Mass. College Football: Locals Invited To NFL Rookie Mini Camps

Merrimack's Isaiah Voegeli signed his undrafted free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday! (Photo Credit: Merrimack College Athletics)

Merrimack’s Isaiah Voegeli signed his undrafted free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday! (Photo Credit: Merrimack College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

As noted on our blog yesterday, Bentley University graduate student Nick Halloran was invited to this weekend’s New England Patriots’ Rookie Mini Camp.

“Just amazing news, not a better way to start the day,” Halloran told the Boston Globe on Tuesday.

Halloran isn’t the only local college football player to earn an invite to a rookie mini camp this weekend as Framingham State’s James Muirhead will attempt to earn a spot with the St. Louis Rams, while Middlebury College’s Ryan Moores, who prepped at Governor’s Academy, will tryout with the Atlanta Falcons.

“I’m braced for it,” Muirhead told the Brockton Enterprise on Tuesday. “I understand what’s going to happen. But you know what? I’m not there to make any friends. I’m there to compete. I’m going there to get a job.”

Merrimack College’s Isaiah Voegeli became the fourth player in program history to sign with a professional team as the Hyannis native inked his name on an undrafted free agent contract Monday with the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I am so grateful for this opportunity,” Voegeli said in the college’s release.  “I can’t thank head coach Dan Curran enough for his help and guidance and preparation to get me to this point. This is a dream come true that I’ve dreamt about since I was 7, to just have a shot and I’ve been blessed this opportunity.”

Voegeli will leave the North Andover campus as the all-time receiver in multiple receiving categories, which includes catches (211) and yards (3,554). He also ranks second in program history with 34 touchdown receptions, too.

Prior to this year’s NFL Draft, the Boston Herald reported that Muirhead, Voegeli and Moores, along with Assumption College’s Nick Haag and Boston College’s Jim Noel worked out with the Falcons, Patriots and New Orleans Saints.

NFL News: Raheem Morris Fired, Rams and Colts Make Changes

Raheem Morris and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the season with 10 consecutive losses! (Photo Credit: BucStop.com)

By Brian Willwerth 

On Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers began a much-needed housecleaning. They fired head coach Raheem Morris. All of his assistants were canned, too.

It was pretty clear to, well, everyone that Morris had lost this team. A promising 4-2 season ended up as a 4-12 disappointment. Ten consecutive losses – many of them of the blowout variety, including Sunday’s hilarious, (and I mean that sarcastically) 45-24 drubbing at the hands of the Falcons. The score was 42-0 before halftime.

The 10-game losing streak matches the team’s longest ever in a single season, back in 1977. Over the final ten games, the Bucs gave up 31 or more points seven times.

Morris went 17-31 in his three seasons, and that includes last year’s surprising 10-6 campaign.

The defense allowed 494 points this season. Yes, that’s dead-last in the NFL. No other Tampa Bay team has allowed as much.  They gave up an average of 156 yards per game on the ground. Yes, that’s dead-last in the NFL. They were third from the bottom in total yards allowed per game, (394.) Only New England and Green Bay ranked lower in that category – no joking.

Quarterback Josh Freeman threw only six interceptions last year. This year? 22.

On the subject of turnovers, guess where the Bucs rank in that category? Yes, dead-last.

Other NFL News: 

* The St. Louis Rams fired their head coach Steve Spagnuolo, and general manager Bill Devaney. The Rams went 2-14 this season, as well as tied for the worst record in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts.

* Speaking of the Colts, they’re shaking things up as well. They’ve fired vice chairman Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian. Indy, like St. Louis, won only two games this season, and will have the first pick in the NFL draft.

NFL Postseason Schedule Announced

By NoontimeSports.com 

The NFL announced the 2011 playoff schedule on Sunday, and here are the potential match-ups.

