Detroit Lions Tickets are a Hot Ticket for the Falcons Game

The seventh week of the NFL season has a surprisingly few premier games on the schedule. There is one game that stands out among the many others though. On Sunday, at 1:00 PM ET, the Atlanta Falcons will travel to Ford Field to play the Detroit Lions.

This game is particularly important to both football teams. The Atlanta Falcons are 3-3 and in third place in the NFC South. They are chasing the Bucs and Saints, both of whom are 4-2. If they hope to remain a threat in the division and, more importantly, keep a playoff berth within sight, then they need this win desperately. So far it seems as though the two wild cards are coming out of the NFC North and NFC South, so this is an early must-win game for the Falcons.

The Lions harbor hopes of earning a first round bye, which will require 5-1 Detroit to catch 6-0 Green Bay. Lions tickets for this game are not NFL tickets for a must-win game, but a game that is very advisable lest they fall two games behind the Packers.

The team stats definitely favor the Lions. Detroit has been a pass happy team since the beginning of the season, and now that the Lions are missing Jahvid Best they should be an even more pass heavy football team. Matthew Stafford is averaging 272.5 yards a game and has thrown 15 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. The Falcons defense has allowed 226.2 passing yards a game. That is the 13th worst in the league, so the Stafford-Calvin Johnson connection should have a field day. The only hope is that the opportunistic secondary add to its nine interceptions in 2011.

I would expect safety Thomas DeCoud to come over the top on double coverage for Johnson all day. Atlanta should be able to keep him in coverage since the rush defense is already one of the best in the NFL and the Lions struggle running the football when they have their starting running back. Maurice Morris is the third string, so I doubt he is going to challenge the Falcons front seven.

Still, never underestimate the motivation generated by desperation. The Falcons were able to keep up with Vick and beat the Eagles and contain Cam Newton and defeat the Panthers. Obviously, this football team has the potential to upset the Lions. Otherwise this game would not be my game of the week.

Houston Texans Tickets Playoff Bound?

The Houston Texans are trying to fill the void left by Peyton Manning in the AFC South. The Colts are winless, making Manning’s placement on the IR more and more likely. Meanwhile, the Texans are taking advantage of an impressive running game while the passing game heats up.

The Texans have jumped out to a 3-1 start with a pretty good defensive effort and a solid offense. The defense is allowing just 17.5 points a game and features the 10th ranked passing defense *(214.3 yards per game) and the 18th ranked rushing defense (108.8 yards per game). Though the defense is not able to hold back the rushing onslaught, they have been able to win the turnover battle, forcing three fumbles and picking off opposing quarterbacks four times. Their own offense has only turned the ball over four times.

Concerning the offense, many thought the aerial assault would resume with the return of QB Matt Schaub, WR Andre Johnson, and TE Owen Daniels. However, Houston has only managed to rank 20th in the league through the air. Schaub is not at fault. He has a 101.7 QB rating with 8.5 yards per pass, 7 touchdowns, and only 3 interceptions. Gary Kubiak has simply not had to air it as often.

Ben Tate filled in quite admirably for RB Arian Foster. Tate ran for 321 yards while Foster healed. Foster proved he is back after rushing for 155 yards on 30 carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With these two able to eat time on the clock and rack up first downs (28 between the both them), Schaub will be asked to do much less. This is a great development because the team will be without Andre Johnson for three weeks. This may anger fantasy football owners, but it could mean the franchise’s first trip to the playoffs.

First, Houston Texans tickets are available for a matchup with the Oakland Raiders in Week 5. The Raiders can stop neither the pass not the run. This gives Kubiak the freedom to tear this team apart. The Texans will have to be concerned with the best rushing offense in the league though. Darren McFadden is the lead back in an offense that picks up 178.7 yards a game. Given the lack of resistance by the Texans front seven, I would expect a stacked box to force Jason Campbell to beat them through the air.

