Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Throwing down analysis like a Donovan McNabb pass

We liked the Batman and Robin thing so much, we made a sequel.  The box office numbers aren’t in yet, though.

Bills over Patriots (34-31): my belief here is the hype over Brady breaking the yards-in-a-season record is beginning to go to his head (which in turn has caused him to throw as sloppy as Joe, whoever that immortalized-by-sandwich, careless-with-meat Joe was). if this is true (STAT-JECTION: 28 of Tom Brady’s 45 passing attempts came in the final 32 minutes of the game, which started with the Pats holding a 21-7 lead), it’s interesting that there is a pressure that Brady loses poise over, considering his consistent & effective leadership with a generally humble offense (sans Moss). there is an interesting thread in the NFL right now that makes a great case for an offense being made by the Quarterback… Rodgers (sans Jennings), Brees, and Brady are all helming explosive teams without, de facto, easily, explosive weapons. the counter-example being the game that follows.

Giants over Eagles (29-16): in mythology, more often than not, birds are fierce and formidable, and giants are generally dumb, underwhelming and mostly used as props to encourage shorter people to not take the whole “bigger is better” thing too seriously. but unfortunately, to the chagrin of Second Life users, this is real life… and in real life, the Eagles offense is a mess, proving their hype a myth, and the Eagles defense even less… (STAT-JECTION: Eli Manning had an 81.2 ESPN Total QBR in this game, third in the league this week) my prediction about Vick flopping is gaining more cred each game… (STAT-JECTION: Vick posted an abysmal 24.6 Total QBR this week, 26th in the league, and is currently ranked 23rd in the statistic for the season) but to his benefit, Vick shouldn’t have been playing that game whatsoever. and while many are singing is praises for staying in the pocket and playing the conventional quarterback role, one must remember that he wasn’t given a 100mil dollar contract to play Polly Pocket, but rather, was hired to act like loose change and slip through his own hole. considering the Eagles’ unremitting red zone issues, who better to throw up six than Vick… yea, seriously, Andy Reid, where’s the Vick six? at 1-2 it looks like the Eagles are going to do their best Sisyphus impression for the rest of the year. the only thing in good light I will say about the Eagles is that Lesean McCoy looks as bright as a bald head used as night light when options are tight.  (STAT-JECTION: McCoy is second in the league in rushing despite being 8th in attempts, and with Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, Frank Gore, and Jamaal Charles essentially out of the picture, is well on his way to a top-5 fantasy season)

49ers over Bengals (13-8): this game was about as interesting as spraying a wet painting with a water bottle while also attempting to watch it dry. Gore looks like his bulb is out, like your favorite gardenias during winter. (STAT-JECTION: Gore has received 2 more carries than the aforementioned McCoy, yet has rushed for less than half the yards and three fewer touchdowns)

Saints over Texans (40-33):  Schaub and Brees both fulfilling their talent obligations. Henderson, again, throwing up big yards by catching Brees’ ideally-positioned throws. (STAT-JECTION: Henderson is 7th in the league in receiving yards on fewer receptions than any of the top 20 receivers) Mark Ingram is beginning to come out of his woodwork like the face of a craftsman’s lover all outta muses. That game wining touchdown by Ingram had all the fire of a Peterson-esque run….something like a bull in a…..bull shop.

Panthers over Jaguars (16-10): Finally, a much deserved win for Cam Newton. Perhaps a little rain-addled, but this proves that Cam’s got what it takes to obtain a win even through stagnancy: by making up for 3 wasted quarters in the last half of the fourth quarter.  The only thing notable about the Jaguars was Maurice Jones-Drew, who threw up another big game, which says to me that unless defenses begin targeting him alone (which they should be…and more effectively) he’ll finish as a top 8ish fantasy back for the year (STAT-JECTION: Jones-Drew is currently 9th among running backs, brought down mostly by his single touchdown thus far – keep in mind that after averaging 12 touchdowns a game from 2006 to 2009, he had just 5 last year)

