Friday, December 19, 2014

Rapid Reaction to Rajon Rondo

The first blockbuster trade of the NBA season hit us like a ton of bricks last night. And, Mavericks fans should be smiling that it came at the hands of Mark Cuban. 

Flash back to June 2011, and there I was, sprawled out on a hotel room floor, staring through the crack of a chair, mouth open, one eye closed, teeth grinding, watching the waning seconds tick away and the Mavericks finally wining a championship. Rewind 6 months before that, and I was making my way through a circus of people to place a Mavericks Championship sports bet, just weeks after Caron Butler went down with a season-ending injury. What a full-circle experience!

As the feeling began to wear off and the Mavericks reverted to mediocrity over the next two years, things looked bleaker than Vanilla Ice's comeback attempt as a rocker. But, then it happened! Landing Rajon Rondo sends a jolt up my body for the first time since those two moments of sacrifice and out-of-body joy I felt in 2011.

Without further ado, here are 5 reasons I love the Rajon Rondo deal:

Keeping Up with the West

We are just over 1/4 of the season in, and the Western Conference is as hot as Vanilla Ice's one hit of his career. But, unlike his album, the NBA West is filled with tons of hits. 

Off to franchise-record starts, the Warriors are 22-3 and the Grizzlies are 21-4. Throw on top of that the daunted Spurs, an under-the-radar 20-6 start by the Trailblazers, and the Clippers and Rockets at 18 and 19 wins, respectively, and the West is shaping to be a battle at the old corral.

So, now is as good a time as any for the Mavericks to pounce on a top-flight free agent and put themselves in the mix for contention. They have 19 wins, but few felt they were a championship-caliber team until Rondo came on board.

Striking Out to Scoring Gold

If you read or listened to any Dallas sports news or talk over the last few years, you'd know that the Mavericks missed out on stars like Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, and that many people were calling Mark Cuban merely "content" and "complacent" with one title and a complete failure post-title. 

Well, that's all changed lately! After getting Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler, and now, Rondo, Cuban is back to his wheeling and dealing reputation, something Dallas fans have come to appreciate and long for. 

Filling the Void

When you watch this team, their biggest positional weakness is point guard, and their biggest weakness to contend is defense. Both gaps are filled with Rondo. Sure, it's been 6 years since he led the Celtics to a title, and there are people out there that think he is injury prone or not a good defender. But, I disagree with both! The man is only 28, he's just missed one season from an injury he healed from rather quickly and he has been irrelevant in Boston lately.

Give him the platform in Dallas, and he will get back to his old ways on a grander stage. You watch!

Triple Double Machine

Throw away the shooting knock for a minute. The old school point guards didn't need to score, and with guys like Monta and Dirk around, Rondo's services are just what the doctor ordered. Oh, and he's also a walking triple double! 

Nelson wasn't giving the squad much scoring as it was, and he was off and on with aging injuries. Rondo, for my money, is the best passer in the league (Nash is effectively done), very solid at defense, a terrific rebounding guard and the floor general this team needed. 

What Was Given Up

Some fans are hung up on Brandan Wright's departure, and, while I loved Wright's attitude and effort, he's merely a backup. The same goes for Crowder, who, quite frankly, has been a disappointment in the overall big picture. Nelson was a nice piece, but nothing too special at this stage in his career. But, as for Rondo, he's a game-changer in his prime! 

The biggest question mark is whether he will sign a deal past this season. Even if he doesn't, I like the risk/reward of the move. What the team lost is replaceable, and the first round pick is protected. If he stays, it's a slam dunk! And, who knows? Maybe his presence brings other guys in a domino effect that seemed possible when the club pursued D Will. 

Cuban is a trading extraordinaire, but if the club can strike gold in free agency, that would put it over the top! As the Spurs window and Dirk's window closes, Mavs fans can only hope this move puts them back in contention with their rivals. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fifteen Weeks in the Books: Contenders, Pretenders, Spoilers and Observational Corrections

By Sports Enthusiast and Guru Ryan Mitchell, Contributing Blogger

Back in early October, we examined each NFL team, as they currently stood after Week 5, and offered optimism and criticism of each. We’re now approaching Week 16 and the stretch run of the season, so what better time to look back and look forward at the teams that matter, as well as those that surprised us?


