Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

NFL 2013 quiz

Posted: January 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

1. Which quarterback led the league in total QBR?

  • A) Nick Foles
  • B) Russell Wilson
  • C) Peyton Manning
  • D) Josh McCown

 

2. Which of these players totalled the most yards from scrimmage?

  • A) LeSean McCoy
  • B) Jamaal Charles
  • C) Knowshon Moreno
  • D) Calvin Johnson

 

3. Which player led the league in sacks?

  • A) J.J. Watt
  • B) Robert Quinn
  • C) Mario Williams
  • D) Robert Mathis

 

4. Which NFL team swept their division?

  • A) Indianapolis Colts
  • B) Denver Broncos
  • C) New England Patriots
  • D) Seattle Seahawks

 

5. Which team finished second in total yards rushing?

  • A) New England
  • B) Kansas City
  • C) Buffalo
  • D) Seattle

 

6. Which team led the league in turnover ratio?

  • A) Carolina
  • B) Kansas City
  • C) Seattle
  • D) San Francisco

 

7. How many ‘new’ (first season with the team as HC) head coaches posted winning records?

  • A) Three
  • B) Four
  • C) One
  • D) Two

 

8. Which University sent the most players to the draft April 2013?

  • A) Alabama
  • B) Florida State
  • C) Miami
  • D) Georgia

 

9. How many Denver Broncos not named Peyton Manning scored double digit touchdowns?

  • A) Two
  • B) Three
  • C) Five
  • D) Four

 

10. Who recorded the most receiving yards this season?

  • A) A.J. Green
  • B) Calvin Johnson
  • C) Josh Gordon
  • D) Jimmy Graham

 

Answers:

  1. D
  2. A
  3. D
  4. A
  5. C
  6. C
  7. B
  8. B
  9. C
  10. C

 

2014 NFL Mock draft (12/17/2013)

Posted: December 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

Houston – Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville QB

Houston will draft a quarterback in 2014. Keenum and Schaub have thoroughly demonstrated their incompetence at the position to warrant Houston’s pulling the trigger. Teddy Bridgewater is the consensus number one quarterback eligible for the draft. The only question that remains regards whether or not Bridgewater wants to stay in school one more year, or be the 1st overall pick of the draft.

St. Louis (through Washington) – Sammy Watkins, Clemson WR

St. Louis is one of the most enigmatic clubs in the NFL. The defense is rich with talent. The offense has some promising pieces, but needs a kickstart. Unless Jeff Fisher wants to take Derek Carr or Johnny Manziel, they need a player that will bring a spark to their offense. Like Tavon Austin was supposed to. They have the running back position seemingly locked up with impressive Vanderbilt rookie Zac Stacy. Sammy Watkins will have every opportunity to emerge as a true number one for Bradford to throw to. Austin Pettis, Chris Givens, and Lance Kendricks have been exciting in flashes, but Fisher needs an offense with a true go to guy.

Jacksonville – Derek Carr, Fresno State QB

A franchise cannot be built around Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne. Derek Carr has shown the production of a true franchise QB. Carr threw for 48 touchdowns and led the Bulldogs to a 11-1 record, with their only loss coming late in the season against San Jose State led by David Fales, another Senior high production passer. Carr threw for over 4,800 yards, completed 70% of his passes with 48 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions. At 6’ 3” and 213, Carr has acceptable size at his position. Cecil Shorts, Marcedes Lewis and young Justin Blackmon have been waiting for an arm like Derek Carr’s to open up the offense.  

Oakland – Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M QB

Johnny Manziel’s second time around at Texas A&M is in some ways more impressive than his rookie, Heisman winning season. Manziel brings a fiercely competitive and youthful zeal with him, something the Raiders need badly. Raiders’ QB Matt McGloin has shown promise, but a chance to take a flyer on a talent like Manziel’s can’t be ignored. Oakland has lots of holes to fill, the most glaring one at QB. Manziel is a threat on the ground, but also possesses a strong arm and a penchant for making something out of nothing. Oakland will need a QB with brilliant play in a suddenly competitive AFC West.

Cleveland – Brett Hundley, UCLA QB

Cleveland may elect to skip on a quarterback here and lean on Brian Hoyer while waiting for Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston next season. If they don’t, Brett Hundley has progressed as a passer at UCLA and looks immediately ready to help drive a franchise towards success. Cleveland has young weapons in the passing game including the mind blowing Josh Gordon and USC tight end Jordan Cameron. Cleveland has a need at running back with a swing and a miss at Trent Richardson, but they need to take a quarterback while they can.

