t do it myself, but makes ya think doesn’t it? Tebow loves to get sacked. Dick Lebeau is going to man-up the Bronco wideouts, dial up enough run blitzes to control the line of scrimmage, get Tebow into 3rd & longs and then bring the house at the poor guy. Now come the 4th quarter, I will swap in Tebow to score me some Tebow-magic, but prior to that I don’t think any Bronco offensive player outside Willis McGahee is pickable. For the Steelers, I think Antonio Brown is ‘the’ guy. Champ Bailey will be all over Mike Wallace, so Brown will see the majority of targets (as he has all season-long) and net you some serious punt-return yards. Yes, the Broncos will be punting and punting often.

My Starting 6:
Captain: Antonio Brown
Elvis Dumervil
James Harrison
Lawrence Timmons
Troy Polamalu
Isaac Redman

Keep an eye on: Willis McGahee, Shaun Suisham, Demarius Thomas, TIM TEBOW!

Good Luck Everyone! See you in the games....
 
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