NFL Draft Review: Atlanta Falcons

Ed: Continuing with our NFL draft coverage,  we’ve got the Atlanta Falcons’ draft review. Plenty more teams to come, so keep checking back with us.

First off, I’d like to address the fact that most people are stunned the Falcons didn’t get a solid DB with their first pick.

People have lampooned the Falcons for having a weak secondary, and while it could certainly be bolstered with a good shut-down corner, the defensive numbers really weren’t as bad as a lot of people think they were.

Yes, they were 22nd in the league in pass defense. More importantly, they were fifth in the league in points per game on the defensive side of the ball and had 22 interceptions. They got burned, but they were able to hold when it counted, so while they’ll definitely need to work on it this season, it’s not the end of the world.

Sure, the Packers destroyed them in the playoffs, but they also destroyed pretty much everyone else they played, and don’t forget, the Falcons beat them in the regular season. Now on to the picks.

The Julio Jones (first round, sixth overall) trade-up shocked a lot of people, including myself.

The Falcons gave up a lot to get him, but here’s why it may work out in the end: Jones is a phenomenal, physical receiver that makes the offense a lot more prolific than it was before. Having a deep threat receiver pulls the safeties back, which should provide a lot more room for some shorter routes to White and Gonzalez, the go-to guys on third down, and keep the defense from stacking the box to shut down Turner.

Last year, the Falcons ran a system built on short yardage that ate up the clock. Now, they’ll be more of a threat at all three levels of the field. Having Jones should also spread the defense. Double-teaming either guy isn’t going to seem like a great option for many defenses this season and should cause more than a few headaches for opposing defensive coordinators.

Akeem Dent (third round, 91st overall), who I had the pleasure of watching while he played at UGA, is a solid tackler that while not being able to jump in as a starter over Curtis Lofton, should be able to give him some much needed rest and be a reliable backup.

He was a bright spot, along with Justin Houston, on a team that would have finished even lower without his tough work in the middle.

Jacquizz Rodgers out of Oregon State was an interesting pick that I personally really liked. Rodgers is a small, shifty back that should compliment the power running of Turner and Snelling. His role will more than likely be very limited in his first year, however, but that’s to be expected as he won’t have the ability to block the pass rush as well as the other backs.

That extra speed, however, could prove beneficial when up-the-gut running with Turner just isn’t getting it done.

Matt Bosher, punter out of Miami, was taken in the sixth round at the 192nd overall spot. While I haven’t watched a ton of film on him, he led the ACC in average punt yards (44.7) and averaged 65 yards kicking off the tee. I don’t think he’ll be jumping right in over Bryant or Koenen, but he’s got a hell of a leg and should become a solid addition to the special teams units.

The seventh round brought in two players I’m less familiar with. Andrew Jackson, OG from Fresno State (210th overall) and Cliff Matthews (230th overall). With players taken this deep in the draft, knowing exactly how they’ll pan out is difficult.

That said, I love the players South Carolina has been churning out on the defensive side of the ball, so I think Matthews will more than likely have the skills to build himself into a solid DE and hopefully have time to learn the tricks of the trade before starting his first NFL game.

There’s too much speculation to really know how well this will all pan out until the season starts, if of course it even happens. The only player the Falcons drafted for immediate impact was Jones, but when you’re coming off a 13-3 season, it’s probably okay to stick with a lot of the guys that got you there in the first place.

Overall grade: B.

– El Hammerpuncho

NFL Draft Review: Houston Texans

Ed: Welcome back, readers. The NFL draft has come and gone, so we’re going to be doing something a little different on GASB for the next month or so.

Normally when you read NFL draft coverage, you’re reading straight-laced un-biased appraisals of the teams and their players. Not here. Each of our draft reviews will be coming from a fan of a given team, which will give you a chance to get an idea of what that fanbase thinks about the direction the team is headed in and how the new players will fit with that vision.

It won’t be the perspective of a journalist, it will be the perspective of you. The perspective of the fan.

First up, the Houston Texans.

1 (11): JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin

Immediately after this pick talk radio shows around town were full of people calling, furious over the choice go to with Watt over Auburn’s Nick Fairley.

Not only are Fairley’s talents (limited body of work, stockpiling stats against garbage opponents) debatable, but he simply does not fit the most pressing needs of the Houston Texans, who desperately need pass-rushing capabilities.

In Wade Phillips’ 3-4, which will feature multiple looks including 4-3 and hybrids, versatility is vital. Unfortunately, those people calling do not understand that in this system players who can play both DE and DT are just as important as those who play OLB/DE.

Watt will play DE in the 3-4, but can also slide inside to play DT in 4-3 formations and will provide ample pressure on the quarterback as well as support against the run game, and has the strength to tie up blockers for the men behind him.

Additionally, Watt has zero character issues, never gives up on a play and his tangibles are through the roof (please do me a favor and compare them to Fairley’s). Fans of college football will recognize that though the Big 10 (12) is certainly a shell of its former self, the league is still well known for its massive lineman on both sides of the ball. Watt faced these types of players weekly as a Badger and excelled against them.

Hopefully this means that Amobi Okoye’s days are done and fans of this franchise can move on from that debacle.

2 (42): Brooks Reed, OLB/DE, Arizona

As mentioned above, Houston drafted a DE/DT in the first round and in the second round they drafted an OLB/DE. As a result of this combination, the Texans gained two players who can play four positions.

Reed is all over the field and many analysts had him listed as a first-round talent. Reed should complete the Texans’ LB corps in the 3-4 set. He will be largely responsible for pass rush in either set, however. This is likely the best “value” pick of Houston’s entire draft.

Reed is tenacious, a good tackler, and has great game speed. The announcement late last week that Mario Williams will line up as an OLB in the 3-4 makes this pick even smarter.

With Reed and Williams on the outside, Connor Barwin is freed up to provide depth at the OLB position.

3 (60): Brandon Harris, DB, Miami

It could be argued that the Houston Texans’ secondary of 2010-2011 was one of the worst in the history of the NFL.

The youthful group gave up play after big play that cost the Texans big and that need was a priority in this season’s draft. The Texans were in place to draft Prince Amukamara, but passed on him.

That was likely also a good choice.

Harris provides a similar skill set, but in the third round. He runs a 4.4 and has the capability to guard WRs in a man-to-man scheme. Fans of the college game might recall that he occasionally looked out of place and lost at The U. This cannot be blamed solely on Harris.

After all, he played during the Randy Shannon era.

4 (127): Rashard Carmichael, DB, Virginia Tech

As a Texans fan I cannot tell you how happy I was when this selection is made.

It’s not that I think Carmichael is the second coming of Charles Woodson, but it is apparent to me that Wade Phillips is in charge of this draft. That is precisely was this team needs.

