Patriots want second trip to London to be like the first

A rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI, it was Tom Brady who led the underdog Patriots to a victory against the St. Louis Rams. It may have been the last time they were actually underdogs.

Technically, the Rams are the home team but they are playing the sixth annual game at Wembley Stadium in London.

The Rams (3-4) arrived at Heathrow airport early Tuesday morning, and a few hours later they were on a wet field in Regent’s Park in central London doing drills with local school children to show off the American version of football. have the Rams as 7 point dogs.

A Member of Parliament named Richard Fuller from Bedford said there’s a lot of support for the American version of football in the Westminster and London area and he has put together a group of people who would like to develop the sport in Britain at both the professional and amateur levels. He said his people will be working hand in hand with the NFL, the British American Football Association, and other groups to try and help promote the sport in Britain.

He added that they want to get kids involved in football at the grassroots level and find ways for local athletes to develop their skills in the game. But, he admitted, the thing they want the most is an NFL team to be based in the UK. He also admitted that there’s an endless amount of work to do to make it happen and one of the major obstacles will be developing a fan base that’s big enough to support a team in London.

Of course, the NFL would also have to agree to it. But so far it seems there are several owners interested in placing a team in Britain, especially with the number of Americans who are starting to invest in English Premier League soccer clubs.

This is the second time in four years the Patriots travel to Wembley as they blasted the Bucs 35-7 in  2009. I’m sure it is an ordeal to travel that far and get ready to play a game in a completely different time zone. The advantage is already given to the Patriots because they have been there, done that.

With starting safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory injured, New England (4-3) has allowed an average of 338.0 passing yards and 14 touchdowns in the last five games.

The problem is Sam Bradford and the lack of offensive weapons for the Rams will be unable to take advantage of it. Pick Patriots – 7

Did the Rams play dirty against the Redskins?

Robert GriffinIf you ask James Laurinaitis, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, or Cortland Finnegan odds are they will say they were just playing football.

According to the Redskins quarterback these players were playing “unprofessional” and “dirty.”

“I don’t want to tip-toe the lines of anything that’s happened with bounties or anything like that, but they were definitely going after me,” Griffin told reporters. “They made it a point, obviously, all week to hit me. Some of the shots were cheap of that nature.”

Griffin said that when he played in St. Louis on Sunday, he thought the Rams were going far beyond what’s acceptable on a football field, not just playing physical football but playing dirty football.

“They were doing a lot of dirty things,” Griffin said. “I still think they have an extremely good team. That doesn’t take anything away from them. But the game was unprofessional. Who am I to talk? I’ve barely been a pro for very long, but from what I experienced against the Saints to that game, it was definitely unprofessional, and it does need to be cleaned up.”
Griffin said the Rams were telling him they were going to target him, and he said he’s fine with that. But he thought they were targeting him with shots that should have drawn penalty flags.
“They made it a point, obviously all week, to hit me,” he said. “Some of the shots were cheap and of that nature. It’s nothing I could control.
“Teams are going to try to hit me because they don’t think I can take a hit. I think I proved that over my career that I can, so it’s football. I remember one play, after the play, the guy said: ‘We’re going to hit you every play.’ I said, ‘Isn’t this football?’ It’s nothing that I’m not used to. It was extremely weird the way they went about it, though.” Read more…

Fantasy Football Week 3: Waiver wire pickups

Brandon LaFellWhile some of you will be interested in seeing how your higher draft picks who have been under-performing do in Week 3, (Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Larry Fitzgerald, Eric Decker, etc,) others more fortunate are looking to improve on what they already have. So here are this week’s pickups for you to consider:

Brandon LaFell-WR-Panthers- He really impressed Ron Rivera, Carolina’s coach after his six catch-90 yard performance on Sunday. “He’s developing into a fine receiver”, said Rivera. We liked that he was targeted eight times and are really high on his 17.2 YPC average over the first two weeks. Owned in 50% of leagues, he is a must add if you can still get him.

Brandon Gibson-WR-Rams-There is some good news-bad news that comes along with this 25-year-old receiver out of Washington St. The good news is that he has two touchdowns in two games and should have had a third had coach Jeff Fisher challenged the ref’s blown call last week vs the Redskins. Although he seems to be getting a nice share of Red Zone looks, the bad news is that he has only been targeted eight times through two games. In deeper leagues he’ll make a nice WR3 option & is only owned in 12% of leagues.

Andre Brown-RB-Giants- In the absence of RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck)  for Thursday’s matchup against Carolina, Brown will get the start after filling in so well last week vs Tampa Bay when he rushed 13 times for 71 yards and a touchdown. He also added a 2-point conversion and had two catches for 19 yards. The Panthers give up an average of 140+ yards per game which makes Brown an excellent Flex play in all formats. He is available in around half of all leagues. Read more…

NFC West Preview: Division belongs to the 49ers

After being mired in years of mediocrity and being laughed at for being one of the worst divisions in football, the NFC West finally snapped out of its funk in 2011. Well, one team did, anyway. The San Francisco 49ers shattered the mold and rose above the 8-8 expectations of NFC West teams, going 13-3 and making it to the NFC Championship before falling short to the NY Giants. The 2012 season will see the division’s four teams – the 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks and St Louis Rams – face off against each other, as well as teams from the NFC North and AFC East.

With that said, there’s no mystery as to what the 2012 season will bring. The division belongs to San Francisco for the foreseeable future, and there’s really no need to explain beyond that. First-year head coach Jim Harbaugh immediately made his mark on San Francisco. Not only did he and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio turn the defense into one of the top-performing units in the NFL, but he also might have saved Alex Smith’s career. Smith was on the verge of being completely written off by fans and critics as a total bust, but put together a very solid campaign in 2011.

