Tag Archives: Joe Flacco

NFL Kickoff: Super Bowl Predictions

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when you get the chance to look like a complete genius or a complete fool. It’s Super Bowl Prediction time. Here are my previous years Super Bowl Predictions:

2011: Giants/Jets  , 2010: Packers/Ravens  , 2009: (Forgot?)/Ravens

Now here are my predictions for this year.

NFC: Chicago Bears

Right now, the Bears probably aren’t even the best team in their division let alone their conference but the key word is “right now”.

For the most part, to make a Super Bowl run, you need talent and you need that talent to come together at the right time.

Chicago has flat-out talent.

It starts with the quarterback, Jay Cutler.

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Is Jay Cutler’s time now?

Cutler has all the tools of an elite quarterback, but at times, can make shaky decisions which lead to interceptions. He’ll need to cut down on his turnovers, to take his game, and the Bears’ game, to the next level.

It should help him that the Bears have added his former teammate, star wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Back in Denver in 2008, Cutler and Marshall were the best QB – WR duo in the NFL. By season’s end, the two should be able to rekindle that chemistry and Marshall should become the Bears’ first 1000-yard receiver since 2002.

Marshall’s addition also means that converted wide receiver, Devin Hester, can focus on returning punts and kicks again.

The pass offense is complemented by a dynamic running game, led by top-seven running back, Matt Forte.

In the regular season, it’s about offense. But in the playoffs, it comes down to defense, and the Bears have it.

The pass rush, led by All-Pro DE Julius Peppers, will give opposing quarterbacks trouble. Behind them, Captain Brian Urlacher and seven-time Pro-Bowler Lance Briggs anchor the linebacker crew. Their strong front seven should carry the secondary.

Last season, Chicago was 7-3 before Jay Cutler suffered a season-ending thumb injury. The season before, the team lost in the NFC Championship game.

This season, the Bears will build on that success to reach the Super Bowl, albeit as an under-the-radar contender as the favored Packers and high-powered Lions share the division spotlight early on.

AFC: Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens were one 32-yard game-tying field goal away from possibly going to the Super Bowl instead of the Patriots.

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Ravens fans haven’t been able to sleep since January…This years’ team will try to change that

Still, that bittersweet loss did give Baltimore something to look forward to: the possible emergence of Joe Flacco as an elite quarterback. In that AFC Championship, Flacco threw for 306 yards and 2 TD, outplaying Brady in Foxborough. Flacco has led the Ravens to the playoffs in all four of his seasons, and has a 44-20 W-L record.

But for years Baltimore has won those games with its defense. This year the team seems built to win with its offense, behind Flacco and star running back Ray Rice.

The defense though remains one of the league’s best, even with the loss of star LB Terrell Suggs.

The Ravens are built for playoff football, and this year should be the year they finally break through to reach the Super Bowl.

Okay so I have Bears/Ravens in the Super Bowl, who do you have?

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The Power of Facial Hair

A good beard can get you a long way in life. Just ask James Harden. Harden’s play this season (and his beard of course) have propelled the Thunder all the way to the NBA Finals.

If you look closely, you can see a small bird living inside Harden’s beard.

While Harden has had his beard for several years now, many others grow theirs specifically for the playoffs, most famously in the NHL. That tradition dates back to the 1980’s when the New York Islanders had four games in five nights and didn’t have time to shave. Since then, come playoff time, players in nearly every sport will follow the tradition and hope the superstition proves useful.

But the effects of impressive facial hair have been well documented throughout sports history. Let’s take a look.

Even Davis can’t believe how nice his beard was.

Baron Davis: Just as Baron’s beard reached its maximum volume, miracles began happening for the 2007 Golden State Warriors. Finishing the season 16-5 to earn the 8th seed with a 42-40 record, the Warriors faced the NBA’s best team in the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki coming off of an MVP season. The rest, obviously, is history.

