Will the Colts fire Chuck Pagano and hire Nick Saban?

chuck-pagano-coltsChuck Pagano has had three and a half good years with the Indianapolis Colts, going 36-20, winning the AFC South twice and making three straight postseason trips. But according to reports, this isn’t good enough for Colts owner Jim Irsay, and he may fire Pagano and replace him with Alabama coach Nick Saban.

The news comes from veteran Indianapolis journalist Bob Kravitz, who recently appeared on Mad Dog Sports Radio. Kravitz says that Irsay wants more than just playoff appearances and thinks that Indianapolis is capable of winning multiple Super Bowls with Luck under center. However, the longtime Colts owner doesn’t believe that Pagano can guide the team through the playoffs.

“Jim Irsay does not believe that Chuck Pagano is the guy who can take him to where he wants to go,” said Kravitz. “He’s talking about not just one Super Bowl, but multiple Super Bowls in the Andrew Luck era.”

The writer added that Irsay’s top choice to take over would be Nick Saban, and he would even go as far as to fire/reassign General Manager Ryan Grigson if Saban wanted total control over the roster.

“Jim Irsay is going to make the next coaching hire,” Kravitz explained. “If he brings in a guy who demands full power, like, say, a Nick Saban, who I think he’s going to go after, if he brings in a Nick Saban, he’s going to have full power and that means that Ryan Grigson will either be kicked to the curb or he’ll have a different role in the organization.”

Kravitz continued by saying that firing Grigson is about a “50-50 proposition” and would mostly depend upon the next coach that Irsay would land. Assuming Irsay likes the coach enough, the chances of his general manager being ousted or reassigned increase.

nick-saban-coltsOf course, much of these rumors depend upon if Saban really wants the job. Indianapolis has some nice pieces in place – namely Luck – and they can win games now. Plus, Saban said that if he were to coach in the NFL again, he’d want control over the roster and a franchise quarterback. The Colts have the latter and it sounds like Irsay is willing to give him control too.

But then again, Saban has three national championships at Alabama, and his team has the opportunity for a fourth since they’re ranked No. 2 in the country right now. He’d be leaving the perfect college situation for an uncertain one in his second NFL stint. Saban’s two-year tenure (2005-06) with the Miami Dolphins resulted in 9-7 record and 6-10 records, both of which missed the postseason mark.

Looking at the present situation, Indianapolis isn’t totally out of the playoff picture yet. Although they have a 4-5 record, this still puts them in first place in the AFC South. Five of their last seven games are against opponents with losing records, meaning the Colts have a good opportunity to win their weak division and make the postseason for a fourth-straight year.

But it’s also clear that Irsay isn’t happy with merely being competitive. The Colts have advanced a round further in each of Pagano’s seasons; however, the Patriots blew them out 45-7 in the AFC Championship game. So while Indianapolis made the playoffs, it’s clear that they were miles away from actually contending with New England for the AFC crown. And if this season results in no postseason appearance, or even a first-round playoff exit, then Pagano could very well be gone.

2013 NFL Wild Card Predictions (Jan. 4-5)

wild-card-colts-chiefsThis weekend kicks off the most exciting time in every football season: the NFL Playoffs! This is especially the case if you plan on betting on the 2013 Wild Card matchups. Looking at GTBets‘ NFL Wild Card lines, three out of the four spreads are separated by 2.5 points or less. With such close matchups, it’s definitely worth doing some in-depth analysis on each game.

Kansas City (-110) at Indianapolis (-110) on Saturday (4:35pm, NBC)

We got a preview of this matchup two weeks ago, when the Colts dominated Kansas City by a score of 23-7. Given that this contest was at Arrowhead, you’d think that Indianapolis would roll at home. However, the Colts have been very inconsistent ever since losing Reggie Wayne, so it’s tough to tell how they’ll come out each week. Additionally, they’ve struggled to find a running game all year, which doesn’t bode well against KC’s awesome defense.

So what about the Chiefs? Well, they’ll go as far as Alex Smith can take them. He looked terrible against Indianapolis before, throwing for just 153 yards, 1 interception, and losing 2 fumbles. Overall though, Smith has been pretty consistent this season, which means he should play much better this time around. However, we don’t think that Smith, Jamaal Charles and the KC defense can do enough to prevent wunderkind Andrew Luck from winning at home.

