Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cohen's Corner Week 17 Games to Watch

Twas the final day of 2015, and with it the final picks for the 2015 NFL season. Week 17 will feature games with plenty of significance as the playoffs are about to begin in little over a week. Seeding is still up for grabs in both conferences, NFC North, AFC West and AFC South titles are up for grabs, and there remains one wild card slot that has not yet been filled.

A lot will go down this week, how will it play out? Here are my predictions.

NY Jets @ Bills - 1 p.m. CBS. The Jets must win this game or their season is over. The Jets (10-5) right now are the potential number six seed in the NFL playoffs, and could rise as high as the number five seed if they get a little more help on Sunday. This is the most fascinating game of the week, considering the stakes for the Jets, and who they'll be up against: their former coach, Rex Ryan. While the Bills say that Ryan will be back for 2016, he would like nothing better than to destroy the Jets playoff chances in the final week of the season.

The Bills beat the Jets in November 22-17 with Ryan prancing around the field like he won the Super Bowl. The Jets remember that, and they come into this game healthier than they were in the first match-up. Expect the Jets to use the last match-up against Buffalo as added motivation for this one, and look for the Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker Show to continue for another week against the inconsistent Bills secondary. This is not just for the playoffs, it's personal for the Jets. PREDICTION: JETS 34, BILLS 17.

Eagles @ NY Giants - 1 p.m. FOX. Call it the loser goes to London Bowl. No I am not kidding. The loser of this game will have to go to London next year to face the Rams as part of the NFL's obscene continuation of the International Series. That aside, this means a lot to both teams. While neither is going to the playoffs, jobs are on the line on both sides. For Philadelphia they already fired Chip Kelly, but the players are left auditioning for whomever the next coach will be. Perhaps the exit of Kelly will open things up for the Eagles in Week 17.

However, for the Giants this game is personal. This is likely Tom Couhglin's final game as head coach, as many expect him to get fired on Monday. Coughlin doesn't deserve to go out this way, but the team has not had a winning season in four years, and became the first team in the Super Bowl era to miss the playoffs in the first four years following a Super Bowl championship. Bye Tom, it's been fun. Look for Big Blue to send him out right. PREDICTION: GIANTS 27, EAGLES 24.

Jaguars @ Texans - 1 p.m. CBS. There are currently nine scenarios that have to happen on Sunday for the Texans to NOT win the AFC South. All of them are highly unlikely to happen, including this one against the Jaguars. The Texans want to celebrate in front of their home fans, and this is a great opportunity to do just that. No team has won a division title with four different quarterbacks, so the Texans are going to make some history here.

The Jaguars on the other hand are a scary bunch. They have only five wins, but had the ball the bounced their way a couple times, they could have been playing for the division title on Sunday as well. The Jaguars are good. They have a young quarterback in Blake Bortles who is getting better, and young receiving corps that is scary good. But Sunday is the Texans day to celebrate: PREDICTION: TEXANS 23, JAGUARS 20.

Steelers @ Browns - 1 p.m. CBS. The Steelers are in need of some major help in order to get to the playoffs. Not only do they have to beat the Browns on Sunday. They need the Jets to lose to Buffalo. Both of those scenarios could easily play out, but the Steelers put themselves in this spot by overlooking the Ravens a week ago. Ben Roethlisburger and Co. won't overlook the bumbling Browns this week. PREDICTION: STEELERS 34, BROWNS 17. 

Raiders @ Chiefs - 4:25 p.m. CBS. The Chiefs have a lot to play for in Week 17. They come in riding a nine game winning streak, and know that if they win and the Broncos lose they can win the AFC West. A loss could drop the Chiefs to as low as the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs. This is a tricky spot for KC. Not only are they hot, but the Raiders have been pesky good all season.

The Raiders have won two games on the road in the division already this year, and would love to make it three. Oakland's opportunistic defense led by Kahlil Mack and retiring Hall of Fame cornerback Charles Woodson could create problems for the Chiefs run first offense. Keep in mind, Chiefs QB, Alex Smith has only five interceptions all year. This is a scary matchup, especially with Kansas City getting 7.5 points in a divisional matchup. I'm taking Derek Carr and the Raiders in an upset. UPSET SPECIAL: RAIDERS 26, CHIEFS 23. 

Chargers @ Broncos  - 4:25 p.m. CBS. The Broncos outlasted the Bengals last week in overtime 20-17, and enter week 17 needing a win to capture both the AFC West and the number two seed. A loss could leave Denver in one of the two wild card slots. The Broncos are beaten up and tired, just look at the quarterback situation with Peyton Manning now out again with the foot injury, and Brock Osweiler walking around with a bum shoulder. That being said, the Chargers have nothing left, and don't look like the San Diego Chargers we knew in the past. The Broncos D will carry the day. PREDICTION: BRONCOS 17, CHARGERS 9. 

Seahawks @ Cardinals - 4:25 FOX. Could these two teams see each other down the line in a potential playoff matchup? Perhaps. Nobody would be surprised either. Although I am a little worried about the Seahawks staying power after another wild loss to the Rams, this time in Seattle of all places. The Cardinals meanwhile look like the juggernaut Seattle used to be. The Cardinals destroyed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week, and know that with a win and a Panthers loss, then the Cardinals would be the NFC's number one seed. PREDICTION: CARDINALS 31, SEAHAWKS 24. 

Vikings @ Packers - 8:30 NBC. NBC chose to have this one over Jets-Bills because it will determine who wins the NFC North. And thanks to the Seahawks loss last week, these two teams likely won't see each other the following week in the wild card game. The winner of the game, gets a home game against the Seahawks. The loser heads to Washington as a wild card. The Packers have had an up and down season, but there is reason to believe that at home, with the Lambeau crowd behind them they should win this. Then again, if the Vikings control the game on the ground with Adrian Peterson, and a stifling defense, it could be a long night. Who are the quarterbacks? Oh that's right Aaron Rodgers vs. Teddy Bridgewater. PREDICTION: PACKERS 31, VIKINGS 17. 

PLAYOFF SEEDINGS AND MATCHUP PREDICTIONS!

AFC
1) NEW ENGLAND 14-2
2) DENVER 12-4
3) CINCINNATI 12-4
4) HOUSTON 9-7
5) NY JETS 11-5
6) KANSAS CITY 10-6

Wild Card: NY Jets @ Houston; Kansas City @ Cincinnati

NFC
1) CAROLINA 15-1
2) ARIZONA 14-2
3) GREEN BAY 11-5
4) WASHINGTON 8-8
5) MINNESOTA 10-6
6) SEATTLE 9-7

Wild Card: Seattle @ Green Bay; Minnesota @ Washington

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Eagles Fire Chip Kelly

The Philadelphia Eagles are mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore. The Eagles have fired head coach Chip Kelly. He will not coach in the Eagles final regular season finale against the New York Giants this weekend at MetLife Stadium; instead former Browns Head Coach, Pat Shurmur will be the interim head coach for one game. 

There is no word if Shurmur has a future with the team as a head coaching candidate, but you never know. 

Kelly's firing was stunning from the standpoint that it happened a week before the regular season ended. Many expected Kelly would finish the season, and the Eagles and Kelly would find either a way to part ways, or make plans to have Kelly remain for one more year. 

That being said, it should be surprising that Kelly was fired. He ushered in a era of total unaccountability in Philadelphia, acting more like a pirate than a head coach. He won a front office power play against then GM Howie Roseman last January, taking full control of the team. 

Under Kelly the head coach and GM, the Eagles traded away quarterback Nick Foles to St. Louis for oft-injured Sam Bradford who had a terrible season. They also stuck with former Jets draft day bust Mark Sanchez as their back-up quarterback, even though Sanchez sunk the Eagles season down the stretch in 2014. One can say, Sanchez was front and center of the Eagles mid-season swoon this year around Thanksgiving. And let us not forget Tim Tebow in training camp. 

The Eagles also signed DeMarco Murray to a big contract before the season, and never used the league's former leading rusher properly this year, as his role increasingly diminished week by week. Murray has let it be known he's not happy in Philly. 

Then there are the countless number of former Eagle players from DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy who have been outspoken of their criticism of Kelly for the way he handled their departures from the team. 

There had been rumors that Kelly would be an top candidate for a number of head coaching jobs in college, but those spots were filled up. The Tennessee Titans have also been linked as a possible destination for Kelly, since his old Oregon quarterback, Marcus Mariota is the Titans starter.  

