Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Taking Liberties

28 Sep

The Los Angeles Rams tangle with the Indianapolis Colts this week in the NFL, and we decided to take some liberties with the Throwback Thursday post by featuring a game that was played at the L.A. Coliseum on September 28, 1951. That day the Rams took on an NFL club called the New York Yanks. That New York franchise has a sketchy past, and here’s how it played out. After moving from Boston, the team had 2 less than successful seasons in the Big Apple, and in 1951 was sold to a group of Dallas businessmen who moved it to Dallas. That team failed after a single season, and what was left of the franchise was awarded to a group from Baltimore. They then started the Baltimore Colts franchise.  Even though the NFL doesn’t recognize this team as the ancestors of the current Colt team, we will for the sake of being able to feature this memorable game.

It was the opening week of the ’51 season, and in an era of three yards and a cloud of dust football, it turned out to be a record-setting passing day for one Norm Van Brocklin, the Rams’ quarterback. He torched the Yanks’ secondary for 554 yards and 5 touchdowns on 27 of 41 passing, with the yardage mark a record that still stands today, 72 years later. The Rams won the game 54-14, with a dominant display on both sides of the ball. They racked up 735 yards of offense and the 54 points despite turning the ball over 5 times, three times on interceptions to go with 2 lost fumbles. The Los Angeles club, known as an offensive powerhouse in the 1950s, was relentless with their attack all day. Three of their receivers totaled over 100 yards, with Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch leading the way with 9 catches for 173 yards and 4 TDs. Another future Hall of Famer, Tom Fears, grabbed 7 passes for 162 yards, while a guy named Vitamin Smith added some pep to the attack with 2 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. The Rams also had a pair of rushing touchdowns on runs from Dick Hoerner and Deacon Dan Towler to round out the scoring.

The L.A. defense actually pitched a shutout in the game also, as the Yanks’ 2 touchdowns came on a 79 yard punt return by Buddy Young and a 30 yard return of a recovered fumble by Art Tait. New York only amassed 166 yards of total offense, and the 569 yard difference between the 2 teams stood as a record yardage spread until 2009, when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots crushed Tennessee 59-0 and piled up 619 more yards than the Titans. The game turned out to be very indicative of the fortunes of the clubs in the 1951 season, as the Rams would go on to defeat Cleveland for the league title, and the Yanks would win only a single game before being sold to the new Dallas owners prior to the ’52 season.


Van Brocklin’s record day memorialized



NFL – Throwback Thursday: Miami Breaks Through

21 Sep

The game we’re highlighting today on Rayonsports for the Throwback Thursday feature is an old American Football League game that took place on October 16, 1966 between the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins, who meet on this week’s NFL schedule. 1966 was Miami’s inaugural season in the AFL, and this contest, which was played in week 6 of that year, was significant even though both clubs were league doormats. The Broncos, who never enjoyed a winning season in the 10 year history of the AFL, entered the game at 1-4 while the expansion Dolphins were winless in their first 5 games. Denver’s inept franchise represented Miami’s first real chance of breaking through into the win column, and they were ready for the challenge.

A pair of former Broncos exacted a bit of revenge in the opening quarter for the young Fish. Fullback Billy Joe, a Denver rookie in 1964, took a George Wilson Jr. pass 67 yards to paydirt, followed by a 35 yard field goal from another former Denver standout, Gene Mingo. The Broncos cut the lead to 10-7 on a 5 yard touchdown run by one of the AFL’s early and underrated stars, Abner Haynes. That lead held for the rest of the first half and Miami’s defense took charge in the second. They held Bronco quarterback John McCormick to 90 yards passing on 9 completions in 25 attempts, and intercepted him 4 times. Veteran Tobin Rote replaced McCormick and had no success either as the Dolphins sacked him 4 times.

The Dolphins’ offense, led by the head coach’s son, George Wilson Jr., wasn’t that impressive either, but did manage a short scoring run by halfback Joe Auer in each of the last 2 quarters. The final result was a 24-7 Miami victory, the first in franchise history. The Dolphins would go on to win the following week also, defeating the Houston Oilers, and would manage one more win to finish 3-11 for the year, tied for the basement of the Eastern Division with the Oilers. Denver went 4-10 and finished in their usual spot at the bottom of the Western Division.


Joe Auer takes the handoff from George Wilson Jr.


