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chasing the sunset

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man’s best friend

My @SportingNews take on the impact of some Super Bowl commercial classics

Super Bowl commercials are the rare commodity that appeals to the entire spectrum of sports fandom. Nothing brings together the football diehard and obligated party-goer quite like this Sunday’s crazed flurry of ad-break stimuli.

On special occasions these commercials not only dominate Monday morning chit-chat but invigorate brands, revive careers and capture the American zeitgeist. Here’s a look at how some of the most memorable Super Bowl ads were received, their ripple effect and whether they exactly dated well.

Check it out: http://aol.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2013-01-31/super-bowl-commercials-2013-impact-of-the-greatest-ads-tv-television-video

My Sporting News quick takes on conference championship round

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49ers @ Falcons:

Matt Ryan still forging reputation in the clutch

Colin Kaepernick the latest dual-threat QB to face Falcons, yet a unique challenge

John Abraham’s effectiveness critical for Atlanta defense on the edge

Ravens @ Patriots:

Rob Gronkowski loss more than just a blow to pass game

Shane Vereen emerging at just the right time

How Ravens and Patriots grew familiar over the years

Rundown of my Sporting News quick takes on divisional-round Sunday

Seahawks @ Falcons:

In cruel irony, the 2010 Falcons offense better foil for this Seattle defense

Matt Ryan following Peyton Manning playoff track

Marshawn Lynch primed for divisional-round “Beast Mode”

Texans @ Patriots:

Gronkowski, Hernandez present nightmare matchup

Arian Foster using column as playoff fuel, but will it matter?

J.J. Watt must meet
the “Best Defensive Season Ever” hype to slow Patriots

Rundown of my quick takes on wild-card Sunday

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Seahawks vs. Redskins:

Reservation for taking Seahawks on road? My quick take for @sportingnews #redskins http://bit.ly/UFHIBH

Russell Wilson, RG3 highlight key draft haul for both Seahawks and Redskins — my condensed take @sportingnews http://aol.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2013-01-03/seahawks-vs-redskins-russell-wilson-rg3-highlight-huge-draft-haul-playoffs-2013

The Shanahan playoff coaching history http://aol.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2013-01-04/seahawks-vs-redskins-mike-shanahan-kyle-shanahan-playoff-coaching-history

Colts vs. Ravens

Ravens will need vintage Ray Lewis (and Ed Reed for that matter) against the Colts—or even just 2011 form @sportingnews http://aol.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2013-01-03/colts-vs-ravens-ray-lewis-retirement-nfl-playoffs-2013-wild-card

Colts have given Baltimore fans plenty to be bitter about well after the Mayflower trucks left @sportingnews #ravens http://bit.ly/Rt8U

Flacco 3-0 on wild-card weekend, but here’s quickly digging a little deeper than QB W-L @sportingnews #ravens #colts http://aol.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2013-01-04/colts-vs-ravens-joe-flacco-no-stranger-to-wild-card-weekend-nfl-playoffs-2013?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Final-hour updates to sway Week 17 ATS picks

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Cowboys at Redskins (-3)

Week 17 arrived rather light on games featuring two teams with major seeding motivation; the battle outside D.C. being the only one where both have a shot at opening with a home playoff game.

Fortunately, Cowboys-Redskins will be devoid of questions about resting starters. Two starters figured to face off all game long are Dez Bryant and DeAngelo Hall, matching the league’s hottest receiver right now (sorry Megatron) against a gambler who makes big plays but also gets burned his fair share. To boot, the ‘Skins’ safety help isn’t the best.

How the Redskins execute their game-plan for Bryant could very well prove the difference.

Arizona at San Francisco (-16.5)

I don’t care how bad the Cardinals have been this year, a potent offensive performance will be needed to cover 16.5 against a good defense.

Jacksonville at Tennessee (-4)

I’m not sure that makes the difference with the Titans giving 4. This year it’s just been a matter of whether he breaks a long run. In games where that doesn’t happen, CJ2K has produced almost nothing.

Lame-duck inspiration?

This sort of thing is almost impossible to predict. Sometimes a team gives their lame duck a fulfilling send-off, other times the squad is just too checked out. Don’t let it affect how you pick against the spread.

Baltimore @ Cincinnati (-2.5)

Between this and Marvin Lewis’ apparent regret over resting starters in the past, this sways me over to the Ravens side — even though Tyrod Taylor has looked good in preseason play while rookie Bernard Pierce has gotten it done in meaningful action.

