Defense wins championships.
536 offensive yards for wins insane wild card shootouts.

Defense wins championships.

536 offensive yards for wins insane wild card shootouts.

Caption: Andrew Luck inexplicably scoops up Donald Brown’s fumble and stretches for the end zone.

Caption: Andrew Luck inexplicably scoops up Donald Brown’s fumble and stretches for the end zone.


We have LUCK on our side!!!!! #KCvsIND #TimeToShine pic.twitter.com/BvHqtpDStF
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts)
January 5, 2014

LUCK

LUCK

“I like to call it a one-two punch. Me and Andrew [Luck], we’ve been around each other for quite a while now leading up from the Heisman to the draft and training and stuff. Andrew’s a good guy, just meeting him and his family, just knowing what type of person he is and just knowing that we’re going to grow together, how young we are, we going to be here for a while. We’re not planning on going nowhere. We plan to be here, we plan to grow and we plan to win a lot of games.”
- Trent Richardson on his first day with the Indianapolis Colts

“I like to call it a one-two punch. Me and Andrew [Luck], we’ve been around each other for quite a while now leading up from the Heisman to the draft and training and stuff. Andrew’s a good guy, just meeting him and his family, just knowing what type of person he is and just knowing that we’re going to grow together, how young we are, we going to be here for a while. We’re not planning on going nowhere. We plan to be here, we plan to grow and we plan to win a lot of games.

- Trent Richardson on his first day with the Indianapolis Colts

Colts at Ravens: The Intangibles Bowl

by @steven_lebron

The main storyline was clear heading into the divisional round match-up between the Colts and Ravens: #CHUCKSTRONG.

It went from a hashtag, to a movement, to a full blown playoff rally cry for the Indianapolis Colts, who really did win 11 games this season. Curtis Painter, we barely remember you.

But by mid-week, with news that Ray Lewis will be retiring after the season, the whole intangibles meter swung a bit back to the home team. Here stands their leader, win or lose this week, likely playing in his final game in Baltimore.

Despite the inconsistency of the Ravens all year, and a defense that is more reputation than performance at this point, you have to figure that Lewis’ swan song and the home field advantage will matter.

Everyone’s excited for this one, except for Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who continues to just stare at something in the far distance, we’re just not sure what.

Speaking of legacies, welcome back to the spotlight Joe Flacco. He is elite, in a fleeting, once in a while type of way. He can amaze. He has amazed. But he’s incredibly frustrating as well. Which kind of describes the last decade of Ravens football. A few solid regular seasons, a couple of divisional titles (back to back AFC North champions), but whether it be the Steelers, their own kicker, or the Steelers again, that second Super Bowl appearance has eluded Lewis and crew.

But under John Harbaugh, they have yet to go one-and-done in the post-season.

The Colts have been a wonderful story, but they’re also faced one of (the?) easiest schedule of the season and been incredible in close games. I’m starting to sound like Bill Barnwell.

But it feels like this is what happens: Joe Flacco shows glimpses of being great again, the defense rises one more time, the rookie quarterback gets an important road playoff lesson for the future, and yes, Jim Caldwell will even crack a smile at the end of the game.

Ravens win 34-10.