The duo of Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith has been below average as talent evaluators. What’s the result of below average talent evaluation? A 6-10 record. The Texans have focused entirely on the defensive side of the ball through the first four rounds, which is exactly what they should be doing.

Carmichael was the best player in a Virginia Tech secondary that was outstanding last season. He’s physical with WRs at the line of scrimmage and is not afraid to tackle. He will likely make a living playing in nickel and dime packages.

5 (144): Shiloh Keo, DB, Idaho

For those asking “damn, does Houston need that many defensive backs?” the answer is a resounding, “YES!”

The Texans apparently love Keo’s playing style. He’s not going to cover anyone man-to-man and it is doubtful he will get significant starting time at any point in his career. But he will be a special teams player and a backup safety.

Wade Phillips is reportedly enamored with his willingness to play the run and take on blockers and believes he has a real chance to be a good NFL player. I’m willing to accept Phillips has forgotten more about football than Mel Kiper, Jr. and I have ever known.

5 (152): T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

I have no problem with this pick.

So long as Matt Schaub stays healthy, his job is safe, but that’s not what this pick was about. Though he’s certainly a developmental player, Yates can play and is 6’4”, 225 lbs. The fact that he was able to accomplish anything behind that North Carolina offensive line speaks to his potential.

He has outstanding accuracy, as evidenced by his performance in the Texas vs. the Nation college post-season game (which Texas won by the way). I think the Texans likely chose him in hopes that he develops and they can trade him to a QB-hungry team in a couple of seasons. If they can turn this late fifth round pick into a second round pick, I will be thrilled.

This reminds me of a couple of horror stories I need to share with this blog’s readers. These incidents occurred during the Texans’ Charley Casserly era, a truly miserable era in the franchise’s history.

First of all, in 2003, the Houston Texans drafted Dave Ragone out of Louisville in the third round. That doesn’t sound so terrible if that’s all the information you’re provided. But consider the Texans drafted David Carr No. 1 overall that year. Forget about what a disaster Carr was and just consider this: Casserly used a third overall pick on a player who, if the rest if the draft (specifically the No. 1 overall pick) worked out, would NEVER set foot on the field for the Houston Texans.

I have no issue with a team taking chances like this in the fifth round, but the third?! No wonder Carr was running for his life for so long.

But Ol’ Charley wasn’t done. NO! He had more tricks where that came from! In that same 2003 draft, Casserly picked Drew Henson in the sixth round. This had the potential to be a brilliant pick (largely because it was in the 6th round). Henson had skills that were coveted by many teams and the size (6’4” 240) to back it up, but he was playing baseball at the time.

In 2004, the Dallas Cowboys traded the Texans a third round pick for the rights to Drew Henson, who retired from baseball and joined them that season. So this sounds great, right!? The Texans essentially traded a sixth-round pick for a third-round pick! Well, Charley couldn’t leave well enough alone and he packaged a second-round pick and that third-round pick (that represented Drew Henson, essentially) and sent them to the Oakland Raiders for Phillip Buchanon in 2005.

Yes. Phillip Buchanon.

It was widely reported at that time that no other team had even considered offering Oakland a fourth-rounder for Buchanon’s services. So, apparently Charley Casserly outbid himself and the result was getting the short end of the stick on a trade with Al Davis and the Raiders. That’s how bad he was.

But I haven’t even mentioned the best part! After it was painfully obvious that the Buchanon trade was a disaster, Casserly appeared on a local radio show and, when questioned about the trade he said something to the effect of, “well, we got that third-round pick from the Drew Henson deal, so we shouldn’t have had that in the first place. We look at it as if we gave up only a second-round pick.”

I was livid.

Was Charley saying “if I find $100 on the sidewalk and spend it on a $10 novelty toothbrush it’s ok because, I simply found that money anyway!” What a jackass. I hope Smithiak (or their successors should they go 6-10 again) handles T.J. Yates a little better.

7 (214): Derek Newton, OL, Arkansas State

Obviously, in the seventh round basically every pick is a crapshoot. Newton is 6’5” and could offer depth at right tackle or the interior line. He excels in the run game, which means he might find a home in Houston assisting Arian Foster.

7 (254): Cheta Ozougwu, OLB, Rice

If “Mr. Irrelevant” never sets foot on a NFL field I don’t care.

He is the type of player the Texans should have chosen with the last pick in the draft. He does not project to ever be much of a run-stopper, but he is extremely athletic and is a project with pass-rushing capabilities. As usual, the Texans took no chances regarding character issues. The man went to Rice and by all accounts is as decent of a person as there is.

– No Legs 2011

UFC 128 Preview

Fresh on the heels of acquiring rival promotion Strikeforce, the UFC surges onward toward the mission of becoming the end-all, be-all for professional mixed martial arts. The card for UFC 128 shouldn’t slow momentum one bit.

Here’s GASB’s analysis and picks for the main card, available on Pay Per View.

• Heavyweight bout (206-265 lbs): Mirko Cro Cop v. Brendan Schaub

Zuffa likes to start PPV events with extremely interesting match-ups and potentially explosive fights. Cro Cop v. Schaub fits that formula to a tee.

Cro Cop is a perennial favorite amongst veteran fight fans. His stunning KO’s and TKO’s in Pride won the hearts of hardcore MMA junkies the world over. We’re speaking of a man who knocked out Wanderlei Silva with a headkick of legend in both combatant’s prime.


Unfortunately, and as with many Pride stars that tried to integrate into UFC since, the results since Pride’s demise have been mixed at best.

One of the most shocking moments in MMA history occurred when Gabriel Gonzaga landed a flush headkick knockout (Cro Crop’s own signature move) in the first round of Cro Cop’s second UFC fight.  That was followed by  a loss to Cheick Congo, a handful of TKO’s over the division’s lower-tiered talent, and two losses at the hands of the heavyweight elite (Junior dos Santos, Frank Mir).

Brendan Schaub is very much from the newer school of MMA, in picking up the sport well after its mainstream breakthrough and acceptance. He came into the sport after a failed run at the NFL (peaking at a practice squad spot on the Buffalo Bills) and came into the UFC via a reality show.


The fact of the matter is that while he’s only been in the sport for just over three years, his overall athleticism has allowed him to excel and experience some early success.

The ceiling is still high, and his next run of fights will determine how far he will go.

GASB favors: Brendan Schaub, likely by unanimous decision. Obviously Cro Cop has one-kick, one-punch knockout potential and the fight could go the other way in the blink of an eye, but expect Schaub to employ a similar gameplan to his last fight (coincidentally a decision victory over Gonzaga).


• Middleweight bout (185 lbs): Nate Marquardt v. Dan Miller

Here we have yet another fight wherein the fighters are essentially a mixed bag of inconsistent wins and losses against the broad talent spectrum that is the UFC’s middleweight division.

