Tag Archives: KNBR

“GRADES: Raiders Brought Back Down to Earth v.s. Chiefs. Looking Ahead To Jacksonville”

 

Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Final Oakland Raider Grades v.s. Kansas City Chiefs; Week 6:

Kansas City Chiefs  26 (3-2)

Oakland Raiders  10 (4-2)

In a game where the Raiders could have taken sole possession of first place in the AFC West, the Raiders were brought back down to earth by the Kansas City Chiefs. For old school Raider fans the Chiefs are the big rival and this one hurts. The Raiders are now the only AFC West team that has scored less points than they’ve given up. Andy Reid is now 16-2 after a bye and Alex Smith is now 8-1 in his games with the Raiders. The Raiders had 286 total offensive yards. Ugly numbers for sure.

Overview:

There are some in the local media that said the Raiders were beginning to read their own press clippings and they may have been right. After the Denver loss to San Diego, social media was filled with Raider fans saying their time was now. Then the Chiefs happened.

Quarterback:

After the first drive, the Raiders could do nothing on offense. They had all the momentum and Carr tried to throw a deep pass off his back foot for an easy interception which changed the game early. Coach Jack Del Rio said it was an ill-advised throw. Carr got away with two other very poor throws that should have been easy interceptions but were dropped by Kansas City. In the fourth quarter Carr’s fumble sealed the game. He fumbled earlier but recovered it. He was off all game and it was a really bad day.

GRADE: D-

I do look for him next week to bounce back and there should be no worries but wow did Carr stink.  The Chiefs had the 31st ranked pass rush and blitzed to get to Carr but even then only put occasional pressure on him. When he is struggling he has to look to tight ends but he seems to rely very heavily on WR.

Running Backs:

The Chiefs were doing their best to stop the Raiders running game and they did for the most part.   The Raiders ran the ball 14 times all game for 57 yards. DeAndre Washington had some nice runs but overall it was nothing special.

Grade D

The Chiefs LB’s did a nice job in coverage and it’s obvious they did a lot over the bye week to help their run defense. The Raiders RB were not much of a factor but they also didn’t get much of a chance with so few runs.  And please stop with the Latavius Murray would have made a huge difference stuff.

Offensive Line:

The Chiefs were doing their best to stop the run and they blitzed a lot as well. The OL didn’t have a bad game but it wasn’t their normal dominating game. Carr was rushed on occasion and it definitely bothered him. Kansas City filled the box to stop the run and the Raiders never seemed to get going. The Raiders will not go as far as Carr takes them; they will go as far as the OL takes them.  Last year in the 4th quarter, KC blitzed on EVERY play and they blitzed often in this game as well.

Grade D+

They still played fairly well but Carr did get hit more than they’d like and the run game never got going.  The OL has been stellar this year so they should bounce back.

Wide Receivers:

Kansas City had a game plan to stop the run and take away the medium passes to Crabtree. No problem; the Raiders then wen’t to Cooper and he was on fire. His first half was a top 10 performance so far for the NFL year. In the second half, the adjustments included safety help against Cooper and playing more physical press coverage. The Raiders in the second half were awful and the wide receivers struggled. Cooper caught one pass after half time.  In game adjustments continue to be an issue for the Raiders offense at times.

GRADE: D+

Cooper had an epic half and Andre Holmes great catch in the red zone in the pouring rain lit up the crowd early. With the adjustments at half and Carr struggling the Raiders did little after half time.  Lack of in game adjustments are not a new thing to this offense.

Defensive Line:

The Raiders are now ranked 32nd against the pass and 30th against the run (yds/game) and as I said after week one, this is NOT a good defense. The Raiders are 28th in the NFL with only 8 sacks in 6 games. This pass rush and defense scares no one.

Other than a few occasions, the Raiders could not get to Alex Smith. The Raiders also struggled against the run. The DL just isn’t cutting it right now which was a huge fear of mine at the start of the year. Kahlil Mack did get a sack.

Grade: D-

The Raiders DL just isn’t getting it done.

Linebackers:

Another long day for this group. They struggled against the run and were atrocious covering the pass when they had to. Mack was in pass coverage for a few passes and he was beaten twice. The Chiefs ran for 5 yards a carry for 184 yards if you take out Alex Smith’s numbers. Ouch.  Bruce Irvin’s tackling was awful today as he whiffed on two long runs including the 30 yard run by Ware.

Grade D-

The Raiders need a physical middle LB thumper that can play on 1st and 2nd downs and stop the run.   They don’t have one. Ben Heeney isn’t playing so he can’t get any of the blame from fans so I’m sure Norton will get it all.  While he may not be a great DC, this defense stinks.  It’s not like the Raiders are playing the Patriots, Steelers or Cowboys either.

They have a group of finesse speed players and they can’t stop the run. Cory James was a late round draft choice and isn’t the answer right now.

Defensive Backs:

Alex Smith would rather eat dirty glass than throw to a WR so there really wasn’t much long passing.  Amerson did get burned again for a long pass.  Teams seem to realize on outs and medium patterns, Amerson is pretty good.  But on the deep ball he struggles.

Smith was an amazing 19 for 22 in the passing game and the defense couldn’t keep them off the field. Safety Karl Joseph is more a run stopper right now than a coverage guy but I like him a lot and his coverage will hopefully improve with experience.  Reggie Nelson seems to take some awful strange angles when he helps CB’s on long pass plays.

Grade C  

The Chiefs don’t throw much to WR so it wasn’t a busy day for this group.

Coaching:

KNBR Radio host and Warriors announcer Bob Fitzgerald went on a 5 minute rant about how ridiculous it is for fans to blame coaches when their teams lose.  With so many ex jocks now announcing, it’s near impossible for analysts to be critical about players; especially popular stars. The players on the defense aren’t getting the job done and they aren’t good enough.   You can only blame the coaches so much.

The Patriots coaching staff didn’t all of a sudden stink when they were shut out at home by Buffalo.  Playing a 3rd string QB instead of Tom Brady was the cause of that.  Carolina coaches weren’t geniuses last year and now are they the 3 stooges?  No; they’ve had departures and injuries in the secondary and their DL is playing terribly.

I’m sorry but I get bored sometimes with the Raiders offense. They should be putting up 30 and 40 points a game. The TE should get 5-10 throws a game.  The Raiders TE had 4 targets with 3 being caught for 41 yards.

Grade D

The defense isn’t good.   As a coach what can you do. The Raiders blitzed more, and put Joseph up in the box to help with the run; and it didn’t help.  The DL and the LB’s have been awful.  As I’ve said a million times if I’m starting a team I get a QB first, and then a DL, OL and LB’s in that order.

