Monday, January 31, 2011

JC's Take: Royal Rumble Review

JC's Take: Royal Rumble Review

Hello everyone, welcome back for my review of the 2011 Royal Rumble. Initially after the show, I wasn't too big of a fan of it. But after a second look of some things, I thought it was a good show. Lets get right into a review of the show.

Edge defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the World Heavyweight Title (***3/4)
What a great way to start the show. I wasn't a fan of the opening few minutes but it played into the story later in the match. They had to go slow because of the fast paced action in the end. This was yet another star-defining match for Dolph Ziggler. He did not look out of place at all. The near falls were great in the match. The crowd also helped the match out alot. The finish was played out well. With both Vickie and the referee knocked out, Edge hit the spear on Dolph Ziggler. When the ref came to, Edge hit the unprettier, Christian's finisher, on Ziggler for the 3 count and the win. As I said, a great match to open the show. Ziggler is a future World Champion in 2011. I think he will have the title by the summer. Edge also stepped up his game in this match. He looked rejuvinated and back on his game like he was pre-Achilles injury.

The Miz defeated Randy Orton to retain the WWE Championship (**1/2)
This match was ok. There was just something missing. The crowd was dead for this. They may have been a bit worn out from the opener. But Orton continued to show that he lacks a certain charisma in the ring. I hate to say it because I used to like his character, but Orton is almost turning into John Cena in the ring. He keeps doing the same moves over and over and it is becoming just like Cena's routine. The Miz will probably get the blame for it, but Orton is just lacking in the ring. The Miz has had better matches with the right opponent (Morrison & Daniel Bryan), and I just don't think he has good chemistry with Orton. The finish came with the New Nexus coming down to the ring. Orton was distracted by them, and Alex Riley attempted to take him out. Riley missed and Orton flew him over the top onto the Nexus. Good hang time by Riley. Miz went for a Skull Crushing finale, but Orton countered it into an RKO. But with the ref still out on the outside, even though he was never hit, C.M. Punk came in and hit the GTS on Orton, allowing Miz to pick up the win. I wasn't a fan of the finish. It makes Miz look weak again. He has yet to have a clean win in a standard one-on-one match since he became Champion. If they want people to believe he actually has a chance against Cena at Mania, they better do it quickly.

Eve won a Fatal 4 Way Match w/Natalya, Michelle McCool, and Layla to win the Divas Title (*)
The RAW GM chimed in and said unlike Teddy Long, he would not allow Laycool to be co-Champions. So he was going to make it a Fatal 4 Way, and randomly put Eve in. Lots of people, including the Boston crowd, were hoping for Awesome Kong. The match was your typical Divas match, nothing to write home about. Eve's moonsault was nice. As she was pinning Layla, McCool rolled up Natalya, but the ref didn't see it. It gives something for Laycool, specifcally Michelle, to complain about for the next couple of weeks. So we will probably get McCool vs Eve at the next PPV. Like I said, just your standard typical Divas match that was filler between the 2 World Title Matches and the Rumble match.

Alberto del Rio won the 40 Man Royal Rumble by eliminating Santino Marella (***1/4)
I thought this was an ok, a slightly above average Rumble. It had its good and bad moments. Instead of breaking down the match one-by-one, I will just break it down into what I liked and what I didn't.

What I Liked
-Alberto del Rio Winning
Might as well start it with the guy that won. I think the right man won the Rumble. Cena didn't need to win the Rumble. Punk could have won it, but his character is over enough that he doesn't need it. Morrison or Barrett could have won it, but they aren't there quite yet as far as Wrestlemania worthy for a main event. Del Rio is the guy that is ready to be a main eventer at Mania, but he needed that one little extra push to get him over the top. Winning this match did that for him. Del Rio has been everywhere on WWE TV the last month, so clearly Vince and Co. is high on him. He is the top heel on Smackdown and deserves to be in a main event match at Mania.

-The First Ten Entrants
The first ten entrants in the Rumble were very good. Punk and Bryan starting was great. Justin Gabriel coming out as third was good. I wish he would have stayed in it a bit longer than he had, even if it was just for another five minutes. Bryan and Regal had a nice exchange after Regal came out. Heck, even Zack Ryder and Ted DiBiase had some nice spots. John Morrison also looked good, and if you haven't seen his SpiderMan like spot, go out of your way and try to find it. The Rumble started off great, but you just had a feeling it was going downhill from there.

Booker T and Kevin Nash Appearences
I liked both of these guys appearences. They both received huge pops from the Boston crowd. Booker T looked taken aback a bit by the reaction he got. I don't think he was expecting that big of a reaction. He looked ok for a 45 year old guy. And who doesn't love a classic Spinarooni. Kevin Nash, or Diesel as he was referred to, was also a good surprise. The crowd was into his appearence I think more than Booker's, considering the huge "DIESEL DIESEL" chant. Hell, they even booed Rey Mysterio when he gave Diesel the 619. Both of these guys could be used properly in the build to Mania in different spots.

The Santino Surprise
Some people probably didn't like it, but I thought it was a fun little surprsie. I actually did forget about Santino until one of my friends brought him up. There was actually a point where I thought Santino would actually win. Hell, he is an over enough act that the crowd would be into him. They would have two months to build him up as a credible threat to win the title. It probably would have been bad overall, so I'm glad they didn't follow through with it. But it was a nice surprise, especially for the live crowd, as it gave them one last glimmer of hope before the hated heel won the Rumble.

-C.M. Punk Nexus Dominance
I was slightly ok with this, but I think it went on a bit too long. It also happened at the expense of a couple of good guys that the crowd was into: Daniel Bryan and John Morrison. Since it happened so early, you also knew that Punk and Company weren't going to last until the end, and that Punk wasn't going to win. Since it also happened so early, you knew that SuperCena was going to come in and take them out.

John Cena
There was a lot to not like about Cena in this match. On the plus side he didn't win. On the negative side, the Rumble almost came to a halt when he entered. He made the Nexus look terrible by singe handedly taking out all of them. To add to that, his slight comedy bits with Hornswoggle were overdone. It would have been ok if it was only 1 time, but it went on longer than it did.

The 2 Cena/Orton Confrontations
Hey Vince, did you hear that? The two times you had Cena and Randy Orton face off in the Rumble, you could hear soda being poured in the concession stand. If that doesn't get the message through to Vince that people don't want to see these guys fight again, then nothing will. Not only do people not want to see them fight again, people want to see new guys at the top besides these two.

Randy Orton & Dolph Ziggler in the Rumble Match
If you are going to have 40 guys in the Rumble match, it looks bad when two of the guys in it were wrestling in title matches earlier in the show. It just looked weak having them in the Rumble, and it exposed the lack of depth the WWE currently has on their roster.

I'd give the entire PPV a 6 overall. It had a solid opener in the World Title Match, and the Rumble was slightly above average. The WWE Title match was ok, and the Divas Match was your typical Divas Match. I also forgot to point out the "official" Dashing Cody Rhodes statement that was read. It was quite funny and just adds to the good character that is Rhodes. I would recommend the PPV to people who haven't seen it.

The Elimination Chamber PPV is in 3 weeks. The WWE looks like they'll give us the following:
RAW Chamber for the #1 Contender Spot
John Cena vs C.M. Punk vs Randy Orton vs John Morrison vs Sheamus vs Mason Ryan
WWE Championship Match
The Miz vs Jerry Lawler
Smackdown Elimination Chamber for the World Title
Edge vs Dolph Ziggler vs Rey Mysterio vs Cody Rhodes vs Wade Barrett vs Big Show
Intercontinental Title
Kofi Kingston vs Jack Swagger
The Corre (Gabriel, Slater, Jackson) vs The Nexus (Otunga, Harris, McGillicutty)
Eve vs Michelle McCool

Wrestlemania 27
WWE Championship
The Miz vs John Cena
World Title
Edge vs Alberto del Rio
Randy Orton vs C.M. Punk
HHH vs Sheamus
Rey Mysterio vs Cody Rhodes
Undertaker vs Wade Barrett
Big Show vs Kevin Nash
Money in the Bank
John Morrison vs Dolph Ziggler vs Daniel Bryan vs Kofi Kingston vs Christian vs Jack Swagger

Now if I was booking for the WWE from now until Wrestlemania, this is what I would pitch to Vince.