NFL – Throwback Thursday: Buffalo Stampede

14 Sep

The Buffalo Bills host the Las Vegas Raiders this Sunday as week 2 of the NFL season gets underway, and we’ll feature these 2 clubs for Throwback Thursday this week. Let’s travel back to January 20, 1991, to then Rich Stadium, for the AFC Championship game. Buffalo was attempting to reach the Super Bowl for the first time, while the Raiders, based in Los Angeles then, were looking to spoil that party.

It was never even close to being a contest. Jim Kelly led a drive that ended with a 13 yard touchdown pass to James Lofton to open the scoring, and after a Raider field goal the Bills drove downfield again and scored, this time on a 12 yard run by Thurman Thomas. The defense then got in on the action as linebacker Darryl Talley intercepted a Jay Schroeder pass and returned it 27 yards to the end zone to give his team a 21-3 lead after a quarter. The Bills didn’t let up in the second quarter either. Kenny Davis spelled Thomas at running back and scored twice on short runs, followed by another short Kelly to Lofton TD throw of 8 yards. At some point the beleaguered Raiders called what amounted to a basketball timeout to catch their breath as the vaunted no-huddle K-Gun attack of the Bills overwhelmed them. When the dust settled Buffalo held a commanding 41-3 lead at halftime.

I was in the stadium at that game, and across the field from me some fans were spelling out “Hello Tampa” in the stands. (Where the Super Bowl was to be played the next week) I saw that and immediately thought “Holy s**t, the Bills are going to the Super Bowl!” Later that day at home after the game, they showed earlier clips of workers at Tampa Stadium painting the Bills’ logo in the end zone, at halftime of the game! It was just an incredible experience.


Happy Bills’ fans with a message


Coach Marv Levy called off the dogs somewhat in the second half. The Bills scored only 10 points, on another short Davis run and a Scott Norwood field goal, to account for the final score of 51-3, launching the team to the big game. Kelly wound up throwing for 300 yards and the 2 TDs, while Thomas, although leaving the touchdown runs to Davis, racked up 199 yards of total offense. Lofton’s 2 TDs were among his 5 catches for 133 yards. The beleaguered Shroeder was intercepted 5 times by the Buffalo defense before being replaced by Vince Evans, who threw another pick. Little did the Bills and their fans know that what came next was the ultimate heartbreak of “Wide Right” by Norwood in Super Bowl XXV.


Darryl Talley scores on a pick six


NFL – Throwback Thursday: Ollie Matson Shines

07 Sep

It was a long wait, but the 2023 NFL season is finally upon us, and that also marks the return of our weekly Throwback Thursday feature, in which we travel back in time to highlight a game from the past played between teams who are matched against each other that week on the league slate. For opening week, we chose a matchup of 2 historic franchises, played on October 20, 1957. It pitted the Chicago Cardinals against the Washington Redskins at old Griffith Stadium in Washington. Those teams go head to head on opening day this season, although the Cardinals are based in Arizona and Washington’s club is now known as the Commanders.

Neither of these teams was very good that season, as they finished fourth and last respectively in the Eastern Division standings. The lowly Cardinals, who would only win 3 games all year, did boast one of the league’s most dynamic stars – halfback Ollie Matson. On this day, they rode a dominating performance from their future Hall of Fame back to a rousing 44-14 victory. He wasted no time as he broke off a 56 yard scamper to the end zone to open the scoring. The Cards’ other 2 star offensive weapons on this day, quarterback Lamar McHan and end Woodley Lewis, provided the next points, hooking up on a 39 yard touchdown pass, followed by an 18 yard McHan run to paydirt to put Chicago ahead 21-0. Washington regrouped somewhat and cut the lead to 21-7 when Eddie LeBaron tossed a short TD pass to Ed Podoley, but McHan and Lewis regained the momentum by hooking up for another score. Kicker Pat Summerall, who we all know would go on to become one of the most beloved football broadcasters of all time, added a field goal, and the Cardinals now owned a commanding 31-7 lead at halftime over the future Commanders.

Showing no mercy, McHan struck for the big play again to start the second half scoring when he found Matson open for a 50 yard touchdown. Matson had now showcased his talents as both a runner and receiver. LeBaron engineered another scoring drive for the Redskins before the third quarter ended, but the game was pretty much over by then. In fact, Washington only added to their ineptness when they fumbled on their own goal line in the final quarter. Leo Sugar accepted the gift, recovering the loose ball and traveling the 1 yard into the end zone to finalize the scoring. On a historic note, despite the one-sided nature of the contest, Washington did have a play made from a future Hall of Famer of their own, as McHan’s otherwise perfect game of 8 completions on 13 passes for 182 yards and 3 TDs was spoiled when he threw an interception into the waiting arms of Redskin defensive back Don Shula.