Even with Andy Reid’s ridiculous red zone play calling, Kansas City beat Oakland in every facet of the game.

Special Teams:

Janikowski missed another FG but again, how do you get mad at a long FG miss. Marquette King was ok but didn’t have one of his better games.   He had a bad punt that rolled about 20 yards that helped. Jalen Richard has shored up the return game and looks great and TJ Carrie hasn’t been bad in the punt return game. The coverage team gave up two long returns; one for 50 yards on a punt and one for 30 yards on a kick off.

Grade C

The special teams have been good this year but today wasn’t one of those games.

Conclusion:

The Raiders laid a big fat egg. This was by far the worst game of the year for Oakland. There are few really good teams in the NFL this year so redemption can be a week away.   This was a great disappointment to fans and the team and to do it at home was humbling.

On to Jacksonville:

Jacksonville comes off a 17-16 loss against a bad Chicago team in the windy city. They fall to 2-3. The Jaguars aren’t a bad team on defense but their offense is rough.   They are 14th against the run and 8th against the pass. On offense they are one dimensional and are 15th in passing but have no running game and are ranked 31st. They are 21st in points per game on offense.  QB Blake Bortles already has 7 interceptions on the year and has struggled off and on after playing fairly well against Green Bay in the opener.  With the Raiders probably being able to stop the run and the Jags usually being behind in game, look for a better pass rush in this game.

Outlook:

The Raiders travel is tough but the teams they are playing aren’t the elite by any means. Jacksonville is just what the doctor ordered and it’s hard seeing the Raiders lose to the Jags but this is the NFL; nothing is for sure. The Raiders offense is going to have to carry this team so there will be lots of ups and downs all season. Some fans overreact to every game; bad or good; but seasoned fans and the Raiders know this is a marathon and they can’t get caught up in hype or expectations or the extreme negativity social media brings when they lose.  Even with their limitations, with this schedule I think the Raiders can go 10-6, but as we all know nothing can be taken for granted in the salary cap era of the NFL.

 

“A Football Family Reunion for the Ages; Ken Stabler’s NFL HOF Induction”

 

ken stabler hof bustA family reunion for the ages.

In a night that went as perfect as a last minute Ken Stabler drive, Ken Michael Stabler took his rightful place in the NFL pro football hall of fame. For one last time, Ken Stabler lead everyone on a magical ride that will never be forgotten.

With decades of Raider tradition all around mixed in with a little Southern warmth from the state of Alabama, Canton looked more like Oakland, Ca than the sleepy town that wakes up for a week every year before the NFL season starts.

With several Raiders by their sides and HOF WR Fred Biletnikoff giving support, Ken Stabler’s grandsons unveiled the HOF bust of their beloved grandfather. In one action, all of the emotions that have built up from decades of frustration, anticipation, sadness and hope was released. Tears flowed, and closure began to fill the air slowly like a soft mist on a hot night.   All the years of waiting; all the unjust votes and comments came out in a healing moment that hopefully now brings closure to an amazing career by an amazing man.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-hall-of-fame/0ap3000000681148/Ken-Stabler-Enshrinement

Brett Favre’s Moment:

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-hall-of-fame/0ap3000000681185/Hall-of-Fame-QB-Brett-Favre-shares-a-story-about-Ken-Stabler

Why He’s Loved So Much:

I have many good friends from around the country who ask me, why was there so much emotion and love for Ken Stabler. I think the answer is easy.

When the Snake saw a fan he didn’t care what color you were. He didn’t care if you were famous or rich.   He truly appreciated the adoration that was given him. I think Ken always knew how important he was to the City of Oakland, Alabama and the bay area. That’s why he was so kind to so many. He never judged; never lashed out; he was always good to those that supported him, and shrugged off those that hurt him. Many saw a little of themselves in Ken. Sometimes misunderstood, often doubted, and occasionally misjudged. Ken was an every man and in reality so many people related to the things he went through.

Ken was real. He made mistakes; he failed at times; he was ripped in the media at times; but he ALWAYS dusted himself off and kept coming. He never quit and the harder someone pushed, the harder he pushed back. The Raiders and Ken Stabler smashed people in the mouth and never gave up. That’s why when most teams would have quit, the Raiders usually won due to the never give up attitude of the Snake. Ken was a lot like the fans that supported him. He was a lot like the City of Oakland and the East Bay; always fighting, never quitting.

 

 

Why Younger Fans Should Be Excited:

Some younger Raider fans seem to be in a fog at the great adoration for Ken and this amazing era. Let’s face it, we live in a society where history to some is what pokemon go character you caught last night. If it’s old, society seems to not care about it.

If you are a younger fan, look at the extreme excitement that is seen in social media today for the upcoming season. The Raiders were 7-9 last year and some are nearly losing their minds with excitement. Nothing wrong with that especially with all the improvements, but put it into perspective.

Think about going 56-13 in Ken’s first 69 starts. Think of going 18-1-1 on Monday night football. Think of having the highest winning % of ANY professional team in the U.S. of ANY sport for a 25 year stretch. Think of 3 Super Bowls in 7 years and 5 straight AFC Championship games. For almost 3 decades the Raiders and the Cowboys were consistently on top of the NFL ratings for most watched teams on television. Oh and don’t forget having more wins in the greatest NFL decade of all time, the 1970’s. Could you imagine what Ken and the Raiders offense could do with today’s rules?   Now you understand OUR excitement.   As Raider great Tim Brown said Friday, “When Ken walked into our locker room you saw everyone change. It was like royalty had just come into the room.   The Raiders of that time were just that good; people adored him.”

A Leader to the End:

The reason this meant so much to so many is because Ken really was the Raiders leader in every way.   He was a leader on the field and off.   Players felt he was invincible and looked to him when things got rough. Even after his death he inspired. Raiders greats like George Atkinson, Art Thoms, and George Buehler followed in Ken’s footsteps and decided to donate their brains to the study of CTE and give them to the Concussion Legacy Foundation after they passed away.   Truly unselfish acts inspired by the Snake’s selflessness and the encouragement of his partner Kim Bush.

“When you see your teammate deteriorate a lot through the end of his life, to see him go out like that, it brings us together,” Thoms said in a Mercury News article. George Atkinson has complained often of his memory issues. “Ken meant so much to us and we felt we needed to do this.”

The Closest Team in the NFL:

Many of the retired Raider players talked about how close they were to each other. Many stated how no team was as tight as they were.   Even after retiring, they would meet for dinner often and even if players were out of state, they would fly back to join their fellow teammates. It was important to them to stay in touch with an incredible time that gave them so much enjoyment.