Elimination Chamber PPV
RAW Chamber for the WWE Title
The Miz vs John Cena vs John Morrison vs Randy Orton vs C.M. Punk vs Sheamus
Smackdown Elimination Chamber for the World Title
Edge vs Dolph Ziggler vs Rey Mysterio vs Cody Rhodes vs Big Show vs Wade Barrett
IC Title
Kofi Kingston vs Jack Swagger
US Title
Daniel Bryan vs William Regal
Divas Title
Eve vs Michelle McCool
Corre vs Nexus

Wrestlemania 27
WWE Title
John Cena vs Alberto del Rio
World Title
Edge vs Christian
Undertaker vs Wade Barrett
C.M. Punk vs Randy Orton
Rey Mysterio vs Cody Rhodes
Miz vs Jerry Lawler
HHH vs Sheamus
John Morrison vs Dolph Ziggler vs Daniel Bryan vs Justin Gabriel vs Kofi Kingston vs Jack Swagger

It's not too different I know, but something about a Del Rio/Cena program interests me more than a Del Rio/Edge or Cena/Miz program. And I know Christian will never co-main even a Wrestlemania, but one can dream right?

That's all for today. My first mock NFL Draft will be up either Tuesday or Thursday.

Until next time,
Justin C

Thursday, January 27, 2011

JC's Take: Royal Rumble Preview

JC's Take: Royal Rumble Preview

Hey everyone. Time for my Royal Rumble preview! The Rumble officially kicks off the road to Wrestlemania, which is usually the best time of year in the WWE. Everyone is at the top of their game between now and Wrestlemania, and it usually produces some of the best TV all year. This year's Rumble really has no clear cut favorite, which is a good thing and a bad thing. It's good because it is unpredictable, and you really don't know who is going to win. It's bad because that means that there are really no clear pictures as to what is going to happen at Wrestlemania. While the WWE is very capable of putting on a strong wrestling show, there is no clear cut big storyline that can draw in the typical Wrestlemania crowd. That could effect PPV buyrates, which will hurt the WWE's already struggling revenue stream.

But enough negative talk, lets get into the Rumble preview.

2-on-1 Divas Championship: Natalya (c) vs Laycool

The WWE needed this match on here because they needed some filler in between both title matches. I doubt this opens the show. I think this will come on probably after the opener. Laycool almost seemed like an afterthought for the last few weeks. They'd been building to a Natalya/Melina match, but instead of having it on a PPV, decided to have it on RAW this past Monday. Then Laycool appeared almost out of nowhere on RAW and said they get their rematch this Sunday. I think one way or another, Awesome Kong makes her debut here. For those of you who don't know her, she is a very large black woman who is dominant and intimidating in the ring. She is also a very good female wrestler, and she also doesn't fit the typical WWE Diva look. She could be a hired gun for Laycool, but I find that hard to work in from a storyline perspective. If Laycool makes fun of Natalya for being fat, why would Awesome Kong want to work for them? But I think that is where this is headed. Natalya is a good wrestler, but she really hasn't done much with her reign. She's put on good matches, but that's not a priority for the WWE. Laycool can talk and get heat, and they look good too. Awesome Kong comes out and helps Laycool take out Natalya, allowing them to pick up the victory.

WINNER: Laycool

World Heavyweight Championship: Edge (c) vs Dolph Ziggler

As I've said in past blogs, it's nice to see Smackdown give their young guys a chance in a title match. Dolph Ziggler has been putting on sone good wrestling matches in the last couple months. He had two strong matches against John Cena in December, he had a good match with Randy Orton this past week on RAW, and he had two quality triple threat matches against Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger. There is no doubt that Dolph has earned this top spot. He's not the best on the mic, but he has Vickie Guerrero to take care of that. Edge seems to have picked it up a notch since he regained the World Title. Ever since he came back from injury in 2010, it seems like he has lost a step. But he looks rejuvinated as World Champion. Smackdown's ratings have also gone up since he became World Champ. Ziggler has been left standing tall on the last two episdoes of Smackdown, which usually means he won't be after the match on Sunday. On this week's Smackdown, acting GM Vickie Guerrero bans Edge from using the spear in the match on Sunday. If he uses it, he gets disqualified and loses the World Title. Even with the stipulation, Edge wins here. While Dolph Ziggler has been great in the ring recently, he is not carrying the World Title into Wrestlemania. Unless they decide to give him a one month reign, which would just be stupid and pointless. Edge wins here.


WWE Championship: The Miz (c) vs Randy Orton

Why couldn't the WWE do Miz vs John Morrison here? Instead of having a nice 6 week build from TLC to the Rumble, they decided to have the match on free TV with a meaningless stipulation. We got a good match out of it, but it would have been better to have a one-on-one singles match, with a proper build, at the PPV. Instead, we get this Orton/Miz match. The build for this one has just been so-so. Orton has lost something as a character, but he's looked strong in the build to this match. Miz took him out once, but Orton has looked better throughout the feud. I think this match is a lot more open then people think. The WWE has been teasing Miz/Cena the last couple weeks on TV, and it looks like this is where we are likely heading for Wrestlemania. But you know the WWE has this great fascination with Randy Orton and John Cena working together, so they may go with that too for the 2257423192 time. If they don't want Wrestlemania buys to suffer, however, they won't go that route. I think the WWE is very satisfied with the Miz and all of his media appearences as WWE Champion so far, so I think he holds onto the Title here. There is still a decent chance he loses it at the Elimination Chamber PPV in February, but I think he holds onto the Title here. Of course, it will probably be through the help of Alex Riley and maybe Michael Cole, since the WWE can't let Orton lose clean for some reason.


The Royal Rumble Match

Did you know that this is the BIGGEST RUMBLE MATCH IN HISTORY!!!! There are 40 men in the match this year, ten more than the normal 30. I'd be ok with it if the WWE had the star power to load up the Rumble with, but they don't. Instead it means all the low card guys get a spot in the match, as well as a few WWE Legends. There really are no big surprise possible entrants, with the exception of HHH. I don't think Batista or Chris Jericho are returning here. I think Chris Jericho would have a better chance of interfering in the WWE Title match than appearing in the Rumble.

There are no real stories heading into the Rumble. You've had everybody come out and say why they are going to win the Royal Rumble, but no one really has that solid Mania Title story to build off of. Of course since there are 40 men it'll mean that whoever wins had to overcome 39 other men to win, even if they entered at number 20 and 12 other people have already been eliminated. Looking at the list of participants, I think there are only 6 people that have a legitimate shot of winning.

Wade Barrett: Out of the 6 people I plan on listing, I think Barrett has the longest shot. Barrett has proved over the past 6 months that he can handle a spot at the top. Nobody expected him to be as good as he has been. He's excellent on the mic and can put on a good match. He's already had some interaction with Edge on Smackdown, so ther is a set-up there. But from everything I've read, it looks like Barrett will be The Undertaker's opponent at Wrestlemania. The Undertaker won't be able to wrestle before Mania, so there is no way they could put the title on him in time for a good build. I would put Barrett's odds at 20:1.

HHH: First off, there is no guarantee that HHH is coming back at the Rumble. If he does, it will be to interact with King Sheamus, the man who took him out last April. HHH isn't working a full time schedule anymore, but you know he always likes the spotlight every once in a while. The way Sheamus has been looking lately, it will take alot to build him back up as a World Title threat, even in his ready made feud with HHH. Hunter is never working a full time schedule again, but that doesn't mean he will never be a World Champ again. IF HHH returns, he has a decent shot of winning, but I would put his odds at 15:1.