Accordingly, it should produce an almost equally unpredictable result.

Nate Marquardt comes in with extremely impressive striking-based stoppages versus Martin Kampmann and then a Brazilian hat trick comprised of Wilson Gouveia, Demian Maia, and Rousimar Palhares. But he’s also gotten snagged in decision losses to Chael Sonnen and Yushin Okami, effectively thwarting his second run at Anderson Silva’s title belt.

Dan Miller was absolutely on fire until he hit a three-tiered brick wall of some of the middleweight division’s best in Chael Sonnen, Demian Maia, and Michael Bisping.

In literally a year and six days, he went from being one of the hottest prospects in the division to, at best, the jury still being out. Since that string of losses, he sunk a nice guillotine in on Joe Salter at UFC 118 and fought well enough to split the vote in his favor over Joe Doerksen at 124. It’s difficult to know what kind of fighter we can expect to see when Miller enters the cage this weekend.

GASB favors: Nate Marquardt, like by a strike stoppage. It’s been a frustrating couple of years for both men and Marquardt will be blowing off steam at Miller’s expense.


• Lightweight bout (155 lbs): Jim Miller v. Kamal Shalorus

GASB absolutely loves this matchup and is arguably more excited about this fight than the main event — which is to say quite a lot.

Jim Miller (yes, the younger brother of Dan) has a had a fantastic MMA career and comes in with what GASB would consider a far more sound background amongst the “modern” crop of fighters 29 and under. Whereas a fighter like Brandan Schaub burst onto the scene after a very short period of training and acclimation, Miller has a much farther reaching background in the neo-classical sense of “must-haves” necessary to consistently excel in the modern game (namely wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu).

IT'S MILLER TIME (No, I am not above shitty puns.)

Miller wrestled Division I at Virginia Tech and is a black belt in BJJ under Jamie Cruz. Accordingly, aside from an early career loss versus current UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar and losing a decision to Gray Maynard at ‘The Bully’s’ prime, Miller has handled business against very serious competition.

In GASB’s opinion, there has not been a more formidable opponent in all of Miller’s career than Kamal Shalorus. The casual fight fan might make the mistake of looking at this matchup as a successful UFC vet facing a promising challenger making his UFC debut.

Please, don’t be “that guy.”

Kamal Shalorus is an absolute assassin. With Kamal, you’re looking at world-class wrestling abilities and results from tournaments all across the globe from a man that currently grapples with Randy Couture stateside. You’re getting a fighter who trains his BJJ under Reslon Gracie, Daniel Morales, and Phil Cardella. If the preceding information has opponents thinking “defend the takedown,” Kamal is well aware and will often capitalize with lightning-fast boxing that can render a TKO in mere seconds.

GASB favors: Kamal Shalorus, likely by rear naked choke. WEC fans know what they’re getting in Kamal Shalorus. This Saturday, under the biggest spotlight of his career, he will show the rest of the world what’s in store for the lightweight division in the coming years.


• Bantamweight bout (135 lbs): Urijah Faber v. Eddie Wineland

This fight should serve its purpose of effectively introducing and integrating the lighter weight classes of WEC into the UFC.

While Urijah’s body might be giving him diminishing returns at this point, he still possesses a high level of athleticism, talent, and excitement across his game. The lighter weight class seemed to suit him well in his last fight versus Takeya Mizugaki and reports out of Team Alpha Male’s camp have him looking better than ever.

GASB has confidence that the former icon that essentially defined WEC for many years will rise to the occasion and truly show that the bantamweight division can and will be a tremendous addition to the promotion at large.

HE WON'T DO YOU ANY FABERS (Told you I'm not above puns.)

Eddie Wineland is the perfect guy to go toe-to-toe with Urijah at this point. His last two WEC fights were absolutely explosive (check out his slam on Ken Stone and TKO v. Will Campuzano to get a sense of the momentum he’s coming in on). Urijah is known for his trademark high-energy, relentless overall attack. Wineland is an excellent counter-striker and should be able to read and anticipate a lot of what Urijah hurls at him.

It will be a wonderful dynamic to keep your eye on throughout the fight.

GASB favors: Urijah Faber, likely by rear naked choke. Unless Wineland simply catches Urijah in the middle of a Faber-flurry, Urijah should be able to force the one mistake that will get Wineland to give up his back.


• MAIN EVENT: Light Heavyweight Championship bout (205 lbs): Maurício “Shogun” Rua v. Jon “Bones” Jones

Praise be to Allah (or whatever pygmy deity you worship out there – props to Chael Sonnen) for putting Rashad “Suga” Evans down and praise be to Joe Silva for giving us Jon Jones in his place.

Fight fans everywhere have been high on Jon Jones from the onset. His unorthodox, lightning fast striking has humbled everyone in its path. It’s like watching the nature channel when a pride of lions need to feast.

Jones was handed his title shot within seconds upon defeating his toughest challenge to date in Ryan Bader. In what was supposed to be the unstoppable force versus the immovable object, the unstoppable force barely broke a sweat.  Jones absolutely dominated Bader for the duration of round one before sinking in a guillotine for the win and “Submission of the Night” honors.

Unquestionably, nobody’s star, nobody’s potential right now can eclipse the hype train that is Jon Jones.

Standing across the cage will be a true MMA champion and warrior in the form of Maurício “Shogun” Rua. The man is a legend and he walks to the ring holding the scalps of some of the greatest fighters MMA has ever produced. Consider for a moment how completely insane it is that one man was able to convincingly dismantle Alistair Overeem (twice!), Rampage Jackson, Big Nog, Kevin Randleman, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell, and Lyoto Machida.

Rua did in all of them (and several others) before the age of 30.


Essentially, the hype train that’s backing Jones and the fighter himself need to heed the history and the top level well-roundedness of Rua’s game. At the same time, the old guard of Pride freaks and team Rua all need to understand that he’s going up against a fighter that possesses a unique and freakishly unorthodox skill-set the likes nobody has ever seen.

Expect fireworks.

GASB favors: Jon Jones, likely by knockout. The meteoric rise of this young fighter is approaching (prime) Tyson-esque excitement and critical mass. After the sheer dominance over Bader, the sky is absolutely the limit on where Jonny Bones goes from here forward.

– Brent Eyestone

Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl Preview

Nothing is more daunting than a lifetime Bears fan and franchise-long Ravens fan attending the carving up of Super Bowl assignments at GASB headquarters.

In short: which No. 1 hated division rival would you like to analyze and assess more? Thankfully, GASB will always love the game much more than we hate our mortal enemies, so let’s take a hard look at the Pittsburgh Steelers, inarguably one of the greatest franchises in NFL history.