In short, it was time for Kelly to go. Now the Eagles can begin the process of rebuilding a dysfunctional ship. 

Cohen's Corner NFL Week 16 Takeaways

Only one week remains in the 2015 regular season, and just about every playoff slot has been filled except for one wild card slot in the AFC. Week 17 is always a weird week. It is both a chance for teams who have everything locked up to rest their starters, while those still jockeying for a higher seed will go all out to win the regular season finale. What did we learn in Week 16? Let's look back.

1) Bill Belichick outsmarted himself, plain and simple. If you listened to Patriots fans or even Bob Costas, you would think that the NFL tried to do the Patriots in during their 26-20 loss to the Jets. However, the only person to blame for coin toss-gate is Bill Belichick. Belichick instructed captain Matthew Slater to elect to kick, and Slater blurted out "we want to kick" before the official ever had a chance to ask him if the Patriots wanted to kick or receive. 

Belichick gambled. He trusted a defense that shut down the Jets over the past four drives of regulation, and didn't like his chances of getting a touchdown, since the Pats offense was held to just one score in nine drives. He had every right to kick the football and ask his defense to make a stand. It didn't work, the Jets earned the win by driving 80-yards down field for the victory. No conspiracy people. 

2) The Jets are alive and well ... for now. The Jets win over New England, coupled with the Steelers loss to the Ravens, put New York back in the drivers seat for the last playoff spot in the AFC. Outside of the overtime madness the Jets outplayed the Patriots, and earned the victory, in what was easily their best team effort of the year. Now they need to duplicate that effort in Buffalo on Sunday against their old coach Rex Ryan. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdowns to tie Vinny Testaverde for the most TD passes by a quarterback in Jets single season history. 

3) So much for those Steelers are going to Super Bowl 50 predictions. While the Steelers could still sneak into the playoffs with a win in Cleveland and a Jets loss to the Bills, the Steelers didn't look like the juggernaut that everyone trumped for weeks on end. Pittsburgh overlooked the Ravens, a team that was 4-10 coming into the game, and got smacked around. Ben Roethlisburger threw two picks, and the Steelers D allowed Ryan Mallet, of all people, to throw a big touchdown pass for Baltimore. If things don't break right for Pittsburgh, this talented but flawed team will miss the postseason party. 

4) The Panthers will not be perfect. Which might be a good thing, considering the pressure that would be on Carolina's shoulders should they go into the playoffs at 16-0. The Panthers had a couple close calls in two of their previous three weeks coming into the Atlanta game on Sunday. Their defense gave up a ton of points to both the Giants and Saints, and Cam Newton has been limping around a lot. Not to mention the absence of Jonathan Stewart was very apparent in both the Giants game, and in the Falcons game this past Sunday. The Panthers had to use five backs to get over 100 yards rushing on Sunday, and Newton was off his game too. 

One had to know that the Falcons would treat the game like their Super Bowl considering the nightmare season they have had this year, and played their hearts out with their most complete game since September. 

The Panthers must win on Sunday if they want to hold onto home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. The Cardinals (13-2) are hot as a fire cracker and could steal home field from the Panthers with a win and a Panthers loss. Suddenly, the Panthers can't rest their starters for Week 17. 

5) The Cardinals are now the favorites in the NFC. During the middle of the season when the Cardinals beat the Seahawks on the road, I wrote that the Cardinals could be the NFC representative in Super Bowl 50. My mind has not changed. The Cardinals dismantled the Packers 38-8 on Sunday, with the Cardinals D sacking Aaron Rodgers eight times. Arizona has now won nine games in a row and looked poised for the NFC's top seed if they win and get some help. Regardless, the Cardinals are a team that could go on the road to Carolina and win the NFC title if need be. Watch out for the Red Birds. Bruce Arians has a monster on his hands. 

6) Broncos-Bengals shook up the AFC playoff picture. The Broncos come-from-behind win against Cincinnati will have lasting affects on the AFC playoffs. Denver clinched a spot in the playoffs with the win, and overtook the Bengals for the number two seed. Cincinnati is now the number three seed, and will likely see the Jets or Steelers in the wild card game. The Texans could not officially clinch the AFC South with Denver's win, but can win it out right with a win over the Jaguars on Sunday. The Chiefs appear locked into the five seed, but they could still win the AFC West with a win over the Raiders coupled with a Broncos loss to San Diego. 

7) The NFL loves Packers-Vikings, Not Jets-Bills: The NFL chose to go with the safe bet of Packers vs. Vikings for the Sunday night match-up. Safe because both teams are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and all that is on the line is the division title. Still an interesting game, but a game Green Bay should win at home. The Jets-Bills game had a lot of great storylines to it, least of all includes the Jets chance to clinch a playoff berth against their old coach, Rex Ryan. But, the NFL and NBC didn't think it had the star power of Packers-Vikings which has Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson. 

8) Coaches Hot Seat: With the New Year, we get the coaches hot seat. Coaches likely on their last days include: Tom Coughlin - NY Giants; Mike Mularky - Tennessee;  Rex Ryan - Buffalo; Dan Campbell - Miami; Chuck Pagano - Indianapolis; Mike Pettine - Cleveland; Mike McCoy - San Diego; Jim Caldwell - Detroit; Sean Payton - New Orleans; Jason Garrett - Dallas; Chip Kelly - Philadelphia; Jim Tomsula - San Francisco, and Jeff Fisher - St. Louis. Granted some of these coaches might get one last shot to keep their job in 2016, but these are the guys who are all on the hot seat going into Week 17. 


Changes are Coming for the Giants

Tom Coughlin's days in New York might be numbered after all. Not that this comes as any surprise considering the horrific season the Giants have endured this year, and the fact that Big Blue will be playoff-less for the fourth straight season, but according to Giants101.com, who quoted an article from the Record, doomsday is coming.

"Co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch were ready to give head coach Tom Coughlin & Co. a pass if they could win their final two games, hoping that health and substantial cap space could resurrect the organization in 2016.

But that didn't happen. Instead, the Giants were embarrassed by the Minnesota Vikings on National TV and it all but ensured Mara had to live up to his "win or else" mandate.

Subsequently, The Record reports Giants brass spent the majority of Monday morning in conference calls as they evaluated the job status of not just Tom Coughlin, but the entire team from top to bottom," (GIANTS101.COM)

So there you go, it appears that Coughlin is entering his final full week as head coach of the New York Giants. The man deserves a better ending than this, but losing ones job never has a dignified ending to it. Only Bill Cowher is the only recent coach to go out at the top when he surprisingly retired as head coach of the Steelers one year after winning a Super Bowl back in 2006.

The Giants need to fully evaluate the entire football operation. Not only will they need a new head coach and coaching staff, they should let GM Jerry Reese walk after years of mediocre drafts and horrible decisions in free agency. If the Giants are going to be to true to a win or else mantra, an entire house cleaning is needed to turn the page.  

Broncos win over Bengals brings AFC Playoff focus onto NY Jets

With the Denver Broncos 20-17 overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, the New York Jets become the focus of the AFC playoff picture. While their win-and-your-in scenario was established after Sunday's win over New England,  Gang Green now has a clearer understanding of how they can get in, and where they might end up playing come the playoffs.

1) The Jets have to win on Sunday. There are no backdoors involving the Denver Broncos now. Had the Broncos lost on Monday, it would have created a scenario where the Jets could have moved up to the number five seed in the AFC playoff picture with the Steelers and Broncos battling one another for the number six seed. Now that Denver has won, the only thing the Broncos are worried about is beating San Diego on Sunday, and they will be the number two seed. The Jets have to win on Sunday, or get another Steelers loss to get into the playoffs.

2) The Jets most likely playoff opponent would be the Bengals in the wild card game. A rematch of sorts from the 2009 playoffs when the Jets went into Cincy and beat a heavily favored Bengals team in the Wild Card game. This match-up could be a blessing or a nightmare for the Jets.

It's a blessing if the Bengals revert to their usual ways of buffoonery in the postseason. The Bengals have not won a playoff game since George H.W. Bush was the President of the United States in 1991. Marvin Lewis is 0-6 in the postseason, and Andy Dalton has taken a lot of heat as well for his postseason failures. Plus, if Dalton isn't healthy enough to go, the Jets could end up seeing A.J. McCarran who has proved little command under center for the Bengals.