John Morrison: Even if he doesn't win the Royal Rumble, I can guarantee you one thing: John Morrison will come out of this Rumble looking strong. He's been on a hot streak in recent months, having good matches with Sheamus, The Miz, and Daniel Bryan. The WWE seems to be building him up as their next big breakout star on RAW. If they really wanted to roll the dice, they could have him win the Rumble and face The Miz at Wrestlemania. There's a strong history between the two, and they put on a great match on the first RAW of the year. The problem is, Miz vs Morrison isn't the money match Vince McMahon likes for Wrestlemania. I think Morrison will last the longest and probably be in the Final 4, but I put his odds at 12:1.

C.M. Punk: The Miz may be the WWE Champion, but C.M. Punk has been the best heel charcter on RAW, and in the entire WWE, in the last month. He is just so good on the mic and in the ring. His promos as leader of the New Nexus against John Cena have been great, calling ou Cena for all of his faults that no one else notices. The big $$$ match at Wrestlemania is C.M. Punk v John Cena. No matter how much they want to build The Miz/John Cena program, Punk/Cena would have more heat to it. They've already been going at it for a month, but both men are good enough to stretch it out another two. But in that scenario, you'd prefer Punk to go in as Champion, with Cena chasing. But with RAW ratings not improving after football season, the WWE may feel the need to put the belt on Cena sooner rather than later. I would put Punk's odds at winning at 10:1.

Alberto del Rio: Clearly, the WWE is very high on Alberto del Rio. He's been on both RAW and Smackdown every week in the last month, even getting a rub by taking Sweet Chin Music from Shawn Michaels. I think del Rio is taking on Edge at Wrestlemania for the World Title, but the question is whether or not they want to have him win the #1 Contendership at the Royal Rumble, or at the Elimination Chamber PPV. It'd be nice and refreshing to have someone other than a definitive top star win the Rumble. Del Rio would look like an instant star after winning the Rumble. He's already shown he can work an extended, strong program after his long time feud with Rey Mysterio. Del Rio is the best Smackdown option to win, and I think he has a strong chance to do so. I would put Alberto del Rio's odds at 5:1.

John Cena: I would say right now he has to be considered the favorite. He hasn't held the WWE Title since summer, so I guess it would be refreshing to see him holding it again. People complain that Cena is at the top too much, but he honestly hasn't held the Title in quite a while. Cena is the WWE's top draw, so it would make the most sense to have him in the top match at Wrestlemania. He will still be the same corny, boring Cena to everyone above the age of 16, but everyone that buys his merchandice and all the kids who watch TV for him will love it. The Rumble is also in Cena's home of Boston. That usually plays against people, but this is John Cena. I would consider him the favorite at this point, and give him odds at 3:1.

Outcome: As I said, I think John Morrison will last the longest in the Rumble. I expect Daniel Bryan, Drew McIntyre, and Kofi Kingston to also have strong showings. We'll say Sheamus also looks strong during the match, only to be eliminated by a returning HHH, who knocks Sheamus and himself over the top rope. Lets say Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan start at #1 and #2. Mason Ryan enters at #40. There's a showdown between the Corre and Nexus, but not before they team up to eliminate the Big Show and Mark Henry. The Final 4 is C.M. Punk, John Morrison, Alberto del Rio, and John Cena. Morrison goes for a running knee on del Rio but is lifted over the top by him. Cena AA's del Rio over the top. Punk gives Cena the GTS, but as he goes to eliminate him, Cena grabs the rope, gets out of Punk's grasps, and lifts Punk over the top for the win.

WINNER: John Cena

That's all for this week. I'll have my Royal Rumble Review Monday, and definitely have an NFL Draft preview either Tuesday or Thursday.

Until next time,
Justin C

Monday, January 24, 2011

JC's Take: WWE Week in Review 1/17-1/23

JC's Take: WWE Week in Review 1/17-1/23

Hey everyone. Welcome back for my review of anything and everything WWE from this past week.

-This was another solid week of programming from a wrestling perspective, especially on RAW. Three solid matches. Another impressive victory for John Morrison, this time over US Champion Daniel Bryan. It would have been nice to see these guys go 5-10 minutes longer, but it was a good match for the short time span they were given. I guess they're going with the Bellas thinking that Bryan is still a virgin. Can't they just let the guy wrestle? And why do I have this bad sense that this could be leading to Bryan saying he already has a girlfriend, and that woman being Awesome Kong? As for Morrison, he continues to get the star treatment on RAW. Another big victory for him. The WWE finally seems to be getting behind him. Do I think he is going to win the Royal Rumble? No. Do I think he will have a strong showing and last close to 30-40 minutes? Absolutely. I could see him being in the final 4. But I will say this: By the end of 2011, John Morrison will have held either the WWE or World Title. If he doesn't, this push will be even worse than Kofi Kingston's push in 2009. Kingston was in the same spot Morrison was, but the WWE pulled the plug on his push before he could become a World Champion. Now, however, I think they realize more than ever that they need new faces at the top. Morrison looks to be the next guy to get there.

-John Cena returned to RAW this past Monday. And of course, the first thing we get are lame corny "poopy" jokes. And they still wonder why people over the age of 14 hate him? He had an exchange with The Miz that seemed to be planting the seeds for a Miz vs Cena match at Wrestlemania. If the build to that is anything like their exchange from RAW this past Monday, then it'll be a long two month build to Wrestlemania. Something just wasn't clicking between the two. I was really surprised how much of a match Cena had with C.M. Punk at the end of the night. There is money to be made in that match at a PPV. There wasn't a clean finish, so that helped. The man debuting and now the newest member of C.M. Punk's Nexus is Mason Ryan from FCW, WWE's developmental territory. Or as Chris Jericho called him on Twitter, "Batistwo." The guy is apparently still very green in the ring, but he's not with the Nexus to put on 10-15 minute matches. He's there to make them look strong and intimidating, and he does that perfectly. I was worried that this new Nexus would be weak compared to the original, but Ryan's look alone can save them.

I'm interested to see how long they can stretch out this C.M. Punk/John Cena feud. If they hadn't done a "Cena Fired" angle last year, I think they could have done that with this angle. They could have built this feud all the way to Wrestlemania, and have some kind of big stipulation added onto it. Something like if Cena loses, he is gone from the WWE. But they wasted that angle in November. If they did that, then they could have done something like Miz vs Morrison for the WWE Title. it would be nice to see Miz hold the title until Mania, but I think there is more money in a Punk vs Cena WWE Title match at Mania rather than Miz vs Cena. Either one Cena is winning, but I think I'd be more interested in Punk/Cena than Miz/Cena.

-It was nice to finally see The Miz look strong as WWE Champion. That only took what, a month or so? The Miz got a lot of his heat back by taking out Randy Orton after his match with Dolph Ziggler. And I must say, Ziggler continues to impress, but I'll get to that later. Orton continues to lack something recently in the ring. It just seems like his character has gotten a bid boring as of late. He's gone from being the hottest wrestler in the company to a guy lacking any sense of direction. Assuming he loses at the Rumble to Miz, where does he go from there? I guess he will be in the RAW Elimination Chamber match at the next PPV, but who does he feud with at Wrestlemania? I'd love to see Chris Jericho comeback, even if it is just from February to Wrestlemania, and take on Orton at Mania. That'd be the only match I'd be interested in seeing Orton in. I guess they could try to make something out of Punk vs Orton if they end up going with Miz vs Cena. Anything but Cena vs Orton, which was teased on RAW as well this past Monday. I don't want to see a match headline Wrestlemania that I have seen 39583057380 already on WWE programming in the past three years.