Jim Jamz:

We have many older patients and one is Mr. & Mrs. C who live deep in the wine country (I wont give their name for health privacy reasons.) They used to be a Raiders season ticket holders in the 60’s and 70’s.   I visited them recently.

Mrs. C is the classic sweet nurturing elderly woman who still feels a good meal will solve any problem. Mr. C was a successful businessman who’s health is failing. I go to their house so he doesn’t have to go into the office. I also know they enjoy my visits. Mr. C usually holds court with a scotch in his hand while I get my usual pay for a house call. A cold beer with a roast beef or turkey sandwich or the occasional German Chocolate cake and cold glass of milk.

“You know something James, those times were so special and those guys meant the damn world to us.   Players like Tom Keating and Art Thoms; Tony Cline, Warren Wells, Charlie Smith, Raymond Chester. Tatum and Atkinson, Skip and Willie. Otto, Beuhler and Dalby; Upshaw and Shell; Sistrunk and Kinlaw; Rod Martin and Vilipiano. Sumner, Wolf, and Al Locasale. So many great men that gave their all to win. And Kenny was everyone’s favorite. No group of players and fans were closer. The minute you forget this son, you won’t be worth a damn as a writer, or as a fan.”

After a pregnant pause, Mr. C showed a moment of rare emotion. Pointing his finger at me he said softly while winking, “Ken in the Hall of Fame? This one means something son; this one means something.”

It sure does Mr. C.   It sure does.

 

“After a Blockbuster Trade, Who Will The Raiders, AFC West & Others Pick in The NFL Draft?”

nfl draft rg

In the first blockbuster trade of this year’s NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams traded with the Tennessee Titans for the #1 pick.  In exchange for the top pick, the Titans get the Ram’s 1st pick which is #15; 2 second rounder’s (43 & 45) and a third round selection (76th).  The Titans will also get the Ram’s first and third round picks in next year’s draft.  The Titans now have 6 of the first 76 draft picks.  The Rams get Tennessee’s 4th and 6th round picks next year.

This is why I don’t like trading up.

Why This Move Was Made & Will Backfire:

If you look at most of the teams that have traded up for a player, it almost always benefits the team that gave up the top pick. You give so much for a player and then in reality if they don’t pan out the near future of your team is ruined.

As I’ve said many times, you have to have patience.  When most of the Oakland Raider fans wanted Reggie McKenzie’s head the first 2 years he worked, I said that this was a 4 to 5 year plan.  Many fans; and for years Al Davis; over estimated how good this team was when it lacked talent.  McKenzie cleaned house and built a team on solid drafts and a good signing here and there.

The Rams are making the mistake a lot of teams do.  It’s the same mistake Minnesota made in 2013 when they traded up and used New England’s first round pick to get WR Cordarrale Patterson.  The Vikings thought they were better than they were and felt they were a player away from being really good.  They gave up 4 picks that turned into 3 starters for the Patriots Super Bowl Team for a good return man that is now 5th on their depth chart at WR.  Even though Sammy Watkins is a good player, the Bills made the same mistake trading picks to move up to get him when they had several holes to fill.

I think this is a bad move by the Rams.  Maybe I’ll be wrong and Carson Wentz or Jarod Goff will be super stars.  Most scouts though think they are projects and their upside isn’t as great as others think.  But in my mind I’m not giving up so many picks unless John Elway is there.  If Wentz or Goff doesn’t pan out, this move will ruin the Rams for at least 2-3 years if not more.  It’s a gutsy move but I think a desperate one for a team that is trying to make a splash after moving.

Mock Drafts Change Like The Wind:

What happens every year is that team’s desires change as time goes on; that’s why so many drop and move up in mock drafts over time.  Athleticism and the NFL combines shock teams.  It’s like they are enamored with athleticism.  It’s kind of like the pretty cheerleader in high school.  You finally get a chance to date her and then over time you realize she is high maintenance, stuck up and boring.  You eventually move on.  That’s what happens with NFL teams and players in the draft before they are selected.  Athleticism is great but football talent is greater.  Get football talent with athleticism and you have a super star. 

Let’s now look at how this trade changes the fortunes of some teams.

Tennessee Titans;

Wow; what a great trade for them.  They have holes to fill and now, with good drafting, they can literally rebuild their team in 2 drafts.  It was a great move for a team that is on the rise.

San Francisco 49ers:

This almost assures that Colin Kaepernick is staying in San Francisco.  With the Rams and Cleveland almost assuredly taking quarterbacks, this trade hurts.  The 49ers really seemed to like Cal Bears QB Jared Goff and it looked like he was going to fall into their laps.  Somewhere in Ann Arbor Michigan there is a middle aged college football coach wearing khakis and a blue hat who is smiling ear to ear.

This trade does one thing; it means the 49ers are almost for sure going to take a DL in the first round.  The Ravens will take Ohio St. DL Joey Bosa or Oregon DL DeForest Buckner with the #6 pick I’m pretty sure, and then the player that is left over will go to SF.

Denver Broncos:

This move is good and bad for Denver.  Colin Kaepernick is almost for sure not leaving San Francisco.  But if you look at the draft it also allows the Broncos to probably be able to pick Memphis QB Paxton Lynch at #15.  I’m not a huge fan of Lynch’s but some really like him.  There are rumors of trades with Buffalo for Tyrod Taylor but he’s limited as a QB in my opinion.

Look for Nick Foles (gulp); to possibly be wearing Orange next year in Denver.  If they don’t plan on drafting Lynch then it’s almost for sure.  The QB position has never been worse in the NFL.  Look for Denver’s defense to again have to carry the load for this team.

San Diego Chargers:

The Chargers catch a huge break.  Or did they?  Most see monster LT Laremy Tunsil out of Mississippi now falling into their laps greatly helping out their offensive line.  In most drafts some of the safest picks are OL and this is a great get for them.  The Jags and the Cowboys are in front of them and no way are they taking a left tackle.   To gain a great pick without doing anything is not bad.

The problem is the Chargers already have two pretty good starting Tackles in Joe Barksdale & King Dunlap.  They also signed Chris Hairston for depth.  Many feel the Chargers need a center big time but no center warrants that high of a pick.  I see the Chargers going defense either with CB Jalen Ramsey, DL Joey Bosa or DL DeForest Buckner.  While most online have Tunsil moving to SD, I see them going defense.

Kansas City Chiefs:

This probably won’t affect the Chiefs much.  There are a lot of edge rushers in this draft and that’s something that they need.  Tamba Hali is going to be 33 and Justin Houston’s injuries are a worry.  I see them getting a solid player in this year’s DL heavy ensemble.  Kevin Dodd?

NFL-Draft-compensatory-11-19-15

Oakland Raiders:

Yes Raider Fans; let’s look at what this does to your Raiders.