Lions over Vikings (26-23): the second game the Vikings gave up a win when having a 20pt lead. (STAT-JECTION: The Vikings also led their first game by 10 points at halftime) that’s like if you were still to lose in a Magic the Gathering game after you’ve already depleted your opponent’s life total to 0… can that happen? apparently with the Vikings it can. nonetheless, Adrian Peterson put up a nice game for fantasy owners… (STAT-JECTION: Peterson has 36 carries in the first half of games this year, and the Vikings have led 54-7 after those carries.  Despite his team having the lead, he has 22 carries in the second half of games, and the team has been outscored 67-6)  as did Stafford attempting to join the league’s obsession with 400+ yard games this year. he’s not quite there though… like that Little Engine That Could… but not quite yet.

team of the week: Bills – they hadn’t won a game against the Patriots in almost a decade, come on.

player of the week: not Chris Johnson - where are the feet man (STAT-JECTION: Johnson has two feet)

Week 3's Trrrials and Trrribulations

Since necessity is the mother of alliteration, I have decided to try to make this triumphs-tragedies-trends thing… well… a trend.  However, in the spirit of whimsy I will be adding another piece called Trail Mix, which is a quick random piece of information for you to munch on.  Again, I’m looking mostly at individual performances from Week 3 that are anomalous either positively or negatively, as well as events that I think are likely to continue.

TRIUMPH: Ravens rookie WR Torrey Smith caught his first three receptions of his career for 133 yards and 3 touchdowns, all in the first quarter of their game against the Rams.  Keep in mind that one game does not a stud make.
TRAGEDY: Speaking of one game and studs, Steven Jackson had just 4 carries in the loss while Cadillac Williams had 18.  However, keep in mind that the Ravens were leading 21-0 in the first quarter, and the team wanted to make sure Jackson left the game healthy since the game was out of hand.
TREND: Sam Bradford appears to be vulnerable to a sophomore slump as much as anyone, completing just 51 percent of his passes thus far this year and already has 3 fumbles, all of which have ended in opponents’ touchdowns.
TRAIL MIX: Joe Flacco had been taking some flak for his flaccid play last year, but while he has thrown for under 200 yards in 4 of his last 6 regular-season games, he has thrown for an average of 306 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT in his team’s two wins this year, by a combined score of 72-14.

TRIUMPH: Shonn Greene caught 7 passes in this game.  He already has at least half of the receptions and receiving yards that he had all of last year.  However, LaDainian Tomlinson is still the pass-catching back on this team (as shown by his team-leading 116 receiving yards in this game).
TRAGEDY: The Jets outran their opponents by 50 yards per game last year.  This year, they’re getting outrun by 50 yards per game.  However, before this game that was only 15 yards per game.  Don’t worry, Jets fans.  As much as I would like you to.
TREND: Darren McFadden is an all-out monster, showing the burst and power that he did in his career in Arkansas.  He leads the league in rushing and has four 100-yard games in his last 6.
TRAIL MIX: Two years ago in this matchup, Mark Sanchez got a lot of attention for eating a hot dog on the sideline.  Perhaps if he had put a little more mustard on some of his throws, the Jets may have won this time.

TRIUMPH: James Casey, whose position is the famed H-back (a tight-end/running back hybrid of sorts), came out of nowhere to reel in 5 catches, 126 yards, and a touchdown.  Maybe he sticks around, but there are a number of important mouths to feed before his.
TRAGEDY: The Texans defense had allowed just 10 points per game in their first two games, and then allowed 40.  It was the Saints though.
TREND: The Saints ran the ball 22 times for 100 yards, and no more than 9 and 38 went to any one player.  As far as fantasy is concerned, I’m not seeing much coming from back there.  At least when Brees spreads it around through the air there’s 30 receptions to go around.
TRAIL MIX: 9 players from this game scored in the top 55 among fantasy scorers this week.  No player in the 49ers-Bengals game made the top 60.