-Smackdown seems to have two guys that are on the rise: Dolph Ziggler and Alberto del Rio. Lets start with Dolph Ziggler. He had another good match against a top WWE star this week, this time it was Randy Orton on RAW. It would have been nice to see Ziggler get a clean win, or have The Miz and Alex Riley interfere before the end of the match. I don't like having your #1 Contender's losing clean two weeks before a PPV. Ziggler looked better on Smackdown Friday. He didn't wrestle, but he stood tall at the end of the show. That always sticks in the back of the mind of viewers, how the show ended. But again, just like with John Morrison and the Royal Rumble match: Do I think Ziggler is winning the World Title at the Rumble? No. Do I think he will look good in the match? Yes. Nothing against Dolph Ziggler, but he is not ready to headline Wrestlemania. Again, however, I do think he will hold the World Title by the end of the year. He can hold his own in the ring, and with Vickie at his side, he will automatically get boos no matter what he does. He could come out and save John Cena from a beatdown, but as soon as Vickie speaks he would get instant boos back on him.

-The second rising star on Smackdown? Alberto del Rio. I can't say enough about this guy. He's been on RAW and Smackdown the last month, so clearly the WWE thinks highly of him. He is another one who has a high chance of winning the Rumble. I would give him slightly better odds than John Morrison, only because Smackdown is lacking a strong heel opponent for Edge. The guy is good on the mic, and is good in the ring as well. If I had to guess right now, I'd say he faces Edge at Wrestlemania for the World Title. He would be a better opponent for Edge, and having del Rio in the main event would help International buys. Don't think stuff like that isn't in the back of the WWE's mind. I see Edge winning at the Royal Rumble and at the Elimination Chamber PPV, then Alberto del Rio winning a number one contender's match inside the Chamber to go onto Wrestlemania.

-So Wade Barrett's new group is called The Corre. It's more badass if you spell it with two R's. And on Smackdown Friday, they might have looked better than they ever had on RAW. They took out Edge, which is nothing new. But Justin Gabriel also won a match against Edge. Sure he got some help, but that was a rarity for the old Nexus on RAW. Not too many times did guys like Gabriel or Slater win one-on-one matches on RAW. It'll be interesting to see where they go with this new group. It is almost set in stone that Wade Barrett will be Undertaker's opponent at Wrestlemania. As for the other members of the group? I could see some kind of confrontation with the Nexus at the Rumble, which could lead to some kind of 3-on-3 match at Wrestlemania: Nexus vs The Corre. But the problem with that would be one of them would have to be the face, and I can't see the WWE wanting to do that. More likely, I see maybe Gabriel and Otunga being put in Money in the Bank, or having some kind of Fatal Four Way tag match, with Otunga/Harris/McGillicutty forming one team and Slater/Gabriel forming another.

-Oh boy! Another who-dun-it angle on WWE programming. This time, it is poor Smackdown GM Teddy Long that is the victim. Lets run down the list of potential suspects:

Hornswoggle: Hey clearly needs an angle heading into Wrestlemania. Come on, Teddy Long vs Hornswoggle= $$$$$$

Dolph Ziggler at the requests of Vickie Guerrero: This one is simple: Vickie is sick of just being an executive consultant, and she wants full power back. So he had her boyfriend take him out.

The RAW GM: Maybe he wants full control over both shows?

In all honesty, I have no idea who this would be, or where this angle is going. Since Long suffered trauma to the back of the head, he probably didn't see who his attacker was. Maybe this will mean the return of GTV???

That is all for today. Royal Rumble preview most likely on Thursday, and I think I may do a 2011 NFL Mock Draft either tomorrow or Wednesday.

Until next time,
Justin C

Monday, January 17, 2011

JC's Take: WWE Week in Review 1/10-1/16

JC's Take: WWE Week in Review 1/10-1/16

Hey everyone. Welcome back for my review of anything and everything from the WWE this past week.

-So, lets start with the apparent new Nexus group on RAW. I was surprised by some of those "initiation" segments on RAW. The strap whipping of Husky Harris and C.M. Punk on top of the titantron definitely stretched the boundaries of PG. And it also looks like Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater are out, leaving this new Nexus consisting of Punk, Harris, Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga. If it wasn't for Punk's superiority as a leader, this Nexus would look pretty weak. But Punk's mic skills and in-ring ability can definitely keep this group a float. I think adding one or two veteran guys from the roster would also help. Ted DiBiase Jr. would be perfect for this. He's currently floundering in the mid-card with nothing going for him. Joining the Nexus would be great for him. As far as this week's Punk/Cena bout on RAW, I highly doubt it happens. WWE would be stupid to give this match away for free on TV, and if they did they'd be stupid to give away a clean finish. Punk/Cena can be built up to a quality PPV match. The only problem is with the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber PPVs coming-up, there isn't really a good chance for a 1-on-1 match, unless they drag it out to Wrestlemania.

-There is still nothing that interests me in this Randy Orton/Miz feud. They were pretty much over-looked until the last 30 minutes of RAW last week. The Miz has been made to look secondary as the WWE Champion. He is clearly second fiddle on the show behind John Cena and C.M. Punk. It doesn't matter how long he holds onto the WWE Title, he should be made out to be the main focus of the show. A clean win over Randy Orton at the Rumble would do wonders for him, although I highly doubt that happens. The WWE feels the need to protect Orton. So instead of a clean pinfall, we'll probably just get a ref bump added onto some Alex Riley interference. If the WWE does want to go with Cena/Miz for Wrestlemania, then they need to build up Miz as a more credible champion, because right now anyone with half a brain would know who wins that match.

-Talk about two guys heading in oppostie directions on RAW. John Morrison appears to be a main eventer in waiting. He beat Sheamus again on RAW. Sheamus, meanwhile, has been on a downward spiral since winning the King of the Ring Tournament. Sheamus doesn't look like a guy waiting for the return of HHH. Right now he is losing more and more heat with every episode of RAW. Morrison, as I continue to say every week, looks like a future main eventer. I really wish it was him and the Miz at the Rumble, but that's not the case. Hopefully Morrison gets a strong showing in the Rumble to continue his push. A nice 30 minute showing with some big eliminations will help Morrison a lot in the Rumble.

-On Smackdown, Dolph Ziggler and Edge started their World Tite program. Both men looked good in their promo segment on Smackdown. It was nice to see some continuty with Ziggler and Edge, playing off their past problems with Vickie Guerrero. It's good that Ziggler was made to look strong at the start. He has been getting a solid push lately, but people might still not believe him as a credible threat to Edge for the World Title. The more Ziggler gets the best of Edge, the more people buy him as a threat to the Title. I don't think Ziggler is winning the Title at the Rumble, but I think he will look strong in this program because Smackdown seems to want to push its young talent. Hopefully Edge and Ziggler get a good 15 minutes at the Rumble, because both men are capable of putting on a solid match.

-So Wade Barrett appears to be officially on Smackdown, with a new Nexus group with him. Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel appear to have joined him on Smackdown, and Ezekiel Jackson has also joined his group. That's a pretty strong looking group. Jackson looked pretty impressive on Smackdown, clotheslining Big Show and then powerslamming him. I think they might be better off not giving this new group a name, as it would seem to similar to the Nexus. They still are very much like it, but not giving them a name would at least differentiate them from Punk's Nexus on RAW. It would have been nice to see Barrett try to establish himself as a dominant heel on his own, but I guess I can live with him bringing over Slater and Gabriel, and adding Jackson as the muscle of the group. This will all somehow build to Wade Barrett vs The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. How it gets there remains to be seen.

-How about the attention Alberto del Rio has been getting lately? He appears on RAW and gets another win, albeit a cheap one over R-Truth. But Ricardo Rodriguez was great with his "HEY WHATS UP? WHATS UP? QUE PASA?" Then he gets a good rub by being in the same ring with Shawn Michaels and taking some Sweet Chin Music. I think the WWE has high hopes for Alberto del Rio. I can see him being in the Smackdown World Title match at Wrestlemania. I think that is where they want to go with him. With Rey Mysterio needing time off from injury, they need someone to step up and keep that strong Mexican fan base the WWE has. I think he is a possibility to win the Rumble, but I think he gets the #1 Contendership through other means, either in the Elimination Chamber or in some other manner.

