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NFL Power Rankings [Preseason]

by Michael Dunham

With the NFL preseason officially started, its time for all of you die hard football fans to get out your foam finger, drinking hat, and, of course, your favorite teams jersey.   The closer that the beginning of the season gets, the clearer each teams possible performance level becomes.  As of right now, the picture looks a bit like this:

1.  Pittsburgh Steelers – Being that they are the defending Super Bowl champs, an arguement is not really that necessary, but for those who want one, here you go.  Ben Roethlisberger is entering his sixth NFL season and already has two Super Bowl rings.  That alone is unprecedented, but what is even scarier is that he is just reaching his prime and has basically the same team that won a Super Bowl last year.  As long as Rashard Mendenhall can be a strong no. 2 back and James Harrison can be as good as he was last year the Steelers are primed to repeat.

Key addition(s): Keiwan Ratliff.

Major Loss(es): Larry Foote, Bryant McFadden, Nate Washington

2.  New York Giants – Although the Giants will definetly be without Plax this season, they will, barring another injury, have Osi Umenyiora.  The Giants had one of the best defenses in the league last year and with the addition of one of the best pass rushers in the game will be even better.  If Domenik Hixon can do what a No. 1 receiver is required to do, the Giants should be a force to be reckoned with.

Key Addition(s): Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard.

Major Loss(es): Derrick Ward, Sam Madison, James Butler, R.W. McQuarters, Plaxico Burress

3.  New England Patriots – The only reason they aren’t No. 2 is because of the questions concerning how Tom Brady will bounce back from that season ending ACL injury.  With the firepower on that offense and the standards of the Patriots defense, Tom Brady’s performance could either shoot the Pat’s to the top or could drop them severely.

Key Addition(s): Fred Taylor, Greg Lewis, Joey Galloway, Shawn Springs

Major Loss(es):  Matt Cassell, Heath Evans, Jabar Gaffney, Mike Vrabel, Roosevelt Colvin, Ellis Hobbs

4.  Indianapolis Colts – They lost Head Coach Tony Dungy as well as Marvin Harrison and Dominic Rhodes, but they still have the one thing that makes that franchise so great, Peyton Manning.  All Dwight Freeney, Gary Brackett, and Bob Sanders (if he can stay healthy) is do what they have always done: Make sure they allow less points than Peyton can score.

Key Addition(s): Adam Seward

Major Loss(es): Marvin Harrison, Dominic Rhodes, Keiwan Ratliff

5.  San Diego Chargers – If they can avoid being the biggest bust in the NFL for the second season in a row, they will no doubt be a division winner and could possibly get a first round bye.  This is not so much because of how good the Chargers are, but also because of how terrible the rest of their division is.  Having, i mean getting, to play Oakland, Denver, and Kansas City two times a piece, the Chargers should at worst go 5-1 in the division, what they do in their other 10 games will determine how good they really are.

Key Addition(s):  Kevin Burnett

Major Loss(es): Igor Olshansky

6.  Philadelphia Eagles – After losing three offensive starters over the offseason, we will see how good Donovan McNabb really is this season.  It also does not help that the Eagles lost All Pro safety Brian Dawkins and play in the toughest division in all of football.

Key Addition(s):  Leonard Weaver, Matt Wilhelm, Michael Vick

Major Loss(es):  Correll Buckhalter, L.J. Smith, Tre Thomas, Jon Runyan, Brian Dawkins, Sean Considine

7.  Atlanta Falcons – The addition of Tony Gonzalez help elevate Matt Ryan into the elite level of quarterbacks in the NFL.  The defense will need to step up over the course of the season or the Falcons can easily drop from the 7 spot.  Also, the fact that Michael Vick is no longer their problem can do nothing but help them.

Key Addition(s):  Tony Gonzalez, Mike Peterson

Major Loss(es):  Grady Jackson, Rod Coleman, Keith Brooking, Lawyer Milloy

8.  Dallas Cowboys – I think that the ‘Boys have really been underrated coming into this season after the disappointments of last season but with the releases of T.O. and “The Pacman” and the offseason for Romo and Williams to create that QB – WR chemistry, the Cowboys could come out and surprise a lot of people this season.  Plus, it cant hurt that they will be playing all there home games in their new, 100,000+ fan stadium.

Key Addition(s): Jon Kitna, Igor Olshansky, Keith Brooking

Major Loss(es):  Terrell Owens, Chris Canty, Pacman Jones, Kevin Burnett, Anthony Henry, Roy Williams, Keith Davis

9.  Tennessee Titans – The loss of defensive crazy man Albert Haynesworth really hurts the Titans defense, but this is still basically the same team that went 13-3 and obtained the best record in the NFL last year.  The battle between Tennessee and Indy for first in the AFC South should be one of the best in conference battles in the NFL this season.

Key Addition(s): Nate Washington, DeMarcus Faggins

Major loss(es): Albert Haynesworth, Brandon Jones, Justin McCareins

10.  Carolina Panthers – After an offseason where the Panthers did absolutely nothing and were handed the 2nd hardest schedule in the NFL, look for them to come a bit short of the 12-4 record they had last year.