Pittsburgh comes into this game as the only franchise with six previous Super Bowl victories and the only franchise to have won eight AFC Championship Games. This means that in seven prior Super Bowl appearances, the team has only been defeated once.


If it weren’t for loyalties elsewhere, the Pittsburgh Steelers are precisely the type of organization that GASB loves and they certainly run the type of system that other teams around the league should certainly aspire toward both on the field and in the front offices.

Consider that this particular team is still owned and run by the Rooney Family (since 1933) and has tenured a mere THREE head coaches in the modern Super Bowl era.

Rather than take impulsive mulligans or “adapt” to the more corporate Snyder/Jones one-and-done style of modern front office and personal changes, the Steelers get their men and stand by their men.

They consistently build immense teams via the draft and grow their players in a uniquely Steelers system from the ground up. The loyalty pays off: Chuck Noll delivered four rings, Bill Cowher delivered one and Mike Tomlin matched it a mere three years later and is sitting on the doorstep yet again.

One would be hard pressed to find a team with as much talent in the office as on the field, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are unquestionably that team. And as with every Sunday, it will ultimately come down to the men standing on the field executing what they’ve been drilled on since OTA’s and mini camp the preceding summer.

Let’s examine who’s coming charging out of the tunnel.

Quarterback: Love him or hate him, “Big” Ben Roethlisberger is unquestionably in the top three realm of modern quarterbacks.

If we’re talking about one game for all the marbles, Big Ben is right up there with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. All three have demonstrated what it is to be clutch when it counts the absolute most. What makes the Steelers’ quarterback position so terrifying for Green Bay and Packer fans everywhere in this matchup is that they are facing an especially dangerous Roethlisberger coming out of the story arc that was the 2010 season.


Forced to sit for four games (reduced from six) at the front end of the schedule for particularly a scandalous and alarming pattern of offseason misconduct, Ben was faced with a simple choice: shape up now or suffer the fate of former teammate Santonio Holmes (traded to the Jets after a nightclub incident).

Accordingly, Roethlisberger focused in on the difficult road to redemption before him and made massive strides. He recommitted himself to the game and, upon reinstatement, went out to light it up like a man literally playing for his life.

Roethlisberger 3.0 was an absolute monster during the remaining 2010 regular season and playoffs.

His mental and physical toughness were unparalleled while stacked AFC defenses tried to simply break him in all facets from week to week. They smashed and broke his nose across his face. He stayed in. They nearly snapped his ankle. He put a boot on and ran right back out onto the field.

He threw for over 3,000 yards in 12 games, he lowered his head and picked up first downs and touchdowns at will and, while unquantifiable on a stat sheet, he seemed much wiser in his trademark gambling methodology of navigating the pocket.

Yes, Ben Roethlisberger holds onto the ball longer than any QB in the league. This has not changed. What has changed is that he’s seeing the peripheral landscape better and creating many more offensive opportunities than ever in doing so.

Nobody wants this game more than Big Ben. You could argue that nobody needs this game more than Big Ben.

This is an entirely frightening premise if you’re Dom Capers on the Packers sideline.

Offensive Line: Of note and of great significance: reports have emerged that starting rookie center Maurkice Pouncey will not play in Sunday’s showdown due to an ankle injury suffered in the AFC Championship Game.

He remains listed as “questionable” as of press time. This is a massive blow to the Steelers and will absolutely be a major factor heading in. Pouncey put forth a Pro Bowl effort in 2010 and certainly demonstrated what a modern center in the league CAN be. Doug Legursky has been tapped to step in.

His reward? BJ Raji staring him down from across the line. To quote a legendary canine cartoon, “ZOINKS!”


The good news? The Steelers are absolutely stacked with grizzled and energized veterans on the left and right sides.

Jonathan Scott, Chris Kemoeatu, and Flozell Adams are household names for a reason. Second-year right guard Ramon Foster is quickly proving himself and earning his keep with the big boys. So while Legursky has his work cut out for him, expect more than a little help from his not-so-little friends.

Anticipate a showdown of epic proportions as the Packers send Cullen Jenkins and Clay Matthews slamming into these Steeler workhorses.

Running Backs: Now in his third season, Rashard Mendenhall has proven yet again that the Steelers know how to draft. Plucked straight from the Big Ten and thrust immediately into the Super Bowl season of 2008, No. 34 was forced to learn the system immediately and be ready when his number was called.

He responded with a 2009 that saw him break 1,000 yards on the ground while stepping into that every-QBs-best-friend role of hovering just outside of the pocket on pass plays for the last option dump off pass. In 2010, he showed improvement across the board — making a case for elite status.

Look for entirely solid and potentially game-breaking plays from Mendenhall under the big lights. Do not count on costly mistakes: Mendenhall only put the ball on the ground twice this season.


Fullback David Johnson will have his work cut out for him alternating between trying to shore up the Pouncey-free line and creating lanes for Mendenhall to bust through.

As he’s proven in the last two seasons, he is ready, willing, and able to do just that when called upon.

Other than that, look for Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman to see some snaps and give Big Ben some options if Matthews and Jenkins manage to get past the O-Line quicker than anticipated.

Tight End: Simply put, Heath Miller is your prototypical AFC North tight end.

Deftly skilled at both blocking and receiving, look for the Steelers to call upon No. 83 in any scenario where the chips are down. His field vision will enable him to pick up and thwart oncoming defenders and, if Charles Woodson plugs up the deep threat, Miller is not afraid to run a route across the middle on any third-down situation.

With a weakened line, Heath will absolutely need to be on point on every down he plays. Count on it. Beyond No. 83, the Steelers could not ask for a better number two guy than Matt Spaeth.

Set your watch to both men executing their assignments with ferocity.

Wide Receivers: Once again, the Steelers prove that they are top-tier genius status when it comes to drafting correctly.

Hines Ward is now in his thirteenth year with the team and is still one of the most explosive and game-breaking receivers in big game situations. He simply grins in the face of opposing defenses as he’s breaking their backs with clutch catch after catch.


Those unfamiliar with the Steelers’ 2010 season might look at the stat line and surmise that No. 86 had a down year. That’s not the case when you factor in Roethlisberger’s newest toy at the No. 2 spot: another draft pick turned gold in second-year man Mike Wallace.

Accounting for over 1,250 yards and 10 TD’s in year two? Welcome to prime time, youngster.

After the monster season Wallace enjoyed, look for him to shine and truly make a name for himself in front of the biggest viewing audience of the year (perhaps all-time).

The Steelers are as balanced as ever at this position and the war chest runs deep receiver-wise. If Hines gets stymied, Monday morning water cooler talk could be all about the rise of the “Young Money Fellas” (more later).