Other WWE Notes
-Shawn Michaels is the main inductee in this year's Hall of Fame class. It was inevitable. He is named as the #1 Wrest, I mean Superstar of all time on an upcoming DVD. Shawn being inducted this year is the WWE's version of a first-ballot Hall of Famer. There is no denying that Shawn deserves it. I wouldn't be surprised if the WWE announced it this early because they are trying to get HBK back for some angle for Wrestlemania. I don't think he wrestles at Mania, but I wouldn't rule out a role as a Special Referee or Enforcer for some match. The WWE is having a hard time trying to find celebrity draws for this year's event, so HBK may be the best they can do.

-The WWE announced today that the Royal Rumble will expand to 40 participants this year. I'm willing to give this a shot. I'm sure this will lead to some surprise entrants, maybe some classic legends or returning guys from injury. It also allows the WWE to build up certain guys by having them load up the ring with lesser talent, then having wrestler X come in and eliminate them all. This may mean that we only get the two world title matches, maybe a women's match, then the Rumble match at the PPV. I'd be fine with that. This PPV is always about the Rumble match, the undercard and title matches are secondary. A 40 man field gives the WWE a chance to push an extra guy or two then they normally do.

Running close to the start of RAW, so that's all for today.

Until next time,
Justin C

Friday, January 14, 2011

JC's Take: NFL Divisional Round Preview

JC's Take: NFL Divisional Round Preview

Hello everyone. Welcome back for my preview of the NFL Divisional Round Playoffs.

Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Dog Fight. Backyard Brawl. Knock-Down Drag-Out Affair. Whatever you use to describe a battle between two teams or people that don't like each other you can use to describe this game. These two teams absolutely hate each other. They split the season series, with each team winning on the road. Five out of the last seven games between these two have been decided by 3 points. In their Week 13 battle, Ben Roethlisberger had his nose broken and Heath Miller was knocked out by a questionable hit. If you can only watch one game this weekend, I would say watch this one. It may not be high-scoring, but there will be plenty of hard-hitting and trash-talking in this one. Here are 3 things to watch during the game:

1. Can the Steelers Offensive Line Protect Big Ben?
The Steelers offensive line has been their biggest issue all year. It's been riddled with injuries and been forced to practically hire people off the street to protect Big Ben. Jonathtan Scott and Flozell Adams are big question marks on the outside. Adams is also a penalty machine. If you blow by him, there is a good chance he will hold you. The Ravens defense was able to pressure Ben in their last meeting, and it shouldn't be any different this time. Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs will cause fits for this offensive line. Somehow, Scott and Adams, and the rest of the o-line as well, will need to find a way to hold up against the Ravens Front 7.

2. Can Joe Flacco Lead the Ravens to Victory?
He's done it before in the playoffs on the road, but Flacco still struggles against the Steelers. Flacco has 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in seven games played against the Steelers. Those aren't good stats. He'll need to play better in order for the Ravens to win. The Steelers will most certainly key on stopping Ray Rice and forcing Flacco to win this game for the Ravens. He has the receivers to help him. The Ravens will need to take a page out of the Patriots handbook on how to beat the Steelers: short, intermediate passes. Then go for the home run throw when they least expect it.

3. Who Blinks First?
The first turnover may be key to this game. Who throws the first interception? Who surrenders the first fumble? I think it is key for the Ravens to get the first turnover in this game. If Flacco throws an INT, especially early, it could mean big problems for the Ravens. The Ravens can't get rattled on the road in a hostile environment. If they can come up with a big turnover early it could silence the Steelers faithful, especially if they can convert it into points. The Ravens can put as much pressure on Big Ben as they want, but if it doesn't result in turnovers, then it doesn't help at all.

This one will be low-scoring, no question about it. It won't turn into a shootout, these two defenses are just too good. The Ravens have won on the road in the playoffs before, so that is no problem for them. The Steelers are rested and have had plenty of time to prepare for a potential rematch versus the Ravens. Can the Steelers o-line hold-up? I don't think so. The Ravens defense is ready and I think they will shut down the entire Steelers offense. It'll be a dog fight til the end but the Ravens pull it out.

Baltimore 17  Pittsburgh 13

Green Bay Packers vs Atlanta Falcons
When these two teams met earlier in the year I thought it could be an NFC Championship preview. Now they get to square off in the divisional round. Even though the Packers are the #6 seed in the NFC, I still think they are one of the top two teams in the NFC, with Atlanta. Going into the playoffs these two were my favorites to come out of the NFC, and now one of them gets taken out.

1. Can Matty Ice Be Stopped At Home?
Just how good is Matt Ryan at home? He is 20-2 there in his short three year career. This seasn, Ryan's 3,705 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions were the best stats of his career. Ryan certainly looks like the QB Atlanta thought he was when he was drafted by them #3 overall in 2008. Ryan also has Roddy White at his disposal. White has become one of the best, if not the best receiver in the league. The Packers defense will need to confuse Ryan with their looks and hope that he gets a tad over-excited for his first home playoff game.

2. Is James Starks A Flash-in-the-Pan, or Can He Perform Well Two Weeks in A Row?
Did you hear of James Starks before last week? I have, but only because he played his college football at the University at Buffalo, my hometown. Starks rushed for 123 yards last week against Philadelphia. I'm sure the Eagles didn't do too much scouting on Starks, but you bet the Falcons will be. Starks has that extra burst of speed that Brandon Jackson lacks. The Falons ranked 10th in run defense during the regular season, but did give up an average of 4.6 yards per attempt, which ranked 25th in the league. If the Packers can establish a run game early, it will open up more opportunities for Aaron Rodgers.

3. The Special Teams Factor
In their regular season meeting, special teams was a huge factor in deciding the outcome. After the Packers tied the game, Eric Weems returned the kickoff to the 36, but an extra 15 yards was tacked on thanks to a facemask penalty. Eric Weems has turned into a valuable asses for the Falcons return game. He is capable of breaking one loose at any time. Both teams also have two very good field goal kickers. The Falcons Matt Bryant and the Packers Mason Crosby are two kickers that are very reliable and clutch when they need to be.

It's very tough to pick against the Falcons at home. They are so good there. But the Packers are a team riding a hot streak right now. Aaron Rodgers is making a case to be considered one of the best QBs in the league. While the Falcons are a good team, I think they just can't overcome the Packers defense. Their secondary is playing some of their best football of the year, and Clay Matthews makes a living in opponent's backfields. This one will be another close one, but Aaron Rodgers and Company pull it out in the end.

Green Bay 27  Atlanta 21

Seattle Seahawks vs Chicago Bears
At the beginning of the year we all had these two teams in the playoffs right? And of course we had them meeting in the divisional round as well! Both of these teams are surprises to be here. The Bears overcame a rough final four games to clinch the #2 sees in the NFC. I didn't think they would even make the playoffs at the halfway point. The Seahawks silenced any doubters about belonging in the playoffs after last week's upset victory over the New Orleans Saints. The Seahawks won in Chicago early in the year.

1. Devin Hester
Yes, one man can be that much of a factor in a game. Hester is the best kickoff and punt returner in the league. He can break one off like it's nobodies business. Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll already said that they will kick to Hester. That means that the Seahawks better have a good plan of attack to stop him. One Devin Hester tocuhdown return could change the whole outlook of the game. The Seahawks defense is vulnerable, so they need to have their special teams do everything they can to not give up good field position.

2. Which Jay Cutler Will Show Up?
Jay Cutler is capable of being a good QB. But the problem is, he is also capable of being inconsistent. In their regular season meeting, Cutler was sacked six times by the Seahawks. In the game after that, he threw four interceptions in another home loss to Washington. This is also Cutler's playoff debut. I'm sure he will be experiencing some jitters. Cutler needs to go into the game calm and not let any early pressure or mistakes get to him.

