Friday, October 30, 2009

***Breaking News*** Eagles Shock Cowboys, Jerry Jones Is Mad

In the end, all he could do was sigh. As Dallas Head Coach utvol27 sat in his 5,200 sq. ft. coaches office after the game in Cowboys Stadium, he knew he'd have to answer the question..."how, after an undefeated, (16-0), regular season, could his team somehow defy the odds and find a way to lose yet another playoff game?"

"The referees were out to get the Cowboys tonight," said Coach utvol27 as Jerry Jones sttod nearby, glaring at the head coach. "We had this game in hand, and the Eagles and the Refs just made plays and calls to snatch it from us."

The Cowboys have not won a playoff game since December 28, 1996. Coach utvol27 was brought in this past off-season (after an unprecedented run coaching the Clemson Tigers for 5 seasons) to reverse the fortunes of a franchise that always seemed to find ways to lose come playoff time. Yet, the young ball coach came up short, and owner Jerry Jones is forced to live another off-season wondering what can be done to win a playoff game in Big D.

"We'll go back to the drawing board," said coach utvol27. "This is the toughest loss I've had to deal with since my last defeat (season 5 of RUTS to brother UTVOL54's LSU team). We'll be back next season, have a great draft, and take the league by storm yet again."

On this night however, all the young coach could do is sit alone in his plush office, with only his thoughts and an ice cold Zima to keep him company.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

NFL Playoffs: Round 2

The 1st round of the Playoffs flew by, and every RUTS team survived to see another day. Round 2 begins tonight, and as one drunk fan was quoted as saying as he left San Diego's Qualcomm Field after the Chargers dominating win over Indy, "thhhisssss is where we seperate the mens from the boys! San Deeee-Aaaaa-Goooo Suuuuuper Chargerrrrsssss!"

Here is a look at the playoff brackets entering week 2:
Chargers @ Titans
Eagles @ Cowboys
Steelers @ Patriots
Vikings @ Cardinals

Teams will be pulling out all the stops this week, in hopes of advancing to the AFC or NFC title games. Let's take a look at each matchup and offer some (not so) expert analysis.

