Follow by Email

Friday, September 30, 2011

5 Players to Start and 5 Players to Sit in Fantasy Week 4

Week 4 poses some pretty intense match ups around the league.  This is one of the first weeks of the season where good teams start to separate themselves from the average teams.  I've evaluated the fantasy options and have given you 5 players that are must starts this weekend and 5 players you may want to leave on your bench.  Let's get started!

Start Em'

1. Adrian Peterson - Peterson plays against a beat up Kansas City defense who gave up 26 fantasy points last week to Ryan Matthews of the Chargers.  Their offense isn't good enough to stay on the field so expect A.D. to get many carries in this one.  He's a must start!

2.  Drew Brees - Jacksonville defense has been decent this year, but Brees is averaging 22 points a week in fantasy formats, so expect him to continue to throw the ball around a lot and put up big numbers against the Jags.

3.  Santana Moss -  He's been sub-par at best this year, but he's facing a Rams defense that has given up a league leading 6 touchdown receptions to opposing receivers, so expect Moss to have a huge game this Sunday. 

4.  Aaron Rodgers - Over his last 13 home starts Rodgers has gone 12-1, while passing for 3,609 yards and 29 touchdowns. That comes out to 277 passing yards per game and two scores per contest. I like his chances of continuing this against the Broncos this weekend.  He's a must start!

5.  Greg Jennings -  Someone has to catch all of those balls from Rodgers, and after JerMichael Finley's performance last week, I expect John Fox's defense to target the tight end, which will leave some single coverage for Jennings on the outside.  Expect a big week for the Green Bay wide out. 

Sit Em'

1.  Beanie Wells -  We're not sure if Wells is going to play yet or not, but if he does, I would only consider him a third flex option against the Giants.  Osi is back in the lineup and the defensive front is looking better each week.  

2.  Joe Flacco -  Flacco has proven he struggles against solid secondaries, and that is what the Jets are bringing to town against the Ravens.  Look for him to play like he did two weeks ago against the Titans.  Go with your other QB if you have a better match up this week.

3.  Rashard Mendenhall - Mendenhall has not run well to start the season and has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points in Week 2 against the Seahawks.  He only managed to score 4.6 points against the Colts rush defense, so don't look for him to have a huge game this weekend. 

4.  Cam Newton - I know Newton has put up big numbers in the first three weeks of the season, but Chicago has a swarming defense that is very opportunistic and will create some take aways.  Look for the Bears to keep Cam in check this week.

5.  Felix Jones -  The Lions have given up the third fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this year, so don't expect the injury prone Jones to have a pick game this weekend.  I would stay away from Dallas offensive players in general apart from Witten. 

Fantasy Football Review through Week 3

Things have played out fairly similar to what I predicted early on before the season started in my first blog, but there has been a few surprises.  The biggest one:  The Lions!  Davis has orchestrated a 3-0 start putting up a whopping 294.5 points, nearly 100 per game.  He has the second best running back in the NFL right now and inter-changeable quarterbacks that he can swap out each week based on match ups.
Another big surprise is the 3-0 Big Red Machine.  The loss of Kenny Britt is going to hurt him in the receiving corp, but he has Aaron Rodgers and THE best back in the league in Darren McFadden.  Great start to the season Willie!

The usually strong Acehole bandits have failed to reach 170 points through 3 games, mainly because they failed to draft a running back until the 4th round.  Then they took Steven Jackson who is bound to miss most of the season due to injuries.  I like the two quarterbacks and Andre Johnson, but beyond that there isn't much to be desired on this roster.

Even worse are the Punishers, mainly because of all the smack talking they've done all year and have yet to win a game.  On paper, the roster looks decent, but they are cursed by the devils tongue.  Quit talking, get off your "train", and manage the team and win some games.

My squad, the Dawgpound, are a solid 2-1 only because I've lucked out with my opposition not scoring many points.  The Falcons are killing me with Matt Ryan and Michael Turner playing sub-par football, and Mike Wallace is my only legitimate receiver threat.  I'll be the first to say unless I can make some smart free agent acquisitions, I will be in trouble this year.
Despite losing Charles, the Dynamites are still the team I thought they were and they will win that division.  Way to draft all those running backs buddy.

Dawgpound and Big Red Machine are the only two teams that have not had 200+ points scored on them, which explains are solid records.  Despite being 2-1, Chit Luck is much improved and has scored 286 points.  Way to go Mort!

Honorable mention goes to the Gamblers and the Munchers.  The Legion of Doom have outscored both teams in their division, but they've also given up more points, so it's the luck of the draw.

We're getting deep into the season already and this is the week where teams will start creating separation.  Good luck to everyone this week.  My team is not great, but I'm having fun writing about everyone and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Why Haven't the Colts Contacted Garrard?

To say that the Indianapolis Colts quarterback situation is in disarray would be an understatement.  Kerry Collins has been absolutely brutal, and Curtis Painter doesn't show much promise as a replacement.  They went out this week and resigned Dan Orlovsky, and are bringing in Brodie Croyle to try out for the team.  But why haven't they contacted David Garrard?
There seems to be some kind of plague against Garrard, who threw 23 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions last year and made a Pro Bowl yet doesn't seem to have any teams willing to give him a shot.  If you look at the Colts offensive line, they are young, haven't played many games together, and have a rookie left tackle.  With this type of line you need a quarterback that can extend the play and Collins is too old to do that.  Painter and Orlovsky don't have enough experience to do this, and they're both pocket passers.  David Garrard isn't a speedster, but he is able to move around in the pocket and create plays with his legs and buy time for his receivers to get open.

Let's face it, Dallas Clark is the epitome of a pass catching tight end.  He's not going to stay in and block too many defensive ends and outside linebackers successfully. They need a quarterback with a quick release that can extend plays and get the ball out of his hands. 

At this point with the quarterbacks available, David Garrard would be their best option to win some games.  None of the QB's on the roster are going to get the job done for them.  May be they should give McAfee a shot at QB.  The fans seem to be a favorite of this.

As for a Peyton Manning return this season, don't count on it. Colts owner Jim Irsay delivered some mixed messages on the topic Monday morning, but it continues to look like even a December return borders on pipe-dream status. NFL Network's Albert Breer reported last week that Manning is dealing with a nine- to 12-month rehabilitation process, which would have him ready for training camp in 2012.  It doesn't look like they will be competing for a Super Bowl at home this season.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Week 4 Predictions

If you're like me, you're probably trying to figure out what teams to place your money on this Sunday.  Thursday is a big day for betters because it's the first day of the week you really dive into the rosters, see who's definitely out, who may be out, where the game is being played, who's dog died, and so on.  I went 12-4 last weekend with Buffalo shocking the world and my wallet.  Let's break down each game and I'll give you my expert opinion on the final score and who you should put your loot on. 

Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears: Vegas currently has the Bears 7 point favorites.  Carolina's defense is playing better than expected, and Cam Newton looks like the real deal.  It's supposed to be sunny and 63 in Chicago, so don't look for the weather to slow down the Panthers.  Key to stopping Chicago, stuff Matt Forte.  Chicago's defense will confuse the young quarterback, but they won't cover the spread.  Bears win 19-17

Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals:  Remember last years thriller when the Bills came from behind to win?  They've been doing that a lot this year, but I don't expect them to be behind much in this one.  The Bills are 3.5 point favorites and should cover that spread.  Andy Dalton has had his moments for the Bengals, but this offense has too many legal issues.  If this was a drug selling contest, Bengals win easy, but in football, the Bills take this one in double digit fashion.  Bills win 27-13

Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns:  This is a very intriguing match up.  The Titans have looked better than expected under new coach Mike Munchak.  Matt Hasselback seems to have some fuel left in the tank, but the loss of Kenny Britt is going to hurt them.  Chris Johnson still isn't back to form, so I don't see this offense being very successful against a stout Browns defense.  Peyton Hillis should be back and looks to have a viable backfield mate in Hardesty.  The spread is currently dead even at the money line, so even the odds makers in Vegas aren't sure about this one.  I am!  Browns 18-14

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys:  The usual turkey day match up a few months early.  The Cowboys have dominated this rivalry as of late, but we're talking about a different Lions ball club than the team that was kicked around in the past, losing nearly 30 straight road games.  They are 3-0 tied atop the division with the Packers.  The Cowboys kicked their way to a win against the Skins on Monday night.  They also seem to be the team dealing with injuries this year instead of the Lions.  The spread is currently even, so I'm taking the Lions to improve to 4-0.  Lions win 24-17

Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans:  One of the best match ups of the weekend!  This game will tell us if Houston is for real and if the Steelers are on their way down.  If it goes the other way, then it's the same old AFC as the previous years.  Houston lost a tough one in New Orleans last weekend, but playing at home this Sunday should help.  The Steelers can't run the ball this year, so Wade Phillips should be able to keep an extra defensive back deep to prevent big plays to Mike Wallace.  Houston is actually 4 point favorites in this game, but I don't like them to cover.  Houston wins 30-28

New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars:  The thing that strikes me odd is Jacksonville is only being spotted 7 points in this game.  They have a rookie quarterback starting his second game and a coach that's on his way out the door.  This team has nothing to lose so expect them to pull out all the stops.  Drew Brees should throw for over 300 yards and 3 TD's in this one.  Saints win 34-13

Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs:  If you live in an area where this is the only game you get on TV and you don't have the Sunday Ticket, I feel for ya.  The Vikings are 2.5 point favorites, but as a betting man, I wouldn't touch this game.  If it was a 30 minute game, the Vikings would win by 20, but unfortunately for them we play 60 minutes.  They've blown a lead every game this season, but the Chiefs have never held a lead.  They almost beat the Gate-less Chargers last weekend who always struggle in September, but they really may be the worst team in football.  Adrian Peterson will have a monster game and the Vikings will cover the spread easily.  Vikings win 24-13
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles:  Vick says with 100% certainty that he's playing in this Sunday's game.  This Eagles team does not play well together, which was my biggest concern at the start of the season, when I compared them to the Lakers who acquired Gary Payton and Karl Malone to try and buy a championship.  Fact is, Asomugha is NOT THAT GOOD!  They paid this man a lot of money to come in and make plays, and he's done nothing but give up touchdowns.  Look at his "lack of" stats in Oakland.  They say it's cause no one threw to him.  I say it's cause he's not very good.  Jets look smart sticking with Cromartie.  This game is in Philly though, so I do like them to win and cover the 9 point spread.  Eagles win 27-6

Washington Redskins at St Louis Rams:Rams win 16-15

New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals:  The Giants, despite all of their injuries, proved they are still a team to be reckoned with in the NFC East by defeating the Eagles last Sunday.  Manning had the best game of his season, and he should have similar success with Mario Manningham back in the lineup this Sunday.  Arizona was awful losing to the Seahawks and only scoring 10 points, which would have never happened if it weren't for Fitzgerald.  If the Giants can find a way to shut down the receiver, they will win huge in Arizona.  They are only 1.5 point favorites, but I like them to cover easily.  Giants win 31-20

Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks:  What in the world is wrong with the Falcons this year?  They were supposed to be better right?  Julio Jones is playing well for a rookie, but Roddy White can't catch a cold, and Matt Ryan looks to bipolar.  Seattle is one of the hardest places to play, and it's no secret that Ryan struggles on the road, but look for them to cover the 5.5 point spread this week.  Atlanta wins 30-10

Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers:  The only thing the Broncos have going for them this week is they're playing on the road, so Orton doesn't have to hear the "Tebow" chants throughout the entire game.  The Packers are marred with injuries, but that didn't seem to stop them from winning the Super Bowl last year.  It's a 13.5 point spread this weekend but I don't think they'll cover.  Green Bay wins 21-10

New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders:  Ah, the dark hole.  The Raider Nation will be out in full force after they demolished the Jets last weekend.  But Tom Brady and the Pats are going to be bitter and focused after blowing a huge lead to the Bills and ultimately losing the game.  The Raiders are getting 5 points in this one, but it may not be enough.  They are one dimensional and Belichick is a genius at bouncing back from a loss and getting his team on track.  The Pats cover easily.  Patriots win 38-17

Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers:  Well, we know the Chargers struggle to win games in September and they may be without Antonio Gates again this week.  The Dolphins struggle to win period this year and they need a new identity.  They have the players in place to be a decent team, but they've struggled against a tough schedule thus far.  The Chargers are 7 point favorites at home, and I don't see any reason they shouldn't cover.  Chargers win 28-13

New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens:  I'm not really sure who either of these teams are yet.  One week they look great, the next week, bleh...This game should be a true test to see what they are made of.  Rex Ryan takes on the defense he created in Baltimore, so it's always an intriguing match up.  Ray Rice should have a big day running the ball on the Jets D after they gave up 200 yards on the ground to Oakland last weekend.  Baltimore is 3.5 point favorites and I expect them to cover at home.  Ravens win 19-12

Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  The Colts finally managed to show a little heart on defense last weekend and took the Steelers all the way to the wire.  Curtis Painter may get the start for the Colts, so let's see if he can provide a spark to that offense.  They were actually able to run the ball a little bit, so that will take some pressure off who ever the QB may be.  The Buc's are up and down, so we're not sure what to expect out of them.  They are playing at home so I do expect them to get the win, but I don't see them covering the 10 point spread.  Buccaneers win 17-13. 

Enjoy the games this weekend and hopefully this helps you regain some of the money you may have lost last week during those upset games.

A Look Ahead at Week 4

Week 4 is going to include some key match ups, including six potential AFC playoff teams facing off.  We're nearly a quarter of the way through the season already, and this is when the teams start to define who they really are and create separation from the rest of the competition.  Let's jump right into it!

One of the biggest early games will be the Detroit Lions traveling to Dallas to take on the Cowboys.  Now I don't see the Cowboys as an elite team in this league, but the Lions need this win to prove they are a force in the NFC.  The Cowboys need the victory more playing in a very competitive NFC East conference, where they currently sit in a three way tie with the Giants and Redskins for first place.  Tony Romo's "injury" should be fairly well behind him at this point and we can start discussing football in Dallas again.  First round pick Nick Fairley still isn't expected to suit up for the Lions with a nagging foot injury, but I don't suspect they will need him.  Lions get it done in a tight one.

Pittsburgh and Houston are both coming off disappointing games last weekend.  Sure, the Steelers won in Indianapolis but they were 15 point favorites going into the game and had to win on a last second field goal.  This team looks older on defense, the line cannot run block like they use to, and it seems they are fading behind Baltimore in the division.  Houston blew a big lead in New Orleans where the game ended up going back and forth in the fourth quarter before Drew Brees finally put them away.  I expect their defense to play better this week against the Steelers in what should be a fairly low scoring game.  I like Houston to win the game and prove their spot in the AFC elite.

The marquee match up in the four o'clock games will be the Patriots at Oakland.  Always a tough place to play, and the Raiders seem like a legitimate team this year.  They should be 3-0 if for not blowing a late lead to the Bills. Same could be said for the Patriots.  I expect Belichick to have his boys chomping at the bit after that embarrassing loss last week and win this game pretty easily.  I do like Darren McFadden as the best back in the league right now though.