Key Addition(s): None

Major Loss(es): D.J. Hackett, Ken Lucas

11.  Arizona Cardinals

12.  Baltimore Ravens

13.  Chicago Bears

14.  Miami Dolphins

15.  Minnesota Vikings

16.  Green Bay Packers

17.  Washington Redskins

18.  New Orleans Saints

19.  Seattle Seahawks

20.  Buffalo Bills

21.  Houston Texans

22.  Cincinnati Bengals

23.  San Francisco 49ers

24.  New York Jets

25.  Denver Broncos

26.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers

27.  Jacksonville Jaguars

28.  Cleveland Browns

29.  Kansas City Chiefs

30.  St. Louis Rams

31.  Oakland Raiders

32.  Detroit Lions

Agree?  Disagree?  Post your top 10 in the comments section!

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Categories: Football, Sports

USA shocks Spain!

By:  Michael Dunham

When I heard that the USA was playing Spain I figured I would watch and get a good laugh at the pounding that would ensue.  The only thing is, despite my enourmous American pride, I thought I would be laughing at the pounding those dirty Spaniards would put on America.  Instead, I saw one of the greatest performances under extreme duress I have ever seen.

The game started just as I figured it would, Spain, the number one ranked team in the world, was constantly in the American third of the pitch, shooting shot after shot at goalie Tim Howard.  Every time the U.S. would attempt to move the ball to the other side of the pitch it would get stolen back and the barrage of shots would continue.

Finally, in the 27th minute, Clint Dempsey succesfully moved the ball to the Spanish third where he fed Jozy Altidore who fought off Spanish defender Capdevila’s best attempts at the ball and found the back of the net.  GOAL!  I was stunned.  Was the fourteenth ranked team in the world actually beating number one?! All of the sudden, America had a chance.

After the chaos of the goal completed and Altidore put his shirt back on after his yellow carded celebration, I realized, ‘America is still playing Spain, the number one ranked team in the world.’ I chuckled at myself for thinking that America could win and continued watching the game.

The Spainish attack continued as strong as before, but still, no goal.  The halftime whistle blew and the teams went to their locker room where I figured Bob Bradley would make some adjustments to help his defence out and put some more pressure on the Spanish side.

Instead, the opposite happened.  Spain made adjustments and their offense was even stronger than before.  I have never seen a game where a team was winning the game and their defence looked amazing, yet the commentators talked about how the United States would loose if they did not change their tactics.

When Spain’s pressure seemed to be at its peak, the US broke into the Spanish third and, just like before, found a way to make the most of a hopeful situation and score again.  After a cross by Donovan, Sergio Ramos chose to take a touch before clearing the ball and Clint Dempsey snuck in and poked the ball off Ramos’ foot and into the back of the goal.  Now the US really did have a chance!  2-0 over Spain! WOO!!  Then again, I realized they were playing Spain and there was still about 20 minutes left in the game.

The game continued as before in a fashion of:  Spain shot, Spain shot, clear, Spain shot, then it would all repeat again.  It was only made tougher when, in the 86th minute, Michael Bradley was red carded on a play that was a questionable yellow at best.  The next 10 minutes where likely the longest in the lives of most of these United States soccer players.  Think about this situation; you are playing the number one team in the world, they are on a 35 game unbeated streak, although you have a 2-0 lead, you have been outplayed in every facet of the game, if the amount of pressure being applied were to be weighed, it would make a sumo wrestler look in shape, and let me repeat THEY ARE THE NUMBER ONE TEAM IN THE WORLD!  If I were any of those players out there, I would have broken down and cried.  Luckily for America and viewers worldwide, I was watching the game on my couch like the rest of you.

87th minute: 2-0

88th minute: 2-0

89th minute: 2-0!

90th minute: 2-0?!

91st minute: 2-0!!

92nd minute: 2-0!!!!

93rd minute: 2-0!!!!!!!!

The Americans have done it!  U-S-A! U-S-A!  I think i did a backflip while celebrating.  This is the most incredible thing I have ever seen!  I am screaming like a schoolgirl who just got the latest gossip feed!  This is the best gossip I have ever heard!!  HAHA Spain in your face.

I know that anyone else who watched the whole game was doing something similar if the watched the game start to finish.

When I think about the game I can’t help but think of the similarities between this game and the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice.’  Both games were against teams ranked number one in the world while the common thought was that the Americans had no chance.  Both games were in the semi-finals of a major international tournament; granted the Olympics or the soccer equivalent World Cup is on a different level than the Confederation Cup, it is still a similarity none the less.  Most importantly, the United States won both games.

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Categories: Soccer, Sports

James Harrison not to join Steelers at White House

By: Michael Dunham

James Harrison recently told reporters he would not be joining the Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers when they join the President at the White House later this week.  When asked why he would not be joining them he said,

If you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don’t win the Super Bowl;So as far as I’m concerned he would have invited Arizona if they had won.

When I heard this I was absolutely shocked and a bit dumbfounded.  I didn’t vote for President Obama but if he wanted me to join him at the White House I would accept in a second because I realize what a great honor that is.

Secondly, of course he would have invited Arizon if they won.  It has been tradition to invite and honor the winner of all major sports championships at the White House.  This doesn’t mean that the President does not respect you or what you have accomplished, it means the exact opposite.

It means that the President wants to meet and honor the best players and team in the sport and you are lucky enough to be included in that.  James Harrison needs to get out of whatever alternate reality he is in, rethink his decision of not going, and cherish the honor that has been bestowed before him.

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Categories: Football, Sports