New York Jets Tickets: Mark Sanchez- Regular Season Zero, Postseason Hero

The New York Jets have a championship caliber defense and added two talented veterans to its wide receiver core, yet the postseason hopes remain in the hands of Mark Sanchez, the same man who let the football consistently slip out of his hands in the last preseason game on the schedule. This is disconcerting for fans that purchased Jets tickets expecting a chance to see this team make a run at the Patriots and first place in the AFC East and then the Super Bowl.

Sanchez is in just his third pro season, but already his numbers have been underwhelming. He is completing less than 55 percent of his passes when the standard for star quarterbacks is 60, he has been unable to surpass the 20-touchdown mark, he has yet to throw for more than 3,500 yards, and his best QB rating so far has been last season’s 75.3. The optimistic Jets fan will remind everyone around them that he is still young and Super Bowl champion Eli Manning struggled mightily in his first two seasons as well. Yes, Manning hardly showed up in the Monday night game either, but he has put up elite numbers for the past two seasons.

Entering his third regular season, Sanchez still suffers from “happy feet” and his accuracy has repeatedly been called into question this preseason. Happy feet, like his poor decisions, are aspects of his game that will disappear as Sanchez gains experience on the field. His accuracy is the worrisome aspect of his game. Many a quarterback have developed laser like precision, but many more have not and find homes in Canada to play in the CFL.

Also, as Joe Namath astutely observed, Plaxico Burress, the big signing for the offense, has always made life difficult for quarterbacks thanks to a tendency to change strides once the football is in the air and because he has rarely been a consist route runner. Still, he is 6 foot 5, so Sanchez should have some way to connect with him in the last preseason game when playing the Giants depleted secondary. This hardly means Burress is a complete bust. He could be shaking off some rust, or, if he really is only going to be this good, he is still a threat from 10 yards out when size and speed become equally as important as route running.

Ironically, ESPN turned to Joe Namath when discussing Sanchez and the Jets future. The legend played in a different time and was known perhaps more for his moxie than his actual numbers. I am sure I can find some sort of equation to adjust Namath’s stats for inflation, but when it comes down to it, he threw 220 interceptions to 173 touchdowns. Namath basically floundered during the regular season, but he excelled under pressure, just as Sanchez has.

Mark Sanchez has been the New York Jets quarterback for two playoff runs and has impressed both times. The Jets have gone 4-2 with him behind center thanks in part to Sanchez’s 94.3 QB rating. To put that rating into more clearly definable stats, he has completed 95 of 157 passes (60.5 percent) for 1,155 yards (7.37 yard per attempt), with 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Those are star numbers.

So, is too early to label Sanchez a bust? Yes, especially when his postseason play has so very impressive. Somehow I doubt he will ever be a player to put up numbers like either Manning brother in the regular season, but he may go Tom Brady in the postseason. What does this means for the New York Jets? This means they have to find a way to get to the playoffs every season before letting Sanchez out of his cage so he can shine. I would expect a conservative offense and a stellar defense from here on out because Mark is going to draw the ire of the rabid New York sports media if he tries to carry the team in the regular season. This makes Rex Ryan particularly important to the organization since he is a defensive mastermind and can keep this unit among the top tier in the NFL.

Dallas Cowboys Tickets Preview: What to do About a Kicker?

It is uncommon that an NFL team would come into the season with an issue at kicker, but the Dallas Cowboys can hardly be called the typical NFL franchise. This is “America’s Team” with an overbearing owner in a state where football is a religion that inspires fanaticism that goes beyond the Sunday morning tailgate.

Monday the Cowboys added Shayne Graham to an obscenely deep kicking queue that already included returning kicker David Buehler, rookie free agent Dan Bailey, and injured rookie Kai Forbath. In fact, Buehler is dealing with his own aches and pains (a hip strain).