Winners and Losers Week 5 - Andrew Luck edition
"One tough hombre."
That’s how Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians described his rookie quarterback after yesterday’s comeback win against the Green Bay Packers — made all the more special against the backdrop of Chuck Pagano’s leukemia diagnosis.
Sometimes, being good doesn’t mean being exciting.
Since a few months before the draft, all of the attention has gone towards Robert Griffin III, who emerged as a great story during college football season, overshadowing the consensus first overall pick in Luck, for which everything that could be said was already so before his last season in the collegiate ranks.
In many ways, the mobile quarterback who can not only throw from the pocket but also improvise and move the chains with his feet when his comfort zone breaks down has become the preferred quarterbacking style; it’s become like the slam dunk in basketball or the home run in baseball, it’s the more exciting highlight.
But if yesterday proved anything, it’s that there still is — and always will be — room in the game for the cerebral quarterback who does all his work from the pocket.
That was Luck’s first signature win, a poised second half with credit to the defense for shutting down Green Bay after an uneven first two quarters.
And at night, another quarterback whose famous by his arm only — Drew Brees — threw four touchdown passes on his way to passing Johnny Unitas for the all time record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
Meanwhile, Michael Vick — whom ESPN devoted an entire issue to just a year ago — can’t seem to stop giving the ball back to the other team, and may be just a few more bad games away from giving way to Nick Foles. Cam Newton is single-handedly bringing back the whole belief in sophomore slump, and Robert Griffin III’s running exploits hit its first roadblock against Atlanta.
This is not to say that this is an “either or” proposition. There’s only good or bad when it comes to quarterbacks, regardless of style.
But for one day, gunslinging was the method of choice to success. And good quarterbacks only get their moniker when they’re getting wins.
You can’t scramble your way out of that truth.

Winners and Losers Week 5 - Andrew Luck edition

"One tough hombre."

That’s how Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians described his rookie quarterback after yesterday’s comeback win against the Green Bay Packers — made all the more special against the backdrop of Chuck Pagano’s leukemia diagnosis.

Sometimes, being good doesn’t mean being exciting.

Since a few months before the draft, all of the attention has gone towards Robert Griffin III, who emerged as a great story during college football season, overshadowing the consensus first overall pick in Luck, for which everything that could be said was already so before his last season in the collegiate ranks.

In many ways, the mobile quarterback who can not only throw from the pocket but also improvise and move the chains with his feet when his comfort zone breaks down has become the preferred quarterbacking style; it’s become like the slam dunk in basketball or the home run in baseball, it’s the more exciting highlight.

But if yesterday proved anything, it’s that there still is — and always will be — room in the game for the cerebral quarterback who does all his work from the pocket.

That was Luck’s first signature win, a poised second half with credit to the defense for shutting down Green Bay after an uneven first two quarters.

And at night, another quarterback whose famous by his arm only — Drew Brees — threw four touchdown passes on his way to passing Johnny Unitas for the all time record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass.

Meanwhile, Michael Vick — whom ESPN devoted an entire issue to just a year ago — can’t seem to stop giving the ball back to the other team, and may be just a few more bad games away from giving way to Nick Foles. Cam Newton is single-handedly bringing back the whole belief in sophomore slump, and Robert Griffin III’s running exploits hit its first roadblock against Atlanta.

This is not to say that this is an “either or” proposition. There’s only good or bad when it comes to quarterbacks, regardless of style.

But for one day, gunslinging was the method of choice to success. And good quarterbacks only get their moniker when they’re getting wins.

You can’t scramble your way out of that truth.

362 yards. 2 TDs. 1 INT. 81.0 Passer Rating.
Game winning drive over Green Bay.
CHUCKSTRONG indeed.
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

362 yards. 2 TDs. 1 INT. 81.0 Passer Rating.

Game winning drive over Green Bay.