Prediction: Indianapolis beats Kansas City 20-16

New Orleans (-100) at Philadelphia -2.5 (-120) on Saturday (8:00pm, NBC)

wild-card-eagles-saintsThe Saints looked like early-season favorites to come out of the NFC. However, they faltered down the stretch amid growing defensive and road concerns. Their defense is ranked just 21st on the road, which makes their 3-5 record away from the Superdome much more understandable. However, they do have Drew Brees which always counts for something.

But will Brees see the field enough to make a difference? Philadelphia boasts the NFL’s top rusher in LeSean McCoy (1,607 rushing yds) so they should be able to move the chains, grind the clock down, and keep Brees off the field. Add in the fact that McCoy will be opening things up for newly anointed superstar QB Nick Foles, and we definitely see this one going in Philly’s favor.

Prediction: Philadelphia beats New Orleans 34-20

San Diego (-110) at Cincinnati -6.5 (-110) on Sunday (1:00pm, CBS)

wild-card-chargers-bengalsSan Diego survived a nailbiter against Kansas City’s second string last week to slip into the playoffs. Now they face a much bigger challenge in trying to become the first team to win at Cincinnati all season. They’ll be aided on this seemingly impossible quest by a number of offensive weapons, including Philip Rivers, Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews and Keenan Allen.

But even if the Chargers are able to put some points up on Cincy, it won’t be enough. The Bengals have crushed opponents at Paul Brown Stadium en route to an 8-0 record. Their last five victories have been particularly dominating, with margins of 17, 28, 14, 21 and 40 points. Considering that Cincinnati already holds a road victory over San Diego this year, we don’t see any chance of the Chargers moving past the Wild Card round.

Prediction: Cincinnati beats San Diego 38-17

San Francisco -2.5 (-110) at Green Bay (-110) on Sunday (4:30pm, Fox)

wild-card-49ers-packersNotice that San Francisco is the only road favorite on GTBets’ NFL Wild Card lines this week. There’s good reason for this too. San Fran is on a six-game winning streak, and they came within a play or two of winning the Super Bowl last year. Plus, they should have no trouble running the ball on Green Bay’s defense with Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore.

But the Packers won’t be total pushovers. Aaron Rodgers finally returned from injury last week and looked almost like his pre-injury self, throwing for 318 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Aside from Rodgers, Green Bay is also at home where they’ll get a big boost from sub-zero temperatures. However, we don’t see inclement weather stopping San Francisco from coming out of this one with a victory.

Prediction: San Francisco beats Green Bay 34-28

Rugby Player Daniel Adongo makes Indianapolis Colts Debut

daniel-adongo-colts-debut-1Guys like Daniel Adongo are supposed to make NFL headlines in the offseason, then quickly fade away once the actual season starts. After all, Adongo merely seemed like one of those novelty stories who never pans out when he signed with the Indianapolis Colts this past summer. However, the 6’6″, 270-pound outside linebacker is actually proving to have some substance after making his debut for the Colts last weekend.

Adongo played an important role on special teams in the Colts’ 42-28 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. He fielded one short kick, made some big blocks and most importantly, looked like he actually belonged on a football field. The last part was something that just wasn’t the case in the summer.

As Indianapolis defensive lineman Cory Redding recalls, “The guy couldn’t even put (football) pants on six months ago, knew nothing about football, and look at where he is now.” Redding added. “He’s giving the O-line fits. He’s a very aggressive player, and I can’t wait to see him line up, where they put him.”

daniel-adongo-colts-debutHead coach Chuck Pagano is another member of the Colts who can definitely see a difference in Adongo. “I think back to his very first workout, when we first brought him in after a 17-hour flight to Atlanta and a connection up here … to try out, from what we saw to right now, it’s night and day,” he said. “The guy is a smart guy, we know from a physical standpoint he’s very, very athletic. He can run, he’s big, he’s strong and he’s a tireless worker.”

The traits that Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson saw in Adongo were the primary reason why he was signed fresh off the plane in late July. But Grigson knew that Adongo had a long way to go since he was strictly a rugby player prior to the summer.