TRIUMPH: Ryan Grant received more carries and ran for 87 more yards than James Starks in this game, which is a stark (see what I did there?) difference from what we’ve seen thus far this year and is likely to be more balanced in the future.
TRAGEDY: Matt Forte ran the ball 9 times for 2 yards.  Jay Cutler ran 3 times for 11 yards and led the team.
TREND: The Packers have allowed the second-most passing yards in the league this year, which is certainly related to losing a couple key pieces to injury.  This is not going to get too much better.  Also, it’s interesting to point out that 2011 offensive juggernauts Buffalo, Green Bay, and New England are all in the bottom 10 in pass defense.
TRAIL MIX: Jermichael Finley scored 3 touchdowns in this game.  Jon-Michael Frank is afraid of Dutch clowns with fame.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Week 2: Kinda Weak Too (if you're a Colts or Chiefs fan)

This week, Jon-Michael and I are trying something new, where he writes his rapid reactions to the games played in the previous week and I interject with information that either supports or refutes his wackily worded whims.  Best of both worlds, as far as I'm concerned.  Well, without the monkey on a unicycle.
Browns over Colts (27-19): don’t be surprised if you hear commentators talk about how lacking the Colts are without Manning as much as Joe Buck praises Michael Vick as the second coming of himself. if sports analysts were in a high school English composition class they would be graded on how well they can carry one thesis through an entire semester’s work—meaning, their thoughts on their first day are exactly the same as their last.  although with Joe Buck’s case, he’s made Vick a victim to this for two seasons now, which is like having to rewatch the only rerun of Full House that you don’t think improves life to the umpth degree (which I’m not sure actually exists, but let’s just say it does for comparison’s sake). nonetheless, I digress. right… what I’ve learned from watching this game is two things: one, for fantasy, pick up the Colts’ kicker and start him in place of your three RB/WR starters (including any and all flex spots) because Collins can’t get a ball into the end zone to save his return-from-retired life.  (STAT-JECTION: Said kicker Adam Vinatieri scored the same amount of fantasy points this week as Andre Johnson, Matt Forte, and Ray Rice) and two, just when you thought there were no deliveries from carries on Sundays, Peyton Hillis showed up (94 yds, 2 tds), proving he is still a top 15 back.
Steelers over Seahawks (24-0): zero is a useful number when you have any defense on your fantasy team that inspires the opposing team to aspire to that many points, and also when you are wondering how many missing limbs you currently have. which all Mendenhall was missing to have a huge fantasy day was that touchdown that Redman stole from him. it is also worth noting that Mike Wallace has a Mohawk and also has been hawking people to making his way as reliable WR (fantasy and reality alike). (STAT-JECTION: Wallace has two straight 8-reception, 100-yard games to start the season, and 5 straight 100-yard games overall)  I think that anomalous Steelers’ performance, or lack their of, in week one is going to fuel a redemption cause that they are going exploit for the rest of the season like a suspicious wife on Sunday with a remote control watch.
Saints over Bears (30-13): akin to my previous metaphors, I think Brees is incited to prove himself on par with Rodgers and Brady to redeem his premier quarterback status. with a receiver like Henderson committing himself to monster plays it shant be that hard. (STAT-JECTION: Despite Henderson’s reputation as a big-play guy, he had just four 50+ yard receptions the past two seasons, as compared to twelve from 2006-2008)  honestly, watching that play was better than seeing Leonardo Dicaprio drown in the Titantic. and I’m still not buying Forte, especially one of those crappy cars Kia makes.
Packers over Panthers (30-23): Fig Newtons are delicious; Cam Newton is vicious.  (STAT-JECTION: Fig Newtons are a good source of fiber, with 5% DV per cookie) 
Lions over Chiefs (48-3): chiefly, the Chiefs, now chief-less (Jamaal Charles) couldn’t even cheat to compete with any team. and let’s not get too excited about the Lions… they have yet to play a formidable opponent, winning week one on of the worst defenses in the league, the Buccaneers.  (STAT-JECTION: The Bucs were top-10 against the pass and in scoring defense last season, but were bottom-5 against the run.  Think of them what you will)
Buccaneers over Vikings (24-20): the Buccaneers, after turning in after a miserable first half came back and ushered LaGarrette Blount in for two TDs. which, proved that he can do other things than punch people in the face to show his dismay over a loss. Peterson also stepped up to prove his top 10 running back obligation in having a 120 yd day and gaining 6000 career yards. which is pretty impressive considering I spent a good part of my childhood being told to exit most people’s yards.   

