Tag:Pittsburgh Steelers
Posted on: January 2, 2012 4:24 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 4:34 pm
 

Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall has torn ACL

Pittsburgh will be without Mendenhall for the postseason. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

The Steelers will face the Broncos in Sunday's wild-card game without their starting running back. Rashard Mendenhall, the team's 2008 first-round pick, has a torn ACL, according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Head coach Mike Tomlin hinted after Sunday's win over the Browns that Mendenhall could be out for some time and tests have confirmed those fears.

Now Pittsburgh will lean heavily on Isaac Redman, and undrafted rookie free agent John Clay, who didn't get his first carry until Week 16 against the Rams. Veteran Mewelde Moore could also be an option if he has recovered from a knee injury suffered in San Francisco two weeks ago. 

Prior to the regular-season finale in Cleveland, the biggest injury issue for the Steelers centered around the health of their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben suffered a high-ankle sprain three weeks ago during the first meeting between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. He limped his way through a loss against the 49ers but sat out last week's victory over the Rams.

In addition to Mendenhall, Pittsburgh could also be without cornerbacks Cortez Allen and Keenan Lewis, who suffered shoulder and hamstring injuries, respectively, in Cleveland. Safety Ryan Clark may also miss the Broncos game because of sickle-cell trait that is triggered when he plays football at high altitudes. His status will be decided later in the week.


Pittsburgh Steelers' running back, Isaac Redman, carried the ball 19 times for 92 yards and a touchdown in a 13-9 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Join CBS Sports' Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots for a recap of all the action.

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 11:39 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 8:53 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 17: Brees for MVP?

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Listen to the Pick-Six Podcast Week 17 recap below and don't forget to
subscribe via iTunes
.

Drew Brees for MVP?

Over the next month, until the MVP is announced before the Super Bowl, there's going to be an intense debate about whether or not Drew Brees' incredible hot streak to close out the season vaulted him past Aaron Rodgers for the MVP award.

Four weeks ago, this wasn't a debate. Even with Brees having a monster year, the Packers were undefeated and Rodgers was eviscerating defenses on a weekly basis.

Their numbers were close enough to tell anyone suggesting a debate to kindly close their piehole.

Now? Well it's a lot closer than it was. The numbers (below) make that much obvious even though the actual premises behind the argument are just frustrating from the sense of measuring a season by its full extent.

Player
Comp % Pass Yards
Pass TDs INT
W-L
Aaron Rodgers
68.3 4,643 45 6 14-1
Drew Brees
71.2 5,476 46 14 13-3

The bigger problem for Rodgers may be a confluence of events around 4:00pm ET Sunday afternoon: as Brees was throwing his fifth touchdown pass (hey, just one more than Rodgers!), Packers backup Matt Flynn was going absolutely bananas against the Lions, slicing up Detroit's secondary for six touchdowns and 480 yards, a Packers franchise record.

Take a look at the list of the guys who've thrown for six teeters in a game since the merger. Spoiler alert: it's short, and full of awesome quarterbacks.

Flynn's on the list now and as a result, he's blatantly going to cost Rodgers a ton of "Well if the backup can do that" votes, while Brees staying in much longer than needed against the Panthers netted him a significant boost in the eyes of "What have you done for me lately?" voters.

But let's get one thing out of the way first: Aaron Rodgers is not a "system quarterback." Yeah, there's actually a debate raging as to whether he is or not. And if you believe that Rodgers is only successful because of the Packers "system" then you're as foolish as anyone who thought Tom Brady was a system quarterback when Matt Cassel had a big year filling in for the Patriots.

Every team has a "system" on offense and some -- the Packers and Patriots stand out -- are better than others. But Flynn's a good quarterback who's succeeded before (he nearly beat the Patriots in prime time last year), has a great pedigree (BCS title anyone?) and has spent multiple years working behind Rodgers. That's not going to make him worse. There's a reason the Packers, winners of 21 of 22 games since LAST Christmas, have him on the roster. And it's not because he makes a mean gumbo.

