Thursday, October 30, 2014

Which Surprising NFL Leaders Could Actually Contend for the Super Bowl?

With the 2014 NFL season reaching its halfway point this week, we’ve got a good sense of which teams are contending vs. which teams are already eyeing top draft picks next spring.  However, as is usually the case in these parity-driven league, several teams have come out and surprised us with brilliant starts to the year.  Sure, we expected the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots to be pretty good (as they are nearly every year), but who would have predicted hot starts for the Arizona CardinalsDetroit LionsDallas Cowboys, and Buffalo Bills?  With solid winning records and with fans’ hopes building, can one of these teams continue their hot streak on to wining the Super Bowl?

The short answer is no, and there’s countless reasons why.  Each of these teams have marginal quarterbacks at the helm.  One could try and argue that Tony Romo and Carson Palmer are elite given their statistics or that Matthew Stafford remains one of the game’s best young quarterback prospects, but none of these guys have had any real success in the playoffs.  And while Kyle Orton has played exceptional in several games for the Bills, we should know by now that he is little more than a serviceable backup.  Let’s see how his numbers last over the course of the year.

The one player truly capable of becoming elite is Stafford with the Lions.  Featuring Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush on offense, you’d think he’d be able to do it and at age 26 he still has room to grow and develop, but the Lions unfortunately have a knack for losing that is seemingly running rampant throughout the entire city of Detroit.  While they managed a playoff appearance in 2010 (which ended in the first round), they have become perennial late-season swooners.  Last season the Lions were 6-3 before stuttering to a 7-9 record.  In 2012 they were a respectable 4-4 before losing 8 straight and finishing 4-12.  This is a team that tends to run out of steam when the games begin to matter most! 

Meanwhile the Bills have also grown notorious for poor play, having not reached the NFL playoffs since 1999 (due in large part to the Patriots’ success).  They last teased their fans in 2011 by starting off 5-2 before succumbing to a 6-10 finish.  And then there’s the Cowboys, whose 8-8 record for 3 years running has been maddening to fans.  They seem to live for getting hopes up only to crush them with a late-season falter.  Romo seems to have all the skills but he folds under pressure.  At 34, the chance of him finally getting it right is fleeting at best.
Similarly, the Cardinals’ 34 year-old Carson Palmer has also been just a better-than average QB during his career, putting up solid numbers for the Cincinnati Bengals but never quite achieving greatness.  However, this is the team I see most likely to actually contend for the Super Bowl should the stars align.  The Cardinals got the short end of the stick last season and missed out on the playoffs despite a 10-6 record.  They are hungry and have proven that in the young season, claiming victories against the San Diego Chargers, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Philadelphia Eagles.  They will have a tough end to the year facing the 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks in successive weeks, though if they come through that test, look out!

For me, the challenge about a surprise team winning the Super Bowl is that they lack playoff experience.  Recent Super Bowl champs have all had unsuccessful playoff runs in previous years, but that experience helped them later on.  For example, the Seahawks won a wildcard game in 2012 before losing in the divisional round.  The next season they built off of that success and won the Super Bowl.  For teams like the Lions, Bills, Cardinals, and Cowboys, their last trips to the playoffs were so long ago that many of the core players really can’t understand the magnitude of such games.  As a result, should any of these teams reach the postseason, they’ll probably fall short and lose.  The best bet would be a solid, winning year to build up for a serious run at the Super Bowl in 2015.

No matter which NFL team you root for, AAA Sports Memorabilia has a collectible for you.  We specialize in authentic autographed sports memorabilia, display cases (made in the USA), and officially licensed sports collectibles.  We have every team and your favorite athlete.  Visit us today and visit us often as we are always adding new collectibles.

Monday, October 20, 2014

2014 World Series Preview: Momentum versus Experience

In stunning fashion, two wildcard teams have now reached the 2014 World Series.  The surprising Kansas City Royals and the budding dynasty of the San Francisco Giants will meet for the Fall Classic, and it has all the makings of an enticing competition to determine baseball’s world champion!  Neither team has exceptional superstars, and yet here we are in late October with these bunches of over-performing players ready to embrace immortality and a World Series title.

For the Royals, the team is built around a tremendous bullpen and a bunch of speedy runners capable of stealing bases in the blink of an eye.  Meanwhile the Giants have a more balanced squad and the experience of winning two World Series in the last several years.