Player of the Week:
Tony Romo – punctures his lung, takes a breather, but breathes life back into the ‘Boys at the end of the game, so their fans can exhale.  Even if he can’t.

Team of the Week:
Bills – Yes, they only beat the Chiefs and Raiders, but they lead the league in scoring and rushing yards with a quarterback from Harvard and a running back from Coe College.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fantasy Football Week 1: Triumphs, Tragedies, and Trends

In case you didn’t notice based on the previous post, throughout the NFL season, Jon-Michael and I are both going to contribute pieces reflecting our opinions about both real and fantasy football.  Seeing as Jon-Michael claimed the cleats-on-turf version, I’m going to take a shot at the fingers-on-mouse kind.

Since you have undoubtedly read the title of this post, you probably have a bit of an idea what I’m going to write here – and an idea of how much alliteration contemplation it took to get to that point.  Given what we’ve seen in the first slate of games of the season, I’ll give my two cents on which events were anomalies (triumphs / tragedies) and should not be counted on in the future and which were worth watching for upcoming games (trends).

TRIUMPH: Chad Henne throws for 400 yards and two touchdowns and rushes for 60 and a touchdown.
TRAGEDY: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (drafted 21st among running backs) gets 7 carries versus Danny Woodhead’s 14 (drafted 45th among running backs)
TREND: The Patriots allowed the third most passing yards in the league last year, and it looks like that will be the case again.  As far as fantasy is concerned, I wouldn’t mind starting almost any QB against them.

TRIUMPH: Until Monday night, Cam Newton (in his first career NFL start) and Steve Smith (whose quarterback was in his first career NFL start) were the top two scorers in standard-scoring leagues.
TRAGEDY: DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, both drafted in the top 25 among running backs, combined for 19 rushes and 56 yards. 
TREND: The Cardinals pass defense is going to have a rough time this year, especially after trading away Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.  Guess what that means?  A lot of passing from Kevin Kolb as well.

TRIUMPH: Cedric Benson rushed 25 times for 121 yards and a touchdown, but it was 24 for 82 with no touchdowns until his last rush, a 39-yard TD which saw him run through a hole Cedric the Entertainer could have run through.
TRAGEDY: Chris Johnson and LeGarrette Blount combined for 14 rushes and 39 yards.  The Titans got dominated in time-of-possession and had an 80-yard passing touchdown to limit Johnson’s touches, and the Bucs got into passing mode after falling behind the Lions.
TREND: Ben Tate’s 24-116-1 line from Week 1 should tell you that ANYONE that gets the majority of carries on the Texans is fantasy relevant.  In just the last three years, we’ve seen Steve Slaton, Ryan Moats, Derrick Ward, Arian Foster, and Tate all have big days in this scheme.

TRIUMPH: Michael Turner not only caught 3 passes for 40 yards (he caught 23 passes total in his first three years in Atlanta), but he had a solid fantasy day without scoring a touchdown.
TRAGEDY: The Steelers and Falcons combined for 1 offensive touchdown.
TREND: The Ravens and Bears, who played the above teams, are pretty good defenses and should give you pause if considering between two players to start.

