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Carolina Panthers New Logo Gains A More Intimidating, Clean Style



The Carolina Panthers introduced a new main logo, the first change for the franchise since entering the league in 1995.

The differences are subtle at first glance, but the new panther has a more muscular look than the old. The new face has a less cartoonish style than the old. The old may be more aggressive in nature, but the new logo is definitely more intimidating.

Overall, it's a major upgrade without changing the style or color scheme. Sometimes little tweaks go a lot further than going in a completely new direction.

Check out the top most intimidating sports logos of all-time here.

UFC On Fox 2: Long Island’s Chris Weidman Beats Demian Maia

The UFC on FOX is back for its second go-around, and we're all hoping the event is better than the first installment, which fell short on a number of counts. But with one fight in the books tonight from Chicago, we already had one winner with local ties.

Chris Weidman, who attended Baldwin High School on Long Island, defeated Demian Maia by decision in the opening bout. Weidman graduated from Hofstra University as well. He improved his record to 8-0 overall in MMA and 4-0 in UFC.

It wasn't the most exciting fight, and casual fans might have tuned out because of the slow action, but it was a great win for a New York guy. It's especially impressive as Weidman had just 11 days to prepare for the fight, as he was a replacement fighter.

Rashad Evans is fighting Fred Davis in the main event on the card within the hour. The winner most likely will face Jon Jones next.

Jets Four-Strong At Pro Bowl Sunday

D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore. (AP photo)
The New York Jets are well represented at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, which will be played Sunday night on NBC. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore will all play. One of the few reasons to actually watch the game, for Jets fans anyway, would be if and when all three offensive linemen get in the game at the same time.

On defense, it's always great watching Revis play. Plus, there's always the question of whether or not, even in the Pro Bowl, the opposing quarterback will throw his way.

There are no Giants playing in the Pro Bowl, as they have bigger things to worry about, as in the Patriots a week from Sunday in the Super Bowl.

Giants, Patriots Super Bowl Rematch A Game Of Similarities, Differences

David Tyree was a hero in 2008. (AP photo)
  By Steve Morton  
We all knew Super Bowl XLVI would come. But who'd have guessed even less than a week ago that we’d be entertained by a replay of one of the most exciting Super Bowls in recent history – Super Bowl XLII – in another New York vs. Boston showdown.

Of course, with any rematch, it's tempting to look at the similarities of the original meeting between the Giants-Patriots first Super Bowl face-off.

But this isn't 2008. And for all the similarities, the differences are just as glaring. Certainly, it's intriguing to look at the many parallels, some of which are very uncommon. For instance the Giants' playoff road went through Green Bay this year, just as it did in 2008. And during each run, the Giants had lost to the Packers in the regular season matchup.

Greg Schiano Leaves Rutgers To Become Head Coach Of Buccaneers

Greg Schiano is the new head coach of the Buccaneers. (AP photo)
  By Glenn Carroll  
Greg Schiano, today, accepted the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Schiano was most recently the head coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, where he resurrected a lost program. Tampa fans and management hope he can bring that to the Buccaneers, which other than a short stretch under Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden, has been a bottom-dweller in the NFL.

Schiano will lead a team with plenty of talent on the current roster, with quarterback Josh Freeman heading into his fourth year and LeGarrett Blount emerging as a star at running back. Schiano, however, will need to use this upcoming draft on the defensive side of the ball to freshen up an aging squad.

It won't take long for players and fans of the Buccaneers to buy into Schiano's philosophy and style. This might have been a shock to many, but this is the right guy at the right time for the Buccaneers. Let the resurrection begin.

John Franco Elected To Mets Hall

John Franco throws the first pitch last September 11. (AP photo)
For once, here's some positive news involving the New York Mets. John Franco, the team's longtime closer, was elected to the team's Hall of Fame today. Franco, who will be the 26th player elected, is the team's all-time leader in saves and games pitched. He saved 276 games in his 14 seasons.

Here are the statements by both Franco and the Mets.

Jorge Posada Retires As True Yankee

Jorge Posada announced his retirement Tuesday. (AP photo)
In an emotional press conference, Jorge Posada announced he was leaving the game of baseball forever. With Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, among other players and coaches, in attendance, one of the greatest catchers in Yankees history announced his retirement to a jam-packed audience in the Bronx.

Posada had the chance to play for another team this upcoming season, but said he had his mind made up last season, telling Jeter, his teammate and best friend, during the year that the 2011 season would be his last. Plus, there was the fact he couldn't see himself playing in anything but pinstripes.

"Playing for the Yankees has been an honor," Posada said. "I could never put on another uniform. I will forever be a Yankee."

Jorge Posada To Retire Tuesday

Jorge Posada will end his career as a Yankee. (AP photo)
New York Yankees great Jorge Posada will officially announce his retirement Tuesday morning at Yankee Stadium. Posada played 17 years with the Yankees, becoming one of the best hitting catchers of all-time. He won five World Series titles and was a five-time all-star.

Giants Defeat 49ers: We Hand Out Game Balls (Thomas, Eli, Cruz, More) And Game Falls (Jacobs, More)

We're handing out game balls and game falls after the Giants defeated the San Francisco 49ers in overtime, 20-17, to win the NFC Championship game. The Giants now advance to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis two weeks from now against the New England Patriots.