Seattle Seahawks: At last look, the defending champions were coming off a hot start and big wins, thus earning them the top spot in our review. Go figure, a mini tailspin would ensue in which the offense faltered in losses to the Cowboys and Rams, along with close calls against the lowly Panthers and Raiders. Since that point, they have greater balance in the running game, led by Marshawn Lynch, and have seriously tightened things up defensively after a sluggish start. The offense is still a concern, as they lack big play explosiveness, but seem to patch things together week after week. This year’s edition will have to rely even more on their defense to lead them in the playoffs. Look for them to win the NFC West, if they can beat Arizona this weekend, and gain a significant edge with a home game come January.

Denver Broncos: The defending AFC champions have seemingly coasted through the 2014 season with less fireworks than last season, yet similar success. As predicted, San Diego gave them more of a challenge for the AFC West divisional crown before faltering. A deflating blowout loss, instead of a narrow loss in New England, and a heavier commitment to the running back by committee basically sum up what we know about this team this season, as compared to last. Injuries to Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball have changed the dynamic from earlier in the year. These guys aren’t running away from teams in the fashion of 2013, but they are winning and the defense is improved from last season. Look for them to clinch a bye and the #2 seed heading into the AFC Playoffs. From there, it’ll be a wait and see approach.

New England Patriots: It’s very easy to argue that the Pats have been the best team in the NFL since our last look at them. They have only one loss in that time (@GB) and have lived up to their title of the annual “model of consistency.” Much like Denver, they have plugged and played running backs Shane Vereen, Jonas Gray, Stevan Ridley and newcomer LeGarrette Blount, to create a dual threat offensive attack to complement their passing game. The offense is the best in the league and torches even the best defenses on a weekly basis. There is no reason to think they won’t be the team to beat in the AFC Playoffs, as they will run away with the AFC East and don’t look like they’re stopping there. As of now, they have surpassed the Broncos as the likely Super Bowl favorite.

Green Bay Packers: A complete 180-degree turnaround from early to late season for the 2014 Packers has them in a fight with the Lions for the NFC North title. In October, we worried about their ability to stop the run defensively, but ever since, they have made great strides. They continue to force turnovers and force the other team make plays. Offensively, they couldn’t be any more impressive. They run the ball effectively, and Aaron Rodgers may be the best QB in the league this season. It’s hard to see this team being beat by anyone outside of their kryptonite opponent in Seattle come playoff time. Look for them to win the NFC North and lock up the #2 seed in the NFC Playoffs. This team has to be considered the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, should they be able to avoid or beat Seattle.

Indianapolis Colts: Despite the loss of Ahmad Bradshaw, who at the time was anchoring the running game, the Colts have been able to plug in young Daniel Herron with much success and offensive continuity. They have locked up the AFC South as predicted, and now look to finish a better than expected season on a high note. The offense continues to thrive under the improved Andrew Luck, despite injuries and consistent turnovers. They can score in bunches, and often in key situations late in games, which is invaluable. The defense has made strides toward consistency and creates turnovers each week, which fuels its success. Though it will always be the Achilles heel for this team, in 2014, it is better than when we last looked. Keep an eye out for this team in the AFC Playoffs, as they could spoil their way into the AFC Championship game, should they figure out how to finally beat the Patriots or Broncos.


Dallas Cowboys:  At long last, Cowboy fans can rejoice their lack of appearance in the late season “pretenders” category, provided they play every game from here out on the road! Jerry’s team has somehow managed not to revert to back to their Jerry’s kids style of play come this December. The running game, featuring Demarco Murray, did not lose a step from earlier in the season, and neither has the play of the offensive line. Murray is now banged up but should continue to contribute at a high level. Tony Romo has taken advantage of having tons of time in the pocket and developed big play chemistry, while it’s Dez Bryant that makes this team explosive. The defense isn’t great, but it is improved, and consistently forces turnovers, creating numerous opportunities. Somewhat surprising, they’ve seemingly conquered their regular season woes but cannot rest on their laurels, as they have to finish the job in the next two weeks against the formidable Colts and divisional Redskins. Look for them to get the monkey off their back and win the NFC East, but don’t count on more than a short-lived cameo appearance come January.