Defensive Line: The Steelers continue to run a 3-4 defense, so look for the 920-pound three-headed dog-from-hell also known as Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, and Casey Hampton to put constant pressure on the Packers and Rodgers.

Ziggy’s had a bit of a breakout year in only his second year in the league, so definitely keep your eye on him with each snap. It looks like Aaron Smith will not be available for the game, so the Steelers will have to count on Chris Hoke and Nick Eason for support behind the starting three.

GASB expects some major disruptions at the hands of the D line versus the Pack. The timing of these disruptions and how Rodgers adjusts and handles pressure from all sides will be a huge determining factor in this game. Rodgers has seen some exotic blitzes during the course of the season. On Sunday, he will literally see the best the league has to offer.

Linebackers: As we take a peak over the front three, we’re beginning to become a little terrified for Aaron Rodgers and James Starks. Let’s say the Pack pitches a perfect game versus Keisel, Hood, and Hampton. Okay, then what the hell do you do with “LIGHTS OUT. NO SERIOUSLY, LIGHTS OUT” James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior, and LeMarr Woodley wanting to decapitate any and every man attempting to advance the football past them?


GASB would prefer to go to any California State Penitentiary wearing nothing but assless chaps for a day than be asked to stave off the homicidal maniacs that comprise the modern day Steel Curtain for even a single down.

Put it down: all four of these men are going to put their mark on this game. There is not an offensive scheme on the planet that can keep these four from feasting at will. They are going to get to you and they are going to make your internal organs scream. The only way to address the linebacking corps of the Steelers is to attempt to keep their big plays manageable within the context of the entire offensive attack.

In this regard, The Packers will need to hone in on a perfectly balanced attack of both the run and the pass, as we now enter into the third and near-inpenatrable component of the Steelers D.

Secondary: With such a formidable front line and linebacking corps, sometimes the only possible solution is to take your chances on the secondary. Not with the Steelers, man.

You know you’re in deep, deep trouble when the STRONG SAFETY for the other team has more national endorsements than your starting franchise quarterback.

Simply put, you can try testing Troy Polamalu, but he’s going to eat your lunch more often than not. It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “how many times?”
How many times are you going to issue a death sentence to your own tight end or receiver by trying to pick up yardage in the middle?


How many times is one of those 300-pound giants going to bat a ball up into the air only to see it come down into the hands and fleet-footed blur of hair and black and gold?

And that’s just Polamalu’s impact.
Have you SEEN Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor give interviews lately? Could there be a more cold-blooded, Secret Service-level of assuredness and confidence coming from two men?

GASB thinks not. We’re talking about two men in their athletic primes (nine years in the league for Clark, eight for Taylor) realizing that the window is closing on another ring and wanting absolutely nothing more in present tense. Expect athletic brilliance from both, with Clark making savant-like freelancing decisions and Taylor blanketing all assignments.

If all else fails and Rodgers looks left for intermediate, manageable gains, expect no mercy. Bryant McFadden will be watching. Waiting. Studying. He’s already looked over every tape of every tendency Rodgers has shown in his entire career. He knows how to tackle in the open field (2010 marked a career high 74 solo tackles). He’s absolutely going to get there and, if he sees something he recognizes, it’s going to make for a long day for the men in yellow and green.

Special Teams: This is the one area where the Steelers aren’t exactly as superhuman as the other facets of the game.

Punter Jeremy Kapinos, in spite of being a Penn Stater, hasn’t exactly had the most solid NFL career to date. Four different teams in as many years, and just not many reps. He came over to the Steelers in week eight of the 2010 season and didn’t see consistent action until week fourteen, where he slid into the starter role.

With the exception of a rough game versus the Jets in week fifteen, he’s been “okay” for the Steelers. If SB XLV turns out to be the defensive war it has all the potential to be, field position will be at a premium and Mr. Kapinos will need to back up his Nittany Lion pedigree by putting it back long and in the corner.

Placekicker Shaun Suisham scares the bejeezus out of GASB if this game indeed comes down to defense and field goals. GASB spends a lot of time in the greater Washington, DC metro area, where Suisham was run out of town at the behest of a rather angry pitchfork and torch-wielding mob of Redskins faithful.

While he’s shown decent acumen in his seven-game run this season with the Steelers, history dictates that at some point Shaun Suisham will become Shaun Suisham. For the sake of the biggest game of the year, we sincerely hope it’s not this Sunday.

Finally, in the latter half of the season, the Steelers discovered big-play ability in a young rookie named Antonio Brown. It began with a game-winning dagger of a catch versus GASB’s beloved Ravens and simply did not end there. Accordingly, the Steelers have put 1/3 of the “Young Money Fellas” (the other two being fellow WR’s Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders) back for both kick and punt returns on top of what is quickly becoming his “late-game heroic” status in the offense.

The hope is that his explosiveness and excitement-raising style of play will energize the offense and Terrible Towel-wavers alike heading into each and every series.  We anticipate Brown to deliver at some point, likely when it matters most (think Santonio Holmes in their last SB appearance).


Side note on Antonio Brown: If you’re looking for a Michael Oher Blind Side-esque backstory to get behind and really pull for for this weekend, GASB highly recommends looking into No. 84’s rise to the NFL. It’s the classic narrative of daunting, oppressively hard times failing to break a human spirit driven to compete at the highest level.

Super Bowl XLV has all of the makings of a game for the ages and this writer wishes a sincerely fantastic and fun-filled viewing experience to everyone in GASB-nation.

– Brent Eyestone

Green Bay Packers Super Bowl Preview


It should come as no surprise to anyone to see the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.

They may not have been the NFC’S trendy pick — that distinction would have gone to the Eagles, Falcons or Saints — but they’ve been a picture of consistency through the entire season and it seems a lot of people failed to notice.

This is as Packers team that did not trail by more than a touchdown all season. A Packers team that did not lose a single game by more than four points all season. A Packers team that barely skipped a beat without franchise signal-caller Aaron Rodgers under center.

Now Green Bay is (relatively) healthy and rolling behind the momentum of three straight road playoff wins.

That said, let’s take a position-by-position look at what Green Bay brings to the Super Bowl table.

Quarterback: Coming off three straight road playoff victories, Rodgers has become a hot commodity and is quickly ascending to ‘elite’ status in the NFL.

His performance in four career playoff games is impeccable; Rodgers has accounted for 13 total touchdowns to just four turnovers. His career QB rating in the playoffs is well over 115. More importantly? His record is 3-1, with the only blemish being an overtime playoff loss to the Kurt Warner-led Arizona Cardinals.

It’s clear Rodgers has learned from that defeat. It’s clear that he’s now a better quarterback. The ball is coming out of his hands quicker than ever, he’s fitting balls into windows that barely even exist and he’s evading the rush and moving fluidly in the pocket.