Matson, although today a mostly overlooked star from the NFL’s past, was a much coveted player in his era. In fact, the Cardinals, in 1959, traded him to the Los Angeles Rams for what amounted to 9 players (7 players and 2 top draft picks). That deal was orchestrated by the Rams’ general manager at the time, future NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.


Ollie Matson (second from left) with his HOF classmates of 1972


NFL – Buffalo Bills’ 2023 Season Preview

31 Aug

The 2022 NFL season for the Buffalo Bills, filled with preseason hype that the team was primed to win a Super Bowl, instead evolved into a crucible of obstacles put in front of them that included:

Death of Dawson Knox’s brother

Kim Pegula’s illness

Injuries to key players (Von Miller, Micah Hyde, etc.)

Dealing with multiple blizzards/home game relocated

Damar Hamlin’s near death

Josh Allen’s elbow injury


Despite the setbacks, the Bills managed 13 wins, another AFC East title and a wild card playoff win. They enter 2023 battle-tested and much more under the radar, to the point where some analysts are writing them off. Here is our preseason preview of where the three-time AFC East champs sit entering the upcoming season:


Front Office/Coaching

Buffalo still has a solid roster top to bottom thanks to the work of GM Brandon Beane and his staff, and if early indications on this year’s draft class prove to be true, they could be better than last year’s group. It’s a sign of how strong of a roster they have that both seventh round draft picks – Nick Broeker and Alex Austin, failed to make the final 53 man roster, yet both were claimed off waivers when they were released. Beane has also done his annual job of adding some low-key free agents who should strengthen certain areas. As for coaching, the major change has Sean McDermott taking over the defensive play calling from the departed Leslie Frazier. Most expect this change to result in a more aggressive approach on that side of the ball, a change that will surely be popular with the players.




QB Kyle Allen, Bills’ annual new backup QB


Following in the footsteps of Matt Barkley, Mitch Trubisky and Case Keenum, Kyle Allen is the newest backup option behind Josh Allen in the Bills’ quarterback room. Josh is the unquestioned starter, and with Kyle Allen, offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, QB coach Joe Brady and Barkley (on injured reserve for the year) there is plenty of support for the team’s top player. As long as Josh Allen is calling signals and not his golfing buddy Kyle, the Bills will be in the hunt for a Super Bowl title.


Running Backs


James Cook, the Bills’ new bell cow RB


Buffalo has been trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to develop a rushing attack in the last few years. They are a passing offense so they only need a slightly above average run game to keep defenses honest. This season, they have an almost completely new stable of running backs to try to finally accomplish that goal. James Cook isn’t new, but he is entering his first year of being counted on to be the main back in the offense. He has skills as both a runner and pass receiver, and has flashed brilliance at times. Now he has to prove he can be a positive contributor consistently. His backups are a pair of veterans who offer different skill sets than Cook. Latavius Murray is a solid short yardage back who should be valuable on the goal line while Damien Harris is an under the radar free agent signing who could play a major role in spelling Cook with no dropoff in production. He was a major thorn in the side of the Bills in his time in New England, rushing for over 100 yards in 3 of the 4 games he played against them. The Bills keep only one fullback on the roster, and that’s Reggie Gilliam. He’s mostly a blocker and special teamer, but occasionally is involved as a receiver out of the backfield.



Trent Sherfield, Bills’ new slot receiver


Pundits are always downgrading Buffalo’s receiving corps, claiming that after the alpha dog Stefon Diggs there is no threat. “Big Play” Gabe Davis, a newly minted captain on the team, begs to differ. He is primed for a big season after battling drops and an injury last year. A new slot receiver was brought in from Miami in free agency – Trent Sherfield. He was a key piece for the Dolphins despite being overshadowed by Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and his value for Buffalo is enhanced by a trait the Bills’ coaches like – versatility. Although likely playing mostly in the slot, he is capable of manning any of the WR spots, helping Dorsey be creative with formations, etc. GM Beane was determined to add speed to the receiving corps also, thus the signing of Deonte Harty from the Saints. He’ll be another slot option as well as returning kicks. Khalil Shakir starts the year a little banged up, but he for sure will have an impact down the line as the fifth receiver. Draft pick Justin Shorter, a big, physical wideout, starts the season on short-term injured reserve where he’ll get a chance to develop his game. Buffalo has a trio of capable tight ends entering the 2023 season thanks to the addition of rookie top draft pick Dalton Kincaid, who has high expectations. Along with established starter Dawson Knox, the Bills can employ double tight end formations to get favorable matchups and also help the run game. Quinton Morris is the third TE, and he has solidified his place on the team as a dependable backup and top special team guy.


