Tag Archives: Aaron Hernandez

Preview of the NFL Conference Championships

By: Evan

After this weekend, we will know who will play for the Super Bowl and the Vince Lombardi Trophy
After this weekend, we will know who will play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy            Courtesy of Footballpros.com

The NFL must be ecstatic about the two match-ups in the Conference Championships, the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos in the AFC game and the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC. Brady vs. Manning, Wilson vs. Kaepernick, legend vs. legend and rising star vs rising star. Here are my predictions for both games.

AFC Championship: New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos 3:00 PM EST

Sunday might be the last time these two HOF's meet up.  Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com
Sunday might be the last time these two HOF’s meet up.
Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Reasons Why the Patriots will win:

Can Brady and Belichick get to another Super Bowl? Courtesy of ESPN
Can Brady and Belichick get to another Super Bowl?
Courtesy of ESPN

1.) Belichick and Brady have Peyton’s number: In the 14 times Brady and Manning have squared off (Denver and Indy), the Pats are 10-4. In those 14 games Manning has thrown for 29 TDs and 20 INTs, a rate less than impressive for a quarterback of his stature. Earlier this year the Patriots came back from a 24-0 deficit to win in overtime in Foxborough. After leading three drives that resulted in 17 points in the first half (Von Miller had a fumble return TD), Manning could only muster seven more points in the second half, giving further evidence on why other pundits question Manning’s “clutch gene”. When you are one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game, you are graded on the highest curve and your accolades are praised but your mistakes are also highlighted. And truthfully, Manning has work to do if he wants to overcome his reputation as a “regular season quarterback.” A playoff victory over the Pats would help but seems improbable.

2.) Playing with House Money: Another truth about this game is the Pats have less pressure on them then the Broncos do. The Broncos have put up impressive stats, breaking the total points record with 603 and obviously one of, if not the greatest statistical years ever had by a quarterback. Meanwhile, Brady and the Pats have been chugging along losing bodies on both sides of the ball. On offense they lost Gronk for the first six weeks and then lost him for the season with a torn ACL, wide receivers Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and oft injured Danny Amendola have combined to miss 13 games this year.  And, of course, they lost Aaron Hernandez because of his arrest for murder.  These losses on the offense would make any team less of a threat, but not the Patriots as they turned Julian Edelman, a college quarterback drafted in the 7th round into a 100 catch player. On defense, they lost stud defensive tackle Vince Wilfork to a ruptured achilles, and linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jerrod Mayo to other season ending injuries. Did this stop the Pats? No. Players like Jamie Collins and emerging stars like Chandler Jones stepped up and preformed valiantly for their injured teammates. I know the Pats won’t make the excuse but they most definitely have one to fall back on, hence the pressure is off them and on Manning to beat such a depleted Patriots team.

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3.) The Run Game: Coming into the season, LaGarrette Blount was considered to be a head case that would never be solved, but now with the Patriots he has emerged as their lead running back. In his lone playoff appearance, Blount rushed for 166 yards and four TDs, incredible numbers for a player as stout as Blount. This hot streak could continue as the Broncos gave up 15 rushing TDs this season. The Patriots also have the advantage in terms of running back depth as Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen provide a balance of both speed and power that should wear down the Broncos defense. With the high altitude in Denver, runners can tire easily and with this litany of quality backs, the Patriots should have no trouble interchanging all three. Although the focus will be on Brady vs. Manning, the running game will have to run down the clock and keep Manning and his potent offense off the field.

Reasons Why the Broncos will win:

Will Peyton still be smiling after tonight? Courtesy of Denver Post
Will Peyton still be smiling after tonight?
Courtesy of The Denver Post

1.) Better Weapons: I just mentioned that the Pats have three solid running backs who can carry the load on offense, but the Broncos have a stable (horse joke haha) of receiving and running options that only make Peyton Manning’s job much easier. Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker all had 10 or more TDs this season and Knowshon Moreno had a career year with a combined 1,538 yards and 13 TDs on the ground and through the air. For a secondary that gave up 239 yards per game, the Patriots do not seem equipped to handle all of the Broncos’ targets. If Manning gets going early, it could be a long day for the Patriots.

