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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

NFC East Preview

What a division we have here.  All four teams should be playoff hungry this season, and if the Redskins offensive line can hold up and protect RG3, wow, we will be in for a wild week 17 when the Eagles face the Giants and the Redskins face the Cowboys....

Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles are much more improved then the Dream Team that never was last year.  Michael Vick has barely survived the preseason, talks of Nick Foles taking over have already begun in Philly due to his outstanding play thus far.  That being said, Vick is the 100 million dollar baby, and he will be behind center without a doubt.  If he can do that 16 straight times this regular season then the Eagles are, without a doubt in my mind, a playoff team.  They have the pieces on offense; Vick, McCoy, D Jack and Maclin, Celek, and a very strong offensive line.  Vick needs to make smart decisions with the ball in the pocket and outside of the pocket as well.  With an explosive offense, a ridiculously deep defensive line, a stronger linebacking core led by off season acquisition Demeco Ryans, the Eagles have the pieces to put together a strong playoff run.  Vick just has to stay healthy, and that has not been easy for him to do.

New York Giants - The Giants are the defending Champions and everyone will be out to get them this season. But they have an absolutely BRUTAL schedule this season.  They end the season with the Saints at home, at Atlanta, at Baltimore, and they host the Eagles to round it out.  I think the Giants, while they have a very good defense and a clutch quarterback, take a step back this season.  I think they will struggle with consistency running the ball this season, and they will miss Brandon Jacobs.  No more Manningham means Nicks and Cruz will see some double coverage.  I just think this schedule will be too much for Eli to handle, and the Giants will take a step backwards this season.

Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III will have a good season this year.  He will throw for 25+ touchdown passes and will run for a few as well.  The Redskins have a playoff caliber defense, and seasoned Rookie QB if that makes sense, and they have plenty of arsenal to use at running back.  Moss will play the slot roll and Garcon will be the X receiver for RGIII.  I like this team a lot, and I think the quarterback will breathe a lot of energy into the locker room and take this team to a higher level.

Dallas Cowboys - Tony Romo is long overdue to do something for the Dallas Cowboys.  Only problem is that a brutally hard schedule lies in front of him, and even if the Cowboys make it to the playoffs, the question will be who is healthy and fresh enough to make them contenders...Dez Bryant, despite the circus that comes along with him (behaviorally that is), will be a Pro Bowl receiver this season if he stays healthy.  Murray and Jones will spell Romo from having to pass the ball 45+ every game, and of course a healthy Miles Austin would be nice right? Morris Claiborne will be a tough cornerback for the Boys, and I expect Rob Ryan to have this defense ready to go from day one.  The Cowboys will be a tough team to beat this season because they are explosive offensively, have a terrific defensive line, and have made improvements to their secondary.  Tough tough schedule though.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NFC West

Arguably the worst division in the NFL.  Let's take a look here at the NFC West division.

San Francisco 49ers - with the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, an added bonus of Brandon Jacobs and rookie LaMichael James joining the offense, the 49ers should not struggle to score this season.  Alex Smith is coming off a remarkable campaign last season and I expect his play to only get better.  The defense is where it is at with the 49ers.  Defense alone will win this team 4-5 games, so count on the 49ers to be top in the West and ready for a deep playoff run for Coach Harbaugh.  More than 16 opportunities to slap a coach in the back for Jimmy Boy this season.

Arizona Cardinals - I just feel bad for Larry Fitzgerald.  The guy seems like a class act, hard-working wide receiver that just wants to win desperately.  Ain't happenin' this year my man.  Who is behind center to start the season will not be behind center to finish it (whether its poor play or injury due to a horrible offensive line).  There is no fantasy value on this team besides Fitzgerald.  Cardinals may not win 5 games this season.

St. Louis Rams - New Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has some tools for Sam Bradford to play with this season, but the secondary on the defensive side of the ball has to step up or else Bradford will be playing from behind all season long. Expect S. Jackson to have yet another productive season, and I anticipate Danny Amendola to have 90+ receptions this season in the offense.  Jeff Fisher will have his team up and energized for each game, and the defense is a stout front seven, I just think the Rams are a good two years away from being relevant in the NFC.

