Tag: Dak Prescott

The Early Outlook for the NFL’s Wild Card Matchups

Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders secured a spot in the 2021 NFL Playoffs with an end-of-season victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. (PHOTO COURTESY: Getty Images | New York Post)

By Matt Noonan

The 2021 National Football League’s (NFL) regular season concluded last night.

Now, it is time for the playoffsare you ready?

The 2021 season came down to the final day, as well as its last matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers.

In some way, this season mirrored the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) from the last two seasons (2019 and 2021) where every matchup and week was needed to determine not just divisional winners, but overall seeding for the 14-team playoff.  

Saturday cannot come soon enough – I am eager for yesterday’s excitement to continue. Does anyone know how to hit fast forward in the next few days?

Either way, I am excited – and I hope you are, as well – for some playoff football!

Over the next few days and weeks, Noontime Sports will be keeping its focus on football – consider this some “overtime” coverage from last summer and fall. We will have some op-eds and commentary pieces to previews, along with a piece about quarterback progression (I guess I can thank those armchair quarterbacks calling Boston radio stations!) over the next few days.

Let’s jumpstart the week with some early thoughts on all six Wild Card matchups — have a great day, everyone!

AFC Wild Card Matchups

Los Angeles Raiders (10-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-7): The Raiders concluded their 2021 campaign by winning four-straight contests, including back-to-back games against the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers. The Silver and Black have been quite the story this season – sure, there was some negative press over the first few weeks, but somehow, they managed to go on a late run to secure an opening round meeting with the Bengals. Don’t overlook the Raiders in this matchup.

New England Patriots (10-7) at Buffalo Bills (11-6): The Patriots ended their season with a disappointing setback to the Miami Dolphins – they also lost two other games before their divisional meeting with the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts. But something tells me this was the matchup coach Bill Belichick and his team wanted. They beat Buffalo last month by running the ball and attempting three passes. But a few weeks later, New England struggled to contain quarterback Josh Allen. The rubber match between the Bills and Patriots should be fun!  

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-5): The Chiefs may not be the explosive offense they once were – in fact, it seems as if their defense has played better, especially down the stretch. But here’s my question: will this unit be able to stop a Steelers squad that has averaged 17.75 points in their last four outings? My initial answer: yes, but I also wonder if the Pittsburgh defense is good enough to stop Patrick Mahomes?

NFC Wild Card Matchups

Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4): With a big win on Sunday over the Carolina Panthers, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers were able to move up to the second seed, thanks to some help from the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. Tampa Bay is not the same team as last year – they have some issues on both sides of the ball, which makes them vulnerable. Yet, the Buccaneers should be able to win this game, however, they must find a way to stop an impressive Eagles rushing attack led by quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts concluded the regular season with 784 rushing yards on 139 carries and 10 touchdowns while completing 265 of 432 passes for 3,144 yards and 16 touchdowns.

San Francisco 49ers (10-7) at Dallas Cowboys (12-5): This is a classic matchup – go ahead and break out those Steve Young and Troy Aikman jerseys. Neither signal-caller will be spotted under center next Sunday, but the 49ers’ offense will provide some challenges for a Cowboys defense that struggled initially at slowing down Philadelphia’s Gardner Minshew and Kenneth Gainwell this past weekend. But while the 49ers’ come-from-behind win yesterday against the Los Angeles Rams was impressive, the question I have heading into this contest is can this defense — San Franciscos’s, to be exact — slow down Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense? This game presents some interesting storylines, as well as features two coaches that used to work together: Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco) and Dan Quinn (Dallas).  

Arizona Cardinals (11-6) at Los Angeles Rams (12-5): Arizona and Los Angeles both scored one win against each other, so like Buffalo-New England, this is a rubber match. To be honest, I did not anticipate this would be a first-round match-up – in fact, I thought Arizona or Los Angeles would be heading to Dallas this weekend. But instead, the Cardinals and Rams will square off once more this season – I am not confident in the Rams’ defense, which struggled to contain the San Francisco offense yesterday, especially in the final minutes. Additionally, will we see a great or subpar Kyler Murray against the Rams? Similar to Dallas-San Francisco, this game also presents some unique storylines.

Football Friday Notebook: Friday, February 19, 2021

By Matt Noonan

Happy Friday, everyone!

