NFL 2012: AFC East Preview

By Matt Noonan 

The AFC East may not be the flashiest division this season, but don’t underestimate Buffalo, New York or Miami. All three teams have challenged the Patriots over the past few seasons, and can certainly provide the unnecessary head ache to Patriots coaches, fans and players, especially when they least expect it.

However, New England shouldn’t have a problem winning this division, but keep your eyes on the Bills and Jets.

1.) New England Patriots (12-4) – Some analysts believe this team may mimic their record-breaking performance from 2007, while others think they’re a shoe-in for this year’s Super Bowl. In order for the Patriots to be successful, they’ll need rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower to pressure opposing quarterbacks and provide all sorts of havoc.

Will Chandler Jones be the Patriots most valuable defensive player this season? We’ll see! (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

2.) Buffalo Bills (9-7) – The Bills bolted out of the gate last season, but couldn’t maintain their momentum, as injuries and errors derailed their chances of a successful season. This year, Buffalo added Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to their defense, and drafted two potential studs in Cordy Glenn and Stephon Gilmore. The usual cast is back on offense – Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson and Steve Johnson, but the main question from last year remains: Can they stay healthy? Also, can they be consistent, too?

3.) New York Jets (7-9) – No offense Jets fans, but your team is in complete disarray. New York didn’t locate the end zone until their fourth preseason game, and there’s still questions surrounding their offense and defense. Yet, probably one of the biggest sagas surrounding this team is when will Rex Ryan swap Tim Tebow for Mark Sanchez?

4.) Miami Dolphins (5-11) – There will be a lot of ups and downs this season for the Dolphins, but expect Miami to conclude their year with at least four or five wins.

New England Patriots Kick-Off 2012 On The Road

By NoontimeSports.com 

According to a recent blog post via ESPNBoston.com — the New England Patriots will kick-off their 2012 campaign on the road.

Mike Reiss mentioned in his blog post that it’s likely the Pats will face one of the following teams in week one — Baltimore, Buffalo, New York, Miami, Seattle, Tennessee or Jacksonville.

Of the seven teams listed above, which team would you want to see in the first week? Post your comments below or send us a tweet @NoontimeSports.

Randy Moss Prepares To Return To The NFL In 2012

Where will Randy Moss end up in 2012? (Photo Credit: MLive.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Monday happens to be Randy Moss’s birthday, and according to sources, the former New England Patriots wide receiver is interested in returning to the gridiron in September.

However, don’t expect the birthday boy’s wish to open the gates at Gillette Stadium, especially because Bill Belichick or Tom Brady have moved on since his departure in October of 2010.

Moss played three seasons in New England before being traded to Minnesota. He played four games with the Vikings, and then was released and acquired by Tennessee.

In 2011, the highly touted wide out sat out due to family reasons, but now is determined to make a comeback, and play professional football, again.

So, with all this in mind, here are a few thoughts on what teams should acquire Moss for the upcoming season.

Buffalo BillsThe Bills have roughly $36 million to spend, so acquiring Moss could certainly help their passing attack, as well as open up running lanes for running back Fred Jackson.

New England Patriots Moss left a sour taste in the mouth of owner Robert Kraft, as well as many Patriot fans because of his postgame rant about his contract in September of 2010. So, I highly doubt that he returns, but knowing Belichick, anything is possible.

Kansas City ChiefsAfter the way things ended in December and January of this past season, I strongly believe that Kansas City is on the rebound, and adding Moss could help quarterback Kyle Orton. It’s been a while since the Chiefs had a top-notched receiver, and certainly he’s someone, despite being 35-years-old, who could help Kansas City compete in a rather weak AFC West division.

Chicago BearsHe’s played a majority of his career against this particular squad, and clearly, the Bears need someone to help quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears receiving core isn’t exactly the greatest in the NFL, so again, adding Moss could definitely help Johnny Knox and Devin Hester, as well as the running game.

The NFC West Division All four teams, (Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and St. Louis Rams) have money to spend, and could use a receiver like Moss. The 49ers would probably be ideal for him, but so would the Cardinals. If he lands a job with Arizona, it would most likely help their quarterback find more options.

Willwerth: Breaking Down The AFC

Could Tim Tebow help the Denver Broncos win the AFC West? (Photo Credit: Predominantly Orange)

By Brian Willwerth 

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

AFC EAST

The Patriots are in great shape. They have a two-game lead over the Jets, and own the tiebreaker by virtue of beating New York twice already. Their next two games are against the winless Colts and the subpar Redskins. It looks more and more like there will be another home playoff game in Foxboro in January.

The Jets came up with a much-needed win over the Bills last Sunday to stay in the playoff hunt. Buffalo, after getting off to such a hot start, has dropped four straight and now sits at 5-6.

