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Winners and Losers from Week 6 of NFL

Winners

Dallas Cowboys - Defeated Seattle Seahawks



In a game that they were not supposed to win, in a place that NOBODY is supposed to win, the Dallas Cowboys pulled off a huge upset in defeating the Seattle Seahawks in front of the 12th man.  Tony Romo went 21-32 for 250 yards and 2TDs, while DeMarco Murray 29 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown.  The Cowboys defense showed up too by limiting Russell Wilson to 126 yards passing and Marshawn Lynch to 61 rushing, neither reaching the endzone.  Dallas now owns the best record in the NFC, outscoring opponents by 64 points since halftime of week 1.

Joe Flacco - 5 TD Passes in 17 minutes

It was one of those days Joe Flacco will never forget.  Flacco connected on a team record 5 touchdown passes...on the 1st 5 possessions of the game.  The Baltimore QB ended the game with 306 yards as he completely torched the Bucs defense.  As a QB who has persistently gave supporters and detractors reason for debate, this could give him the push he needed to take this offense to the next level.

Cleveland Browns - Defeated the Steelers 

1-18. That was the Cleveland Browns record verses the Pittsburgh Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger as starting quarterback.  In front of a home crowd that has rallied behind their upstart team, the Browns avenged all their demons by handing Pittsburgh a 31-10 defeat that wasn't as close as the lopsided score may indicate.  The win moves the Browns to 3-2 and on the right path going into a stretch of 3 upcoming games they will be favored in.  This team could soon be 6-2 going forward.

Branden Oliver - 100 yards in SD Chargers win

The rookie running back from Buffalo may have snagged the starting job on the best football team in the AFC.  After getting praise from college teammate Khalil Mack, Oliver went out and ran for 101 yards and a touchdown, his 2nd 100+ yard rushing game in a row.  The Chargers have the best record in the AFC and are clicking on all cylinders.  If the unheralded back Oliver can provide stability in the backfield, the Chargers could be in for a special season.

Phillip Rivers - Topping MVP conversation

While RB Branden Oliver has been a good story coming out of San Diego, THE story has been QB Phillip Rivers, and his MVP play this season.  Since the narrow 18-17 loss to start the season Rivers has been nearly flawless, throwing for at least 250 yards and 123+ QB rating while leading the Chargers to a share of the best record in the AFC.  While many expected Peyton Manning to run away with another MVP, but at this point the award may go to another AFC West QB.


Losers

Detroit Lions FG Kicking - Matt Prater missing FG, 10 misses as a team

Oh Lions fans, this nightmare just won't end.  Detroit signed former Broncos kicker Matt Prater (the 3rd kicker signed to the team this year) to end their kicking woes, and all he did was make things worse.  Prater was 1-3 for the day, bringing the total number of missed field goals for the year to 10.  Keep in mind that the top total number of misses last year by any team was 9.  Detroit has already lost 2 games behind their kicking game this season, and the team can only hope that somebody....anybody...can provide stability to the unit.



Pittsburgh Steelers Coaching Staff - Poor performance on offense/defense

Mike Tomlin, Todd Haley, Dick Lebeau...you are all officially put on notice.  Steeler fans are used to being in the playoff hunt, having an efficient offense, and having a defense that plays well on almost every sunday.  After a horrid showing against the Cleveland Browns that saw the offense seem to have no identity, a defense that appeared completely overmatched, and a team as a whole that did not come into Cleveland ready to play, grumblings are getting louder as some are calling for the heads of Tomlin, Haley, and even Lebeau.  Steeler Nation wants a turnaround, and it is up to these three to provide it.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Horrible showing vs Ravens

It was one of those days for Tampa Bay.  Before they could blink Joe Flacco had thrown 5 TDs, and the Buccaneers were down 35-0.  The only positive to take from this situation could have been that only 17 minutes of the game had passed...or that could have been a negative?  In retrospect it really did not matter because by the time the 1st quarter ended the game was essentially over as Baltimore pummeled Tampa Bay 48-17.  This was one of those games where they should just move on, forget it happened, and  hopefully count on the fact they do not have to face Joe Flacco or the Ravens anymore this season.