I am excited to cap the work week with a brand new Football Friday Notebook – it is a piece of content I look forward to producing, so hopefully the stories (and news below) is something you enjoy reading.

Additionally, make sure to enjoy a brand new Football Friday Podcast, which you can listen to in this post, thanks to our friends from Spotify!

Listen to the Football Friday Podcast with Matt Noonan, Andrew Pezzelli and Zach Weiss every Friday!

Alright, let’s share some news and links from the gridiron – as usual, be well, stay safe and have a wonderful weekend!


Football Friday Notebook: Friday, February 19, 2021

  • Carson Wentz will be playing for a new team next season, but according to various reports, including SB Nation, the former Philadelphia Eagles signal-caller had some serious fall out in the locker room. Additionally, he stopped talking with former head coach Doug Pedersonfor weeks.”
  • Sticking with Carson Wentz – I mean, what else happened these past few days? – he was quite happy to be a member of the Indianapolis Colts, according to Kenny Moore II.
  • This will be an interesting offseason for every National Football League (NFL) team, which may have less money to spend, due to the potential salary cap. And this is certainly is not good news for my Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott.
  • Speaking of Dak, he donated meals to 1,000 homeless people that are “freezing” in Dallas, Texas, due to the bad weather that barreled through the state this week.
  • Alex Smith, who was named the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, told Kyle Brandt on the 10 Questions podcast that the country was apparently not ready for Colin Kapernick, who the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback claimed “was ahead of his time” when it came to social injustice.
  • The third week of the spring football season begins this evening and there are some enticing storylines to follow in the FCS world, including tonight’s clash between South Dakota State and Northern Iowa.
  • Get ready for high school football in California, beginning Friday, February 26.

    Today’s announcement about high-contact sports being able to be played next week certainly excited Ron Gladnick, who is the head coach at Torey Pines.
  • The Lehigh Valley will welcome a new high school football program to its league next fall as the Allentown charter school will become the ninth member of the league.
  • James Madison University is eager to begin its first of two seasons tomorrow when they host Morehead State.

Noontime’s NFL Power Rankings: Week Six (Oct. 14, 2020)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Five weeks of professional football are in the books, but it wasn’t easy. 

Also, what did you think about Tuesday Night Football? Did you know the last Tuesday evening game was played ten years ago between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles? Well, now you know! 

Alright, enough jibber-jabber, let’s unveil this week’s Noontime Power Rankings for the sixth week of the 2020 National Football League (NFL).

As usual, make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube – have a great day, everyone!  


Noontime’s Week Six Power Rankings (Oct. 14, 2020)

1. Seattle Seahawks (5-0, LW: No. 2): Somehow, the Seahawks pulled out a win on Sunday evening against the Minnesota Vikings. 

2. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1, LW: No. 1): The Chiefs suffered their first setback since last November, which seems or sounds crazy, right? Maybe the loss was exactly what coach Andy Reid and his team needed. 

3. Green Bay Packers (4-0, LW: No. 3): The Packers were idle this past weekend, but they have looked pretty good through four weeks. This week, Green Bay will visit Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what should be a decent matchup. 

4. Baltimore Ravens (4-1, LW: No. 4): Baltimore’s defense shined against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but the offense seems to be inconsistent. 

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-0, LW: No. 6): The Steelers are really good at drafting receivers. 

6. Tennessee Titans (4-0, LW: No. 7): The Titans returned to the gridiron last night for the first time in a few weeks and looked really good. And we mean, really good! 

7. Buffalo Bills (4-1, LW: No. 5): Did the Bills come down to earth last night or are they still pretty good? 

8. Cleveland Browns (4-1, LW: No. 14): Something is different about this Browns team than previous years. Maybe this is finally the year the Browns officially turn the corner and establish a winning culture? 

9. New England Patriots (2-2, LW: No. 8): It’s been a chaotic past few days for the Patriots, but let’s hope things start going in the right direction, especially with today’s news about Cam Newton returning to the practice field tomorrow. 

10. Los Angeles Rams (4-1, LW: No. 11): The Rams returned to their original form from earlier this season with a runaway win over the Washington Football Team this past weekend. Their early season success should continue against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night. 

11. New Orleans Saints (3-2, LW: No. 10): The Los Angeles Chargers did not make things easy for Drew Brees and the Saints on Monday in Louisiana.   

