Monday, January 21, 2013

Grading The New NFL Head Coaching Selections (And Other NFL Updates)

I am incredibly thrilled to see that the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens were the two teams to advance to the Super Bowl this year, as they were the teams I initially picked at the beginning of the week. I am personally rooting for the Baltimore Ravens, because they have more to play for, specifically that this will be the final game in Ray Lewis's life. Linebacker Ray Lewis has been with the team since the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 to become the Baltimore Ravens, named for Edgar Allan Poe's poem, "The Raven," because the team could not take the Browns team name and instead settled for an ode to a nineteenth century writer. He was the team MVP following their victory in the 2000 Super Bowl and has been the consistent reminder of the team's origin. The 49ers continue to be unbeatable in the Super Bowl, which means we'll have to see whether or not history drastically changes. There are no more players from the 1994 team, as the last one retired around 2007.

With that being said, all of the new head coaches have been named for their respective teams. It's interesting that no one waited until the NFC and AFC Championship games resolved, especially since there are plenty of desirable nominees from each team, primarily Greg Roman and Vic Fangio, the offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively, on the San Francisco 49ers. However, the coaching selections were quite decent and should make for intriguing futures. The grading order will be roughly based on when they were hired and the grades will come down to how reasonable the selection was and what the future should hold.

Andy Reid to the Chiefs- I was positive that if Andy Reid were to be let go by the Eagles, he would immediately have a job with another team, because his record was irresistible for a coach on the market and he has reached a Super Bowl and five NFC Championships (even if it meant a 1-4 record during this round). I was guessing that the Browns would have had a better chance at taking him, but the Chiefs I suppose see him as an asset. The Chiefs are in a similar position as the Eagles in the way that they have plenty of talent, but the talent just cannot perform. What this team needs is a sense of direction and if Andy Reid could give this team a sense of direction, they should perform decently. My prediction is that the Chiefs are able to reach the playoffs under Andy Reid, but both the Chiefs and Andy Reid will see similar results from their pasts. They could win their first postseason game since 1993, but it won't be by a lot. Perhaps a visit to the divisional round seems likely under Reid's tenure, the AFC Championship the absolute furthest (though the chances are unlikely), but I see Reid's run to be shorter than with the Eagles. He'll instate a bit of more consistency, but that's about that. The Chiefs stand as the only team to pick a coach with previous experience as a former NFL coach, which should do them well. B+

Doug Marrone to the Bills- Marrone was the head coach in Syracuse before accepting the job as the Bills head coach. There, he did quite mediocre despite coming off a hot season. He's from the area, which provides someone interested in coaching a team from such a cold area that isn't the center of attention. Whether or not he will move the team forward is to be seen, but the Bills had a lot of other options they could have went with. They could have very easily either selected Lovie Smith, who can coach in this weather and knows how to win or they could have went with their second option from 2006, and went with Mike Sherman, who had a positive streak of consistency with the Packers before getting fired after a one-season slump... which brings me to the fact that Mike Sherman coached the Packers... cold weather! Back to Marrone, I either see him contributing to the current trend or improving it, but only marginally so. My prediction is that Marrone sees about three seasons with the team, an 8-8 season will be the shiniest possibility on his radar. Whether it be Chan Gailey, Dick Jauron, or Marrone, the team is only seeing similar, mediocre results. I would have really went with someone who has a record of bringing reform to a team. I just don't see Marrone as the guy. C

Rod Chudzinski to the Browns- Chudzinski was a hot candidate for a head coaching position during the last few years for what he has been able to do with Cam Newton. This season was quite a weary season to choose with that regard. However, what I see as his saving grace is that he has great selections for offensive and defensive coordinator. Norv Turner is one of the great offensive coordinators in the NFL today and this is where he truly belongs. Not as a soft-spoken head coach, but as an offensive coordinator that concentrates on the area he excels at best. On defense, Ray Horton could have easily been named the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, but was instead let go in favor of a more familiar coordinator to the new coach. While Childress and Jauron could have done better, what this will come down to is answering the question of Brandon Weeden's performance level and how the existing talent should be used. This team will likely reach .500 once, perhaps even a playoff visit, but a very quick one. Chudzinski and the Browns are going to look like Jim Schwartz and the Lions. They are going to return to some form of conversation, but it's not going to really help them excel. My prediction is that Chudzinski sees about four or five seasons with the team before a realization comes about with regard to his mediocre coaching. Not the long term for them. B-

