Lucas Oil Stadium on Google Maps

Will you find Andrew Luck?  Perhaps not, but Indianapolis Colts fans will have a chance to check out Lucas Oil Stadium in all its panoramic glory on Google Maps.  Visit the locker room, the Quarterback Suite and even more.  Below is a view of the field:

For more awesome 360 degree images click here

State of the Union: Fan proposals to change the NFL

Adam Schein gave his nine proposals to improve the NFL on Tuesday.  Naturally, we later turned the proverbial microphone over to the fans on Twitter to see what they thought would help improve the game we all love so much. Fans tweeted back their thoughts with #ChangeTheGame, and the response was overwhelming. Here are the best and most interesting suggestions from the NFL’s passionate, and vocal fan base.

It seems unlikely, but it’d be interesting to see how a change like this might impact the free agent market. The NFL Players Association might not go for it, however, as it could lessen the demand for the free agent players seeking big contracts.

Or maybe just have the maximum yardage amount for pass interference be 15 yards as it is in college?

Entertaining, sure, but what happens when Mike Carey is officiating? Or Tony Corrente? They probably wouldn’t stonewall as many challenges as Ed “Hercules” Hochuli.

This could improve the already impressive amount of parity in the NFL, but the downside of losing those exhilarating divisional games at the end of the year is too much for us to get behind this one.

If the science exists, it would be useful and benefit the game … until Rob Gronkowski ruins all of the sensors with his touchdown spikes.

This idea has been discussed before, even on this very site. But does the rest of the league really want to give Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers 35 more yards of field to work with? Probably not.

Share the rest of your suggestions by using #ChangeTheGame on Twitter!

Elite Quarterbacks in the NFL

Who are the elite quarterbacks in the NFL? It’s the debate that never stops. Every year fans and pundits alike try to add in a new name, or keep one out. While there is no clear definition of what makes a quarterback “elite,” the research gurus here at NFL.com compiled statistics for every current starting quarterback in the NFL to see who rose to the top in several marquee categories.

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Statistics – Did they lead the league this year?

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The Elite:

1-1

The Breakdown:

Starting QBs that are in the top 20 Passer Rating: 

Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cam Newton, Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman, Robert Griffin III

And also the top 14 most passing yards: 

Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman

And also the top 10 fewest interceptions: 

Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford

And also the top five most touchdown passes:

Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Eli Manning

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The 49ers celebrate going to the Super Bowl on Instagram

The San Francisco 49ers are heading to their first Super Bowl since 1995 with a 28-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons. We found some Instagram images of the players celebrating their trip to New Orleans.

Instagram: @kylewilliams_10

Instagram: @kylewilliams_10

Instagram: @kingcrab

Instagram: @kingcrab

Instagram: @cullyinthehouse

Instagram: @cullyinthehouse

Instagram: @cullyinthehouse

Instagram: @cullyinthehouse

Instagram: @patricklwillis

Instagram: @patricklwillis

The Rewind: Championship Sunday

Nothing like getting ready for the NFC and AFC Championship games with our exciting trailers. The NFC trailer is above, and you can watch the AFC trailer here.

Now that you’re pumped up and ready for some football, here’s what else we put together to get you ready for Sunday:

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A Brief History of the USFL

Ask the average fan for their thoughts on the United States Football League and you’ll likely get a shrug and this response, “That ‘He Hate Me’ was kind of cool.”

And then fire up the Kenny Loggins because they just entered the ‘danger zone’ of my blind rage.

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The NFL “Goat Guide” for championship weekend

0_GOAT_

Year after year, when a team loses a big game the fans, and sometimes players, anoint a scapegoat, or more simply a goat, to carry the blame. Last year’s round of championship games feature three such goats that earned the ire of their teams’ fan bases: Kyle Williams, Billy Cundiff, and Lee Evans to be specific. So let’s take a look and see what each of those players are up to as we anxiously await this year’s championship slate while also taking a look ahead at who has the best chance of earning the “goat” title for 2012.