For the same reasons this matchup is a blessing it could also be a nightmare for the Jets. Why? The Bengals are long overdue for a playoff victory. The Bengals will walk into that game, no matter who it is against ticked off, and I am sure there are a handful of players on that team who remember the drubbing they took from the Jets back in 2009. This will not be fun, especially if Andy Dalton is healthy and on the money.

3) The Jets could still end up seeing the Texans. Yes, believe it or not there is a scenario where the Jets could see the Texans in the first round rather than Cincinnati. How does that play out? 1) the Jets have to win, obviously, on Sunday to get into the playoffs. 2) the Bengals beat the Ravens to improve to 12-4. 3) The Chiefs beat the Raiders to improve to 11-5, and the Broncos lose to the Chargers to fall to 11-5. The Jets would have a better conference record than Denver, and would beat out the Broncos for the five seed. Therefore the Jets would then head to Houston for a rematch of November's loss to the Texans.

The Jets could also end up seeing Houston, if they win in Buffalo on Sunday and the Chiefs lose to the Raiders, while Denver and Cincinnati both win in Week 17. Yes, it's getting confusing.

4) The Jets could also see Denver in round 1, if the final standings are based on conference record only, meaning the Bengals would beat out Denver for the number two slot, pushing the Broncos to the three seed. But that is not likely since Denver beat Cincinnati head-to-head.

Of course all of this depends on the Jets winning on Sunday in Buffalo first.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Yankees pull of steal by acquiring Chapman from Reds

The Yankees have been the stealth team of the Major League Baseball offseason thus far. Earlier this month they swooped into the middle of the Ben Zobrist deal to Chicago, and acquired second baseman Starlin Castro from the Cubs, giving New York a much needed answer at second base. On Monday they pulled off another swift trade, by acquiring closer Aroldis Chapman and his expiring contract from the Cincinnati Reds for four young prospects.

Chapman clearly fills a hole in the Yankees pen after the club traded away Justin Wilson to the Tigers for minor leaguers Chad Green and Luis Cessa. More importantly he gives the Yankees a logjam for the ninth inning role. Obviously, Andrew Miller earned the right to start Spring Training as the Yankees closer, having saved 36 games and pitching to a 2.04 ERA.

Yet, Miller had never been a full time closer until last season, and has been best known as a middle reliever who can come in a tight spot in the seventh and eighth inning. The Yankees thought Dellin Betances would have been the closer last Spring Training, but he fit so well into the set-up man role that they left him there to hold down 29 games, while striking out 131 in 84 innings.

Therefore it would surprise no one if Chapman ends up getting the opportunity to close at some point. The guy has been one of the most dominant relievers in the game with a fastball that reaches into the 100s, and breaking pitches in the 90s. In short, he's one nasty dude. Not to mention Chapman has complied 546 strikeouts in 319 innings, and 146 saves too boot.

Nothing wrong with plenty of options. The Yankees now have three legitimate relievers who can close down games for the team  at any time. Not to mention Chapman's addition means that the Yankees potentially shorten the game to a six inning contest, where their already questionable rotation just has to keep the game close until the later innings.

Off the field however, the move will raise eyebrows. Chapman is being investigated for an October 30 incident involving alleged choking and punching of his girlfriend and shooting off eight rounds in a garage. He also could face a suspension of up to 45 days from Major League Baseball for the gun incident.  While he is talented, it comes with a great risk because there is no telling what kind of trouble he could get into further once the investigation is completed.

But as they say, sometimes the greatest risk brings the greatest rewards. This is a no-brainer, especially for a one-year rental.

Inside the Patriots Controversial Coin Toss in OT

During halftime of the the Sunday night shellacking of the New York Giants, Bob Costas decided to go on a rant about overtime rules in light of the Patriots 26-20 loss to the New York Jets earlier in the afternoon.

Costas sounded like a jilted Boston fan by demanding that the NFL change the rules of overtime because it was not "fair" that the Patriots never got a chance to possess the football. Costas' reasoning being that if the Super Bowl were determined by a coin flip that it would be unjust.

While I agree that a Super Bowl determined by essentially a "coin flip" would leave a sour taste, the overtime rule now is better than it used to be. Does it make it perfect? No. But it's better. The old rule didn't require teams to drive the length of the field to score a touchdown. Teams essentially could drive to their opponents 40 yard line and kick the game winner, in other words, the winner would be determined on the flip of a coin.

The current rule forces teams to drive the entire length of the field and earn the win with a touchdown. It is up to the defense to do their job and stop the opponent. If the defense succeeds, their offense will get the football with a chance to win the game any which way they can with either a touchdown, or field goal.

To say that the Patriots got cheated by not touching the football in overtime against the Jets is purely sour grapes. Bill Belichick played the momentum game, and was in his right to do so. In the third quarter after the Patriots recovered a Ryan Fitzpatrick fumble and brought it back for a touchdown, the momentum of the game totally changed. The Jets final four possessions ended in a field goal and three punts. In fact the Jets had only 12 plays and 38 yards in the final three drives of regulation. If Belichick isn't lying about the decision, in order to take heat off his own player, then he clearly felt he could stop the Jets once more. He had the evidence.

Belichick knew what he was doing. His logic: If the Patriots don't sore a touchdown in overtime they risked having the Jets get the football back. Why not play defense, force the Jets to go three and out and get the ball back with a chance to win it. While this logic is horrifically flawed, it is logic that had it worked, we'd be praising Belichick as a genius on Monday.

I will be honest, the Patriots screwed this up. They should have taken the football and let Tom Brady win the game by himself with a touchdown. But had that happened would the overtime rules be less fair had the Patriots scored a touchdown to start overtime with the Jets never touching to football? My guess is Costas wouldn't be complaining had the result been Patriots 26, Jets 20.

Twitter reacts to Costas on OT and Pats.
The rules are the rules. The Jets took advantage of a horrific mistake by the Patriots, shoved it down their throat and won the football game with a heroic 80-yard drive that included a 48-yard catch and run by a rising superstar in Quincy Enunwa. All the Patriots had to do was tackle Enunwa on second and eight, on a play that started out as a screen. The Jets probably would have punted, and voila, Brady gets the football.

I find it truly disturbing that some people feel that a franchise like the Patriots, who got so many breaks over the past 15 years should have a rule changed in their honor because they made a simple mistake. There is no controversy here. This is not a "Tuck Rule" situation like we saw in 2001 with the Patriots and Raiders in the playoffs. This is not the Phil Luckett game in 1998 on Thanksgiving when Luckett misheard what Steelers running back Jerome Bettis told him on the coin toss, awarding the ball instead to the Lions.

This was instead a coach who felt he could outsmart the Jets and instead outsmarted himself. There is no room for an unnecessary rule change based on Bill Belichick getting caught with his proverbial coaching pants down.

What Costas and Patriots need to do is very simple. The Jets won, get over it.

Giants Fail to Show Up in Minnesota, McAdoo Head Coach Rumors

VIKINGS 49
GIANTS 17

There is not much to say about this game, in fact there is not much to say about the Giants, period.

The Giants got manhandled by a Minnesota Vikings team that had everything to play for. A playoff berth was a stake for the Vikes, and they got the W they needed in order to set up a dinner date with the Green Bay Packers for the division title next Sunday night.

The Giants? They played like they couldn't wait for the season to be over with. They couldn't do anything right. Their offense was nonexistent, with a horrific 1-for-11 on third downs, seven penalties and an ejection. Eli Manning was putrid, throwing three interceptions, including one by Harrison Smith who brought it back to the house for a 35-yard touchdown. He almost threw two Pick-6 interceptions, but Captain Munnerlyn was tackled at the Giants four yard line. Didn't matter, because Adrian Peterson finished it off with a score to make it 29-3 in the third quarter.

Minnesota never relented, even when the Giants did something positive, like the broken coverage on Ruben Randal's 72-yard touchdown reception from Manning, the Vikings responded in the form of two Jerick McKinnon touchdowns.

The 49 points allowed by the Giants on Sunday night was the second most points they have allowed all season. They gave up 52 to New Orleans back in November. In addition, the Giants became the first team in the Super Bowl era to go four straight years without a playoff appearance after a Super Bowl win. Great job Big Blue.

Changes are coming soon to the Meadowlands, and it may not be a good thing either. According to CBS Sports, Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo could be the next head coach of the Giants.

