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.

Tebow-Mania Spreads to New York City

Tim Tebow was introduced as a New York "Football" Jet on Monday, and apparently is ready to help Gang Green win a title! (Photo Credit: USA Today)

By Matt Noonan 

The New York Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl championship since January of 1969, but Monday’s Tim Tebow press conference certainly provided numerous Gang Green supporters with a great deal of optimism toward the upcoming campaign.

Tebow spoke with 200 credentialed media members for roughly 32 minutes on Monday at the Jets practice facility, and fielded questions from why he was “blessed” to be a Jet to his relationship with starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. The young gunslinger also preached about his relationship with the New York coaching staff, which possibly explains why he chose the Big Apple over Jacksonville, Florida.

“It’s such an honor for me to be here, and I’m so excited about being a Jet,” Tebow said via the team’s website. “I just want to thank the Broncos for my time in Denver – it was an amazing time. I want to thank my teammates and the fans for being such great teammates and such great fans, and I’m looking forward to my time here in New York and my time as a Jet.”

“I’m so honored and humbled to be a Jet. I’m so thankful that they wanted me, and I’m so excited about meeting my teammates,” added the Jets backup quarterback.

This particular type of press conference is rather unusual, especially for a backup quarterback, but due to the so-called, “Tebow hype,” as well as his success from last season, it wasn’t too surprising that various media members decided to greet the 24-year-old, as well as question him about joining a team that’s been the doormat to the Super Bowl the past three years in the American Football Conference.

“I’m excited to be a Jet – to go out there and help this team anyway that I can, and whatever my role is, however I can expand that role – I’m going to try and do that,” said Tebow.

Tebow will certainly be a major asset, especially since head coach Rex Ryan believes that his number will be called roughly 20 times per game. However, don’t anticipate any quarterback swap to occur because as various reports confirmed – Sanchez is going to be the starter once week one arrives.

“I think the exciting thing is that me and Mark have a great relationship,” Tebow said when asked about playing behind Sanchez. “We have had a good relationship for the last three-years, I think. We’ve been friends, we’ve [texted each other] back and fourth, we’ve talked already, and we’re going to have a great relationship and a great working relationship and I think we’ll have a lot of fun together.”

So, whether you like it or not, Tebow is officially a Jet and the excitement for him has definitely drifted from the Rocky Mountains to the city that never sleeps.

Tebow Chooses The New York “Football” Jets

It's official - Tim Tebow is going to be a Jet in 2012! (Photo Credit: CBS News)

By Matt Noonan 

Numerous sources confirmed at 9PM on Wednesday, March 21, that Tim Tebow is officially headed to the New York Jets. Gang Green also received a seventh round draft pick, while Denver endured a fourth and sixth round selection.

Sources and reports confirmed earlier that Tebow had officially been traded to New York, but a later bulletin announced that the Jets front office hadn’t exactly read all of the fine print.

Tebow’s contract apparently stated that any suitor who obtained him would have to pay Denver $5 million. And while New York remained at a standstill over this issue, sources then began reporting that Tebow would most likely return to Denver, and then be pursued by Jacksonville and St. Louis.

However, the whirlwind officially ended a few hours later when the Broncos and Jets agreed to split the coast, and execute the deal.

Tebow started 13 of 18 games last season, which included two postseason contests against New England and Pittsburgh, but will most likely backup Mark Sanchez, who recently signed a three-year extension.

Tim Tebow Deal To New York Jets In Limbo

Could Tim Tebow return to Denver? It's possible! (Photo Credit: MileHighReport.com)

By Matt Noonan 

According to various sources, it appears Tim Tebow is not officially a member of the New York “Football” Jets due to a recent “snag” in the gunslinger’s contract.

As reported by the Denver Post – the Jets front office apparently didn’t realize that Tebow’s contract instructs acquiring suitors to send $5 million back to the Denver Broncos.

So, if New York decides to forgo paying the money for Tebow, then he’d return to Denver.

ProFootballTalk.com also confirmed that if the trade doesn’t occur then Jacksonville and St. Louis would be interested in acquiring the former Florida Gator signal caller.

The Wackiest Wednesday In NFL History

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s been a busy day in the NFL.

* The Denver Broncos traded quarterback Tim Tebow to the New York Jets in exchange for two draft picks.