I said it last year that the 2016 NFL draft is going to be a crap shoot and extremely exciting; maybe the most fun ever watching a draft.  No one really knows what teams are going to do and what their evaluations of players are.

As I wrote in my article yesterday, I think right now the Raiders will take Reggie Ragland, MLB out of Alabama for their first pick.  He is by far the best MLB in the draft but it’s slim pickings out there for inside linebackers.  Some think there isnt’ even a second round MLB that warrants to be picked there.  It’s a safe pick.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/who-will-now-be-the-oakland-raiders-1-draft-pick-after-their-latest-signing/

Three guys that are greatly climbing up the ladder that I spoke about a while back are Clemson DL Shaq Lawson, Michigan St. OL Jack Conklin, and OLB Leonard Floyd @ Georgia.

I wrote about these guys before and most ripped on me having them so high but now many mock drafts have these guys climbing big time.  I have no idea why Kevin Dodd is ahead of Lawson in some peoples’ minds.  Lawson was double teamed most of last year and Dodd was helped by that.  Dodd also had only one good year at Clemson.  I take Lawson all day.  There were some games that Lawson played where he was obviously the best football player on the field.

Jack Conklin is a mean physical lineman.  Good at pass protecting but great in run blocking.  He needs work protecting the QB but I think he can be solid for a long time.  Some of the major writers have him going to the Raiders and I think that’s kind of silly with their recent signings.

Sports Illustrated is obsessed with giving the Raiders another wide receiver in the first round but I think there is no way that happens.

The guy that I like a lot is Leonard Floyd.  He’s a machine out there who makes plays.  The problem with Floyd is he looks like Lawrence Taylor one game and then Rip Taylor the next.  He needs maturity and focus.

I admit; Georgia was a dysfunctional wild-west show at times but if you give this guy discipline and he matures, wow.  If the Raiders picked him I would not be upset.  You can still try to fill in the MLB position later in the draft or with cap casualties that always are cut during training camp, because this guy just jumps off of the page.  You know how I love pass rushers and seeing him blitzing behind Mack?  Worse things could happen.

I love Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander too.  I think he’s the best DB in this draft.  Teams were so intimidated with his skills that they just stopped throwing at him.  He gave up 11 passes all year last year and no touchdowns.  He has a toughness and swagger that reminds me of George Atkinson.  He’s very strong and physical.  Scouts don’t like that he’s a legit 5’ 10” but I still like him a lot.  If he’s chosen I think it’s great.

If you have Alexander now you have David Amerson, Sean Smith and Alexander as your top 3 cornerbacks, and Reggie Nelson, Nate Allen and TJ Carrie as your safeties.  Not exactly the Soul Patrol but it is pretty good.

Guys Falling For The Raiders Pick:

The two guys that are falling are Notre Dame OL Ronnie Stanley and Alabama DL AShawn Robinson.  There are worries about Stanley’s passion for football and his work ethic.  He has not shown much strength at times as well during pre-draft workouts.  AShawn Robinson works hard and is a really good player but some say he’s not totally into football as a long term thing.  Early retirements are occurring more and more in the NFL and it’s a risk that worries teams.

Ohio St. OL Taylor Decker; (who I originally had Conklin ahead of) was considered a for sure top 15 pick but now he’s not even in the first round in some people’s eyes.

Ohio St. CB Eli Apple is raw and is also dropping on some boards.  I am not a huge fan of his.  I like Alexander a lot better.  Again athleticism and the cookie cutter size for each position is popular in the NFL but I want football players.

Many people were also trying to promote Ohio St. OLB Darron Lee but I think that is a bad #1 pick.  If you are going to get an MLB later in the draft I’d rather pick Floyd over Lee.  Lee’s an athlete playing football.  He has literally only played LB for 2 years of his life and he has a lot to learn.  He’s also a smallish LB and not a real physically strong one at that.

I see two people on my social media timeline that are promoting Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche about 5-10 times a day.  In reality he only has 7 sacks in 3 years, and in his last 7 games last year he had only 2 tackles a game.  You tube videos and reading experts opinions is great, but if you really want to know how good players are you have to watch them play.

I pass big time on Robert and I see in some mock drafts he’s not even in the first round anymore.  ESPN’s Todd McShay even got off his bandwagon and dropped him out of the first round.  (Finally!)  Remember when I warned you about Jets Vernon Gholston in 2008 and Jadeveon Clowney being busts and some of you didn’t listen?  Listen to Brother Jim.

I can’t see Ohio St. RB Ezekiel Elliot passing by the Eagles, Bears or the Giants without being chosen.

There you have it; so get the food ready; call in sick to work; the kids are at school; open up a cold one or a glass of wine and take the day to enjoy the NFL Draft.  We’ve had a draft party for 16 years and it’s something I look forward to every year.

 

 

“The Bittersweet Election of Ken Stabler Into the Pro Football HOF; What NFL Voters Need to Do”

Please sign this petition to get Cliff Branch into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/276/842/889/induct-oakland-raider-wr-cliff-branch-into-the-nfl-hall-of-fame/?taf_id=14680187&cid=twitter

Ken Stabler Hall of fame (2)

For Raider, Alabama, and NFL fans that have been crying out for Ken Stabler to be elected into the NFL Hall of Fame, their prayers were answered Saturday night. The NFL announced that Ken Stabler along with Brett Favre, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kevin Greene, Dick Stanfel and controversial former San Francisco 49er owner Eddie DeBartolo had been newly elected into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame.

My Twitter timeline was blowing up for joy but also with anger due to the huge slight all these years.   No negative feeling should diminish the joy everyone feels but it is frustrating. In the annals of life it may not be that big a deal, but in the world of sports it was a miscarriage of justice to say the least and we need to call people out for it.

tumblr_n3thkqHGHU1qm9rypo1_1280

I thought of John Madden and the Raider players who loved him so much. I thought of older fans who saw him play and those that are no longer here. I thought of his daughter Kendra who knew of her dad’s talent and carried the torch for him for so long.   I thought of daughters Marissa and Alexa who must have been awestruck by the devotion and love shown to their dad, and are just learning how great he was on the field. I thought also of his grandkids who he adored. I thought of his sister Carolyn who also has been nothing but gracious and kind through out the years. His nephews, friends, and other family members also have a huge void in their lives.

I thought of Alabama fans and friends of Ken’s that had also fought for him to be recognized.   Their devotion is equal to that of Oakland.

And last but not least, I thought of his partner of almost 16 years Kim Ross, who bravely supported him while he quietly battled the side effects of CTE. While we saw the glorified side, she saw the fight that is seen behind the scenes when the crowds no longer cheer and the player walks away. A fight that no longer should be fought alone.