Atlanta – Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina DE

The first team that doesn’t need a quarterback or an offensive player will take possibly the most talented player in the draft. Atlanta sorely needs a boost on a defense that is all around terrible. Atlanta, like Cleveland needs a running back as well. But the opportunity to take a weapon like Clowney is too great to pass on. Clowney’s down junior season has been well documented, but barring a disastrous NFL combine, Clowney will not last past the first ten teams. Clowney has monstrous physical talent, drawing comparisons to Julius Peppers in his college years.

Tampa Bay – Anthony Barr, UCLA OLB

Anthony Barr has developed into a consistent and effective pass rusher in his time at UCLA. Tampa may actually have greater need for a wide receiver at this spot, but any receiver outside of Sammy Watkins seems like too much of a reach for Tampa at number six overall. The Buccaneers have found success in a dominating defense, and Barr will help continue that tradition by getting after the quarterback in a division with three of the most talented passers in football.  

Minnesota – Khalil Mack, Buffalo OLB

The well of top tier quarterbacks is beginning to run dry at this point, and Minnesota has learned not to reach for a quarterback simply because they need one. If Tajh Boyd, David Fales, or Aaron Murray are available in the second round, they might be wise to pick one of them up.

Minnesota cannot stop anyone from scoring. With a division with Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, and the offense-happy Marc Trestman-led Bears, getting a pass rusher is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. Khalil Mack’s most convincing stat line might be Buffalo’s opening game against Ohio State. Mack recorded 2.5 sacks against Ohio State’s elusive Braxton Miller and intercepted him for a 45 yard touchdown. Mack’s emergence at Buffalo shows he’s ready for the pros.

Tennessee – CJ Mosley, Alabama ILB

Yet again, Tennessee faces the quarterback dilemma. Do they keep Jake Locker? Tennessee may wait until round two or try to draw Jay Cutler out of Chicago with promises of ridiculously fast wide receivers. Assuming the Titans want to give Locker one more shot to keep his job with a 16 game performance, C.J. Mosley will help Tennessee defend against the run. The Titans sit at #23 against the run in the NFL. Mosley will bring elite talent from Alabama to help Tennessee stop the run and in the middle of the field. Mosley is a value pick on a defense that needs help against the run.

Buffalo – HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama FS

Buffalo actually has a borderline star-studded defense. Unfortunately for them one of their brightest stars, Jairus Byrd, wants out of Buffalo. If Byrd flies the coop (he he) Buffalo will need at least an adequate defensive back to step up in his place. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the top rated safety out of College. In his 2012 season, Clinton-Dix totalled five interceptions, one forced fumble and nine passes defended. Clinton-Dix should be just as ready as any to step in and play DB in the National Football League.

Underrated players and miscellaneous

Posted: November 22, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags:

Topics: Underrated NFL Players, the state of the Eagles and Cardinals, the Jets D, and a brief look at some of next Sundays’ games.

I think these NFL players are underrated

Alfred Morris – Morris no longer has the luxury of a highly effective QB (Robert Griffin has under-performed this season compared to last), and is still a top five running back in only his second year. Morris ranks third overall in rushing yards. The press can’t stop talking about Adrian Peterson and Eddie Lacy while Morris continues to burn run defenses week in and week out.

Reggie Bush – Totaled over 1,000 yards of offense in under 200 touches. The once deemed first round bust turned over a new leaf in Miami and is now on pace to finish the season with over 1,500 yards from scrimmage (and that’s with missing a game). Twenty-eight years young, Bush finally seems to be hitting his stride as an NFL running back.

Philip Rivers – Quietly reestablished his dominance in the passing game without a strong receiving corps like Denver or New Orleans. Looks like QB guru Mike McCoy’s magic worked in helping Rivers return to pre-2010 form.

Nick Foles – In five starts, Foles has produced eighteen touchdowns with only one turnover (a fumble). Philadelphia hasn’t had the same quarterback produce consistently quality offensive production since Donovan McNabb. Foles looked adequate in limited action last season, but has begun to shine in Kelly’s offense in 2013.

Josh Gordon – leads the league in yards per reception among receivers with 40 catches or more. Also catching passes from the three headed monster of Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell, easily the worst trio of QB’s in the NFL (Matt Cassel went to a pro bowl) and has no viable running attack to help Cleveland open up the passing game.

Kiko Alonso – Bills linebacker has quickly adapted to the pro game and ranks in the top five in tackles and INTs. And he has two sacks. And four passes defended. And a forced fumble.