CHUCKSTRONG indeed.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  • Dez Bryant
  • Andrew Luck
  • Calvin Johnson
  • Cam Newton
  • Robert Griffin III
  • Mark Sanchez
  • Darrelle Revis
  • Julio Jones
  • Victor Cruz
Winners and Losers - Week 2 Sunday edition
I heard it was a beautiful day outside today. I wouldn’t know, was busy watching football all day. I always thought Week 2 was one of the easiest weeks to gamble on games, so I’m really glad I didn’t test that theory by taking Oakland and Baltimore on a parlay.
More referee controversy, and coaching controversy, and kicking controversy, and player controversy, just all kinds of controversy.
Let’s take a look at some teams who are now 2-0, and those that are in the vaunted 0-2 hole, amongst other things.
Winners
The Giants - After scouring my deep vocabulary of words, I’ve settled on calling Tom Couglin’s team: predictably unpredictable. Not sure if anyone was surprised that the Giants fell behind early against Tampa Bay this afternoon, nor was anyone surprised that they came out with a victory. This is so Eli Manning: he throws for 510 yards and 3 touchdowns (shouts to his two dynamic receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, who combined for 21 catchs, 378 yards and 2 touchdowns) but also threw 3 interceptions and ended with a QB rating of just 89.5. There’s just something about the other Manning that lacks appeal, even with two Super Bowl rings to his name. But that’s the nature of the whole Giants team. They’re so underwhelming for stretches, but always find a way to be there when it counts. At one point, it was possible that they would fall to 0-2 and be two games back of every team in their division. But here they are, tied with the Cowboys and Redskins and just a game back of the Eagles after week two. It could’ve been dire for the Giants had they lost, it’s always on the verge of being dire for these Giants, but they always find a way.
2-0 teams (Philadelphia, Arizona, Houston, San Diego, San Francisco) - It really doesn’t matter how you get your wins in this league, stop me before I quote Al Davis. The most surprising of this group are the Cardinals, but full points for their win in New England. Ryan Williams, don’t forget to send Stephen Gostkowski a Christmas card, or something. Just make sure it’s not bounty related. The ugliest of this bunch are the Eagles. Fun fact alert: they’re the first team ever to win their first two games of the season by a single point. Lots of turnovers, lots of mistakes, Desean Jackson and company threatening to lose their cool. Actually they did, punches were thrown but the refs forgot to keep the game in control. As for Houston and San Diego, the jury is still out based on the level of competition. San Francisco? Most complete team after week one, same after two weeks.
Antonio Garay - With a tribute to Junior Seau. 
Reggie Bush - Do we need to reconsider the Mario Williams-Reggie Bush debate again before it’s all set and done? Remember all the talk of how Bush couldn’t be a feature back in this league? Not so sure if that’s still the case. 
The refs, again - Hey, did you hear about the one about how the league had to pull a side judge from the Saints game today because he was a huge New Orleans fan? As in, there are photos of himself tailgating in Saints gear in the pre-season?
Andrew Luck - Win number one. Not as dramatic as Robert Griffin III’s in week one, but they all count just the same. Also, respect to Adam Vinatieri for still doing his thing at age 39. It’s good to have a reliable kicker in your back pocket for those late game drives. Sometimes it takes more then Luck. I can’t believe I just wrote that. 
Losers
Greg Schiano - So on the last play of the game, the Buccaneers coach decided it was a good idea to have his team come after Eli Manning on a standard kneel down play, which earned a tongue lashing from Tom Coughlin in their post-game handshake. I’m all for the culture change and attitude that Schiano is bringing to Tampa Bay, but this is not the way you do things in the pros, or at any level of competition for that matter. His excuse that this is about sending a message to his team and the rest of the league that his guys will never stop trying until the game is officially over is just that: a poor excuse. You can preach and practice those values in many other ways, ones that don’t involved the possibility of unnecessary injury. Or embarrass your team in the process. Too late on that last one.
0-2 teams (New Orleans, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Kansas City, Oakland) - Most surprising of course are the Saints. Easiest thing is to say that the team misses Sean Payton. But I think it’s a simple fact that the defense has been terrible, which was masked by the record breaking offense last year, and the offense has not been sharp. Some of that has to fall on Drew Brees, who missed some time in preparing for the season due to his contract dispute. For Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Kansas City: they are who we thought they were. Although I think Cleveland can be a competitive team coming down the stretch. As for Oakland? They remain as frustrating as ever. 
A lot of survivor pools - Or as CBS Sports’ Will Brinson said: “And on the second week of the season, Belichick proclaimed there would be no more survivor leagues.” 
Josh Morgan - For this. Somewhere, Andre Johnson empathizes. 
Tim Tebow - 33 yards of total offense through two games. Strangest thing is, there will be some calls for him to start next week. 
Wes Welker - Became the Patriots’ all-time franchise leader in receptions, on a day that he didn’t make the starting lineup. I think that contract dispute upset a few people in New England, the wrong people. I mean the wrong person. When Bill Belichick thinks you’re putting yourself above the team, he’ll go out of his way to put you in your place. Which makes me wonder whether we’re headed for a break-up between Gronkowski and the Pats, not this year, not next, but at some point. 
Chris Johnson - He’s averaging 3.1 feet per carry this year. 
The Cowboys - Same as what I wrote about the Giants above, except that the Cowboys always make things more dire than they need to be. Or maybe the simple truth is this: whether it’s the quarterback, the coaching or something else, this team just does not have the makeup of an elite team, and never will. 
@steven_lebron