TRIUMPH: Jamaal Charles’ 10 carries more than doubled the amount of any other Chief.
TRAGEDY: Jamaal Charles had 10 carries.
TREND: Despite being 7th in the league in receiving yards last year, Dwayne Bowe had 4 games where he had fewer receiving yards than his 17 in Week 1 this year.  Business.  As.  Usual.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weak One…I mean…Week One: What A Beat One

Eagles over Rams (31 – 13): So where’s the run defense? No seriously, Birds, where’s the run defense? Which is basically the same problem I had whenever I asked the neighborhood kids if they wanted to go in the woods and lick glue with me: I never had any further incentives to make them stay. But the Eagles D did get the incentive… Asomugha, Rodger-Cromartie, Jenkins etc. One wonders whether newly added Castillo is gonna run the Defense as wiry and whimsically as Reid does his offense. Or one doesn’t, but instead takes to pondering the time it would take to create a perfect circle with a group of meandering elephants. Which, when it comes to play-starts, can be attributed to the Eagles offensive line... time management, wasn’t that a problem of last season, too? Can’t blame a rookie center for everything. As per usual, the Eagles O won the game. Which is to be expected from the only team to have TWO top 10 fantasy picks this year. Although, like I’ve said before, I think Vick is gonna choke as the season goes on like a collapsing esophagus in a canary that’s in a clogged coal mine. I will also say that I’m not hating on Bradford as much as the next guy: (Unless the next guy is me, which doesn’t make sense, but if it did, I’d not only ask him for dating advice but also how this scenario complicates Descartes, “I think therefore I am” idiom.) The Rams’ offense of line was terrible, their receiver hands were terrible, and I think the Eagles’ passing D, while they do not make up for their lack of on-legs D, is most definitely benefited from those aforementioned incentive additions. So let off on Bradford…. a little bit, like your gas pedal while driving through residential neighborhoods filled with Cowboys fans.

Jets over Cowboys (27-24): Speaking of the Cowboys, they lost.

Bears over Falcons (30-12)
: Let’s not get too excited. Cutler still has the ability to shoot himself in the foot and have the hole appear in someone else’s foot. Also, Forte fantasy owners… just look at his stats last year. What’s really changed since?

Redskins over Giants (28-14): Okay, I wasn’t expecting this. Grossman, where’s the INTs? Eli, where’s the… oh wait, Eli, if Dakota Fanning played fantasy football, I think it’d be pretty sweet if her team name was Dakota Manning. But that’s just a dream; like Bradshaw being a reliable fantasy starting back while Brandon Jacob keeps taking carries like a train threatened to retire that won’t let off its track.

San Francisco over Seahawks (33-17)
: Gore, 59 yards in 22 carries? Your average yards per carry is around point sux.

Jaguars over Titans (16-14): It was amazing to watch Chris Johnson stand as idle as a fire-eater during a burn ban when he wasn’t given the ball. Honestly… do something.

Texans over Colts (34-7): What game better follows the word, “sux?” The Colts offense proved the prediction true, that without Manning, they are as useless as a bomb shelter during the Cold War. Sorry, Arian Foster owners… but to Arian Foster’s owners’ haters, Tate looked pretty notable & performance-y…. with 116 yds and 1 td on 24 carries that’s less shabby than shabby can sometimes be. To think about: how’s this impact Foster? I’mma say it does, like bad moonlight during a nocturnal food fight...., I think, I think, it might.

Other notable things: Ben Affleck has now pulled another Gigli by doing Madden commercials with his awfully propped Boston accent. Come on, man, didn’t you write and star in an Academy Award winning film? Man, even your lesser-known brother takes on better jobs to pay the bills. Also worth noting is that John Fahey is turning in his grave knowing that his song is being used in a… ehem… Dodge commercial. Really…? Another point for the let’s-expose-a-legend-through-another- philistine-conglomerate’s-cliche-of-a-commercial committee.

Team of the week: Baltimore Ravens. 7 turnovers on a Super Bowl contender? yes, Team of the Week, please.

Player of the week: Ted Ginn. Um, ‘cause one phrase, “BACK TO BACK.” And because those plays will compromise future views of laughing babies all around youtube.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011 NFL Season Predictions. Write 'em down, son.