Offensive Line


Connor McGovern adds beef to the Bills’ interior line


The divisional playoff loss to Cincinnati last year was a wake-up call that Beane needed to beef up the offensive line as Josh Allen was under duress the whole game. Both starting guards will be new this season, with free agent Connor McGovern replacing Rodger Saffold at left guard and impressive rookie O’Cyrus Torrence taking over on the right side. Center Mitch Morse returns to anchor the line, and starting tackles Dion Dawkins and Spencer Brown are also back. Brown is still a work in progress and he’ll be pushed for playing time by newcomer Germain Ifedi, a late waiver acquisition, and Ryan Van Demark, who earned his way onto the roster after serving time on the practice squad last year. Reliable Ryan Bates is the main backup, and he can play any position on the line. Alec Anderson, who like Van Demark elevated himself from the PS to the roster, is being groomed to mirror Bates in that he can man any spot. Another interior reserve is veteran free agent signee David Edwards.

Defensive Line


DT Daquan Jones, an underrated defender


The Bills’ defensive line will automatically be improved once future Hall of Famer Von Miller returns from his injury, but the team also added some extra help on both the inside and at defensive end in tackle Poona Ford and pass rusher Leonard Floyd, who will be counted on to replace at least some of Miller’s production in getting after opposing quarterbacks. Newly extended Ed Oliver mans one starting tackle spot, alongside an underrated star of the D-line in DaQuan Jones. His absence in the divisional playoff loss was a big factor. Greg Rousseau starts on the outside and is expected to improve on his 8 sack season of a year ago, with Floyd starting the year opposite him. Ford, Jordan Phillips, the one man hype machine, and Tim Settle will spell the starting tackles in the team’s D line rotation, while on the outside Shaq Lawson, Kingsley Johnathan and A.J. Epenesa (who bagged 6 sacks in a rotational role) will tag in for the starters.




LB Terrel Bernard has been hampered by injuries


The glaring missing piece from the linebacking corps, of course, is departed Tremaine Edmunds, who left for the Bears in free agency. Buffalo only employs 2 ‘backers most of the time, and All Pro Matt Milano is one of them, so they still should be OK there. Edmunds’ spot is still up in the air. Veteran Tyrel Dodson is the presumed starter at this point, but he hasn’t exactly put a stranglehold on the job. Second year LB Terrel Bernard was expected to compete to start, but he was hampered by a hamstring injury all through the preseason. An interesting option was signed to the practice squad on cutdown day in veteran Christian Kirksey. He was a starter and captain with the Texans and his statistics are actually better than what Edmunds provided here. Rookie Dorian Williams is starting out as a backup to Milano, but could be moved to MLB if none of the others provide the answer. Also on the LB depth chart is special teamer Tyler Matakevich.


Defensive Backs


S Micah Hyde was sorely missed last season


The Bills will open the season with a secondary manned by a veteran group that didn’t play a single down together in 2022. The reliable veteran safety tandem of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer is back together, joined by cornerback Tre’Davious White and nickel corner Taron Johnson. The other outside cornerback spot is still undecided, with Dane Jackson, Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford all competing. In any event, the cornerback position is steeped in depth. Cam Lewis and Siran Neal are listed as CBs on the roster also, and both can fill in at safety if needed. They are also valuable special teamers. Veteran Taylor Rapp, signed away from the Rams, and Damar Hamlin are the main reserves behind Hyde and Poyer.


Special Teams


Special teams ace Siran Neal


The Bills value special teams highly, and are blessed with a veteran kicking game trio of dependable players in punter/holder Sam Martin, kicker Tyler Bass and long snapper Reid Ferguson. They have one of the NFL’s top gunners in Siran Neal, and other bomb squad vets like Tyler Matakevich, Cam Lewis, Tyrel Dodson, Damar Hamlin and Reggie Gilliam. One area that might still be unsettled is in the kick return department. They’ll have to choose between options such as Deonte Harty and Khalil Shakir for those roles.