Mike McCoy to the Chargers- This seems like just the match for the team. While the Chargers are looking at their offense, that's exactly what they need to order to resurrect them to their original form. Mike McCoy was able to create schemes that fit Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning appropriately, and doing the same with Rivers will be his key task. I believe that McCoy will be able to accomplish such a task and the team will be back competing for the division, most likely with the Broncos and on few occasions the Eagles. Between McCoy and Reid, the difference between the hires is that McCoy needs to resurrect an offense, which is identical to what he had to do in Denver. It's not like he's dealing with the exact same problem that got him fired from his former team, which is what Reid and the Chiefs face. My prediction is that McCoy sees plenty of visits to the playoffs and about ten seasons (maybe more) as the coach of the team. There's a new general manager, so there shouldn't be surprises like there was with Marty Schottenheimer. Good to see he landed somewhere, the Chargers were quite the landing. A-

Marc Trestman to the Bears- This, in my mind, was the most underrated coaching move that may see a major change to the consistency of QB Jay Cutler. Trestman has a history of being able to turn quarterback's into the major force that they should be to the offense. He worked with Steve Young on continuing to make him the relevant player that he is and then went to the Raiders and polished veteran QB Rich Gannon into a star player and league MVP. Now, he has the same opportunity to turn the inconsistent Jay Cutler into the elite quarterback he was intended to be. Trestman has everything set up in Chicago and selected an offensive coordinator that knows more about the offensive line, while Trestman will be able to work with turning the offense into a top of the line offense in the league. The defense just needs to keep doing what it's doing and doing it well. If the offense can improve, the team could definitely see deep runs into the playoffs. This team should like see the most immediate improvement, because they were already doing quite well and lost out by the skin of their teeth, making Lovie Smith's firing the most shocking. My prediction is that Trestman will see immediate success and be a consistent playoff visitor for the next decade or so. The Packers and Bears will be the two teams constantly battling for the division and bring back a consistent battle that has existed for ninety years. The Bears are the team that seems the most set up to make a powerful run within the next decade and if Smith could remain with the team for nine seasons, Trestman should see just as much time, if not a few more years. A+

Chip Kelly to the Eagles- This was one of the shocking hires, because Kelly had flirted with joining either the Browns or Eagles, then decided he was going to stay in Oregon. He changed his mind again and decided to join the Eagles. Kelly sounds like the hottest name at the moment we speak and he has a lot he could contribute to this team and their elements that just won't form a chemistry. It will however, come down to whether or not the chemistry of this team is ready to come together and perform like the team we expect to perform year in and year out. It's getting difficult, too, in a division where Nick Foles will have to develop fast in order to keep up with current or upcoming elite quarterbacks such as Eli Manning, Robert Griffin III, or Tony Romo. If not, they could be on the outside looking in. I do, however, see Kelly as a coach with enthusiasm and will bring a consistently similar to Andy Reid's back to the Eagles. They should see some winning seasons again, as well as playoff games. I do not know how quick it will take for them to return to the NFC Championship or the Super Bowl, if they are destined to do it. My prediction is that Kelly at least makes them consistent playoff contenders. He'll be there for a healthy amount of time, but the exact number will all depend on his immediate success and if achieved, how long the Eagles remain relevant. An appropriate fit, I shall say. A-

Gus Bradley to the Jaguars- This move could work or this move could not work. The Jaguars are plagued with larger problems than the fact they can't win. They're also dealing with the fact they sell less tickets than any other team. They're in the direction of becoming the 1996 Houston Oilers, who eventually moved to Tennessee the next year, and then a few years after became the Tennessee Titans. Bradley is the only defensive coach to pick up a job this offseason and his performance as a coordinator in Seattle has proved quite successful. Whether or not he resurrects the team, starting on the defensive end, brings plenty of question marks. The bigger question marks have to do with why the new GM didn't bring Tim Tebow to the team. Sure, he's not a long-term decision, but he's a short-term decision and a very good short-term decision at that. The Jags need sales and Tebow will bring sales for as long as he remains relevant (which may fade away soon if nobody picks him up). Tebow played for the Florida Gators and the people in Florida would still enjoy seeing him, but passing him up could have very well caused the Jags to pass their time up in Jacksonville. They may have to make a move to Los Angeles when they get the chance at doing so, but we'll see. As for Bradley, my prediction is that elements improve, but it only makes the team slightly better. The Jags will surely see more wins, but I think 8-8 will be more likely, and Bradley's run with the team will be fairly short. The Jaguars made the right move, but they need to think about attracting fans and usefulness first. B-