Since there’s just over a week until the start of the 2011 NFL season and I’m moving back into college tomorrow and will have less time to write such things, I’m going to make my season projections now instead of later.  Yes, yes, there is still a full slate of preseason games tonight that I’m not taking into account.  Here’s my counterargument: the only players who are likely to be on the first team this season that are playing in these games are not in very good shape (see the Washington Redskins’ quarterbacks). 

Therefore, I will proceed with my season predictions for the 2011 season, one division at a time, making sure to adhere to the partial predictions I made earlier in a post.  OK, I lied; I just couldn’t come up with a good enough rationale to bump 5 teams from the playoffs, so my claim is that THE STREAK STOPS IN 2011.  That’s right, I said it. 

I would insert a report on how my predictions fared last year, except that I didn’t have this blog last year at this time. 


Patriots              12-4 (-2 wins)
Jets                    11-5 (even)
Dolphins            7-9 (even)
Bills                   3-13 (-1 win)

Starting at the bottom, I don’t think that the mini-breakouts of Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (Ivy League shoutout) and WR Stevie Johnson will continue, especially with the loss of WR Lee Evans as a player defenses need to account for.  The Dolphins added some youth and talent at running back and had a good defense last year, but they didn’t pull the trigger on the trade for Kyle Orton that would have made them improve in my eyes.  Yes, the Jets are good, but I haven’t seen enough from Mark Sanchez to make me think they can overtake the Patriots.  I think that the Pats’ loss to the Jets in the AFC playoffs and their beatdown against the Lions in their previous preseason game could really motivate them, but I don’t see Tom Brady improving on a 36 TD / 4 INT year, and they should regress slightly.


Steelers            12-4 (even)
Ravens             11-5 (-1 win)
Browns            6-10 (+1 win)
Bengals            3-13 (-1 win)

OK, so the Bengals went 4-12 last year and lost their top two receivers, a top-flight cornerback, and their franchise quarterback.  Now tell me they’re going to improve.  Come on, don’t be shy, speak up!  Everyone likes Colt McCoy’s improvement over the past year, but a less-than-inspiring group of skill players around him and the loss of their defensive coordinator (Rob Ryan) and a starting cornerback (Eric Wright) should lower their ceiling for this season.  I predicted that the Ravens would miss the playoffs a few weeks ago, but I couldn’t pick a team to beat them for the Wild Card spot, so I’m wimping out a little bit.  As the class of the AFC, the Steelers have an unbelievable amount of speed and talent at wide receiver and a quarterback that can chuck it (who, by the way, missed 4 games last year), and sometimes it’s just that simple.  Oh, and they have that defense thing.


Texans               10-6 (+4 wins)
Colts                   9-7 (-1 win)
Jaguars               5-11 (-3 wins)
Titans                 5-11 (-1 win)

While the Titans did just sign Chris Johnson to end his holdout, their questionable quarterback situation and uninspiring defense put them in the cellar in this division.  Speaking of questionable quarterbacks and uninspiring defenses, the Jaguars have both, but they were 8-8 last year with a largely similar team, so I will give them the credit they deserve and at least put them third in the division.  I called the Colts missing the playoffs, and Peyton Manning’s neck situation makes me feel much better about it.  I still think that Manning plays enough games and well enough to make a run at a playoff spot but miss out.  Lastly, the Texans added some good pieces to their defense that was awful against the pass last year, and still have my boys Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub, Owen Daniels, and that Foster fellow.


Chargers           11-5 (+2 wins)
Chiefs               7-9 (-3 wins)
Raiders             7-9 (-1 win)
Broncos            5-11 (+1 win)

The Broncos had an exceptional season from Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd and a similarly poor season from their defense last year, and I think that both of those situations fall back into balance a little more this year.  However, there is still a lot of work to be done.  I think the Raiders still have perfectly average quarterback play and a good enough defense and running game to compete, but the injuries and inconsistency at wide receiver, as well as their failure to repeat a 6-0 division record from last year, will hurt them.  The Chiefs are, in my opinion, the most likely team to miss the playoffs after making it last year, mostly because they had unbelievable years from Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe, and we saw in the playoffs what happened when that team played a good defense (they played the whole NFC West last year, keep in mind).  While the Chargers didn’t have as good of a team as their #1 Offense / #1 Defense distinction would indicate (their special teams were awful, causing short drives for the opponent and long ones for them), they have a lot of talent and a great passing game that should help push them to victory over their division rivals.