The Nairobi native played for the Kenyan Under-18 and Under-21 national teams, before signing professionally with a South African rugby union team. Adongo eventually daniel-adongo-colts-debut-2worked his way up to the Super Rugby league, which is the game’s highest form in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. And while he had yet to become a star, Adongo did display enough athleticism to convince the Colts to give him a try.

Indianapolis’ original plan was for him to spend a year on the practice squad, then make a run at the official 53-man roster next season. But Adongo had different plans, spending off-days and late hours at the Colts’ facility watching game film and working out. In less than half a year, he put on 30 pounds of bulk so that he was better suited for the outside linebacker position. Adongo also absorbed hours of game film to prepare himself for the slim chance that he might see an NFL field before 2014.

Thanks to injuries, Adongo got that chance and did nothing to dissuade coaches from putting him out there next week, and the week after. Assuming his development continues at this rapid pace, it’s very likely that Daniel Adongo will be playing a prominent role not just on special teams, but also on defense as a pass rusher next year.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 10 (Nov. 7th, 2013)

sean-smith-chiefsThis past weekend’s NFL action was filled with a number of surprises, which made for extremely exciting storylines. The Dolphins knocked off the Bengals, the Jets beat the Saints, Washington beat San Diego and a Jay Cutler-less Bears team downed the Packers. This is a complete turnaround from last week, when there were hardly any upsets. And this means that our Week 10 power rankings will be much more entertaining, with quite a few teams moving around.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0); beat Buffalo 23-13, retains same ranking – This wasn’t the Chiefs’ best defensive effort from a yardage perspective, as they gave up 241 yards on the ground to CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson. However, the defense came up with two big scores – one on a Tamba Hail fumble recovery and the other on a Sean Smith 99-yard interception return. And this was all they’d need against the Bills.

2. Denver Broncos (7-1); bye week, retains same ranking – The Broncos didn’t play, and nobody did anything significant enough to overtake them for the second spot. Peyton and company travel to San Diego this week in what could be a tough matchup against their division rival.

3. Seattle Seahawks (8-1); beat Tampa Bay 27-24, retains same ranking – For the second week in a row, Seattle was in a tight game against a subpar opponent. This time, Seattle had to claw their way back from an early 21-0 deficit. But thanks to some strong play by Russell Wilson down the stretch, Seattle was able to pull out another victory.

 ty-hilton-touchdown4. Indianapolis Colts (6-2); beat Houston 27-24, moves up one spot – The Colts were in a very similar position to the Seahawks: having to rally against a bad team. In the Colts’ case, it meant overcoming an 18-point deficit thanks to three touchdown passes from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton.

5. San Francisco 49ers (6-2); bye week, moves up one spot – Given the way San Francisco played in weeks leading up to their bye week, they may be playing the best football of anybody in the NFC right now. With a strong running game, a quarterback who can run, and a very good defense, the 49ers will be tough to beat in the playoffs.

6. New Orleans Saints (7-2); lost to New York Jets 26-20, drops two spots – Losing to the Jets on the road isn’t such a terrible thing. But with the Colts and San Francisco continually winning, it’s hard to keep the Saints above them after this loss. It certainly shouldn’t keep New Orleans from winning the NFC South, though.

7. New England Patriots (7-2); beat Pittsburgh 55-31, moves up two spots – Look who’s back! With a healthier team, the Patriots piled up over 600 yards of total offense against the Steelers, including 432 passing yards and four TD’s by Tom Brady. His tight end, Rob Gronkowski, also put up 141 receiving yards and one touchdown on a career-high nine catches.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3); lost to Miami 22-20 (OT), drops one spot – Just when Andy Dalton starts to look like a franchise quarterback, he follows it up with a poor performance by throwing three picks and no touchdowns. This team still has plenty of weapons, though, and can’t be counted out moving forward.

9. Detroit Lions (5-3); bye week, moves up one spot – Detroit visits Chicago with first place in the NFC East on the line. The offense is clicking after the come-from-behind win against Dallas, so expect the Lions to score plenty of points in this pivotal game.

dwayne-harris10. Dallas Cowboys (5-4); beat Minnesota 27-23, moves up two spots – One week after allowing Detroit to beat them with less than a minute left, Dallas staged their own comeback to beat Minnesota. Tony Romo found Dwayne Harris in the end zone with 35 seconds left for the go-ahead score. This victory keeps the Cowboys a game ahead of Philadelphia in the NFC East.