Here’s your annual song to get psyched up for the upcoming season, the Bills’ Shout song:



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Buffalo Bills’ 2023 Draft Picks

02 May

Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane had the tough task of trying to add to his Super Bowl-contending team with a low spot in each round of the draft this year, and due to trades, a meager total of only 5 picks. Through another series of trades on draft weekend, Beane added an extra late round pick and acquired extra draft capital for 2024. Here’s how he fared adding players for this year’s roster competition:



Round 1 – Dalton Kincaid (TE, Utah) – after a wide receiver run just ahead of them depleted that position, Beane traded up and grabbed the best of the tight end class in Kincaid. He’s an excellent route runner who can line up in multiple positions and be a safety valve for QB Josh Allen once he earns playing time. His blocking skills are also good.



Round 2 – O’Cyrus Torrence (G, Florida) – considered a first round talent, the Bills were lucky to get this mountain of a man in the second round. Equally tough in pass protection and run blocking, he gave up 0 sacks and was charged with 0 penalties in his 2023 college season. He could be a plug and play starter on the offensive line, where the Bills need to improve.



Round 3 – Dorian Williams (LB, Tulane) – the Bills drafted Terrel Bernard in the third round last year so picking another linebacker was a bit of a head scratcher, but with a big hole to fill after Tremaine Edmunds departed in free agency, the more competition for his spot the better. He’s known as a physical player.



Round 5 – Justin Shorter (WR, Florida) – this pick must have been made using traits rather than production. Shorter is a big target at 6’4 and 230 lbs. but his production in college was limited. He was, however, a blue chip prospect coming out of high school so there’s a massive amount of untapped potential with him.



Round 7A – Nick Broeker (G/C, Mississippi) – more competition for the offensive line. According to Beane, he isn’t athletic and doesn’t look impressive but on film he rarely gets beat. A solid prospect for a seventh rounder.



Round 7B – Alex Austin (CB, Oregon State) – the obligatory late round cornerback prospect choice by Beane. He has good size at 6’1 and 191 lbs. and was a 4 year starter so he has plenty of experience and is a solid locker room guy.


The team is always late in announcing added undrafted free agent signings, but with leaks from agents and the players themselves a few interesting additions are Alabama defensive tackle D.J. Dale, wide receiver Jalen Wayne from South Alabama and 3 offensive linemen – tackles Noah Henderson (East Carolina) and Joshua Donovan (Arizona) and guard Richard Gouraige (Florida). With the Bills thin on the interior defensive line, Dale could have a shot at making the roster. Wayne is the nephew of former Colts receiver Reggie Wayne. Gouraige was an O-line teammate of draftee Torrence. Wide receiver Tyrell Shavers from San Diego State is a big 6’4 target with special teams experience which should help him. Also, Buffalo is bringing in a running back candidate in Fresno State’s Jordan Mims.

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NFL – Buffalo Bills’ 2023 Mock Draft Predictions

23 Apr

The Buffalo Bills, once again in 2022, suffered a disappointing end to their season with a bitter playoff loss. They still have a roster capable of competing for a Super Bowl crown, but this year’s draft will be critical in adding pieces to get them over the hump. With no trading of picks allowed, and the Bills only owning picks through the sixth round, here are the predicted Buffalo selections by each of our pro football analysts – Connor Pohlman, Josh Pohlman, Scott Prelewicz and Ray Prelewicz:


Round 1, Pick #27

Connor Pohlman – Quentin Johnson, WR, TCU – his combination of size and speed make him an attractive option for Brandon Beane and company to add to Josh Allen’s arsenal of weapons.


Josh Pohlman – Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College – a quick, versatile receiver who can play outside or in the slot. He would be a younger, faster, better slot option for Buffalo than either Cole Beasley or Isaiah McKenzie.


Scott Prelewicz – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame – he may or may not be the best tight end in this year’s class, but his contested catch ability paired with above average blocking ability would make him an outstanding addition to the Bills’ already potent offense.


Ray Prelewicz – Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas – the Bills fill the hole left by the departure of Tremaine Edmunds with a high-motor, high production player.


Round 2, Pick #59

Connor Pohlman – Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa – a steady and dependable player who tackles well and was a captain for the Hawkeyes. That’s a trait the Bills look for, and they get their replacement for the departed Tremaine Edmunds.


Josh Pohlman – Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin – a big, quick run stuffer fills the need on the interior defensive line for the Bills, where they have no players signed beyond the 2023 season.


Scott Prelewicz – Cody Mauch, T, North Dakota State – the darling of this year’s Senior Bowl leaped up draft boards since the college season ended. His ability to play any position on the offensive line make him an absolute target for Buffalo.


Ray Prelewicz – Steve Avila, G, TCU – with an eye toward improving protection for Josh Allen and giving a boost to the run game, the Bills add a mean-tempered solid technician who projects to be a day 1 starter.