Winners and Losers - Week 2 Sunday edition

I heard it was a beautiful day outside today. I wouldn’t know, was busy watching football all day. I always thought Week 2 was one of the easiest weeks to gamble on games, so I’m really glad I didn’t test that theory by taking Oakland and Baltimore on a parlay.

More referee controversy, and coaching controversy, and kicking controversy, and player controversy, just all kinds of controversy.

Let’s take a look at some teams who are now 2-0, and those that are in the vaunted 0-2 hole, amongst other things.

Winners

The Giants - After scouring my deep vocabulary of words, I’ve settled on calling Tom Couglin’s team: predictably unpredictable. Not sure if anyone was surprised that the Giants fell behind early against Tampa Bay this afternoon, nor was anyone surprised that they came out with a victory. This is so Eli Manning: he throws for 510 yards and 3 touchdowns (shouts to his two dynamic receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, who combined for 21 catchs, 378 yards and 2 touchdowns) but also threw 3 interceptions and ended with a QB rating of just 89.5. There’s just something about the other Manning that lacks appeal, even with two Super Bowl rings to his name. But that’s the nature of the whole Giants team. They’re so underwhelming for stretches, but always find a way to be there when it counts. At one point, it was possible that they would fall to 0-2 and be two games back of every team in their division. But here they are, tied with the Cowboys and Redskins and just a game back of the Eagles after week two. It could’ve been dire for the Giants had they lost, it’s always on the verge of being dire for these Giants, but they always find a way.

2-0 teams (Philadelphia, Arizona, Houston, San Diego, San Francisco) - It really doesn’t matter how you get your wins in this league, stop me before I quote Al Davis. The most surprising of this group are the Cardinals, but full points for their win in New England. Ryan Williams, don’t forget to send Stephen Gostkowski a Christmas card, or something. Just make sure it’s not bounty related. The ugliest of this bunch are the Eagles. Fun fact alert: they’re the first team ever to win their first two games of the season by a single point. Lots of turnovers, lots of mistakes, Desean Jackson and company threatening to lose their cool. Actually they did, punches were thrown but the refs forgot to keep the game in control. As for Houston and San Diego, the jury is still out based on the level of competition. San Francisco? Most complete team after week one, same after two weeks.

Antonio Garay - With a tribute to Junior Seau.

Reggie Bush - Do we need to reconsider the Mario Williams-Reggie Bush debate again before it’s all set and done? Remember all the talk of how Bush couldn’t be a feature back in this league? Not so sure if that’s still the case.

The refs, again - Hey, did you hear about the one about how the league had to pull a side judge from the Saints game today because he was a huge New Orleans fan? As in, there are photos of himself tailgating in Saints gear in the pre-season?

Andrew Luck - Win number one. Not as dramatic as Robert Griffin III’s in week one, but they all count just the same. Also, respect to Adam Vinatieri for still doing his thing at age 39. It’s good to have a reliable kicker in your back pocket for those late game drives. Sometimes it takes more then Luck. I can’t believe I just wrote that.