As I announced Ken’s induction to my happy followers, I also thought of all of the people over the years that had fought for Ken’s being in the hall of fame.   The people with websites and social media pages.  Everyday people who cared so much.  People in the media and sportswriters. The NFL players of present and past who had constantly said how Ken deserved to be a part of this group. Many emotions stirred up inside me. Some amazing and some not so pleasant.

SUPER BOWL XI
Jan 9, 1977; Pasadena, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Oakland Raiders quarterback (12) Ken Stabler and actor James Garner celebrates as Oakland defeated the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI at the Rose Bowl. The Raiders defeated the Vikings 32-14 to win their first Super Bowl title. Mandatory Credit: Photo By Malcolm Emmons- US PRESSWIRE © Copyright Malcolm Emmons

The Reality of It All:

If a voting writer thinks that a player does not belong in the HOF due to their play on the field, then they should not vote them in.  Believe me I get it; not everyone belongs in the NFL Hall of Fame. But I also get that the grudges and unprofessionalism of NFL HOF voters has to be addressed and called out. We should not give sportswriters/voters a pass when the players they unjustly keep out for biased reasons finally get in. Instead they need to be held accountable.

What Does This Vote Prove?:

Sites that try to hire me (boy are they dumb) and readers always ask me why I write as an independent.  The pure reason is so I won’t be censored or edited.  My goal in life isn’t to be famous or known, it’s to call out injustices and to tell the truth.  Most write what their readers want to hear to be popular and get viewers, and they try to kiss up to teams and the NFL. My readers know that I write because I want to inform them and give people an idea of what is going on; good or bad. I go after the smart reader, and as many of them know, most corporations and governments are not big fans of the truth sometimes.

In saying that, what this vote proves is one thing; Ken Stabler and everyone near him got cheated.   I’m not going to rehash old articles or quotes; if you want to find out check out my past writings; but in reality this was just wrong.

Just Saturday, Terrell Owens found this out as well. Even though he has some of the best WR credentials in years, he did not make the HOF. I still remember how crappy he treated writers and other people and how he arrogantly looked his nose down on them; payback is a beatch; ask Barry Bonds.

I don’t like Terrell Owens antics either. In reality though if I was a voter my OPINION on how he treated people should not play into the equation. Even though Owens is a different type of situation than Stabler’s, isn’t this an honor for what people do on the field? On the field he was a HOF player whether I like him or not.   For God’s sake OJ Simpson is still in.

Look at the self righteous Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. When MLB saw the money in daily fantasy leagues, they pimped themselves out quicker than a Kardashian in front of a camera. You couldn’t go a minute without commercials about Draft Kings. Unless of course it was their announcement that they would not put Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame because of his ties with gambling. I mean this stuff writes itself! Hypocrisy knows no bounds when it comes to major sports leagues.

Or what about Howard Cosell who is shockingly not in the HOF. Frank DeFord, Al Michaels, and so many of the great sports media figures of our time say Howard Cosell may be the most important NFL announcer of all time. That doesn’t count his huge contributions to boxing, baseball, and every other sport he was involved with. He WAS Monday Night Football. He even told the nation when John Lennon was shot and killed. He told it like it is whether it was fun or not. He said something.

Howard Cosell though had a big mouth and the NFL didn’t like it. He spoke for players issues at times.   He also talked about how someday networks would only want athletes as announcers because they would be loyal to the networks and the NFL product. He called it “jockocracy”; the dumbing down of announcers. He was right.

He also was a witness in the lawsuit by the USFL against the NFL years ago.   Again he told the truth. In 2010 Sports Illustrated listed the reasons why Cosell had indeed been black listed from the NFL HOF. None of the writers will admit it; but no way is Howard getting in which is a joke.  This is why it’s so scary. The NFL is so powerful that they control the networks and many of the sportswriters/voters know that to get along you go along.

Bill Simmons; one of the most powerful media people at ESPN (some had him getting $5 million per year) created Grantland; the greatest ESPN publication of all time. Simmons spoke out against Roger Goodell calling him and the NFL liars in the Ray Rice situation. The NFL was furious and let ESPN know it.  Even though he was proven right, he was suspended for 3 weeks. This was at the same time when self absorbed ESPN reporter Britt McHenry berated a woman at a towing yard so viciously that it went viral. She was suspended a week. So in ESPN and the NFL world, bullying someone and abusing someone verbally while embarrassing the product is far less a mistake than telling the truth.

Simmons was eventually fired and Grantland was in time, terminated. McHenry still has her job, business as usual. Don’t mess with the NFL.

HOF Voters Biased:

I just saw a 1970’s Sports Illustrated archive on Google books with an interview of Paul Zimmerman or Dr. Z. He was the ESPN NFL guru before Mel Kiper Jr. He was a voting member of the NFL HOF and eventually the senior committee.   He admitted in print that for the only time in his career he lobbied AGAINST a player at one of their player voting meetings. That player was Ken Stabler. At that time Zimmerman held a lot of pull and he vowed, “I’ll never vote Stabler into the HOF”. He believed the Bob Padecky story.

The grudge against Stabler was so bad, even Bob Padecky; who still believes the Snake set him up; last week told Frank Cooney; Ken Stabler’s HOF advocate and selector of the NFL HOF Senior Selection Committee; to tell the other writers that if they think the Snake should be in the HOF that it would be alright with him if they voted him in. Remember this occurrence happened over 35 years ago, and Ken didn’t do it!!!

Final Thoughts:

What needs to happen is that voters need to vote based on their on-field performance and not on petty grudges, invisible or real.  If they don’t, they need to be called out on it by players, fans, and the media.  They need to be held accountable.

Even with the travesty that has occurred, the parties for Ken Stabler’s induction will be long and hard. I can’t wait to see John Madden and the family, friends, and fans of Ken enjoying their day in the sun. In the back of our minds after it is over and the parties stop, lets not forget the voters all these years that cheated Ken and everyone associated with him into sharing this day with him. Remember that when future Raiders come up for a vote every year, to make sure you contact the voting writers directly to show your support of these great players. We can be lazy and complain, or get involved and make sure that their families, friends and fans don’t have to go through what Ken’s did.

Oakland Raider fans are different.  They are real.  There are white collar and blue collar; black, brown and white; rich and poor with all parts of society represented.  The Oakland Raiders are not a team to Oakland fans; they are our family. Other fans look at players like hero’s, but to us Ken was a friend and family member who gave us countless thrills and the adoration we had for him was given back by his kindness and appreciation. He was the key to an innocent and amazing era that created the foundation of a then football dynasty. He and all of the Raiders meant so much to so many.