In a rematch of their week 16 slugfest (which Tenn won 34-28), the Chargers return to the Music City with redemption on their minds. After a dominating victory over Peyton Manning and the Colts, Coach Rob-A-Dob is convinced his team's confidence has never been higher.
"Not since City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly's Gold has there been a sequel more anticipated than this game," said Coach Rob-A-Dob. "We will be ready to play, and our goal is not just to win the game, but make them bleed and cry."
Leading up to the game, the Chargers announced via text message to the RUTS league office that QB Phillip Rivers had suffered an injury in the Colts game and was lost for the season, prompting Titans coach UTVOL54 to pronounce "Billy Volek shall not make it out of LP Field alive!"
However, when the Chargers released their weekly injury report, Rivers was not listed. "This is gamemanship at the lowest level," said UTVOL54. "We're not scared of Rivers, but we were really, really wanting to take aim at that middle school looking Billy Volek."
Will Rivers play? That remains to be seen. Coach Rob-A-Dob issued a written statement this morning:
"Rivers took a bad hit in Sundays game. He is showing signs of improvement, however, it is yet to be determined if Rivers will be taking any snaps. It obviously hurts to lose a player of Rivers capability, but in any circumstance, we will be ready for the game."
The Titans will be without star RB Chris Johnson (fractured upper arm) for the 3rd straight game and will rely on a RB by committee - consisting of rookie speed burner Shagg Makino, Lendale White, and Javon Ringer - which was enough to oust the Chargers in week 16. Johnson looks like he'll be able to return next week, should the Titans win tonight.
The winner of this game is going to have to control the line of scrimmage. Both teams will need to rely on their ground games. Brandon Jacobs has been at his best late in the season, and speedy Darren Sproles offers a quick strike threat either catching or running. The Titans have instituted a VY package over the past few weeks and Coach UTVOL54 admittedly thought about starting Vince Young at QB tonight.
"Vince has played really, really well this season when we've needed him," said UT VOL54. "Kerry is our starter, but Vince is more than capable of leading this team."
This game should come down to the wire, and we think that the team with the fewest turnovers will come out on top.
Eagles @ Cowboys
We'll keep this one short and sweet. Coach utvol27's undefeated regular season record is handsomely rewarded with this week's game - the only RUTS game against the computer. The Cowboys should cruise past the 'Iggles and land back at home next week against the winner of the Cardinals/Vikings matchup. In regards to this week's game, Coach utvol27 only uttered two words, "Jon Kitna!"
Steelers @ Patriots
This one could turn out to be the game of the week. The Steelers earned the AFC's #3 seed by winning games in miraculous fashion down the stretch. The defending Super Bowl Champs don't want to relinquish their title easily, and some have called Coach zeejaydee's team a "team of destiny."
However, traveling into the windy and hostile environment of Gillette Stadium will be tough. The Patriots are dominating teams right now behind a passing attack that the sport hasn't seen since Coach cjohnchavis's days at Florida State in RUTS1. Tom Brady and Randy Moss are a modern day Siegfried & Roy, with their uncanny bond and connection, and ability to tame lions and tigers. But can they tame the Steelers?
"Big Ben is ready for this game," said Coach zeejaydee. "He will be pump faking all game, waiting for just the right time to slice through the Patsy defense."
The Steelers are also rumored to be wearing their yellow helmets for tonight's game, a move that Coach cjohnchavis called "ghey!"
The Patriots, expected to don their classic AFL "Minutemen Red" uniforms, said that any such move by Pittsburgh would only be an attempt to steal the home team's fashion thunder, and wouldn't be very nice.
New England is the clear favorite in this one, and it will be tough for the Steelers defense to contain Brady, Moss, and Ian Johnson, who may earn his 1st start tonight at RB. However, the football bounces in funny directions, and we're not counting the Steelers out of this one.
Vikings @ Cardinals
In a rematch from their week 13 game, the Vikings head west to the desert to take on the Cardinals. For the Vikings to win this game, they have to be able to run the football.
Adrian Peterson smashed the NFL single season rushing record this season, and is a leading candidate to win NFL MVP honors, but in their week 13 game, the Cardinals defense, led by Adam Nunley's 13 tackles (inside joke), held Peterson to a mere 73 rushing yards.
The Vikings' passing game has been surprisingly paltry this season, leading many to speculate if this could be Brett Favre's final game in an NFL uniform. Coach ChrisHicks is optimistic that he has a trick or treat or two up his sleeve against StuBucksman's blitzing defense. "We've been practicing the 8 TE set to add maximum blockers. This will really spark our running game against them."
Coach Stu, who is growing his playoff beard and has promised to wear his Ghostbusters Halloween costume on the sidelines scoffed at the notion that his defense couldn't defend an 8-TE set. "We're going to control the clock so much on offense, we won't have to worry about playing much defense," he said. Stu, who attended the Lane Kiffin Trash Talking Academy last season said he plans on putting his certificate to good use in the coming weeks. "We are going to pass, run, and Vick-o-nize the Vikings up and down the field...we cannot be stopped...we won't be stopped...and in the words of Bill Murray in Ghostbusters,!...BOO-YEH!"
Here at RUTS, we think this game could be closer than Coach Stu predicts, but the Vikings are going to have to show a reliable passing game to back Arizona's safeties off the line. The winner of this game will likely head to Dallas next week (no word yet on whether or not, if Arizona wins, Coach utvol27 and Coach Stu will team-up "for the cure" again), but getting out of this hard-nosed game will be tough. This one will be won where it's supposed the trenches.
Now for the Swam's predictions...

Swami Sez....Titans 31, Chargers 27
Swami Sez....Cowboys 42, Eagles 21
Swami Sez....Patriots 45, Steelers 35
Swami Sez....Cardinals 27, Vikings 21

Friday, October 23, 2009

Titans, Cowboys Clinch Home Field Advantage In Playoffs

After scoring victories in their week 16 games, both the Tennessee Titans (14-1) and the Dallas Cowboys (15-0) secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

For the Titans though, week 16's hard fought victory over visiting San Diego came with a steep price. Chris Johnson went down with an injury on his 2nd carry of the game and never returned. X-rays revealed that Johnson, who many considered the leader for the NFL MVP race, had suffered an "upper arm fracture"and would be out 4 weeks. Backup RBs Lendale White and undrafted rookie Shagg Makino stepped in nicely for Johnson, but losing their star player left Coach UTVOL54 upset after the loss.

'We'd only planned on playing Chris, Kerry, and a few other offensive starters in the 1st half, to try to prevent injury," Coach UTVOL54 said after the game. "He got injured on his 2nd carry, just a routine toss sweep. It was a freak injury."

A freak injury that could reshape the entire playoff picture in the AFC.

In other news, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson now becomes the odds-on favorite to win this year's rushing title. Both Johnson and Peterson sailed past the previous record of 2,105, which was set by Eric Dickerson (1984, LA Rams). Heading into week 17, Peterson needs around 75 yards to pass the injured Johnson.