In short, Rodgers is doing literally every thing you could possibly want a quarterback to do.

Runningback: Here is where the Packers are going to have some issues.

When Ryan Grant went down for the season in week one, he left a massive void at tailback. Ryan was the Packers’ every-down, 1,200-yard, chain-moving back. He was dependable and versatile. In his absence, the Packers have employed a running-back-by-committee approach with Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn and upstart James Starks.

The problem is that even combined, the trio doesn’t do what Grant could always be depended on for: getting the yard yardage. Kuhn is serviceable as a short-yardage and goal-line back, Starks has the speed and vision to run off-tackle, and Brandon Jackson has some power up the middle, but none of them have the burst and the drive that Grant has.

None of those backs can tear through a hole on second-and-9 and get into the secondary before being taken down for a 15-yard gain. The big-play ability just isn’t there, and against a swirling Steelers defense with some hard-hitting linebackers, the Packers have little to no chance of running consistently.

Wide receiver: Playmakers abound here for the green-and-gold. While Rodgers surely misses his big tight end in Jermichael Finley, he’s got a wealth of speed and play-making ability and the Packers go four deep with it.

Greg Jennings is the man the Steelers will need to key in on, though much easier said than done. Jennings can hurt a defense in a variety of ways — he’s just as likely to take a quick slant up the middle and to pay dirt as he is to torch a safety over the top. Look for him to be double-covered though much of Sunday’s action.


If Jennings is covered, Rodgers will likely turn to cagy veteran Donald Driver. While the 12-year pro can’t boast the speed that he once thrilled with, his hands are as sure as ever and he’s a fixture in third-down situations.

If Rodgers needs eight or nine yards on third down, you can bet he’s looking for Driver on a hook or a curl route.

In the slot will be James Jones. A quick receiver out of San Jose State, Jones knows just how to find seams on drag and post routes that drive defenses crazy. It’ll be up to free safety Ryan Clark to keep one eye on Jones at all times to ensure that those 10 or 15-yard gains don’t turn into 30 or 35-yard gains.

Last is the biggest of Green Bay’s wide receiver corps, the 6’3” 217-pound Jordy Nelson. Nelson really came into form late in the season and his size — coupled with the fact that he’ll likely be matched up on by linebackers or the nickel back — will give Rodgers a large target to throw at should his first couple reads break down. Think of Nelson like a large, sure-handed safety valve.

He could be one of the keys to the Packers’ offense should that Pittsburgh pass rush routinely flush Rodgers from the pocket.

Offensive line: What a difference a year makes. In 2009, the injury plagued Packers line could do nothing to keep quarterback Aaron Rodgers off his back. Rodgers was sacked a league-high 50 times in ‘09 — tied with the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger — compared to just 31 times in the 2009 season. A lot of that has to do with the improved health of the line, namely when it comes to left tackle Chad Clifton.

On the other end of the line is big-bodied Brian Baluga, who has fought through some early-season growing pains to really be dependable in the right tackle position.

The line will have its work cut out for it with the complex blitz packages gameplanned by Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, so they’ll need to have their best game of the season to give Rodgers the time he needs to find those receivers.

Defensive line: Anchored by former Boston College standout B.J. Raji, who is not-so-quietly having the best season of his young career, this three-man line was part of a unit that was second in the league in sacks during the regular season with 48 and first in the playoffs with 10.

Raji’s ability to command a double team is what opens up the gaps for blitzes from the linebackers, but right end Cullen Jenkins is quite a pass rusher in his own right with seven sacks on the season.


It’s not just about blitzes, though. Far from it. This Packers front three is plenty capable of stopping the run, especially in the red zone. Green Bay was second in the NFL — behind you guessed it, Pittsburgh — with having allowed just six rushing touchdowns all season.

That staunch red zone defense will have to keep up that level of play this Sunday to force Roethlisberger into poor throws around the end zone.

Linebackers: This is where this Green Bay defense really starts to shine.

When Dom Capers first instituted a 3-4 defensive scheme in 2009, the Packers were a mess. They missed assignments, couldn’t plug gaps, and flat-out couldn’t stop anyone. That’s no longer the case. Led by defensive player of the year runner-up Clay Matthews, this linebackers quartet is as quick, strong and technically sound as any in the league.

It starts in the middle with A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop. The two run-pluggers not only lead the Packers in tackles, but combined for 3.5 sacks and six forced turnovers. When the middle of a defense is versatile enough to stop the run, rush the passer and drop back into coverage, and cover all those bases successfully, it opens up the outside linebackers to wreak havoc.

And that’s exactly what Clay Matthews did this season.

His 13.5 sacks were good for fourth in the NFL, but the opponents’ backfield wasn’t the only place he did his damage. Matthews is fast enough to drop back into coverage and get interceptions. He’s a hard hitter that’s going to force fumbles on players coming across the middle. Matthews needs to be accounted for literally every single time he’s on the field.

Secondary: Had you told me that a Green Bay Packers team without Al Harris or Atari Bigby — who combined for six picks and 13 passes defensed last season — was going to be just as dangerous this year as last year, I’d have laughed at you. And then told you to go watch the WNBA.



Well, then, it seems that the joke’s on me.

The team might not have forced as many interception’s as last year’s 38, but they clamped down on opposing wide receivers for just about every team they’ve played and the interceptions have come at the biggest possible moments. Tramon Williams has emerged as a premier corner and Nick Collins has quietly been one of the best safeties in the NFC this season.

With all the pressure forced by the Packers’ front seven, it allows the secondary to take more chances breaking on balls, as quarterbacks like Matt Ryan all too quickly to find out.

Kicking: Mason Crosby had a pretty average year in the kicking game, and was only 2-of-4 from beyond 50 yards, but he’s made big kicks for the Packers in the past and coach Mike McCarthy should feel comfortable enough with him in any pressure-kicking situation that may arise.

Tim Masthay is a fairly middle-of-the-road punter; the kind of player that’s not often going to pin a team inside their own five but a player that also isn’t going to net just 13 yards on a kick off the side of his foot. We’ll just say he’s no Matt Dodge.

– Jordan Rogowski


If you only purchase one UFC PPV this year (and trust us, at $54.99 a shot, we feel your pain), UFC 126 certainly contends high in terms of bang for your buck.

Perhaps sensing the recent slump in sales and overall enthusiasm, Joe Silva and the Fertitta brothers have put together a fight card laced with pure gunpowder. It’s been some time since GASB has been THIS excited about a UFC card, so let’s dive right in, beginning with two free undercard matchups that will air on Spike TV at 9PM EST.