Bruce Arians to the Cardinals- If any coordinator deserved a job from the get-go, it was Bruce Arians. Arians was the offensive coordinator of the Colts that had to inherit the head coaching position from Chuck Pagano, after he had to go for treatment for his leukemia. Arians would lead the team into the playoffs, which is a rare task for an interim head coach. The head coach in sickness debate does not even apply, because there are plenty of teams that faltered for that very reason. Mike Martz went out on sick leave in 2005 and the team drastically faltered. Arians never treated himself to head coaching luxuries, which shows the kind of interim and man that he is. As for the job up and coming, he inherits a team with a powerful defense and an enigmatic offense. The first question he'll have to answer is the quarterback question. If he could do that, the team will be heading back in the right direction. At 60 years old, Arians is the oldest hire, but it should and will mean nothing to the direction of the team. My prediction is that the NFC West will turn in to a shootout between four teams and consistently so. It will become the hottest division and Arians and the Cardinals should have some say every so often. Once they find the right quarterback for them, the playoffs will be a destination of regular visitation. If Arians could do this, he will likely determine how long he stays with the team. Good choice! A-

Another topic to note about these coaching coaches is that none of them were black, which stirred controversy due to such a decrease within recent seasons. There were five black coaches last season, now there are three. Currently, there is the "Rooney Rule," which requires every team to interview at least one minority candidate, which refers to coaches of different races (Black, Hispanic, etc.). My honest opinion, with all due respect, is that the coaches that were selected were selected in the right matter. Selections should be based off of merit, not skin color. Sure, Lovie Smith was a reasonable candidate for a job opening, but he didn't fit the needs of the individual team. In that case, he wasn't chosen. Choosing a coach based off of appearance is more biased than not doing so, thus this is the path that should be followed. Even Perry Fewell could have been a hot coaching candidate. Unfortunately, the Giants defense could not keep up and he'll have to wait until his defense does seek a revival. Smith, Fewell, Ray Horton, and Winston Moss are all potential head coaching candidates. Even Hue Jackson could see a second chance. There just happened to be other coaches that held strengths that were more attractive and that's what needs to be the deciding factor. That is the true nature of equality. All coaches are initially equal and their talent is what distinguishes one coach from the other. That and connections, which could be a wild card to the search, but that's how all positions are filled.

The NFL will wrap up in thirteen days as the Niners battle the Ravens, which should be an exciting fight. That will be up and coming on the NFL radar and we'll just have to see what the game has to offer.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Movie Review: Atom Age Vampire (1960)

What is it with our standards for physical appearance??? We make plenty of judgments based off of it and we allow it to rule our judgment of other people. It has resorted to drastic decisions that were supposed to be solutions, but turned into bigger issues... such as Anorexia. In the 1960 film, Atom Age Vampire, an Italian flick that's only sign I know that it was Italian was from Alberto Lupo's name (if that), has to do with the performance of scientific surgery in which the eccentric scientist, Dr. Alberto Levin who is played by Lupo, attempts to go somewhere that plastic surgery has never reached before. Atom Age Vampire is a creepy little film that has plenty of bumps along the way, but is able to deliver a message nevertheless.

The central character is Jeanette Moreneau, played by Susanne Loret, who is a stripper/exotic dancer whose love interest, Pierre Mornet (played by Sergio Fantoni) wants to leave her. To him, it's either him or her career. Jeanette is left devastated, realizing she wants to be with him while things are just growing too tense, and drives recklessly home. She gets into an accident and disfigures the left side of her face in the process, leaving her with unattractive scars that have invaded her incredibly attractive appearance. At the hospital, she is visited by a woman named Monique Riviere (played by Franca Parisi), who is an assistant to Dr. Levin and quite attractive to say the very least. She invites her on Dr. Levin's behalf to come and take part in his experiment

Dr. Levin has come up with a serum known as Derma 25 and is now working on an improved version known as Derma 28. He's one of the definitive eccentric, mad scientists in horror film, which is always something I find to be quite exciting. When he wants to be, he could even garner an animal instinct. While he's initially able to treat Jeanette, he wants to make sure he could do what he can to make this change permanent. During this period of time, Dr. Levin begins to pick up romantic feelings for Jeanette and falls in love. Jeanette, on the other hand, still has feelings for Pierre, even though he couldn't handle her in her previous position.