Baltimore Ravens:  Over the course of this season, the Ravens basically followed suite to our projections and expectations by grinding their way through the AFC North race. They have improved the defense on the whole from the 2013 and found ways to incorporate Torrey Smith back into the offense. Now, with a deep threat in place, their running attack has been able to sustain its effectiveness, led by the resurgent Justin Forsett. They are dangerous because they are good on both sides of the ball and have cut back on killer offensive turnovers. Given their past track record of being able to go on the road and win in the playoffs, this is hardly a team that anyone wants to face. A favorable final two games on the slate should ensure a spot in the AFC Playoffs, and a chance to see this team go up against the elite AFC teams in a matchup that the schedule has denied us thus far.  

Pittsburgh Steelers: Much like their counterparts in Baltimore, the Steelers have impressively stayed on course with early season expectations. The offense has been expanded with big-time receiver play from Antonio Brown and equally solid contributions from dual threat running back Le’Veon Bell. They have transformed into more of a passing team and rely on their offense to win. The dumping of locker room knucklehead LeGarrette Blount hasn’t changed a thing. The defense is largely mediocre but forces turnovers and stops the run, which is a recipe for late season success. Two home games against AFC Playoff hopefuls stand between Pittsburgh and the AFC Playoffs. Look for them to do enough to get in, be it as AFC North champions or as a wild card.


Arizona Cardinals: As a fan of change and of unpredictability, it hurts the blog to put the impressive and well-rounded 11-3 Cards into the “pretender” category, but it must be done. Injuries have maligned an incredible start that saw them fly out of the gate and take the league by storm. The Cardinals avoided the concerns we expressed in October by plugging and playing new QB’s and RB’s for injured starters Carson Palmer and Andre Ellington, much to the credit of Head Coach Bruce Arians. It’s hard to argue that anyone has done more with less than he has this season in the NFL. All compliments aside, though, it just isn’t feasible that a team going on its fourth QB is going to be much of a Super Bowl threat, despite the game being played in its home stadium. The Cardinals have clinched at least an NFC Wild Card berth and have a shot to win the NFC West against Seattle this weekend. That seems rather unlikely, though, and expect them to grind out games as they have all season but fall flat in the Playoffs come January.

Detroit Lions: In short, the Lions “are who we thought they were,” as no other team provided as predictable a result over the course of the season from what we saw early on. The Lions used several close wins to springboard themselves into the NFC Playoff picture, as well as the NFC North race. The best defensive team in the league has been saddled with an offense that cannot consistently run the ball worth a lick. They struggle at times to put up points, despite having a potent wide receiver duo in Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Overall, they epitomize a team that took advantage of games against weaker opponents, but for the most part, struggled against the better teams. Fortunately for them, they have one of each on their remaining schedule, which should afford them a spot in the Playoffs, with an outside chance at the NFC North crown should they sweep the Packers. Don’t count on that or their offense showing up in January.

Philadelphia Eagles: Quite the fall from grace for the Birds, as they squandered a 9-3 start and a shot at essentially locking up the NFC East by losing consecutive home games to NFC playoff teams. Offensive ineptitude, primarily on the hands of RB LeSean McCoy and QB Mark Sanchez late, may leave the Eagles sitting at home come playoff time. They have two road divisional games left, which may or may not matter depending on what Dallas and Detroit do. Overall, it’s a wasted season should they not get in, as they were in the driver’s seat coming off an emphatic Thanksgiving Day performance in Dallas. Should they sneak in, they are a potential one game matchup nightmare, but this seems rather unlikely now.

Cincinnati Bengals: The story of their season was fairly predictable and has played out as such, as this team continues to underwhelm despite a solid record. Their outlook is brief because, frankly, QB Andy Dalton just isn’t very good. It’s near impossible to have success in the AFC Playoffs without a top-of-the-line guy at that position. For all of the success they have had on the ground in the regular season, they’ve been exposed time and time again when it comes to passing the ball. They’ve also had their share of injuries, which hasn’t helped either. The harsh reality is that they’re the sort of team that will rely on the tie they have to get them into the AFC Playoffs, though we have a hard time believing they’re better than the Chargers, Chiefs or Bills, all of which likely won’t go. Unfortunately, Cincinnati fans will be subjected to another 60-minute session of Andy Dalton playoff quality football, which should ensure a quick exit.

Life Supporters:

San Diego Chargers: In a season in which injuries, the running game and schedule makers did the Chargers little to no favors, they have had a solid season. Credit has to be given to Head Coach Mike McCoy for keeping the team competitive, as well as the consistent QB Phillip Rivers, who does a lot with less compared to other playoff bound rivals. Their season is summed up by the fact that on consecutive late season home weekends, they were unable to beat the AFC’s two best teams. Fair or not, that likely has determined their fate, as it has so often in the past. Close but no cigar for a franchise that seems to always be in this spot.

