Daily Noontime – March 15, 2012

Kevin Garnett's late fourth quarter heroics lifted Boston past Golden State! (Photo Credit: Comcast Sports/Bay Area)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Good Thursday to everyone, and welcome into yet another amazing rendition of the Daily Noontime! Let’s kick-start the day with some news from the city of champions!

* Kevin Garnett’s 20-foot jumper with six seconds remaining in the fourth quarter provided the Boston Celtics with a 105-103 win on Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors. Garnett paced the Green and White with 24 points, while Brandon Bass added 22 points. Boston is now 2-1 on their current eight-game swing, and will return to the court on Friday when they tip-off against the Sacramento Kings.

* Sources confirmed on Wednesday evening that Celtics forward/center Chris Wilcox will undergo aortic surgery on Mar. 29, and miss the remainder of the season.

* Sources have confirmed that the Celtics are possibly considering trading Paul Pierce to the Portland Trailblazers. The NBA trade deadline is set to conclude at 3PM on Thursday, and it’s likely that president of operations Danny Ainge will pull the trigger.

* The Boston Bruins will look to snap their three-game skid on Thursday evening when they face-off against the Panthers in Florida. The Panthers enter the contest having won two of their last three matchups against Carolina and Toronto.

* Harvard University’s men’s basketball team will begin their quest toward NCAA glory on Thursday when they tip-off against Vanderbilt University. Also, UMass will play its second round NIT game against Seton Hall on Saturday, Mar. 17, at 11AM.

* Finally, the New England Patriots acquired former Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene on Wednesday, as well as inked his name to a three-year, $12 million deal. Fanene has spent the past seven season with the Bengals, as well as ended this pasts season with 24 tackles, 17 solo tackles and 6.5 sacks.

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 AFC Playoff Picture

Photo Credit: Logo Inspirations

By Brian Willwerth 

With one week left in the regular season, here’s the way the AFC is shaping up…

The New England Patriots have clinched the East and a first-round bye. If they beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, they’ll wrap up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

In the North, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have both clinched playoff spots.  One of them will win the division; the other will be a wild card. Baltimore owns the tiebreaker by virtue of beating Pittsburgh twice. The Ravens will travel to Cincinnati, while the Steelers play at Cleveland.

The Houston Texans have won the South, and are locked into the No. 3 seed.

The Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders are tied atop of the West. If they’re still tied after next week, Denver owns the tiebreaker. Those two teams face the Chiefs and Chargers, respectively. Whoever doesn’t win the division will be out.

That leaves one card spot open. The “win and you’re in” team is Cincinnati. All the Bengals have to do is beat the Ravens at home, in one of the marquee games of the final weekend. If Cincy stumbles, the Raiders, Titans and Jets can all sneak in, but they’ll also need help from the respective squads.

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 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.

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 Four – News and Notes

By NoontimeSports.com 

Hard to believe it, but the first official NFL Sunday in October is upon us – wow! Here’s some of the recent headlines and news heading into week four of the regular season, enjoy!

* Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton finally earned his first win of the season last week, yet now comes a daunting task – the Chicago Bears. In a recent article about Newton and the Panthers, Bears head coach Lovie Smith compared the rookie quarterback to former Carolina defensive end, Julius Peppers. Yet, how does Newton and Peppers compare to one another? That seems strange, right?

* Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo admitted recently that he was tired of hearing about Tony Romo‘s heroism. Orakpo told ESPN 980’s John Thompson on Tuesday that he believed this whole situation with Romo’s injury was blown out of proportion. Certainly the Redskins and their coaches aren’t happy about the loss, but luckily they’ll get another shot at the Dallas Cowboys later this season.

* While the Buffalo Bills prepare for their fourth opponent of the season – the Cincinnati Bengals, sources have confirmed that the team is close to a new deal with St. John Fisher, which would keep their training camp at Pittsford college.

* According to a recent report via Yahoo! Sports, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer won’t be headed to Miami, Florida.

* The Indianapolis Colts recently signed former Detroit Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky due to Kerry Collins‘s concussion-like symptoms.

Daily Noontime – September 28, 2011

It all comes down to ONE MORE GAME!

Whoa … It’s “Hump” Day! Happy Wednesday to everyone and welcome into a grand edition of the Daily Noontime! Let’s kick-off the day with some news and headlines. Also, here’s a shout out to the Boston Red Sox too – Go Get ‘Em! 

Headlines: 

* The Boston Red Sox used four home runs to beat the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday to defeat the Baltimore Orioles, 8-7. Also, they’re still tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League Wild Card, who defeated the New York Yankees, 5-3.

* According to the MLB, if there is a two-way tie in the American and National League for the Wild Cards – they’ll play a one-game playoff on Thursday.

* The New York Times broke down the third week of the NFL in a “film review,” so check it out.

* Apparently the NFL has revamped the Super Bowl logo for the championship in 2014, which will be played outdoors at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

* If you live in Cincinnati – don’t expect to watch the Bengals-Buffalo Bills game because it’s going to be blacked out on television.