So when the likes of Cliff Branch, Tom Flores or other players come up for selection into the NFL HOF, let’s not forget the joy they brought to us.   And most importantly lets not forget the tolls their play has taken on their bodies. Let’s support and fight for retired players rights, and the health of all present and past players. Let’s also pressure the NFL and HOF to step up to the plate and do all they can to make sure these men live as healthy of lives as possible. And best of all; see you in Canton!

“Raiders on the Right Track Even with Setback Loss To Chicago”

raiders bears

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ Chicago Bears; Week 4:

Chicago Bears 22 (1-3)

Oakland Raiders 20 (2-2)

Two steps forward, one step back. The Raiders took a step backwards with a bad loss to the Chicago Bears on the road. The Bears last win was on November 23, 2014 against Tampa Bay.   Last years team was atrocious under coach Marc Trestman and this was a nice win for the Bears and a tough loss for the Raiders. Many people including myself had the Raiders winning this one going into the Denver game.

Anyone that reads me know’s I’m not rah rah.  I tell it like it is even if it’s not that fun for homer fans to read.  I try to be honest; so when I’m saying things aren’t as bad as people are making it out to be, you should listen.

We found out 3 things with this game;

-Oakland is an improved team on the way up

-the Raiders aren’t as good as some say they are

-they play more conservative in the second half

If you are one of those people that live and die every week with your team, I hope that you have your counselor on speed dial. Not every loss is tragic, and not every win is epic. The NFL season is a marathon and you have to have a short memory whether you win or lose.  The sky isn’t falling after the loss to the hapless Bears but it is raining.

The Raiders are definitely a better team which is really a good thing for their fans and the NFL. If you expect them in the playoffs going 11-5 or 10-6 though, you are going to have some rough times. I think this is a .500 team. Considering where they came from, this would be very positive.   Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.  If you expect them to win every game then you are going to have some bad moments.  This isn’t your fathers and grandfathers Raiders.

It’s encouraging to see the great effort the players are putting in and it’s obvious this team has improved greatly over the past 12 years. I’m also realistic though, and good teams don’t lose to the likes of Chicago. I think they are on the right track though even with this setback.

Quarterback:

Derek Carr didn’t have a great day but it wasn’t bad either. He made a very nice throw to Amari Cooper for a touchdown but wasn’t as accurate as he was in the past 2 weeks. The Bears came after him more with a better pass rush and I’m sure that had some effect on him. He only threw for 196 yards.

People put all the blame for the conservative play calls on Raiders OC Bill Musgrave but I guarantee you if Brady or Rodgers doesn’t like the play, they change it. Bears DC Vic Fangio had a pretty clear mindset; take away the first down run and make the Raiders throw. It worked like it had so many times last year. The conservative nature of the game in the second half has to fall partly on Carr who can audible at any time.

The mindset of Carr, Musgrave, and the Raiders offense on the last drive seemed to be lets get a field goal.   The Bears were aggressive on defense and Cooper had man to man coverage on the entire final drive. A play action deep pass had to be tried. When your defense is really good you can get the field goal; when it isn’t, you go for the touchdown.

GRADE: B

Again, it wasn’t like the last 2 weeks but it wasn’t a bad game. The improved pass rush made him hurry a few throws and his accuracy wasn’t what it was. Crabtree made some really nice catches on a couple of them. I like Carr’s development but he has to audible when so many defenders are on the line of scrimmage on first down.

Running Backs:

I’ve said it before; the Raiders are taking a huge risk putting all their eggs in the Latavius Murray basket.   I think Marcel Reece needs to get some snaps at running back. He’s just too talented to only touch the ball a couple of times a game.

Murray imploded. He constantly was looking over his shoulder anticipating hits and hearing footsteps. He dropped 2 passes; one which went for an interception; fumbled a simple pitch play and was off all day. It got so bad he was benched for the rest of the 4th quarter and replaced by backup Roy Helu Jr. who played well in his absence. Helu Jr. made some nice runs and caught the ball well.

Grade C

Helu Jr. was a nice change of pace and Marcel Reece; on one of his few touches; made a great grab for a nice pass reception. Murray was brutal and he played like he did not want to be there. A good NFL player shows up every week. Murray didn’t show up.

Offensive Line:

Most of the networks picked up on what the strategy of the day for the Bears was; take away the first down run. Trent Green (who other than his worship of NFL QB’s is a really good analyst) pointed out a few times on first down that the Bears safeties were about 8 yards off the line of scrimmage.   The Bears dared the Raiders to throw, but in the second half they continued to run on first down. An audible with a play action pass and throwing a long one to Cooper was there all day long, including the last drive.

People are quick to blame the offensive line for the run struggles in this game but you can’t run the ball against 8 defenders near the line of scrimmage while trying to run on first down all the time.

The Raiders are not going to be able to run the ball if they don’t keep teams honest and throw on first down. Against the Ravens especially, they did play action on first down often and it opened up the field and the run.

Carr had a moderate rush at times and was sacked twice. Not a great day but not as bad as people say. Again if the stars don’t shine on an NFL team, Fan speak 101 says blame the coaches and the offensive line. If the stars shine, give the stars all the credit. Momma don’t let your babies grow up to be offensive linemen.

Grade C+

This group can play better.   Carr still had time to throw but the Raiders have to throw on first down more and keep teams honest or they can’t run the ball. The OL has had better games and will continue to improve and gel.

Wide Receivers:

Crabtree twisted his ankle but he came back and made two great grabs and lead the team with 5 catches for 80 yards. Cooper had a nice route and catch on a touchdown but other than a drop in the first quarter, he wasn’t much of a factor either way.

Seth Roberts almost made a great catch for another TD but his foot was out of bounds.

GRADE: B

A gutsy performance by Crabtree. The Raiders didn’t have the ball all that much and when they did; especially in the 2nd half; they were fairly conservative.

Defensive Line:

Dan Williams and Justin Tuck continue to play well. Aldon Smith and Kahlil Mack played well, especially Smith who had 6 solo tackles, a pass batted down, a tackle for loss and a sack. The Raiders again blitzed often in the first half but didn’t as much in the second half. On the final drive they mostly rushed 4 men and had a mild blitz on only one play.

Matt Forte is a great running back and even though he did get 91 yards rushing, it took 25 carries to do so.   Not a great game but not bad either.

In the second half though the lack of pass rush has to be addressed. The Raiders have to continue to send blitzes. Right now this group isn’t good enough to just rush 4 players yet.

Grade: C+

At times they played really well and at other times they could not get the pressure on the quarterback that they needed to. The Raiders need to mix in blitzes throughout the game to keep teams honest.   They continue to be too conservative to want to blitz near the end of the game.