For me the key will be Kansas City’s questionable starting pitching.  Both James Shields and Yordano Ventura haven’t quite played to their best while only Jason Vargas has been impressive.  If the Giants can get up early in games, they may be able to win this series.  However, if Shields finally plays to his true value, the Royals may just claim a title in their first postseason trip since 1985.

In many ways, most casual baseball fans will be hoping for the Royals to win this Series.  They’ve endured so many disappointing seasons and there really is the feeling that this will be their only chance for many years.  They’ve earned their place here with a late-season surge and have gone undefeated in these playoffs.  If momentum is any guide, the Royals should be well on their way.

But if anyone can overcome a hot team it’s the Giants.  They’ve won 9 straight postseason series and have won the World Series twice in the last four years!  Starters Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, and Jake Peavy have pitched marvelously while their bullpen is no slouch either.

Hitting wise the teams are quite evenly matched.  While the Royals lacked power in the regular season, their big bats have come alive in the playoffs, especially that of Mike Moustakas, who has 4 postseason home runs.  The Giants have good hitters too, and anyone with a decent memory can recall the glorious blasts by Pablo Sandoval in the team’s recent championships.

All in all, this is a tremendously matched World Series and could very well go either way.  While my heart wants to see the Kansas City Royals win an unexpected title, I think the current dynasty of the San Francisco Giants will continue, largely due to their remarkable starting pitchers.  Everyone knows that pitching wins titles, not stolen bases.  It has been a remarkable run by the Royals, and their momentum could definitely push them ahead, perhaps even leading them to a sweep, but I think that the Giants are simply the better team.  Remember that they have only lost two games in these playoffs and are on quite a hot streak as well.  The 2014 MLB season certainly has been a special one and it’s coming to a tremendous close.  I think the Giants will get to have the last laugh though, and they will win it all in 7 games!

Doesn't matter which team you are rooting for to win the World Series, we have collectibles for both the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants.  Our autographed memorabilia is guaranteed for life to be authentic as they are obtained from the most trusted sports companies in the industry and our autographs are done during paid private signings with the athletes.  We also carry officially licensed sports collectibles and display cases for all MLB teams.  New products are added regularly so visit us often to see what is new.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Are the Dallas Cowboys Really Ready to Contend for a Super Bowl?

The Dallas Cowboys are one of the great enigmas of professional football.  The type of team that often wows fans before its annual late-season collapse, folks in Dallas are collectively holding their breath, cautiously optimistic in order to avoid a massive embarrassment should the currently 5-1 Cowboys fail to capitalize on their bright start to the NFL season.  But, with the league so wide open and with Tony Romo’s maturity beginning to flourish, could the team stun the NFL and actually win the Super Bowl?

The championship hopes for Dallas rest largely on the shoulders of Tony Romo, which is normal for any football team as the quarterback position is by far the most important.  While fans and media were largely critical of the massive $100 million contract given to Romo last year, he has responded with great play.  Right now his quarterback rating is a solid 100.5, which is only bettered by guys like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Philip Rivers.  It’s also worth noting that such a rating is currently higher than Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady.  If he continues at this pace, the Cowboys will certainly contend.
However, the big issue with Romo is his tendency to collapse in high-pressure situations.  The shining moment of Romo’s career is still his botched field goal hold in the playoffs of 2007, when the Cowboys lost to the Seattle Seahawks.

He did largely rectify the situation with a big win in Seattle this past weekend, defeating the reigning Super Bowl champions on their home turf and playing exceptionally well in the process however.
But a big part of this team’s success falls on their offensive line and their star running back DeMarco Murray, whose 785 yards leads the league by over 200 yards.  We will have to wait and see how he holds up over the full season as he is getting far more carries than any other back, but considering his success it appears to be well worth it.

With this potent and generally safe attack, the average defense currently employed by the Cowboys needs to merely slow opponents down and avoid major errors.  They are ranked pretty middle of the road, but with this impressive offense a title is certainly a possibility in Big D.