Kansas City Chiefs:  A fairly well-balanced team and follow-up season to one in which many deemed to be “overachieved.” The Chiefs season can be summed up by one rainy night in Oakland in late November. A single loss to the then-winless Raiders cost the Chiefs a shot at the AFC West title race and more than likely a playoff spot. It’s the sort of game that you expect to be tough and maybe even close, but to lose Raiders and the Titans in the same season is unacceptable. Impressive wins over the Patriots and Seahawks only make their lack of presence in this year’s AFC Playoffs more maddening.

Buffalo Bills: They are very similar to San Diego, in that injuries and lack of a running game hurt them throughout the season, though they did come on late. Their defense is top notch and has helped them climb back into the AFC Playoff race. They must win out in Oakland and at New England and get help for any chance to get in, which is likely asking too much. That being said, their performances against Denver and Green Bay the past couple weeks cannot go unnoticed. The Dumb and Dumber line, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance,” should become their late season mantra.

New Orleans/Carolina/Atlanta: Sub-.500 records in a weak NFC South division categorize these teams into their own capsules of analysis. This division has been awful from the start of this season, all the way to the end of it. Whichever team comes out of it, which will likely be the Saints, will earn a spot in the NFC Playoffs. It’s not impossible to see them winning a home game during Wild Card weekend, which could spark a run, but the fact that they’ll be hosting a game is downright disturbing enough. Hopefully, during the offseason, these teams find better coaches, personnel and health.


San Francisco 49ers: The only one team deserves to be placed in this disgraceful category after falling all the way from being early “contenders” is the 49ers. The embarrassment stretches from on the field to off the field issues, leading to an utter end of season collapse. From rape and arrest allegations to the likely unwarranted dismissal of their head coach, this organization is an absolute mess. The offense regressed as the season went on, due to lack of production from aged RB Frank Gore and mediocre, at best, play from exposed QB Colin Kaepernick. The defense, however, held strong and kept the team competitive all the way to the end, which is a testament to Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, who dealt with a myriad of injuries and suspensions. Sitting at 7-4 with the NFC West division, or at least a Wild Card spot potentially theirs for the taking, the Niners scored 23 points over the course of two losses to rival Seattle, sandwiched with an inexcusable loss to the Raiders. All of this in spite of excellent defensive performances sealed the deal for the team from the city by the Bay. Thus, the 4-year window of greatness that started in 2011 will turn into one of the most mystifying in the history of the league. Expect Harbaugh to be elsewhere next year, and this roster to continue to regress.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cowboys Statement Win Sets Up Wild Finish

The team was supposed to have upwards of 10 losses. Last night was supposed to be the beginning of the end. But then, the opposite happened, as the Philadelphia faithful looked on in bewilderment and the Cowboys contingent celebrated an unorthodox, yet exuberant December moment.

In saving their season and perhaps putting themselves on the precipice of winning the division for the first time since 2009, Romo and the Cowboys showed the kind of backbone and efficiency that has eluded them for years. In an era where the team is often overhyped and overshadowed because of the 90s teams, the boys lived up to the hype for once and dismissed their East rivals in dramatic fashion.

But, the team must quickly put this win behind them, as they still have no room for error. Finishing with the same record as Philly won't win the division, and tying several other teams for the wild card would result in another missed playoffs.

Before they tackle the last two games and try and finally break through in late December, let's reflect on some of the highlights and surprises of this season:

The Seattle Game

Say what you will about the game being close and Seattle having some locker room issues, but the Boys did something only one other team has done in the last two years: go into Seattle and win. And, if not for special teams, they would've won handily.

As the game that cost me my survivor pool, I can tell you that I was as surprised as anyone at this result. It was the kind of game that can jumpstart a team, and I believe it did just that. Quality wins are hard to come by in this league, and Dallas earned every bit of this one.

JJ Watt: Come at me bro?

It was one of the most scary-looking plays that developed this year for Cowboys fans. The best defender in the land rushing Romo unabated, as broken bones flashed before my eyes. Then, in Romo fashion, he spun away from Watt and connected with Terrance Williams for a long touchdown. It was a defining moment of brilliance that sent shockwaves through the media and the Romo haters.

The Boys Play Defense?