2.) Peyton is on fire: Peyton Manning will be the MVP and I do not want to hear people make the case for Brady to win it because of the Patriots injuries. He amassed 5,477 yards and 55 TDs with only 10 INTs and a total QBR of 82.1 (0-100). In the playoff game against the Chargers, Manning had a solid game throwing for 230 yards with two TDs and an interception with 91.1 QBR, but the most important moment came in the 4th quarter with San Diego mounting a comeback and Manning complete a first down to Julius Thomas, virtually putting the game away. He made the critical throw and avoided criticism for at least another week. As I mentioned before the Pats defense against the pass is vulnerable and Manning could have a great day if he avoids turnovers.

3.) Revenge is in order: The Broncos should come into this game with a little chip on their shoulders because of the aforementioned regular season defeat at New England earlier this year. This would a perfect opportunity for Peyton to erase the hard memories of Brady defeating him in various playoff games and go on to play in the Super Bowl. Peyton doesn’t have that many more NFL years in him, so if the Broncos want to make a run at a championship, they better win this game.

Prediction:

This game is going to be a high scoring affair with the game probably coming down to who has the ball last. An if they scenario happens, I have more confidence in Brady than I do in Manning. Pats 38- Broncos 35.

NFC Championships: San Francisco 49ners vs Seattle Seahawks 6:30 PM

This rivalry dates back to the USC Stanford days. Courtesy of NFL.com
This rivalry dates back to the USC vs Stanford days.
Courtesy of NFL.com

Reasons why the Niners will win:

Anquan Boldin will have to lead the 49ers receiving corps. Courtesy of NFL SI
Anquan Boldin will have to lead the 49ers receiving corps.
Courtesy of NFL SI

1.) They’re on fire: The Niners have a similar feel to the 2011 Green Bay Packers, star quarterback playing at an extremely high level and a defense making key plays. The great thing for the Niners is their defense is better than the Packers’ defense was– to limit star quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton to a combined 30 points is fantastic. Colin Kaepernick has been highly effective, running for clutch 3rd down conversions and throwing strikes to his receivers and most importantly he has been playing safe, game managing style of football, allowing his stout defense to assert their dominance. Hot teams tend to be dominant during the playoffs and the Niners have run through their opponents and now face a struggling Seattle team.

2.) Better receiving core: Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis are all hard match-ups for secondary players, even for a talented Seattle team. Anquan plays a physical style and won’t be intimidated by press coverage or the hard hitting Kam Chancellor. Look for CK7 to look for ‘Quan if he gets in trouble inside the pocket. Michael Crabtree has provided a deep-threat presence that allows for other receivers to get open across the middle of the field. He too has a tremendous set of hands as his coach Harbaugh said he would trust Crabtree to catch a ball to save his life. And then finally, Vernon Davis one of the most versatile players in the game, combining speed with power creating a headaches for defensive coordinators everywhere. Davis, like most of the Niners, has struggled against the ‘Hawks hard hitting Legion of Boom as he was held to 41 yards receiving in both games this year. He might play the role of decoy, allowing Anquan and Crabtree to roam down the sidelines.

3.) Better Linebackers: This is a close battle but the edge goes to the Niners as they have the best two inside linebackers in the game in Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman. Both have sideline to sideline speed and will not be afraid to confront Beast Mode head-on. The X-factor will be Ahmad Brooks a combo-linebacker who can rush the passer and play the run game. The linebacking corps also provides the emotional edge for the Niners as their leadership goes unquestioned. Look for the two-headed monster of Willis and Bowman to play well if the Niners want to win this game.