The issue falls back to Tony Romo and what might happen in the playoffs.  He’s only played in 4 such games and owns a 1-3 record.  His last playoff appearance was over 5 years ago, and the reason he hasn’t been back is because he stutters when games seem to matter most.  Performing in the clutch is what often separates the greats from the almosts, and until Tony Romo proves himself, those questions about his massive contract will linger.
The other problem for the Cowboys is that their division harbors another 5-1 team, the Philadelphia Eagles.  While such a matchup is going to set up an exciting NFC East race, it does lead to a strong potential for the Cowboys to end up with just a wildcard spot and a tricky road to the Super Bowl.

The fate of the 2014 Dallas Cowboys seems to be bright, but it’s going to be determined late in the season.  Once again, hopes are growing (as they should for any 5-1 team), but we will have to wait and see whether Dallas will get over the hump and win the big games.

AAA Sports Memorabilia has a great selection of Dallas Cowboys sports memorabilia.  Our autographed memorabilia is guaranteed for life to be authentic and our memorabilia comes from the most trusted companies in the industry.  We also have a great selection of display cases (made in the USA) and non-autographed sports collectibles.  New product is added regularly so check us out often to see what is new.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The 2014 MLB Playoffs Are Upon Us: Who Will Win in October?

October has finally arrived, meaning that baseball will once again take center stage as cool fall nights are warmed up with the tense playoff encounters between baseball’s best teams.  In a strange twist of fate, neither the Boston Red Sox nor the New York Yankees will take any part in the affairs; a reality not seen since 1993!  But in regards to the teams that actually will be a part of the 2014 MLB Playoffs, there should definitely be a lot to excite the fans!
First up will be the single game wildcard matches between the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics in the American League, and a game between the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League.  While the concept of both team’s playoff hopes residing on the outcome of a lone game is quite enticing and does make an excellent way to kick start the tournament, it will surely be a quick and brutal ending to be eliminated so soon for the eventual losers.

But that’s how life is when you don’t win your division, and for this reason I really don’t suspect any of the wildcard teams to contend for the 2014 World Series.  Looking ahead to the later rounds of the playoffs, I think the American League will be won by the Los Angeles Angels.  While they have endured more than their fair share of injuries to key players, the cogs of a championship-winning side are well in place.  Albert Pujols represents the mature veteran with World Series experience while Mike Trout has proven to be baseball’s next slugger.  Only 23, he is young and has yet to taste the playoffs, but fortunately a proven star like Pujols will be able to guide him along.

With regards to pitching, they have two of the crucial positions covered.  Jered Weaver is a true ace while closer Huston Street has been dominant with a 1.37 ERA.  Such a threat in the 9th inning sends absolute fear in the minds of opponents and is a crucial ingredient to postseason success.  The injury to Garrett Richards was unfortunate, but so long as Matt Shoemaker and C.J. Wilson can put together several good outings on the mound, I suspect the Angels will reach the World Series.

Once there, I think the team ready to meet them will be none other than cross-town rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, setting up a classic Freeway Series for the title!  Here’s why:

Spending Yankees’ levels of money, the Dodgers are loaded.  They have two ace pitchers in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.  While injuries have also struck down upon this team, prematurely ending Josh Beckett’s fine comeback season, the Dodgers should be alright, especially if Hyun-Jin Ryu is able to pitch in the postseason.  Their closer Jansen Kenley has served them well too.

Hitting wise, the Dodgers have one of the deepest lineups in baseball.  Nearly all of their starters are batting near .300 and big time hitters like Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, and Matt Kemp can crush the ball.  Speedy guys like Dee Gordon and Carl Crawford can round the bases can and score runs.  Such production is key against top pitchers in the playoffs where a single run can decide an entire series!  Top to bottom the most talented roster in the Majors, I suspect that the Los Angeles Dodgers will reach the 2014 World Series and will go on to win it.

AAA Sports Memorabilia has a great selection of sports collectibles for each of these teams and for those teams that are not in the playoffs.  Come check us out to see what we have for your favorite team.  Our autographed memorabilia is obtained through private paid signings and are guaranteed for life.  Our product line changes regularly so visit us often.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Which 1-2 NFL Teams Have a Hope of Reaching the Playoffs?