McAdoo has clicked with franchise quarterback Eli Manning, and the offense has kept the team competitive despite issues with the offensive line and at running back. McAdoo interviewed for the Browns' head-coaching position two years ago and did well in the process, sources said, though it was thought he still needed more seasoning at the time. Two years in the cauldron that is New York has further prepared him, and the Giants have a long history of promoting from within and maintaining a continuum of staff and philosophy. Furthermore, McAdoo has a strong relationship with Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who has lacked the talent to run his schemes effectively this season in his return to New York. Those two would form an appealing tandem to Giants' brass, with a tradition of sticking within the organization a hallmark of the franchise.The report cites McAdoo's "strong" relationship with Eli Manning, and the belief he had the offense "clicking."

 I find that hard to believe considering the Giants got their doors blown-off without Odell Beckham in the lineup. McAdoo would be a huge mistake for the Giants to promote as head coach. He's too young, and has shown no innovation as offensive coordinator of this franchise.

The Giants should go out of the organization and find a coach. My choice for Big Blue: Sean Payton. Yes, while Bounty Gate was a big stain on Payton's career, he won big in New Orleans and turned that franchise into a prominent football team. Remember when Payton first got to New Orleans there was talk of moving the franchise out of Louisiana, and that was even before Hurricane Katrina. Payton was the Giants OC back in the late 90s and early 00's and was much more innovative in that role than McAdoo has been. Payton would be the wise and right choice for the Giants.

Jets Storm Past Pats in OT, Control Playoff Destiny

JETS 26
PATRIOTS 20 - OT

A week ago it appeared that the Jets would be on the outside looking in at the playoffs come mid-January. With the Jets playing the Patriots this week, and needing wins by the 4-10 Ravens, or 3-11 Browns, or the Andy Dalton-less Bengals, it looked highly unlikely the Jets would find a nice gift under their tree for Christmas.

That ... is why they play the game!

The New York Jets who have crafted one of the best stories in the NFL this year, a story has gone somewhat unnoticed at times around the League, had perhaps their best win of the season by stealing victory from the jaws of defeat in a thrilling overtime battle against the hated Patriots, while getting their wish with a Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The Jets now control their own fate as they head into Buffalo for Week 17. A win next week and the Jets are in the postseason.

The Jets thoroughly dominated this game, even though the Patriots came from behind the tie the game and send it into overtime. They harassed Tom Brady for much of the afternoon, keeping the MVP quarterback on his back foot constantly with uneasy incompletions, two sacks and an interception. They neutralized the game-changer known as Rob Gronkowski, holding him to just four catches for 86 yards. In fact Gronk went three quarters of this game with only one catch.

On the flip side, the Jets offense continued to sprout its wings with a nice balance of running and passing, with Brandon Marshall, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Quincy Enura playing the lead roles. Marshall had his ninth 100 yard receiving game of the season, hauling in nine passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzpatrick, while a little wild early, settled in for another terrific performance, throwing for 296 yards and three scores. The three touchdown passes by Fitzpatrick tied him with Vinny Testaverde (1998) for the most touchdowns in a single season with 29.


Had the Jets not missed out on a couple of deep passes by Ryan Fitzpatrick, and had they not fumbled the football away in a critical third quarter score for the Pats that cut the Jets lead from 17-6 to 17-13, the Jets would have blown the Patriots out of the building.

Yet, here we were heading for overtime after the Patriots figured out the Jets defense with Brady connecting with Gronkowski twice on two huge fourth down plays to get the football to the Jets nine yard line at the two minute warning. After the timeout, Brady found a wide open James White for the score, tying the game at 20.

Then it got interesting. During the coin toss Patriots captain Matthew Slater told the official that the Patriots wanted to kick, then after a few seconds tried to take it back. The official took his first command to have New England kick to the Jets to start overtime. There was no real argument by Bill Belichick, and after the game the Patriots said their intention was to kick-off in overtime and put their defense on the field first.

It was up to the Patriots to stop the Jets and they didn't do it. There is no controversy in that. New York had to go the length of the field to win the game and they grabbed the bull by the horns and won it! On second and eight, Fitzpatrick rolled to his left and found Enuwa on a quick out toward the sideline. Enuwa escaped the tackler and took off down the sideline for a 48-yard gain to the Patriots 30 yard line. Too bad Bill Belichick didn't have a crystal ball after all.



Fitzpatrick then connected with Marshall for 20 more yards, before capping it off with a six-yard strike to Eric Decker for the touchdown. In celebration, Decker did a New Jersey version of the Lambeau Leap into the crowd. The Jets, after blowing a 20-13 lead, found a way to avoid the taste of a major disappointment and won the football game against their hated rival.

The Jets (10-5) now find themselves in full control of their playoff fates. A win in Buffalo next week against former coach Rex Ryan and the Jets will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2010. A loss combined with a Steelers win could mean New York is out of it.

NOTES: Speaking of Brandon Marshall, he became the first player in the NFL to have six straight seasons of 100 catches. Marshall had the Jets first two touchdowns of the day, including an incredible 33-yard grab underneath tight single coverage. He was a man-beast.

The NFL decided NOT to put the tasty Bills-Jets matchup in primetime next Sunday. Instead they elected to fill the Sunday Night Football game with Vikings-Packers. The winner wins the NFC North and hosts Seattle in the Wild Card game. The loser gets to go to Washington in the other Wild Card game. Yet, I feel the NFL dropped the ball on a great chance to feature an incredibly dramatic matchup between the Jets and the Bills. Rex Ryan trying to keep his old team out of the playoffs, and Ryan Fitzpatrick trying to show his old team, the Bills, that he can get to the postseason. Kick-off is at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 3.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Redskins sink Eagles, and end Giants season

REDSKINS 38
EAGLES 24

The Giants 2015 season is over, and they didn't even get a chance to take the field to keep it alive. The Giants needed the Philadelphia Eagles to defeat the Washington Redskins on Saturday night in order to give Big Blue a chance to capture the division IF they won their final two games of the regular season.

Now it doesn't matter. The Redskins manhandled the Eagles 38-24 on Saturday behind another big night by quarterback Kirk Cousins and tight end Jordan Reed to capture the franchises first division title since 2012. Cousins, who will best be remembered for screwing up a spike play just before the half, threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Meanwhile Reed was a monster, hauling in nine balls for 129 yards and two scores.

Even former Indianapolis Colt receiver, Pierre Garcon got into the act with 80 yards receiving and touchdown.

For the Giants this is a lesson learned. Never rely on other teams to do your dirty work. The Giants had a great opportunity this year with both Dallas and Philadelphia struggling to take over this division and blew it big time.  From five late blown leads to the Odell Beckham fiasco the Giants don't deserve to be a playoff team this year.

While it doesn't matter what the Giants do the next two games, it would help them to move forward with an 8-8 finish to this nightmarish year. However, Tom Coughlin and maybe even GM Jerry Reese might be out of their jobs come January 4. This will be the the fourth straight season the Giants missed the playoffs, and this season has been the most excruciating to watch.

Big changes are coming for Big Blue in the New Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Murphy Stings Mets, Signs with Nationals

The Mets will see Daniel Murphy a lot after all this upcoming season, and it won't be in their uniform. The former Mets second baseman has signed with NL East rival, the Washington Nationals on Christmas Eve with a three year contract. The dollars were not disclosed immediately.

Murphy heads to D.C. riding an incredible ride in the postseason last fall, in which he homered in six straight games, setting a new Major League record and earning him NLCS MVP honors after the Mets swept away the Chicago Cubs.

Murphy has always been a pretty decent hitter. A lifetime .288 hitter with 62 home runs and 402 RBI, Murphy hit .281 in 2015 with a single-season high 14 homers. Murphy has tremendous pop from the left side of the plate, and is adept at pulling the ball down the line. When going well he get knock the ball out of the ball park, or line doubles off the walls in right and right-center.

He also provides some steady veteran leadership for a Nationals team that desperately needs leaders. Last season the Nats fell apart in the second half of the season, as Murphy's Mets glided past them for the division title. The lasting image of Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon fighting in the dugout became the metaphor to the 2015 season for the Nationals.

While Murphy is a good bat and presence to add to the Washington franchise, his defense leaves a lot to be desired. He committed six errors at second base last year with a fielding percentage of .979. However the biggest error of the year for Murphy came in Game 4 of the World Series when he booted a ball in the ninth inning that led to a Royals come-from-behind win. In a lot of ways, the Nationals are getting a better hitter than Ian Desmond, but a player who has about the same amount of issues in the field.