Round 3, Pick #91

Connor Pohlman -Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan – as a five year college player he brings plenty of experience to the team as they look for backup options behind Dawson Knox. He’s a big 6’5 target and an adequate pass blocker.


Josh Pohlman – Henry To’o To’o, LB, Alabama – a running back in high school, he made the switch to defense and is a high level NFL prospect now. He combines speed with good tackling ability and is a smart, instinctive player.


Scott Prelewicz – Matthew Bergeron, T, Syracuse – another offensive line gem who played college ball just up the thruway at Syracuse so the Bills should have a complete scouting report on him. He could easily slide inside to guard, where the Bills have a bigger need.


Ray Prelewicz – Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State – Buffalo goes with a sleeper in the underrated Reed, a productive wideout, with this pick mirroring the Gabe Davis selection a few years back, as far as untapped potential.


Round 4, Pick #130

Connor Pohlman – Christopher Smith, S, Georgia – the Bills look to add depth to their back end with this pick. They’ll get a player who tackles well and excels in coverage.


Josh Pohlman – Jon Gaines II, C/G, UCLA – a 5 year player with the trait the Bills covet, position versatility. He could eventually become the heir apparent to Mitch Morse at center.


Scott Prelewicz – Emil Ekiyor, G, Alabama – he may not have the size to play in the NFL so he’ll have to bulk up to be successful, but he is sound and was a gritty three year starter so he doesn’t lack for experience.


Ray Prelewicz – Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State – this is mostly a future pick but with both Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer surpassing 30 it’s a wise one. He should be an immediate special teams contributor as he develops into an NFL caliber safety.


Round 5, Pick #137

Connor Pohlman – Colby Wooden, DT, Auburn – quick and powerful, he will have to bulk up to play inside in the NFL, but his versatility will endear him to Buffalo’s coaching staff.


Josh Pohlman – SirVocea Dennis, LB, Pitt – Brandon Beane does love his later round Pitt prospects, and with this pick gets a player who excelled as a pass rusher, totaling 32 pressures and 11 sacks as a senior.


Scott Prelewicz – Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan – a technically sound player with good awareness and plenty of experience, playing at Virginia before transferring to Michigan.


Ray Prelewicz – Karl Brooks, DT/DE, Bowling Green – his position versatility will be what attracts him to the Bills, but lacking speed, he most likely will be an inside tackle in the pros. His 17.5 sacks in his last 2 seasons in the MAC are eye-popping.


Round 6, Pick #205

Connor Pohlman – Juice Scruggs, C/G, Penn State – a solid, consistent if not spectacular college player. He consistently wins at the point of attack against the run and pass, and moves well for a big man.


Josh Pohlman – Max Duggan, QB, TCU – a gritty athlete and team leader who would be an interesting option as Josh Allen’s backup. He could carve out a Taysom Hill-like role with the team.


Scott Prelewicz – Jalen Green, S, Mississippi State – he has good size at 6’1 and 203 lbs. and has good closing speed and ball skills that could translate well into the next level as a late round pick.


Ray Prelewicz -Payne Durham, TE, Purdue – a late round pick in a strong tight end class, he figures to fight for a backup spot opened up with the departure of Tommy Sweeney.


One thought to consider if you’re gauging the expertise of our analysts: Connor got 3 of the Bills’ actual picks correct in his 2022 mock draft – first rounder Kaiir Elam, second rounder James Cook (although he had him pegged for the third round) and the ill-fated selection of punter Matt Araiza.



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2023 NFL First Round Mock Draft

21 Apr

With less than a week until the real thing commences, the 2023 Rayonsports NFL round one mock draft is here. There will only be 31 players chosen in the opening round this year, as the Miami Dolphins forfeited their pick due to some suspicious dealings. Compiled by expert analysts Connor Pohlman, Josh Pohlman, Scott Prelewicz and Ray Prelewicz, here are the choices, with trades not allowed:


  1. Carolina Panthers-from Chicago (Connor Pohlman) – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
  2. Houston Texans (Josh Pohlman) – Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama
  3. Arizona Cardinals (Scott Prelewicz) – Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech
  4. Indianapolis Colts (Ray Prelewicz) – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
  5. Seattle Seahawks-from Denver (CP) – Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
  6. Detroit Lions-from LA Rams (JP) – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
  7. Las Vegas Raiders (SP) – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
  8. Atlanta Falcons (RP) – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
  9. Chicago Bears-from Carolina (CP) – Paris Johnson Jr., T, Ohio State
  10. Philadelphia Eagles-from New Orleans (JP) – Brian Branch, S, Alabama
  11. Tennessee Titans (SP) – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
  12. Houston Texans-from Cleveland (RP) – Peter Skoronski, T, Northwestern
  13. New York Jets (CP) – Broderick Jones, T, Georgia
  14. New England Patriots (JP) – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
  15. Green Bay Packers (SP) – Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
  16. Washington Commanders (RP) – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers (CP) – Darnell Wright, T, Tennessee
  18. Detroit Lions (JP) – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (SP) – Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa
  20. Seattle Seahawks (RP) – Nolan Smith, LB, Georgia
  21. Los Angeles Chargers (CP) – Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
  22. Baltimore Ravens (JP) – Jordan Addison, WR, USC
  23. Minnesota Vikings (SP) – Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
  24. Jacksonville Jaguars (RP) – Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
  25. New York Giants (CP) – Joey Porter, Jr., CB, Penn State
  26. Dallas Cowboys (JP) – Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
  27. Buffalo Bills (SP) – Kalijah Kansey, DT, Pitt
  28. Cincinnati Bengals (RP) – Will McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa State
  29. New Orleans Saints-from San Francisco/Miami/Denver (CP) – Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
  30. Philadelphia Eagles (JP) – Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
  31. Kansas City Chiefs (SP) – Keion White, DT, Georgia


The national champion Georgia Bulldogs take the prize for the most first round players in our mock draft with 5, and they have a number of other prospects who could be considered first round material and will likely go high on day 2 of the draft. The power 5 conferences dominated  the mock draft, with Alabama, Tennessee and Ohio State having 3 each. Alabama’s trio were all picked in the top 10.


COMING SOON: Our draft experts submit their seven round mock drafts for the local NFL franchise, the three-time reigning AFC East champion Buffalo Bills.

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NFL – Five Greatest Super Bowl Winning Teams

10 Feb

The last of my daily Super Bowl week features is another “list” post, honoring the 5 teams that I feel are the greatest among the 56 clubs who have won the big game since it’s inception following the 1966 season. In some cases they may not have even been the top team in that particular regular season, but came up huge when it counted the most.



1. 1972 Miami Dolphins – they didn’t have a prolific offense, their smothering defense was nicknamed the “No-Name Defense”, and they won Super Bowl VII by only a 14-7 score, but it’s hard to argue against the only team to complete a season undefeated. They went 17-0 and would regularly beat opponents in lower scoring games by grinding them into oblivion with a powerful rushing attack. They also followed this accomplishment up by winning it all again the next season.



2. 1985 Chicago Bears – a wild group of misfit toys led by the biggest misfit of all, coach Mike Ditka, this team swept through the NFL in ’85 with one of the greatest one-season accomplishments of all time. They had characters like QB Jim McMahon and William “The Refrigerator” Perry, an all-time great in Walter Payton, and recorded a “Super Bowl Shuffle” video before they even qualified for the game. After going 15-1 in the regular season and sweeping through the NFC playoffs with a pair of shutout wins, they dismantled the New England Patriots 46-10 in a Super Bowl XX laugher.



3. 1968 New York Jets – they pulled off the upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, winning 16-7 and giving the AFL its’ first victory. It was considered an epic win made even more amazing because Jets’ quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed his team would win, despite being up to 18 point underdogs. This particular Jets’ team may have not even been the best the AFL had to offer, as they upset the more highly rated Oakland Raiders to get to the big game, but they turned out to be just what the young league needed on Super Bowl Sunday that year.



4. 1984 San Francisco 49ers – coach Bill Walsh’s forces finished 15-1 in the regular season and swept through the NFC playoffs but were up against a major challenge in Super Bowl XIX in facing the prolific offense of the Dan Marino-led Miami Dolphins. Led by the always efficient play of quarterback Joe Montana, the Niners trampled Miami’s “Killer Bees” defense, while their own defense kept Marino under pressure all day enroute to a 38-16 win.



5. 2007 New York Giants – talk about huge upsets. The Giants only qualified for the playoffs as an NFC Wild Card team with a 10-6 record, finishing second in their division, while the New England Patriots were chasing history. They finished a perfect 16-0 in the regular season and with 2 playoff wins were looking to wrap up the NFL’s second unblemished year with a win in Super Bowl XLII against a clearly inferior opponent. The Giants, with the help of the amazing “helmet catch” pictured above, pulled off the huge upset, 17-14. They did it again a few years later when they reached the big game with an even worse record (9-7) and knocked off Tom Brady’s club for the second time.