 The Game Balls 
Devin Thomas had a huge game. (AP photo)
* Devin Thomas: It's a rare occurrence for a special teams player to make two game-changing play in an entire season, let alone in about a quarter's time. But that's exactly what Thomas did for the Giants Sunday in the NFC Championship game. He recovered two fumbles, one in the fourth quarter and one in overtime, that sparked the Giants to a 20-17 victory over the 49ers. On the first, the Giants, trailing 14-10 early in the fourth quarter and unable to put together any scoring drives to speak of, were again forced to punt. A lucky bounce, a recovery and a successful replay challenge later and the Giants had the ball at the Niners' 29. The punt bounced off kick returner Kyle Williams' knee and Thomas picked up the loose ball for a huge turnover. Eli Manning, seven plays later, hit Mario Manningham for the go-ahead touchdown. In overtime, Williams fumbled again, this time on a strip by Jacquian Williams, and Thomas was there to scoop up the loose ball. The Giants took over at the 49ers' 24, already in field goal range. A few runs later and the Giants were celebrating after Lawrence Tynes kicked a 31-yard field goal to win the game. Thomas' plays were the difference in sending the Giants to the Super Bowl.

Giants Defeat 49ers: Devin Thomas, Special Teams Come Up Big In NFC Championship Game Win

Giants celebrate after Lawrence Tynes' field goal. (AP photo)
If we learned anything from the conference championship games Sunday night it was special teams matter. Big time. The Baltimore Ravens are going home because of theirs', as a 32-yard field goal attempt that would have sent the game to overtime was badly missed by kicker Billy Cundiff. The Giants, on the other hand, are going to the Super Bowl because of their special teams.

Coverage ace Devin Thomas recovered two fumbles on punt returns and kicker Lawrence Tynes had no problem with his game-winning 31-yard field goal, sending the Giants to Indianapolis for a date with the New England Patriots.

Former Jets Great Shaun Ellis Finally Reaches Super Bowl ... With Patriots

Shaun Ellis is going to his first Super Bowl. (AP photo)
For New York Jets fans, there isn't much to be happy about right now. The hated New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl and the despised New York Giants are one-half away from doing the same. Things couldn't get much worse if you're all about the Green and White.

But there might be reason to at least crack a smile if you're a Jets fan. In his 12th season in the NFL, Shaun Ellis is headed to his first Super Bowl. Of course, it's not all good, as Ellis has reached football nirvana in one season with the Patriots, something he couldn't do in 11 years with the Jets.

Patriots Defeat Ravens: We Hand Out Game Balls (Moore, Wilfork, More) And Game Falls (Cundiff, More)

We're handing out game balls and game falls after the New England Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 in the AFC Championship game Sunday night. The Patriots advance to the Super Bowl two weeks from now in Indianapolis against either the New York Giants or San Francisco 49ers.

 The Game Balls 
Sterling Moore makes the play. (AP photo)
* Sterling Moore: Few of you probably even knew Moore was on the Patriots roster, let alone the player who would make the biggest play of the AFC title game. With the Baltimore Ravens driving for the potential game-winning touchdown, quarterback Joe Flacco threw a perfect pass to Lee Evans in the end zone. The ball hit Evans right in the hands for what would have been the winning score in the final seconds. But after Evans corralled it, Moore swatted the ball right through his hands for an incomplete pass. Moore, who had his back turned to the pass, had just a split second to make the play, and he did. If he hesitates at all, Evans scores the game-winner and the Ravens are going to the Super Bowl. The Ravens, one play later, ended up missing a 32-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff, giving the Patriots the victory. Moore wasn't the best player on the field, but he came up with the biggest play of the game at the biggest moment.

Brian Schottenheimer's Rams' Offense Will Go Head-To-Head With Rex Ryan's Jets Defense Next Season

Schottenheimer v. Ryan. (AP photo)
The most interesting storyline surrounding the St. Louis Rams hiring Brian Schottenheimer as their new offensive coordinator isn't that the embattled former Jets play caller got another job in the NFL so quickly, but the fact he will be able to exact revenge on the team he parted ways with.

With ESPN reporting that Schottenheimer will join new head coach Jeff Fisher's staff in St. Louis, it makes for a very interesting subplot to an otherwise dull matchup next season. The Rams and the Jets will play each other next season in a now-hyped game featuring Schottenheimer's offense against Rex Ryan's defense.

For the Jets and their fans this could be both a good and bad thing. The good is to show Schottenheimer what the Jets can do without his predictable offensive play calling. The bad, obviously, is that Schottenheimer could lead the Rams to a victory over the Jets and light up the scoreboard along the way. The latter would be one of the most embarrassing moments in the Ryan era with the Jets.

Whenever the schedule comes out, that game will automatically be circled on the calendar. Jets vs. Rams suddenly has a whole new meaning.

Giants Vs 49ers NFC Championship Preview: Underdog Role A Bonus For Big Blue As They Head To San Fran

Hakeem Nicks and the Giants are looking for another upset. (AP photo)
  By Steve Morton  
Anyone who’s watched the New York Giants since Week 16 has to be asking, “Is this team destined to be in the Super Bowl or what?" After all, who lives like this? Which team in the NFL do you know plays mediocre and inconsistently throughout the regular season only to enter the playoffs and then start blowing teams suddenly and without explanation out of their socks?