3. Can Best-Mode Create A Sequel?
By now we've all seen Marshawn Lynch's amazing TD run against New Orleans. As a Bills fan, I'm still not upset we traded him. Just wait until the off-season until he does something stupid again. Lynch only ran for 44 yards on 17 carries in the regular season match-up, but it was also his first game as a Seahawk. But it will be tough for Lynch to do it again. The Bears ranked 2nd against the run in the regular season. If the Bears can shut down Lynch, it will force Matt Hasselbeck to win the game for Seattle. That's not good news for Seahawks fans.

The Seahawks had a great game last week. They surprised everyone. But their run ends here. The Bears defense is just too much for Matt Hasselbeck to overcome. Yes the Seahawks won in Chicago in Week 6, but this will be a different atmosphere. All playoff games are. This could be ugly at times, but the Bears win those types of games. I like the Bears here with Jay Cutler being able to find open WRs all day against a bad Seahawks secondary.

Chicago 31  Seattle 21

New York Jets vs New England Patriots
Can this game just be played already? There has been so much trash talking, mostly by the Jets, in the last week that I just want these two teams to play the game. These two teams don't like each other, it's as simple as that. They split the season series, but the Jets got destroyed in their last outing losing 45-3 in New England. That loss alone should be enough for the Jets to shut their mouths, but that is not the case.

1. Can Mark Sanchez Put Together A Good Game?
Even in last week's win against the Colts, Sanchez did not look good. He threw an interception to end the first half, and a lot of his throws were high which made his receivers jump for passes. Sanchez looked dreadful in the 45-3 loss, throwing three interceptions and only for 163 yards passing. The Jets need better out of Sanchez if they want any shot of winning this game. Sooner or later, Sanchez needs to prove he can be a consistently good QB that can win on a regular basis.

2. Can Tom Brady Be Stopped?
This is what the Jets are worried about. Brady has looked like a man on a mission the last two months of the regular season. Hell, you could argue he has looked like that all season. No matter how much you hate the guy, there is no denying he was the best QB in the league this year: 3900 yards passing, 36 touchdowns, 4 interceptions. Brady has been finding open receivers at will. The Jets secondary has looked a little shaky since they lost safety Jim Leonard for the year. If Brady stays away from Revis Island, he should be able to find his otheer WRs with ease.

3. Can the Young Pats Defense Hold Up?
The youth in the Patriots defense was very evident early in the year. They were getting thrown on and run on like you've never seen before from a Bill Belichick defense. But they improved drastically by the end of the year. In the last 5 games of the year, other than giving up 27 points to Green Bay, the defense allowed a total of 20 points in the other 4 games. The secondary looks much better, with safety Patrick Chung stepping up his game. Jerrod Mayo leads a good young group of linebackers, and Vince Wilfork is the anchor up front. If they can do what they did to Sanchez in their last meeting, their confidence will grow even more.

I don't think this will be the blowout it was the last time these two teams played. The Jets will be more prepared and focused. But you have to think the trash talking will come back to bite them. The more the Jets open their mouth, the more the Patritos get mad. And when you get Brady and Belichick mad, they get more focused on finding all the ways possible to beat you. Tom Brady has looked too good this season to bet against at this point. I'm taking the Patriots here.

New England 28  New York Jets 16

That's all for this week. I'll be back with the usuals next week.

Until next time,
Justin C

Monday, January 10, 2011

JC's Take: WWE Week in Review 1/3-1/9

JC's Take: WWE Week in Review 1/3-1/9

Hello everyone. Welcome back for my review of anything and everything WWE from this past week.

-I'll start off with the WWE Title picture on RAW. The first match on RAW for 2011 was a great WWE Title match between The Miz and John Morrison. It was a great way to kick off the new year, especially if it means more of an emphasis on wrestling in 2011. The match was ***1/2 stars, and it probably would have been **** if it wasn't for the involvement of Alex Riley. Morrison stepped up in a big way and showed once again he can have a good match and is ready to step up into the main event scene. So of course, the WWE decided to put Randy Orton in the WWE Title match at the Royal Rumble. Why not go Miz/Morrison again? They showed they could put on a good match with one another, and the Rumble match sells itself so you can take the risk with Miz/Morrison. My theory is this: People believe Morrison can now beat Miz, but most don't believe he can win the Rumble. People believe Orton can win the Rumble, and he adds star power to the match. So why not have the two where they would look strongest. Instead we get an Orton/Miz match. Orton's character has become stale and almost boring, so I wish they had gone with Miz/Morrison instead.

-So it looks like C.M. Punk is officially the new leader of Nexus after Wade Barrett failed to win the #1 Contenders Match on RAW. They had a good promo exchange in the middle of the ring setting up the stipulations later for the match. I thought they were going with a rift in Nexus, especially after Gabriel and Slater seemed to pledge their support to Barrett before the match. They may still be going on that route, but with Barrett showing up on Smackdown this week they may just forget about the whole thing all together. I hope they don't because there is a good chemistry between Barrett and Punk, but neither of them are ready to assume a face role. They should both be heels heading into Wrestlemania. And of course there is John Cena. He'll play into this somehow. I don't know if Cena/Punk can have legs going into Mania, but if any two people can make it work it is Punk and Cena.

-This is the major problem with RAW: no established mid-card feuds. Everybody is just a character floating around with no sense of direction. Their most over mid-carder is Santino, and that is sad. Daniel Bryan is the United States Champion and he wasn't even on RAW this week. The Intercontinental Title is prominently displayed on Smackdown, but Bryan gets squat on RAW. Ted DiBiase Jr appears to be in the doghouse for some reason. Bryan could be having a good match or feud with DiBiase, Tyson Kidd, or even William Regal. It'd be nice to see more people get involved with different members of Nexus, allowing people like Bryan and a returning Evan Bourne to feud with the power group Nexus. RAW needs to get its mid-card going headed into Wrestlemania.

-Smackdown also had a nice first show of the year. The Edge/Kane Last Man Standing Match was a good brawl. It appears that it is the end of the Kane/Edge feud, which has to be a good thing. Kane had an ok run with the World Title, and he deserved the run for being such a good company guy over the last decade. But it is time for Kane to move on to something else. Edge is still champion and hopefully this reign will last longer then his other reigns. At the moment, there is no one else that should hold the title on Smackdown. I'm still holding out hope for an Edge & Christian reunion when Christian is healthy again. For the people hoping for Christian to get a shot at the World Title, his best chance might be against Edge. The two have a good chemistry together and can put on a good match in the ring, and entertianing promos outside of it.

-Although we can always hope for an Edge/Christian program, Edge's next title defense will be against Dolph Ziggler. With less than a month til the Rumble, I'm assuming we will get this match there. It's nice to see Smackdown give a young talent a chance to go after the World Title. Ziggler has shown in recent months in his matches against John Cena, Daniel Bryan, and Kofi Kingston that he can put on good matches in the ring. And with Vickie Guerrero on his side, he doesn't have to worry about getting over on the mic. Vickie can take care of that for him. There's already a backstory with Vickie and Edge, so they should have something to go with right away on this week's Smackdown.

-Was that really the end to the Rey Mysterio/Alberto del Rio program on Smackdown? A countout victory for del Rio? You weren't worried about protecting Rey Mysterio during his World Title reigns, but now you are? Del Rio could have used a clean pinfall win in the supposed final chapter of their feud. He is a star on the rise and should be in the World Title picture sooner rather than later. There is no one else for him to feud with on Smackdown on the face side. He's too good to be fighting for the Intercontinental Title. I think after the Royal Rumble we see del Rio starting to climb up to facing Edge for the World Title.

-I'm curious to see if Wade Barrett is officially a member of the Smackdown brand. His attack on the Big Show seemed out of nowhere. It was either just a way for Barrett to make a statement, or it is the start of a new program for him, completely washing his hands of the Nexus. If he is on Smackdown, I'm assuming he will be the one facing the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Barrett did lead the Nexus when they helped bury the Undertaker alive. Barrett is a young up-and-comer who is way ahead of the curve. He definetely could use the rub of beating Taker at Mania. It would show that he can be a dominant force on his own, without the Nexus. I don't know if "The Streak" will ever be broken, but Barrett has a good chance of being the one to do it.

