BBC BLOGS - Neil Reynolds

Archives for December 2010

Bears heading to playoffs as dark horse

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Neil Reynolds | 09:07 UK time, Thursday, 23 December 2010

It seems fitting that with the festive period almost upon us, I am writing about Jay Cutler - the quarterback who is leading the Chicago Bears' Super Bowl charge as we enter the final two weeks of the 2010 NFL regular season.

Cutler survived a bumpy ride earlier in the year but with Christmas Day just around the corner, he has certainly delivered the goods.

What else would you expect from a man born in Santa Claus, Indiana?

Cutler joined the Bears in a much-publicised trade with the Denver Broncos in 2009 but was mostly terrible in his first season with Chicago, throwing 26 interceptions in 16 games as he forced one ill-advised pass after another.

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Meet hard-hitting linebacker James Harrison

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Neil Reynolds | 14:18 UK time, Thursday, 16 December 2010

The sputtering New York Jets have little reason for festive cheer this weekend, as they prepare to take on a dominant Pittsburgh Steelers defence led by one of the more controversial hitmen in the NFL today in James Harrison.

Harrison is known to dish out the occasional dodgy tackle like Roy Keane in his prime and he boasts the kind of nasty streak that makes Joey Barton look like a choirboy. That is not the kind of combination you would take home to meet your mother!

He is also prone to making outlandish comments on a regular basis. He twice refused to attend Super Bowl celebrations at the White House as Presidents Bush and Obama only invited the Steelers because they were winners.

The Pro Bowl outside linebacker has been a busy boy this season. He has been every quarterback's worst nightmare, cementing his status as one of the best pass-rushing threats in the NFL with 10 sacks. When you look at that aspect of his game, there are few who have been better over the past three or four years.

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Bill Belichick: The NFL's very own Fergie

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Neil Reynolds | 13:37 UK time, Thursday, 9 December 2010

A couple of summers ago, I was waiting nervously inside Gillette Stadium for an audience with someone who epitomises true NFL greatness.

I paced up and down the 50-yard line, shuffled my feet and kicked up hundreds of tiny black balls that make up your standard Astroturf field. As I killed time waiting to conduct a television interview, I took a moment to think about how lucky I was to be in that position.

Not just because I was in America interviewing a legend of the game's modern era, but more because I had been granted some rare one-on-one time with a man who is traditionally about as comfortable in front of a television camera as a cockroach on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

The opportunity was so rare that I was ushered (that should read hurriedly shoved, if I'm honest) inside the stadium to conduct the interview on the field, rather than on the adjacent practice site outside - which would have been in full view of the American media covering the New England Patriots' training camp.

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Unpredictable Giants epitomise 2010 season

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Neil Reynolds | 15:03 UK time, Thursday, 2 December 2010

With five weeks of the regular season remaining, the 2010 NFL campaign remains about as wide open as I can ever remember.

And that seems to be something I have written quite a lot in recent years. That is one of the beautiful things about the NFL - you always get a pretty crowded and hotly contested race to the Super Bowl.

It is amazing that with just over a month to go in a 32-team league, there are 18 clubs who are either leading their division or are within one game of being in first place. There is no clear favourite to play in the title showdown in Dallas in February and even fancied teams can get knocked off every now and then.

If one team encapsulates the unpredictable nature of the 2010 season, it is the New York Giants.

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