Eagles                 11-5 (+1 win)
Cowboys            11-5 (+5 wins)
Giants                 9-7 (-1 win)
Redskins             4-12 (-2 wins)

The Redskins get to choose between Rex Grossman and John Beck as their quarterback.  Get psyched, Washington.  Better hope you do worse than I predict and you get the first pick of the draft.  The Giants have a lot of injuries and losses defensively, but they also suffer from Elimanningsucksitis.  Tough to beat that ailment.  The Cowboys have a bevy of talent on offense and a new defensive coordinator to kick them into shape after they basically quit last year, and should greatly improve (and make the playoffs, per my prediction).  And whatever you think of the whole Eagles “Dream Team” thing, you have to agree they have better personnel than last year, and face the NFC West this year.


Packers            12-4 (+2 wins)
Bears                8-8 (-3 wins)
Lions                8-8 (+2 wins)
Vikings            7-9 (+1 win)

This division, in my opinion, is clearly the best in the league this year, pending a surprisingly good year from the Redskins.  I’m of the opinion that Donovan McNabb will undergo a mini-revival with Adrian Peterson lining up behind him, and I think they will be competitive.  Everyone seems to be on the Lions’ bandwagon, but I want to see Matthew Stafford make it through a season first, and would feel better about them if key rookies Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure weren’t out for the year.  The Bears surprised many by winning 11 games last year; they won’t surprise anyone by dropping back to earth.  Their offensive line is terrible.  And last but not least, my pick for the Super Bowl Champions, the Packers.  They get Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley back on offense, and had one of the best defenses in the league last year.  I think Aaron Rodgers is in for a monster year – like 4500 yards and 40 touchdowns.


Falcons             12-4 (-1 win)
Saints                11-5 (even)
Buccaneers       10-6 (even)
Panthers            3-13 (+1 win)

The Panthers spent a lot of money in free agency, but they spent most of it resigning their own players.  Didn’t they just lose 14 games?  Shouldn’t the players be responsible for some of that?  I think the Bucs are an up-and-coming team, but Josh Freeman’s TD/INT ratio was too good to be true as far as I’m concerned, so his progression as a quarterback will probably coincide with regression with regards to his luck or the play of successful rookies Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount.  I considered making the Saints miss the playoffs, but I think that Drew Brees made an inordinate amount of mistakes that cost them games last year, and the addition of Mark Ingram should help keep their balance offensively.  Lastly, I think that the Falcons are definitely the second-best team in the NFC and will look excellent offensively, but I think that there has been a lot of improvement in the NFC that will keep their record down.


Rams                  8-8 (+1 win)
Cardinals            8-8 (+3 wins)
49ers                  6-10 (even)
Seahawks           4-12 (-3 wins)

The Seahawks are my last pick to miss the playoffs, and they do it in dramatic fashion.  They signed Tarvaris Jackson, Sidney Rice, and Zach Miller, but that first guy makes the second two guys a bit less valuable.  Not to mention that the rest of the division appears to have gotten better.  Not included in that improvement are the 49ers, who have the same inconsistent quarterback and not much added.  The Cardinals made the big quarterback splash by trading for Kevin Kolb, and whatever you think of Kolb, he’s way better than what they had at quarterback last year (John Skelton?  Who?).  Lastly, the coronation of Sam Bradford continues, as he takes a ho-hum group of receivers to just enough wins to win a very winnable division.

As a recap, here are my playoff teams:

1. Green Bay Packers
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. Philadelphia Eagles
4. St. Louis Rams
5. Dallas Cowboys
6. New Orleans Saints

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. New England Patriots
3. San Diego Chargers
4. Houston Texans
5. New York Jets
6. Baltimore Ravens