Look, less than two weeks ago, Rodgers carved up a very (very) good Bears defense on Christmas night. All season long he commanded the Packers offense like a conductor, made ridiculous throws that no one else in the NFL can make and generally let the world pencil his name in for MVP. 

His season's been so magnificent that it's somehow getting railroaded by the Packers losing to the Chiefs late (but don't forget, the Saints lost to the Rams and, uh, the Packers), sitting out Week 17 (a smart move with homefield clinched) and Sean Payton and Brees running up the score in order to break records (which is fine, but let's call it what it is).

There's no question that Drew Brees is a viable MVP candidate. He's had an all-time season in 2011. But judging the MVP race based on a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude is shortsighted, and it diminishes the incredible season Rodgers had in Green Bay.

Winners

Tom Coughlin: Coughlin won the NFC East, despite sitting on the hot seat most of the season, and the Giants suddenly have a look of a team that could absolutely be a playoff sleeper. They can rush the passer mercilessly when they get hot, Victor Cruz is turning into a salsa-dancing monster and Eli Manning's smoking hot right now. Given the success wild-card teams have had in recent years -- hello, 2007 Giants! -- it would be foolish to count them out.

Maurice Jones-Drew:
"Mojo" ripped off a season-high 169 rushing yards on Sunday against Indy. That not only gave him the NFL rushing title for 2011, but also gave him the Jaguars single-season record for rushing yards, as he broke Fred Taylor's previous high of 1,572 in 2003. In a very dismal season for Jacksonville's offense, MJD's been an absolute workhorse. He's up there with Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith in terms of all-time greats for the Jaguars.

Jason Taylor
: The only way Taylor's exit -- as a Dolphin, on the shoulders of his teammates after taking down the Jets -- could have been better is if the fumble he returned for a touchdown wasn't overturned. Taylor's a classy dude, a gamer, a hell of a dancer and at sixth all-time on the sack-leader list (not to mention a media favorite!), he'll find his way into Canton. Awesome career.

Matt Flynn: As noted above, Flynn had a decent day on Sunday. That's going to translate well when he becomes an unrestricted free agent and potentially becomes the most desirable quarterback on the market. There are lots of teams that need a quarterback and Flynn will be on everyone's radar just as much as Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. If someone falls in love with him, he might get Kevin Kolb money.

Cincinnati Bengals: Nothing like losing and still ending up in the winner's column, huh? The Bengals played the Ravens well on Sunday but Ray Rice was too much for them. Fortunately, KC beat Denver (or, if you prefer, San Diego beat Oakland) and the Bengals backed their way into a playoff matchup against a Texans team that will either start T.J. Yates or Jake Delhomme.

Sanchez is no lock for the Big Apple in 2012. (AP)

Losers

Mark Sanchez: The Jets never even got a shot at backdooring their way into the playoffs, as Sanchez picked apart his own offense and gave the Dolphins nine points off of three interceptions, two of which were to defensive lineman Randy Starks. It wouldn't ultimately matter, because the Titans won and eliminated Rex Ryan's crew, but anyone who justified Sanchez' performance with the old "He just wins!" argument has packed up their shanty and moved to Denver to make that argument. He didn't play like a $14 million quarterback this year -- even though he got paid like one -- and it would almost be surprising if the Jets didn't make a swap at the position.

Detroit Lions: They haven't won at Lambeau since 1991 now, dropping a mind-blowing 20 consecutive games at the Packers homefield. Of course, that's not why they're on this list, although it doesn't help. They're on this list because they just gave up 480 passing yards to the Packers backup and losing in Green Bay (coupled with Atlanta rumbling over the Bucs) means Detroit's next game will be in New Orleans. Against Drew Brees. You should go ahead and put your mortgage on the over.