Victor Cruz - Torn Patella Tendon

Poor Victor Cruz.  Just as the New York Giants season was turning around, the star wideout tore his Patella Tendon Sunday night against the Eagles, and will miss the rest of the year.  It was a sad scene seeing him writhing and screaming on the ground in pain as the trainers tended to him, and even worse seeing him sobbing uncontrollably while being taken off the field.  The Giants are saying they "hope" he can come back sometime next season, but are admitting it is just a hope and they are not sure at this point.

New England Patriots - Lost Mayo & Ridley for year

In the midst of the New England Patriots appearing more vulnerable than at any point during the Tom Brady era, they took two big hits when they lost not only running back Stevan Ridley to a torn ACL & MCL, but starting linebacker Jerod Mayo to a lower leg injury that sources out of New England are describing as "bad" and "severe".  Reports are already indicating that both players will miss the remainder of the season.

The Patriots had seemed to have lost its luster during parts of the season, with its Tom Brady led offense seeming out of sync, and the defense not seeming to match expectations.  Losing key contributors on both sides of the ball will undoubtedly not help matters.  The running game will have to look to Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen, while the loss of Mayo will have Bill Belichick scheming around not having his talented linebacker.

The Patriots may have won in Buffalo on Sunday, but they may have lost the most of any team playing on week 6.




Takeaways from the first two weeks of NCAA Football

The first two weeks of the 2014 college football season has already come and gone (fast huh?), giving us a few surprises, highlight reel plays, and storylines to follow as the season progresses.  Some players have already shown to exceed expectations placed on them, increasing draft stock as well as the play of their team overall.  One conference has shown to be on the decline while another made a huge statement week two.  Finally, a former power of college football has made a statement to the rest of the nation that it will be back, and back sooner than some would have thought.

-Everett Golson will be a top QB prospect.

When Everett Golson was taking the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the National Championship game, some wondered if they were winning in spite of their young QB.  After he was suspended, question was raised if he would start when he came back, and if he deserved to both on and off the field.  After taking his punishment and returning to the team this year, Golson has taken the reigns of this team and pushed them to the same National Championship level they were at two years ago.  In Notre Dame’s two games, Golson is 37 of 56 (66%) for 521 yards, 5 TDs and 0 Ints.  The most telling stat however is that Notre Dame has outscored their opponents 79-17.  Golson is the real deal, and people can either accept it now or wait for the bandwagon later.


-Big Ten is full of teams that have not adjusted to the evolution of college football

As good a day that the ACC had, the Big 10 had that horrible of a day.  The day started off in crises mode when Nebraska was tied with McNeese St, 24-24 with less than a minute left.  That crisis was averted when Ameer Abdullah took a screen pass 58 yards for the game-winning touchdown.  After that Ball State took Iowa to the last minute before the Iowa Hawkeyes came away with the win.  Unfortunately, a winning result could not said for Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State, or Ohio State.  All four of what would be claimed to be the Big Ten’s “Better teams” failed to deliver for not only them, but their conference. 
Part of the reason for this conferences decline can be attributed to their tradition being so rooted that they are almost easy to gameplan for.  Most of the teams in this conference have played roughly the same way for years, if not decades.  It appears at times that all of the innovation and evolution that has happened to college football over the past decade has completely been ignored by the Big Ten.  Until their teams can get with the times and out of the dark ages, they will continue to struggle when facing teams that are outside the conference.


-Marcus mariota is the best qb in college football

We may have made a case why is Everett Golson is a top QB prospect, but lets make it clear that Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is THE top QB prospect.  Everything he does is crisp and every game appears to have gained that much more knowledge of the game and how to be that much more successful.  This year he has gone 31 of 48 (64.6%) 585 yards with 6 TDs and 0 Ints.  Marcus Mariota may need an offense that can spread the ball around and push it vertical, but he is a polished NFL QB right now.  The sky is the limit for the Oregon Duck.