Apparently Alonso got arrested while playing at Oregon for a DUI and breaking and entering, and then passing out drunkenly in the domicile he entered. Fortunately for him and the Oregon Ducks, he was able to turn his act around and become a solid contributor on a solid Oregon team.

Jurrell Casey – The third round pick out of USC has collected seven sacks in ten games. As a defensive tackle. Sacks come at a snails’ pace for interior linemen. The fact Casey leads the Titans’ D in sacks as a defensive tackle suggests Casey has many years to contribute as a future Warren Sapp lookalike. I should also mention the season isn’t over, meaning Casey has six more game to hunt quarterbacks down and to brutalize interior offensive linemen.

Miscellaneous:

Sitting at 6-5 atop the NFC East, the Eagles have a reasonable chance of actually making the playoffs. The burgeoning of Nick Foles’ quarterback play gives Philadelphia a chance of topping the Lions, Bears, and division rival Cowboys to close out the season.

The Arizona Cardinals for the first time in several years resemble a professional football club. Bruce Arians has translated his coaching magic from his 9-3 time in Indianapolis to the turning around of a perennially poor into a competitive football club. If Arizona can pull three wins out of their next six games, they will have a winning record for the first time since the 2009 season.

Rex Ryan can thank the Jets front seven for keeping his job another season. Maybe the media forgot about Ryan’s defensive genius because of the teams’ sub-par performance since the 2010 season. Young talents like Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson have played a major role in New York’s’ ability to stay relevant in the AFC.

This coming Sunday’s match up of Green Bay and Minnesota may be the most painful to watch of the season. Scott Tolzien is the worst starting quarterback in the NFL as of 12:47 am 11/22/2013 Eastern time. He’s contributed one touchdown and five interceptions this season as a Packer. Green Bay’s offense has fallen toothless without Rodgers at the helm. The Vikings aren’t exactly a shining star either. The Vikings defense actually ranks dead last in points allowed with 32 per game. This should provide an interesting match up, the worst quarterback versus the worst defense.

Some games worth paying attention this weekend include:

  • San Diego at Kansas City (Can Kansas City continue to prove they are an okay team?)
  • Indianapolis at Arizona (Bruce Arians plays his former team)
  • Denver at New England (Manning vs. Brady part 817)

Thank you for reading this far. Have a beautiful day.

Eve of Week eight NFL thoughts

Posted: October 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

Schiano downward spiral continues

Greg Schiano “hasn’t” lost the locker room, according to Tampa Bay safety Dashon Goldson. Goldson’s smart enough not to throw his own head coach under the bus, with a glorious 0-7 start to the season doing that better than any disgruntled player could. Smart players know not to get involved in the potential drama drummed up by the media to attract readers, as doing so would likely get him labeled as a locker room diva, or cancer. Relatively important players such as former Patriots WR Brandon Lloyd and former Bengals WR Chad Johnson/Ochocinco/Johnson lost roster spots and currently remain unemployed because of their perceived diva status in the locker room.

While Schiano did good work as the coach at the University of Rutgers and displays some potential to one day be a talented head coach (he looks and acts like current mastermind Bill Belichick), today is not that day. Unless Schiano pulls off a miraculous turnaround for the Bucs and goes undefeated for the rest of the season, Schiano can expect to get fired before Christmas.

SF/Jax in London

In an apparent attempt to keep all of Europe thoroughly uninterested in American Football, the NFL will be holding the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars contest in London this Sunday the 27th. SF/Jax, a game that is likely to end in a thrilling, edge of your seat 27-2 finish should serve as the exclamation point in the thesis as to why England and any other self-respecting country will likely never take an interest in such silly American bollocks. NFL Europe ended up being an enormous time and money sink for the NFL. If Goodell and the people who make decisions like this actually wanted to draw interest in the NFL overseas, they would have games like Green Bay vs. San Francisco or Indianapolis vs. Seattle in London. No one is going to feel like they’re missing out by watching a Chad Henne sackfest. 

The Colts are good

Andrew Luck, Chuck Pagano and the Colts organization stuck it to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos with a 39-33 victory at home, Denver’s first loss of the season. Indianapolis, while saddled with two puzzling losses to Miami and San Diego, have a collection of impressive wins against San Francisco, Seattle, and now Denver.The eager colts fan I spoke to over the internet the other day told me she was hoping for a Denver/Indianapolis AFC championship game, a playoff match up that looks about as probable as any right now.