In order to make the solution to Derma 28 permanent, Dr. Levin needs "donors" that could provide for the serum, by removal of their neck glands. He begins with his own assistant, Monique, and follows up with random female subjects. With the random subjects, he injects himself with Derma 25 in order to turn himself into a monstrous creature. In order to turn back, he enters a tank. While as the title indicates, people believe the monster is a vampire, Dr. Levin's creature looks and acts more like a werewolf.

However, things start to close in when Dr. Levin's methods are beginning to be revealed and Pierre goes looking for Jeanette, concerned and willing to change his mind about wanting to be with her. This leaves Jeanette with two choices: Dr. Levin, who's brilliant, but incredibly insane, but at the same time the one who made her beautiful again... or Pierre, who is far more normal, wouldn't accept her the first time, but wants a second chance, sounding quite apologetic from the previous.

Atom Age Vampire is an enigma with regard to reading the emotions of the characters, which are relatively inconsistent, especially that of Jeanette and Pierre. Both of them are absolutely confusing and it's hard to tell what they really want. Jeanette seems to always want Pierre and to be beautiful, but is not relatively thankful for how she got her beauty back, but just that she got it back. We only root for her based off of natural instinct, because she's a woman trapped in a mad scientist's living quarters and wants to escape so she can return to Pierre. While she thinks Sacha, who is Dr. Levin's Igor-like experimental assistant is on her side or is serving everyone, he leans toward his master's side. This puts her in an even larger trap.

The best developed character has to be that of Dr. Levin. I think he was quite the eccentric, but at the same time intelligent doctor that had a legitimate solution to a visible problem. The fact that he could come up with a serum that could do what plastic surgery could not is quite the task. Along with Sacha and the laboratory, the arrangement of this spectrum of the film was best by a mile.

Unfortunately, the development of the remaining pieces was scattered and did not do the film justice. The ending will also leave you thinking, "is that what I wanted to happen... I guess.. but..." This is not a film you should put the time and effort to retrieve, because of the incredibly confusing characters and plots, but it may be worth the watch if you want to do what an eccentric scientist could do with his project. However, the same could be achieved through several other methods of entertainment... even Young Frankenstein would count when it comes to satisfying your mad scientist craving.

Verdict: 6/10

Saturday, January 12, 2013

RIP Alice Pyne

About two years ago, I learned about British girl Alice Pyne from Blogger recommended blogs. She was a teenager battling with a bone cancer that was terminal, meaning that her life was inevitably going to be cut short. Instead of waiting in front of the calendar and counting down the days, Alice decided to create a "bucket list," which were things she wanted to do before she died. Through her blog, Alice's Bucket List, Alice chronicled her current condition and things that she was able to complete from her list, such as meeting "Take That," go whale watching, and encourage everyone to join a bone marrow register and create a bucket list.

Unfortunately, after surviving past her point of survival, Alice's life here on Earth came to an end. It is incredibly saddening news to see somebody die prematurely, before they had the opportunity to excel in a career, find a loved one, and create a family. While death was inevitable for Alice after realizing she had bone cancer, the fact that she spent the last months of her life accomplishing everything she wanted to before she died was an example of what all of us should make the effort to accomplish throughout our lives. The key difference is that we potentially have the time to do so, but at the same time, tomorrow may never come.

A popular acronym that's been going along is YOLO, which stands for "you only live once." This statement is correct, but very often practiced incorrectly. Plenty of people interpret YOLO as an excuse to party and drink to excess, to the point that you become so drunk that you develop a severe hangover. That's a negative way to practice YOLO. What Alice did was define how YOLO should really be practiced. It is true that you only live one life and you are supposed to live that life to the fullest, regardless of the circumstances you are born into or the hurdles that are thrown at you as life progresses. Alice's life was limited, but she didn't let the things that she could do with that time limit what she could do with it. The fact that you only live once means that you should accomplish everything you can when you have the opportunity to do so, because that life could be limited or come to an end at any time. We need to be thankful that we have been given the greatest gift we could be given and that the gift of life. The fact that we are living provides us with the opportunity to do something with ourselves or perhaps provide an example that others may be able to follow, just like Alice. The gift of life is our platform. What we do with it is totally up to us.

My condolences, thoughts, and prayers go out to Alice Pyne's family. While we may have lost a fellow blogger, Heaven has gained another angel. RIP, Alice. Your posts were always fun to read and your strive was just incredible. You were surely be missed.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Movie Review: Carnival Of Souls (1962)

For Christmas this past year, one of my gifts happen to be a DVD collection that contained fifty horror classics. While many of them were B-rate, low budget, plenty of them are hidden gems for horror lovers like myself. I was more of a horror reader and book collector than horror film fanatic, but this film provides me with an opportunity to check out how horror can be created on the screen. The first film to make up this collection happens to be Carnival Of Souls, which is a 1962 black and white starring Candace Hilligoss in the leading role as Mary Henry. This film does a fine job finding clever ways to play with the mind and playing on with that strength throughout the picture.