Raheem Morris: I'm hesitant to include Morris because I'm pretty sure he'll have already been fired by time I hit publish. I mean, if there was ever a time not to let your opponent get out to a 42-0 lead it's definitely the final game of the season when you're riding a nine-game losing streak and barely clinging to your job.

Rob Ryan: Dallas looked absolutely flat early on Sunday night and somehow managed to storm back on the Giants, only to have the secondary shredded by Eli Manning when they cut the lead to seven points. Ryan's defense hasn't backed up his mouth all season long and even though you want your coach to make better late-game decisions and you don't want your quarterback turning the ball over late, there

John Elway: Kyle Orton didn't do anything crazy like throw for 500 yards to beat the Broncos on Sunday, but they win that game against Tyler Palko. Not that it mattered, because the Broncos made the playoffs anyway when the Chargers topped the Raiders. But Elway put himself in the position to miss the postseason by releasing Orton and even if it helped the team's chemistry they're barely hanging on right now and look like a lock for a first-round exit.

The Big Questions

 
The Broncos didn't exactly storm into the playoffs. (AP)

1. Is the Tim Tebow magic finally gone?
It just might be. The Broncos still made the playoffs, of course, and anything can happen once you get to the postseason. But Denver limped their way there, backing into a title at 8-8 on a three-game skid. Teams seem to have figured out that playing press-man coverage against Tebow severely limits what he can do on offense (he's much better at picking apart zones and makes fewer mistakes) and Denver proved that if they can't generate turnovers, they're in trouble. It's hard to imagine them beating the Steelers, even at home.

2. Who's the AFC favorite going forward?
The Ravens are my pick. They get homefield up to the AFC Championship and only lose it then if they have to play the Patriots. They've beaten the Bengals twice and they've beaten the Steelers twice. They've beaten New England in New England in the playoffs before, and the Pats have no defense. And the Ravens are nightmare matchups in Baltimore for Houston and Denver, neither of whom can keep pace if the Ravens start scoring.

3. How about the NFC?
Say what you want about how hot the Saints are -- and they are white hot -- but the Packers are still the favorites. They've got homefield throughout, they have two weeks to rest their starters and they can score on anyone. One bad week against the Chiefs does not a 15-1 team unseat. Their defense isn't great, but few teams do have a good defense and if they matchup against New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game, it's going down at Lambeau Field.

4. Who're the most dangerous non-playoff teams in 2012?
Eagles, Panthers and Chargers for me. The Snooze Buttons finished 8-8 and if they'd had a full offseason, they might have won the NFC East. Their dominant defense down the stretch is reason for optimism if you're an Eagles fan. Carolina needs defense, but they suffered an insane amount of injury-related attrition in 2011 and if they draft all defense and get healthy, they can contend in the NFC South. Plus: Cam Newton. And the Bolts showed this year they could be as good as playoff teams but just made stupid mistakes. A new coach could clear those problems up.

5. Any chance Jerry Jones changes his mind on Jason Garrett?
Jones has been incredibly supportive of Garrett so probably not. But someone's taking the fall for the Cowboys not making the playoffs and the best guess here is that it's Rob Ryan. He runs his mouth constantly and his defense doesn't back up all the talk -- their secondary got absolutely shredded by Eli Manning right after they got back into the game Sunday night.

6. What is Stevie Johnson thinking with his celebrations?

He's not thinking, actually. Johnson's scheduled to be a free agent in what's a really, really deep wide receiver class in 2012 and reportedly wants $7.5 million. The only problem is he's now developed a stigma for dropping really important catches and oftentimes costing his teams 15 yards with penalties like he did on Sunday. Wishing everyone "Happy New Years!" is a cool thing to do ... when it's not bad for your job and you're looking for a raise. Johnson's one of the most fun and interesting guys in the NFL but he has to be smarter than that.