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2, LW: No. 9): Can someone please tell Tom Brady that there are four downs in football, not five! 

13. Carolina Panthers (3-2, LW: No. 16): After starting the season with back-to-back losses, the Panthers have bounced back with three-straight wins. Is it time to consider them a contender for the NFC South? 

14. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2, LW: No. 19): Whatever the Raiders did this past weekend against the Chiefs, they must do going forward. 

15. Chicago Bears (4-1, LW: No. 15): Did you know the Bears have won four of five contests this season? Are they flying under the radar with Nick Foles

16. San Francisco 49ers (2-3, LW: No. 13): Injuries are piling up and the 49ers are looking like a one-hit-wonder (in our minds!). 

17. Dallas Cowboys (2-3, LW: No. 17): The Cowboys secured the top spot in the NFC East last week with a much-needed divisional win over the New York Giants, but did lose Dak Prescott to a season-ending injury. Ouch! 

18. Indianapolis Colts (3-2, LW: No. 12): Maybe the three-game winning streak from the earlier this season was a fluke? 

19. Arizona Cardinals (3-2, LW: No. 18): The Cardinals have beaten the following teams: San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, and the Washington Football Team. And they have suffered setbacks to these teams: Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers. So, how good is this team? 

20. Miami Dolphins (2-3, LW: NR): The Dolphins came close to beating the Seahawks two weeks ago, but did score a much-needed win over the 49ers on Sunday. Is something cooking in South Beach that we don’t know about? 

On the Rise: Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles


Noontime’s Preseason Rankings (Aug. 4, 2020) 

Noontime’s Week One Power Rankings (Sept. 8, 2020) 

Noontime’s Week Two Power Rankings (Sept. 15, 2020) 

Noontime’s Week Four Power Rankings (Sept. 29, 2020) 

Daily Noontime (Monday, Oct. 12, 2020)

By Matt Noonan

Happy Monday, everyone! 

We hope EVERYONE is doing well while having a nice ending to a LONG weekend – crazy to think it is the 12 of October, but I guess we can say we’re now another day closer to the end of 2020. 

Let’s get after it and set the tone for the week with a brand new ‘Daily Noontime’ beginning with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers topping the Miami Heat, 106-93, to clinch the 2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals last night. 

Highlights from last night’s game are below, courtesy of the NBA YouTube channel! 

With the win, the Lakers have now captured 17 NBA Championships – our hometown Boston Celtics have also won 17 titles, too. LeBron James, who finished with a game-high 28 points, was named the Finals MVP. 

The Lakers were pegged the “way too early” favorite for the upcoming 2020-21 season, according to ESPN.com – not sure when that season will officially tip-off – while the Celtics were picked seventh on the list while the Los Angeles Clippers checked in second and the Milwaukee Bucks secured the third spot.

As you probably know by now, today’s game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos has been moved to next Sunday, October 18. Yesterday – Sunday, October 11, to be exact – was the Patriots bye week, as well as the Broncos. 

Monday’s game between the Patriots and Broncos was canceled yesterday due to the Patriots having a fourth member of the team (or organization?) test positive. 

As of this morning, none of the Patriots coronavirus tests came back positive, which is good news. Yet, what does that mean for Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore remains an unknown? It is likely the duo that supposedly dined out in Boston earlier this month would be able to play next weekend against Denver, but we’ll just have to wait and see. 

Sticking with football, my other favorite team – that would be the Dallas Cowboys scored a much-needed win yesterday over the New York Giants, but suffered a major setback in the third quarter as Dak Prescott suffered a serious ankle injury that will keep him sidelined until next season. 

Andy Dalton will lead the Cowboys for the remainder of the season – let’s keep our fingers crossed for him, while wishing Dak a smooth and healthy recovery! 

Other news and links from the world wide web: 

  • The National Football League (NFL) maybe forced to add an additional week – “Week 18” – to its schedule due to the potential of more games being canceled or postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 
  • The Tampa Bay Rays won the first game of the 2020 American League Championship Series (ALCS) against the Houston Astros last night. Are the Rays the new Major League Baseball (MLB) Playoff Villian Slayer?” 
  • Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders handed the Kansas City Chiefs their first loss since last November yesterday
  • Things are not going well for Jimmy Garoppolo or Kyle Shanahan these days. 

We’ll be back for more later, but in the meantime make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube – have a great day, everyone! 