Scheduled-to-air preliminary bouts (Spike TV):

• Featherweight bout (145 lbs): Chad Mendes v. Michihiro Omigawa

GASB has long been an unapologetic fan of WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting). With its recent and complete absorption into Zuffa/UFC, we fully expect the overall quality and excitement of the average UFC bout to raise exponentially as lighter, more conditioned athletes are put before the casual UFC fan, who simply haven’t been treated to what these tiny warriors are capable of.


In terms of the free broadcast on Spike TV, there is no better intro to the casual fan toward the brand new featherweight division than Mendes v. Omigawa. Michihiro comes to us direct from Japan, where he’s riding a 5-fight win streak, a #4 featherweight ranking, and revered status given his fight history in Dream, Sengoku, and the Judo world. His recent victories have showcased a submission game and more complete mixed martial arts skill set than previous efforts have hinted at. Meanwhile, Chad Mendes comes to the cage with a 9-0 undefeated professional record and a sharp uptick in terms of career potential.

What we like most about Mendes is his camp: Team Alpha Male, notorious for churning out relentless, untiring, and well-rounded attacks. In this regard, Mendes is the prototypical Alpha Male specimen.

GASB favors: Chad Mendes, likely via unanimous decision. Omigawa flirted with the UFC in 2008 and didn’t fare well. The same can be said of many other Japanese stars who cross the Pacific toward the bright lights of WEC and UFC. Beyond this, Mendes recently toppled two of the featherweight division’s studs in both Cub Swanson and Javier Vasquez. Team Alpha Male prepares their fighters well for the spotlight and Mendes will come out in top mental and physical shape for this one.

• Lightweight bout (155 lbs): Donald Cerrone v. Paul Kelly

With Sam Stout being forced to drop from the card, another WEC alum and staple, Donald “The Cowboy” Cerrone, gets a chance to hit the reset button and rebrand himself to an entirely new set of fight fans in the UFC. GASB highly suspects that the casual UFC fan is going to eat up the “irreverent cowboy” schtick from “go,” but Donald will need to back it up immediately with a convincing win over Paul Kelly — a fighter that many UFC faithful know quite well.

Kelly has fought often and fought hard in the UFC for the past three years, with epic battles versus Jacob Volkmann, Matt Veach, and Dennis Siver being pleasant surprises on otherwise underwhelming and perhaps even bizarre cards (Silva/Maia anyone?).

Cerrone is an unapologetic brawler with a ridiculous muay thai skillset. He loves to stand and often baits opponents into thinking they’re in for a slugfest. Yet, far more often than not, the fight suddenly drops to the ground where Donald is extremely good at a host of submissions. Throughout the years, we’ve seen him sink absolutely vicious guillotines, triangles, and rear naked chokes out of nowhere. This deceiving well-roundedness has garnered Cerrone several “Fight of the Night” honors and even WEC “Fight of the Year” in 2009.


Kelly is also no stranger to “Fight of the Night” honors, having defeated countryman (and current teammate) Paul Taylor in an absolute war on the undercard of UFC 80. It will be interesting to see what could possibly be an entire change in gameplan and strategy, as Kelly recently migrated from the Wolfslair camp over to Team Kaobon. Whereas Wolfslair fighters are known for great wrestling and boxing, Kaobon’s pedigree is top level muay thai striking, Luta Livre (a more diverse wrestling system), and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We could see an entirely new Paul Kelly.

GASB favors: Donald Cerrone, possibly via split decision. We anticipate and hope for a more vicious and dangerous Paul Kelly coming into this fight, but have to give the “on paper” war to Cerrone until we see it.

MAIN CARD (Pay-Per-View):

• Bantamweight bout (135 lbs): Miguel Angel Torres v. Antonio Banuelos

The PPV kicks off with yet another WEC carryover fight. GASB literally gets goosebumps thinking about this one.

Prior to August 9, 2009, Miguel Angel Torres was regarded by many as the most dangerous pound for pound fighter walking the planet. He walked through, dominated, destroyed, and… rearranged other men. If you’re unfamiliar with his fist canon and plan on consulting the record books, please note that “Doctor Stoppage” is code for “Plastic Surgery Candidate.” More often than not, Miguel Torres fights looked like a man systematically destroying a series of boys as sacrificial offerings to prevent him from slaying entire villages of people. In 2009, someone over at aforementioned Team Alpha Male figured out the winning formula and the MMA world sat in shock as both Brian Bowles and Joseph Benavidez stunned Torres with knockout and submission victories, respectively.

Torres got back into the habit of winning with a convincing rear naked choke against Charlie Valencia in the fall of 2010, but the jury is still out as to whether or not he can ever return to form.

Antonio Banuelos is a fun watch. At 5’3″, he always looks a little heavier than his competition. When he connects, he has the ability to knock out anyone. What’s more impressive is his ability at times to absorb an unusual amount of punches to the face. There have been many fights where GASB has leapt from the couch, entirely enthusiastic over Banuelos still standing after getting repeatedly blasted in the face by his opponents.  All of these factors should get the blood pumping and lend for a great opening act at UFC 126.

GASB favors: Miguel Angel Torres, likely by TKO. While his chin might allow him to hang in there for some murderous exchanges, Antonio Banuelos is no Alpha Male.

• Light Heavyweight bout (205 lbs): Jon “Bones” Jones v. Ryan “Darth” Bader

This is GASB’s MUST-SEE FIGHT for UFC 126.

With the possible exception of Anderson Silva, this matchup pairs the two purest athletes on the card against one another. Expect to watch this one in awe of both the physical acumen of these competitors and their mental game against one another. In Jones, you have a top-tier, violent striker with a disgusting amount of unrelenting precision. In Bader, you have a world class wrestler with inhuman stopping power. Jones trains with Greg Jackson. Bader routinely spars with current UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Valasquez. Bader is undefeated as a professional and boasts an NCAA Division I wrestling champ.


Jones would be undefeated if it weren’t for that dumb 6 o’clock elbow rule (DQ). Jones has essentially put his signature on the spinning backfist maneuver. Bader took out a freaking NOGUEIRA BROTHER.

You’re not going to find a more impressive resume across any pairing of current rising UFC talent.

One could even argue that to match these two phenoms against each other so early in their bright careers might be a bad business decision for Zuffa. While that may be true financially, all that matters is that we get to see two otherworldly young athletes entering into their prime and completely standing in the way of each other.

This one is going to come down simply to who wants it more than the other; a very, very dangerous proposition when speaking of these two individuals. The referee for this fight better be quick on his/her feet to avoid permanent injury to one of the combatants.

GASB favors: Ryan Bader, likely by decision. In 2011, you’d be crazy to pick against Arizona State alums in the cage. We also feel Bader has more ways to win this fight (under the presumption that any Jones takedown will be stuffed instantly by Bader’s supreme wrestling pedigree).