Oh the perils of your favorite NFL team getting off to a poor start! For every team savoring in their early good fortune this season, there are equal numbers of team feeling quite the opposite; battered and bruised after several losses and unsure of where to turn for hope in the duration of this season. And while I’d be expecting the worst for any team that has started 0-3 (Oakland RaidersJacksonville Jaguars, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers), for those 1-2 teams there is still a small hope of salvaging this season, but they’ll need to pick up their game in a hurry.

While there are some of the typically poor teams currently sitting at 1-2, there are also several usually strong teams who were even involved in the playoffs last year that have gotten off to bad starts. These surprising poor starters include the Green Bay Packers, the San Francisco 49ers, the Indianapolis Colts, the New Orleans Saints, and the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s nearly half of last season’s playoff teams now suffering below .500!
In my mind these are the teams most likely to rescue their seasons. And history actually beckons warmly for several of them, including the Packers and 49ers, who both started 1-2 last year only to resurrect their hopes and make a strong playoff push.

The key ingredient for such teams is in how they finish the season, not how they’ve started it. Football teams are an organic being, as injuries, player development, and unforeseen future obstacles can alter a team’s shape and style immensely over the course of the year. NFL rosters look very different in September than they do in January and it’s the teams that can handle such change effectively that do well in the later months and typically end up claiming a playoff spot. Unquestionably, a great quarterback can also go a long way to leading a team back from a poor start to a potentially championship-winning season.

Each of the 1-2 teams I mentioned carries great starting quarterbacks (including Aaron Rodgers, Colin Kaepernick, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, and Alex Smith) and this is why they still have hope. Other 1-2 teams that I wouldn’t expect to hear much of a whimper from are the Miami Dolphins, the New York Jets, the Cleveland Browns, the Minnesota Vikings, the Tennessee Titans, the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins, and the St. Louis Rams. These teams look to lack any sort of presence on the field and have been pretty marginable for years. Their poor records are due to simple lack of talent.

But for the better teams, they’ve just not clicked into high gear or have been unfortunate in the couple of key plays that can often decide a game one way or the other. Another thing to realize is that 1-2 is just a single game away from 2-1. A play here and there could have made the difference, and I’m sure you’ll find that most fans of 2-1 teams are more than satisfied with their seasons’ beginnings.

As the NFL season wears on, those slight hiccups or mistaken plays will carry less weight as the true contenders of the league emerge and get their needed wins. While I certainly wouldn’t be expecting a Super Bowl following two early losses for teams like the Packers, Chiefs, Colts, 49ers, or Saints, I think it’s far too early to be writing them off as has-beens or incapable of salvaging the season. In many cases they’ve done it before and these specific teams certainly have the talent capable to make a serious run at their respective divisions. But be careful, with their collective poor starts, I would only suspect 2 or 3 of these teams manage to right the ship and make the playoffs this year…

No matter which NFL team you root for, AAA Sports Memorabilia has an enormous selection of sports collectibles for your favorite team.  Whether you are looking for an autographed collectible for your favorite athlete or a non-autographed collectible, we have what you are looking for.  We also carry display cases that are built by hand right here in the USA.  Check us out weekly as we are always adding new product.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Which MLB Playoff Races will come Down to the Wire?

It’s practically an inevitable occurrence within the current landscape of professional baseball; each and every year there are several MLB division races that go down to the last day. Meanwhile, the wildcard race can also crack the playoff door open for several lucky teams while leaving others ruthlessly out of the glorious postseason that encompasses baseball and reminds us why this sport truly is America’s sport. Like any other, this year figures to be a tight contest all the way to the end! Here’s some of the more enticing MLB playoff races on the horizon and how I expect them to pan out:

The AL Central – While the Cleveland Indians seem to be fading and fading fast, the main culprits are going head to head, tooth and nail to the final day! The free-spending Detroit Tigers are the clear choice to win based on their roster and pre-season hopes, but the Kansas City Royals could be the surprise team of the year, and are currently right on their heels. James Shields has been his usual tremendous self, but the collective hitting and unity has seen the Royals play far beyond their talent and has brought about a new level of belief. While everyone is rooting for them, who knows if they’ll be able to muster enough wins to overtake Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera, and the rest of the tremendous Tigers. The upcoming 3-game duel between these two clubs this weekend could decide the AL Central division’s fate, though the wildcard certainly presents an outlet for either team, but both know that facing an entire season’s hopes on one game is certainly far from ideal... These teams will desperately want to claim the division. I think the Royals will do it.