Finally we move to the Sunday night game, where the Ravens play host to the Jets.  I still don't know who this Ravens team is.  They man handle the Steelers in week one only to be shut down by the Tennessee Titans the following week, then dismantle the Rams last weekend.  If there is a pattern forming here, the Jets should have their way with them.  As a top ranked defense in the NFL, it had to be discouraging for Rex Ryan to see McFadden and company run all over his Jets last weekend.  They look very vulnerable against the run, so expect Ray Rice to have a big day.  I like the Ravens by 6 in this match up.

Follow me on facebook and twitter to get all the news and highlights of action around the league every week.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dolphins Are Pointing Fingers After 0-3 Start

The Miami Dolphins have now dropped three consecutive games to start the season, all to fairly decent teams.  They managed to hang around with the New England Patriots in week 1 until Brady ripped them for over 500 yards through the air.  They played a tough Houston Texans team that has proven that they are on the verge of becoming a legitimate contender.  They struggled offensively in week 3 against a very good Cleveland Browns defense and couldn't stop Colt McCoy on the final drive to ultimately win the game for the Browns.
This has resulted in some finger pointing, mainly at head coach Tony Sparano.  When asked what was wrong with the team, Davone Bess came out publicly to state: "For the most part, just communication," Bess said. "Whether it's the receivers -- on my behalf, not getting a certain signal, messing up a play that could have potentially been a touchdown, or whether it's the quarterback not giving the signal out and the line not understanding what the protection is. And these are errors that we are causing on ourselves. It's not even the defense. It starts with us.
"A lot of that stems from discipline, a lot of it stems from not putting probably as much time as we should in the meeting rooms ..." Bess also added. 

Reggie Bush offered similar comments.  "The same things that happen during the games are the same things that are happening in practice," Bush said, according to FoxSports. "It carries over. We have to practice better, and I think once we begin to do that you'll start to see a better team.
"Don't walk off the field until you get it right."

Most of the players agree with these remarks, so what does that mean for the Dolphins?  Remember, Sparano was brought here from Dallas with Bill Parcells.  The Tuna is no longer in Miami, so how long can Sparano hold his job in South Florida?  Only time will tell, but it looks like they are the obvious door mat in the division, which could result in six losses right there.  Some early favorites to take the position right now are Bill Cowher, Jeff Gruden, and Jeff Fisher.  We'll see how things unfold and which one of these head coaches are interested in taking over a team that has talent, but lacks discipline.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Manning's Season Over?

It appears that the Colts star quarterback Peyton Manning is out for the season, according to Colts owner Jim Irsay Monday morning.  He stated that December would be a possibility for Manning to come back, but realistically, this team is not going to have a winning record in December and no chance of a playoff birth so why risk bringing Manning back too early? 

It looks like Manning is going to be sidelined until next season at best, so the Colts are moving on with Collins or Painter at QB.  It looks as if they also just brought journeyman Dan Orlovsky back on the roster.  Fantasy owners, if you haven't done so already, drop Manning from your team, even in the deepest of leagues, because he will not be coming back any time soon.  Kerry Collins left Sunday night's game against the Steelers with a mild concussion, so Colts fan got to see a glimpse of Curtis Painter under center.  Painter had a couple decent throws, but didn't show much hope for the struggling offense.  At this point, he may be the best option for the Colts with what they have on the roster.  Collins looks like a retired quarterback.  He's slow, he's not able to move in the pocket, and his release is very slow and he holds the ball to low.  None of these attributes bode well for a struggling young offensive line.  This is why Collins has fumbled and turned the ball over so many times in the first three games.

Watching this game last night, it really showed how much Peyton Manning means to this team, not only as a player, but as a coach.  The Colts lined up in formations that should have been checked out of, or not called at all.  They had Dallas Clark trying to block James Harrison most of the night, and he's never going to win that battle.  The coaching staff needs to step up and create mismatches and put their team in the best position to succeed.

A bright spot Sunday night was the Colts defense, especially the rush defense, stuffing the Steelers running backs nearly every time they touched the ball.  If the defense continues to play this way, the Colts can win a few games.  Looking at their schedule, I see six games that they can compete in.  They face Tampa Bay Monday night, who's defense looks very stout, but their offense is sputtering this year, so if the Colts can keep it close, they can have a chance like they did last night against Pittsburgh.  Then they have the Chiefs and Bengals, which are both winnable games for the Colts.  Week 12 they host the Carolina Panthers, who they have a good shot of beating, and the Jaguars twice on the schedule should be competitive games.  I don't expect them to compete with New England, New Orleans, or the Tennessee Titans this year.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week 3 Around the League

There was some wild games today in the NFL, let's break down the scores and stats.

The Browns are off to a 2-1 start after defeating the Miami Dolphins on a brilliant two minute drive by Colt McCoy.  The QB has shown maturity and leadership skills so far that can make head coach Pat Schurmur feel very confident going forward.  Peyton Hillis didn't suit up due to strep throat, but second year back Montereo Hardesty filled in nicely, rushing for 67 yards on 14 carries.

The Lions overcame a 20-0 first half deficit to beat the Vikings in overtime 26-23.  Calvin Johnson led the way with 108 yards and 2TD's from Matthew Stafford.  The Lions are now 3-0 tied for the division lead with the Green Bay Packers. 

The game of the week goes to the Buffalo Bills, coming from way behind for the second straight week and beating the New England Patriots 34-31.  Brady was picked off 4 times in the loss, matching his total for last year.  The Bills are now 3-0 and winning the division after beating the Patriots and the Jets losing to the Raiders. 

The "Dream Team" Philadelphia Eagles hosted the New York Giants today, and expected to roll over the banged up Gmen defense.  That did not happen!  The Giants front seven got after Michael Vick the entire game, and ultimately knocked him out of the game with a broken right hand.  Victor Cruz had a huge game, catching two of Eli Manning's four touchdown passes, and Ahmad Bradshaw was effective enough running the ball to give the Giants balance on offense.  The Eagles were preseason Super Bowl favorites, but now sit at the bottom of the NFC East with a 1-2 record.  Vick may not miss any games because he broke his non-throwing hand, but it's bound to cause some issues in handling snaps and running the ball. 

There was a shoot out in New Orleans, where the Saints came from behind to beat the Texans 40-33.  This was the first true test of the Houston defense, and they did not pass, giving up 40 points and well over 400 yards of offense to the Saints.  Matt Schaub also threw for over 370 yards and 3 TD's, but it wasn't enough.  This was a big win for the Saints as they move into first place in the division with the Falcons falling to Tampa Bay.

Speaking of the Falcons, what happened to this team?  They brought everyone back from a 13-3 team, and added some great rookies in the draft.  Roddy White dropped two huge passes on the final drive, one of which could have been a game winning TD.  Dropped balls plagued him his first few years in the league, and it looks like it's haunting him again.  The Buccaneers defense held Michael Turner (my starting fantasy running back) to 20 yards rushing, and forced three Matt Ryan turnovers to win 16-13.

The Titans kept rolling with a 17-14 victory over the Broncos.  Matt Hasselback had a 300 yard passing performance, but lost Kenny Britt to a knee injury, which may be season ending.  That would be a huge blow to the Titans, who seem to have a shot at winning the AFC South this year with Peyton Manning sidelined.  

The Raiders rolled over the Jets 34-24.  Darren McFadden may be the best running back in the NFL, rushing for over 150 yards and 2 TD's in the contest.  This team should be 3-0, but they blew a lead against Buffalo last weekend.  They are 2-1 tied with San Diego for the lead in the division, but they have New England next week, who will be looking to rebound from a big loss today at the hands of the Bills.  But remember, the Raiders did sweep the division last season and I like them to do the same this year.  If they can get four wins out of division match ups, they should be in the playoffs at the end of the year.