Other WWE Notes
-Wrestlemania in 3D? It could happen. The WWE is apparently negotiating with Fathom Events to put Wrestlemania and future WWE Pay-Per-Views in theatres, and at some locations in 3D. This is a good move by the WWE. UFC and Boxing are both already played in theatres, so it seemed like only a matter of time before the WWE got in the game. It's a cheaper way for fans to watch PPVs, which could lead to more revenue for them down the road if they get good business from this.

-The first WWE Hall of Fame inductee will get announced tonight. It's pretty early for an inductee to get announced, which means it has to be big. The smart money would be on Shawn Michaels. He'd be the big WWE guy to get inducted this year. But the wild card? Sting. The WWE has been trying to get Sting in with them for years. If they announce him this early, he could make a surprise appearence in the Royal Rumble match and set up a program with somebody headed into Wrestlemania. With Mania being in Atlanta, the former home of WCW, and with the 10 year anniversary of the demise of WCW months away, it is expected to be a WCW heavy class in the Hall of Fame. Sting is the best option the WWE could get for this, and I think they could pull it off with the right amount of money.

-Apparently a fan is suing the WWE for injuries sustained to his leg during the Rock/HHH 60 Minute Iron Man Match at Backlash 2000. The fan was 7 at the time, and is 17 now. The injuries didn't stop him from playing football or racing stock cars, however. After that story came out, he defense attorney said he had to go through treatments before all of this to help get his leg right. To me, this just seems like another person in America trying to get a stupid amount of money by filing a ridiculous lawsuit. Not all of the "evidence" is out yet, but I'd be surprised if this ever made it into a court room.

That's all for today. I promise to have an NFL Divisonal Round preview this week. I might also do another WWE blog this week, time permitting.

Until next time,
Justin C

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

JC's Take: The 2011 NFL Coaching Carousel

JC's Take: The 2011 NFL Coaching Carousel

Hello everyone and welcome back. With the NFL Regular Season done, playoff time is here! But that is only for 12 teams. There are 20 other teams that are already looking forward to next season. Some of thos teams are also looking for new coaches. Today, I'll take a look at all of the teams that have head coaching vacancies, or may have them in the very near future.

Tennessee Titans
Current Coach: Jeff Fisher

Jeff Fisher is the longest tenured coach in the NFL. He's been with the Titans since 1994. He was there defensive coordinator before becoming interim head coach in 1994, then taking over the position full time in 1995. It took him until 1999 to get his first winning season, going 13-3 and leading the Titans to the Super Bowl where they came up 1 yard short of tying the Rams late. He went 13-3 again in 2000, but this time lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round. Under Fisher, the Titans made it to the playoffs four more times, but were never able to make it back to the Super Bowl. There were high hopes for the Titans heading into this year, especially after their strong finish in 2009. The Titans started the season 5-2, and many thought they would challenge for the AFC South crown. But the Titans then hit a slide, losing their next six games and finishing with a 6-10 record. They brought in Randy Moss but he failed to provide any spark to the team.

But the biggest problem with the Titans this year was an apparent implosion in the relationship between Fisher and QB Vince Young. During a 19-16 OT home loss to Washington, Young injured he thumb on his throwing finger. Young apparently wanted to go back in, but Fisher did not put him in. Frustrated, Young thre his shoulder pads into the stands after the game and left the locker room after a confrontation with Fisher. Young was later placed on IR, and did not appear at the Titans facilities for the rest of the year. The rift between Young and Fisher leaves Titans owner Bud Adams with a big decision. Adams loves Young, as evident by his personal Christmas card to Titans fans.

So now it is up to Adams who he loves more: A QB with maturity issuses but a ton of athletic ability, or a coach who has been with the organization for over a decade and has been loyal to you the whole time. Senior management is apparently lobbying for Adams to keep Fisher, but I don' think that ends up happening. Adams's love for Young overrides his loyalty to Fisher.


Jeff Fisher, "YOU'RE FIRED!!!"

The Replacement?
Whoever will replace Fisher will have to deal with two things: 1. They must be able to work with Vince Young and create an offense that is tailor-made for his abilities. 2. They'll have to deal with an owner who gets involved with personnel matters and lets his personal feelings towards players effect his decisions. This essentially eliminates any big time coaching candidates: Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, Jim Harbaugh. More than likely it will be an offensive guy who will come in and take over. So you look to the offensive coordinator department. Mike Mularkey, current offensive coorinator in Atlanta, has done wonders with Matt Ryan. He stumbled a bit as a head coach in Buffalo, but that wasn't entirely his fault. Hue Jackson, offensive coordinator in Oakland, has done wonders improving the offense in Oakland. But I think the opening goes to Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. By now, the debacle that was his Lions head coaching gig should be gone. Mornhinweg has done wonders with Mike Vick in Philadelphia. Vince Young has almost the same athletic tools as Vick. He has a good arm and the ability to make plays on the run. Mornhinweg, with his experience working with Vick, should be able to make the adjustments to Young's game to help him develop as a QB. The only question is, can Mornhinweg do anything to adjust Young's immature attitude?

The Replacement

Marty Mornhinweg

Denver Broncos
Former Coach: Josh McDaniels

Many people pegged McDaniels as the next Bill Belichick. He didn't disappoint early on with the Broncos. The team started 6-0 in the 2009 season, including a win over the New England Patriots. The start quickly put to rest the problem McDaniels had with Jay Cutler, who they ended up trading in the off-season after Cutler became angered at inital attempts to trade him. The tream hit a slide after their bye week, losing their next four games and finishing with an 8-8 record. McDaniels had problems with WR Brandon Marshall throughout the season, and ended up trading him to Miami in the off-season. McDaniels created another stir in the 2010 NFL Draft, trading up to acquire Florida QB Tim Tebow, who many people considered to be a project QB at best. After a 3-9 start to the 2010 season and a video taping scandal similar to the one the Patriots had a few years ago, McDaniels was relieved of his duties. I still think McDaniels has potential as a coach. I think he might try out the college game for a few years before returning to the NFL.

The Replacement?
The key here is that John Elway is now taking a more active role with the Broncos. Elway is a Stanford alum, and that is where Jim Harbaugh is coaching. I think he will be the guy. Harbaugh is the hottest coaching prospect out there and his Stanford connections with Elway I think will win out in the end. The Broncos also plan to interview Mike Mularkey, but if they can woo Harbaugh he will be there man. And with the #2 pick in the Draft, the Broncos could always try to swap picks with Carolina, reuniting Harbaugh and Stanford star QB Andrew Luck in the NFL, but that seems unlikely given the Panthers apparent love fest with Andrew Luck.

The Replacement
Jim Harbaugh

San Francisco 49ers
Former Coach: Mike Singletary

Singletary became the interim head coach in San Francisco during the 2008 season. Singeltary took over and became an instant disciplinarian in the 49ers locker room. He publically called out TE Vernon Davis in his first game. After finishing the season 5-4, Singletary was offered and accepted the full time head coaching job with the 49ers. After starting 3-1 in 2009, the team fizzled and finished 8-8. Singletary's outburst on the sidelines during the season were called into question, but they were worked out and he returned for the 2010 season. Many people considered the 49ers the heavy favorites in the weak NFC West heading into the season. But the team started off with an 0-5 record. Even at 5-9, the team was still in the playoff hunt. But after a loss to St. Louis in Week 16, Singletary was let go as coach.

The Replacement?
The 49ers said that they will hire a general manager before a coach. Many people think that the choice will end up being Trent Baalke. As for the coach, the 49ers would love to grab Jim Harbaugh. It would be an easy transiton for him going from Stanford to San Francisco as it is not that big of a move geographically. i think in the end, though, Harbaugh chooses Denver over San Francisco. The 49ers have also asked for permission to speak to Raiders offensive cooridnator Hue Jackson. The key person to watch here, however, is Jeff Fisher. If Fisher is fired in Tennessee, I think he will come to San Francisco. There is a great admiration for Fisher in the 49ers organization, and I think he would be a great fit here. In a division as weak as the NFC West, having a coach like Fisher could upgrade the 49ers greatly.