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 – Wild Card Round 

* (No. 6) Cincinnati at (No. 3) Houston Texans — 4:30pm eastern 

* (No. 6) Detroit at (No. 3)  New Orleans — 8:00pm eastern 

Sunday, January 8, 2012 — Wild Card Round 

* (No. 5) Atlanta at (No. 4) New York — 1:00pm easter 

* (No. 5) Pittsburgh at (No. 4)  Denver — 4:30PM eastern 

Saturday, January 14, 2012 — Divisional Round 

* Atlanta/New York/New Orleans at (No. 2) San Francisco (Afternoon) 

* Cincinnati/Denver/Pittsburgh at (No. 1) New England (Evening)

Sunday, January 15, 2012 — Divisional Round 

* Denver/Houston/Pittsburgh at  (No. 2) Baltimore (Afternoon)

* Atlanta/Detroit/New York at (No. 1) Green Bay (Afternoon) 

Sunday, January 22, 2012 — AFC/NFC Championship Games

* AFC Championship — 3:30pm eastern 

* NFC Championship — 6:30pm eastern 

Sunday, January 29, 2012 — NFL Pro Bowl

* AFC vs. NFC — Time TBA 

Sunday, February  5, 2012

* AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion — Time TBA 

Breaking Down The NFC Playoff Picture

Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

By Brian Willwerth 

With one week to go in the regular season, here’s the lowdown on the NFC playoff picture….

The Green Bay Packers will be the No. 1 seed. They’ve won the North, and have clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The San Francisco 49ers are champions of the West. They can clinch the No. 2 seed and first-round bye if they beat the Rams in St. Louis on Sunday.

The New Orleans Saints won the South last night, with Drew Brees’ record-breaking performance.  They can still get a bye if they beat Carolina, and San Francisco falters.

The  Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons are the wild cards. That’s etched in stone.

The real drama lies in the NFC East, where the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants will face off in a winner-take-all showdown in primetime at the Meadowlands. The winner wins the division; the loser is out. Think NBC is licking its chops?

Daily Noontime – December 16, 2011

Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons flew past Jacksonville on Thursday, 41-14! (Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports)

Good Friday to all, and welcome into yet another tremendous rendition of the Daily Noontime! Here’s some headlines, and news to jump-start the day! 

Headlines: 

* Matt Ryan tossed three touchdowns on Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, which helped the Atlanta Falcons win their ninth game of the season, 41-14.

* According to reports — former Dallas Cowboy and current Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd is expected to face drug charges1000 pounds of marijuana per week.

* After losing to the Falcons on Thursday, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew expressed that this particular game was “embarrassing.”

* According to an article from the Denver Post, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has apparently inspired office workers and bosses to be a tad bit nicer these days.

* The Chicago Cubs are heating up their interest in pursuing former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.

* NHL.com has confirmed that Philadelphia Flyers defensemen Chris Pronger is expected to be out for the remainder of the season, as well as the playoffs too.

Games to Watch: 

* Toronto at Buffalo (NHL) – 7:30pm eastern 

* Dallas at New Jersey (NHL) – 8:00pm eastern 

* Anaheim at Chicago (NHL) – 8:30pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

Here’s another stupendous video about Tim Tebow, enjoy! 

Daily Noontime – December 15, 2011

The Atlanta Falcons host Jacksonville on Thursday, and certainly they'd like to earn another victory! (Photo Credit: Betfirms.com)

Happy Thursday to all, and welcome into another tremendous and astounding rendition of the Daily Noontime! Here’s some news and headlines to jumpstart your day, enjoy! 

Headlines: 

* The Atlanta Falcons will host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, and certainly, another win will help boost their chances toward a winning. season.

* The NFL announced it’s new TV deal with CBS, FOX and NBC on Wednesday, and well… there are a few changes that all fans will enjoy.

* Patrice Bergeron and the Boston Bruins picked up an important road win on Wednesday, as the Black and Yellow defeated the Ottawa Senators, 5-2.

* One of the biggest stories from Wednesday was that the NBA officially allowed the New Orleans Hornets to trade Chris Paul to the Los Angles Clippers.

* According to reports, the Orlando Magic have officially ended trade talks for center Dwight Howard.

* Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has officially decided to appeal his one-game suspension.

Games to Watch: 

   * Philadelphia at Montreal (NHL) – 7:30pm eastern 

* Calgary at Tampa Bay (NHL) – 7:30pm eastern 

* New York Rangers at St. Louis (NHL) – 8:00pm eastern

Video of the Day: 

Patrice Bergeron has experienced a great deal of success against Ottawa, and with that being said, here’s a video of his hat trick last year against the Senators at the TD Garden, enjoy! 