7. How smart do the Steelers look for that Santonio Holmes trade now?
You don't even know the half of it. Not only did the dump a guy who's clearly a locker room distraction (Holmes) and not LaDainian Tomlinson-approved as a captain, but Pittsburgh allowed Mike Wallace to emerge as one of the best wideouts in the game and let someone else (the Jets) pick up the tab for Holmes' long-term deal. Oh, and in case you didn't know, they used the pick they got from the Jets to draft 2011 breakout wide receiver Antonio Brown

8. Should my team draft a running back early this year?
Negative, ghostrider, the pattern is full. Full of guys who weren't drafted in the first round leading the league in rushing anyway.

Player
2011 Rush Yards
2011 Rush YPG
2011 Rush TDs
2011 YPC
Year/Round/Pick
Maurice Jones-Drew
1,606 100.4 8 4.7 2006/2/60th
LeSean McCoy
1,309 87.3 17 4.8 2009/2/53rd
Arian Foster
1,224 94.2 10 4.4 2009/None/UFA
Frank Gore
1,211 75.7 8 4.3 2008/2/55
Ray Rice
1,173 78.2 10 4.4 2005/3/65

This doesn't mean teams should avoid drafting someone who's a special talent in college (see: Adrian Peterson) but there's a real sweet spot developing in the draft for undersized, pass-catching running backs (go ahead and add in Jamaal Charles too) who turn out to be a lot better than where they were drafted.

9. How's that Carson Palmer trade working out now?
Not so good. The Raiders could have arguably won the trade if they made the playoffs. All they had to do was beat a downtrodden Chargers team at home and they couldn't, so they miss the postseason and give up a first-round pick and a second-round pick to the Bengals (who made the playoffs, naturally). With Palmer, the Raiders were 6-4 and he threw 13 touchdowns and 16 picks. Whoops. Add in the fact that Hue Jackson just coached the most-penalized team in NFL history and he has some explaining to do.

10. Is Romeo Crennel the Chiefs next head coach?
Hard to imagine he's not. KC finished 6-9 on the season and two of those wins were with Crennel in charge; they also nearly beat Oakland in Week 16 too. Surely Scott Pioli thinks that with Crennel in charge this season and better injury luck the Chiefs would've won the division. He might be right, actually, and that's why Crennel will get the gig.

11. How many records did the Saints break on Sunday?
Eleventy billion or thereabouts. Brees and Sean Payton were basically rubber-stamping their signatures all over the NFL's offensive record books. They set the record for points scored in a season, most points scored at home in a season, most passing yards in a season (Brees' own record), best completion percentage in a season (again, Brees'), most completions in a season, most all-purpose yards in a single season (Darren Sproles owns it) and most receiving yards by a tight end in a season (only Rob Gronkowski broke that one a little while later). I can't confirm it, but I'm pretty sure the Saints broke the record for most broken records as well.

GIF O' THE WEEK

Bryan Braman is going to get fined for a helmet-to-helmet hit that he made ... without a helmet.

Worth 1,000 Words


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Posted on: January 1, 2012 10:13 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 10:05 am
 

2012 NFL Wild Card/Divisional Playoff Schedule

By Will Brinson

The NFL announced the schedule for the first two rounds of the 2012 playoffs on Sunday night.

Here's all you need to know:

NFL Wild Card Weekend

Saturday, January 7
AFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (NBC)
NFC: 8:00 PM (ET) -- Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (NBC)

Sunday, January 8
NFC: 1:00 PM (ET) -- Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (FOX)
AFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (CBS)

NFL Divisional Playoffs

Saturday, January 14
NFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- New Orleans/Dallas-N.Y. Giants/Atlanta at San Francisco (FOX)
AFC: 8:00 PM (ET) -- Denver/Pittsburgh/Cincinnati at New England (CBS)

Sunday, January 15
AFC: 1:00 PM (ET) -- Houston/Denver/Pittsburgh at Baltimore (CBS)
NFC: 4:30 PM (ET) -- Dallas-N.Y. Giants/Atlanta/Detroit at Green Bay (FOX)

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 8:38 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 8:40 pm
 

Report: Rashard Mendenhall may have torn ACL


Pittsburgh Steelers' running back, Isaac Redman, carried the ball 19 times for 92 yards and a touchdown in a 13-9 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Join CBS Sports' Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots for a recap of all the action.