The NL West – Between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants a tremendous west coast rivalry has been simmering for years. But while the Dodgers have been spending big to recruit top players in the last few seasons, the Giants are the one with two recent World Series Championships. Nevertheless, with guys like Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, and Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers are rapidly becoming the team to beat and have been getting hot just in time to claim the division and potentially start a deep playoff run. Meanwhile, the Giants with Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, and Madison Bumgarner actually have a proven track record of getting hot just in time for the MLB playoffs. The pinnacle series will be early next week between the two sides and could decide their fates, leaving the loser in the dreaded wildcard match. The Dodgers look too good to mess this up, and I suspect they may win it all.

It’ll be interesting to see how these teams fare once the playoffs begin. While other baseball clubs may benefit from being able to rest their players in the last few weeks of the season, teams like the Dodgers, Giants, Royals, and Tigers could benefit from the momentum gained by winning such a tight race. By the time the October playoffs arrive, they’ll be hardened by a full month of living on the edge and could be better equipped to handle the playoff pressure. As such, the winners of these close divisions might just be hoisting the World Series trophy at the end of it all!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

NFL Season Picks Up Right Where it Left Off Last Season

The wonderful thing about the NFL is that with the worst teams getting the top draft picks, and with the inclusion of the salary cap, predicting who will remain dominant from one year to the next is a very inexact science.  Once great teams can implode very quickly while a “worst to first” occurrence in one of the NFL divisions seems to happen annually.  However, after watching week 1 of the 2014 NFL season, it seems like this year has picked up right where we left off from a year ago, with little substantial change.
In short, both Super Bowl participants of last year won big.  The Seattle Seahawks’ tough defense beat up on the Green Bay Packers (whose weak defense continues to look shaky).  Meanwhile, Peyton Manning and his high-octane Denver Broncos offense looked tremendous (even without the suspended Wes Welker) once again in their victory over his former team, the Indianapolis Colts.  However, the Colts still looked competitive, as Andrew Luck nearly pulled off a comeback reminiscent of his heroics last season in the NFL playoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs.  However, against a top-level team like the Broncos, his efforts weren’t enough.

Elsewhere, most of last season’s playoff teams won last week, including the Carolina Panthers, the Cincinnati Bengals, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Philadelphia Eagles.  A few surprises did rattle our predicting senses, like the Miami Dolphins tremendous comeback victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and the Tennessee Titans dominating the Chiefs, who’s poor form late last season seems to have continued.
Largely though, it was the same players kicking off the year in the fashion we’ve grown used to.  The Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo continued to throw the ball (and the game) away to the defense with 3 interceptions, the San Diego Chargers found a way to ruin a strong lead over the Arizona Cardinals, and the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints battled to an exciting, close game which Matt Ryan and the Falcons won.

And unfortunately, the typical lowest of the low NFL teams continued their atrocious form, reminding fans that they are still paltry teams that shouldn’t even dream of glory; see the Oakland RaidersJacksonville JaguarsCleveland BrownsSt. Louis Rams, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But what does warmly breathe new life for football fans is that the sport has officially returned.  Yes, your specific team may still be dealing with the frustrations of the past and a rather bleak outlook, but at least your Sunday afternoons have returned to normal with all the games on display!

And who knows, there are still 15 games for each team to decide their fate.  The great thing about the NFL season is that teams can easily overcome a loss by proving the doubters wrong the next week by winning and changing their fortunes.  The real drama of the season will arrive come December, when the playoff contending teams must get their acts together and earn vital wins.  But those days are still a long ways away.  For now, it’s time to simply enjoy the action because while half the teams lost their openers, the season still beckons brightly for everyone….Except the Rams…losing Sam Bradford to an ACL again is just tragic!

No matter which NFL team you root for, AAA Sports Memorabilia has a great collectible for you.  We specialize in authentic autographed sports memorabilia for all professional sports along with officially licensed sports collectibles.  Our collection is huge online and we have even more off line, so if you can't find what you are looking for, just let us know.  Our autographed memorabilia is guaranteed for life to be authentic as they come from the most trusted companies in the industry.  After you find your next collectible, make sure you display it with pride in one of our USA made display cases.  Visit us often as we add new collectibles weekly.