The Chiefs are good

Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs are now the only undefeated team in the National Football League. Denver and KC play twice in three week’s time this winter. I want to say the Chiefs deserve to be honored as the top team in the NFL, but they haven’t had the honor of playing a team that would now be considered particularly good. It’s not Kansas City’s fault they’ve had a softer opening schedule, that’s probably what happens when you finish dead last the season prior. The Chiefs’ first ‘real’ test (and what a test it will be) will come November 17th at Mile High Stadium against Manning’s Broncos. If Bob Sutton and the league’s 3rd ranked pass defense can find a way to contain Decker, Thomas, Thomas, Welker, and Knowshon Moreno then they deserve to win. Alex Smith isn’t exactly Andrew Luck, or so he hasn’t been in 2013, but the Chiefs’ involvement of Jamaal Charles and superior field positioning will keep the game close. I think.

Some teams are bad but not Carolina

Baltimore and Houston have failed to maintain their status as AFC heavyweights as they’ve combined for a total record of 5-9 in seven weeks of play. Houston can point to their particularly rough slew of injuries and sudden terrible play of Matt Schaub for their sub-par performance, whereas Baltimore is merely satisfied with their super bowl slump excuse.

The NFC East is terrible at the moment. Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense expected to take the world by storm fallen short of expectations, though clearly the defense shoulders more of the blame ranking dead last in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed. Robert Griffin’s performance has taken a step back in his sophomore campaign as he’s scored eight touchdowns and committed eight turnovers. The Giants, a true football enigma, just scored their first win of the season against a Vikings team struggling with an identity crisis at quarterback.  Dallas, the team on top, has gotten three of their four wins against other NFC East teams. To Dallas’s credit, they came awfully close to beating a high-powered Denver Broncos football club this season. 

The Carolina Panthers are quietly playing phenomenal defense. 2nd in the league in points allowed. If they can steal a wild card spot, Cam Newton’s panthers could cause some trouble in the playoffs for some unsuspecting first seeds. A Seattle/Carolina revenge game might be in the works.

Why Atlanta shouldn’t trade Tony Gonzalez

A small number of NFL pundits began opining that Atlanta should trade their future hall of famer tight end Tony Gonzalez, despite his insistence that this season will be his last. Supposedly, because the Falcons already have a poor record seven weeks into the season (2-4, ATL had a bye week), and have lost Julio Jones for the season, the Falcons should just give up on this season and send Gonzalez packing for a future draft pick operating under a ‘better luck next year’ mentality. There are two problems with this mentality:

A. No self respecting head coach, GM, or owner would engage in this type of mentality on a professional level, and,

B. Wins equal Revenue.

A. Falcons head coach Mike Smith is a professional. Professionals build and maintain a winning atmosphere by winning now. If Gonzalez were dead weight, under-performing, or became overtaken by a rookie/free agent (i.e. Fred Davis has lost his job to Jordan Reed this season) then trading him would make sense. The Trent Richardson trade to Indy made sense because Richardson never established himself as an irreplaceable cog on the Browns offensive machine. He can barely crack 3 yards a carry. Gonzalez is among the top five at his position, the essential cog in the offensive machine.

B. Even if the Falcons end up 7-9 or 6-10 this season that’s still one or two wins more than they would have if they gave up Gonzalez. Gonzalez, now the focal point of the offense with both starting receivers out of the picture, would leave Matt Ryan with no premium talent on offense to work with were he to be traded away.

Free agent/team matchups

Posted: September 24, 2013 in Uncategorized
Five logical free agent/NFL team signings

In which Dave trumpets his opinion about the importance of signing inexpensive free agents to replace under-performing starters.

Tim Tebow to Jacksonville

Jacksonville has offensive troubles. Woes, if you will. Former first round pick Blaine Gabbert is widely seen as a failure after two years and change in Jacksonville. Backup Chad Henne doesn’t inspire much confidence for the Jaguars either. Quarterback/running back hybrid Tim Tebow can yield more offensive production (yards, points) than any passer on the Jacksonville roster. And he happens to be well loved in the Florida area where Tebow won a Heisman trophy. Yes, Jacksonville will have to restructure their offense around Tebow, but having scored eleven points in two games, less than 1/8th of Denver’s point total so far (as of week two), Jacksonville’s offense desperately needs restructuring. Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon are very capable receivers and would be able to do more for the offense given the opportunity. Tebow’s ability to make plays with his feet and his arm strength makes sure the Jaguars have the opportunity to go toe to toe with every opponent they face. A dual threat qb and a runner as talented as MJD will force defenses to respect the run, allowing Shorts, Blackmon, and Marcedes Lewis opportunities to get open. You don’t need a quarterback that completes 65% of his passes to win games. You need a quarterback that puts points on the board. In the right offense, Tebow can do just that in Jacksonville.