To begin, a group of ladies (including Mary) are challenged by a group of men to a drag race. The race looks quite competitive, but it ends with the car full of ladies falling off a bridge (which they given an ignored warning about). Help comes forward, but it's a struggle finding the ladies. Before you know it, Mary comes out and find herself driving on the road in what comes as a sudden twist of events. You may see an obvious connection that may lead you to believing how things are going to end up, and if you do, you have the upper hand. Unfortunately for those who haven't seen this picture, I am not going to leak anything out to you.

Mary becomes a nominee for a job as a organist for the local church, which looks like an opportunity, but what's to follow may not play to her benefit in such. Life after the accident has proven to be quite haunting, especially how she ends up being followed by this creepy looking man, who is credited as "The Man," that only she has knowledge of. It plays quite well into the film, given that plenty of psychological horror plots have to do with the subject seeing something that everyone else cannot. Are they insane or are those around them not very observant? Unless you're Big Bird and his deemed imaginary friend Snuffy, chances are you are generally deemed as being insane before it's too late.

An interesting subplot is added into the mix when Mary realizes she's living with another houseguest, which happens to be a Jersey Shore-like hot shot named John Linden, played by Sidney Berger. He sees her as the new blonde in the house and takes every chance he can get to start something with her. She's not very interested, instead being more interested in her surroundings and seeing the man popping up here and there.

Of course, things start to close in, and she's stuck having to confront "The Man" and others of his kind in some way, shape, or form, but if you aren't able to guess the direction of the film when Mary gets out of the river, you will not expect what's coming. What you see coming may be fairly obvious, but the arrangement of the suspense is well done and quite underrated. This B-rate film doesn't patch up the fact that it is a B-rate film, but Mary does a good job as an independent-minded, but not an ass kicking heroine that we see very often. She's an ordinary woman who was a random passenger in a car filled with women that tipped over in the bay.

This film appropriately fits a collection of horror classics and I would take the time to search this one out if you're looking for something suspenseful. It does do a good job playing the mind game, which I could deem myself fortunate enough to be able to follow. If you come in without a quick mind, good luck, but nevertheless enjoy this film all the same. Some may find the turning points a bit too obvious and predictable, but some are not going to see what's coming.

Verdict: 8/10

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

How My 2012 NFL Season Predictions Turned Out

First off, I want to once again wish my readers a happy, healthy, and safe new year, and that this my first blog post for 2013. I look forward to continue moving forward with my life goals, primarily when it comes to my writing. Maybe this year, I'll work on exploring the publishing market.

To kick off the new year, I am going to go over my predictions that I made about the regular NFL season and include some additional responses. These will include updated playoff predictions, as well as updated possibilities for new head coaching slots. I'm not going to do team by team predictions as I did in September,  but instead division by division. We shall get started...

AFC East

With the exception of the Jets going 6-10 instead of 5-11, I was spot-on with the entire division. I was sure that the Patriots would snag the division, the Dolphins would go in an upward direction with Joe Philbin creating a foundation, starting at the quarterback, the Bills would not have the right tools to improve, and the Jets would collapse due to their awful chemistry and how Rex Ryan has shed his attitude throughout the entire team. The Patriots remain flawless and should have a decent run into the playoffs, the Dolphins could very well be a playoff contender during the decade, the Bills really need to find more defensive weapons and determine whether or not Ryan Fitzpatrick is the answer to quarterback, and the Jets... they need to move on from Rex Ryan. He may have led them to AFC Championship twice, but they're becoming a hot mess. What I expect at this point is a strong run for the Pats.

AFC South

Not as successful with regard to the numbers. I thought the Titans would be going in the right direction, but instead took steps back. I expected the Texans to return to the playoffs, which they did, and saw incredible improvement. They could have easily locked up the one-seed, but are unfortunately in somewhat of a downward spiral. I expected the Colts to improve, but what they did this season was just incredible. Andrew Luck proved his worth as Bruce Arians proved he is an excellent, top of the line coach, who could lead in an emergency event, such as when Chuck Pagano had to step aside to deal with his leukemia. The Colts are in the playoffs and very well deserved. The Jaguars were just awful and that was my most accurate prediction. I said 3-13, they were 2-14, so the numbers weren't too far apart. The team needs to start over yet again and pick up Tim Tebow to lead the team. Tebow is incredibly popular in Florida, he will increase their sales, and he will make them a notable team again, even if they have 8-8 seasons or just sneak into the postseason. The only other answer is to pack their bags and go to Los Angeles.