Other match ups included the Packers beating the Bears to improve to 3-0.  Cutler needs some help on that team.  JerMichael Finley caught 3 touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers to lead the way.  The 49ers beat the Bengals 13-8.  When I saw the score, I thought the San Francisco Giants were beating the Cincinnati Reds.  It was ugly, but the 49ers will take it, and they sit alone at 2-1 in the NFC West.  The Carolina Panthers came from behind to beat the Jaguars in Blaine Gabbert's debut 16-10.  The Ravens smashed the Rams in St. Louis 37-7 and the Chargers held on to beat the Chiefs 20-17.  Finally, the Seahawks got their first win of the season over division rival Arizona 13-10.

I will be looking forward to watching how the Colts prepared for the Steelers defense tonight.  Kerry Collins needs to get more time in the pocket to throw down field.  At the same time, the coaching staff needs to put Collins in the best situation to succeed, calling short timing patterns early to get the ball out of his hands and build confidence for the offense.  If they do that, this game could be closer than people think.

What Should Have Happened

All 32 teams trimmed their rosters down to 53 before the start of the regular season and are stuck with those guys.  Sure they can sign free agents, propose trades, and put guys on the bench, but they can't get those guys back that signed with other teams.  After two weeks of NFL action, we take a look at what teams should have done in the off season. 

The New York Football Giants made a couple of huge mistakes at the receiver position.  The first one was trusting that Dominick Hixon was going to stay healthy for the entire year.  If they had any chance to bring back Plaxico Burress they shot it down quickly saying "Hixon, Nicks, and Manningham are our guys."  This marks the third straight year that Hixon has went out with season ending injuries, tearing both ACL's along with other constant lingering injuries.  My belief is his career is over, at least in New York.  Then the Gmen decided to let Steve Smith go out and sign with division rival Philadelphia Eagles.  Sure he was coming off an injury, but he was the possession receiver on this team who wasn't scared to go over the middle of the field and grab those third down receptions.  A year and a half ago, the Giants were considered to have one of the best young receiving groups in the league.  Now they are thin with only Nicks in the lineup today, with Manningham out with an injury.  Plax would have been a nice option opposite Hakeem Nicks with Steve Smith in the slot.  Oh, and a guy named Kevin Boss at tight end would have been a great compliment in the passing game, but they got rid of him too.

I realize that the Colts signed Kerry Collins a week before the Jaguars cut David Garrard, but wouldn't he seem to be a better fit in the Colts offense?  The offensive line is brutal, and Collins is too old and not mobile enough to keep plays alive.  He's a sitting duck back there every pass play.  At least Garrard could move around in the pocket and keep plays alive.  Living in Indianapolis, it's tough to see the Colts 0-2.  If Manning can't come back, the players they do have are going to want out.  They will also be looking for a new head coach.  This team will virtually be an expansion team next year if Manning's career is over.

Remember two years ago when the Seahawks gave Charlie Whitehurst more money than any other backup quarterback at the time?  So why did they bring Travaris Jackson in from the Vikings and give him the starting job from day one?  Pete Carroll has to realize he's not in the college ranks any longer.  You can't just throw a quarterback in and expect him to be successful right away.  He's going to make mistakes.  I'm not saying Whitehurst is the guy, but he did win the season finale for the Seahawks last season to give them the division crown.  What has Jackson done in his career?

After two weeks, Matt Forte accounts for 60% of the Bears offense.  Why have they not paid this man?  The Bears have all their money tied up on the defensive side of the ball, while Cutler is getting pounded every week behind a dismal offensive line.  He also has no true receiver to throw to.  This is why Forte gets so many looks, because he's the only play maker they have.  The Bears either need to add some more talent on the offensive side of the ball, or pay Forte the money he has earned.  That division is much better now and if they can't bring Forte back next year, they will find themselves at the bottom.

I'm sure we will see some free agent signings throughout the season because of key injuries.  Maybe the Giants go after T.O.  Curtis Painter may get some action in Indy.  Jackson may stay in at QB so the Seahawks can assure themselves of getting Andrew Luck in the draft.  We will just have to wait and see.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Boomer Esiason on Romo Injury

There's been a lot of hype around Dallas and Tony Romo this week after coming back into the game last weekend against the 49ers with cracked ribs and a punctured lung.  Most of the media has been building up Romo and complementing his toughness for coming back into the game.  But Boomer Esiason sees it much differently.

"What the hell are the Cowboys' doctors doing?" the former Bengals, Jets and Cardinals quarterback said in an interview with USA Today." Are you allowed to play with a punctured lung, a collapsed lung, broken ribs? Is that what the NFL is now? Or do we actually care about the players? Or is it all just lip service? I think (Commissioner) Roger Goodell has got to look at that particular situation very seriously."

Esiason went on to say; "Everybody's got an opinion on Tony Romo. Everybody wants to put pressure on him."  "He's not the big-time QB, he's not Troy Aikman, he's not Roger Staubach, I get all that. But that fueled Tony Romo in my estimation on Sunday. He may deny it. ... I know he probably feels in the back of his mind, 'What are they going to write about me now if I don't show up on the field?' Now, he has a punctured lung and two fractured ribs."

Michael Irvin was on NFL Network today and was asked if Romo should play this weekend against the Redskins.  "Romo should absolutely play", Irvin stated during the interview.  He went on to talk about how he showed toughness and now has the confidence of the locker room.

Most people are aware of my opinion on Michael Irvin.  He's not exactly the best speaker, and he's usually wrong about most topics he discusses.  He's looking at this particular situation one sided.  Yes, Romo did show toughness going out there injured and playing to help his team win.  But like Boomer pointed out; how did these doctors clear him to go back into the game with a punctured lung?  Guys play all the time with bruised or cracked ribs, but a punctured lung?  We're talking serious health issues here if he gets hit. 

Maybe this was a scheme by Jerry Jones and the Cowboys doctors to make the injury sound more severe than what it really was to get the media off of their quarterback.  Maybe Romo really was hurt this severely.  If this is the case, the doctors on the Cowboys staff do need to be investigated, because if you're letting a guy play under these circumstances, you are putting his life at risk.   

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Week 3 Premier Matchup

There are a number of good games this weekend that I'm looking forward to, like the Giants vs. Eagles,the Lions vs. Vikings, and the Bills vs. Patriots, but the game of the week is going to be the Houston Texans and the New Orleans Saints.

These are two of the most explosive offenses in the league and Wade Phillips seems to have that defense playing better, although they haven't been tested yet.  This will be their first true test in a hostile environment.  It's not easy to play in New Orleans so we will see how far along the defense has come.  They haven't missed a beat with Foster out, as Ben Tate has been a prolific runner in the first two weeks, rushing for over a hundred yards in each game.  Drew Brees is always dangerous though, and he has a lot of weapons to throw to.  I am picking the Saints by 6 in what should be a high scoring affair.

I'm also looking forward to seeing the Lions against the Vikings.  If the Lions can start the season off with a W in their division, it would be a great motivating factor before facing Green Bay and Chicago.  Stafford has looked very impressive in the first two games, and the Lions defense looks very good.  The Vikings offense has been pitiful.  McNabb's days appear to be done, as he's just over 300 yards with one TD and one interception on the season.  Mike Shanahan is a pretty smart coach, and for him to recognize that McNabb wasn't a solid option to start any longer, Leslie Frazier should have took note.  He may have a few decent games here and there, but there will be no consistency this season for the Vikings.