 

Peyton Hillis to St. Louis

St. Louis’s starting running back is former seventh round pick Daryl Richardson. The younger brother to Bernard Scott has performed admirably considering the expectations placed on him coming out of college. Richardson beat out promising young tailback Isaiah Pead for the starting role. While Richardson has exceeded expectations thus far, the St. Louis offense is missing Steven Jackson as the former Oregon State product served as a terrific runner and receiver for St. Louis after the legendary Marshall Faulk stepped away from the game. St. Louis needs a strong power back, like Jackson who has experience catching the ball and can help out blocking when needed. Peyton Hillis, at 6’2” and 250 lbs, should be more than capable to fill in as both a blocker and target for Bradford. Hillis has made a name for himself as a power back in Cleveland, and helped to humiliate the New England secondary as a pass catcher. Hillis, still 27, has a few good years left in him and should help the Rams offense become more complete.

 

Austin Collie to New England

New England’s bread and butter is the passing game. They seem to always have an answer. Troy Brown, Deion Branch, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski. Belichick and the front office find talent for Brady to throw to. Early on in 2013, the Patriots receiving well seems to have run dry. Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski are out with injury. Young receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson have failed to “step up.” The once earth shaking offense needs receivers. Cue former Colts receiver Austin Collie. Collie, a former standout at BYU, burst onto the scene at Indianapolis fearlessly catching passes down the middle of the field, defended by players 30-50 pounds heavier than him. Collie’s career has been stained by concerns of injury as his time in Indianapolis was cut short by concussion issues. Route specialist Austin Collie should fit right in at New England where Brady needs most of all receivers who know how to be in the right place at the right time.

 

Jake Ballard to Tennessee/Arizona

I really believe Jake Ballard would improve any of these teams instantly. I originally had Ballard pegged for Tennessee alone because of the Titans’ love of running the ball with Johnson and Ballard’s ability as a blocker and size (6’6”, 260 lbs). Delanie Walker currently serves as the starting TE for Tennessee. Walker, an effective chess piece in Greg Romans’ passing attack last year for the 49ers probably doesn’t merit a starting position on his own. Ballard, who has proven himself as a talented receiver in the Giants offense in 2011, brings the skills of a complete tight end to any team that signs him. He’s also half a foot taller than Walker, meaning young passer Jake Locker will have an easier time getting Ballard the ball given Ballard’s massive wingspan.

I have elected to include Arizona with Tennessee because the starting tight end on their depth chart is Jim Dray. Dray is the type of player who earns a starting spot when you (the GM, owner, CEO) spent all of your salary cap money on other players (Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer, rookies, etc) and can’t afford a decent tight end. Still Palmer could use all the help he can get stuck on the wrong end of the NFC West. And considering Ballard’s situation being unemployed and all, I can’t imagine he would command much more than Dray does just to be on a team with a decent quarterback. Palmer’s main targets right now are the future HOFer Fitzgerald, and two lesser proven wideouts Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd. While talented, neither of them have demonstrated the ability to “tear it up” in the middle of the field like a Wes Welker or Jason Witten. Ballard would allow Palmer to look to all parts of the field, especially now that Andre Ellington is starting to show up in the passing game..

 

Richard Seymour to Philadelphia

The new look, Chip Kelly-led Philadelphia Eagles easily have the most exciting offense to watch. They also have a train wreck of a defense. A more tired defense is likely a natural result of having an offense whose specific job is to score and get off the field as quickly as possible. The Eagles defense ranks in the bottom seven for points allowed, total yards allowed, and passing yards allowed. Allowing several yards is an unavoidable consequence of having a high scoring offense. Allowing 28 points a game is a problem. The Eagles defensive problems cannot be solved by signing one player. The Eagles defensive line is easily the least recognizable of the players on D. Throughout his career has performed as an above average pass-rusher, and should draw double teams, allowing Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, and other defenders additional opportunities to hurry the quarterback. If Seymour and the Eagles could agree on a price, Seymour could bring a seasoned veterans’ talents to a defense in need and the Eagles could allow the 32 year old a chance to get to the playoffs again, something the surely missed during his time in Oakland.