That’s the story of the Giants, who have now sent four teams with better records and power rankings than them home to watch the playoffs from their sofa.

New York has without a doubt played some impressive football ever since squaring off against the Jets and Cowboys in the final two weeks of the regular season. The Giants were ranked lower than each of those teams, yet pummeled both to clinch the NFC East and a playoff berth.

Former Twins GM Bill Smith Speaks About Firing Then Rejoining As An Assistant In Awkward Appearance

Matt Straub, Rocky, Evan Macy and Brad Carroll. (Rob Heyl photo)
CROMWELL, Conn. - There would be just one word to describe the just-finished luncheon featuring Minnesota Twins executive Bill Smith - Awkward. The event, hosted by the New Britain Rock Cats, the Double-A affiliate of the Twins, is typically a great get-together to listen to baseball people talk about the upcoming season. It's a chance for both the media and the general public to hear what goes on behind the scenes at a major league ball club.

Last year, Smith was the featured speaker as well. But the difference between that speech and this year's was like night and day. Like winning 99 games and then losing 99. Of course, those 99 losses by the Twins a year ago set up this awkward meeting with the media and the public.

NFL Divisional Playoffs Winners And Losers: Winners (Smith, Davis, Brady) & Losers (Packers, Saints 'D')

In this playoff edition of Thoughts & Observations from the NFL's divisional playoff weekend, we break down the top three winners and the top three losers from the week that was. Have your own thoughts? Let everyone know in the comments section below. But, for now, it's time for some winners and losers.

 WINNERS 
Alex Smith scores on a touchdown run. (AP photo)
* Alex Smith: The San Francisco 49ers quarterback had the signature moment of his disappointing career in a shootout victory over the New Orleans Saints. Smith, the No. 1 overall draft pick out of Utah back in 2005, came from behind twice in the final 2:11 to beat the Saints last Saturday and send the Niners to the NFC Championship game. First, Smith scored on a fantastic 28-yard run down the left sideline to put San Francisco ahead 29-24. Then, after Drew Brees led the Saints back into the lead, on a 66-yard touchdown pass, Smith got the ball back with 1:37 to go. He hit Vernon Davis for a 47-yard pass that got the 49ers to the Saints' 20 and into field goal range. After a short pass and a spike it appeared the game was headed for overtime if David Akers could make the short kick on fourth down. But Smith and Davis wasn't about to let that happen. Smith threw a bullet that Davis brought in at the goal line with nine seconds left to win the game. The play was reminiscent of two other big catches in San Francisco history, the always-seen highlights of Dwight Clark and Terrell Owens bringing in winning grabs. Smith was 24-of-42 passing for 299 yards and three touchdowns. "It shows he's becoming an elite quarterback," linebacker Patrick Willis said of Smith. "I'm glad the world could see what he did today."

Giants Defeat Packers: Seven Key Moments Has Giants Playing For NFC Championship Against 49ers

Victor Cruz and the Giants are headed to San Francisco. (AP photo)
The New York Giants' 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers in an NFC divisional playoff wasn't without its game-changing, momentum-shifting plays. In fact, there was a season's worth of moments on the frozen field at Lambeau Field. Here's a breakdown of the seven big moments that led the Giants to the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday.

Giants Defeat Packers: We Hand Out Game Balls (Umenyiora, Eli, Nicks, Bradshaw, More) And Game Falls

We're handing out game balls and game falls after the Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers, 37-20, in an NFC divisional playoff game Sunday. The Giants now advance to the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. And, yes, we'll get to the terrible officiating as well.

 The Game Balls 
Eli Manning leads Giants past Packers. (AP photo)
* Eli Manning: Coming into the game, all the so-called experts made it clear that Manning would have to outplay Aaron Rodgers if the Giants wanted to win this game. Well, Manning did that and so much more. Manning was 21-of-33 passing for 330 yards and three touchdowns. He had a rating of 114.5 in the cold at Lambeau Field. Most importantly, he led the team to 37 points and a victory that sends the team to the NFC Championship next week in San Francisco. Manning may have finally solidified his stature as one of the best quarterbacks in all the NFL with this performance. He made it look easy against a Packers defense that has struggled this entire season. That's a mark of a great quarterback.

Jets & Yankees Grab Headlines Over Giants During Wild Sports Week

The Yankees signed Hiroki Kuroda Friday night. (AP photo)
As much as the Giants claim to own New York, especially when they are playing in an NFC divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, this week proved otherwise. Here's the day-by-day breakdown of a week that should have belonged to the Giants, but had them regulated to secondary status.

Monday: The day after the Giants dominated the Atlanta Falcons in an easy victory in the wild card round of the playoffs, it was a Giants city. It was all about Big Blue's win and looking forward to a rematch with the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round. Things got even more interesting when Jason Pierre-Paul guaranteed the Giants would beat the Packers the following week.