11. Chicago Bears (5-3); beat Green Bay 27-20, moves up two spots – Few people gave the Bears a chance to win at Lambeau Field with Jay Cutler sidelined. But Chicago knocked Aaron Rodgers out of the game with a shoulder injury and proceeded to shut down Green Bay. Now they’ve forced a three-way, first-place tie in the NFC North standings.

12. Green Bay Packers (5-3); lost to Chicago 27-20, drops five spots – Green Bay is still a good football team without Rodgers. But with number 12 sidelined for 4-6 weeks, simply being “good” might put Green Bay behind Chicago and Detroit in the North. Look for Eddie Lacy and James Starks to carry the load while Rodgers is out.

13. Arizona Cardinals (4-4); bye week, moves up one spot – Arizona’s compass is pointed north since they come out of the bye week with games against Houston and Jacksonville. Of course, nothing in the NFL is guaranteed, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cardinals move to 6-4 soon.

14. Carolina Panthers (5-3); beat Atlanta 34-10, moves up three spots – The Panthers have turned their season around thanks to a four-game winning streak. Defense has been the key to this run, which, in this particular game, included three interceptions of Atlanta QB Matt Ryan. Carolina is now a formidable team, especially with Jonathan Stewart back from injury.

15. San Diego Chargers (4-4); lost to Washington 30-24 (OT), drops four spots – The Chargers may have seen their playoff chances go out the window with this loss. They now move into the meat of their schedule, and it won’t taste good. Two games against both Denver and Kansas City loom ahead.

16. New York Jets (5-4); beat New Orleans 26-20, moves up two spots – Nobody can figure the Jets out. One week, they lose by 40 to the Cincinnati Bengals; the next week, they’re beating a team that’s contending for the NFC title. New York seems to have found an offensive identity in running the ball more with Chris Ivory.

17. Tennessee Titans (4-4); beat St. Louis 28-21, moves up two spots – Chris chris-johnsonJohnson looked like the player that amazed people two years ago after racking up 150 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Shonn Greene adds another dimension to the running game and could help preserve Johnson down the stretch.

18. Miami Dolphins (4-4); beat Cincinnati 22-20 (OT), drops one spot – What should be a celebratory week for the Dolphins after their big victory over Cincinnati has turned into a nightmare. Richie Incognito’s bullying of Jonathan Martin has likely left both linemen done for the season (or career in Incognito’s case). And there are rumors that Miami assistant coaches could be on the chopping block too.

19. Cleveland Browns (4-5); beat Baltimore 24-18, moves up three spots – As long as Brandon Weeden isn’t quarterbacking this team, it seems like the Browns have a chance to win. This is especially the case when Jason Campbell throws for three touchdowns!

20. Baltimore Ravens (3-5); lost to Cleveland 24-18, drops five spots – These Ravens definitely don’t look like repeat Super Bowl champions. Their traditionally strong running game has hit rock bottom, as evidenced by Ray Rice’s 17 yards on 11 carries.

21. Washington Redskins (3-5); beat San Diego 30-24 (OT), moves up three spots – After starting the year a dismal 0-3, Washington has now won three out of their last five to improve to respectability. This effort was led by fullback Darrell Young, who literally came out of nowhere (2 car. on the season) to score three touchdowns.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5); beat Oakland 49-20, moves up five spots – It’s hard to tell if Nick Foles is the guy who looked completely lost running Chip Kelly’s read option three weeks ago, or an ultra-talented QB of the future. This time around, he most definitely looked the latter part.

23. Oakland Raiders (3-5); lost to Philadelphia 49-20, drops three spots – Just when the Raiders looked like they had something special going, they give up an NFL-record-tying seven TD passes to Nick Foles. They’ll try to re-create the magic as they face the Giants.

24. New York Giants (2-6); bye week, moves up two spots – The Giants seek their third win in a row against a Raiders team that’s traveling across the country. They’ll get a boost from RB Andre Brown, who’ll play his first game this year.

25. Atlanta Falcons (2-6); lost to Carolina 34-10, drops four spots – Any delusions of a mid-season turnaround were cut down with this loss. Matt Ryan has now thrown seven interceptions in his last two games.