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The biggest injury issue for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they headed into their Week 17 matchup with the Browns centered around the health of their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben suffered a high-ankle sprain three weeks ago during the first meeting between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. He limped his way through a Week 15 loss in San Francisco but sat out last week's victory over the Rams.

With playoff seedings on the line, Pittsburgh started Roethlisberger, who played the entire game without setbacks. The same can't be said for running back Rashard Mendenhall, who left in the first quarter with a knee injury. During the post-game press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that Mendenhall may have a torn ACL and likely wouldn't be available when the Steelers travel to Denver to face the Broncos in the wild-card round next weekend. According to ProFootballTalk.com, the team will perform an MRI Monday.

That means Pittsburgh will lean heavily on Isaac Redman, who came down with a sudden case of the fumbles in Cleveland (he lost two fourth-quarter fumbles that kept the Browns in the game) and rookie undrafted free agent John Clay. Veteran Mewelde Moore could also be an option if he has recovered from a knee injury suffered in San Francisco.

Tomlin isn't one to make excuses, instead choosing to say things like "the standard is the standard." Which means that whoever lines up behind Roethlisberger will be expected to do their job, whether that's running the ball, catching passes out of the backfield, or blocking on third down.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 12:05 pm
 

Peyton Hillis believes in Madden Curse after 2011

By Will Brinson

You think Peyton Hillis wants to forget all about 2011? Probably so; Hillis went from a surprise running back in 2010 to a potential franchise player before 2011 to an in-season distraction to an absolute afterthought for the Browns at times.

And, as is completely understandable, he's willing to blame these problems on appearing on the cover of Madden 12.

"No doubt about it," Hillis said Thursday when asked if the Madden Curse was real, per the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "Things haven't worked to my favor this year. There's a few things that happened that made me believe in curses. Ain't no doubt about it."

Hillis entered 2011 looking to nail down a new contract with Cleveland, a team and city that his blue-collar attitude seemed to encapsulate. Instead, he struggled from the start with low production and injuries and the Browns never made any overtures.

It appears now, as our Browns Rapid Reporter Marty Gitlin notes, that Hillis is headed to free agency, as the running back hasn't heard anything about possible contract negotiations.


"If there has been, I don't know know of any," Hillis said.

Per Gitlin, Hillis is interested in returning to the Browns in 2012, but depending on how he plays down the stretch that may be a difficult proposition. The Browns obviously won't franchise tag him and if Hillis finishes strong down the stretch, he may want more money than the Browns are willing to pay.

And Hillis knows how important Week 17's game against Pittsburgh is for potential suitors in free agency.

"I want people to see that I'm not a one-hit wonder and that I can always play well," Hillis said when asked about Sunday's game against the Steelers.

If Hillis wants to do that, he should probably also avoid landing on any Madden covers in the future. Although that probably won't be a problem any time soon.

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Posted on: December 23, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 3:09 pm
 

Charlie Batch starting for Steelers versus Rams

Chuck Batch will try and lead Pittsburgh to a victory on Saturday against St. Louis. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The should-he-or-shouldn't-he-start saga with Ben Roethlisberger appears to be over, and Charlie Batch will start for the Steelers in their game Saturday against St. Louis.

The Steelers named Batch the starter over Roethlisberger on Friday, putting to rest the speculation (from Roethlisberger himself) that Ben would play on a bum ankle again. Roethlisberger, as you can imagine, wasn't thrilled.