Yankees Trade For Michael Pineda From Mariners, Giving Up Montero And Noesi, Then Sign Hiroki Kuroda

The Yankees traded for Michael Pineda Friday night. (AP photo
The Yankees have reportedly traded for Seattle Mariners rookie all-star pitcher Michael Pineda in exchange for catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi. Also, many outlets are now reporting the Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract with pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.

It's a wild night in Yankees Universe.

Giants Vs Packers: Big Blue May Be A Huge Underdog, But With A Revitalized Defense, This Could Be Their Game To Lose

The Giants are going to have to be near perfect to beat Green Bay. (AP photo)
  By Steve Morton  
When the 2011 NFL season began, many figured the road to Super Bowl XLVI would go through Green Bay. Certainly, however, no one figured it would be the New York Giants that would be the team driving through.

Sunday’s showdown in Green Bay is without a doubt the “can’t miss” playoff game of the week. Although I know few will miss Tim Tebow and the Broncos postseason encore against the Patriots on Saturday, you have to love the matchup on Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champs and the hot-streaking Giants.

Top 10 List: We Rank The 10 Most Intimidating Sports Logos From Both Professional And College

If you're a sports fan, you know how important a team's logo is. Introduce a new logo or change an existing one and sports fans from around the world will chime in on what they think about it, the good, bad and ugly. Of course, we're no different here at GameDay. But we noticed there was one group of logos that is often overlooked when counting down the best in the business. So, we've rectified that by creating our own Top 10 list of the most intimidating sports logos today, the ones that are designed to strike fear into the opposition. We polled five members of the team here at GameDay and came up with the one and only top 10 list of the most intimidating logos in sports, which, believe it or not, is the rarest of all logos. As always, we want to hear what you think, whether you agree or not, in the comments section below.

10. CHICAGO BULLS
If you look into the bull's eyes, you can't say you wouldn't freak out if you came face to face with it. The flaming nostrils and horns make for an intimidating logo, especially with the overall angry demeanor portrayed in the bull's red and black face. The Bulls logo held off the Baltimore Ravens and the San Jose Sharks logos for the 10th spot. The Bulls were listed as high as No. 3 on one ballot.

Jets Analysis: Anonymous Members Of Jets Speaking Against Sanchez Need A Reality Check, And Backbone

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has support of many players. (AP photo)
Leave it to the New York Jets to completely take over the NFL playoffs in a year they aren't even part of them. First, late Tuesday night, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer told the team he would not return next season. Then, around noon Wednesday, the Jets officially announced former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano would take over the position.

If that wasn't enough, word spread quickly about a story in the New York Daily News that had some Jets players and people in the organization bashing quarterback Mark Sanchez.

That story was enough to switch what should have been an otherwise a great day for Jets fans, into one of anger against a few cowards who ripped one of their own while not attaching their names to any of the quotes. The backlash against these anonymous speakers has been quick and to the point, where many players, from within the team and outside it, to the fans to the media have ripped them all for being gutless.

Ryan, Jets Excited To Add Sparano

Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum decided on Tony Sparano. (AP photo)
Here are the statements released by the New York Jets after the official hiring of Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator.

Sparano: "I'm very proud to be part of such an outstanding organization and to have an opportunity to work with these players. I know this division very well and I'm looking forward to that challenge. I'd like to thank Mr. Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum and Coach Ryan for giving me the opportunity."

Jets head coach Rex Ryan: "When we sat down with Tony, I knew that he was the right person at the right time for our offense. I've admired his work as a competitor in the division for the past three seasons. His teams were always physical, tough and hard-nosed."

Jets Hire Tony Sparano As Offensive Coordinator; Is Todd Haley Next?

Tony Sparano is the Jets new offensive coordinator. (AP photo)
The Jets have officially announced the hiring of Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator. The former Miami Dolphins head coach replaces Brian Schottenheimer, who left the organization late Tuesday night. This will be Sparano's first job as a coordinator, although he did call the offensive plays for the Dallas Cowboys in 2006.

ESPN's Adam Scheftler reported today that former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley will interview for a position with the Jets today, most likely as an assistant head coach and passing game coordinator. Haley would make a lot of sense seeing as he can work with quarterback Mark Sanchez closely.

Brian Schottenheimer Won't Return As Offensive Coordinator, Tony Sparano To Take Over Job

Brian Schottenheimer won't be with the Jets next season. (AP photo)
The day Jets fans have been hoping for, but never thought would actually happen, has finally become reality. The Jets announced Tuesday night that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer won't return next season. Multiple media reports have the Jets hiring former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano as the new offensive coordinator. He reportedly will be introduced Wednesday.

Schottenheimer signed a two-year contract extension last offseason but the offense tanked again this season, with quarterback Mark Sanchez regressing instead of progressing. Their was no vertical passing game and the running game, a former staple, struggled this season. Overall, the Jets were ranked 25th in offense. The offensive struggles were commonplace, however, for the past six years under Schottenheimer.

NFL Wild Card Winners And Losers: Winners (Tebow, Texans, Brees) And Losers (Steelers 'D', Smith, Dalton)

In this playoff edition of Thoughts & Observations from the NFL's wild card weekend, we break down the top three winners and the top three losers from the week that was. Have your own thoughts? Let everyone know in the comments section below. But, for now, it's time for some winners and losers.