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Ranking the 2011 Goats

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#1 – Kyle Williams

Poor, poor Kyle Williams. Your team makes it to the conference championship and you accidentally touch the football on a punt in the fourth quarter, giving it to the Giants. Oh, and then you fumble again in overtime after your defense stopped Eli Manning not once, but twice, giving him a short field for the game-winning field goal.

Current Status: Still a 49er, but on IR after a torn ACL and the beginning of a bounce-back season.

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The Unexpected (and expected) for the divisional round: Kaepernicking is the new Tebowing

The elite eight in the NFL have now been whittled down to four. After a weekend full of remarkable games, the San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, and New England Patriots emerged victorious. But before we can look ahead to championship weekend, we need to look at what was unexpected (and expected) from the divisional playoffs.

Let’s go.

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The Rewind: Divisional Round content

Welcome to the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs!

12 teams entered, eight teams remain. So it’s not quite the Thunderdome, but the competition will be fierce. To highlight the series of great matchups this weekend and recap the games from last week, take a look at the content we whipped up for your reading pleasure.

DIVISIONAL ROUND CONTENT:

Super Bowl Superstitions – We look at a potential curse keeping each divisional team from reaching the Super Bowl.

Seattle vs. Atlanta – Which team has been more tortured from a sports perspective? Adam Rank has the answer.

Who is the best QB from the Green Bay vs. San Francisco rivalry? – Adam Rank breaks down the best quarterbacks from the bays.

Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck in the playoffs – Brady and Belicheck make their 10th trip to the playoffs on Sunday night. Check out how they’ve fared over the years.

 

WILD CARD CONTENT

Curse, Coincidence or Superstition – What crazy jinxes may have conspired to spell victory or defeat for the wild card teams? Find out here.

The Expected (and unexpected) for Wild Card weekend – Check out the absurdities that went down in the wild card matchups.

24 Hours in D.C. – With the Ravens and Redskins hosting playoff games last Sunday, the capitol region was the center of the football world.

 

The Unexpected (and expected) for Wild Card weekend

Playoffs?!?! Playoffs?!?!

That’s right, the NFL playoffs are finally here. Wild Card weekend came and passed without too much hubbub, as three of the four games didn’t quite live up to the billing. Nevertheless, there were plenty of surprises as usual. So, let’s get to the unexpected (and expected) for Wild Card weekend.

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The Rewind: NFL Wild Card Weekend content

We hope everyone has had a chance to recover from New Years’ Eve, and settle into those resolutions, as the NFL playoffs are finally upon us. To help get you prepped for the Wild Card games this weekend, or pass the time until your team takes the field, check out the wealth of prime content we’ve put together for your enjoyment:

WILD CARD WEEKEND:

The Cardboard Bio – Ray Lewis – Check out Ray Lewis’ Hall of Fame career profiled through five of his best football cards.

NFL Playoffs bandwagon guide for dejected fans – Your team is done? Check out our guide to find out who else to root for during the playoffs.

Gridiron Breakdown: RG3 vs. Russell Wilson – Adam Rank takes a look at how the two rookies stack up head-to-head (no height pun intended).

The last time the Bengals won a playoff game… - The year was 1990, and this is what it looked like.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers – Check out this infographic loaded with stats about the bitter rivalry.

ROOKIE QBS:

QB (R)evolution – The three rookies are helping redefine what it means to play quarterback today. Find out how.

Moments that defined the rookie QBs – Andrew Luck, RG3, and Russell Wilson have had remarkable seasons, but what moments stood out for each?

Rookie Wingmen – Find out which other rookies played key roles in the rookie QBs’ run to the playoffs.

Numerology with Luck, RG3, and Wilson – See how the rookie QBs stacked up against each other by the numbers.

EVERYTHING ELSE:

Top 5 most annoying types of NFL fans – You’ve met all of these people at some point this season… find out which type of fan is the most annoying.

Pick Six: Rookie Seasons – Adam Rank profiles the best rookie seasons across all major sports.