AFC North

This is roughly accurate, but not incredibly so. I expected the Ravens and Steelers to be hot and dominant, competing for the division while easily reaching the postseason. This didn't happen to be the case, as the Ravens barely picked up the division, while the Steelers were lucky to reach .500 and go 8-8. The Bengals proved that they are a hot team with a good quarterback in Andy Dalton and nicely orchestrated offense and defense under Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer, respectively. The Browns remain irrelevant once again, never being able to mold into form since returning to the league in 1999. Since returning, they made the playoffs once in 2002, and lost out in the first round.

AFC West

Some major points I seemed to miss on this one. The biggest was that I gave the Chiefs too much credit and the Broncos too little. The Chiefs looked like they had a decent team coming together with just the right tools and a good fit with head coach Romeo Crennel. Unfortunately, these pieces never came to form, and when Matt Cassel was unable to play, Brady Quinn took his place. Unfortunately, Quinn has yet to prove his worth in the NFL. As for Crennel, his five seasons as head coach (not counting the three games as interim last season) showed no results, no postseason appearances, and a 10-6 showing in 2007 that wasn't strong enough. The Broncos, on the other hand, I expected to see deliver, but not to the extent that they would come out with the best record and an easy division win. It turns out that Peyton Manning is still an excellent quarterback, the offense weapons are intact, and the defense is a force to be reckon with (keep in mind the defense makes up much of the reason they were successful last season, not Tim Tebow). The Chargers remained inconsistent and the Raiders... were just the Raiders. At least Dennis Allen should be getting another chance as the head coach, which is not a common opportunity in this day and age when you can appear in a Super Bowl one season and be fired in the next.

NFC East

The one detail I got partially right in the NFC East was that this was a competitive division battle. The detail that wasn't as accurate was the exact teams and the number of teams that were competing. I felt that all of these teams had a chance at the division. It turns out that three competed, because the Eagles showed their worst record throughout the Andy Reid-era. In fact, this team could have easily been 0-16, given that each of their four wins were by the skin of their teeth. They were poorly coached, poorly arranged, and just rusty. Everybody deserves to go. The Giants were able to win some key games, but unfortunately bombed when it came to capitalizing on a lead in the division. I felt they could do it, but unfortunately, they could not. The Cowboys and Redskins were the teams fighting for the division, which I expected the Cowboys to do once again, but the Redskins showed that their rookies, Quarterback Robert Griffin III and Running Back Alfred Morris to be specific, could create a new era for the team. Mike Shanahan has finally showed his worth and his son, Kyle, has shown why he is from one of the best offensive-minded families and that he will eventually coach a team some day.

NFC South

Predicting a rising team in the south has proved costly once again. I thought the Panthers would come out with a good record. Unfortunately, they could not. They were unable to win crucial match-ups or come back at the end to win the big one. The Falcons proved they are the best team in the NFC... or at least the team that could come out with the best record in the NFC, but still more consistent than they ever were. The Buccaneers have entered a new and optimistic direction under Greg Schiano, while the many issues with the Saints proved to be an obvious cost for the team that was under two interim head coaches. This could potentially be a hot division going into 2013, but that all depends as to whether or not things remain in place.

NFC North

This division is still quite intense. I predicted a three leg race to the playoffs, only I thought it would be the Packers winning the division, and the Lions getting the wildcard slot over the Bears. Instead, the Vikings and the Lions are easily reversed. The interesting thing I saw with the 2012 Vikings is the same thing I saw with the 2011 Bengals. I deemed that both teams would be the worst and easily claim the first pick in the draft, because they were both did not stand on a stable foundation. It turns out that both teams made it into the playoffs as the sixth seed in their conference. We have yet to see whether to Vikings, who are doing quite well at the moment, excel or lose out. It will all come down to a Packers vs. Vikings match-up, only this time in Green Bay and not Minnesota. With regard to the Lions, they have plenty of talent, but are unable to win games. The decision is going to come down to whether or not Jim Schwartz should remain the play-caller. He had a 2-14, 6-10, 10-6 (which ended in a wildcard loss to the Saints), and 4-12 this time. The attitude of the team seems a bit more sour, but that's up to the fan to decide.