Graham had been on the Washington Redskins roster until just after missing two field goals in the first preseason game. Fans with Dallas Cowboys tickets for the 2011 season may have already been concerned with heading into a season with a kicker who only made 75 percent of his kicks last season and struggled from 30-39 yards out, so adding a rejected kicker to the competition is not likely going to quell any of those concerns. However, previous to his disastrous post-lockout showing, the 33-year-old Shayne Graham has hit 86 percent of his kicks and 98.4 percent of his extra points.

Buehler is reportedly unhappy with the addition of even more competition, especially since Bailey has been competitive to this point and the new kick off rules may make his “kick-off specialist” title less enticing when time comes for the final cuts.

The Dallas Cowboys simply do not need to be worried about a game coming down to being forced to decide whether it is better to go for it on fourth and short inside the final two minutes from the 22 when a consistent kicker makes the decision for the head coach. This is especially true given quarterback Tony Romo’s history as a gunslinger.

Dallas Cowboys Tickets May Come Down to the Slot Receiver

Last season the Dallas Cowboys finished sixth in the NFL in passing yards, even with Romo under center for just six games. Well, if the fans want Dallas Cowboys tickets to extend beyond the 2011 regular season into the NFL playoffs, this team is going to have to figure out just how to put together as prolific an air attack with Miles Austin, Dez Bryant in his first healthy year in the league, and a collection of unproven wide receivers.

Yes, there has been some sentiment that the Cowboys need to be more concerned with Felix Jones’ health and the offensive line’s ability to open holes for the running game and close them for the passing game. Certainly this is true. Even in this pass happy age of the NFL, teams need to have some sort of a balance on offense to advance very far in the playoffs.

However, the Cowboys still need a solid third receiver to take the field 47 percent of the time. That is the percentage of plays Jason Garrett used a three-man set as offensive coordinator. I would imagine he do much the same as the head coach. If your third option is Kevin Ogletree, a man with 10 career receptions in his three years on the Cowboys roster, you may have some issues.

There are some interesting names still available on the free agent list. T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Santana Moss, and Terrell Owens are some intriguing big names on the list. They may be a little too expensive though, and that is the reason Dallas released Roy Williams. Some of the cheaper options could be Bryant Johnson, Brandon Stokely, Laurent Robinson, and Greg Lewis would be economical additions.

This addition could be the biggest factor in the Dallas Cowboys mission for redemption. Sure, Tony Romo essentially uses Jason Whitten as a wide receiver, but by stretching the secondary with three solid options the Cowboys could keep the defense well rested and could light up the score board as in seasons’ past. Watch for a move in the next few days, unless Jerry Jones is overly optimistic about Dwayne Harris’s 5-reception, 127 yard, and 2-touchdown performance against the Broncos practice squad Thursday night.

If anything, the first preseason game demonstrated to fans that Rob Ryan has not quite turned this defensive unit around and created a punishing, unstoppable force. So, I would presume the Cowboys are going to need to be able to put up points in a hurry, and Tony Romo is going to need a decent third option in the slot if he is going to play gunslinger.

The Road to Super Bowl LXVI

The road to Super Bowl LXVI runs through Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on the AFC side of the playoffs and through the Georgia Dome on the NFC side, but the Super Bowl tickets will only be good for the game at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011.

The first round begins Saturday with two games, the No. 6 New York Jets vs. the No. 3 Indianapolis Colts at the Lucas Oil Stadium and the No. 5 New Orleans Saints vs. the No. 4 Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field. If the Colts are able to advance I have to assume it will be thanks to Manning’s will alone. If the Seahawks win it will be a not-so-small miracle.

Sunday, the No. 5 Baltimore Ravens travel to Arrowhead Stadium to play the Kansas City Chiefs and the No. 6 Green Bays Packers travel to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the No. 3 Philadelphia Eagles. The Ravens should effectively mitigate the Chiefs primary offensive strength, the running back duo of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, thanks to the fifth best running defense. The Packers and the Eagles is almost impossible to predict since both teams have a hot-or-cold disposition on the field. I want the Philly-Green Bay game to be the most ridiculous, highest scoring game of the postseason, but am fully aware it could come down to a battle of the special teams if both sides display even a decent pass rush.