NFL Playoff Update

The NFL playoff race is alive and well!

By NoontimeSports.com 

With four games left in the regular season, here’s a quick look at the races for the division titles and wild cards.

AFC

EAST:  Nothing has changed since last week. The Patriots and Jets both won on Sunday, so New England still owns a two-game lead over New York, as well as the tiebreaker.

NORTH:  This is now a two-team race. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are both [9-3], with the Ravens owning the tiebreaker. The Bengals pretty much lost any hope of winning the division when they got blown out by the Steelers yesterday.

SOUTH:  The Texans continue their amazing season. They’re [9-3], and remain two games ahead of the resurgent Titans. These two teams meet on the final weekend of the season. Houston won the first meeting in Nashville.

WEST:  This should be fun to watch down the stretch. The Broncos moved into a tie for first place with the Raiders at [7-5]. Denver rallied to beat Minnesota, while Oakland got blown out in Miami on Sunday.

WILD CARDS RIGHT NOW:  Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The Bengals are in a four-way tie for the final spot with the Raiders, Titans and Jets.

NFC

EAST:  The Cowboys and Giants both lost on Sunday, so Dallas still has a one-game lead. These teams still play each other twice in the next four weeks, starting with next Sunday night.

NORTH:  The Packers have clinched the division.

SOUTH:  The Saints increased their lead over the Falcons to two games. New Orleans is hitting on all cylinders right now, and has already beaten Atlanta once.

WEST:  The 49ers have clinched the division.

WILD CARDS RIGHT NOW:  Chicago and Atlanta are both [7-5]. So is Detroit.

Willwerth: Breaking Down the NFC

Can Aaron Rodgers lead the Green Bay Packers to five more wins? (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By Brian Willwerth 

A quick overview of the division races in the NFC with five games remaining…

NFC EAST

This is a two-team race between the Cowboys and Giants. As of now, Dallas has a one-game lead, but these teams still have to play each other twice down the stretch: the first matchup is in two weeks, the second is the season finale. It will ultimately be those two games that decide the division winner. The other note from the East: Philadelphia [4-7] gets my vote for biggest disappointment in the NFL, at least for the moment.

NFC NORTH

You know the headline here: will the Packers go undefeated? Their five remaining games are against the Giants, Raiders, Chiefs, Bears and Lions. Three of them are at home. Four of those teams are over [.500], (KC being the exception) so it’s hardly a given that Green Bay will fly through them. The Lions are Bears are both in the thick of the wild card race at [7-4]. They split the head-to-head meetings this season. But Chicago has questions at quarterback, while Detroit will have to play the next two games without Ndamukong Suh, thanks to his “stomping” job against the Packers on Thanksgiving Day.

NFC SOUTH

Here’s another two-team race. The Saints and Falcons are separated by one game. Both teams are peaking at just the right time. New Orleans has already beaten Atlanta in the Georgia Dome (in the “Mike Smith 4th Down Gamble” game.) The second meeting is the day after Christmas on Monday Night Football.

That game could be for the division title.

NFC WEST

The 49ers can wrap up the division with a win at home Sunday against the Rams.  San Francisco also has the inside track to a first-round bye. The one game that sticks out on their remaining schedule is a Monday night game against the Steelers on December 19thJim Harbaugh gets my vote for Coach of the Year, though it might be hard to bypass Mike McCarthy if the Packers go undefeated. Remember that tremendous game between the Saints and Packers on opening night? Wouldn’t you love to see a rematch in the NFC Championship game? I hope I’m right.

NFL Week 12 – Afternoon/Evening Scoreboard

By Brian Willwerth 

JETS 28, BILLS 24 – We’ll start at the Meadowlands for our Game of the Day. It was a matchup between a pair of teams in desperate need of a win. Mark Sanchez was the hero for the Jets. He threw four touchdown passes, including the game-winner to Santonio Holmes with just over a minute remaining. He completed barely half of his passes, but came through when he needed to. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three TD passes for Buffalo in a losing effort. Another thing that will be talked about is the play of Buffalo wide receiver Stevie Johnson. After catching a TD pass, his ensuing celebration won the “poor taste” award, since he made fun of the Plaxico Burress nightclub incident from three years ago, (if you saw the game, you know what I mean). Then late in the fourth quarter, he was wide open down the middle of the field, and dropped a pass that would’ve gone for a huge gain. In the end, the Jets swept the season series from the Bills.