* In case you missed it, Milwaukee’s Price Fielder hit three home runs on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which helped the Brewers pick up an important 6-4 win.

Games to Watch: 

* Boston at Baltimore (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern 

* New York Yankees at Tampa Bay (MLB) – 7:10pm eastern 

* Philadelphia at Atlanta (MLB) – 7:10pm eastern 

* St. Louis at Houston (MLB) – 8:05pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

The final day of the MLB season has arrived, but there’s four teams fighting for two playoff spots, which means, cue “Don’t Stop Believing!”

Rubin: Thoughts on Ron Artest’s Name Change

So, apparently Ron Artest changed his name, but what's his next plan of attack?

By Dan Rubin 

Ron Artest’s name change was officially approved on Friday, which happened to be an early birthday present to myself because it gives me a laundry list of jokes about ten pages long. Although, I am honestly contemplating buying his jersey, especially since I want to support him, as well as his new name, Metta World Peace.

Artest originally wanted to change his number to 70, but the NBA reportedly denied his request. Apparently, there’s a little known rule that a player has to have one number for approximately five-years before they can change it. I don’t know how he was able to negotiate a change from 37 to 15 in his first two seasons in Los Angeles, but the league denied him the right to change if for a third year.

Yet, Artest’s name changes the game. Chad Johnson’s name change to Ochocinco was funny, but Artest is a different story. He’s just nuts, although, I know he’s going to use this name change for the greater good. So, with that being said, here’s my Top-5 List of things Ron Artest will do with his new name.

1. He’ll quit the NBA and relocate to Zimbabwe to raise unicorns. If Metta World Peace or Ron Artest or whatever we’re calling him these days said, he was going to do this, would you argue with him? It’s like when Mike Tyson retired from boxing to raise pigeons. Bill Simmons from ESPN.com used to talk about how they reached a crazy zone, which was called, “Tyson Zone.” Well, if World Peace said he was going to do this zany move, I don’t think any of us would be shocked.

2. No NBA referee will charge him with a foul. If you were a referee, would you blow a whistle and call a foul against a man named World Peace? I’m not putting anything past NBA officials – they’re so crooked, but they might hate World Peace or his actions. Although, if you’re an NBA official, would you call a foul against him? He’ll never have a foul called on him, especially if he tears a limb off from Amare Stoudamire or Dirk Nowitzki’s body.  

3.  He’ll secretly become the next Secretary General of the United Nations. Over the years, secretary-generals names have included, U Thant and Kofi Annan. If World Peace becomes the new head of the world’s peacekeeping organization, then nobody would ask questions, right? His name fits so perfectly.

4. He’ll star in an Adult Film. This idea might be a tad bit risqué, but if Metta World Peace isn’t the name of some foreign dignitary then it absolutely the name of a man who is destined to appear in the adult film industry. Also, I’m going out on a limb, but I bet he’d win an award for best actor.

5. He’ll lead a cult. I can envision World Peace wearing a long, colorful robe and preaching about how he is the prophet of the God’s earth. I can imagine him moving to a settlement in the middle of nowhere. I can imagine him having this peculiar cult where they farm for a living Also, I can imagine a reporter like Craig Sager donning his ‘84-color suits and going for an exclusive look at life inside the compound.

All in all, I want to thank Metta World Peace for all that he’s done thus far. Also, I think it’s fair to state, he’s a reporter’s dream and we are all eternally grateful for it.

NFL 2011: AFC North Predictions

Expect a decent season from Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns.

By Matt Noonan  

One of the toughest divisions in football will be on display all season, as Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh will duke it out for the top-spot. Yes, I mentioned the Browns, but don’t worry Steelers and Ravens fans, they’ll most likely be a third place squad. Expect another solid year from the Steelers unless an injury derails the defending AFC champions.

Pittsburgh Steelers [10-6] – Despite their aging defense, the Steelers practically have the same team intact from last season, although sadly they just didn’t have enough in the tank to beat the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. One of the biggest questions this year will be if safety Troy Polamalu gets a new contract, but also, how many fines will linebacker James Harrison register? All in all, the Steelers are a solid pick to win this division, as long as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains focused.

Baltimore Ravens [9-7] – This has got to be the year for quarterback Joe Flacco, who enters his fourth season with the Ravens. The young quarterback has performed quite well over the years, but this season he needs to step-up and become a true leader. If Flacco can lead his offense, then expect good things from an all-around solid wild-card team.

Cleveland Browns [7-9] – I’m really excited for the Colt McCoy era to truly begin. The Browns will be somewhat decent this season, however, not the greatest. Of course they’ll struggle, but again, expect another quality season from running back Peyton Hillis too.

Cincinnati Bengals [2-14] – This team has been nothing, but a media circus. Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton will get pulverized this season under center, while rookie wide-out A.J. Green will struggle immensely. Overall, this is not going to be a good season for the “Bungles.”