 WINNERS 
Tim Tebow led the Broncos to victory. (AP photo)
* Tim Tebow: I almost can't even explain what the Broncos quarterback accomplished against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday. Tebow, who many thought wasn't good enough to play quarterback in this league, including us here at GameDay, were again thrown for a loop. The Broncos quarterback threw for 316 yards on just 10 completions against the NFL's best defense. Included in that total was Tebow's 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play in overtime, one that gave the Broncos a 29-23 upset in Denver. Tebow's completion percentage was still under 50 percent, but he made up for it by completing big play after big play. Tebow hit on five passes of at least 30 yards against the Steelers, a team that allowed just six of those passes all season. Tebow averaged 25.1 yards per pass on throws 15 yards or more Sunday. The Steelers allowed an average of just 7.8 during the regular season. His final pass was a perfectly thrown ball to Thomas, hitting him in stride over the middle against a defense that was playing the run. Thomas did the rest. "When I saw him scoring, first of all, I just thought, 'Thank you, Lord,'" Tebow said. "Then, I was running pretty fast, chasing him - like I can catch up to D.T. Then I just jumped into the stands, first time I've done that. That was fun. Then, got on a knee and thanked the Lord again and tried to celebrate with my teammates and the fans." Interesting note, Tebow threw for 316 yards and had a 31.6 yards per completion average. That was after a week of John Elway telling him to "pull the trigger." John 3:16, Tebow's favorite bible verse.

Alabama Finishes No. 1 In Final AP Poll, While LSU Finishes Second, Oklahoma State Third

A.J. McCarron and Alabama are champions. (AP photo)
Split national champions? Forget about it. After its 21-0 dismantling of LSU in the BCS national championship game Monday night, Alabama was voted as the No. 1 team in the AP poll. Couple that with the Crimson Tide being the top team in the coaches poll, and it's a sweep for Alabama.

Alabama received 54 first-place votes in garnering the top spot in the AP poll. It was the Tide's eighth time ending the season No. 1, which ties Notre Dame for the most ever. LSU finished No. 2 in the poll and Oklahoma State was third. The Tigers got one first-place vote, while the Cowboys received four.

Alabama Wins National Title: Tide Dominate LSU To Finish No. 1, But Oklahoma State Has Case As Well

Alabama celebrates its BCS title game victory. (AP photo)
With the way LSU played Monday night in the BCS title game, even the Tigers' biggest supporters couldn't make a case for split national champions. Alabama thoroughly dominated its SEC rival. Dominated them so badly, in fact, that the Tigers shouldn't even end the season ranked No. 2 in the final polls.

Based on this one game in New Orleans, Alabama is the undisputed national champion, to the point where if someone votes LSU No. 1, they should be stripped of their privileges immediately.

Giants Beat Falcons: Pierre-Paul Says Giants Will Beat Packers '100 Percent'

Jason Pierre-Paul says he's sure Giants will beat Packers. (AP photo)
The Giants may have been set as 8.5-point underdogs for their NFC divisional playoff game next Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, but don't tell that to Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants defensive end basically guaranteed his team would beat the top-seed in the NFC, saying he was "100 percent" sure Big Blue would advance to the NFC championship game.

"We know what's at stake, and we know it's one and done," Pierre-Paul said. "We aren't going to let that happen. We are going to go out there and give all our effort and we are going to walk away with a win."

Giants Defeat Falcons:We Hand Out Game Balls (Giants Defense, Nicks, Manning, More) And Game Falls

We're handing out game balls and game falls after the Giants defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 24-2, in an NFC wild card playoff game Sunday. The Giants now advance to the divisional round to play the 15-1 Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Already, Big Blue is listed as a 10-point underdog. I'm sure the Giants don't care about that right now.

 The Game Balls 
Osi Umenyiora and the Giants dominated. (AP photo)
* Giants Defense: We'll break out some individual performances below, but the biggest reason the Giants won this game against the Falcons was because of the defense. The entire defense. The Falcons were able to put up just two points in the game, a safety the defense had nothing to do with. Remember, this Giants defense was the worst among playoff teams. They were allowing a whopping 25 points per game. That defense, however, didn't show up on Sunday. And that was great news for Giants fans. The very explosive Falcons offense put up just 247 yards of total offense. Matt Ryan passed for just 199 and Michael Turner had just 41 yards on 15 carries. The Falcons looked completely inept. The two biggest plays of the game came on fourth-and-one rushes by Ryan, with the second changing the complexion of the game. The Falcons were trailing 10-2 with the ball at the Giants' 21 with 4:16 to play in the third quarter. Coach Mike Smith decided to go for it, calling a Ryan sneak, a play that had already been stuffed by the Giants defense earlier in the game. This result was no different ... the Giants stuffed Ryan again and three plays later Eli Manning hit Hakeem Nicks for a 72-yard touchdown pass to finish off the Falcons. If Smith actually calls a legit play, and the Falcons go on to score and get the two-point conversion, it's a 10-10 game. The Giants defense was dominate, something they will need to be against Green Bay next Sunday.