It is now time for me to take responsibility for my horribly botched upset prediction. Oakland did not beat Denver in Mile High stadium. It was not a close game. I am a dweeb. To Oakland’s credit though, they have so far allowed the fewest points to Denver in the young season. And New York and Baltimore are routinely perceived as fielding championship caliber defenses, whose performances paled in comparison to Oakland’s. Wait for this coming weekend for me to blather on about such games as: Seattle at Houston, New England at Atlanta, and the surprisingly decent Detroit/Chicago match-up. Also, don’t miss out on whatever gosh-awful upset prediction I feel like talking myself into.

(I switched over from caffeine-free NO-Xplode to regular, caffeinated NO-Xplode this evening. I had a terrific workout. I also have no desire to sleep.)

Jacksonville goes to Seattle next week. Seattle scored more points in week one than Jacksonville has scored so far this season. Seattle just dismantled what was arguably thought to be the number one team in football 29 – 3 at home. And now they face the Jacksonville Jaguars being led by Chad Henne. Henne, bless his heart, has never had a season where he threw more touchdowns than interceptions. This match-up is like a grizzly bear hunting a squirrel. A squirrel with no legs. Or brain. If any team could improve their quarterback situation by enlisting the services of Timothy Richard Tebow, Shahid Kahn’s Jaguars could. At least Tebow could put points on the board and butts in the seats.

Patriots and Jets

New England defeated the New York Jets 13-10 at Gillette Stadium. This was the most painful close game to watch within recent memory. Future hall of famer Tom Brady completed 19/39 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown with zero interceptions. The Patriots totalled 54 whole yards of rushing on the day. Clearly Rex Ryan’s crew still knows how to play defense as the Patriots struggled to move the ball in the forward direction all evening. Inclement weather and inexperienced receivers were likely two significant factors in the equation that was the Patriots offense last Thursday evening.

In news that shocked no one, Danny Amendola received a notable injury and will be out for at least a few months. Former Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman has emerged as the Patriots leading receiver with the loss of Danny Amendola and the apparent shortage of Dobson and Thompkins in the offense so far. Edelman looks to be Brady’s top target for the foreseeable future until man-child superstar Rob Gronkowski returns from injury and Amendola waits to recover as well.

Trent Richardson, Indianapolis, and San Francisco

We’ll get to see Trent Richardson in a Colts uniform line up against the San Francisco 49ers defense after the 49ers suffered an embarrassing loss to division rivals Seattle Seahawks. Fans and pundits alike continue to heap praise on Indianapolis for making the trade happen. Richardson was a 1st round pick out an enormously talented Alabama team. Regardless, Richardson has a career average 3.5 yards per carry for Cleveland. This is an offensive line that starts Joe Thomas, one of the league’s most well respected left tackles. Rotoworlds’ Evan Silva ranks Cleveland’s O-line as sixth best in the league, pretty good considering how poor the talent around the line seems to operate. Footballoutsiders.com ranks Cleveland’s run blocking 10th overall in the league, suggesting Richardsons’ inability to break four yards per carry has more to do with his inexperience or inability to execute at a competitive level more so than his offensive line play. Indy’s pass-heavy offense could very well bring the best out in Richardson with the loosening up of defenses hesitant to give Luck to much room to work with, but the numbers suggest Irsay and the Colts likely gave up too much for the (arguably) overrated talent.

Getting back to San Francisco, the 49ers defense looks vulnerable with a new starting nose tackle after losing Ian Williams to injury in a controversial low cut made during the loss to Seattle last week. This coupled with a rash of injuries to starting rookie safety Eric Reid, starting DTs Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, the 49er’s mettle will be tested against a Colts offense that features one of the games’ young talents at quarterback and one of the league’s sturdiest power backs with Richardson weighing in at 5’9” and 227 lbs. That’s more weight per square inch than the immovable Maurice Jones Drew. Oh, and star outside linebacker Aldon Smith just got arrested for a DUI, though early reports state Smith is still expected to start this week for the 49ers’ game against the Colts. The matchup should be an intriguing one.

San Diego and Tennessee

You football geeks might want to pay attention to the not bad San Diego Chargers playing the not bad Tennessee Titans in Nashville. Tennessee has played above average defense with less than impressive offense. While San Diego is averaging exactly 30.5 points a game, on offense and allowed on defense. The ‘new’ Philip Rivers and the underrated Titans D ought to provide a compelling match up in week three.

Dave’s Upset prediction

Oakland over Denver. I realize my last prediction didn’t go as planned, and this one may not look too probable either, but let’s break down some details.