The Bills are off to a 2-0 start and Ryan Fitzpatrick looks great, throwing 7 touchdowns in the first two games of the season.  Their offensive line looks great, despite them all playing together for the first time this season.  They gave up a lot of points to the Raiders last week and had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to win.  They won't be able to pull that off this weekend.  They will be playing Belichick's Patriots, who are also 2-0 and are putting up record numbers.  With Green Bay's shaky performance against Carolina, I have the Pats as the top team in my power rankings going into this weekend.  The game is in Buffalo, so the Pats will have a tougher time winning this game, but I do see them winning by double digits.   

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Will the Chiefs Go 0-16?

After a 41-7 thumping by the Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs follow it up with a 48-3 loss to the Detroit Lions.  This brings us to the question; Will the Chiefs win a game this year?  After looking through their schedule, weeks four and five give them the best opportunity to win a game this year.  They play at home against the Vikings and at Indianapolis against the Colts.  After these two games, they have teams like the Steelers and Patriots on the docket along with the Raiders, Chargers, Jets, and Packers.  It doesn't look good for the Chiefs.

Jamaal Charles is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, and Matt Cassel may as well be.  He has been awful at best.  He's put up only one touchdown with four interceptions and he's been sacked four times.  I said at the beginning of the season that this team would miss Charlie Weiss, but I had no idea it would be this badly.  I'm sure they'll get a fluke win at some point during the season, but on paper it doesn't look promising for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Week 2 Preview of the NFL

As week two of the NFL approaches, there are a few things that I'd like to cover around the league.  We learned from week 1 that Shonn Greene is never going to be "the guy" in New York.  LaDanian Tomlinson is still the featured back that adds more excitement when he's on the field than Greene.  If you have Greene on your fantasy roster, try and trade him or put him on the bench this week.

Tony Sparano said this week that he needs to do a better job of managing the plays and the opportunities that Reggie Bush gets during a game.  He's afraid that with the workload he received in week one, he won't make it past week five of the regular season.  Are you kidding me Sparano?  Why did you go out and get this guy and give him a contract if you didn't think he could play?  He's asking you to keep him on the field!  Reggie Bush looked explosive in the first half of the game Monday night, but then the Dolphins went away from him.  Sparano has his job because of Bill Parcels.  Parcels is no longer there, so Sparano needs to win in order to stay in Miami.  I believe Bush can give him the balance the offense needs to win some games.  Bush has put on about 20 pounds of muscle and is over 200lbs.  He can handle taking some hits.  Play the man!  

Michael Vick will be heading back to Atlanta where it all began this weekend.  I believe he will receive a warm welcoming, because he is still loved and respected by fans in Atlanta.  But I think Vick has said and done all the right things going into the game and said "That's not my house, that's Matt Ryan's house."  Now I don't know what Michael Irvin is talking about comparing Vick to "MJ", but Vick did put the Falcons back on the map.  I usually never know what Irvin is talking about these days anyway, but this should be a great game.  Expect the Falcons to play better at home than they did last week on the road in Chicago.  I still like the Eagles in this one, but it will be a close game. 

Finally, the Colts are hearing the Andrew Luck chants from the media as Manning's career is in question after a third neck surgery.  The players still on the roster are not happy hearing they can't win without Peyton.  My advice to them;  Prove that you can win without him and quit crying to the media!  As for the media, I  know this sells papers, but these guys are out there playing and competing without their general.  It will take some time to get this team playing together under Collins, but they will win some games, if they can shore up that O' line to give the QB some time to throw.  I will be at the game this weekend to watch the Browns and Colts, which should be a good game as these two teams find out who they are.

Enjoy week 2 of the NFL, and good luck to all of you fantasy football coaches.  I'm hoping for big games out of Jones Drew and Michael Turner this weekend.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What We Learned From Week 1

Many of the games this weekend didn't go my way personally, but we did learn a lot from the the first full Sunday of NFL football.  Here's a few of the things that stick out in my mind from yesterday's games.

Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears proved all the critics wrong and destroyed the Atlanta Falcons.  Cutler threw for over 300 yards and a pair of TD's, and proved he doesn't care what the media has to say about him.  The Bears are the real deal.

Speaking of the real deal; the Detroit Lions are good.  This game was not as close as the score showed.  The Lions dominated the field in yards and time of possession.  Stafford looked every bit as good as he did in the preseason, and if he stays healthy, the Lions may be due for a playoff spot in 2011.

The shocker of the weekend was the Buffalo Bills.  I knew the Chiefs offense wasn't going to be as good as they were last year, but there defense was awful.  The Bills put up 41 points with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing 4 touchdowns.  They are in an extremely tough division, but look for them to spoil some other teams season as we progress through the year.

The Dallas Cowboys aren't going to the Super Bowl.  I don't know why so many people think they are every year, but they are the Notre Dame of professional football.  They play well, but when they see they have a victory in their grasp, they throw it away...literally.  Two bone-headed plays by Romo cost the Cowboys the game late last night.  Dez Bryant looked like Larry Fitzgerald in the first quarter, but then fell apart...literally.  As for the rest of this division, the Giants have too many injuries to be competitive.  The receivers drop too many passes from Eli, and they have to play a tough schedule in the East.  The Redskins seem to be playing much better than anyone expected.  The Eagles will be good until Vick gets hurt, then Vince Young will be forced to play and may need a psychiatrist on the field with him. 

We also learned that the Cleveland Browns are same old Browns they've been the last five years.  There's a new offense but the same check down five yard passes that go no where.  It's embarrassing to get beat at home by a team that has more turmoil than any other team in the league.  Looks like another five win season for my beloved Browns.

As for the Colts.  There defense is built to play with a lead and rush the quarterback.  No Peyton Manning means no lead.  No lead means no defense.  As many pro bowl players as this team has, without Manning, they are in a rebuilding stage.  They are going to have to redesign that defense, get some size on the front four, and get better corners.  The offensive line is horrendous and they cannot run the football.  This means everything has to fall on Kerry Collin's shoulders, and this is not a good thing.  A long, long season is ahead of the Indianapolis Colts.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

NFL Season Begins This Sunday!

We already watched two of the most explosive offenses in the NFL shoot it out Thursday night for the NFL opener, but tomorrow marks the first full Sunday of the NFL season.  Teams around the league have been working hard over the last couple of days to sign key players to contract extensions, such as Chris Johnson, Troy Palamalu, Larry Fitzgerald, and today Adrian Peterson became the richest running back in the NFL.

Now that we have all the money and contract disputes set aside, we can focus on football.  There are some huge rivalry games to begin the season.  The Steelers are traveling to Baltimore to take on the Ravens, which has became one of the great rivalries in football.  Both teams are always tough and play great defense, so expect this to be a fast, hard hitting game. 

The Bengals travel up state to take on the Cleveland Browns.  These two teams always put on an exciting performance.  Neither team has a real explosive offense this year, but it should still be an exciting game in the battle of Ohio.

The New York football Giants will be at FedEx field in Washington to take on the Redskins, in what will be an emotional game on 9/11 with both communities being effected by the attacks a decade ago.  The Redskins offense will look totally different from a year ago, so it will be interesting to see how this team fairs.  Many "experts" are predicting the Redskins will win the East.  I'm not sold on this until I see Rex Grossman string together some complete games against first team defenses.  I like the Giants in this one.

We wrap up the day in New Meadowlands Stadium with the Cowboys taking on the Jets on Sunday Night Football.  Rex Ryan has again predicted a Super Bowl for his Jets, and the Cowboys who have virtually the same roster as the past few seasons seem to think they are Super Bowl least the media does.  I don't understand all the hype around this team every year.  I like the Jets winning this game by two touchdowns. 