Jorge Posada To Retire: One Of The Greatest Yankees Of All Time Should Be A No-Doubt Hall Of Famer

Jorge Posada should be a Hall of Fame catcher. (AP photo)
While he may not have gotten the ultimate sendoff of winning a World Series title last October, Yankees great Jorge Posada accomplished something on a personal level that has him leaving the sport with his head held high. One of best hitting catchers in baseball history is set to retire in the next two weeks, meaning he will end his legendary career right where it started - with the Yankees.

But it was the playoff series against the Detroit Tigers where Posada proved he was still a great player, despite what manager Joe Girardi, the media and some moronic Yankees fans would have you believe. Girardi, as we all know, had already benched Posada in the second half of the season, stripping him of the designated hitter role he held since the beginning of the year.

College GameDay Rewind Championship Edition: Brad Clinches Season Title Over Evil One As Arkansas Wins Cotton Bowl

Arkansas wins the Cotton Bowl, Brad wins the title. (AP photo)
Last year I won the GameDay Picks Championship going away, outdistancing the Evil One by six games. I more or less rolled to yet another season title from start to finish. This year was different, however, as Evil and I were neck-and-neck the whole way through. The lead for either one of us never swelled too large to overcome. It made for one great season.

With two games to pick - the Cotton Bowl and BCS National Championship - the two of us were separated by just one game, with me holding the edge. And, of course, it turned out that we both went in opposite directions in those final two bowl matchups. If I won one of the two games, I would claim the championship once again. If Craig took home both games, he would come back to win the title. Read our breakdown of the two games here and then check out the season finale of our college football show for more.

For those wanting an ultimate showdown in the BCS title game between the two of us, something I know Evil wanted, unfortunately for everyone except me, it ultimately didn't happen.

College GameDay Rewind Bowl Special II: GameDay Picks Title Will Come Down To Good Vs Evil

If Arkansas wins by more than eight, Brad wins the title. (AP photo)
The battle for the GameDay picks championship can be won tonight, as if Arkansas wins by more than eight points, I will claim the season title. The Evil One, otherwise known as Craig Carroll, is one game back, so he needs Kansas State to win outright or lose by seven points or less to remain alive. So, with that written, let's get right into the breakdown to see how we both got to this point.

Brad's Bowl Week: 10-7 (spread); 11-6 (overall); 1-2 (upset picks)
Brad's Season: 68-50-1 (spread); 90-29 (overall); 7-8 (upset picks)
Brad's Money: UP $1,300 (season)
Craig's Bowl Week: 11-6 (spread)
Craig's Season: 67-51-1 (spread)
Craig's Money: UP $1,090 (season)
Joe’s Bowl Week: 8-9 (spread)
Joe’s Season: 11-15 (spread)
Joe’s Money: DOWN $550 (season)

Giants Playoff Preview: NFC Wild Card Matchup Against Falcons Just The Start Of Something Special

Full steam ahead for Jason Pierre-Paul and the Giants. (AP photo)
  By Steve Morton  
The best thing about this year’s NFL playoffs is that the New York Giants are in it. That hasn’t been a statement you could make since Big Blue was eliminated by Philadelphia in a windy divisional playoff game in the old Meadowlands Stadium in 2009. It’s hard to believe with all the talent the Giants roster has boasted in recent years that they’ve been absent from the postseason for three years, but that is the case.

On the good side, elated Giants fans have gotten to watch their team come around for the better and make a dramatic entrance into the playoff picture after clinching the NFC East last Sunday against the Cowboys.

Now, as the Giants gear up for the playoff matchup against Atlanta in front of their home crowd on wild card weekend Sunday, Giants fans everywhere will without a doubt be reminded of the magical Super Bowl season of 2007-08.

BCS National Championship Picks Column: No. 1 LSU Vs No. 2 Alabama, Plus We Pick The Cotton Bowl

Alabama and LSU play for the BCS championship. (AP photo)
Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college bowl games of the week
Bowl Week: 10-7 (spread); 11-6 (overall); 1-2 (upset picks)
Craig Carroll's Bowl Week: 11-6 (spread)
Overall Season: 68-50-1 (spread); 90-29 (overall); 7-8 (upset picks)
Craig Carroll's Season: 67-51-1 (spread)
Joe Fortunato’s Record: 11-15 (overall); 8-9 (bowl season)

BCS National Championship, Jan. 9
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
The Skinny: In a bowl season that has featured some of the most exciting games in recent memory, you would believe the BCS national title game would be the epic conclusion to a great college football year. Unfortunately, there aren’t high expectations for a rematch between LSU and Alabama, two teams that might have trouble scoring a single touchdown Monday night. That’s exactly what happened in the first meeting, a 9-6 overtime victory by the Tigers at Alabama. That game made the majority of the country plead with the BCS to not spit out a rematch, but that’s what we got in New Orleans. For one, it opened the situation where even if LSU loses this game, the AP poll may vote the Tigers national champions anyway. The scenarios are pretty simple. If LSU wins, they win the national title. If Alabama wins a close game, it’s going to be very close to a split national champion. If Alabama wins by a touchdown or more, then the Tide wins the national title. It’s an interesting subplot in a game that might bore everyone to death watching at home.