Reasons why the Seahawks will win:

Seattle is led by the notorious Legion of Boom. Courtesy of Full Scale Sports
Seattle is led by the notorious Legion of Boom.
Courtesy of Full Scale Sports

1.) They have a psychological edge at home: The 12th man is more like an outdoor asylum, full of crazy fans who bleed Blue and Green. The Seahawks are 15-1 in the last two years at home and they seem to play with an inherent swagger in the Emerald City. The Seahawks have also demolished the Niners at home the last two years by the scores of 42-13 (2012) and 29-3 (2013). Kaepernick has struggled mightily in Seattle with only 1 TD and 4 INTs and with a quarterback rating of 41.7. The playoffs will be even louder and the crowd will definitely cause problems for the Niners.

2.) Best secondary in all of football: The Legion of Boom is by far the strength of the Seattle Seahawks. Richard Sherman is the best corner (DPOY candidate), Earl Thomas is the best free safety (DPOY front-runner) and Kam Chancellor is the best strong safety (should be DPOY candidate). They hit hard, they talk trash and most importantly they play the ball, turning unadvised throws into costly interceptions. After the suspensions of Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond, players like Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane stepped up and played superbly with 17 passes defensed and 4 INTs. The Legion of Boom needs to come to play and they should create at least a turnover.

3.) Beast Mode: Marshawn Lynch is a handful, combining 215 lbs of straight muscle with 4.46 speed means trouble for opposing defenses. Marshawn has had success against a stout 49ers defense rushing for 170 yards and 3Tds in their two meetings this year. He can wear down a defense, collecting extra yards after initial contact and turning first downs into touchdowns. If Seattle wants to take the pressure off of Russell Wilson they need to have Marshawn touch the ball at least 30 times.

Prediction:

The Seahawks are close to invincible at home and until the Niners beat them in Seattle, I am picking the Seahawks. The Niners can’t stop Beast Mode and the Seahawks, supported by their crazed 12th man, wins 28-21.

Stats from ESPN

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How will the Pats fare after the Hernandez release?

By: Jake

Aaron Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez

While most of America is still in shock over the events that conspired in North Attleborough, Massachusetts over the last couple of weeks surrounding Aaron Hernandez, Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and the rest of the New England Patriots staff are concerned with how to recover from this devastating hit to their offensive unit. They are concentrating on not allowing this key loss to affect their image, on the field and off the field, but there may not be much that they can do. The arrest and subsequent release of Aaron Hernandez from the Patriots roster was a positive step for the Patriots’ public relations, but negative in economic aspects. Plus, it has the potential to affect New England’s on-field performance greatly.

The Patriots are offering to take back all Aaron Hernandez jerseys and replace them with an equally comparable one
The Patriots are offering to take back all Aaron Hernandez jerseys and replace them with other equally comparable ones

The removal of Aaron Hernandez from the roster was a smart move by the Pats in the current situation because it shows the team wants little to do with Hernandez after his arrest. But, this is putting all of their so-called; “eggs in one basket” because of their belief in his guilt. If proven innocent, he could file a wrongful termination suit against his previous team that may cost them more money than they have already given up by releasing him. The PR move by the Patriots pro shops to offer exchanges for any and all Aaron Hernandez jerseys was an extremely smart move to appease the fans. These moves, in an effort by the Pats to disassociate themselves with the horrific murder that took place, will allow the customer to feel welcome back into Gillette Stadium.

The economic toll this has taken on the Patriots, has been tremendous. They recently signed Hernandez to a five year $40 million dollar extension in August 2012 that they dropped when they released him from the team. They are now attempting to null all of his contract guarantees. Hernandez was supposed to gain $2.5 million in his guaranteed base salaries for the next two seasons, but the Patriots are arguing that the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement voids this because he has participated in conduct unbecoming in his arrest. The Pats also voided Hernandez’s workout bonuses, adding up to $1 million dollars, and are currently attempting to void his signing bonus, but this will be a hard fought battle, no matter which side wins. All in all, the Patriots will have salary cap losses of $2.55 million for this upcoming season and $7.5 million in the 2014 season due to Hernandez’s signing bonus that will be paid in March. Unfortunately, the Patriots have to give him his signing bonus because he has already signed the deal, which is given to him in various installments.