What to watch for:  The Seahawks take on the 49ers in a key game early in the NFC West.  The team that loses this game could be on the fast track for Andrew Luck and the first pick in the draft next season.  I love Jim Harbaugh but he has his hands full this year with his new team.  If they can keep a coordinator for longer than a year, I think Alex Smith can progress into a decent starting quarterback.  The Seahawks put there chips in Travaris Jackson's basket and they will go down with his ship.  This team has nothing to get excited about this year.  I like the 49ers in this game, 13-6.  

Shocker of the Week: Most people, including myself, have written the Colts off after Manning was ruled out this Sunday, but I think they are going to play better than people think.  Kerry Collins is a proven winner and from what I'm told he's picked up the elaborate Colts offense fairly quickly.  Even Reggie Wayne is on the Collins band wagon now.  Look for Collins to manage the game and spread the ball around to the talented receivers he has at his disposal.  The defense of the Texans should be better than a year ago, but I still think there are some spots that the Colts can exploit.  With Arian Foster questionable coming into the game, I like the Colts to win this one without Manning.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Is Peyton Manning The Greatest QB of All Time?

After Manning's third neck surgery, it looks as if his season may be over before it began.  What the Colts fear worse is that his career may be over.  This prompted me to tackle the long debated question of who is better; Peyton Manning or Tom Brady?

To be fair, you really can't justify who the better quarterback is.  You can't justify who the greatest of all time is, because QB's have played in different era's with different levels of talent.  Since Manning and Brady both play in the same era, we can dig a little deeper to dissect what these guys do well. 

Let's start with Peyton Manning.  When he came into the league, the Colts were awful.  He broke the record for most interceptions thrown by a rookie QB in a season with 28, and the team finished 3-13.  This is usually what happens to a young QB that's drafted first overall.  The team gets the first pick because they are pretty bad, so he didn't have much around him to work with.  But when Tom Brady had to take the field in 2001 (his second year in the league), he came in for an injured Drew Bledsoe on a well coached team that had a great nucleus.  He started off playing very poorly, but got better as he adjusted to the system and players.  So if we combine the start of the two QB's careers, it's not a fair comparison because the Patriots obviously had a much better team than the Colts.  Therefore, we cannot compare Manning and Brady in this aspect.
Now let's look at how these teams would perform without their star quarterbacks.  Manning has played every game since he's came into the league, so we won't really know how the Colts will respond until Sunday when Kerry Collins leads the Colts onto the field.  When Manning broke the TD record with 49 in a season, he was out of the game in many 4th quarters, giving way to Jim Sorgi.  The Colts could not move the football without Manning in the game.  This team still has the same personality.  They struggle to run the football, and it's based on a heavy dose of timing routes.  Manning makes it work, where Sorgi and Painter couldn't.  In 2008, when Brady went down in week 1, the Patriots regrouped with Matt Cassell and went 11-5.  Just look at Hoyer and Mallet who are the 2nd and 3rd quarterbacks currently on the roster.  They played amazing throughout the preseason and look to be viable replacements if Brady goes down again.  How is this possible?  It's not because Brian Hoyer or Matt Cassell are outstanding quarterbacks.  It's because of the system.  Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches of all time, and has a very credible system in place that is proven to be successful.   

Now let's look at the talent around these guys.  Personally, all I've heard is how much better Peyton Manning's surrounding cast has been than Tom Brady's.  I don't buy this at all!  Both had good offensive lines, but the Patriots have had the Cowboys line of the 90's.  Brady doesn't get touched!  The last few years the Colts have been shuffling lineman so Manning hasn't been as safe as he has in the past.  As far as receivers, it depends on the year we're talking about.  When Manning threw 49 TD's, he had Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Brandon Stokley.  What has Stokley done on any of the teams he's played for since he left the Colts?  I'm just saying, he was a system player.  When Brady threw 50 TD's, he had Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Donte Stallworth.  Now we can say the same thing about Stallworth as we said about Stokley.  One important aspect to note on these record breaking seasons is Peyton Manning went out early in 6 games during the regular season, sitting out most of the 4th quarters of these games.  Brady played every game in full, throwing TD's in the 4th quarter of games they were already winning by 20.  The last five seasons, Tom Brady has definitely had a more consistent running game in New England than Manning has had in Indianapolis.  Overall, I think both teams had great players that fit their schemes, so it's hard to say who has had the best surrounding cast.

Ultimately, I don't think you can ever compare any two elite quarterbacks and say one is better than the other, because there are simply too many variables that come in to play.  Surrounding cast, coaches, the system they are playing in,  and what era they played in are all factors that need to be considered.  The question is going to be "Does Manning mean more to the Colts than Brady means to the Patriots?"  We already know the Pats can win without Brady.  On Sunday, we're going to see if the Colts can win without number 18. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Saints vs Packers in the Opener. Who's Going to Win?

Tomorrow night brings us a night that we weren't sure was going to happen, after a lengthy hold out and teams missing nearly all of training camp.  And what a way to open up the season with the last two defending Super Bowl champs playing at Lambeau.

I really don't see weather being a factor in early September, so the Saints should not be affected by playing outdoors.  Drew Brees will be able to sling the ball all over the field, and you better believe he will.  Brees may throw the ball 45 times, unless Mark Ingram is better out of the gate than we anticipated.  This will not go well for the Saints.  The Packers have one of the best secondaries in the NFL, and many people forget that Brees threw nearly as many interceptions as Eli Manning did last season.  (So stop hating on Eli you critics).

The recipe for the Saints to win this game is a balanced attack.  They need to have Ingram and Thomas moving the ball consistently behind that offensive line.  Expect Darren Sproles to have some third down looks out of the backfield.  They will work to get him the ball in open space so he can do what he does best and make people miss.  

For the Packers to win, all they need to do is have Aaron Rodgers play half as well as he did during the post season in 2010.  Unless they can get the running game to be more efficient and consistent, look for defenses to figure Rodgers out.  With the Saints front four, I don't see the Pack running too effectively in this game.  This means Rodgers will need to be in top form.  If Greg Jennings is clicking with Rodgers tomorrow, look for the Saints secondary to have a long night.  I expect JerMichael Finley to be a welcomed addition to the passing game, and he'll provide a huge target for Rodgers in the red zone.

Like so many football fans, I'm thrilled that this day is finally here, and can't wait to tune in to the game tomorrow night.  My prediction, the Packers beat the Saints 28-24 in a late 4th quarter drive by Aaron Rodgers.   

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

David Garrard Out in Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Jaguars announced today that they have released long time quarterback David Garrard, freeing up $9 million in cap money.  What does this mean for the Jags and the AFC South?

Head coach Jack Del Rio was informed during the off season that if he failed to make the playoffs, there's a good chance he'd be out of a job after the 2011 season.  This appears to be what prompted the move to release Garrard and name Luke McCown the starter for week one.

McCown has been an inconsistent quarterback in the NFL, at best.  He's had a decent preseason, but playing against third team guys that probably aren't making NFL rosters isn't what I would call "good evidence" that he's going to lead this team to the playoffs.

The Jags drafted Blaine Gabbert in the first round, but with a shortened off season, he's not ready to take the snaps for a coach that is on the hot seat.  Team owner Wayne Weaver has hurt this team by putting these stipulations on Del Rio.  If he's not your guy, get rid of him now!  You drafted a quarterback in the first round because your team is in need of a change, and that means rebuilding.  So why put the pressure on your head coach to make the playoffs when you know that this is nearly impossible?  The reason that football teams have General Manager's and front office staff is to have someone who is business minded make these decisions.  Many owners in the league don't have a clue on how to make football decisions.  They just happen to be wealthy individuals that can afford an NFL franchise.  Naturally owning a multi-million dollar business, the owner wants to have some say in what happens, which is expected.  But sometimes these guys just need to stay out of the media and consult with their office personnel before making statements.