Linebackers:

Like I’ve said before, the LB’s have their strengths but all of them have weaknesses too. Curtis Lofton had a bad game though. He’s usually really good against the run but he was inconsistent. He is not a cover guy and he struggled mightily in pass coverage.

I’m still not sold that Ray Ray Armstrong is a starter. Malcolm Smith is a good blitzer and pass defender but not much of a run stopper and it showed at times. This group is going to have good and bad days and this was not one of their better days.

Grade C-

The Raiders LB’s struggled at times and seemed lost against the pass.

Defensive Backs:

Jay Cutler couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn at times but he still carved up the Raiders defense for 281 yards and 2 TD’s and an interception. The Raiders pass defense is just awful at times. Part of it is that they are so depleted with injuries, but in reality they really don’t have a quality starting cornerback. Carrie again had to be moved over to safety due to injuries. DJ Hayden again struggled and to be honest I’m tired of picking on him. He’s just not a starting NFL CB and with 4.9 million due him next year, he’s all but gone. David Amerson was a surprise at CB with 2 nice plays knocking down passes in coverage.   He also was second on the team with tackles at 7.

The Raiders safeties can’t guard tight ends. The Raiders have tried everything; even covering tight ends with linebackers; but it’s just not happening. If the Raiders pass rush struggles, so will the DB’s.

Grade D  

The Raiders are 31st in passing yards against and 31st in total yards. They are now 26th in scoring defense.

Even with the Bears having so few weapons, this was another rough day for this group. Without Alshon Jeffery, the Bears do not have a #1 WR.   This group took it to the Raiders at times. In fact, Cutler threw only to 4 players all day.

Coaching:

The Raiders on offense were much more conservative than in the past, and it was really seen in the second half. The Raiders were afraid to pass on 1st down and they struggled mightily running the ball with the Bears putting many people in the block to stop it. In almost every first down play in the second half, the Raiders ran the ball. Carr also has to audible more on first down. Cooper often had clear man to man coverage on first down which should have meant play action pass, and then throw to him deep.

Musgrave did well by benching Murray because he just was somewhere else.

On defense, the Raiders again rarely blitzed in the second half. No matter what the publicity says, the Raiders 4 man rush can’t rush the passer on every down and harass the QB enough to disrupt him right now. The Raiders needed to blitz more. I watched the Denver game and the Broncos blitzed often in the final drive against the Vikings and it worked with a fumble recovery after hitting Teddy Bridgewater which secured the win. The Raiders have nothing to lose and you have to look at the risk v.s. reward.

I also think with the Raiders having so little talent and depth at cornerback that having TJ Carrie return punts was a huge mistake. It came back to bite them when Carrie had to leave the game after returning a kick.

Grade C-

Too conservative again in the second half. Some though are trying to blame the coaches in regards to the opponents tight ends dominating the Raiders, but they’ve tried everything. Woodsen is getting his interceptions but he struggles a lot in coverage. With all of the injuries at safety and the struggles of the linebackers in coverage, the Raiders are going to be vulnerable to tight ends all year. If Carrie can get back on the field, maybe have him stay at safety and take over the role.

Special Teams:

TJ Carrie getting injured on a punt return was discouraging.

Sebastian Janikowski and Marquette King were as solid as always. One of the most consistent groups in the NFL.   The return game wasn’t much of a factor and it was hard to lose a starting DB during a punt return.

Grade A-

King and Jano are solid as always. Return game not much of a factor.

Next Opponent:   Denver Broncos (4-0); last game, win @ home against the Minnesota Vikings 23-20)

Outlook:

The Raiders are an improved team and this loss should not discourage that. What it should do though is give them a reality check.   They are an average team; which is good from where they came from; looking to become a good one.

No matter how you spin it though, this was a bad loss against a team that hadn’t won a game since last November. The AFC west is not what it once was so that helps the Raiders some, but Denver’s aggressive defense is for real.

Peyton Manning is on his last legs, but he still has weapons in the likes of Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos offense isn’t what it once was and has struggled this year. Their defense though might be the best in the NFL. They have 4 solid pass rushers and an aggressive style that is constantly finding ways to get to the quarterback. I like them a lot and love their aggressive nature.

The Raiders are just 7-17 against the Broncos since 2003 and 0-7 in their last 7 meetings. Denver’s margin of victory in those 7 wins is 22 points. They have controlled the Raiders by stopping the run and rushing the passer on passing downs. On offense, they’ve been able to do pretty much what they wanted against the Raiders so this will be a good test for the defense.

The Raiders will have their hands full against Denver next week. They hope to continue their improved offensive performance while enhancing their ability to get to the passer which will be imperative against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Here is Your Chance To Draft For the Raiders. The Potion of Motion? Everything NFL Draft 2015

NFL-Draft-2015-Chicago

NFL Draft Week is Here! It should be a fun and exciting day as always! Smiles all around.  (P.S. EPIC recipes are below!!  If you are brave enough, add one of your own in the comments section.  Thanks!)

Round 1 will be starting today at 5 pm PST; Round 2-3 will be tomorrow starting at 4 pm PST, and then Saturday Round 4-7 will start at 9 am PST.

The Jim Jax radio show will begin the week of the first exhibition game. I’m working on special guests and experts now but I mostly want to hear from the average fan.   From beginner to long term expert, every voice counts. I hope we all have fun and maybe learn a little along the way. It will be a call in show.   I’ll keep all the sites posted!

Thank you all for the amazing support. One article had readers from 24 different countries!!! At times I’m getting 500-1000 readers an hour with many great comments on Twitter, Facebook and DM and email. Your comments and voices are being heard and many great discussions have been started through your input. EVERY one of your voices matter.

Thank you all also for the comments and questions. I really like to hear especially from new fans that are just learning the in’s and outs of the game. It’s exciting to see energetic and new faces!

MOCK DRAFTS:  

Remember that your guess is as good as anyone’s in regards to the draft. I checked up on mock drafts from last year and the best picks from ANYONE that is supposedly an expert is 7 picks right in the first round.   Todd McShay got 5 picks right, and Mel Kiper Jr. got 4. The year before Mel Kiper Jr. got ONE right in the first round.

I just saw an ESPN report that the Raiders needs were WR, RB and CB.   Um huh? Having the worst pass rush in the NFL isn’t a need? I’m sure they will fix that soon. They are probably drunk over their new found love, the big fight on Saturday.

roasted-red-pepper-hummus

My Epic Fast & Easy Hummus Recipe:

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/be-the-talk-of-the-party-with-this-fast-easy-delicious-roasted-red-pepper-hummus/?preview=true&preview_id=599&preview_nonce=dd183a1c48

Now You Can Be an NFL GM; Draft for the Raiders:

Here is our challenge. How about YOU draft for the Raiders and then compare how things go in the future.   Please email or DM me directly, or post this on my Facebook or Twitter page and I will keep track of it on a spread sheet. Use any name that you’d like, and then down the road we can see who did the best!  Choose Round 1, or all 7 Rounds.