The Steelers all but locked up the #3 seed in the AFC with last night's overtime victory against Baltimore. Coach zeejaydee's team has flown under the radar all season, but as the playoffs approach, they could be a surprising team that could make a run in the playoffs behind Big Ben and their potent passing attack.

Updated Playoff Picture:
1. Tennessee Titans (14-1) *home field adv. & 1st rd. bye
2. New England Patriots (12-2) * 1st rd. bye
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)
4. San Diego Chargers (11-4)
5. Indianapolis Colts (9-5)
6. Houston Texans (8-6) or Baltimore Ravens (8-7)
1. Dallas Cowboys (15-0)*home field adv. & 1st rd. bye
2. Arizona Cardnals (13-2)* 1st rd. bye
3. Minnesota Vikings (11-4)
4. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4)
5. New Orleans Saints (9-5)
6. Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers or Carolina Panthers (all are 8-6)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Playoff Scenarios

With 2 weeks left in the regular season, the playoffs are right around the corner. Entering week 16, here are the current projected playoff seedings in each conference.

1. Dallas Cowboys (14-0) - clinched home field advantage & 1st rd. bye
2. Arizona Cardinals (12-2) - clinched 1st rd. bye
3. Minnesota Vikings (10-4) - clinched playoffs
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. New Orleans Saints (9-5)
6. Green Bay Packers or Carolina Panthers (8-6)

1. Tennessee Titans (13-1) - need 1 more win to clinch home field advantage & 1st rd. bye
2. New England Patriots (12-2) - will clinch 1st rd. bye with 2 more wins
3. San Diego Chargers (11-3) - have clinched home game in 1st rd. of playoffs
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) - have clinched home game in 1st rd. of playoffs
5. Baltimore Ravens or
6. Indianapolis Colts or Houston Texans

NFL MVP Candidates
Chris Johnson - RB, Titans
Adrian Peterson - RB, Vikings
Tom Brady - QB, Patriots
Larry Fitzgerald - WR, Cardinals
Cortland Finnegan - CB, Titans
Randy Moss - WR, Patriots

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cardinals Beat Tennessee On the Road, Hand Titans 1st Loss of Season

Nashville, Tenn. - In a game that lived up to the hype, the Arizona Cardinals went into LP Field yesterday and upset the undefeated Tennessee Titans 38-35. In one of the video game universe's biggest rivalries, Coach StuBucksman continued his recent dominance over friend/arch nemesis Coach UTVol54 by handing him his first loss as an NFL head coach.

In a game highlighted by big plays, the Cardinals passing attack and dominance of the clock was too much to overcome for Tennessee. Arizona raced ahead to a 21-7 lead after 1 quarter, but Tennessee used some opportunistic plays, like a Shagg Makino kickoff return TD and a pick 6 by FS Michael Griffin, to keep the game close. And as the Titans defense deflected a pass in the end zone as the 1st half ended, they trailed 28-21 and would get the ball 1st to open the 2nd half.

Tennessee tied the game 28-28 early in the 2nd half, as Nate Washington took a pass 56 yards to paydirt, but Arizona quickly resumed control, by converting several key third downs behind clutch veteran QB Kurt Warner, who was nearly unstoppable on this day.

A Neil Rackers FG early inthe 4th quarter gave Arizona a 38-28 lead, but the Titans, behind a no-huddle attack quickly marched down the field. A Kenny Britt TD reception cut the lead to 38-35 with just over 4 minutes remaining.

On the ensuing possesion, the Cardinals gambled and attempted to convert a 4th down and 2. WR Eddie Royal caught a screen pass, but was tackled, right at the first down line. A measurement (and subsequent coaches challenge) both determined he'd been stopped short, and with just over 2 minutes remaining, the Titans had a chance to tie or take the lead.

But, Arizona's defense, who became the 1st team this season to hold Titans RB Chris Johnson to under 100 yards rushing (he had 93 yards rushing on the day), stoned up, and held the Titans on 4 downs, icing the victory in the game's final minute.

"It was one of the best games I've ever been involved in," said Coach Stu. "We did exactly what we wanted to do, but the Titans kept making big play after big play, just when we thought we'd given ourselves some cushion, they'd score. This win will give us some much needed momentum as we make a push toward the playoffs."

Larry Fitzgerald (7 catches, 140 yards, 1 TD) earned game MVP honors in the win.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Contenders and Pretenders

As week 11 begins, the RUTS league office is taking a look at this season's "Contenders & Pretenders..."