Giants Beat Cowboys: Giants Getting Hot At Right Time, With Same Feel As Super Bowl 2008 Season

Victor Cruz and the Giants ran past Dallas. (AP photo)
  By Steve Morton, GameDay Staff Writer  
The hottest part of the flame is blue. Why? Because it’s the most energized. It’s simple science. Right now the hottest team in football is Big Blue — the New York Football Giants.

Again, simple science.

For two straight weeks the Giants smoked a “Ryan” defense — Jets coach Rex Ryan in Week 16 and Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on Sunday — to win the NFC East division and clinch the team’s first playoff berth in three seasons. For a team that’s delivered mostly inconsistent play all season, the Giants have put together its best two games the past two weekends.

NFL Week 17 Winners And Losers: Winners (Cruz, Rice, Flynn) And Losers (Tebow, Jackson, Cowboys)

In this installment of Thoughts & Observations from Week 17 of the NFL season, we break down the top four winners and the top four losers from the week that was. Have your own thoughts? Let everyone know in the comments section below. But, for now, it's time for some winners and losers.

 WINNERS 
Victor Cruz had a huge season. (AP photo)
* Victor Cruz: If it wasn't for a three-touchdown performance in a preseason game two years ago against the Jets, Cruz might not even be in the league this year. But making the most of his opportunity, Cruz went out and had a record-breaking season for the Giants, ending with a game-changing performance against the Cowboys in the season finale. Cruz caught six passes for 178 yards and a touchdown against Dallas as the Giants won the NFC East. He ended the year with a Giants record 1,536 receiving yards. That number was also the third best in the league this season, to Calvin Johnson's 1,681 and Wes Welker's 1,569. Cruz had two huge plays Sunday, one a 74-yard touchdown and the other a 44-yard leaping catch that all but put the game away in the fourth quarter for the Giants. Defensive end Justin Tuck went as far to say Cruz is the team's co-MVP, with Eli Manning. And it all might never have happened for Cruz. “A realistic goal was just to get a catch in a real game that mattered, in a real game that counted,” Cruz said. “Due to some unfortunate injuries, I was able to come in and play a significant role. It’s been an amazing ride. It’s been a roller-coaster for me. I’m excited that we’re here, we won our division, and we’re going to the playoffs.” Cruz is a big reason why.

Jets News And Analysis: Holmes, Schottenheimer Expected Back, For Now ... Plus More Notes From Presser

Rex Ryan backed Brian Schottenheimer and Santonio Holmes. (AP photo)
The Jets didn't make the big splash fans wanted from Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan at their just-ended press conference, saying they both expect offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to return next season. However, he wasn't exactly given a ringing endorsement, and the decision on his future with the Jets could be put off until after he interviews with the Jacksonville Jaguars for their head coach opening.

"He's under contract as offensive coordinator," Ryan said. "For whatever reason, people want to target him. It should be targeted at me, not Brian. The criticism specifically of Brian is unfair."

Jets Analysis: Position-By-Position Breakdown Of Who Should Stay And Who Should Go (Santonio Holmes)

Santonio Holmes should be sent packing. (AP photo)
A day after the Jets watched their season come to a close with yet another terrible loss, this time to the Dolphins, it's becoming more and more clear this team never had the chance to succeed. As more and more stories come out and comments are made, this season will be remembered for a complete failure in team chemistry.

Rex Ryan, speaking to the team, teared up while talking about team chemistry and sticking together, something that obviously was an issue all year long.

It came to a head in the final minutes against the Dolphins when captain Santonio Holmes was caught yelling at a player in the Jets' huddle, reportedly going back-and-forth with tackle Wayne Hunter. Soon after, Holmes was replaced by Patrick Turner, banished to the bench as the Jets were driving for a touchdown. The one doing the benching was Brian Schottenheimer, according to a report on ESPN, which for once, was a great call by the offensive coordinator.

College GameDay Rewind Bowl Week I: Oklahoma State Could Still Split National Title, NFL Playoff Picks

Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden. (AP photo)
The highlight of the January 2 bowl games is obviously the Fiesta Bowl featuring No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Stanford. The game has the team I still believe should be playing for the BCS national championship – Oklahoma State. While the Cowboys won’t get that opportunity, is there a chance they could win a split national title?

Well, it would take a monumental effort to simply get into the conversation.

First things first, Oklahoma State must make another statement and beat Stanford by at least three touchdowns in the Fiesta Bowl. Just like the Cowboys had to destroy Oklahoma in the season finale to get back into the national title conversation, they must do the same against Stanford. Oklahoma State ran over the Sooners, bringing many to switch their support from Alabama to the Cowboys. The Cowboys will need a similar effort against Stanford to get the attention of the AP pollsters.

Jets 2012 Opponents: With AFC South, NFC West On Tap, Jets Have Favorable Schedule Next Season

D'Brickashaw Ferguson and the Jets  move forward. (AP photo)
Well, here's some good news if you're a Jets fan looking forward to next season already. The non-division schedule is on the easy side, with games against the AFC South and NFC West on the horizon. That, in theory, should be a huge positive for a team that will undergo big changes this offseason.

The team will play the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders at home. They will play the St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers on the road.