26. Houston Texans (2-5); lost to Indianapolis 27-24, drops one spot – Houston really let this one slip through their fingers, as they were leading 21-3 at the half. A healthy Arian Foster would’ve enabled them to grind out the clock and grab a victory. The good news is that head coach Gary Kubiak is expected to be coaching again by Week 11 after collapsing at halftime.

27. Buffalo Bills (3-6); lost to Kansas City 23-13, drops one spot – The Bills were actually controlling this game with a strong running effort (241 RYDS). The defining moment came when Jeff Tuel threw an interception at the Chiefs 1-yard line that went all the way back for a touchdown.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6); lost to New England 55-31, retains same ranking – After giving up a franchise-record 55 points, it’s clear that Pittsburgh needs to go into full-on rebuilding mode.

29. St. Louis Rams (3-6); lost to Tennessee 28-21, retains same ranking – St. Louis has now lost their third game in a row and appears to once again be headed for a high pick in next April’s draft.

30. Minnesota Vikings (1-7); lost to Dallas 27-23, retains same ranking – After giving up a last-minute win to the Cowboys, Minnesota players were questioning both of their coordinators. Defensive players were especially peeved that they only ran three-man rushes during the Cowboys game-winning, 90-yard drive.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8); lost to Seattle 27-24, retains same ranking – This team can’t even win when they’re practically gifted a 21-0 lead. Seattle dominated the remainder of the game and kept Tampa Bay winless.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8); bye week, retains same ranking – After a week to rest, maybe Jacksonville can come out and be more competitive throughout the second half of the season.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 8 (Oct. 22nd, 2013)

jamaal-charlesOne obvious question to ask at this point in the NFL season is this: who’d have thought that after eight weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs would be the lone unbeaten team? This year’s biggest surprise team not only leads a very tough AFC West, but also the entire league. Their rival, the Denver Broncos, lost a close road game against the Colts in Peyton Manning’s spoiled homecoming. This loss has no doubt impacted the power rankings, which you can see below.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-0); beat Houston 17-16, moves up one spot – Many people still harp on how the Chiefs can’t be number one due to Alex Smith’s inability to throw downfield. And while we were in that boat earlier, it’s hard to keep doubting KC when they continue winning. We’ll see if they can keep up the incredible season as they soon get into the meat of their schedule.

2. Denver Broncos (6-1); lost to Indianapolis 39-33, drops one spot – The return of Von Miller wasn’t enough to spark a better defensive effort. And despite throwing for 386 yards, 3 TD’s and 1 INT, Manning wasn’t able to engineer a rally with two backup offensive tackles in the lineup. This loss by no means discredits the Broncos, though.

3. Seattle Seahawks (6-1); beat Arizona 34-22, moves up one spot – Russell Wilson finally came alive after throwing for 235 yards and three TD’s. And the defense has always been alive, as evidenced by the seven sacks they tallied on Carson Palmer.

4. New Orleans Saints (6-1); bye week, drops one spot – This isn’t the first time that the Seahawks and Saints have flip-flopped in our rankings. And it won’t be the last since these teams are so evenly matched.

5. Indianapolis Colts (5-2); beat Denver 39-39, moves up four spots – The Colts make andrew-lucka big leap after grabbing yet another win over a tough opponent. They lay claim to victories over Denver, Seattle (road) and San Francisco (road). And all of this coming despite a lack of a running game.

6. San Francisco (5-2); beat Tennessee 31-17, retains same ranking – San Francisco spoiled Jake Locker’s return to the Tennessee lineup by jumping out to a 17-0 lead. From then on, it was pretty much over since the Niners are great at running the ball and controlling the clock.

7. Green Bay Packers (4-2); beat Cleveland 31-13, moves up one spot – The injuries are mounting on Green Bay, but it hasn’t slowed them down. This time, Jarrett Boykin stepped in and grabbed eight passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.

8. New England Patriots (5-2); lost to New York Jets 30-27 (OT), drops three spots – New England picked up their second loss following a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Chris Jones. He violated a new rule that states you can’t push teammates into the offensive line, which gave Nick Foles a second chance to kick a game-winning field goal.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2); beat Detroit 27-24, moves up one spot – Andy Dalton had his best game of the season after throwing for 372 yards and three touchdowns. He’s finally starting to utilize his weapons, which means the Bengals could continue rising.