Davis and the Warriors dismantled Dallas  and nearly snuck by the Utah Jazz in round 2 in a series that featured arguably the best play of Davis’ career. Davis and his beard gained notoriety after that season, as Boom Dizzle himself details in this video.

Brian Wilson: Moving across the Bay, Wilson followed in the path of his fellow Giant Barry Bonds in achieving greatness through frowned upon measures. Pledging at the beginning of the season to not shave until his team won a World Series, the eccentric Wilson took that a step further by dying his beard black. He pushed aside the accusations by claiming the beard was “just really tan.”

Just slap some mascara on Wilson and Captain Jack Sparrow would have some competition.

Despite the tainted beard, the Giants also had some playoff miracles, particularly in their NLCS matchup against the Phillies. In Game 1, Cody Ross hit two home runs off Roy Halladay, who had yet to give up a hit in the playoffs, and the Giants went on to win the series 4-2 behind Wilson’s 3 saves and 1 win.

San Francisco moved on to face the Texas Rangers in the World Series and won the title with relative ease in 5 games. After that, Wilson’s beard became a legend, prompting obligatory “fear the beard” chants every ninth inning and his own t-shirt.

Johnny Damon:The 2004 playoffs was another big win for beards. Damon, sporting a massive beard rivaling many a vagrant, helped propel the Boston Red Sox to their first World Series title since 1918.

Damon added the long hair to his beard to go for the cave man effect.

After falling behind 3 games to none in the ALCS matchups versus the Yankees, Boston rallied back to win the series, bolstered by Damon’s game-winning run in the 14th inning of Game 5 and his 2 home run, 6 RBI game 7. Having reached the World Series, Damon’s home run to lead of Game 4 propelled the Red Sox to victory, sweeping the Cardinals and winning its first title in 86 years.

Brett Keisel: With a beard that could earn him a role in The Hangover 3, Keisel may have the most profound facial hair on this list.

Keisel must have a very warm face.

Following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ failure to make the playoffs in 2009, Keisel began growing what he dubbed “Da Beard,” hoping to improve his team’s fortunes. It clearly worked, as the Steelers made it all the way to the Super Bowl the next season, eventually losing to the Packers.

Keisel’s beard has its own website and raised over $40,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC when it was cut off at the “Shear The Beard” ceremony, making it the most philanthropic sporting beard of all time.

Rollie Fingers: The most famous moustache in sporting history has proved itself as lucky as its lower lip counterparts on this list. Fingers is a 7-time All-Star, 3-time World Series Champion, winner of the 1981 AL MVP and AL Cy Young Award, the 1974 World Series MVP, and only the second relief pitcher to make the Hall of Fame.

Just look at the curl on that thing!

The other end of the spectrum holds true as well. Players with pathetic fuzz have received some poor luck in the playoffs.

Adam Morrison: Sporting perhaps the worst moustache in the history of mankind, Morrison has felt the consequences of his poor life decision to grow it.

Cute

Gonzaga’s memorable late game collapse at the end of the 2006 Sweet Sixteen led to Morrison crying on national television and a virtually nonexistent NBA career for the NCAA’s leading scorer.

Joe Flacco: I have no idea how Flacco decided a handlebar moustache would be a good choice, but the experiment did not end well for the Ravens’ quarterback.

Flacco realized the error in his ways after his loss to the Patriots.

Thought by many to be frontrunners for the Superbowl, Baltimore missed a field goal at the end of their AFC Championship Game against the Patriots that would have sent the game to overtime. Flacco quickly shaved the stache off after the game, but its damage was done. After the season, Flacco further hurt his karma by calling himself the NFL’s best quarterback. “I think I’m the best. I don’t think I’m top-five, I think I’m the best,” Flacco said. Clearly he hasn’t learned his lesson.

With the long history of outstanding facial hair being accompanied by outstanding success, it will be interesting to see if James Harden and the Thunder can continue the trend.

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