Jets Lose To Dolphins: We Hand Out Game Falls (Holmes, Ryan, Sanchez, Mulligan, More) And Game Balls

We're handing out game balls and game falls after the Jets saw their season come to an end after an embarrassing 19-17 defeat to the Miami Dolphins Sunday. The Jets end the year with an 8-8 record, far below the Super Bowl expectations the team had prior to the season.

 The Game Falls 
Santonio Holmes shouldn't return. (AP photo)
* Santonio Holmes: If you listen to what LaDainian Tomlinson said about Holmes after the game, it's easy to discern that the receiver quit on his team. It all came to a head late in the fourth quarter, with the Jets driving on what would become a touchdown. Holmes was spotted on camera getting into an argument with another player in the huddle. The receiver was then soon on the bench, sitting alone and obviously could care less about the game. "There were guys in the huddle not happy with Santonio's demeanor throughout the game and in the two-minute drill," Tomlinson said. "And they said something to him about it."  Of course, the worst part about the whole thing is that Holmes is a team captain. We all know Holmes isn't captain-material, but this public display of individualism was unbelievable. Holmes has been a huge disappointment after signing his mega-deal this offseason. He hasn't been part of the offense at all, which could be blamed on Mark Sanchez and Brian Schottenheimer as much as him. Still, it will be hard for the Jets to welcome Holmes back next season after his embarrassing display against Miami. In fact, I don't see how Holmes can be back next season. See if there is a willing trade partner, or crunch the numbers and see if releasing him outright makes sense. Holmes is a locker room virus and can't continue to infect a still young team looking for a major rebound next season.

Jets Analysis: Sanchez Regressed, But So Did The Defense, Special Teams

Rex Ryan's defense came up small again Sunday. (AP photo)
A lot of blame has gone to the offense and quarterback Mark Sanchez for the Jets' failure to make the playoffs this season, but they weren't the only ones to come up small. The defense and the special teams each took a huge step back this season and were as much to blame for the failures as the offense.

The Jets defense was as inconsistent as a unit could be this season, playing great one week and terrible the next, much like Sanchez this season. They were made into Swiss cheese by the Eagles three weeks ago. They were great against the Giants last week for all but three plays. One of those, however, went for a 99-yard touchdown pass that killed the Jets momentum and led to a loss. Against Miami Sunday, the defense again was superb for the most part, except for one drive in the third quarter the Jets couldn't recover from. The vaunted defense allowed the pathetic Miami offense to drive 94 yards in 21 plays that took up 12:29 of the clock. That embarrassing performance was a tale of entire season for the defense.

Jets Analysis: Sanchez Regressed, But Unless Peyton Manning Becomes Available, He's Still The Team's QB

Mark Sanchez will be the Jets' quarterback next season. (AP photo)
If you take offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer out of the equation, the biggest target of criticism this season for the Jets has been quarterback Mark Sanchez. There is no doubt the third-year player has regressed this year. He also saved his worst for last, playing terribly against the Eagles, Giants and Dolphins, losing all three to turn a playoff season into an 8-8 debacle.

This season, the question has switched from Sanchez being the team's possible franchise quarterback to whether or not the Jets should cut him loose this offseason and start anew. If you look at his play this season, especially against the Giants and Dolphins, the answer would be he isn't ready to lead a franchise for the next 10 years. No way. But the answer is never that simple.

Santonio Holmes Proves He's Not Worth The Money, Nor The 'C' On His Chest After Miami Benching

Santonio Holmes had a terrible season for the Jets. (AP photo)
One of the biggest mistakes the Jets made this season with putting the "C" on Santonio Holmes' chest. The Jets wide receiver was anything but a captain or leader this season and the ultimate example of that came in the final moments of the Jets' loss to the Dolphins Sunday.

After getting into a heated argument with someone in the huddle, Holmes found himself on the bench sitting alone as the Jets were driving for what turned out to be a meaningless touchdown in a 19-17 loss.

Jets Analysis: Schottenheimer Finally Should Get Fired, Here's Who Should Take Over Jets' Offense Next Season

Norv Turner would be great as offensive coordinator. (AP photo)
If you're looking for a silver lining to the Jets embarrassing loss to the Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon that gave them zero shot to make the playoffs, it's that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will most likely be fired in the coming days. After yet another terrible offensive performance in Miami to end the season, a change has to be made.

With the playoffs on the line, Schottenheimer's offense barely had a heartbeat in three straight losses to end the season, against the Eagles, Giants and Dolphins. The game against lowly Miami was the low point, and now, unless Rex Ryan loses his mind again, Jets fans will get their wish and Schottenheimer will lose his job.

Jets Analysis: Terrible Offseason Set Table For Embarrassing Finish

Santonio Holmes was benched at the end of the game. (AP photo)
This New York Jets season was doomed to fail right from the start of the offseason. General manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan did just about everything wrong before the season started, something we here on the website called out then, saying the team was worse than it has been the previous two seasons.

They sent Damien Woody into retirement and handed the right tackle job to Wayne Hunter. They chose to make a long-term commitment to wide receiver Santonio Holmes instead of Braylon Edwards. They signed Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason to pair with Holmes and allowed Jerricho Cotchery to leave. They let Shaun Ellis, the only pass rusher the team had, sign with the Patriots. They resigned both Eric Smith and Brodney Pool at safety.