As for the Mets, this a huge slap in the face for them. While they never committed to bringing Murphy back into the fold, losing him to a division rival has to sting. Fred and Jeff Wilpon are a lot of criticism this winter already, after the team acquired an expiring contract in Neil Walker, and signed a below average outfielder in Alejandro De Aza. The team has shown no interest in pursuing free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who single-handedly carried the team into playoff contention down the stretch last year.

Cespedes is seeking a contract in the neighborhood of 5 - to - 6 years, something the Mets don't want to commit to. As a result, Cespedes will be elsewhere come 2016, while the Mets still will be without a legitimate power threat in the middle of their line-up.

Call it a Merry Christmas for Daniel Murphy, and a lump of coal for Mets fans.

Cohen's Corner NFL Week 15 Takeaways

Week 15 may have ended a couple days ago, but there is still plenty of fallout from this insane week in the National Football League thanks in large part to the antics of Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Carolina cornerback Josh Norman. So much so that it once again brings up the integrity of the league into question, something that is becoming an annual and weekly occurrence. More on that in a minute. Meanwhile, Week 15 provided us with a handful of answers to the playoff picture as things begin to crystalize for January.

Let's look back and look forward.

1) The Beckham Fiasco Highlights the NFL's Dying Credibility: By now everyone knows what happened on Sunday at MetLife Stadium between Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman. The two spent much of the afternoon trash-talking and pushing and shoving one another that it took away from what was a really excellent game to watch between the Giants and Panthers.

Beckham was suspended for his actions, justly so, since nobody should launch themselves at any player during the course of a game the way Beckham did. His actions were immature and selfish. That being said, so were the actions of Norman and practice squad player Marcus Ball. Both players have been accused of threatening Beckham before the game, and the Panthers were seen passing a bat around the field while making those threats.

While Beckham's suspension is justified, Norman and Ball should also be suspended. In fact, the Panthers and coach Ron Rivera should be fined for allowing the team to even walk onto the field with baseball bats. There is no place for threats and weapons on a football field ever. This moment speaks to the dying credibility of the NFL in general. Players such as Beckham and Norman have been trumped up as two of the best at their position, and when both players spent the afternoon fighting, the officials did nothing to break it up and eject both players from the game. Perhaps the NFL has Brady-itits, a fear of punishing star players for their own irresponsible actions because they will run to the players union for support. The moral decay by the players in the NFL is a total disgrace. From Ray Rice to Adrian Peterson and now this disaster, it will take a League and commissioner who cares about the image of the sport to change things. Until then moments like Sunday's Giants-Panthers game will continue.

2) The Giants gave up on their coach with that performance:While the Beckham nonsense played a lead roll in Sunday's game, the Giants were trailing 35-7 at one point in this game before making a great comeback. The Giants were so putrid early in this one that they looked like a team that gave up on their head coach, Tom Coughlin. Coughlin is on thin ice down the stretch here, and there is very good chance the Giants will miss the playoffs. Coughlin's inability to control this team is too apparent, and sadly his time is coming to a close.

3) The Steelers not only beat the Broncos but may have eliminated the Jets from the playoffs: Trailing 27-10 at the half, the Steelers put together a dominant second half surge and beat back the Broncos 34-27 in Pittsburgh on Sunday. The win sent the Steelers to their ninth win, lifting them over the Jets for the final playoff spot in the AFC. If the Steelers, Jets and Chiefs all finish with the same record, then Pittsburgh and Kansas City will be in the postseason. The Steelers win the tie-breaker with the Jets based on strength of schedule and quality of opponents.

As for Gang Green, after their sloppy effort in Dallas last Saturday, they now have to get set for the top seeded Patriots at the Meadowlands. The Jets chances of making the playoffs are not good.

4) However, the Broncos are no guarantee to make it to the playoffs, either: There is a back door for the Jets to get in, if they are so lucky. That back door involves the sinking Denver Broncos. The Broncos (10-4) are now no guarantee to make the playoffs, having lost a potential tie-breaker based on conference win percentage to the surging Chiefs IF both teams end up tied. If Denver were to lose one of their final two games (vs. Cincinnati and San Diego) then the Jets could get into the playoffs IF they win out. Complicated I'm sure, but there is a chance.

5) The Redskins Will Win the NFC East: The Redskins are just one win away from winning the NFC East. The team that nobody picked to win the division when the season started has been tremendous at home this year (6-2 to be exact) having been led by the red hot Kirk Cousins. Cousins was left off the Pro Bowl ballot at quarterback this year, but his numbers say he should be there, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. He threw four touchdowns against Buffalo, and has stabilized a rather unstable position in DC. The Skins need to win in Philadelphia on Saturday to finish it off. Not an easy task, but with a division title at stake, expect the Redskins to play with added motivation to take care of business.

6) Rex Ryan joins the hot seat in Buffalo: After the Bills 35-25 loss to the Redskins on Sunday, word is starting to swirl around Buffalo, NY that Rex Ryan is in trouble. Reported initially by George Willis of the New York Post, Ryan told his players that if things don't improve, there will be "drastic changes." Sounds like there is a lot of pressure on good ole Rexy after another year of broken promises. Told ya' Buffalo.

7) Chip Kelly needs to be fired, period. Speaking of the coaches hot seat, the Eagles really need to think about parting ways with Chip Kelly. His team looked like they surrendered against the Cardinals on Sunday, and have lost four of their last six to put themselves on the outside looking in. This was team that was favored to win the division and it has been a total disaster. There is even speculation that running back DeMarco Murray wants out. Fire Kelly. Trade Kelly to Tennessee. Just get him out of town, Eagles.

8) Have the Chargers played their last game in San Diego? What about the Rams? Looks like
either the Chargers or Rams, or even both franchises played their final games in their respective cities of St. Louis and San Diego this past week. Both teams are hellbent of getting to Los Angeles in 2016.

St. Louis owner Stan Kroenke has been planning to build a stadium in Carson, California for some time now with little interest in keeping the Rams in St. Louis. Meanwhile the Chargers had an agreement with the Raiders to move together to a shared stadium in LA.

While that talk is still possible, the Raiders movement has quieted down somewhat. There are now reports that the NFL owners want to see the Rams stay in St. Louis, and would favor an owner for owner trade. According to NBC Sports, Kroenke would trade the Rams to Chargers owner Dean Spanos, with Spanos getting the Rams in return. The Rams would stay in St. Louis, while the Chargers, a long time resident of San Diego, would pack up and head for Hollywood.
While this seems to be the lesser of many evils, just the idea of the Raiders and Chargers moving in together and the Raiders becoming an NFC team is enough to make one sick, I hate the fact that San Diego could lose a team that has called that city home for almost five decades.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Twitter is Wrong! Odell Beckham Suspension Upheld

This is why I hate Twitter. Ok, I like Twitter, but I also hate for moments like this. Around 2:30 this afternoon former Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes tweeted out that Odell Beckham Jr.'s suspension would be overturned. About an hour or so later, ESPN's Ron Jaworski said that he found out from a source in NYC that Beckham will not be suspended. Of course Jaworski has since taken that Tweet down.



Beckham's suspension will be upheld. He will remain suspended and will not play on Sunday night in Minnesota, a game that might be meaningless to the Giants, who could be eliminated before the game ever takes place. If the Redskins beat the Eagles on Saturday, then Washington will have won the NFC East. 

This display by both Tynes and Jaworski is journalism at its worst. Someone starts a rumor on Twitter and it catches fire. Both should be ashamed of themselves. In fact, anyone who bought into this garbage should be ashamed of themselves. 

As for Beckham, he is getting what he deserves. While the Carolina Panthers are very much culpable in the matter, and Josh Norman and Marcus Ball should also be suspended for their roles in the incident, there is no room for Beckham's antics. Punching, wrestling and launching oneself into another player is unwarranted in the NFL. This is not WWE, but on Sunday at MetLife Stadium it felt like Wrestlemania made its way to the gridiron for a Christmas special. 

Good job by the League, and James Thrash for upholding this penalty. Beckham needs to accept this and grow up. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Open Mike Program: Odell Beckham Fiasco Discussion

Here is a link to my radio show on BlogTalk Radio as I discuss the Odell Beckham news with my colleagues Daniel Feuerstein of Jets Beat on Fan Favorites.com) and Doug Rush of SportsMedia101.com.  Enjoy!