AFC East - The New England Patriots stand at 7-2 and are 4 games ahead of each of the other three teams in the division. Behind Tom Brady's gaudy passing stats, we don't foresee anyone threatening the Pats for the division title. Coach cjohnchavis's running game however has been a disappointment and the veteran group of Edgerrin James, Fred Taylor, and Sammy Morris need to pick up their game if the Patriots want to make a serious push for another Super Bowl title. With no user games left, the Patriots should cruise into the playoffs with a 14-2 record and depending on how the Titans and Chargers finish the season, could be vying for home field advantage in the playoffs.

AFC North - At 6-3, the Pittsburgh Steelers are tied atop the division with the Baltimore Ravens. The two teams have yet to play this season, and the winner of the 2 games they play will likely determine the winner of the division. The Steelers' passing attack has been steady this season, and so has the play of surprising WR Shaun McDonald, who leads the team in receptions and yardage. Coach zeejaydee got a monumental win in week 7, when his team defeated another user team (the vikings) for the first time since RUTS started in August 2008. We look for the Steel City to get behind this team as they march toward the playoffs. Once they get there, anything can happen for the defending Super Bowl champs.

AFC South - The Tennessee Titans have started the season off at 10-0 for the 2nd straight season, and are putting together a case for being the best team in the NFL right now. Behind all-star RB Chris Johnson, who leads the NFL in rushing and TDs and is the leading candidate for NFL MVP this season, the Titans offense has been almost unstoppable through the first 11 weeks of the season. Kerry Collins, 3 stellar TEs and a serviceable group of WRs have provided enough punch in the passing game to keep opponents honest, but it's Johnson's speed and elusiveness that have given other teams fits through the first 11 weeks. The Titans schedule is the toughest in RUTS, highlighted by 4 user games, and with two user games still remaining (week 12 vs. the Cardinals, week 16 vs. the Chargers), they haven't locked up anything yet. The Titans defense has been one of the stingiest in the league and have used a unique blitzing scheme to shatter the NFL records for sacks.

AFC West - The San Diego Chargers, at 8-1, are running away with this division, which is the worst in the league. Behind a balanced offensive attack the Chargers have steadily knocked out all opponents in their way. Their lone loss came at the hands of the Dolphins in week 3. RB Brandon Jacobs, acquired in a trade with New York at the beginning of the season, has been a workhorse, and he will need to continue to pound the rock. The Chargers home stretch is a tough one, with road games still remaining against undefeated Dallas and undefeated Tennessee. Rookie coach Rob-A-Dob's team will have their chance to make a strong statement to the NFL if he can fire them up to win those two games.

NFC East - The Dallas Cowboys have dominated their first 9 opponents this season, and with only 1 user game to play all season (week 14 vs. the Chargers), it's very likely that home field advantage in the NFC will come down to Dallas or Arizona. Dallas boasts the best defense in the league and the 2nd highest scoring offense. Tony Romo has utilized TE Jason Witten to the max, and RBs Marion Barber and Felix Jones have provided the 'Boys with a thunder/lightning combo at RB. The Cowboys will make the playoffs, likely at 15-1 or even 16-0, but with their relatively weak regular season schedule, Jerry Jones may be faced with another long off season of tough decision making if Dallas can't make the Super Bowl.

NFC North - The Minnesota Vikings have been steady over the course of their 7-2 start. With several close games behind them, the Vikings are tested and have withstood several tests in their tough division. While veteran Brett Favre hasn't been outstanding, the team has relied on All-Pro Adrian Peterson, who has run over, through, and around the opposition all season. The Vikings have been overshadowed in the NFC by undefeated Dallas and 1-loss Arizona, but look for Minnesota to make some noise as the season pushes toward the playoffs. If they're able to get into the playoffs healthy, this is a team with the talent and veteran leadership to make some serious noise, even if they do have purple uniforms.

NFC West - After starting the season with a shocking Week 1 loss against San Francisco, the Arizona Cardinals have turned things around and have won 9 straight, due in large part to Coach StuBucksman's ability to know "when to say when" at Chick Fil-A. Behind a lethal passing attack, a sneaky dual-threat QB package, and a running game that is coming on strong, the Cards lead the NFL in scoring offense. Week 11 however saw Arizona suffer a major setback, when RB Maurice Jones-Drew suffered a torn rotator cuff and was declared out for the season by Coach StuBucksman. Coach Stu, after learning the news from team doctors, was distraught and cried for hours, before coming to his senses and declaring that the Super Bowl title will still be heading to Phoenix! It's a lofty goal, but with an offense that can score this quickly, Arizona may be the team to beat in the NFC.