You can copy and paste the simple form below; take a photo with your phone; or scan and email. All in fun, from beginner to expert!

Raiders 2015 Draft Pick:         Your Draft Pick:

RD 1:

RD 2:

RD 3:

RD 4:

RD 5:

RD 6:

RD 7:

gourmet_wraps_b

Here are my fast and easy NFL DRAFT DAY Wraps 🙂  Make a lot!  They won’t last long! 

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/delicious-fast-easy-super-bowl-party-wraps/

This year will be the first year I’m going to draft all 7 rounds. The key picks to the draft will be #2 and #3.

What Transactions May Happen Today:

Sam Bradford is NOT Chip Kelly’s type of QB. Remember when Kelly said they weren’t interested in Marcus Mariotta a couple of months ago? Yea Right.   Look for Bradford to be moved to either Cleveland or Tennessee. I don’t see Bradford running the show for the Eagles and the Titans may have the worst QB situation in the NFL this side of Buffalo.

I’ve never wavered; I think DL Leonard Williams will be there at #4 and the Raiders should take him. The Jag’s who don’t have a bad defense may go Amari Cooper to get another weapon for QB Blake Bortles.

Remember that pretty much any team that has a high pick have fans thinking of trading down. Only one or two ever do.

Here is to hoping all of the fans are happy and healthy and hopeful on 2015 NFL draft week. And I hope you enjoy the recipes!

salsa 2

Here is the recipe for my AMAZING and famous super fast Salsa. I’m not allowed to go to parties without it! If you like a different texture, chop the tomatoes and onions by hand.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/be-the-talk-of-the-super-bowl-party-with-this-easy-delicious-salsa/?preview=true&preview_id=593&preview_nonce=52be4a4c3d

Cherry Orchard 1 crop

The Potion of Motion to WOW Kids and Adults!

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/the-potion-of-motion-an-exotic-easy-drink-to-wow-adults-kids/?preview=true&preview_id=494&preview_nonce=11b044cb2b

OSC-4715

Step outside the box with this Easy and Refreshing Summer Ginger Splash!

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/youll-be-a-huge-hit-during-the-holidays-with-my-famous-easy-summer-ginger-splash/?preview=true&preview_id=497&preview_nonce=4d5d32fdb4

Who at the World Cup 2014 Can Stop Spain’s Record Winning Streak in International Soccer;

 

Image

La Roja es el rey del mundo de fútbol.

Spain is the king of the soccer world.

With Spain’s epic record setting championship run in the past 8 years, there is definitely no love lost between them and the rest of the soccer world.

They are setting records with every win. In Euro Cup history, no team had ever won back to back championships until Spain did it in 2008 and 2012. Spain then won their first World Cup in history in 2010 and now have an unprecedented 3 straight major world championships.   They are now kings of the soccer world.

The World cup is so hard to win because the best of the best are there. This year there are many teams waiting to dethrone Spain.

Who are the favorites?:

Spain has an artistic style that is controversial. The Tika-Taka style of soccer; or short controlled passing game; is amazing. It takes great skill to do it in the way that Spain does, and it’s also very successful. Some fans and critics though say that it is a boring style and opposite of exciting teams such as Brasil and Argentina. Say what you will, more than a few are now saying the Spanish team is the greatest team in soccer history and their success backs it up.

No European team has ever won a World Cup in South America. That is great news for host Brasil. Brasil may be the most balanced of all the teams. Add an artistic flair and amazing home crowds, and the Brasil national team is a big favorite to win it all.

Germany is always a contender.   One of the great soccer traditions in history, Germany is always talented and this year is no different.   Marcos Reus though has been ruled out for the World Cup with torn ankle ligaments and they are going to be hard pressed to find someone to replace him. Germany though is deep and talented and will go far in the World Cup.

Argentina is a popular favorite of fans due to the hopes of Lionel Messi finally shining during the World Cup, but in reality they are loaded with talent. Their attacking style is fun to watch and many fans are excited about their chances.   Messi is 26 years old. That is the same age that Maradona was when Argentina won the World Cup in 1986.

These teams have a chance to shine at the World Cup:

Portugal is not as talented as they were in 2010 when they had their famous loss in the World Cup but they will be a factor. When Cristiano Ronaldo elected to kick the last free kick, he famously didn’t even get a chance for his own glory because the game was lost by then, bringing a lot of embarrassment. His selfish moment fuels him to want to win a World Cup badly, so Portugal is a wild card.

Italy is one of those teams that can look awful one minute and look like world beaters the next. Mario Balotelli can control a soccer match when he’s on, and when he’s not, Italy can lose to anyone. After their second match we should know which Balotelli and Italy team will show up.

These are wild card teams that have lots of questions but may surprise.

The Netherlands are a dangerous side.   They don’t have a well rounded team, and they are lacking somewhat on defense, but any team with attackers like Robin Van Persie and Argen Robben is a factor. They can control games with their attacking style and any team that plays them will have to be good on defense to win. I like watching this team but they have a tough draw in their group with Chile and Spain.

Belgium and France are also interesting teams but they don’t play well in every game. Belgium can look good one minute and be terrible the next. Any team with Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany is a threat. Belgium is a sexy pick by many and it will be all or nothing for them.

Uruguay now has a healthy Luis Suarez and their attack is as good as anybodies when they are clicking. They are not a well rounded team though and they will have to play better in the midfield.

Finally one of the countries that I always pull for is back. The sad memories of Andres’ Escobar’s murder and the extreme stresses that plagued the soccer team of Colombia during the 1994 World Cup in the United States still haunts people today. It’s good to see this team doing well.

Colombia plays a fun and exciting style that says one thing; attack. They are now back to being a scoring team with James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez looking to make a name for themselves on the world stage.

One thing to watch for in the World Cup is the referees. Some of the calls borderline on ridiculous and match fixing has been a huge problem with FIFA and the soccer world in the recent past. FIFA is as dirty an organization as there is, rivaling the International Olympic Committee and the NFL in their corruption and greed. Some have called FIFA the mafia without guns. The hope every year is that the referees and penalty kicks will not play a big role in these games.

All of the great soccer talent now is in one place. Who will step up to greatness and who will disappoint; it’s always the question at each World Cup. There are a lot of fun early matches, so from beginning to end it will be interesting to see who comes through to the round of 16 and beyond.