Noontime’s Preseason NFL Top 20 Poll

NSNFLPreseason2020

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s time to start producing some football content for NoontimeSports.com – we love football.

And while we know this fall will be different – we will miss covering the small colleges here in New England – it is time to kick-off our National Football League (NFL) coverage with our first (of many) Noontime Top 20 Polls.

Like we have in the past, specifically with our New England D-III Football Poll, we will be producing a weekly Noontime Sports NFL Top 20 Poll, pending of course there is a season and games are played. But as we know, nothing is certain, especially during a pandemic, so hopefully this post (and poll) provides you with some hope for the 2020 season.


Noontime’s Preseason Top 20 NFL Poll (Tuesday, August 4, 2020)

1. Kansas City Chiefs: The defending Super Bowl champions will certainly have a target on their back once they begin their title defense on Thursday, September 10 against the Houston Texans.

2. Baltimore Ravens: Quarterback Lamar Jackson seems extremely motivated to lead his team on a deep postseason run. Will that happen this year?

3. San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers were the best team in the NFC last year and should once again be a team to watch (and beat) in what should be a rather competitive NFC West.

4. New Orleans Saints: The Saints want to erase the memories of last year’s early postseason exit to the Minnesota Vikings. Expect another big year from quarterback Drew Brees, along with some new acquisitions, including Malcolm Jenkins and D.J. Swearinger.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Did you see today’s workout video on twitter between Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski? Brady looks in midseason form.  

6. Seattle Seahawks: Never count out Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, but will they be able to continue their previous momentum from years past without fans in the stands this year?

7. Tennessee Titans: As long as the Titans stay healthy, this team will be tough to stop. Also, can quarterback Ryan Tannehill continue his success from a year ago? And will this team once again run through halfback Derrick Henry?

8. New England Patriots: Yes, the Patriots have lost a great deal of depth and experience with eight players electing to opt-out for the upcoming season, but it is hard to count out coach Bill Belichick and newly acquired signal-caller Cam Newton.

9. Buffalo Bills: The Bills will certainly challenge the New England Patriots for the top spot in the AFC East, especially with some impressive new pieces on both sides of the ball, including Josh Norman and Stefon Diggs. Hopefully, quarterback Josh Allen has improved his accuracy (fingers crossed!).

10. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz played an entire season last fall for the Green and White, and should continue his progress – he is one of the best signal-callers in the game (in our opinion). In addition to Wentz taking another step forward, every member of the organization must stay healthy, too.

11. Green Bay Packers: So, what is the future hold for quarterback Aaron Rodgers? Who knows, but as long as he is under center, then we should not count out Go Pack Go.

12. Dallas Cowboys: A new sheriff is in town – his name is Mike McCarthy – and his resume includes a Super Bowl championship with the Green Bay Packers. We are excited to see the new schemes McCarthy implements, as well as some touchdown passes from Dak Prescott to CeeDee Lamb.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger wants to do everything he can to lead the Steelers to victory, but does he have enough left in the tank?

14. Indianapolis Colts: Can Philip Rivers make the Colts a team to beat not just in the AFC South, but the entire conference? Also, similar to Ben Roethlisberger, how much is left in the tank?

15. Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings were like the Dallas Cowboys last season, but made the playoffs. This team has the potential to win big games, but can they put it all together for an entire season, as well as 60 minutes?

16. Houston Texans: Every year, it seems like this team has the potential to do great things, but never does. For starters, the offensive line needs to do a better job protecting Deshaun Watson, while the defense needs to improve.

17. Cleveland Browns: A new era begins in Cleveland – how many times have you heard this saying before? – but will first-year coach Kevin Stefanski really get this team trending in the right direction?

18. Los Angeles Rams: It is hard to count out the Rams, especially with so much talent on both sides of the ball, but they took a step backward last season. The Blue and Yellow may be playing in a new stadium this fall – they will also be wearing some new uniforms, too – but they bid farewell to some key pieces on both sides of the ball, as well as defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

19. Atlanta Falcons: After a bad start to its 2019 campaign, the Falcons regrouped and won six of eight contests, including an end of season win against the Buccaneers in overtime. Expect that end of season momentum to translate to future success in 2020.

20. Arizona Cardinals: Yes, the Cardinals of Arizona are on our list. And the reason: wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.


 On The Rise: Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, and Miami Dolphins