Injury updates that sway Week 16 ATS picks

The Sunday slate features a few games that I found extremely tough to call, before a late-week injury update helped me select my side of the spread.

49ers at Seahawks (EVEN)

Justin Smith

If there was ever a domino-effect injury on defense.

Bengals @ Steelers (3.5)

With Ike Taylor out, facing A.J. Green would’ve turned disastrous with Lewis.

Bears (-5.5) @ Cardinals

Tim Jennings leads Pro Bowl fan voting at CB and Henry Melton believes he should too at DT. They may not be the very best, but they’re certainly needed cogs on Chicago’s defense.

Redskins (-6.5) @ Eagles

RGIII will need that mobility this week with Graham in his face all day.


Rams @ Bucs (-3)

Vincent Jackson has been the league’s most terrifying deep threat outside of Megatron, and Janoris Jenkins probably hasn’t developed to the point to reliably handle V-Jax.

Adrian Peterson resistance and key player matchups on the NFL Week 15 schedule

Wow, what a 1 p.m. Eastern slate. Just wow. #Giddy

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Vikings @ Rams: Adrian Peterson vs Rams Run D

Adrian Peterson deserves MVP if you were awarding it right now. Christian Ponder is playing the quarterback position worse than any starter outside Arizona. So the Rams need to stop one thing, and the emergence of first-round DT Michael Brockers, revelation of OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar and recent improvement of MLB James Laurinaitis present a pretty tough wall for AP’s convoy to ram through.

Panthers @ Chargers: DEs Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy vs Ts Michael Harris and Jeromey Clary/Whichever backups end up playing at offensive tackle

Carolina’s bookend rush boasts two top-fivers in Pro Football Focus’ pass-rush productivity stat, while LT Harris ranks last out of qualifying tackles and Clary is not far behind. Looks like another harassed day ahead for Philip Rivers.

Colts @ Texans: DE JJ Watt vs. G Mike McGlynn/T Winston Justice

The pair protecting the right edge got bullied around by the Titans’ line last week and this is no rarity. Meet J.J. Watt, the most dominant defensive lineman in the NFL.

Lions @ Cardinals: DT Ndamukong Suh/Nick Fairley vs. G Daryn Colledge/C Rich Ohrnberger/G Adam Snyder

Suh and Fairley ran roughshod through the Colts a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately they couldn’t get too much help on defense besides catching a couple of the shoulda-been five interceptions. This pairing inside is playing better than any other right now — and on the opposite side you’ve got the bizarro version of that.

Steelers @ Cowboys: Dez Bryant vs fractured finger

Hard to know what to expect from Dez here but he’s been the best receiver not named Megatron over the past month, and his ability to continue this could be the difference for desperate Dallas.

Giants @ Falcons: Julio and Roddy vs Banged-up Giants secondary

With CB Prince Amukamara and S Kenny Phillips out Big Blue will need S Stevie Brown to remain their sub of the season — perhaps the NFL’s sub of the season — rookie CB Jayron Hosley to ride the momentum of last week’s performance and vet CB Corey Webster to transform into ‘08/’12 postseason mode.

Seahawks @ Bills: CJ Spiller vs Bobby Wagner

RB Fred Jackson is out, but I half-expect Chan Gailey to still find creative ways not to give C.J. Spiller the ball — but there is no way he’s getting fewer than the seven carries last week against St. Louis. Pro Football Focus has ‘Hawks rookie MLB Bobby Wagner as their third-ranked ILB and graded well both in pass and run defense, and he’ll need to do plenty of both to stop Spiller.

49ers @ Patriots: Run Os vs Run Ds

Pats ILB Brandon Spikes has been banged up and didn’t look quite right on Monday even with the dominant displays around him. Every bit of his downhill thumping will be needed against the 49ers trap run game and the many looks they use to run both zone and power schemes. New England’s run attack on offense has also been one of the league’s best and will face San Fran’s elite run stoppers without the ample blocking aid of TE Rob Gronkowski.

Redskins @ Browns: Josh Gordon vs Redskins secondary

Trent Richardson is the lifeblood fi the Cleveland offense but still needs support from the pass game for Cleveland to put a decent number of points on the board. Since Brandon Weeden isn’t developed (or good?) enough to make this pass attack a well-oiled machine right now, the Browns typically need to hit at least one downfield throw to Josh Gordon, who’s 31.6% deep passing catch rate (on 72 targets) sits just behind division foe A.J. Green (33.3%). And the Redskins secondary got burned by the ancient Anquan Boldin twice last week.