The Replacement

Jeff Fisher

Cleveland Browns
Former Coach: Eric Mangini

Mangini was hired in 2009 and faced a massive resurrection project in Cleveland. Many people questioned the move immediately after it happened. His first year was less than spectacular. The team started off 1-11, and many people thought new Browns Vice President Mike Holmgren would let go of Mangini. But winning the final four games of the season saved Mangini's job. Mangini started 5-7 in 2010, with signature wins against the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots. But this time, losing the last four games of the season ended up costing Mangini his job. I doubt Mangini gets another coaching job any time soon, if ever again.

The Replacement?
Holmgren has not ruled himself out as a possibility to coach the Browns next year, but I don't think that happens. I think even Holmgren would realize that being coach and president would be too much to handle. Of course with his connection to Holmgren, Jon Gruden's name will be tossed around. I don't think Cleveland has the personnel that Holmgren would require in order to return. The Browns already have a number of interviews lined up with the following candidates: Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, and Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. While all those people are qualified candidates, I don't think any of them get the job in the end. I think when it is all set and done, the job will go to former Panthers coach John Fox. Sure, it'll be tough to sell this guy to the fanbase. Fox did just go 2-14. But he clearly wasn't given the talent to succeed this year in Carolina. I think Holmgren would prefer the experience that Fox brings. He's been to a Super Bowl and has one division championships. Fox may not be the sexy pick, but I think he is the safest pick in the eyes of Holmgren.

The Replacement

John Fox

Oakland Raiders
Former Coach: Tom Cable

The Raiders are coming off one of their best records in recent memory, and they appeared to be a team on the rise. They went 6-0 in the division, and many people thought Tom Cable had them going in the right direction. So what does Al Davis do? Not pick up his option for 2011. What is Davis reasoning behind this? Only Al Davis knows. There were reports that Cable didn't have the young talent on the team under the proper discipline. But that is something that can be worked on. Cable apparently also was having problems earlier in the season with Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson. But the Raiders played some of the best football since their last Super Bowl appearence, yet Cable is gone.

The Replacement?
There is no way a big time coach, or probably even coordinator comes here. Jim Harbaugh might be tossed around, but I doubt he chooses the Raiders over Denver or San Francisco. I'm sure the normal coordinators will make the rounds. I think Mularkey will get an interview, as will Marty Mornhinweg. But I think in the end, the Raiders will be forced to hire from within. And that leaves the job to offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Jackson did wonders with that offense this year. He finally made a star out of Darren McFadden. He used his young wide receivers properly, and he got the most out of QBs Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski. Many people will be hesitant to take this job, so the Raiders may be forced to take Jackson no matter what.

The Replacement

Hue Jackson

Carolina Panthers
Former Coach: John Fox

Some might say Fox got a raw deal in Carolina, and I believe he did in his final year. Ownership did not give Fox the proper personnel to compete this year. Since Fox took over in 2002, this was his first year where he fell below 7 wins. He won two division titles and took the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2003. But every good thing must come to an end, and Fox's time in Carolina came to an ugly close. I think he will coach again in 2010, as obvious with him being my pick to coach the Cleveland Browns.

The Replacement?
The only real attreactives of this job are: the ability to live in Carolina, and the opportunity to work with QB Andrew Luck. The Stanford QB is the number one overall draft prospect, and looks to be a future stud in the league. The problem is, owner Jerry Richardson probably won't spend the money for a big time head coach. Right now the only interview the Panthers have lined up is with 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. I doubt he gets the job. This one might be the toughest one for me to call. If I had to take a guess, I would say that the job goes to Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. Mularkey would get the opportunity he didn't have in Buffalo, to work with and groom his franchise QB. Mularkey did wonders with Ryan, I'm sure he can do the same thing with Luck.

The Replacement

Mike Mularkey

Miami Dolphins
Current Coach: Tony Sparano

This one remains a mystery, just like Jeff Fisher in Tennessee. About a week ago it was said that Bill Parcells convinced Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to keep Sparano, even though Parcells isn't with the team anymore. The two sides met on Monday, and the meetings were apparently productive. But there has already been chatter about Jim Harbaugh coming to Miami. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Harbaugh are both Stanford alums. Sparano had an underachieving year in Miami, including a 1-7 home record which included home losses to Buffalo and Detroit. Sparano also failed to develop Chad Henne as a proper QB. Ross would love to make a big splash to compete with the Miami Heat and their rising popularity. In the end, however, I think Ross will realize he can't get Harbaugh, Bill Cowher, or Jon Gruden. I think Sparano is given one more year to right the ship in Miami.

The Verdict? Sparano stays!

Coaches Who Were on the Hot Seat, but Are Staying Put

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati

I was actually quite surprised to see that Lewis was retained. He was suppose to compete with the Ravens and Steelers in the AFC North this year, but instead finished a very disappointing 4-12. Lewis will return for two years, however. I think this automatically means the departure of WRs Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. As evident in the last two games, the team can do quite fine without them. I think this also means the return of QB Carson Palmer. He has an $11.5 million option in 2011, and owner Mike Brown and Lewis are both fans of him. I don't know if the Bengals will still be able to compete with either the Ravens or Steelers, but Lewis has two year to figure out how to do it. They'll also need to revamp a defense that could barely get pressure on the QB this year. But I forsee the Bengals being in the same situation in two years that they are in now, and Lewis finally on the way out in 2012.

Gary Kubiak, Houston

The Texans also were considered a major disappointment this season. They had high hopes going into the year, and an opening game win over the Colts only added to those expectations. However, the problems on defense were too much for a stellar offense to overcome. They found a gem in undrafted RB Arian Foster, and still have a top QB in Matt Schaub and WR in Andre Johnson. Now they just have to fix a defense that was gashed all year. There are reports that Wade Phillips may take over the role of defensive coordinator. I think that is a good move for the Texans.

Jack del Rio, Jacksonville
Del Rio had the Jaguars a game away from clinching the AFC South. But a loss at Indianapolis, along with two losses to end the year meant no playoffs again for the Jaguars. The Jags have only made two playoff appearences since dei Rio took over in 2003. Some thought the late season collapse would be enough to cost del Rio his job, but it wasn't. Now del Rio almost has to make the playoffs in 2011 to save his job next year. I'm sure the dozens of Jags fans that exist thought this year would be their year, but it wasn't.

Jason Garrett, Dallas

This is all but official. Due to the NFL's Rooney Rule, the Cowboys must interview at least one minority candidate. This is why I'm not a fan of the Rooney Rule. Yes, it is nice to see minority cnadidates receive an interview, but if a team already knows who they want as their coach, just let them hire them. Racism is essentially non-existent in the league anymore. Garrett did a wonderful job with the Cowboys after he took over for Wade Phillips. He re-juvinated a slumping offense, and the players appeared to try harder for Garrett than they did for Phillips. Garrett is a young, offensive-minded guy who should be able to do wonders with the Cowboys offense. Expect the Boys to be back on track in 2011.

Leslie Frazier, Minnesota

It's nice to see Frazier finally get a chance. He has had so many interviews over the last couple years, but he always seems to just miss an opportunity to land the job. Frazier did ok during his interim time in Minnesota. But he should do better next year. He won't have to deal with the distraction that is Brett Favre. He also shouldn't have to worry about rescheduled games or holes in the Metrodome roof. The one thing Frazier will have to worry about is an aging defense and a team with a couple key free agents on both sides of the ball. But Frazier is a very knowledgeable football guy who should do just fine in his new role.

That's all for today. I'll be back with an NFL Playoff Preview either Thursday, or early Saturday.

Until next time,
Justin C