• Welterweight bout (170 lbs): Jake Ellenberger v. Carlos Eduardo Rocha

Around the time that GASB will be shoving Gatorade I.V. needles into its flesh after screaming for the entirety of Jones v. Bader, two fantastic fighters will again be taking to the cage.

We love Jake Ellenberger’s fights. He’s a great, well-rounded fighter who uses a strong wrestling base to open up a host of other disciplines that he can then tailor toward each opponent. In short, he’s a true mixed martial arts fighter. If you haven’t seen his round 1 knockout over Mercelo Alfaya at Bellator 11, treat yourself as soon as possible.

Carlos Eduardo Rocha is the perfect matchup for Jake Ellenberger right now. This is the classic scenario of pitting a man at a crucial point in his journeyman-esque career versus a relatively unknown, yet extremely impressive newcomer.

Originally from Cabedelo down in Brazil, but currently fighting out of Hamburg, Germany, Rocha is a submission assassin, receiving his black belt from Dárcio Lira. He absolutely dismantled three men in one night at the 2009 Manto Cup and instantly put himself on the UFC radar. He made extremely quick work of Ultimate Fighter loudmouth Kris McCray at UFC 122 and has many diehards buzzing about where the ceiling is for this promising BJJ specimen.

GASB favors: Carlos Eduardo Rocha, likely by some insane choke. Maybe a Peruvian Necktie or Gogoplata (shin choke). This spot on the card is the perfect opportunity for Rocha to INSTANTLY make a name for himself and we see him rising to the occasion.

• Light Heavyweight bout (205 lbs): Forrest Griffin v. Rich Franklin

Great matchup, Joe Silva! This fight has no bearing whatsoever on the Light Heavyweight division — too many recent, high-profile losses for both — but these are two perennial fan favorites and should do wonders in terms of exposing all of these other younger, more promising fighters to the mainstream.

Both men are at a point in their careers where they’ve accepted that the fans want to see them brawl and put on a good show. They’ll do just that, complete with crowd interaction and slugfest pandering. It’s an entirely fun matchup and there’s nothing wrong with that here.

As this has no impact whatsoever on the modern light heavyweight landscape, GASB will simply throw our feet up and take in the show.

GASB favors: Rich Franklin, likely by KO. Forrest’s chin isn’t what it used to be and Franklin still has the discipline to hold composure in a punch-heavy exchange. He’ll find his mark as Forrest drops hands.

• MAIN EVENT: Middleweight Championship bout (185 lbs): Anderson “The Spider” Silva (Champion) v. Vitor Belfort (Challenger)

This is an interesting one.

Literally six years to the day after his last stint in UFC, Vitor gets a shot at the belt after only one current UFC fight (where he knocked out Rich Franklin at UFC 103). It’s truly hard to know what to expect. He’s a world class Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner (having trained with the Gracies), yet in recent years, he’s tried his hand at professional boxing, even attempting to make something happen with Golden Boy Promotions a few years ago.

He’s certainly stacked up a respectable amount of MMA knockouts since his last UFC foray, but one wonders if that’s the strategy that will be employed against Anderson Silva in this matchup (especially after seeing Chael Sonnen’s BJJ attack actually push Anderson for 4 9/10 rounds in his last fight).


Then you have to factor in the enigma that is Anderson Silva himself.

Does anyone out there know what to expect from the champion? Will he take this fight seriously? Will he even exert himself until he needs to? Will he try to invent new techniques on the fly? In many ways, the quality and results of this fight are entirely dependent on what’s going on in Anderson Silva’s head. He’s by far the superior athlete on this card and in UFC on the whole. This enables him to be bored, confused, and well… confusing.

At the end of the day, there is no bigger Anderson Silva fan than GASB, yet we’d be irresponsible to note that Zuffa is certainly taking another risk on a Silva-headlining card.

Thankfully, they’ve padded the card with fights that could comprise their own PPV even if Silva v. Belfort wasn’t on. In this regard, we can all look at the main event as icing on an already substantial cake. To that end, they’ll either have gotten the icing perfect or catastrophic. We just don’t know yet. If the latter, you might as well start following Dana White’s Twitter now for what will surely be a classic middle-aged white man meltdown at the conclusion of the evening.

GASB favors: Anderson “The Spider” Silva, likely by standing knockout. GASB feels that Silva is far more intrigued by fighting Roy Jones, Jr. at this point than his UFC legacy. He will use fellow aspiring boxer Vitor Belfort to make his case to the world.

Of note: this is the final fight on Silva’s UFC contract.

Enjoy the fights!

– Brent Eyestone

The Great NFL Schedule Debate

March 3.

Save the date.

That’s when the NFL’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. And until the NFL Owner’s Union and NFL Players Association can agree on a new one, no NFL football — at least not NFL football with its current players — will be played. It would seem that with billions of dollars and the reputation of the nation’s most popular professional sport on the line, a compromise would be reached rather quickly.

Don’t hold your breath.

At the crux of this complicated issue is the proposed 18-game schedule. With the NFLPA almost uniformly against it, and the NFL’s 32 owners almost uniformly in favor of it, there’s no middle ground for either side to operate in. It’s a matter of incentive; with an 18-game schedule, owners stand to take in tens of millions more in ticket sales, concessions and TV revenue. The players? Just more bodies in injured reserve.


Which, if you listen to Roger Goodell speak, would seem to be in stark contrast to his view that player safety in the NFL is paramount. It was just back in October where Goodell send out a league-wide memo and accompanying video outlining what constitutes a legal NFL hit.

Yet, there was the commissioner, pushing for an 18-game schedule in an August interview with the Associated Press:

“We want to do it the right way for everyone, including the players, the fans and the game in general,” Goodell said. “There’s a tremendous amount of momentum for it. We think it’s the right step.”

One has to wonder what Indianapolis Colts receiver Austin Collie thinks about Goodell’s stance. It was Collie whose season ended prematurely after his second concussion of the season after a catch over the middle. One has to wonder what twice-concussed Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers thinks about this push for an extra two games.

After all, these are the players Goodell supposedly wants to protect. These are the players that make the owners and the league money. These are the players that fans pay their hard-earned money to see on Sunday. Are they not the No. 1 priority?

Of course not. The No. 1 priority is always money.

So remember that money on March 3. Not the money Goodell says he’s giving up with a hollow gesture to pay himself just one dollar if there are no NFL contests next year. Not the money that the NFL and two storied franchises stand to make on Super Bowl Sunday. But the money these greedy owners need to put larger LCD TV’s in their luxury boxes and the money they need to upgrade their houses on the Pacific Palisades.

The money that is far more important to the NFL’s owners than the health and well-being of their most valuable commodity.

Their players.