10. Dallas Cowboys (4-3); beat Philadelphia 17-3, moves up two spots – The Cowboys are looking like the cream of the crop in the NFC East, which isn’t saying a whole lot. However, you do have to give them credit for winning without both DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware.

11. San Diego Chargers (4-3); beat Jacksonville 24-6, moves up four spots – We philip-riversrealize that a victory over Jacksonville doesn’t necessarily justify moving up this far. But San Diego has been a pretty good offensive team this year, and none of the teams immediately in front of them looked too good.

12. Detroit Lions (4-3); lost to Cincinnati 27-24, drops one spot – As long as Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson stay healthy, the Lions won’t have a problem filling up the box score. Unfortunately, their defense keeps allowing opponents to fill up the box score as well.

13. Chicago Bears (4-3); lost to Washington 44-41, drops five spots – As if an upset loss to Washington isn’t bad enough, the Bears will also be missing Jay Cutler (groin) for four weeks or more. Add in the fact that Chicago travels to Green Bay this week and their freefall may continue.

14. Miami Dolphins (3-3); lost to Buffalo 23-21, drops one spot – The Dolphins got off to a terrible start after a Nickell Robey interception return made the score 14-0. From here, it was all about playing catch-up, which Miami did after taking the lead. However, Mario Williams came up big by forcing a Ryan Tannehill fumble and setting up a game-winning field goal for the Bills.

15. New York Jets (4-3); beat New England 30-27 (OT), moves up six spots – Aside from the Chiefs, New York may be the second biggest surprise team. Most people expected them to be terrible; however, they’ve been very competitive and are actually in the playoff hunt.

16. Baltimore Ravens (3-4); lost to Pittsburgh 19-16, drops two spots – After starting the year with a 3-1 record, the Ravens have gone 1-3 and are averaging less than 20 PPG during this span. Baltimore isn’t out of the AFC North race yet, though, since they have the Bengals coming up in a couple of weeks.

17. Arizona Cardinals (3-4); lost to Seattle 34-22, drops one spot – It’s little surprise that Arizona couldn’t come up with a win against a very tough Seattle team. But sooner or later, they have to start reaching up for victories if they want to be a playoff contender.

18. Atlanta Falcons (2-4); beat Tampa Bay 31-23, moves up five spots – With Julio harry-douglasJones done for the season and Roddy White out for this game, Harry Douglas filled their shoes masterfully by catching seven passes for 149 yards and a TD.

19. Carolina Panthers (3-4); beat Saint Louis 30-15, moves up four spots – The Panthers are taking advantage of a soft spot in their schedule and saving Ron Rivera’s job in the process. They have another very winnable game at Tampa Bay before things heat up again.

20. Tennessee Titans (3-4); lost to San Francisco 31-17, drops three spots – Tennessee was thoroughly dominated at home, but the score made this game look closer than it was. The Titans didn’t score until the fourth quarter, when Locker threw a couple of TD passes.

21. Cleveland Browns (3-4); lost to Green Bay 31-13, drops three spots – Just two weeks ago, the Browns were riding high and tied for first in their division. Now, they’re two games out of first and Brandon Weeden is their quarterback again.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4); lost to Dallas 17-3, drops three spots – It’s amazing how big a difference a week can make. Before this game, many believed that it was Nick Foles time to take the reigns in Philly. But after his anemic performance, before leaving the game with a concussion, Eagles fans can’t wait for a healthy Michael Vick.

23. Washington Redskins (2-4); beat Chicago 44-41 moves up two spots – Washington grabbed a much-needed win by taking down the Bears at home. But the celebration may not last long since this porous defense will be subjected to the Broncos and Chargers in the coming weeks.

24. Houston Texans (2-5); lost to Kansas City 17-16, drops four spots – Case case-keenumKeenum (271 yards, 1 TD) did surprisingly well for being on the road against a tough Kansas City defense. However, it wasn’t enough to prevent Houston’s season from falling even further down the tubes.

25. Buffalo Bills (3-4); beat Miami 23-21, moves up three spots – The Bills deserve a round of applause for beating a solid team on the road, despite a hobbled CJ Spiller and their starting QB still being out. But they face two rough upcoming matchups against the Saints and Chiefs.