Getting set to talk about the Jets, Giants and the Odell controversy on Open Mike. Tune in at 5:30 p.m.

Mets Go Cheap, Sign Mediocre De Aza

The Mets have a very simple formula. Inspite of tremendous on-the-field success last season they will stay to their guns of not spending much money on free agents in the offseason. Tuesday the Mets made the curious decision to sign journeyman outfielder Alejandro De Aza to a one year, $4.5 million deal.

Why? I have no idea. This is a signing that reeks of the Wilpon's and their cheap ways. Remember Chris Young a couple years ago? How about John Mayberry Jr. last off-season? De Aza is not an upgrade, even though the Mets will trump this as the beginning of a platoon situation in centerfield between De Aza and the light hitting, and severely overpaid Juan Lagares.

This is a total shame. De Aza has never hit better than .281 in a season, and hasn't hit more than 17 homers in a season, which he did back in 2013 for the Chicago White Sox. He's average, in fact, maybe more like below average offensively. How is this a benefit to a team desperately in need of a power bat? The team passed on Denard Span, who, while not a power hitter, would have given the Mets a legit lead-off hitter that would have moved both Curtis Granderson and David Wright down in the order. What about Yoenis Cespedes? Why bother asking. If they aren't willing to pay Span why would they break the bank for Cespedes?

Furthermore another crippling article about the Wilpon's financial problems has surfaced on the news site Vocativ.com in an article by Howard Megdal that details how the Mets are still paying off their debts and creditors from the Bernie Madoff fiasco, almost 10 years after the fact.

Beckham Gets 1 Game Suspension, But Panthers "Bat-Gate" is developing

Odell Beckham Jr. got exactly what he deserved from the NFL, a one game suspension for his antics on Sunday afternoon that not only put himself at risk of injury, but put his opponents and teammates at risk as well.

However it is the developing story that came with news of Beckham's suspension regarding the Carolina Panthers and baseball bats that is raising a lot of eyebrows late Monday night.

First of all, Beckham had to be suspended. While he will appeal the suspension to the best of his ability, his behavior on Sunday against Carolina was beyond unprofessional. He pushed, punched, wrestled and taunted his opponents to the point it became a distraction to the team. What's more his antics were purely selfish. Instead of trying to be a professional and ignore any taunts that were coming his way from Josh Norman and company, he let it get the better of him, and instead put more energy into seeking vengeance than trying to help his team win.

No greater example of Beckham's belligerence than when he launched himself head first at Norman on a play that never involved Beckham. The hit launched more pushing and shoving as well as off-setting penalties on both Beckham and Norma, but the fact is Beckham did this without caring about his own safety and the safety of those who had nothing to do with this fight.

That is why he has to be suspended and fined every penny of the $52,000 that he will have to pay to the NFL.

What's most disturbing out of all of this is the allegations on the Panthers. Reports surfaced on Monday that practice squad player Marcus Ball came onto the MetLife Stadium field clutching a baseball bat in his hand and was "threatening" Beckham Jr. Ball was one of a handful of unnamed Panthers who were throwing verbal barbs and gay slurs at the wide receiver, which clearly got into his head. Furthermore, it was reported via Twitter by Giants Daily that Hall of Famer Deion Sanders got word from Beckham that Norman was bragging that they were going to "end (Beckham's) career."

Videos have surfaced showing Ball walking around the field during warm-ups with the bat in his hand. At one point he walks up to Beckham and the two exchange words before Beckham's Giant teammates break it up.

If these allegations are true, the NFL needs to do more than just fine Norman, there needs to be a concentrated effort to look into what the Panthers are doing during pregame warmups and suspensions need to be handed out. There is no reason why any team should be walking around the football field wielding baseball bats, even it if it is for some ridiculous motivational ploy.

The fact that Ron Rivera, who was a member of the one of the best and dirtiest teams of the 1980s in the Chicago Bears, has allowed this kind of temperament to preset in his locker room is another disgrace all to itself.

The NFL needs to suspend Norman, and fine the Panthers for this practice. They need to do it now. Why? What if the Panthers should advance to the Super Bowl in February and this tradition of wielding bats continues into the playoffs. The NFL will never hear the end of it, and it will be really ugly on media day a la deflategate.

 As for Beckham and the Giants they should be embarrassed. The fact that Beckham has the right to do whatever he feels like without any restraints is like playing with fire. From ridiculous christmas themed cleats (which are illegal) to becoming the poster boy for insane catches, and his obvious desire to flaunt his skills during pregame warm-ups, Beckham is a headache. Let us not forget this is the same guy who decided it was great idea to kick a football after he got upset against the Jets and cost his team 15 yards.

Tom Coughlin should have benched Beckham on Sunday to save not only the receiver, but save his team. Instead he let the free-for-all continue. The fact that a once hardcore disciplinarian can't get a hold of his star player speaks volumes that he should be fired at the end of this nightmare season.

Then there are the refs. Why didn't they eject Norman and Beckham? That is the biggest question out of this mess. The NFL has too many moments of epic fails by their referees this year, and this is the latest one. The job of the referee is to take control of the madness when it things get out of control. They let the lunatics run the asylum, and that is a total disgrace as well.

There are no saints in this fiasco. It's a travesty, another dark day in a long line of dark days for the NFL in 2015.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Beckham's antics overshadow Giants late rally in loss

PANTHERS 38
GIANTS 35

Were it not for a poor effort for three quarters chuck full of mistakes, missed opportunities 
 and Odell Beckham Jr. making out like the biggest thug in the NFL, the Giants could have pulled out the upset against the Carolina Panthers. 

It wasn't so much that Big Blue ran out of time during their improbable 28-point comeback from a 35-7 deficit, as it was the feeling of what could have been. With a loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Giants playoff fates are virtually over, considering they have to win their final two games and hope that Washington loses out.

A great comeback in the fourth quarter can't erase that fact. And that great comeback can't erase the fact that the Giants looked ill-prepared once again, and looked like a team that didn't care that its head coach is likely to get fired after this nightmare of a season ends.

However, the story of the day is not going to be how the Giants' playoff hopes may have gone down in flames. The story of this day has everything to do with Odell Beckham Jr. and not for a good reason either.

Beckham displayed the maturity of a screaming 5-year-old child who didn't get the teddy bear he wanted for Christmas, and will let mommy know he's not happy about it. Right from he onset when Beckham beat Josh Norman down the sideline and dropped an easy touchdown that would have made it 7-0 Giants, it was not going to be a good day for the second year pro.

From that point forward, everyone's attention went directly at the battle between Beckham and Norman as the two of them were punching, pushing, shoving and slapping each other like it was a boxing match. In fact the hostility got so bad that it was clear that Beckham was starting most of the altercations. At one point with the Giants desperately trying to get back into the game on an early third quarter drive, Beckham was called for two unnecessary roughness penalties, including one in which he sent himself head first into Norman like a heat-seeking missile.

Beckham was not ejected. In fact one of the penalties was off-setting on both undisciplined players for fighting. However the message sent by the League's officials, as well as the coaches on both teams was not a good one: "Boys will be Boys." What we got was the NFL's worst nightmare, an equivalent of WWE wrestling that has no business in the NFL.

While Beckham can not be lumped with all of the blame in this incident, since Norman certainly was doing enough pushing and shoving on his own, as well as chirping, Beckham was the main antagonist. Not only did he go after Norman, but he also went after Cortland Finnegan on a number of occasions as well.

Beckham no doubt will be discipline by the league with a fine, but that is not enough. His antics on Sunday were out of pure selfishness. He was frustrated that he had zero catches in the first half and wanted to take it out on somebody. This is a spoiled brat, who has been pumped up as one of the League's best receiver and he is believing his own press. Blame the media for the Beckham star, as they highlight every one handed catch he makes in warm-ups. Too bad he can't do that when it matters, like in the game.

If the NFL and/or the Giants want to really send a message to Beckham, they should suspend him for the last two games of the season. The Giants are going nowhere anyway. Maybe a timeout in the corner is something this guy needs.

Sadly this story took away from a tremendous football game. The Panthers had dominated the Giants for three quarters, before New York quickly made a second half surge. In the third quarter, Eli Manning's touchdown to Will Tye that made it 35-14 slowly got the ball rolling; however it was Rashad Jennings' 38-yard burst to pay-dirt that really that put the Giants back in it with 13:24 to go in regulation.