This team is going a different direction at quarterback, so I see them at a rebuilding stage.  The only way they would make the playoffs is to win the division, and they are far from the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.  With one of the above mentioned teams, the Baltimore Ravens, and the New York Jets all in the AFC, a wild card seems highly unlikely as well.

Jack Del Rio will be a great defensive coordinator for some team next season!

Monday, September 5, 2011

How Sports Has Inspired The World

It's been a decade now since the devastation of 9/11 took place, and America is still working to move forward from the tragedies that occurred that day.  On this memorable occasion, I've decided to look back at different tragedies we've all suffered and recognize the world of sports for its contributions during these harsh times.

September 11th marked the worst tragedy in American history, with nearly 3,000 people losing their lives in a single act of terrorism.  Americans all across the country watched in horror as the two massive towers collapsed and engulfed New York City in smoke and debris.  Many of our brothers stepped up and helped one another, becoming heroes that day.  Others lost their lives, their loved ones, and their sense of security and freedom.  But as we always do, Americans bonded together and overcame adversity to not forget, but to put tragedy behind us and move forward with life.  But what are the things that help us do this?  One that comes to mind...sports.

Just seven weeks after New York was devastated with the disaster, the World Series of Baseball took place with the New York Yankees playing against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The Yankees are a team that is not liked or disliked.  You either love them or you hate them if you are a baseball fan.  But for a short period of time in October and November of 2001, nearly every person in America became a New York Yankees fan.  I remember meeting a few gentlemen in a pub during game 1 of the World Series.  They were originally from Boston and were wearing Red Sox shirts, but much to my surprise were rooting for the city of New York and the baseball team that they grew up hating.  To witness these men wearing their Boston attire and rooting for the Yankees gave me chills.  It made me realize that when it comes down to it, baseball is just a game.  In the end, we are all brothers and sisters and want whats best for one another.
The Yankees and Diamondbacks played arguably the most exciting World Series in MLB history.  The Diamondbacks ended up winning the series in seven games, but the series showed us that the city of New York will overcome this adversity and get back to normalcy.  For a brief moment, the Yankees gave the city something to cheer for, instead of mourning over the devastation.

August 29th, 2005 marked the most devastating natural disaster in US history.  Hurricane Katrina became a category 3 storm as it worked its way across central Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  The city below sea level, New Orleans, was hit the hardest by the storm.  All in all, over 1,800 people lost their lives during the costliest hurricane in American history.  The New Orleans Saints Superdome was a key landmark that provided shelter and food for nearly 26,000 residents of the city.  In the aftermath of the hurricane, much of New Orleans was left under water, and many people left without homes.  While many people were spending energy and resources complaining about the government and what should have been done to prevent this, the world of sports took initiative to step up and help the people that were suffering.  Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, originally from the New Orleans area, used millions of dollars of their own money to load food and supplies in a plane and personally deliver the goods to the people of Louisiana.  NBA teams like the Orlando Magic visited the area and met with survivors, signed autographs, and simply spent time with the victims.  Many NFL and NBA players spent the next few years building homes in the area and donating time and resources to help rebuild New Orleans.  Then four years later, the New Orleans Saints went on to win the Super Bowl over the Indianapolis Colts.  A team that had never played in a Super Bowl, or really ever had a successful track record of winning, overcame all odds and lifted a city to the highest peak of enjoyment in the sports world.

Watching the Japanese Soccer team win the championship over USA was bittersweet.  After a massive earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown at a power plant in Japan, the country seemed to be on the brink of disaster.  The storm claimed over 15,000 lives, making it one of the deadliest disasters in the world.  The Japanese soccer team brought hope back to their country and gave the natives reason to cheer as they dominated the playoffs and won the championship in thrilling fashion.

There are many obstacles in our daily lives that create adversity and cause stress.  Sports has become one of the greatest outlets for this stress, giving us something to get excited about.  Some great sports movies that come to mind are "Invincible" and "We Are Marshall".  These movies depict the struggles Americans go through, and how sports teams are there to lift our spirits when all hope seems lost.

A sport can provide inspiration in our lives.  No matter what sport you are a fan of, you can use it to give you a sense of fulfillment and an escape from your everyday problems.  There aren't many things out there with this type of power.  When times get tough, athletes and sports teams are always there to lend a helping hand.  Sports can make us forget about problems we have going on at home or at work. And just when it seems we're at the end of the line in life, our favorite team will pull off an amazing victory and bring joy to our lives, only if for a few a hours.  That's a pretty powerful thing!

Friday, September 2, 2011

NFL's Top Running Backs 2011

Last year we saw some guys come out of no where and lead their respective teams in rushing. Peyton Hillis was an absolute beast in Cleveland, and we all know what Arian Foster was able to do in Houston, leading the league in rushing and yards from scrimmage.

Who will break out this year and put up similar numbers? Chances are, nobody! I don't expect to see a runner come out of nowhere and rush for 1600 yards again, but there will be running backs who put up big numbers. We've went down the list of elite backs, looked at the defenses they play, and have made our predictions for how they will finish up the season. There are also some sleeper running backs that I like this year. Let's take a look at the backs on the list.

Tim Hightower - This is my sleeper pick of the year at the running back position. Mike Shanahan loves to run the ball and Hightower will thrive in this system. Playing in a very good defensive division will take away some of his potential numbers, but I still like him to succeed this year for the Redskins. 2011 Projected Stats: 1158 yards, 9 TD's, 61 catches 481 yards 2TD's

Jamaal Charles - I love Charles as a player, but this offense has looked dismal this preseason without Charlie Weiss calling the plays. Look for many of the offensive starters numbers on this team to take a hit from a year ago. Jamaal Charles will put up decent numbers because he's an excellent back, but it's going to be a little tougher going this year for the Chiefs. Luckily he gets to run against the Broncos D twice a year. 2011 Projected Stats: 1208 yards, 6 TD's, 45 catches 370 yards 2 TD's

Adrian Peterson - This man has been the most consistent back in the NFL since he joined the Vikings. Sure, he's had some issues with fumbles occasionally, but he was able to clean that up last year and had another great season, despite all the turmoil going on at the QB position. This year McNabb should prove to be a steady starter and help take some pressure off of Peterson. Expect "All Day" to touch the ball 25 times a game, and expect him to take advantage of all of these touches. 2011 Projected Stats: 1478 yards, 14 TD's, 51 catches 452 yards 3 TD's

Arian Foster - Foster came out of nowhere last season and rushed for over 1600 yards and led the NFL in yards from scrimmage. Coming off two hamstring injuries in a matter of weeks this preseason, look for Foster to come out slower and give up some carries to Tate as the season begins. Don't expect him to duplicate his season from a year ago, especially with Vonte Leach now blocking for Ray Rice in Baltimore. I also feel that this is the year that Schaub will probably suffer some injuries like he often did in the past, and that will not help Foster's case. 2011 Projected Stats: 1297 yards, 11 TD's, 67 catches 591 yards 3 TD's

Ray Rice - A low, shifty runner, Rice is able to find holes that most backs can't at the line of scrimmage. He has the ability to turn two yard losses into 7 yard gains. With Willis McGahee gone and a pro bowl full back now blocking for him, look for Ray Rice to have his best season to date. 2011 Projected Stats: 1367 yards, 11 TD's, 71 catches 635 yards 4 TD's

Peyton Hillis - Hillis came onto the scene last season when Montereo Hardesty went down with a season ending knee injury. No one even knows what Hardesty is capable of doing in the NFL, so it's hard to say whether or not he's going to make a difference in the Browns backfield this year. If Hillis can stay healthy, he will easily duplicate the 1100 yards he put up last season. A new west coast offense will be more beneficial for him in the passing game as well. 2011 Projected Stats: 1247 yards, 15 TD's, 49 catches 356 yards 1 TD