Jake Ballard previously on the NY Giants
Jake Ballard previously on the NY Giants

The Patriots have been a dominant force in the AFC east with renowned quarterback, Tom Brady providing leadership for the team in years past. Aaron Hernandez has played with the Patriots since the 2010 season, and during the 2012 season, recorded 51 receptions for 483 yards and 5 touchdowns in 10 games. Now that he is gone, a void must be filled in the Pats roster. Keep in mind that Hernandez was a Pro Bowler in one season. Gronkowski and him made up the best tight end duo in the league. Jake Ballard, the 6’6” 275 lbs tight end, who possesses less athletic ability but great blocking skills, has the possibility of filling this void. This is still a major concern, as Rob Gronkowski, the starting tight end, has struggled with injuries in the past and will not participate in the first several games of the season due to a recent back surgery. Adding to this will be Wes Welker’s departure from the Pats to join the Denver Broncos. These moves will put great stress on the running game, which will improve due to the great blocking ability of Ballard and Gronkowski.  All in all, the Patriots are in for an interesting season, but not necessarily a bad one.

All pics and stats from ESPN.com

Aaron Hernandez Investigation

By: Prad

UPDATE: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hernandez was arrested this morning around 8:45 AM and is charged for first-degree murder to go along with 5 counts of gun related offenses. He pleaded not guilty to all counts during his arraignment but doesn’t have a bail set. If he gets incriminated on first-degree murder charges, he could get life imprisonment.

His arrest was followed by the Patriots organization releasing him within two hours.

130626-arron-hernandez-hmed-930a.photoblog600
Courtesy of NBC News

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

For the last week it feels like cops have been parked outside Hernandez’s North Attleborough home in Massachusetts at all times. Over a couple dozen law enforcement officials have been to his house in the past week. He is a prime suspect in the homicide of Odin Lloyd, a 27 year old semi-pro football player who happened to be Hernandez’s friend and was seen with Hernandez on the night of his death.  Lloyd’s body was found in an industrial park half a mile away from Hernandez’s home. The police confirmed that is was in fact a homicide and he was shot in the back of the head.

Courtesy of wpri.com
Courtesy of WPRI

No arrest has been made in the case, but sources have reported that an arrest warrant for obstruction of justice had been made for Aaron Hernandez in the last few days despite his lawyer denying that any arrest warrant had been made. The police realized that his home’s video surveillance had been destroyed and the phone he handed over to Massachusetts State Police was crushed into pieces. The police are also questioning him about why he hired a team of cleaners for his house on Monday morning, hours after the alleged crime took place. Police have issued three search warrants during this investigation including this past weekend when police were inside the home for more than four hours. Officials brought a k-9 unit and locksmith to Hernandez’s home and appeared to leave with dozens of bags of evidence. Authorities also searched a few of his cars with rubber gloves, which could end up becoming critical for the investigation. On Monday, police wrapped up their search of a possible weapon in the nearby pond and woods, where there appeared to be no leads in the investigation.

bos_a_hernandez_mb_600
Courtesy of ESPN

This is not the first time Hernandez has been in trouble with the law. He has a well documented past that involves marijuana use as well as him being linked to gang activity in his home state of Connecticut that forced NFL teams to drop him until the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Earlier this year, he apparently shot a gun at Alexander S. Bradley and it resulted in the loss of a right eye for Bradley. With a complicated history, it is difficult to believe that Hernandez didn’t murder Lloyd, but thats up to the officials to determine.

Many questions still remain regarding his contract with the Patriots. In August 2012, Hernandez signed a 5 year $40 million extension through the 2018 NFL season. He might be able to keep $2.5 million of his contract because of the wording of the deal. The “failure to perform” or “failure to practice” clause does not seem to appear in his Patriots contract. His contract dictates that $16 million is guaranteed and $9.25 million has already been paid. The remaining $3.25 million would be dealt in 2014. Due to the absence of the “failure to report” clause, Hernandez will receive $1.323 million in 2013 and $1.137 million in 2014 in base salaries from the Patriots. Yet, this all remains as speculation as the Patriots have declined to comment on Hernandez’s current situation.