Seattle Seahawks - I loved the Rookie Scout show that ESPN did with Jon Gruden and the handful of draft-eligible quarterbacks this past April.  The one show that impressed me the most was that with Tyler Wilson of Wisconsin.  Gruden was so high on this kid, and despite his height, he truly felt there is a tremendous upside with him.  I firmly agreed, and boy is that shining through now in Seattle.  A preseason quarterback batter between Wilson and newly signed Matt Flynn from Green Bay.  Flynn has not impressed this preseason, while Wilson has.  Wilson has the edge, he has the charisma, and the make of a leader.  I really like the Seahawks this season, even with a rookie (or high inexperienced Flynn), to have a successful season.  Lynch and Washington will provide a nice ground game, TO and Mike Williams provide the height needed at wide receiver, and we all know the defense is legit.  Should be at least 8 wins for the Seahawks if Flynn or Wilson have decent and smart seasons.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Does anyone look good after hardknocks?  Perhaps it speaks to the type of organization that embrace the added attention but it’s yet to work as a positive for the head coaches invovled.  For charismatic coaches like Brian Billick and Rex Ryan, it exposed them for being heavy on style and light on content while hurting their public reputations in the process.  For other coaches such as Dave Campo and Marvin Lewis, Hard Knocks exposed them as lacking both style and content.  Rex Ryan exploded onto the scene with an old-school defensive powerhouse of a team.  The Jets were brash and backed up the talk with impressive victories and playoff runs.  Once a few of the assembled talent aged passed its prime and the Emperor in New England got his groove back, the Jets came back to earth and Ryan’s schitck began to sound less like confidence and more like false bravado. To Ryan’s credit, he didn’t back off, he doubled down on the audacity.  Ryan signed on Wildcat enthusiast Tony Sporano then traded for Tebow while simultaneously announcing he would serve as a protector on punts.  Perpetual malcontent Santonio Holmes didn’t care for Sanchez throwing passes in the dirt at his feet, I wonder how he will like passes sailing 10 yards over his head coming from the chosen one? 

Miami is going to struggle.  It really doesn’t so much matter what washed-up or never will be quarterback takes the snaps because he doesn’t have anywhere to throw the ball.  Davone Bess and Legadu Nanee project at the starting spots.  That’s the best Miami could come up with?  Reggie Bush is the best receiver on this team.  He also happens to be the best kick returner and the best running back.  The kind of production the Dolphins need from Reggie is only possible if he remains healthy.  Reggie Bush stayed healthy and changed the fantasy fortunes of so many that took a flier on his last year, but can we expect this again?  Doubtful.  The defense is legit and early indications are that new head coach Joe Philbin runs a tight ship.  Given his Green Bay pedigree, the future is bright, but Philbin doesn’t have Aaron Rodgers nor does he have Matt Flynn.

Buffalo deserves a better Bills.  It’s been 13 years since Buffalo went to the playoffs.  They paid an awful lot of money over the past few years to keep their stars and add a new one.  Thanks to Jeremy Lin, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s reign as best professional Harvard athlete lasted only a few months longer than the Bills’ optimism.  It’ll take more than Mario Williams to fix all of Buffalo’s woes but it’s a good start and should give the Bills faithful a reason to believe that if the stars align in just the right way, they could find themselves in the playoff hunt.

New England comes back reloaded.  Full of offensive fire power and a young defense that includes two first rounders who will certainly aid the pass rush, the Patriots are primed to disappoint the Boston faithful in another Super Bowl. The AFC East is a Patriot world and the rest are just squirrels trying to get a wildcard.


The Texans are the clear favorites in the AFC South.  As Houston proved last year, they don’t need Mario Williams on defense to be effective.  They essentially replaced Williams via the draft with someone better suited to play the outside.  Wade Phillips is as brilliant a defensive coordinator as he is an abomination as a head coach.  In a twist of fate, it is the offense that may ultimately determine Houston’s fate.  Injuries, both serious and chronic, plague Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub.  Both should be healthy come week 1- but can they last an entire season? 

The Colts (Andrew Luck aside) have a Major-League-Cleveland-Indians kind of feel to them in that I’ve never heard of half these guys and the ones I do know are way past their prime.  I do think Luck will have a very productive first year and the Colts will be in attack mode come next off season for big time free agents to help their defense.

Meanwhile, the Titans canned Jeff Fisher and continue to employ immensely talented but perpetually criminal Kenny Britt.  Tennessee needs pre holdout Chris Johnson and pre arthritis Matt Hasselbeck to make some noise but it is unlikely either of those guys will coming running out of the tunnel on Sundays.