FALCONS 24, VIKINGS 14 – At the Georgia Dome, Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes as Atlanta hung on to beat Minnesota. Here’s the stat of the game: Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 104 yards late in the fourth quarter, but did not score a touchdown. The Vikes ended up getting stuffed by the Falcons’ defense.

BENGALS 23, BROWNS 20 – What a wild finish at Paul Brown Stadium. With less than two minutes to play, Phil Dawson missed a 55-yard FG that would’ve given Cleveland the lead. Cincinnati raced right back down the field, courtesy of a 51-yard pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green. Mike Nugent’s 26-yard FG allowed the Bengals to improve to [7-4], and remain very much alive in the AFC playoff picture.

TITANS 23, BUCCANEERS 17 – This was the breakout game Chris Johnson has been waiting for. He rushed for 190 yards. But ultimately it was Matt Hasselbeck’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Damian Williams on fourth down that gave Tennessee the win at home. The Bucs drove down the field in the closing seconds, but Josh Freeman fumbled a snap on fourth down that sealed Tampa Bay’s fate. There were nine turnovers in this sloppy game: five by the Bucs, four by the Titans.

PANTHERS 27, COLTS 19 –Carolina won its first road game in nearly two years.  DeAngelo Williams rushed for two touchdowns as the Panthers sent the Colts to [0-11] on the season. It doesn’t get any easier for Indy; a trip to Foxboro awaits them next Sunday.

CARDINALS 23, RAMS 20 – This was a good game between a couple of struggling teams. The star of the game was Arizona running back Beanie Wells, who set a franchise record with 228 yards on the ground, including a 71-yard touchdown.  Patrick Peterson also returned a punt for a TD for the fourth time this season.

TEXANS 20, JAGUARS 13 – Houston keeps losing quarterbacks, but continues to win games. In Jacksonville, Matt Leinart injured his throwing shoulder in the Texans’ victory over the Jags. They’ve already lost Matt Schaub for the season with a right foot injury. T.J. Yates played the rest of the way on Sunday.  Fortunately for the Texans, their defense is outstanding. They sacked Blaine Gabbert six times.

PATRIOTS 38, EAGLES 20 – At one point, the score was 10-0 Philadelphia. Then Tom Brady and company got down to business. Brady was (24-34, 361 yards and three touchdowns), including two to Wes Welker. The Pats also got two rushing touchdowns from BenJarvus Green-Ellis. New England is [8-3], while the Eagles – a team that had such high expectations – fell to [4-7].

RAIDERS 25, BEARS 20 – In Oakland, the Raiders stayed in first place in the AFC West. Sebastian Janikowski tied a team-record with six field goals, four of them from 40+ yards. Chicago QB Caleb Hanie, filling in for the injured Jay Cutler, was picked off three times.

REDSKINS 23, SEAHAWKS 17 – Washington scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to rally for the win in Seattle. The game-winner was a 50-yard scoring pass from Rex Grossman to Anthony Armstrong with just over six minutes remaining. The Redskins snapped their six-game losing streak.

BRONCOS 16, CHARGERS 13  (OT)  – In San Diego, it took nearly five full quarters of football to determine the winner. Matt Prater kicked 37-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining in overtime as Denver won its fourth straight and kept pace with the Raiders in the division. Earlier in OT, Nick Novak missed a 53-yarder that would’ve won the game for San Diego. Tim Tebow threw for 143 yards and rushed for 67 more.

NFL Week 10 — Sunday Afternoon/Evening Scoreboard

By Brian Willwerth 

SAINTS 26, FALCONS 23 (OT) – We’ll start at the Georgia Dome for our Game of the Day: a huge NFC South matchup, a fourth-quarter rally, and a bold coaching move that did not pay off. Atlanta rallied from a 10-point deficit late in the game, tying it up on Matt Bryant’s 27-yard FG on the final play of regulation. Then in OT, Falcons’ coach Mike Smith decided to go for it on 4th and inches on his own 30-yard line. But Michael Turner was stuffed. New Orleans took over, and won it on John Kasay’s 26-yard FG. For all the New England fans out there, Smith’s decision brought back memories of Bill Belichick’s 4th down gamble against the Colts a few years ago.