AFC NORTH

This is the best division in football. The Ravens and Steelers are tied atop the division at [8-3] records, but Baltimore has the edge because it has beaten Pittsburgh twice. What makes the North so intriguing is the surprising play of the Bengals. They’re [7-4], just one game out of first place. But they’ve already lost to both Pittsburgh and Baltimore once, so the Bengals would have to beat those teams the second time around to have any shot at the division title. Still, it is very possible that both wild cards could come from the North.

AFC SOUTH

The Texans are [8-3], riding a five-game winning streak, and have one of the best defenses in the league. But who’s going to play quarterback for them the rest of the way?  Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart are both done for the year with injuries.  Right now T.J. Yates is the man, but you’d have to think Houston’s going to pick someone up for the stretch run. Tennessee is in the hunt at [6-5], and if Chris Johnson keeps running like he did Sunday against the Buccaneers, watch out.

AFC WEST

While the North may be the best division in football, the West may be the most interesting to watch down the stretch. And it’s all because of one guy: Tim Tebow. People can say what they want, but he’s [5-1] as a starter. As much hype as there is surrounding Tebow, people tend to overlook the fact that the Raiders have a one-game lead over Denver, and are coming off a big win at home against the Bears. Oakland and Denver split the head-to-head matchups during the season.

So who is the best team in the AFC? Take your pick. There is a four-way tie for the top spot between the Pats, Ravens, Steelers and Texans. We may not know who gets the byes until the final weekend.

Daily Noontime – November 28, 2011

The Patriots rallied to defeat the Eagles on Sunday, 38-20!

Good Monday to everyone and welcome back to the Daily Noontime! Here’s some headlines and news to kick-start your day, enjoy! 

Headlines: 

* New England’s quarterback Tom Brady tossed three touchdowns on Sunday, as the Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-20.

* Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson mocked both New York Jets receivers Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes, as well as admitted his actions were “stupid” after his team lost their sixth game of the season.

* After his team’s seventh loss of the season, Andy Reid admitted that he didn’t pay attention to the Philadelphia crowd, who chanted, “Fire Andy.”

* Once again, the Houston Texans are faced with a critical quarterback issue, and it’s not certain who’ll be the signal caller for Sunday’s game against Atlanta.

* Tim Tebow once again rallied his troops to beat San Diego in overtime on Sunday, 16-13.

* According to multiple reports – Syracuse University has officially fired Bernie Fine after another source confirmed that he molested a young man nine years ago.

Games to Watch: 

* New York Giants at New Orleans (NFL) – 8:30pm eastern 

* San Jose at Los Angles (NHL) – 10:30pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

Here’s Sunday’s conversation with Tim Tebow on CBS, enjoy! 

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.

Should Your Team Sign Terrell Owens? Here’s Some Thoughts!

Would you want T.O. to play for your team?

By Matt Noonan 

According to multiple reports, Terrell Owens is expected to work out on Tuesday in California, but it’s not certain how many teams will attend his individual training session.

Owens is coming off anterior cruciate ligament surgery, but hopes to play a 16th season. However, many team representitives are quite skeptical about his physical ability, but it’s probable that some squad will take a chance on the highly touted receiver.

Here are just a few teams that might be interested in acquiring Owens.

Buffalo Bills – He played for the Bills in ‘09, but with the team’s recent success, I could see Owens returning to “North America’s team,” so he can help Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson contend for an AFC East crown. With Owens in the line-up, it would most likely help Steve Johnson and Donald Jones catch more passes, as well as open up the run game even more.

Denver BroncosTim Tebow mania is officially underway in the “Mile High” city, but adding Owens might help the young gunslinger, as well as the team’s offense. Tebow doesn’t exactly have a star-studded cast around him, but in a division that’s a complete toss up, (sorry Chargers fans), he could certainly help or at least provide a much-needed spark for the remainder of the season.

Washington Redskins – With Santana Moss sidelined for roughly the next five-seven weeks, why wouldn’t Mike Shanahan roll the dice? The NFC East is a complete mess and no team has emerged from the pack, so possibly adding Owens might help. He’d likely be the number one receiver on the depth chart, and could be a valuable weapon for quarterback John Beck.

San Francisco 49ers – Why wouldn’t T.O. not want to return to the “City by the Bay?” As of recently, they’re winning and leading the NFC West too, so maybe he’d want to join a possible contender. The NFL season is still far from over, but adding him to the offense might make San Francisco even scarier.

Follow Matt Noonan on Twitter @NoontimeSports or send an email to the author – NoontimeSports@gmail.com. 

Daily Noontime – October 21, 2011

The Rangers rallied in Game 2 of the World Series to even the series against the St. Louis Cardinals, 1-1!

Good day to everyone and welcome to another Friday edition of the Daily Noontime! It’s the weekend, which means it’s time to kick-back, relax and have fun! 

Headlines: 

* The Texas Rangers evened the series on Thursday, as they rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the World Series, 2-1.

* According to reports, the Buffalo Bills and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick are close to a new contract, which should make fans quite content, right?

* Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo apparently has recently defended his head coach Jason Garrett for his fourth quarter decision to run the ball against the New England Patriots.