NFL powerhouses have a way of under-preparing in anticipation of facing scrappy, tired-of-losing teams who are likely ‘over-preparing.’ The unstoppable 2011 Green Bay Packers at 13-0 went to Arrowhead stadium against a struggling 5-8 Chiefs team that collected most of their wins in close games from other poor teams and lost in what became the biggest upset of the season. The 2011 Houston Texans, posting their first double-digit win season ever (10-6), still failed to defeat 1-13 Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium, good enough for dead last (Houston’s record remains 0-11 at Lucas Oil Field to this day). I could bore you to death with more examples but I won’t.

Nfl.com’s produced a statistic claiming that Oakland is 1-8 on Monday Night Football since 2003. Not a particularly promising number for Oakland at first glance. However, when taking into account Oakland’s all time record against Denver is actually 60-45-2, this suggests Oakland is due for a win. Historically speaking, Oakland ‘usually’ beats Denver. And Oakland’s all time NFL record of 431-364-11 (according to pro-football-reference.com) suggests they are well overdue for a win if they’ve matched eight losses with only one win on Monday night football.

Let’s put away the numbers and look at the players. Oakland’s defense has actually performed admirably so far this season, allowing an average of fifteen points per game. Denver’s sky-high offense lost arguably their second most important offensive player in LT Ryan Clady to injury. Whether penciled in back up Chris Clark or recent signing Winston Justice steps in for Clady as Manning’s bodyguard, Oakland will have plenty of opportunity to take advantage of Clady’s absence having posted a (prior to Kansas City’s Thursday night abusing of Michael Vick) league-leading nine sacks in two games. Oakland’s dominance in running the ball between Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden could well provide them ample opportunity to work the clock and keep Manning and Co. off the field.

Denver hasn’t had to aggressively defend the run this season because, well, they’ve put up 90 points in two games, New York and Baltimore were throwing for their lives. If Oakland’s pass rush can disrupt the Broncos offense, the offense could take plenty of time to score and turn the tide at Sports Authority Field this Sunday.

Denver is heavily favored. They have the best offense in the league. They have home field advantage. What they don’t have is anything to prove to anyone. Surprise starting QB Terrelle Pryor, HC Dennis Allen, and that practically unknown defense do. For this reason I feel Oakland has as good a chance as anybody to put a check in the ‘W’ column after this Sunday is over.

In closing

This will be an exciting Sunday. Tom Brady faces off against Darrelle Revis again. Cleveland went from bad to worse by trading away Trent Richardson and will try to move the sticks with 31-year old Willis McGahee (that’s about 90 in regular human years) and will struggle to compete against a competent Minnesota team. The Arizona experiment continues with Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and head coach Bruce Arians against the New Orleans Saints. Pittsburgh will struggle to prove they are still relevant against a sturdy Chicago defense. Football is exciting.

“There’s so much non pro football on Saturday. How will I fill the time?”

Go outside. Play with someone’s dog. Impersonate a Wal Mart employee until you are asked to “please leave.” Throw a dance party. In your car. At red lights. Put things in other people’s grocery carts at the grocery store. Take your parents through the drive-thru (My parents are hilarious at the drive-thru).

I am now going to lie down and pretend to sleep until I am asleep. Enjoy your weekend.

 

What happened last time

In last years’ contest, Texas A&M handed Alabama their first and last loss of the season in a 29-24 outcome. Texas A&M won the turnover battle as well as the time of possession battle. McCarron tossed two interceptions and failed to capitalize on their opportunities.

What’s changed

Texas A&M sent five players to the NFL draft this April, including first round pick OT Luke Joeckel, RB Christine Michael, and DE Damontre Moore. Texas A&M retains Heisman trophy winner QB Johnny Manziel.

University of Alabama sent a whopping nine players to the NFL draft, including three first round selections, offensive linemen Eric Fisher and Chance Warmack, and defensive back Dee Milliner. Another notable loss is running back Eddie Lacy now in Green Bay.

What I think will happen

I expect this to be a close, exciting contest just like the last. Johnny Manziel has only gotten better with time, and McCarron showed a very humble outing against Virginia Tech completing less than half of his passes and throwing for only 110 yards.  Alabama clearly leaned heavily on their running game and did not ask McCarron to stretch too much. Manziel is again leading a high scoring offense putting up 50 points or more in their first two contests. For me the tipping point is Texas A&M’s homefield advantage. This combined with the fact that both teams field competent defenses and AJ McCarron, while a smart passer, is no Johnny Manziel. I predict Alabama will again struggle to contain Manziel and the Aggie offense. (I now make my prediction which can later be used as evidence to show that I am the world’s stupidest football fan after Alabama wins in a blowout 62-0.)