Unexpected (and expected) for week 17: Hide that flag! – Everything that surprised us and made us smile from week 17.

2012 NFL-ballooza: Our year in review – 2012 came to a close, so we recapped the best of the best from the NFL.

Black Monday edition: Curse, Coincidence, or Superstition – Seven coaches received the ax on “Black Monday.” See what craziness may have conspired to end their tenures.

The Cardboard Bio – Ray Lewis

Hey, you might have missed this story but Ray Lewis is going to retire. Yes, you can take a moment if you need it. I understand this will come as a complete shock to you.

All kidding aside, Lewis is one of the most revered players in the NFL right now, as you can tell by the outpouring from players, fans and coaches over the past couple of days. Here’s a look back at Lewis’ career through his football cards.
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1996  Upper Deck Collector’s Choice #20

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LewisRay96Rookie

It’s hard to imagine Ray Lewis as a college player. You have to go way back. If you want to feel old, consider Lewis was college teammates with Warren Sapp and The Rock.

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NFL Playoffs Bandwagon Guide for Dejected Fans

bandwagon-130103-blog

NFL.com Illustration

Have the NFL playoffs started with your favorite team left out in the cold? Well, have no fear. You can shamelessly join the bandwagon of one of the 12 remaining teams in the playoffs. Not sure who you want to be a fan of for the next month? No worries, you can follow our easy-to-use guide for choosing your new favorite team. Welcome to bandwagon fandom. All aboard!

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Cincinnati Bengals – Young talent dominates this roster, so if you want to root for the team that’s fighting an uphill battle, go for the Bengals. The Dalton to Green combo will be one to watch for years to come, so why not be on the right side of that connection if they make a Super Bowl run? If you’re a fan of defense, there are few units playing better than the Bengals right now.

Who should root for the Bengals?

Bills fans. Both A.J. Green and Andy Dalton were on the board in the 2011 draft when Buffalo selected in the first and second rounds. Might as well live vicariously through their success (or failure) and see what life might have been like had your team drafted differently.

 

Houston Texans – The Texans are a team with a chip on their shoulder.  With the way they’ve struggled as of late, losing three of the last four after an 11-1 start, a first round exit is preordained.  Or is it?  The Texans still have two of the best players on offense with receiver Andre Johnson and running back  Arian Foster.  And Watts not to like on defense.  With Foster and Watt, General Maximus Decimus Meridius’s eternal question will be not only answered, but fulfilled.

Who should root for the Texans?

Lions fans. Thanksgiving day.  Challenge flags. Suh kicks. Penance.

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Green Bay Packers – Excitement is just a play away with Aaron Rodgers and his crop of talented receivers. Charles Woodson returns from a broken collarbone for another quest for a Lombardi trophy. And the Packers are the league’s only community owned team, so if you like rooting for the little guys, the Packers are your team.

Who should root for the Packers?

Titans fans. That way, if the Packers win the Super Bowl you can blame that 55-7 whooping they gave you in weak 16 as “getting beat by the Super Bowl champions.” Not that it’ll make the loss any easier, but every little bit helps.

 

Minnesota Vikings

Who really believed in the Vikings before the season started? Nobody believed in this team. No seriously. But here are some reasons to believe. Adrian Peterson is having the most incredible year maybe in NFL history. A feel-good story of a guy who has rebounded from a devastating injury. No one should forget about Jared Allen, one of the most engaging personalities in the NFL.

Vikings fans have no Super Bowls to speak of. The threat of relocation hung over their heads for a few years now. This is a special run for them and maybe you if you choose.

Who should root for the Vikings?

Raiders fans. Remember when you guys passed over Peterson for JaMarcus Russell? You can live vicariously through Peterson right now. Wait, why are you laughing Cardinals fans?

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Indianapolis Colts

Well, you really don’t need any more justification to jump on the Colts bandwagon, other than Chuck Strong. The sentimental favorite of not just football fans, but of anybody with a beating heart. Even if your favorite team loses to the Colts, you will still say things like, “Well, if my team couldn’t win it, I’m glad it was the Colts.”