* The NFL announced that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton would be suspended for the upcoming season without pay due to his team’s bounty program, which began when defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was hired in 2009. Williams has officially be suspended indefinitely, while the team’s GM Mickey Loomis has been suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season. Also, the Saints will be fined $500,000, too.

* Finally, beneath the Tebow trade and league ruling on the Saints – the San Francisco 49ers resigned quarterback Alex Smith to a three-year contract. According to the Associated Press, Smith will earn $8 million per year with $16.5 million guaranteed.

So, without further ado – we’d like to know your thoughts on what was the biggest story of the day thus far? Cast your vote below!

Thomas: Five Teams That Should Acquire Peyton Manning

Now that Peyton Manning is a free agent, where will he most likely end up next? (Photo Credit: Colts.com)

By Elizabeth Thomas 

On Wednesday, Mar. 8, the Indianapolis Colts decided they wouldn’t renew Peyton Manning’s five-year, $90 million contract, which included a $28 million signing bonus. So, instead of picking up the remaining four-years on his current deal, the Colts decided to show Manning the door. And now, he’s a free agent quarterback looking for a new home, as well as a fresh start, too.

So, with all this in mind, I thought I’d provide five various organizations that should certainly consider signing the highly touted veteran quarterback.

Miami Dolphins: Since losing out on the Jeff Fisher sweepstakes, Miami hasn’t made too much noise this offseason. First-year head coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman are committed to implementing a west coast offense, which Manning has never conducted. However, the former Colts gunslinger does own a home in South Beach, as well as won a Super Bowl at Dolphins Stadium, too, so that could certainly provide some leverage at the negotiating table. Also, the Dolphins offense would excel quite well with him under center, and force Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess and Reggie Bush to step-up their “game.” Manning could be an excellent puzzle piece for a veteran squad, but would a west coast offense be the straw that breaks the camels back? We’ll see!

Washington Redskins: Reports surfaced earlier this week that a Washington radio station confirmed that the Redskins were most likely out of the running for Manning. Yet, if head coach Mike Shanahan can somehow adjust his offensive, then maybe Washington will be able to lure Manning to their organization.

Denver BroncosWith Tim Tebow becoming not only the face of Denver’s franchise, but also a cultural icon, then it’s highly doubtful that the Broncos head coach John Fox would make any changes to tarnish his image, right? Think again! Manning seems determined to remain in the AFC, and while executive vice president of football operations John Elway wants to win now, then it’s likely that the Broncos should consider signing him as soon as possible. Elway and Manning are golf buddies, so it’s possible that the former Denver gunslinger could woo the free agent quarterback to the “Mile High” city.

New York Jets: New York has invested time and money in their quarterback, Mark Sanchez, who has led Gang Green to the AFC Championship twice in the past three seasons. However, if New York wants to end their championship drought, then adding Peyton might be necessary.

Arizona Cardinals: Who wouldn’t want to play football in the desert? Wouldn’t you want to join the Cardinals, so you could toss numerous touchdowns to the NFL’s most lucrative receiver, Larry Fitzgerald? Manning would be a great fit for Arizona, who still hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Also, if you acquire Manning, you’d probably get Reggie Wayne, who is a free agent, too.

Noonan: Super Bowl XLVI Prediction – New England vs. New York

Can Tom Brady earn his fourth Super Bowl ring on Sunday? (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Well, it’s time for me, (Matt Noonan) to deem a NFL champion for Noontime Sports.

It’s been a LONG season, and 32 teams have dwindled down to just two, New England and New York, and once the clock strikes zero in the fourth quarter, we’ll officially have a winner, right?

OK… there might be overtime or a second or third, but you get my drift.

Although, how bizarre is it that pigskin lovers get to watch a rematch of Super Bowl XLII?

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday that New Englanders were crossing their fingers for Tom Brady to recover from his awful performance against the San Diego Chargers in the 2007 AFC title match?

Well, he didn’t do that well against the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago, so should we expect déjà vu all over again? Who knows!