NFC West

Two seasons ago, the NFC West was the worst overall division of all time. They were so bad that the winner of the division, which happened to be the Seahawks, went 7-9, which was the first time a team with a negative record made the playoffs. This season, it happened to be one of the best divisions, where both the 49ers and Seahawks had eleven wins and are two of the strongest teams at the moment we speak. The Rams, which I predicted would go 6-10 in an upward improvement from the Steve Spagnuolo era, turned out going 7-8-1 and proving that they are willing to take it down to the wire under new head coach Jeff Fischer. The Cardinals, as I rightfully predicted, were a hot mess. The Kolb vs. Skelton matchup proved to hurt the team more and more and even a third quarterback, Ryan Lindley, got into the mix of things. They look like the only team in this division that needs serious help.

My Updated Playoff Predictions

While I will deem my original predictions still in the game, I will create a new set of predictions that include every team that is currently in the playoffs...


Bengals@Texans- The Bengals look to be warming up, while the Texans are simply cooling down. The Texans are, however, the hotter looking team with regard to what they have to offer. The Bengals are looking for their first postseason win since the 1990 season, but the Texans look like they have a lot more to prove. Texans 29, Bengals 23

Colts@Ravens- It could be easy to say that the Colts are young and that the Ravens have a bit more fire to excel further into the playoffs. At the moment, it's going to come down to the Colts and their young but fiery offense and the Ravens and their experienced defense. Both have a lot to prove, but the winner gets a one way ticket to New England. Ravens take it in a close on. Ravens 24, Colts 17

Vikings@Packers- The Packers may have unintentionally made the right decision to lose this game to the Vikings. On many occasions, by losing a regular season game, you gain an advantage of causing the other team to underestimate you when the real game matters. The other advantage the Packers have is that they're playing in Lambeau Field and they're playing in Lambeau Field against a dome-based team. Packers 41, Vikings 31

Seahawks@Redskins- The Cowboys and Redskins were playing for an opportunity to win the division... and play the hottest team in NFC at the moment we speak. The Seahawks are on fire with new rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and the rest of their competitive weapons. This will likely be the statement win during wildcard weekend. Seahawks 45, Redskins 16


Ravens@Broncos- This is bound to be a competitive, defensive match-up, and Peyton Manning can either win big or falter to the pressure that the playoffs have been known to give him. If it was the Broncos and Colts (which is still a possibility), that would be an ultimate match-up with plenty of viewers. Either way, I see the win going to Manning and the Broncos. Broncos 24, Ravens 14

Texans@Patriots- The Texans once again see a round they couldn't get passed against the team that has proved to be the most consistent visitors of the playoffs within the last ten years only next to the Colts. This may very well be where the Texans meet their match and pay the unfortunate price. Patriots 37, Texans 10

Packers@49ers- This will be indeed a competitive match-up between two of the teams that are currently known for putting up strong records. I say the Niners squeak one out, being a bit more intact during the postseason and this will be one game that goes to overtime. 49ers 31, Packers 28 OT

Seahawks@Falcons- During the Mike Smith era, the Falcons are 0-3 in the postseason. Then you meet the Seahawks, a team that is doing incredible as we speak. This team seems to be the team that is going to prove their worth throughout the postseason and catch the eyes of football fans throughout the country. Seahawks 41, Falcons 35


Seahawks@49ers- This is looking more and more like the hottest divisional match-up this season. It's grueling and I expect it to become even more grueling in the playoffs. Head coaches Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh (for the Hawks and Niners respectively) are going to be fighting to the end in this one, where the Niners will see their second overtime match-up. Unfortunately, I see the Hawks coming out with the edge on this one. Seahawks 48, 49ers 42 OT

Patriots@Broncos- This will be one of the hottest match-ups in a long while, as the two top seeded teams duke it out... and Peyton Manning once again goes up against Bill Belichick and the Patriots on his road to the Super Bowl. The Broncos have all the pieces together in what could be another run to Super Bowl XLVII and it looks like they very well will. Broncos 35, Patriots 28