Who should root for the Colts:

Those whose teams have already been eliminated.

 

 

Baltimore Ravens – The return of Ray Lewis from injury to make one last one at greatness before retiring should be all the reason you need to tune in. But then we also have Ray Rice being the little engine that could drive the Ravens to the Super Bowl. It could be a great year for Ray’s in Baltimore, so why not get on the bandwagon with them. Especially if your name happens to be Ray.

Who should root for the Ravens?

Jaguars fans. Because if Joe Flacco can win a Super Bowl, then Chad Henne and the rest of the 2008 QB class might just have a chance!

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Seattle Seahawks

Seattle lost its basketball team, only to have it resurface in Oklahoma City, Ichiro was sent off to the New York Yankees, and a few years back, they had to endure the indignity of a past-his-prime Jerry Rice and his audacity to ask Steve Largent to pull his No. 80 out of the rafters. But we’ve lost our place. This year Seattle is different.

You’ll hear this a lot during the postseason, but in any other year, Wilson would be regarded as a shoe-in for the rookie of the year. He’s joined by Marshawn Lynch, one of the rare running backs who got a hefty payday and then went out and exceeded expectations. Additionally, let’s not fail to mention Pete Carroll.  We understand, he’s not for everybody, but there’s a joy in the way he coaches.  Most importantly,  they play grunge rock before they go to commercial break during their games.

Who should root for the Seahawks?

San Diego Chargers fans. The old AFC West rivalry is a thing of the past, and let’s stick with the West Coast team.

 

Washington Redskins – RG3. Need I say more? Ok, I will. If you’re a fan of ingenuity, the Redskins are your team for how they retooled their offense to play to RG3’s strengths. Add in the Alfred Morris element, and London Fletcher’s quest for another ring and this is a team full of intrigue. And definitely one you can get behind in the postseason.

Who should root for the Redskins?

Cardinals fans, to increase the likelihood of Kyle Shanahan and Kirk Cousins coming to Arizona in the offseason. A deep playoff run would likely help Cardinals brass believe more in the young Shanahan, and with Andy Reid eyeing up the barbecue… and team in Kansas City, a coach-QB tandem like Shanahan and Cousins would be tempting.

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Atlanta Falcons – Tony Gonzalez.  He’s played in three decades and simply been the best at his position.  Now at age 36, Gonzalez may still be at the top of his game, but how many shots does he still have left at winning a Superbowl.  The Falcons have floundered in the playoffs the last few years, but this may finally be the year they fly above the post-season mediocrity.

Who should root for the Falcons? 

Chiefs fans. With all the years Tony Gonzalez played on the Chiefs, it’s an easy fit. Plus with the number one pick, Chiefs fans can only imagine they’ll draft a player as good as Gonzalez.

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San Francisco 49ers – According to our friend Ben, a die-hard 49ers fans, our fair weather loyalty should be promised to San Francisco for one reason only.  Tradition.  Can’t hurt to cheer for winners.  Although, he prefaced that Colin Kapernick and Michael Crabtree are no Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. They do have Aldon Smith and eight other Pro Bowlers.  And let’s not forget, the greatest co-star in Saved By the Bell history, Jim Harbaugh.

Who should root for the 49ers? 

Giants fans. Because deep in their hearts Giants fans know they own the 49ers.  Week Six when they clobbered them 26-3 to last year’s NFC title game.  It’s solace and satisfaction.

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New England Patriots

Yes, to root for the Patriots is akin to cheering for the Empire in the “Star Wars” movies, but some segment of the population enjoys dressing up like Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. Of all the Boston teams, they are the least objectionable. We know, it’s kind of like trying to figure out which John Cena movie is your favorite. And Tom Brady. Yes, the world has turned on Brady in recent years because he has a supermodel wife and his team had a lot of success on the field. But he’s still the same sixth-round guy who fought for his playing time at Michigan instead of transferring and became an overnight sensation.