The winners of the first slate of NFC games will play the Chicago Bears or the Atlanta Falcons. Both the Falcons and the Bears are hardly unbeatable. The Falcons have faced few challenges toward the end of the season, barely beating the Buccaneers in Week 13 and losing to a desperate Saints team Week 16. The Bears offense can disappear, but the Chicago defense focuses so much on stopping the run a team with a decent passing attack and a good offensive line can disarm this Cover-2 based defense with precision thorws along the seams.

The survivor of the first round of AFC games will play either the New England Patriots or the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nobody wants to play the Patriots. The offense is simply functioning on such a high level right now any defeat would be as shocking as the Giants win in 2007. The Steelers are the NFL’s version of True Grit. Roethlisberger is apparently playing on one foot and with a broken nose. I would not be surprised to learn of a dislocated throwing shoulder, a slight brain hemorrhage, and a battle with cancer in his small intestines. Big Ben will soldier on and continue to cultivate his legacy as the toughest quarterback of his generation.

No matter who survives this difficult path, I look forward to one of the best postseasons in recent history.

NFL Week 13 Tuesday Commentary: Patriots Fans Should be Buying Super Bowl Tickets

For those looking ahead to February in Dallas, Week 13 in the NFL proved to be a revelation for the AFC and a confounding experience leaving a glut of potential Super Bowl suitors in the NFC. The New England Patriots set themselves apart as the best team in the AFC East and the team with the most momentum heading into the last few weeks of the NFL regular season. Meanwhile, the top six NFC teams all won, most struggling in the process.

Am I being dismissive of the resilience demonstrated by a 9-3 Pittsburgh Steelers team that beat a tough Ravens squad complete with great defense and Ben Roethlisberger playing on a broken foot? No. Am I being disrespectful of an 8-4 Kansas City Chiefs team that barely beat a Broncos franchise that fired its head coach after the game? Yes.

The Patriots 45-7 drubbing of the upstart New York Jets simply made it clear to a national audience (with basic cable) that New England will be unstoppable if they retain home field advantage. Coming into the game, the Patriots sought revenge for a loss in Week 2 over the football team that came into the Monday Night game tied for first in the division. They owned the Jets lauded defense, both through the air and on the ground. Tom Brady threw four touchdowns for the second week in a row and the Patriots defense feasted on the mistakes of a rookie quarterback folding in crunch time late in the season.

After watching this game, I have to conclude New England is bound for another division win and fans should be looking for Super Bowl tickets (really New England is being spoiled this week, first the addition of Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox and now this).

I can hardly say I have any clue who will win out in the NFC. The New York Giants let Ahmed Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs loose for 200 combined rushing yards and four touchdowns. However, despite the 31-7 win over the division-foe Redskins, I cannot help but hold this win in lesser esteem than the Patriots. The Redskins have become the forgotten team in the NFC East (despite being second from last place) whose weaknesses mirrored the Giants strength (poor run defense vs. great run offense).

Elsewhere, the Chicago Bears barely fended off the Detroit Lions, the Philadelphia Eagles had to come back from behind in the fourth quarter to beat a Texans team with no pass rush, the Green Bay Packers beat a team from the NFC West, the New Orleans Saints won on an encroachment penalty, and the Atlanta Falcons had to come back in the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I am not saying come-from-behind victories are something at which to scoff. They do prove a team is never truly out of any game. But, none of these wins really made me do a double take. To be fair, none of these teams had a marquee game in which to prove themselves as the Patriots did. The only one I can identify on the Week 14 schedule is the Bears-Patriots game on Sunday afternoon. This game will finally decide whether the Bears are a great regular season team or a team with some playoff potential and show how the Patriots play a very good team on the road in the midst of their four game winning streak.

Does Sunday Nights Win Mean Super Bowl Tickets for the Philadelphia Eagles?