Super Bowl XLVII

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks- Toward the last few weeks of the season, this was the match-up I was predicting. These are the teams that are putting up wins when it matters most and should do so leading in to the Super Bowl. Both teams have a golden opportunity. For Peyton Manning, he could make a statement that Joe Montana tried to do when going to the Chiefs, but falling short with an AFC Championship loss. For Russell Wilson, he could be the first rookie quarterback to win the Super Bowl, as the furthest a quarterback has ever made it in the playoffs was to the championship. For John Fox and Pete Carroll, they'll be eyeing a Super Bowl title to their name that they have yet to earn. My pick is the Denver Broncos to come out on top, as they have the polished offense and a defense that's a force to be reckoned with. It looks like they have everything in place and should create a solid run like they did during the 1997 and 1998 seasons under Mike Shanahan. Broncos 34, Seahawks 24

With my Super Bowl predictions intact, I will also give my projections as to which team should pick up which coach. I am going to additionally predict that Ron Rivera and Mike Mularkey DO get fired from the Panthers and Jaguars, respectively, because they will be getting new general manager's that want to determine the direction for their team. I correctly predicted that Reid, Shurmur, Turner, and Whisenhunt would be let go. While I pondered Gailey and Mularkey, I guessed they would stay. Here are my picks for each team.

Buffalo Bills- This team seems to alternate between offensive and defensive coach. If they are looking defensive, they should look at Lovie Smith, who built an empire with the Chicago Bears and made them consistently competitive for the first time since the Mike Ditka era. If they're looking offensive, my pick would be Mike Sherman, currently the Dolphins offensive coordinator. He was passed up when they went with Dick Jauron, but now may be the time to allow him to make the Bills consistently competitors, which is what Sherman did with the Packers.

Cleveland Browns- Andy Reid should be the Browns top candidate. The Browns are likely to do anything to rebuild the team if that means providing the coach with control, then so be it. Joe Banner is already a new guy on the block and he and Andy Reid are on terms from the Eagles. Reid can provide the building blocks the team needs to make a run in the playoffs and even bring Michael Vick with him if he wishes. They need to pick someone who's acclaimed. That's the way to go.

San Diego Chargers- People connect Andy Reid to this job. I disagree. The Chargers need to pick up somebody who is going to provide a flow to the team and provide them with just the right charge. My picks are either Jon Gruden (if you can get him out of the Monday Night Football booth) or Bruce Arians, who was able to help rejuvenate the Colts. The Chargers have it in them, they just need that extra spark. Bruce Arians, I see, as the best possible option to doing so.

Kansas City Chiefs- This one is a bit more difficult. Kirk Ferentz, who has connections with Scott Pioli, is being deemed the frontrunner due to his connections. What the Chiefs need is someone who should get things done immediately. Possibilities include on a coordinator market, someone like Mike McCoy or even Kyle Shanahan, who while young looks like he could create a direction for the team.

Philadelphia Eagles- The Eagles will likely be looking for a big, immediate name. Chip Kelly is the immediate name that's popping up. Though if Kelly chooses up to come in to the league, the Eagles should look at resurrecting Brian Billick from the booth, or perhaps Jon Gruden.

Chicago Bears- The Bears could either take the direction of looking offensive or defensive. While Mike McCoy looks like a logical decision, Vic Fangio or Mike Zimmer on the 49ers or Bengals look like picks that could suit them quite well. While they may want to answer their offensive questions, they could always find an offensive coordinator like Norv Turner to serve as a coordinator and help solve those problems. Someone like Fangio or Zimmer are likely to provide them with the fire they need.

Arizona Cardinals- Andy Reid could very well pick up this job, as it would allow him to reunite with Kevin Kolb. However, I'm looking at Ray Horton as a more likely possibility. I think they will not want to let him go and a head coaching job will be what they have to offer.

Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jags need someone that's going to provide impact to the team. Seeing that they will likely make their move when things tend to die down, I think they want someone young and with fire, like Jay Gruden or Kyle Shanahan, who come from that kind of background.

Carolina Panthers- Bill Cowher has been connected to this job, because he has a home in this area. However, I'm not incredibly sure if he really wants to return to the NFL. If they want to look in house, they could choose Rob Chudzinski. If their intention is to go with someone completely new, they may find it to their advantage to look like Mike McCoy or look elsewhere at coaches such as Pete Carmichael Jr. (Saints offensive coordinator), Dirk Koetter (Falcons offensive coordinator), or another coach that suits their needs.

For each of these teams, they should also look at Mike Holmgren's interest in returning to the league. While his tenure as a Browns executive was short and unsuccessful, his success with the Packers and Seahawks saw success in plenty of ways. Otherwise, each team will be looking for a long-term situation or at least someone that will provide a lasting impact.

For now, the playoffs are under way and show be an exciting ride! Who will win? We'll just have to wait and see...