The Giants are a mediocre squad. Seriously, they’re 9-7, which means they’re OK, but not great, and as someone who is a true Dallas Cowboys supporter, it pains me to see Eli Manning leading his troops in the “big game” instead of Tony Romo. However, Manning certainly has taken a step forward toward the upper echelon of “elite quarterbacks” in the NFL, but now the question remains … can he beat Brady and the Patriots on Sunday, again?

I certainly think it’s possible, especially since New York has a variety of offensive weapons that can stretch the field, and attack Bill Belichick’s questionable and fragile secondary.

Also, I believe the Giants front seven will attempt to mimic their actions from four years ago when they recorded five sacks in Arizona. However, they never forced Brady to throw an interception, but this past November when the two teams met in Foxborough, the G-Men tallied two sacks and two interceptions, as well as a win, too.

New England hasn’t defeated New York since that epic clash in December of 2007, which was when the Patriots registered their 16th victory, and ended the regular season with a perfect record. Yet, ever since that night in New Jersey, the Giants have had their number in the championship and regular season matches, which probably means they’re better, right?

Hard to answer that particular question, but overall, I think these two teams are even. And yes, I know I labeled the Giants as “mediocre,” but all in all, I think we’re going to be watching a true heavyweight bout.

Super Bowl XLVI Prediction: The Giants rallied to beat the Patriots earlier this season, and it’s certainly possible that Manning could lead a last minute drive and hook up with Jake Ballard or Victor Cruz for the game-winning touchdown.

However, I believe in the motto, “In Bill, We Trust.” New England’s defense has ratcheted up their intensity over the past few weeks, and certainly defied the odds against Baltimore and Denver in the playoffs.

Although, shouldn’t every defense be able to stop Tim Tebow and the Broncos offense? I think so!

If New England can establish the run and maintain the time of possession, then I’m expecting the Patriots to win. Although, if Manning and his offense to can beat up the Patriots front seven and tear apart the secondary, then the Giants should win.

Overall, it’s a tough decision, but I going to stick with my gut and say… New England 20, New York 17

The Boston Sports Pulse: New England Patriots

By Matt Noonan 

Last year, Noontime Sports ran a column that featured an insightful breakdown of all four major Boston sports teams, as well as their current statuses as of last January, (2011).

This year, we’re making a change.

Instead of combining four teams into one blog, we’ve decided to separate each squad, and provide four individual posts, which will focus thoroughly on that one team.

So, we’ve decided to kick off this four part series with the New England Patriots, who’re technically two wins away from earning their fourth Super Bowl trophy in 10 years.

Here are some thoughts and analysis on the local pigskin squad, enjoy.

Reflecting On The Past Year:  It’s been a rather interesting season for the Patriots, who not only earned their third AFC East championship crown in the past four years, but also, the top seed in the AFC Conference, too.

Tom Brady experienced one his better seasons as a quarterback. He tossed 39 touchdowns and recorded 5,235 yards through the air, as well as helped second year tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez become elite stars.

Both tight ends combined for 2,237 yards and 24 touchdowns in 16 games.

However, the biggest weakness for New England was their defense, which yielded 342 points, and 6,577 yards. They also allowed opponents to average 6.2 yards per play, as well as tally 370 first downs and 26 touchdowns.

Yet, the Patriots front seven and secondary did combine for 23 interceptions and 40 sacks.

Biggest Disappointment From The Past Year: During the 2011 season, New England did not defeat a team with a winning record.

They lost to the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, who managed to tally nine wins or more, as well as secure a spot in the postseason, too.

However, against Dallas, Denver, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, New England earned wins, but they weren’t exactly “special” or “great,” especially since all these teams finished the season with roughly eight wins or less.

It’s indeed rather shocking that their opponents didn’t have great records, but earning the top spot in the conference against underachieving squads isn’t exactly something to feel great about, right?

Who knows how the rest of the season will play out, but certainly, Patriots fans will always remember this particular squad as the team that didn’t defeat any true “winners.”

Playoff Success: No Patriots blog would be complete without providing a few intriguing statistics from their past playoff tilt against the Denver Broncos, but also noting that their most recent victory snapped a two-game playoff-losing streak, which dated back to their last win against the San Diego Chargers in the  AFC championship in 2008.

Against the Broncos, Brady completed 26-of-34 passes for 363 yards, and six touchdowns. He tossed five of his six scores in the first half, while his opponent, Tim Tebow, struggled immensely, as well as finished 9-of-26 for 136 yards. He didn’t register a single touchdown or interception, but did manage to get sacked five times.