The Philadelphia Eagles are 7-3 and suddenly they are clearly the best team in the NFC East. They also may be the best team in the NFC. They certainly possess the best weapon in the NFL in Michael Vick. I know Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are enjoying early MVP buzz. I also know Aaron Rodgers continues to be a vastly overlooked quarterback. But, Vick can outrun and maybe out throw this competition, though he does lack the touch and the recognition these pocket passers possess.

He is as likely to run for more than 100 yards in a game (given Justin Tuck is not on the field) as eclipse 30 yards through the air. Vick also has the benefit of a big budget television movie storyline. Incredibly gifted athlete makes abhorrent choices off the field, serves time, and wins his starting spot back.

He has better weapons than he has every had at any other time in his nine-year NFL career and is playing for a city eternally desperate for a Super Bowl win. I bet these fans are desperately in search of Super Bowl tickets as I write this little ode to the resurrected hero.

There are still six games left in the season and the NFC East is notoriously unstable. Also, the Green Bay Packers are quietly 7-3 and have outscored opponents by more than 100 points, the only team in the NFL to do so as of Week 11. Then, consider that the Atlanta Falcons are 8-2, the best record in the NFC. What a game it would be if the Eagles were to play one of the most explosive offenses in football or if Vick is playing his former team?

Yes, at this juncture to pose any hypothetical questions about the NFC Championship is foolhardy, but I cannot contain myself after the Eagles proved they could beat a great defense when Vick was not changing fantasy football match ups across the country.

Potential Storyline for Super Bowl Tickets

The NFL is a little over the half way mark and as far as I can tell there 11 teams capable of reaching the Super Bowl, five from the NFC and six from the AFC. While I base this simple observation on records, the scoring differential, and not playing in the West division of either conference, I see these teams and get excited by the story lines FOX and ESPN will be busy creating a week’s worth of film around. I know it is silly. I should be thinking of offensive and defensive stats, but nobody buys Super Bowl tickets and gets excited by the yards allowed per carry no first defense allowed by their favorite team.

So, who will be canonized? Which team is going to buck history? Which team has the most sick kids to play for?

NFL Candidates:

New York Giants

The Giants are playing their first season in a new stadium, New Meadowlands Stadium, and they have to strike early to rename it Giants Stadium and once again shaft the loyal Jets fans. This would also be Eli Manning’s chance to surpass his brother in some regard. He is not the tactician as his older brother and is much more inconsistent (though an argument can be made that Eli is a more accurate playoff passer than Peyton), so another Super Bowl win and another potential MVP will give him some bragging rights come the next family reunion.

Philadelphia Eagles

The return of Michael Vick, a more mature individual finally ready to the most of his infinite talent. This will be the primary national story since the road to redemption is such an intoxicating narrative. The secondary story nationwide, but primary locally will be the Eagles chance to once again win their first Super Bowl. They have failed twice before and even traded away a former Pro Bowl quarterback to a division rival because of this consistent inability to finally win the big game.

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers will finally replace Brett Favre in the cheese people’s hearts with a win. Rodgers is already a better quarterback, but he is far from a living legend. The mere mention of Favre forces Packers fans to flinch and doubt Rodgers capability the tiniest bit. To believe he does not know this and that this does not plague him in his night terrors is ridiculous. Nobody is that self-confident, for it is difficult to have more moxie than an old man still willing to send penis pics to a sideline reporter.

Atlanta Falcons

The Rise of the Dirty South. Part one young quarterback in Matt Ryan, one MVP-caliber receiver in Roddy White, part one one over achieving running back (Michael Turner), and one grizzled veteran (TE Tony Gonzalez)- this is a team difficult to root against. Add in a forgettable franchise history in a part of the country obsessed with college football, and this is a team all of America can love.

New Orleans Saints

The beginning of a dynasty for a franchise afflicted by such historical mediocrity. This could be the NFC version of the New England Patriots.