Who should root for the Patriots:

Former Los Angeles Rams fans for completing a So-Cal sweep in 2001. In one playoff run, the Patriots knocked off the Raiders and the former Rams. Probably about as close as we’ll get to a Super Bowl title around these parts.

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Denver Broncos – No matter where you stand, Peyton Manning’s comeback story is amazing.  And not only has it been an epic return, he’s actually gotten better.  The Denver Broncos are the hottest team in the NFL. With a vaunted defense led by Von Miller, the Broncos are the ticket you need to buy, the wagon you need to hitch. Plus,  no more Tebow.

Who should root for the Broncos?  

Jets fans.  This fan base prides itself on its masochistic desire to suffer. So, why not become a fan of the team that has the quarterback you wanted to sign and is the former home of the quarterback you got stuck with?

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Compiled by:

Alex Gelhar @alexgelhar

Adam Rank @adamrank

Amar Shah @amarshahism

Moments that defined them: Andrew Luck, RG3, Russell Wilson

Magic Johnson’s ‘baby hook’ in the 1985 NBA Finals. Reggie Jackson‘s three home runs in the World Series. Muhammad Ali with the knockout of Sonny Liston. These were moments when men went from good to great.

The story of the 2012 NFL season can’t be told without the dominating narrative of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. Each of these players had their specific situation when they went from ordinary rookie to extraordinary quarterback.

Here’s a look at the moments that defined these rookie quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL season.

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Andrew Luck: Week 13
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The Lions led the Colts 33-21 after Jason Hanson’s field goal late in the fourth quarter. The Colts had already secured the title for sentimental champions of the year for the way they competed. Luck was not satisfied with moral victories, however.

Despite having tossed three interceptions already, Luck was undaunted as he drove the Colts down for the winning touchdown. Take a look at his often overlooked athleticism on display.

Luck’s fourth touchdown of the game gave the Colts a 35-33 win.

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Robert Griffin III: Week 7
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Some might say the Redskins’ win over the Eagles in Week 11 might have been the defining moment. And I get that. But the way RG3 rallied the Skins in the final minutes against the defending champions, on the road, was much more of a “holy (expletive)” moment.

And really, it’s not his fault the Redskins defense let him down, either. If the Redskins defense does its job, there’s no point when Mike Shanahan throws in the towel.

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Russell Wilson: Week 13
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Wilson was a nice story, but many dismissed him as they said, “He only wins at home.” Wilson changed all of that with a win on the road in Chicago. A win that would ultimately cost the Bears a playoff spot.

Here, Wilson gives the Seahawks the lead over the Bears.

And here, Wilson leads the Seahawks to the win in overtime.

Hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook (oh wait, I told you to stop going to Facebook). Go instead to Google+.
Also be sure to catch the latest “Dave Dameshek Football Program.”

Top 5 most annoying types of NFL fans

Well, well, well, another NFL season is in the books which means it is now a time for reflection. But I’m not talking about reflecting on your team’s performance, their chances in 2013, or anything of that ilk. I’m talking about discussing a more interesting, incendiary, and pervasive topic – NFL fans. That’s right, it’s time to turn your hyper-critical eyes onto yourselves for a few moments. In preparation for the postseason, I present you a list of the five most annoying types of NFL fans you probably encountered this season. Keep in mind, this is not an indictment of any specific team’s fan base, but rather certain types of fans that populate every stadium, bar, and Buffalo Wild Wings from sea to shining sea. Here we go.

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5) The Bandwagon jumper

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Bandwagon jumper

Few things are as obnoxious as a fan of one team jumping ship to root passionately for another team either during the season, or in the playoffs. Thankfully, the NFL has fans devoted enough to their franchises that this typically doesn’t happen, but when it does, it’s revolting. Speaking of bandwagons, if your team is already out and you are looking for a cozy bandwagon to board, we will be putting together a handy guide to help your wayward fandom find a home. Even though it pains us to do so. Check back in with the Sidelines Blog later this week for the guide. Or just suck it up, enjoy the playoffs, and cheer for your team next year. Your call.

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