* The NBA Labor talks broke off Thursday evening and according to the New York Times, as well as other reports, the league could be headed toward erasing all November games this season.

* Good news San Diego Charger fans –  New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan apologized for his comments about the squad from sunny California.

* Accord to reports on Thursday, Detroit Lions running back Jerome Harrison has a brain tumor, which isn’t good news.

Games to Watch: 

* San Jose at New Jersey (NHL) – 7:00pm eastern

* # 11 West Virginia at Syracuse (NCAA Football) – 8:00pm eastern 

* Dallas at Anaheim (NHL) – 10:00pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

Here’s both the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers talking about who would star as them in a movie, enjoy! 

Noonan: Six Weeks Of The NFL Is In The Books

Have you been impressed by the Buffalo Bills this season? (Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Bills website)

By Matt Noonan 

After six weeks of the NFL’s current season, we’ve learned a lot, and witnessed some amazing moments. However, we’re far from over or throwing in the towel, especially since we have another 10-weeks remaining of the regular season.

Yet, I do wonder if anyone imagined that after six weeks, the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers would be a combined, [10-2]?

Here’s another question – who truly believed that the Cincinnati Bengals would eventually trade quarterback Carson Palmer?

Finally, did anyone expect the Philadelphia Eagles “dream-team” to implode after six weeks?

Overall, there’s been a bunch of surprises, but in this particular column, it’ll be my duty to breakdown some teams that have raised some eyebrows, as well as look ahead to the remainder of the season.

Biggest Surprise Team: I certainly have enjoyed watching Detroit and San Francisco, but the team I am going to select for this particular category is the Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo has been dreadful over the past few years and yes, they’ve had some fast starts, but between quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and running back Fred Jackson, as well as a defense that’s forced numerous turnovers against Tom Brady and Michael Vick, I’d say, they’re cooking and onto something.

Yet, despite their two recent losses against Cincinnati and New York, the Bills will certainly want to regroup quickly, especially since their remaining schedule features a variety of playoff bound teams, such as Dallas, New England, New York, San Diego, and Tennessee. They should certainly pick up a few more wins against Denver, Miami and Washington, and will most likely compete for an AFC Wild-Card spot too.

All in all, the Bills have been a lot of fun to watch, but we’ll have to wait and see if this is yet again another year of a “fast start” or possibly the start of something new.

Biggest Flop Team: Hands down, this award goes to Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Backup quarterback Vince Young should have bit his tongue this past summer when he told reporters that Philadelphia was “the dream team.” The Eagles have played horrendous on both sides of the ball, but managed to pick up an important win last weekend against Washington. Philadelphia certainly is a talented group, but if they keep playing haphazard football, don’t expect a championship to be delivered anytime soon.

Vick and his receivers need to get on the same page, while the defense has to figure out ways to stop their opponents. Expect the Eagles to pick up the slack in the coming weeks, but overall, they have a lot of ground to make-up.

Who’s more likely to clinch a postseason birth? Buffalo, Detroit, San Francisco or Tennessee?

Again, I have enjoyed Buffalo’s wild ride, but my best guess is the San Francisco 49ers, who practically have the NFC West locked up. Arizona, Seattle and St. Louis have been complete flops, which have allowed the 49ers the opportunity to distance themselves from the pack. San Francisco has been quite impressive this year, especially against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a few weeks ago, (sorry, Brian Willwerth) and should certainly hang onto win their division, especially since they have five divisional contests remaining, which include two against the winless Rams.

Expect Aaron Hernandez to continue being one of Tom Brady's go-to guys for the rest of the season!

Best AFC Team: As much as I want to pick the Baltimore Ravens, who have demolished their opponents thus far, I am going to pick the New England Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Wes Welker have been a deadly one-two punch, while second year tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski have helped with the run game.

As far as their defense, well… it’s getting better. Against the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets, the secondary, which is one the worst in the NFL played quite well, while the front seven pressures both quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez and Tony Romo.

This week, the Patriots will enjoy a much needed bye week before they travel to Pittsburgh. If New England can keep grinding out wins, expect this team to finally end their recent playoff drought.

Best NFC Team: This is an easy one – the Green Bay Packers.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Pack have been on a roll this season, and are certainly on pace to return to the Super Bowl. Yet, it’s only been six games, so I think we need a few more weeks to decide how good this Packers team is, but as of Oct. 20, 2011, I’m going to say, they’re the best the NFC has to offer this season.

Possible Super Bowl Prediction: Earlier this summer, I didn’t have a chance to predict a possible Super Bowl matchup, but now, I am going to say it’ll be between the Packers and Patriots. Both teams are committed to winning, as well as have two of the best quarterbacks in the game that are completely clutch in the fourth quarter. Green Bay’s defense might be a tad bit better than New England’s, but all in all, I’m anticipating a Super Bowl XXXI rematch in Indianapolis, Indiana this February.