AFC Candidates

New York Jets

The perpetual underdog in the biggest city in America finally usurps the Football Giants and claims New Meadowlands Stadium as its own. This team already had to concede the inaugural game to the Giants and had to make due with a tarnished Monday night game broadcast on cable. This scheduling decision had to set the tone for the rest of the season. This team is ready to finally give lifelong Jets fans something else to talk about other than Joe Namath. The best match up for this team would be a chance to defeat the Giants in the Super Bowl.

New England Patriots

Proof that the Patriots’ heyday is not behind them, that Brady and Co. can still score in droves on any team, even with Randy Moss halfheartedly running route, and that this young defense has come of age. They also get to play the villain role, giving everyone outside of Boston a team to hate uniformly.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Adding a Super Bowl win to the list and reminding NFL fans that this is perhaps the most underrated football franchise in the league. Also, Ben Roethlisberger will get a chance to finally deliver an MVP-worthy performance in the big game, essentially wiping his sordid off-the-field history in fell swoop (this is a nation that forgives anything in the name of success).

Baltimore Ravens

This is perhaps the most difficult team to find a reason to celebrate or hate. The networks could go with the emergence of Joe Flacco or the immortality of Ray Lewis, but those stories are barely worth a five minute segment before a regular season slate of games. Only fans in Cleveland can hate this team with an unquestioned passion, everyone else (outside of Baltimore) is going to have to spend quite some time rationalizing a reason to care.

Tennessee Titans

Vince Young and Chris Johnson. This is a reason to watch and root for the team. Young is coming back from an emotional roller coaster ride and Johnson is simply one of the best backs in the league. The franchise’s struggle is a tough sell since the team moved from its original playing grounds in Houston. The player angle, especially the triumph of Vince Young and the pure excitement of watching and waiting for Johnson to break an 80-yard touchdown run is reason enough to celebrate the Titans and a potential Super Bowl win.

Indianapolis Colts

Can Peyton Manning finally put all the doubt of his performance in the postseason to bed? This is going to be the story throughout the playoffs and will be the dominant story if the Indianapolis Colt reach the Super Bowl. The chance to for redemption after last season’s fourth quarter debacle will be the second lead.

What Happened to Dallas Cowboys Tickets for the Super Bowl?

The Dallas Cowboys may have won state bragging rights after Week 3′s 27-13 win over the Houston Texans, but they have won nothing else, literally. The 1-3 Cowboys are in last place in the NFC East, a division plagued with three 3-2 teams atop the division standings.

I know early success is fickle in this division. Surely, the Giants, Eagles, and Redskins will eat each other alive as the division stumbles toward three eight- or nine-win teams. However, the Cowboys cannot simply wait for the tide to turn in their favor. If they continue to give away games in the fourth quarter (the Bears and Titans still need to send Jimmy Jones thank you cards), then the Cowboys season– and Wade Phillips’ tenure as head coach- will be effectively over in the next five games.

Does this sound a bit hyperbolic? Well it is not. Let us look at the schedule. Next week the Cowboys head to Minnesota to take on Favre and newly acquired Moss in a dome (after they have a practice game Monday night). Then Dallas is selling Cowboys tickets for the first match up with the New York Giants, a team that has found its inner-46 and has been decimating quarterbacks the past two weeks. Sure the Jacksonville Jaguars sound like an easy win in Week 8, but they are 3-2, winning two straight and scoring into the 30s both weeks. Heck, the Jaguars even beat the Colts in Week 4. Week 9 takes the Cowboys to Green Bay to play won of the most prolific offenses in the league. Then comes Week 10 and another date with the quarterback-eating Giants.

If I were a diehard fan of “America’s Team” I’d be shuddering right now. The Cowboys could very easily be 1-8 and effectively out of the postseason discussion before the Redskins implode amidst McNabb’s penchant for inconsistent play. I am sure Jimmy Jones did not see this coming when he declared this would be the first season a Super Bowl team would have home field advantage.