Chris Johnson - No off season and a lengthy holdout through the entire preseason is going to hurt Johnson's numbers in the early going. I think it will take him a few weeks to get acclimated back into the NFL. It doesn't matter how good you are. This league is too hard to walk in off the street against these athletes and dominate without the right preparation. Look for Johnson to take two or three weeks to get rolling full speed. 2011 Projected Stats: 1102 yards, 12 TD's, 66 catches 497 yards 2 TD's

Steven Jackson - It's almost hard to put Jackson on this list because he's been so quiet as of late. Jackson has been the work horse for the Rams every year and the wear and tear is starting to show. Don't expect Jackson to put up elite numbers much longer in his career. I still see him as a 1000 yard back, but he's hovering on falling off that platform. 2011 Projected Stats: 1067 yards, 8 TD's, 40 catches 297 yards 2 TD's

Thursday, September 1, 2011

NFC Power Rankings - NFC East

We've finally come to an end, wrapping up the NFL Power Rankings for the preseason with the very strong NFC East. I've spoke with numerous experts and avid football fans and everyone seems to have a different team coming out on top in this division. Let me break down the lineups for you and show you where I have each team finishing up and who will go on to the playoffs.

4. Washington Redskins - "The Redskins will win the East this year!" A bold prediction from QB Rex Grossman, who may not even start when the regular season begins. We obviously know that Grossman is in no position to throw out such lofty expectations, especially coming off a dismal first season for Mike Shanahan and his son calling plays. It will take some time, but Shanahan will get the pieces in place for this team to be successful. He already brought in Tim Hightower from Arizona, who has looked very strong in the preseason. We all know how much Shanahan likes to run the ball and what he did to guys careers in Denver like Clinton Portis, Rueben Droughns, Mike Anderson, and many others. Once he gets the system implemented that he wants, he will have Hightower running for 1300 yards a season. It does take a talented franchise QB in today's league to win, and I'm not sure if the Redskins have that on their roster. They are between journeyman Rex Grossman and an inexperienced John Beck to lead this team into the season. All signs point to Beck being the starter for the opener, but both have played pretty equal during the preseason. Too many slip ups by either will open the door for the backup to come in and create an ongoing competition. As far as the rest of the offense goes, Jabar Gaffney is really not exciting me as a starting receiver, and Santana Moss still has some big plays in him, but they really lack the big receiver that can run routes over the middle of the field. Chris Cooley has battled some injuries so look for him to redeem himself from last years dismal season if he can stay on the field.
Defensively, this looks like a solid unit on paper. Barry Cofield will be a huge addition at nose tackle, and will give them more heart and stability than Haynesworth gave them. London Fletcher is a great linebacker, and is teamed up with Rocky McIntosh and Ryan Karrigan, so they should be a solid group. DeAngelo Hall came back to form last season by putting up good numbers, so look for him to build off that success. This will be an improved team from a year ago, but lack on consistency at the quarterback position will plague them. I have them finishing up 7-9 in 2011.

3. Dallas Cowboys - The rest of this division can go any of three ways. We're going to put the Dallas Cowboys in the third spot...for now. Everyone thinks this is one of the most talented teams on paper, but I don't really see it yet. Sure they have talent, but they are young and inexperienced at key positions on the field. The Cowboys have always been known for running the football, and this year they are going in with Felix Jones as the starter. Jones can break a big play any time he touches the ball, but history has proven that he can also break a leg and be out for most of the season. This will leave the Boys with Tashard Choice and rookie DeMarco Murray. Dez Bryant is still an immature kid who needs to grow up quick if he wants to wear number 88 in Dallas much longer. He can be very talented, but he also has injury issues and character issues that can keep him off the field. Miles Austin had a huge year two years ago, but really failed to live up to expectations last season. Tony Romo is back and is already reminding us in the preseason who his favorite target is. Jasen Witten should have a solid year with Romo back in the lineup and throwing him the rock.
Outside Linebacker DeMarcus Ware may be the best at his position, as he anchors a solid defensive front. The secondary has been an issue, so Rob Ryan brought Abram Elam over from Cleveland to help out. Gerald Sensabaugh and Mike Jenkins are decent players, but this unit will give up a lot of passing yards again this year.
I look for Romo to be healthy and put up good numbers like he's done in the past, but this team still doesn't know how to win big games, and I think that will hurt them in a very competitive division. If they can keep Felix Jones and Dez Bryant on the field, they may move up on this list. If not, they will be fighting it out with the Redskins for the bottom of the barrel. I have them finishing 9-7 this year. A winning record, but not enough to win this division or get into the playoffs.

2. Philadelphia Eagles - Most people already have this team in the Super Bowl based on off season moves they made, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Bringing in the top free agent in Nnamdi Asomugha was a huge surprise, and an even bigger surprise was getting Dominique Rogers-Cromartie from Arizona and keeping Asante Samuel. These three have yet to prove that they can coexist effectively on the field together. That showed when Pittsburgh torched them for three first half touchdown passes in week two of the preseason. This unit has a lot of depth on the defensive front so they should be able to swap out those hogs and keep a fresh attack coming at opposing QB's.
Michael Vick was the most pleasant surprise in the NFL last year, rejuvenating his career when Kolb went down with an early injury. Vick took advantage of the situation and put up career numbers across the board. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are one of the most explosive receiver tandems in the NFL, but the receiver I like most on this roster is Riley Cooper. Him and Vick seem to be on the same page and he isn't scared to go over the middle and pluck those balls out of the air in traffic. Brent Celek is healthy and should provide a nice check down target for Vick. LeSean McCoy is poised to have a breakout year, and has looked crisp in the preseason. Ronnie Brown signed a one year deal, but I'm not sure what role he's going to play in this offense. Personally, I think it may have been career suicide coming to Philly. He could have shined more going somewhere like Arizona or Seattle where he could have been featured more often. This team can be the best in the NFC, but they need to come together and prove it on the field week after week before they move up this list. A lighter schedule playing the NFC West will help, so I give them a 10-6 mark.

1. New York Giants - I almost ranked this team third in the division. That's how close all these teams stack up. The Giants have been disappointing in the preseason, and that's really putting it lightly. Eli Manning has struggled, and is yet to throw a TD pass. If you're going to make comparison comments to Tom Brady, you need to go out and play as such. Right now you're making all the critics look right in their comments about you. Giving the fact that Eli plays like we know he can, this will be one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Kevin Boss was a huge loss, but they have some young guys at that position that they like. Hakeem Nicks should have a huge season, and Mario Manningham and a healthy Dominick Hixon will be good targets for Manning. Brandon Jacobs is still a beast, as he's proved this preseason rumbling over defenders for long touchdown runs. Resigning Bradshaw was a great move for the Giants, as he is a shifty change of pace back that has a knack for finding the hole and hitting it quickly. The G-Men are deep at RB, so even if one of these guys goes down, they shouldn't miss a beat with Ware and Brown coming off the bench.
Defensively, this could be one of the best units in the league. Injuries, primarily in the secondary, have killed them this preseason, with big name players like Terrell Thomas suffering season ending injuries. Prince Amukamara is the highly toted rookie CB from Nebraska that will be out for the beginning of the season, but should be back to full form by week 3 or 4. They still have Corey Webster and Aaron Ross at the corners, so I think they will still be a solid unit.
If Eli can manage to get it together this year and throw more TD's than his brother, who hasn't suited up yet for the Colts, I think the Giants will be just fine. This team will win 10 games this year, but win the tie breaker over the Eagles to win the division. Both teams may make it into the playoffs, but look for the football Giants to finish on top.