Cam Newton responded by driving the Panthers 62-yards on nine plays to the Giants 16, before having to settle for a field goal attempt. Fortunately for Big Blue, their late game heroics were not over yet. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie blocked the field goal and the Giants fell on it at mid field.

It looked like the Giants were in business until Manning stumbled out of the pocket and threw an ill-advised pass into the end zone that was intercepted by veteran Charles Tillman. Still the fates just were not with the Panthers. Carolina turned the football back over to the Giants on a bobbled quarterback-to-running back exchange, and New York was giving another chance, this time at the Panthers 14. Three plays later Manning found Shane Vereen for six-points, cutting the deficit to a single touchdown.

With momentum clearly on the Giants side,  New York wasted little time in tying the game, and Beckham did his best to make up for a horrible afternoon. He caught a 40-yard bomb from Manning to get the Giants into field goal range. Then on a critical 4th and five at the Panthers 14, Manning found Beckham again, this time in the end zone for the touchdown. Beckham then walked over Norman in celebration of the score.

Give the Panthers credit. They showed why they are the best team in the NFL by withstanding the Giants surge by finishing off the game with an impressive eight play drive that ate the final 1:46 of the game. Newton's best pass of the day probably came on this drive when he found Greg Olsen for 16 yards to move the ball past mid-field. Then on a critical second and ten at the Giants' 35, Newton scrambled out of the pocket, and on a bad knee, picked up 10 yards to get the field goal team closer. Carolina won it at the buzzer on a Graham Gano field goal.

While most times a comeback like this would salvage a little humility for the Giants, it still doesn't mask what was an ugly day at the Meadowlands. With Tom Coughlin's job security at so much risk, the Giants didn't do enough to win this game when the could have. The comeback accomplished nothing. The Beckham issue is a deep one, one that ultimately speaks to the amount of control Coughlin actually has on this team.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Jets Escape Dallas with Slim Playoff Hopes Alive

JETS 19
COWBOYS 16

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. The Jets won a game they should have won against a dreadful Dallas Cowboys team, but did so while trying their best to hand the Cowboys an early Christmas gift.

There were so many things that went wrong for the Jets, it is amazing that the final result came out right in the end. As they say with another cliche, good teams win bad games, sometimes.

Well, on Saturday the Jets didn't look like a playoff team for 3/4 of the game. They shot themselves in the foot with costly penalties; failed to convert on a huge fourth inches deep inside Dallas territory; watched their kicker, Randy bullock, miss both an extra point and field goal. They allowed a fourth string quarterback with a noodle of arm, who barley reaches six feet, drive Dallas into the field goal range for the game-tying kick.

Yeah it was ugly.  Had the Jets been playing the Dallas Cowboys that broke camp in August, they probably would have lost this game.

Instead the Jets averted near disaster thanks in big part to the guts of their quarterback, a bloodied Ryan Fitzpatrick. While Fitz didn't have his best day, for example, his third quarter interception, one play after Calvin Pryor gave the Jets the football back on an interception of Kellen Moore was bad; the Jets grizzled QB made the big plays when it the mattered most.

With the Jets entering the fourth quarter down 13-9, it was do or die for Gang Green on their opening possession. And Fitzpatrick was money. He connected with Brandon Marshall for 14 yards, then found Eric Decker for 13 more to the Dallas 43 yard line. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick rolled out and found Marshall for 20 yards down the side to move the chains to the Cowboys 23 yard line. A holding penalty on Brent Giacommi pushed Gang Green back ten yards, but it didn't fluster the quarterback.

On a crucial third and fourteen, Fitzpatrick stepped up the pocket and threw a laser into the hands of Quincy Enunwa for 24 yards to the Dallas three, giving an exasperated Jets team new life. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick dumped it off to Eric Decker for the easy touchdown to put the Jets up 16-13.

But leave it to the Jets on this day, a day where they were far from sharp to allow a dreadful Cowboys team to comeback. Dallas went to its fourth quarterback in Kellen Moore in the second quarter of this game when it became abundantly clear that Matt Cassel just didn't have it. Cassel was sacked for a 19-yard loss, threw a costly pick, and overall, looked stupefied against the Jets.

Moore wasn't any better. He threw an interception on the second pass he threw all day, and even threw a ball that went straight up into the air like a pop up. In the third quarter, after driving Dallas deep into Jets territory, he threw poorly timed pass into the end zone for an interception as well. In short, there is a reason nobody drafted this short quarterback from Boise State. He flat out stunk, but leave it to the Jets to let the kid look good in critical situations.

The Jets allowed Moore to tear them apart on an 11-play 51 yard drive into field goal range in a drive that 7:03 on the clock. He hit Jason Witten uncovered for seven yards on the first play from scrimmage. Moore later threaded the needle to Cole Beasley who made the catch between three Jets defenders for a 23-yard pickup. After a couple of big penalties on Dallas, Moore connected on his next three passes: Witten for 12 yards, Dez Bryant for 11 yards and Beasley again for nine more yards to move the ball to the Jets' 37 yard line.

Dallas would settle for a 50-yard field goal that hit the cross bar and bounced through, tying the game.  The fact that the Jets even allowed this to happen without any real pass rush on the young quarterback was inexcusable. Moore was asking to get roughed up by the Jets and they let him do as he pleased.

Yet, here were the Jets with 1:55 to go in the game, and they had a chance to try to win this thing in regulation. And once again, Fitzpatrick stepped up big. On a crucial third and one, Fitzpatrick saw seldom used wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins break containment and run free down the sideline. Fitz dropped a beauty in Thompkins hands and the wide out went streaking down the near side for 43 yards to the Dallas 26. Ball game. The Jets centered the football for Bullock who redeemed himself with a 40-yard field to give the Jets a 19-16 lead with 0:36 to play.

The Jets would get one more interception of Moore and that would be it, an escape from Dallas 19-16 with their playoff fates still hanging in the balance for another week.

The Jets (9-5) will watch inventively to see what the Chiefs and Steelers do on Sunday. New York needs one or both of them to lose to give Gang Green a better shot at making the playoffs this year. While lucky, the Jets will take it; and they are fully aware they have to play 1000X better next Sunday when the visiting New England Patriots roll into town two days after Christmas.

NOTES: Dallas running back Darren McFadden looked like the Darren McFadden who torched the Jets as a member of the Raiders back in 2011. McFadden ran for 100 yards on 16 carries, including a carry that went for 33 yards. The Cowboys are eliminated from the playoffs ...  finally! Jets running back duo of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell were slowed down pretty well by the Dallas defense, but between the two backs, Powell had the better day. He scored the Jets first touchdown of the day that made it 6-3 in the first quarter. Powell now has a touchdown in three consecutive games. Eric Decker now has 10 touchdowns for the Jets this season, giving Gang Green two wide outs with double-digits in TDs this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw his 26th touchdown of the year, and is now three TD passes away from Vinny Testaverde's cherished record of 29 touchdown passes from 1998.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Giants survive in Miami, three-way tie for NFC East lead

GIANTS 31
DOLPHINS 24

It was not pretty on Monday night. Call a match-up of two teams who did everything in their power to lose a football game, and at the end of the day it was the Dolphins who made more bone headed plays than the Giants as New York pulled away with a 31-24 win in South Beach. The Giants (6-7) now find themselves in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East.

How many people want Tom Coughlin fired now? Didn't think there would be too many after Monday's win.

Give a lot of credit to the Giants in this one. For a team that has seen far too many leads late in games disappear, the Giants mounted three different comebacks against the Dolphins on Monday Night Football, and pulled away in the fourth quarter thanks to incredible heroics by Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.

The Giants trailed by scores of 7-3; 14-10; 17-10 and 24-17, and never wavered. It wasn't pretty either. The Giants allowed two rushing touchdown's to Dolphins running back Lamar Miller, who hadn't had a rushing touchdown in well over a month. They even let Ryan Tannehill pick them apart at times, including a 47-yard bomb to Kenny Stills to give the Fish a seven point lead in the third quarter.

Yet, the Giants never gave in. Perhaps the turning point of the night came late in the second quarter when Manning hit Odell Beckham Jr for 45 yards to the Dolphins 30. Tack on 15 more yards for pass interference and the Giants were in business. Two plays later, Manning found Will Tye in the back corner of the end zone for the tying score. The Dolphins were out of their element.

