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Claude Humphrey, Ray Guy named 2014 Senior Hall of Fame candidates

With the class of 2013 enshrined in Canton, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s senior committee Wednesday got started on naming its class of 2014.

Ray Guy, the Oakland punter who earned seven Pro Bowl nominations, three First Team All Pro awards and spots on both the team of the 1970s and the 75th anniversary team, was joined by Atlanta defensive end Claude Humphrey, a six-time Pro Bowler who was All Pro twice in his 13 years.

Guy has been a finalist seven times. He is bound to be the more controversial of the two candidates because he is a punter. Supporters say his ability to boom high punts with long hang time reduced potential returns and allowed the Raiders to play a field position game previously unseen in the NFL. Detractors point to a low net average and say guys like Tommy Davis or Jerrel Wilson were equal or better to Guy.

Humphrey, a three-time finalist, is an oft-mentioned name on this site. Though he was just All Pro First Team twice, his Pro Football Reference page also indicates he won AP All Conference honors several additional times. Continue reading

By the Numbers: Best #25 in NFL History

Fred Biletnikhoff

Photo credit: Wikipedia user Tim Monaghan

When we wrote our first By the Numbers post a year ago, it was intended to become a regular feature until we hit all 100 numbers (0-99…sorry, we’re not differentiating between 0 and 00). One thing I wanted to hold true to, though, was a random selection of the numbers. I don’t even totally know why—I just did.

Unfortunately, unlike our first selection, which had several players all viable choices as the best #81 of all time, research into our second number consistently came back with one player—the best #25 in NFL history appears to clearly have been Fred Biletnikhoff.

With 589 career receptions, 8,974 receiving yards, 76 touchdowns, a Super Bowl MVP (XI), six Pro Bowls (two of them AFL only), two first-team All-Pro selections, and Hall of Fame induction in 1988, he seems a cut clear choice.

Given the anti-climactic nature of the selection, we sat on it…for a year.

Other names that came up on the list:

Continue reading

In depth 2013: Oakland Raiders

The first year of the post Al Davis–era in Oakland ended much the same way as much of the previous decade – with the Raiders on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. After a promising 2011 saw Oakland hit the .500 mark, salary cap issues and a lack of draft picks caused the Silver and Black to take a large step back in 2012.

Those same issues continue to plague the Raiders heading into 2013, as does a roster full of injury prone (Darren McFadden) and head case (Rolando McClain) athletes. So what can coach Dennis Allen and General Manager Reggie McKenzie do to get this team on the right track? And how long will it take?

Chris Shellcroft, editor of Just Blog Baby, tells Zoneblitz it could be a couple years or more before better times return to the Bay Area.

Zoneblitz: The Raiders dropped to 4-12 in 2012. What went wrong with the season and how did the results compare with your expectations heading into the year? Continue reading

NFL Best Bets: Week 16 – 2012

I’m not sure if my brother feels this way, but for me,  most seasons, there usually is a point where I feel like I’ve started to feel like I’m at least getting a hint for which teams are good, which are bad, which know how to go for the jugular and which are prone to bad upsets.

Not this year. I don’t have a flippin’ clue. It played out again last week in a 1-3 mark that dropped my best bets to 26-33-1 for the season. That sounds bad – and it is terrible. But it’s still actually ahead of my brother, who went 0-4 and hasn’t made a correct bet in this segment since week 14.

We are committed to playing this out for the season, but if we were really playing this out in Vegas, we’d either have been committed or we’d have been left lying in an alley with our legs broken multiple times.

On that upbeat note, happy holidays and here are our bets. Continue reading

NFL Picks, 2012 Season, Week 15

The sense heading into the 2012 season was that if Peyton Manning could come back to anything resembling his earlier years, the Denver Broncos would be in position to have a pretty good season.

Manning has answered any doubters he may have had to the tune of 3,800 yards and 30 touchdowns heading into week 15. And the Broncos have won eight in a row, running away with a division that in recent years often has been won by whatever team can reach eight or nine wins for the season.

Kim Constantinesco, senior editor of Predominantly Orange, thinks the best is yet to come.

“When all three phases are playing well, this is undoubtedly the best team in the NFL,” she says. “If everyone stays healthy and takes care of business, the Broncos team is Super Bowl bound.”

I’m not sure the separation is that great yet. New England is playing well and, when on its game, Houston can play with anyone. But the Broncos are right in the mix to be playing for the town’s first title since John Elway retired.

Constantinesco joined Zoneblitz as our guest blogger for week 15. She follows Greg Cowan, managing editor and senior writer with Colts Authority. I’m not sure we’ll be inviting him back again – Cowan destroyed both of us by going 11-5. Andy was a brutal 6-10 and Tony finished a paltry 8-8. Tony maintains the lead as we head into the final three weeks of the season.

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