26. Oakland Raiders (2-4); bye week, retains same ranking – Oakland comes out of the bye week with a chance to really establish themselves in home games against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4); beat Baltimore 19-16, moves up two spots – Are we seeing a resurgence in Pittsburgh? Or just a subpar team collecting a couple of wins? This week’s contest against the Raiders will go a long ways towards answering these questions.

28. New York Giants (1-6); beat Minnesota 23-7, moves up three spots – It wasn’t pretty, but the Giants finally got their first win of the season. With games against Philadelphia and Oakland coming up, the Giants could possibly get another win or two before playing Green Bay at home.

29. Saint Louis Rams (3-4); lost to Carolina 30-15, drops five spots – Any slim playoff hopes that the Rams had disappeared with Sam Bradford’s season-ending injury. Rookie RB Zac Stacy provides a nice spark, but it’s not going to be enough this year.

30. Minnesota Vikings (1-5); lost to New York Giants 23-7, drops three spots – Anybody watching this game had to feel sorry for Josh Freeman. Just two weeks after being traded, he threw 53 passes in an offense that he’s still learning. Was Christian Ponder really so bad that he couldn’t have played one or two more games until Freeman was ready?

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6); lost to Atlanta 31-23, retains same ranking – With Doug Martin (torn labrum) reportedly done for the season, things only get worse from here.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6); lost to San Diego 24-6, retains same ranking – A week after challenging the Broncos through three quarters, Jacksonville took a step back in this performance.

Why did the Cleveland Browns trade Trent Richardson?

trent-richardsonYesterday the Cleveland Browns pulled off the biggest trade of the 2013 NFL season when they sent Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Following this transaction, Ahmad Bradshaw fantasy owners cringed, casual league fans were puzzled, and Browns fans were like “What the f**k!?”

After all, Richardson was the third overall pick of the 2012 Draft, an every-down back, and somebody who was generally expected to be a franchise player. So why did the Cleveland Browns trade their most precious commodity? Especially when the Colts’ top pick only projects to be a middle-first rounder?

Well the simple answer is that they’re trying to tank the season following an 0-2 start. So why not get rid of their injury-plagued running back while they still can and stockpile another first-round pick in the process.

Basically, the Browns found the perfect taker for Richardson because Indianapolis is desperate to solve their running back situation and make the playoffs for a second consecutive year. They thought that Bradshaw could be this guy when they signed him to a one-year deal in the offseason, or at least a combination of him and Vick Ballard.

trent-richardsonBut Ballard exited in the first week with a season-ending knee injury while Bradshaw has been nothing more than steady with 91 rushing yards, 26 receiving yards and a touchdown (in 2 games). Plus, given his constant foot injuries, the Colts felt that adding a potential star player like Richardson could boost their postseason chances in a crowded AFC East division.

And make no mistake about it, Richardson is a top-notch talent who’s capable of great things. In his rookie season with Cleveland, the Alabama product rushed for 950 yards, added 367 receiving yards, and scored 12 TD’s, despite playing through injuries. So just imagine what he could do on a team where opposing defenses need to worry about the pass.

Unfortunately, this team wasn’t the Browns and opponents were stacking the box with seven and eight defenders on every play, just daring Brandon Weeden to throw. The way Cleveland sees it, why keep running Richardson into a brick wall this season while losing games when he’s got major trade value.

Let’s face it…the Weeden experiment has failed after 18 games, the offensive line is still bad, and there are no huge play-making threats on this club. These are all things that management feared going into the 2013 season, but there was also a glimmer of hope if Weeden could’ve developed.

teddy-bridgewater-draftThat hope is gone, and now, like 50% of the league, Cleveland is trying to find a reliable quarterback. With an extra first-rounder, they now have the chance to trade up for Teddy Bridgewater, if the Jacksonville Jaguars (who are definitely going to finish dead last) feel like making a deal. If this doesn’t work out, Cleveland is likely to finish with the league’s second worst record, which would probably land them UCLA QB Brett Hundley.

Some say South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in the most talented player in the draft. However, it’s unlikely that the Browns would pass up the chance at getting a signal caller in a class that’s loaded with QB talent.

But for now, Cleveland will pretend to focus on this season by bringing veteran Willis McGahee into the fold and trying to win a game or two. But as the Richardson trade indicates, they are really only thinking about 2014 and beyond.