The Cowboys had the worst defense in football last year, and quite possibly, one of the worst in the history of the game. And, when they invested mostly in offensive linemen during the draft, we all thought they'd be just as bad this year. Throw in Sean Lee's season-ending injury and DeMarcus Lawrence's 10-game injury, and we all thought there was no hope.

Then, the season started and the tide began to turn. When Dallas signed retired linebacker Rolando McClain, we scoffed. But, he has truly been the anchor of this team, and guys have fed off his tenacity. Not enough praise can be given to Rob Marinelli, who has somehow found the wherewithal to bring out the right combination of passion and purpose out of this defense.

Both Philly Games

The first Philly game was an enormous bummer, and sent many to believe that the Cowboys were done for. But, that thrashing on Turkey Day can best be described as "fuel" and "fortitude" to learn, reflect and come back in full force.

Last night's game was the ultimate revenge that left a sweet taste in the mouth of fans that is so rarely felt in December.

The Injury and the Return

When Romo went down against Washington, we all thought gloom and doom. When he returned to the game and looked more like Ryan Leaf than himself, we winced. After the loss and then a loss to Arizona without him, things looked bleak.

After his return, Romo has won four of the last five games with two broken ribs, displaying the type of leadership and toughness that any fan should want out of their quarterback. Can we finally put to bed the bad quarterback bashing? The man is a good quarterback, and deserves some credit.

The Last Hurrah 

The final two games will ultimately decide if this season was a success or failure. As a fan, I feel fortunate that they are meaningful, and more importantly, that the team is playing sound football and not just limping by to week 17.

But, this is exactly how they should have been playing all along. They certainly have the talent to make a run. Let's hope that talent finally equates to results that really matter. Go Cowboys!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fan Bases and Franchises Overdue for a Title

Once players get past the fame and the fortune, it's all that matters. As for the fans, it's a feeling of exhilaration that cannot be described until the moment sinks in. In other words, it's all about the bling!

Many players and fans go their whole careers and lives without the experience, leaving a feeling of emptiness that won't go away. Others are more fortunate, and are able to revel in the glory of a championship.

For four of the five teams below, their players and fans are still looking for that long-lasting feeling of ecstasy, one that can only come from reaching the mountaintop. As for the other team, no one is still alive to claim a championship.

Without further ado, here are five teams and cities starving for that elusive ring, hopeful that their clubs finally have what it takes to be called "champions."

Cleveland Cavaliers 

When a once-in-a-decade player comes to a winless franchise and takes it to within four games of a championship, it's incredible. When he vanishes in a shocking departure, it's devastating. And, when he returns as the best player in the game, it's a full circle experience made for Hollywood.

But, how will this script end? Forget the rough start to the season, and even forget the current 8-game winning streak. This team won't win a title overnight, and it doesn't need to. The truth is that the Eastern Conference is so weak that they can reach the finals without even playing great, kind of like when LeBron went with Miami the first time. And, if they reach that grand stage, they put themselves in position to win it all. It will be interesting to follow their progress this year and in the coming seasons to see if Cleveland fans can finally get their long-deserved title.

Chicago Cubs

Unless you are 106 years old, you cannot lay claim to experiencing a Cubs championship. For a town still hung up on Steve Bartman and other curses, it's hard to think that the Cubs can contend. But, after acquiring ace Jon Lester and All-Star catcher Miguel Montero, perhaps there is hope after all. Put those two with a bright, young team full of talent and potential, and experts will have you believe the Cubbies are a few pieces away from contending. Just winning the division would be a start, but wouldn't it be the ultimate cinderella story if they won the whole shebang?

While Back to the Future 2 predicted a Cubs championship in 2015, let's temper expectations. After all, they also predicted floating skateboards and flying cars. So, while winning a World Series in 2015 is unrealistic, the club is definitely heading in the right direction and setting itself up to make a similar run to the ones we have seen from the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals in recent years.

Seattle Mariners

It's hard to believe that it has been 13 years since the Mariners won 116 games and flopped in the playoffs. It's even harder to believe that they were never able to win a World Series with the nasty lefty Randy Johnson, "The Kid" Ken Griffey, Jr. and the man known as "A-Rod."

Fast forward to today, and the Mariners mojo is beginning to come back. A team one win away from making the playoffs, the 2015 Mariners recently signed slugger Nelson Cruz to help bolster an improving lineup. The team recently signed J.A. Happ, and is looking to make some more moves, including a potential Ian Desmond signing. And, don't forget about the man dubbed "King Felix."