-USC will again be a powerhouse once they recover from their NCAA sanctions
For all the glitz and glamour that the University of Southern California may produce, they have also produced some of the greatest powerhouses in NCAA history.  After going through the turmoil of the Reggie Bush scandal, Pete Carroll leaving, NCAA sanctions, and the tenure of Lane Kiffin, the Trojans may finally be on the road back to dominance.  In their first game against Fresno State, USC ran over 100 plays in a crushing 52-13 win.  The word was out that Southern Cal had finally adapted to the spread uptempo offense craze sweeping the world.  The only question would be if they could handle their first big test against conference rival #13 Stanford.  This team, still recovering from NCAA sanctions only suited up 57 of 64 players, with many being injured or fairly young inexperience players.  Still, they managed to escape the tough road test with a 13-10 win.  It may not be the dominance of their first game, but USC gained a lot of confidence that they can compete with anybody on their schedule.  The most horrifying question the rest the nation now all has to ask themselves, “ What happens when USC gets back to full strength health/scholarship wise”?


-The ACC is the most improved conference

With all the top teams and players doing what they were supposed to, one whole conference has managed to stay under the radar while making the biggest statement.  The ACC managed to go 11-0 for the day, a record for the conference besting their old record of 8-0 in non-conference games.  It seems as though every year the ACC is disregarded as teams who have “good teams, but not elite championship teams”.  With defending National Champion Florida State looking to repeat, the ACC posting numbers like this has to do nothing but help the Seminoles chances of at least making the playoffs.  Last year Florida State had to go underfeated to make it to the National Championship.  If the ACC keeps improving and building on their record day, Florida State could find themselves in the position of not needing an unblemished record to compete for another National Championsip.

Whats Next?: San Antonio Spurs


The San Antonio Spurs find themselves in a position where they could solidify themselves as one of the best teams, coaches, and players in league history, if not all of sports.  The price they could possibly pay however could be the loss of a premier player(s).  If the Spurs are unfortunate enough to have to go through the disappointment of another Finals loss, it could propel them to even bigger and better things down the road.

If the San Antonio Spurs win the Championship: Going out on top?


The San Antonio Spurs know that if there is any team in the league that has a limited window, its them.  For veterans such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli this may be their last chance to grab another championship.  Any of these 3 could potentially call it a career after the season.  If the San Antonio Spurs are able to win the NBA Championship, Tim Duncan could see his 5th ring as a signal for him to go out on top. 

While it is totally possibly that Duncan, as well as Parker and/or Ginobli could return, it is within reason they could walk away.  The Spurs return majority of their team next year, and have a flexible cap situation.  A team being looked at as a potential dynasty, they would be able to have their pick of free agents to add to emerging stars Kawhi Leonard Danny Green and Tiago Splitter.  

The biggest winner of another championship may be coach Gregg Popovich.  Winning a 5th championship would put him instantly into the conversation of the best coaches of all time, regardless the sport.  It would prove that all of the unconventional decisions and all that is "Pop" would be justified.

If the Spurs are able to win the Finals, this may be a period to simply take a step back and appreciate the chance to experience greatness.

If the San Antonio Spurs lose in the NBA Finals: Back to Business.

If the Spurs fail to defeat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, it would be hard to expect any of their big 3 to walk away. The only players who are at risk to not return next year are Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner, and Patty Mills.  All 3 players could be easily replaced with the cap flexibility the Spurs are currently in. 

One would think it would be back to the drawing board in order for them to once again represent the Western Conference for a chance at a 5th ring.  The Spurs would hear nothing but how they are too old, and how their window has now closed.  All that would serve for is motivation for them to come back better than ever next season.  San Antonio could go into the offseason on a mission to go all in for one last title run before walking away.  By the time the 2014-15 season rolls around, the Spurs could come on the court knowing its finals or bust, and it could also be their last year together.