New England will face a daunting task on Sunday when they welcome the Baltimore Ravens to Gillette Stadium, who defeated the Patriots during the 2009 playoffs, 33-14.

Closing Thought: The New England Patriots finally won their first playoff game in four years, but now, they need to use that momentum to carry them to Indianapolis, Indiana for Super Bowl XLVI.

Yet, do they have what it takes to win their fourth championship in 10 years? Um… I think so, (yes, I am a tad bit unsure).

New England isn’t exactly the flashiest squad in the NFL. Their defense was horrendous, but their offense was stupendous, and yes, I know that rhymed.

However, if they do manage to reach the NFL title match, it will certainly prove to teams like Philadelphia that you don’t need loads of talent to win championships.

The Patriots have always been about teamwork and hard work. They’re not self-centered players. They want to win a championship, as well as continue their modern day 21st century dynasty.

So, in conclusion, I am going to display my “hometown optimism” by saying, they’ll end this current season by celebrating on the same fake grass that Peyton Manning defeated them on November 15, 2009, with a Vince Lombardi championship trophy.

Fans Take: What are your thoughts or “two cents” on the current Patriots squad? Do you think they have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl and win? If so, post your thoughts below, as well as on our Facebook page, too.

Follow Matt Noonan on Twitter @NoontimeSports.

Noonan: NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions

Can Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos keep their playoff magic going on Saturday against New England? (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Here are my predictions for the NFC Divisional Round.

New Orleans 30, San Francisco 21: The Saints cashed in on five offensive series in the second half against the Detroit Lions last weekend, and are expected to keep their high-flying offensive attack going against the 49ers on Saturday. Drew Brees clearly is on a mission, which is why I believe they’ll defeat San Francisco, and advance to the NFC Championship game for the second time in three seasons.

New England 28 – Denver 16: The story of Tim Tebow has been fascinating, but against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, I’m expecting him to struggle, and possibly throw two or three interceptions.

Baltimore 28 – Houston 21: Earlier this season, the Ravens defeated the Texans, 29-14. Joe Flacco completed 20-of-33 passes for 305 yards and one touchdown, while Billy Cundiff kicked five field goals. Can Baltimore duplicate their week five performance against Houston on Sunday? My answer… YES!

New York 24 – Green Bay 21: This is a total shot in the dark, but the Giants have gained a great deal of momentum over the past few weeks, and might have what it takes to knock out the defending NFC and Super Bowl champions. I like New York’s front seven on defense, especially since they could provide a great deal of chaos toward quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If the Giants pressure the Packers, and force a few turnovers, then expect Big Blue to walk away winners on Sunday.

Daily Noontime – January 11, 2012

Nathan Horton scored two goals on Tuesday, which helped the Bruins defeat the Jets, 5-3! (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Good Wednesday morning to all, and welcome into yet another tremendous edition of the Daily Noontime! Here are some of the day’s headlines and news, enjoy.

* Without left-winger Brad Marchand in the line-up, the Boston Bruins managed to pick up an important win against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday evening. Nathan Horton netted two of the team’s five goals, while Tuukka Rask recorded 29 saves between the pipes. The Bruins will enjoy a day of rest, and then welcome the Montreal Canadiens to the TD Garden on Thursday for a 7:00pm face-off.

* According to an article from ESPNBoston.com – Marchand expressed that he wasn’t happy to fork over $152,439.02. He also admitted that he was quite shocked that he was handed a five-game suspension, too.

* Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow told New England and Boston reporters that he admires Tom Brady, and certainly believes he can learn from him. Tebow was quoted for saying, “He’s been one of the best in the business and he’ll definitely go down as one of the best. My hat is off to him and his career and how great of a quarterback he’s been and good for him.”

* It’s been a few days since the Boston Celtics last played basketball, but on Wednesday, they’ll host the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, who have won four of their last five contests. The Celtics winning streak was snapped last week when the Indiana Pacers handed them an 87-74 victory.

* Despite an interesting 34 minutes, Harvard’s men’s basketball team somehow prevailed, as the Crimson defeated Monmouth, 70-61.