NFL – How The Cleveland Browns Saved Pro Football

09 Feb

This article, from 2019, details my theory as to how the Cleveland Browns, inadvertently, saved pro football in the late 1960s. I’m reposting it as part of my Super Bowl week features, since it has to do with the 2 major Super Bowl upsets won by the AFL during this period.




The beginning of the growth of the National Football League into the popularity monster that it is today goes back to the 1960s and the birth of the AFL/NFL Championship game, orchestrated by the league’s commissioner at the time, Pete Rozelle. A true visionary, he refereed the battle between the old guard NFL owners and the renegade AFL owners, and out of the battle came the merger of the 2 leagues. The agreement spelled out that beginning immediately the rival leagues would hold a common draft of college players, thus ending the bidding war for players that had been going on. Another of the stipulations was that also beginning immediately, the champions of the 2 leagues would play an ultimate title game to decide who was the “world champion”. The merger agreement was made in 1966, but the actual merger itself didn’t begin until 1970. At that time, there were 16 NFL teams and 10 AFL, so 3 of the old guard clubs had to be transferred into the new American Conference. The Pittsburgh Steelers, longtime NFL doormats who perhaps saw an opportunity for more success among the AFL clubs, volunteered to go. Two franchises that had joined the NFL from another league, the old All America Conference, were natural clubs to make the move  – the Baltimore Colts and Cleveland Browns. Browns’ owner Art Modell balked at the idea, however, but eventually agreed when Rozelle promised him that his team could host the inaugural Monday Night Football game in that first merger season of 1970.

It wasn’t Modell’s agreement to shift that saved pro football though. It was the Browns team of the late ’60s that had a hand in moving the game forward, in a very weird way in fact. The Browns were a proud, winning franchise in the NFL since joining the league in 1950, and were regular participants in the playoffs most of the decade of the 1960s. In fact, they were in the NFL title game the last 2 seasons before the leagues joined together in 1970. That’s where their contribution to saving the NFL comes in to play. The NFL had always boasted that they were the superior league, and that the AFL was a “Mickey Mouse” league full of castoff players who couldn’t make it in the older league. When the Green Bay Packers dominated the best the AFL had to offer in the first 2 AFL/NFL Championship games, doubt began to creep in on whether the merger was a good idea. The NFL owners’ “Mickey Mouse” comments were appearing to be true, that is, until Joe Namath’s New York Jets and the Hank Stram-led Kansas City Chiefs won the next 2 title contests in what were considered to be massive upsets. Those games gave the AFL a bit of legitimacy, but were they really that great of upsets? Part of the reason the Colts team that Namath beat, and the Minnesota Vikings squad that the Chiefs dominated were considered powerhouses was because they had manhandled the proud Browns franchise in the NFL title games. The Colts shut the Browns out 37-0, and coach Don Shula’s defense was expected to totally crush what was considered to be an inferior Jets’ team in the Super Bowl. The next season, Bud Grant’s Vikings, with CFL reject Joe Kapp at quarterback, completely demolished the Browns in the title game. The final score was only 27-7 but the Vikings controlled play the entire game on a bitter cold day in Minnesota.

So even though the Colts and Vikings had very successful seasons on their way to those Super Bowls, it was their dominance of the Browns that established them as heavy favorites against their supposedly weaker AFL competition. Realistically, though, the Cleveland franchise was in the beginning stages of a gradual decline at that point. Jim Brown, considered the greatest player of all time, had long since retired. LeRoy Kelly had replaced him and was a very good back, a future Hall of Famer in fact, but he wasn’t Jim Brown. More importantly, the quarterback who had guided the Browns to the 1964 title, Frank Ryan, was also gone, forced to retire due to injuries. His replacement, Bill Nelsen, was a gamer who played through injuries and was enough of a leader to get his club into the playoffs, but he wasn’t an elite signal caller. The Browns’ offensive line was aging at the time also, and their defense was a mixture of aging players and  inexperienced rookies and young players. So, in a strange way, credit is due to the Browns for making the Colts and Vikings appear to be unbeatable behemoths, who would easily crush, as Vince Lombardi’s Packers had, their AFL opponents. What those Baltimore and Minnesota clubs didn’t realize was that the AFL was already in its’ ninth and tenth years of existence, and the Jets and Chiefs had been built into true championship contenders.



Browns’ QB Bill Nelsen (Getty Images)