Not only is every core piece returning to the team, but the addition of Randy Moss is expected to bolster the offense even further. Whether Moss can play or not is irrelevant; he’s formed a close relationship with Michael Crabtree and should be able to help him improve his game. Crabtree has been an average receiver so far in his career. If he turns it around in 2012, the 49ers could be contending for a Super Bowl by the time the playoffs come around.

No one is going to be challenging the 49ers for the division crown, but one team in the NFC West that might make some noise is the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals went 8-8 last year, although the team has become a shell of the squad that made the Super Bowl just three years ago. There are a few issues from last season that are going to have to be resolved in 2012. Read more here…

Can Sam Bradford overcome troubling tendencies?

I talked about Sam Bradford as being one of the quarterbacks to watch this year, in our QB Edition of TTR’s Players to Watch.  I am hoping that he will return to the promising form he showed as a rookie, but last year he clearly regressed.  I mentioned that the beating he took was clearly taking a toll on the young signal caller.

Hopefully this is not going to be a trend moving forward for Sam, but Ron Jaworski spent some time watching 2011 film of Bradford before making an assessment.  According to Rotoworld, Jaws gave this impression.

Jaws calls Bradford a “top arm talent” with a “compact delivery and a strong arm,” but alluded to stunted development last season. “In 2011, Bradford — with very few exceptions — did not look like the same, confident pocket quarterback that I saw as a rookie,” Jaws observed. “He was tentative in the pocket, a function of both erratic offensive line play and receivers that could not win on the outside.

Read more here…

Players to watch in 2012: QB edition

Sam Bradford Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams passes against the Atlanta Falcons at the Edward Jones Dome on November 21, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Falcons beat the Rams 34-17.

As the 2012 season approaches optimism is in the air no matter what team you are pulling for, heck even the Dolphins said they should win the AFC this year!  So as we look forward to this season, I am going to share a short list of players that will be better in 2012.

Sam Bradford, St Louis Rams – After the season that Cam Newton had last year, we can quickly forget just how special Sam Bradford was as a rookie in 2010.  Last year was a different story for Bradford and the Rams though.  Spagnuola was already on the hot seat going into the season last year, so they brought in Josh McDaniels to help spark the offense and it just didn’t work.  Between the injuries to the team and the transition to the new system, the offense was out of sync all year.  To compound matters, Bradford got pounded and seemed to lose his confidence.  This year Bradford is healthy and the Rams have new direction under Jeff Fisher.  We can expect the Rams will get back to a more conventional offense, which should help their running game.  Ultimately forcing the defenses to respect the whole field.  I am still not certain that the Rams have given Sam a legitimate number one receiver yet, but with Salas, Pettis, Quick, Givens and Alexander you have a solid group of young and healthy receivers that can contribute.  If Amendola and Smith can show that their injuries are behind them, they too could be big time difference makers in that group.  Add to the mix rookie running back Isaiah Pead out of Cincinnati and you could be looking at a wide assortment of weapons.  They still need one of those receivers to emerge as a go to guy and the offensive line needs to play better, but until that happens they will struggle.  I still feel Bradford shows progress this year.  Expect around 3,500 yards and 22 touchdowns.

  1. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears – Cutler is such a polarizing figure because his personality doesn’t seem to fit the mold.  People will also look at the Bears struggles and use it as an opportunity to bash Cutler, but it isn’t warranted.  Cutler has spent three miserable years in the place where receivers go to die.  Yet all he has done is throw for 225 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game.  Not bad for a guy that has almost zero help outside of Matt Forte.  This year the Bears have added Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to their receiving core and I believe it will pay immediate dividends.  Even if Marshall has a slow start or a down year, he will still be a massive upgrade.  Last year in Miami he had his worst season since his rookie year, and he still pulled in 81 grabs for 1,214 yards, 6 TDs and 53 first downs.  That is more than double what Chicago’s best receiver posted in 2010.  Additionally this should allow new offensive coordinator Mike Tice to use Devin Hester in a more natural role in the offense, moving him around the formations and putting him in the slot where he can become a match-up nightmare.  Cutler will play well, and put up numbers that will remind people how  stupid it was for Denver to trade him.  Look for around 4,000 yards and 25+ touchdowns this season.

Read the rest of the list here…

Rams expect a lot from Brian Quick, now

Brian QuickIf St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson has his way, the team’s second-round pick from Appalachian State will live up to his last name when it comes to making the transition to the NFL.

That’s because wide receiver Brian Quick is going to have a lot on his plate this season. Quick just signed his contract on Tuesday, but Jackson wasted no time making sure that the rookie understood there would be no time for passing out cigars at the good news. Jackson wants him working and working hard before reporting to training camp.  Read More…

NFL Draft 1st round recap: 4.0

In our fourth of six 2012 NFL 1st round draft recaps, we take a quick analyses of the picks made by the Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, and Kansas City Chiefs. One of these draft choices was an extremely smart pick, a couple of these draft choices were extremely safe picks, one draft choice was a reach, and one draft choice left our heads scratching (to say the least). Here is our fourth 1st round recap, recapping draft choices 15 through 11, enjoy!

15. Seattle Seahawks-OLB Bruce Irvin, West Virginia

Acquired the rights from PHI

With the 15th pick in the NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks won the award for the “Most Shocking/Dumbest/Most Overvalued Pick” of the 2012 NFL Draft. The Seahawks are a team with many pressing needs, and the ‘hawks could have easily snatched Irvin in the second round.

Read more here…