The Blaine Gabbert pick last year stunk of desperation.  He’s a good looking kid who Jags management hoped would pan out and give them a star to market beyond the indifferent confines of Jacksonville. Gabbert looks like the bad guy from a John Hughes movie.  He doesn’t need to be great or even good- average would put the Jags in contention for a division run.  Jacksonville’s defense ranks among the best in the league and if the additions of Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson help Gabbert reach a James Spader type level- the Jags just might surprise us.


AFC North

Andy Dalton gave hope to aspiring ginger quarterbacks everywhere with his play in Cincy last year.  The 2011 Bengals were like the nerdy girl who gets her braces off, goes to fat camp and comes back for sophomore year hot.  Can the Bengals keep from putting that weight back on and stay hot?  Tough to say.  There’s a lot of competition for prom queen in the NFC North and only one dog.

The Mike Holmgren era Browns are in full rebuilding mode.  Poor Colt McCoy was forced into a starting role before his time and after two years of consistent beatings, a void of talent at the skill positions, he’s got the David Carr 1000 yard stare.  The fact Cleveland picked up a middle aged rookie QB to take his spot tells us what the Browns’ top brass thinks of his potential. Trent Richardson may want to get Steven Jackson and MJD’s phone numbers- some guys who understand what it means for a running back’s efforts to go in vain.

Pittsburgh and Baltimore are not without their faults.  The Steelers brought in Todd Haley, notorious for his indifference to the running game, and failed to reach an agreement with star wideout Mike Wallace.  Wallace will get signed, but how much time can he miss with his new OC before it shows?  The Steelers have added youth along the offensive line but Big Ben comes into this year with a preexisting shoulder injury.  Age has its way with us all and Pittsburgh’s defense is filled with vets.  I wouldn’t count this group out, but the Steelers have the look of a team that may struggle with injuries as much as they struggle with their opponents.

Finally, we have the Ravens.  The Ravens did the right thing and signed workhorse Ray Rice to a lucrative contract.  GM Ozzie Newsome snatched up Jacoby Jones after the Texans released the receiver.  He adds another deep threat to pair with Torrey Smith.  Along with TE Ed Dickson and Anquan Boldin, Baltimore boasts a well rounded offense.  Baltimore has given Flacco the tools for success and in 2012, just as in 2011, the Ravens will go as far as Joe Flacco and his unibrow will take them.


                                                               AFC WEST

Perhaps the most intriguing division in the AFC, the West offers plenty of story lines and, unless you think Norv Turner’s head coaching career to date has been an aberration, lacks a clear favorite.   San Diego GM AJ Smith comes across as a smug know-it-all whose fierce stubbornness likely caused the Chargers to miss their window of opportunity.  Smith let Drew Brees go after a nice playoff push, played hardball with Vincent Jackson to the point he was begging to leave, and remains steadfast in his commitment to Norv Turner.  San Diego still has talent, but age, contracts, and Norv have taken their toll. 

The Raiders have some talent but McFadden continues to struggle to stay on the field and Carson Palmer isn’t good enough at football.  The Raiders are mind numbingly mediocre.  They lifted themselves from the basement but 9 wins and a hope that the rest of the division falls apart is really the best Oakland fans can hope for.

Peyton Hillis burned through his welcome in Cleveland.  He doesn’t strike me as the type of individual GM Scott Pioli would bring into the mix.  However, the combination of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis as an odd couple Thunder and Lightening backfield is intriguing.  Injuries devastated Kansas City last season which lead to the Chiefs posting the only below .500 team in the AFC West.   It’s a weak division and if Eric Berry can come back to form along with Tony Moeaki and Charles, Kansas City’s only a Peyton Manning vertebra away from punching their playoff ticket.

We assume Peyton Manning will make Denver the favorite.  By all accounts Manning possesses the same (or at least similar) “It” factor as Tebow with the added bonus that he can also throw a football.  Denver made a playoff run with strong defense and a goofy, but effective offense.  Logic dictates that by adding one of the all time greats at quarterback will only serve to propel the team further.  Manning showed no signs of decline prior to his neck injury.  He’s surely to take some hits that will make us all cringe but he’s Peyton Manning.  Until I see him play any other way, I’ll hitch my wagon to the Broncos.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thank God football is back to us and we can go on and start prepping for our upcoming Fantasy Drafts, Pickem Leagues, and for all of our gambling habits the time is now.

Expect nothing but the best from Eric and myself.  We provide great information, positive insight on all 32 teams, and winners on a weekly basis.

Expect it soon....