Losers

Greg Schiano - So on the last play of the game, the Buccaneers coach decided it was a good idea to have his team come after Eli Manning on a standard kneel down play, which earned a tongue lashing from Tom Coughlin in their post-game handshake. I’m all for the culture change and attitude that Schiano is bringing to Tampa Bay, but this is not the way you do things in the pros, or at any level of competition for that matter. His excuse that this is about sending a message to his team and the rest of the league that his guys will never stop trying until the game is officially over is just that: a poor excuse. You can preach and practice those values in many other ways, ones that don’t involved the possibility of unnecessary injury. Or embarrass your team in the process. Too late on that last one.

0-2 teams (New Orleans, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Kansas City, Oakland) - Most surprising of course are the Saints. Easiest thing is to say that the team misses Sean Payton. But I think it’s a simple fact that the defense has been terrible, which was masked by the record breaking offense last year, and the offense has not been sharp. Some of that has to fall on Drew Brees, who missed some time in preparing for the season due to his contract dispute. For Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Kansas City: they are who we thought they were. Although I think Cleveland can be a competitive team coming down the stretch. As for Oakland? They remain as frustrating as ever.

A lot of survivor pools - Or as CBS Sports’ Will Brinson said: And on the second week of the season, Belichick proclaimed there would be no more survivor leagues.”

Josh Morgan - For this. Somewhere, Andre Johnson empathizes.

Tim Tebow - 33 yards of total offense through two games. Strangest thing is, there will be some calls for him to start next week.

Wes Welker - Became the Patriots’ all-time franchise leader in receptions, on a day that he didn’t make the starting lineup. I think that contract dispute upset a few people in New England, the wrong people. I mean the wrong person. When Bill Belichick thinks you’re putting yourself above the team, he’ll go out of his way to put you in your place. Which makes me wonder whether we’re headed for a break-up between Gronkowski and the Pats, not this year, not next, but at some point.

Chris Johnson - He’s averaging 3.1 feet per carry this year.

The Cowboys - Same as what I wrote about the Giants above, except that the Cowboys always make things more dire than they need to be. Or maybe the simple truth is this: whether it’s the quarterback, the coaching or something else, this team just does not have the makeup of an elite team, and never will.

@steven_lebron

Consequently, this is what it looks like to beat the Minnesota Vikings by doing your job.
Too bad the Pats didn’t have Adam Vinatieri…oh wait.
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Consequently, this is what it looks like to beat the Minnesota Vikings by doing your job.

Too bad the Pats didn’t have Adam Vinatierioh wait.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

And with the 1st pick in the 2012 NFL Draft the Indianapolis Colts select ANDREW LUCK.
No surprises here, folks. Andrew Luck is about as sure of a thing as it gets in the NFL (there is no such thing a sure thing). Luck goes to the Colts where the cupboard is bare. They got Reggie Wayne back but who are the other play makers on offense? And what is Chuck Pagano’s new 3-4 defense going to look like?
The Colts keep their once in generation QB draft streak alive. They took John Elway (refused to play for them), Peyton Manning and now Luck. Wow. 

And with the 1st pick in the 2012 NFL Draft the Indianapolis Colts select ANDREW LUCK.

No surprises here, folks. Andrew Luck is about as sure of a thing as it gets in the NFL (there is no such thing a sure thing). Luck goes to the Colts where the cupboard is bare. They got Reggie Wayne back but who are the other play makers on offense? And what is Chuck Pagano’s new 3-4 defense going to look like?

The Colts keep their once in generation QB draft streak alive. They took John Elway (refused to play for them), Peyton Manning and now Luck. Wow. 

"The Indianapolis Colts have told Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck that they will take him with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, according to a league source.
The Washington Redskins will take Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 pick in the draft, according to league sources.”
- ESPN [Also, everyone else in the world.]

"The Indianapolis Colts have told Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck that they will take him with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, according to a league source.

The Washington Redskins will take Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 pick in the draft, according to league sources.”


- ESPN [Also, everyone else in the world.]