After Miami quickly took the lead in the third quarter, the Giants grinded out a 9-play 80-yard drive that culminated in Beckham Jr. making another incredible catch in the corner of the end zone on his tip toes. It looked initially that Beckham had his front foot out of bounds, but after further review, the call was overturned and Beckham was awarded a touchdown, after one of the images clearly showed enough grass between Beckham's foot and the sideline. Suddenly it was 24-all.


The Dolphins would never answer again. They wound up punting on their next four possessions, and only once got into Giants territory, as they shot themselves in the foot with countless dumb penalties. Overall, Miami was penalized 12 times for 123 yards.

The Giants finally put the game to rest with 11:13 to play in regulation when Manning hit a wide open Beckham Jr. down the middle of the field at the 40 yard line, and the speedy wide out did the rest, dashing past stunned Dolphin defenders to the end zone for a 84-yard touchdown. It was the second longest of the season for Beckham Jr. who had an 87-yard TD against the Jets the week prior.

With the 31-24 win, the Giants are now in a three-way tie atop the NFC East. In addition, the win also means Big Blue will play at least one more primetime game in two weeks when the visit the Minnesota Vikings at frigid TCF Bank Stadium.

But, before the Giants see the Vikes, they have to tussle with the 13-0 Carolina Panthers. This will be no easy test, and the Giants have lost their last two home games, but the Giants can take solace in knowing the franchise has been here before. In 1998, a 5-8 Giants team ruined the 13-0 Broncos dream of a perfect season with a 20-16 win at the Meadowlands. And we all know what happened in 2007 when the Giants knocked off the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl.

While it is certainly a tall order, the Giants desperately need the game against Carolina. With Washington and Philadelphia still ahead of the Giants in the standings, Big Blue must win out in order to best assure themselves a division title. 8-8 could also get them in, but they must win this week and get some help.

Things are about to get interesting around New York here in late December for both the Giants and Jets.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Cohen's Corner NFL Week 14 Takeaways

I know I missed a week. A busy week last week kept me from posting my Week 13 takeaways, but you know what a little bye never hurt anyway and it sets up a huge post here for Week 14. We are rapidly approaching the playoffs in the National Football League and the playoff races have hit its boiling point. Three first place teams lost in Week 14, and the wild card races in both the AFC and NFC are heating up.

So what else did we learn this week? Let's take a look.

1) The Cincinnati Bengals are big trouble. It's almost like clockwork, ain't it? Once we get to December and January the Bengals suddenly turn into pumpkins. Sunday's 33-20 drubbing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers left little doubt that the Bengals still can't be trusted once they play meaningful games in January. This team has already lost three games this year to teams that could end up in the postseason, and two of them were in primetime. The Bengals just have a real aversion to playing well when the chips are down.

What makes matters worse, however, is the fact that quarterback Andy Dalton is going to miss at least one week with a fractured thumb, after he failed to tackle a Steeler on an interception late in the first half. Not the first time a Bengals QB went down in a Steelers game, just Google Carson Palmer vs. Steelers. While the projection is just one game, who knows how long Dalton will be out, and a thumb injury can be tricky, considering the force on the digit from the snap by center and actually clutching and throwing a football. This is serious. If Dalton were to miss extended action, and the Bengals had to rely on A.J. Maccaron to carry the load, this team is in big trouble. In just one day the Bengals went from the number 1 seed to teetering on the brink with the number 3 seed in the playoffs.

Remember the Bengals still have to visit Denver, and the Broncos might have Peyton Manning back by then. In other words, Cincy fans, get ready to host a game on Wild Card weekend yet again.

2) Brock Osweiler struggles and everyone wants Peyton Manning back. Well, that didn't take long did it? After winning his first three starts as a professional, Brock Osweiler struggled in a loss to the Raiders on Sunday afternoon. Osweiler was sacked five times, and the Broncos produced only four field goals, all in the first half. While it is easy to blame the young quarterback for the defeat, there was plenty of blame to go around, i.e. Vernon Davis dropping a sure first down completion on fourth and five, and the fact that Denver missed a field goal. But, even that is not enough to stop the Peyton Manning express.

Manning is still recovering from a foot injury, but is on a week-by-week basis as to when he will return under center. While it is easy to pull the trigger on the kid and go with the experienced vet in the former MVP in Manning, it's not the right move right now. The Broncos are going on the road into a very hostile environment in Pittsburgh. This is not the game one bring back a limping Peyton Manning. After this week, the Broncos have the Bengals and Chargers on the schedule. If Manning is ready to go by Week 16 or 17, that would be the ideal time to bring him back. Until then, let Osweiler continue to gain experience, this loss to the Raiders wasn't his fault.

3) The AFC South: A.K.A. the Division Nobody wants: Or maybe we should call it the division that the Jaguars may dominate one day. Heck with the way the Colts and Texans are going, the Jaguars are still in the mix to win this horrid division after their 51-16 thumping of the un-LUCK-y Colts. Like I wrote a few weeks ago, the Jaguars are going to be everyone's trendy AFC South pick in 2016, but right now, it's not 2016. This division comes down to next Sunday in Indianapolis between the Texans and Colts. There are questions right now about the health of back-up quarterback Matt Hasslebeck for the Colts, and questions about the health on Texans starter Brian Hoyer. If the game is indeed a match-up of Charlie Whitehurst vs. TJ Yates, I'd have to favor Yates, since he has won games in the past for Houston. That's right, I said Houston right now has the inside track. The Bizarro Division continues to be rather bizarre.

4) Are the Patriots are in control of the AFC, again? From the standpoint of taking the number 1 seed, the answer is yes. The Patriots destroyed the Texans 27-6 in typical Patriots fashion. Tom Brady was excellent. Rob Gronkowski was an unstoppable force, and the Pats defense did more than enough to win. That has been the formula for success for the Patriots, but the team still needs to get fully healthy. While the Patriots are likely to capture the AFC's number 1 seed, they are no lock to get to the Super Bowl, especially if one of these wild card teams, like the Steelers, Chiefs or Jets waltz into Gillette Stadium during the divisional playoffs.

5) Will the Panthers go 16-0, and are they a lock for the Super Bowl? I am tempted to say no to both questions. Let me start with the undefeated season stuff. The Panthers have three winnable games left on their schedule, but I have a feeling that if there is an opportunity for Ron Rivera to rest his starters come Week 17, he will do so. Not to mention road contests against the desperate Giants and Falcons could be tricky for the Panthers. They might get picked off within in the next two weeks. Then again, 16-0 is not impossible. The Super Bowl is a different story. The NFC is very competitive. The Cardinals, Packers and Seahawks could all beat the Panthers on any given day, so to expect Carolina to run cleanly through the playoffs to Super Bowl 50 might be asking a lot.

6) Nobody wants to help the Giants win the NFC East. After their disparaging loses to the Jets and Redskins the New York Giants needed some help in Week 14 before their kick-off in Miami on Monday night. They didn't get that help. The Eagles and Skins both won on Sunday, making Monday Night's game against the Fish a do-or-die night for Big Blue. A win, and the Giants fading playoff hopes are alive. A lose and it is over, and so is the Tom Coughlin era.

The Redskins control their fate down the stretch, and may have the most favorable schedule with games against the Bills, Eagles and Cowboys on the schedule. The Eagles have to play the Cardinals next week, and visit the Giants in week 17. Looks like the NFC East champion is coming from D.C.

7) The AFC Wild Card sets up like this, the Chiefs (8-5) and Jets (8-5) currently control the wild card in the AFC. What about the Steelers (8-5)? Well, the Steelers right now are out because they have one less win in-conference as compared to the Jets. Both the Jets and Steelers have four loses in conference, but the Jets are 6-4 in-confernece compared to the Steelers' 5-4. If the Jets, Chiefs and Steelers all finish at 11-5, the Jets would be out based on common opponents. The Jets would need to win out and hope either KC or Pit gets tripped up in the next three weeks in order to make. The Jets could make the playoffs with a 10-6 record, IF the Steelers finish 10-6, and the Jets only loss is to the Cowboys. The Chiefs are the closest thing to a lock for the playoffs, but they have to win out as well to guarantee themselves a spot in the postseason party. However this wild card in the AFC shakes out, these will be two teams that will have a very good chance to win on Wild Card weekend.


8) Can the Dolphins go back to this uniform? The Dolphins will wear throwback uniforms that honor the birth of the franchise in 1966. The uniform combines the original Dolphins logo with the teal jersey with thick orange piping. It's a beauty and much better than the teal and white explosion that they are wearing on a regular basis now.