Time will tell if this club can finally get to the postseason and maybe make a run, but they certainly have baseball enthusiasts talking. Watch out for the M's!

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals fans still replay that painful nightmare in their heads, when Santonio Holmes came down with that improbable touchdown catch to win the Super Bowl. Ever since, the team has seemingly gone into obscurity. But, something clicked this year and they are off to a 10-3 start.

Without Carson Palmer and some other key players, the club might not be thought of as a real contender. But, if I was a potential opponent, I would not want to go to Arizona and play that defense.
On top of that, the Super Bowl is in Arizona. You just never know!

Memphis Grizzlies

The rarely talked about Memphis Grizzlies have sprinted out of the gates to a 17-4 record. Given the market and their lack of popularity and history, dating back the the Vancouver days in 1995, it's no surprise that they don't get mentioned much. But, NBA fans must take notice of this team. Known for their defense, the team is getting better on offense behind the much-improved play of Mike Conley, the shotmaking of Courtney Lee and the scrappiness of veterans Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince and new addition Vince Carter.

There's no reason to think they can't contend, and they are really strong at home and possess two very solid big men in Randolph and Gasol, a rarity in today's NBA. Watch out for the Griz!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

NFL Hot Topics and Heavy Hitters

With week 14 in the books and the playoffs roughly a month away, it's time to take a look at the pressing NFL questions, the stretch run and the playoffs.

Who wins the NFC?

The NFC, to me, is pretty simple. The best two teams are Green Bay and Seattle, and whoever secures home field between those two goes to the Super Bowl. Arizona is a nice story, but without Palmer and health questions to guys like Tyrann Mathieu and Larry Fitzgerald, I just don't see them holding up. Moreover, Seattle can definitely win the division, and Arizona on the road versus at home is an entirely different animal.

The Packers were my preseason pick to go to the Super Bowl, so I must stick with them. Their offensive line has gone 14 weeks without an injury, and giving Rodgers time in the pocket is like feeding a raccoon garbage. He will eat it up every time! But, home field is vital. It is very hard to pick against Seattle at home. And, while both battle for seeding, they are also in a dogfight for their division.

Who wins the AFC?

This is going to be a boring answer, but I feel it will come down to Denver and New England again. Whoever has home field advantage has the distinct upper hand, as New England trounced Denver in Foxboro by 22 points. Moreover, with the additions of Revis and Browner, the health of Wilfork, and the rise of LaFell, the Pats look like the better team and are my pick. Isn't it amazing how good Brady makes guys look on the football field? Welker has done nothing this year in Denver, while no-namer LaFell has 7 touchdowns in New England. Look out for Brady and Belichick, and make sure you have high security around when their playoff opponents are practicing.

AFC Wild Card: What a mess!

The AFC Wild Card picture has to be one of the most intriguing story lines this year. Currently, there are three teams at 8-5 and five at 7-6, all vying for 2 spots. If you forced my hand, I'd have to say the Steelers and Ravens will take the final two spots. I'm going to rule out the 7-6 teams, and Baltimore has by far the easiest schedule of the three 8-5 teams (Baltimore, Pittsburgh and San Diego). With Pittsburgh's final two games at home and San Diego's final two on the road, I have to give the edge to Pittsburgh. That means three AFC North teams make it, but don't look for any to take down the 2 great QBs.

Teams I'm rooting for the most

In the AFC, the team I'm rooting for the most is Indianapolis. Andrew Luck is already an elite quarterback, but the rest of his team is pretty mediocre. Similar to the old school Trent Green Chiefs, I love offense, and I love the underdog. Let's go Colts!

As for the NFC, I will obviously be pulling for Dallas, but just to keep things fresh, I will root for Green Bay the second most. It is hard to believe Rodgers hasn't won a second Super Bowl by now, and there's something about him and the Pack that I find myself compelled to root for. Maybe, it's the cheese heads? Not sure, but go Pack!

Super Bowl Predictions

My pre-season prediction was Green Bay over Denver. How cool would it be to follow up Favre-Elway with Rodgers-Manning? If I amended my pick now, it would be Packers over Patriots.

Regardless, it should be a great Super Bowl, a fun stretch run and another intriguing January and February that decides legacies. So, sit back and enjoy the ride!