RAMS 13, BROWNS 12 – Did St. Louis win, or did Cleveland just blow it? Browns kicker Phil Dawson made four FG’s, and had a chance to win the game. But he was partially victimized by a bad snap, and shanked a 22-yarder with just over two minutes to go. Stephen Jackson rushed for 128 yards in the Rams’ victory.

STEELERS 24, BENGALS 17 – This was another big divisional game, and it also lived up to the hype. At Paul Brown Stadium, Rashard Mendenhall rushed for two touchdowns. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton threw a pair of TD passes, but was picked off twice in the fourth quarter.

COWBOYS 44, BILLS 7 – This was blowout city. It was a spectacular day for QB Tony Romo. He was 23-of-26 for 270 yards and three touchdowns as Dallas improved to [5-4]. Buffalo, after getting off to such a good start, has lost three of its last four.

JAGUARS 17, COLTS 3 – For those of you who thought this might be Indianapolis’ best chance to get its first win, think again. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 114 yards and a touchdown for the Jags. Colts’ QB Curtis Painter threw two interceptions, and was yanked for the second week in a row.  Indianapolis is [0-10].  The Colts have their bye next week.

BRONCOS 17 – CHIEFS 10 – Here’s the stat of the day. Denver QB Tim Tebow completed two passes in this game – TWO. But one of them went for a touchdown to Eric Decker. Tebow also ran for a score, as Denver pulled off a big divisional win on the road at Arrowhead. This is the first time in Broncos’ history they have won a game while completing two or fewer passes.

DOLPHINS 20 – REDSKINS 9 – In Miami, the Dolphins won their second in a row after losing seven straight to open the season. Reggie Bush rushed for two touchdowns. Washington QB Rex Grossman was intercepted twice.

CARDINALS 21 – EAGLES 17 – Arizona won its second in a row, coming from behind to win at Philadelphia. John Skelton threw three touchdown passes, including the game-winner to Earl Doucet with 1:53 left. This is the fifth time this season the Eagles have blown a lead in the fourth quarter. Philly WR DeSean Jackson was benched for this game for missing a team meeting.

TEXANS 37 – BUCCANEERS 9 – This was another blowout city. On the first play of the game, Matt Schaub threw an 80-yard TD pass to Jacoby Jones, and that set the tone for the rest of the day. Arian Foster, Ben Tate and former Buc Derrick Ward all ran for scores. Tampa Bay turned it over four times. Houston is [7-3] and in great shape in the AFC South.

TITANS 30 – PANTHERS 10 – Charlotte was also blowout city. Tennessee’s Chris Johnson ran for 130 yards and a touchdown. The Titans’ defense also sacked Cam Newton five times.

49ERS 27 – GIANTS 20 – This was a terrific game in San Francisco, with possibly a first-round bye at stake. The 49ers scored 15 points in a span of 1:05 early in the 4th quarter, and then held off a furious rally by the Giants. It ended when Eli Manning’s fourth down pass inside the red zone, which was batted down by Justin Smith in the final minute. San Francisco is now [8-1] on the season.

SEAHAWKS 22 -RAVENS 17 – Here’s the upset of the day. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown as Seattle stunned Baltimore. It was the Seahawks’ defense – not the Ravens’ – that was the story, forcing three turnovers.

BEARS 37 – LIONS 13   – At Soldier Field, it was all Chicago, all the time. The Bears’ defense forced six turnovers. They picked off Matthew Stafford four times, returning two of them for touchdowns. Stafford threw a whopping 63 passes.  With the game out of reach, one of the interceptions ended with a big fight on the field between the two teams. Punches were thrown. Chicago’s D.J. Moore was ejected from the game. Think these two teams like each other?

PATRIOTS 37 – JETS 16   – In the night game, New England took sole possession of first place in the AFC East with a convincing victory at the Meadowlands. Tom Brady threw for 329 yards. Rob Gronkowski caught eight passes for 113 yards and two TD’s. Andre Carter had 4.5 sacks. Jets QB Mark Sanchez was picked off twice, one of them returned for a touchdown by Rob Ninkovich.