"Well, I think if you rest you obviously can hopefully improve and give yourself higher percentages," Roethlisberger said, per our Steelers Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder. "But I like to be out there. I want to get the reps. Work on the little things that hopefully will get us ready for January."

Roethlisberger, by the way, hasn't been ruled out yet -- he's still technically "questionable" and will probably take the role of emergency quarterback with Dennis Dixon locked in as the backup.

That means if things get out of hand, the Steelers could theoretically turn to Ben, but it really shouldn't get that far, considering the Rams have scored more than 13 points exactly once over their last seven games, only one of which was a win (a 13-12 win over Cleveland).

Center Maurkice Pouncey, running back Mewelde Moore, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and defensive back Curtis Brown are all ruled out for game, and along with Roethlisberger, linebacker LaMarr Woodley is questionable.


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Posted on: December 22, 2011 2:32 pm
 

Colt McCoy ruled out Saturday with concussion

McCoy will miss Week 16 with a concussion. (Getty Images)

By Will Brinson


Colt McCoy missed Week 15's game after suffering a concussion in Cleveland's loss to Pittsburgh during Week 14, and he won't play in Week 16 either, as the Browns have ruled him out for Saturday's game.

That's according to our Browns Rapid Reporter Marty Gitlin, who also notes that wide receiver Jordan Norwood (also suffering from a concussion) has been ruled out of the game.

Earlier in the week, it was believed to be "likely" that the Browns would start backup Seneca Wallace Saturday against Baltimore, even though McCoy was reportedly almost recovered from the concussion.

McCoy's injury, suffered on a nasty hit from Steelers linebacker James Harrison, generated plenty of controversy around the league. The Browns never tested McCoy for a concussion and inserted him in the game two plays after the injury, which led the NFL to institute a new concussion policy that begins this week.

Additionally, Harrison was suspended for a game as a result of the hit and later said he believed the Browns should also be punished by the NFL for failing to properly diagnose the concussion. (They weren't, and won't be.)

The Browns also placed safety T.J. Ward on injured reserve with a sprained foot, per Gitlin.


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Posted on: December 22, 2011 1:09 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 1:16 pm
 

Boldin to miss regular season with knee surgery

Boldin will miss Baltimore's remaining two games. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Ravens are in the middle of a push for a top AFC seed in the playoffs, but they'll have to play (at least) the final two games of the regular season without top wideout Anquan Boldin, who will undergo surgery for a torn meniscus.

Boldin, per our Ravens Rapid Reporter Jason Butt, will miss the remainder of the regular season, but John Harbaugh expects the wideout to return for the playoffs.

"He will be back for the playoffs, whichever round we have to play in," Harbaugh said. "It will be a little tighter if we have to play in the first round."

If Baltimore wins out, they'll land a bye in the first week of the postseason to go with their AFC North title, by virtue of their head-to-head record against the Steelers. That would give Boldin three weeks to recover from the surgery.

But if the Ravens stumble, Pittsburgh could land the top seed in the AFC and force Baltimore to travel, as well as play a week earlier than they'd like.

The good news is Boldin shouldn't be needed in Week 16, a home matchup against Cleveland. When the Ravens last played the Browns, Ray Rice handled almost all of the offensive production, rushing for 204 yards. Joe Flacco completed just 10 passes in the victory (on 23 attempts) and Boldin caught just two for 32 yards.

It'll be worth watching how rookie wideout Torrey Smith responds to his new role as the top wide receiver target for Flacco, particularly in the more interesting Week 17 matchup against the Bengals. Lee Evans will slide into the No. 2 spot, and Harbaugh said one of his rookies -- LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss -- in the slot.

"You want to get your young guys out there on the field as much as you can," Harbaugh said. "You don’t want to do it before they’re ready to have success and I think those guys are very much ready to have success."

On the year, Boldin leads the Ravens 887 receiving yards and is second on the team with 57 catches (Rice has 71) and three touchdowns (Smith has seven).


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com