Final prediction: Texas A&M over Alabama 31-27.

Three games to watch in week one

Posted: September 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

Cincinnati at Chicago

This contest might not draw the same attention as Baltimore vs. Denver or Green Bay vs. San Francisco, but it should be a competitive match of underrated defenses and deceptively talented quarterbacks. Additionally, the potential to see some phenomenal catches by A.J. Green or Brandon Marshall should provide for an exciting match as well.

Trestman’s welcoming party

This game also serves as the NFL head coaching debut of Chicago’s Marc Trestman, a surprise hire after the abrupt firing of former HC Lovie Smith. Smith actually guided the Bears to a very respectable 10-6 season. Unfortunately, Minnesota and Green Bay finished 10-6 or better as well, leaving Chicago out in the cold come playoff time. Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery emphasized the lack of offensive production under Smith’s tenure as one of the core reasons for his release. Emery also mentioned the importance of winning championships in Chicago. Chicago, believe it or not, actually is in 2nd place for most NFL championships, with 9. They are behind division rivals and the more well followed Green Bay Packers with 13. The decision to release Smith makes more sense as the perspective shifts from a 10-6 team trying to make the playoffs to a 9 championship team trying to get to 10, 11, etc. This is not the Jacksonville Jaguars looking to get over the hump. This is Chicago Pride trying to catch up with a divisional opponent in a rivalry older than your grandparents.

Rookies in action

Some young, potentially exciting NFL talent to watch for might include any of the following:

For the Bengals: First round pick TE Tyler Eifert, slightly undersized-yet-talented RB Giovani Bernard- also the first running back taken in the 2013 draft, and last but definitely not least 6’8” 26 year old Estonian native Margus Hunt. Hunt is a particularly curious talent totalling 8 sacks, 11.5 stops for a loss, 1 interception, 3 passes defended, as well as 2 forced fumbles in his senior season at SMU. He also has the wingspan of 12 bald eagles. Really? No. But the man is enormous and has the potential to become a household name like Clay Matthews if he can live up to expectations.

For the Bears: former gator Jon Bostic has been pegged as the backup to DJ Williams for the season opener against Cincinnati. The second round pick is said to have gone up in teams’ draft charts as coaches had more of a say in who to draft. Just watching tape on Bostic shows his aggressiveness, football instincts and awareness, and a tendency to hit runners like a mack truck.

Another rookie prospect, Kyle Long, won the starting job in the brilliant master plan to move Cutler down the list of most sacked qb’s from #5 closer to #25. Cutler was sacked thirty-eight times last season. That doesn’t mean he was actually hit thirty-eight times. That number is probably twice that high. More time in the pocket should alleviate many of Chicago’s offensive woes by giving Cutler more time to make good decisions and put that Vanderbilt “human and organizational development” bachelor’s degree to use.

Fortunately for Chicago, Long has shown much promise in his limited time during preseason. Despite only 4 starts at Oregon, Long has garnered high praise from Peter King, senior Sports Illustrated writer, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL network analyst and former nfl scout, and Chris Wesseling, NFL.com writer. Long has drawn comparisons to current NFL starter Marshal Yanda.

Atlanta at New Orleans

High scoring affair

Two of the top offenses, two of the best quarterbacks start the season with NFC South divisional play. New Orleans took a major step back last season as HC Sean Payton was suspended from coaching and the defense was historically awful. The 2013 Saints defense gave up the most yardage in a single season ever, according to Sports Illustrated. Having (arguably) the worst defense ever makes a 7-9 record actually rather impressive. If you like touchdowns, this game should have plenty of that.

Teach an old dog new tricks

Atlanta airlifted former Rams RB Steven Jackson and placed him in the Falcons offense. Jackson’s proven himself as a capable pass catcher as the heir apparent to the legendary Marshall Faulk in St. Louis. What he has yet to prove is whether or not he can compete at an elite level at the cursed age of thirty. Jacksons’ complementary back appears to be Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers, while quick, hasn’t convinced any major decision makers in Atlanta that he’s capable of starting sixteen games as a complete running back.

Why Atlanta is relevant

If you’re unfamiliar with Atlanta, you might remember them as the team to finally stop the rampaging Seahawks as they began their late season Bruce Banner to Hulk transformation from a good team to a “holy-crikey-did-you-see-that” team that demoralized an Arizona Cardinals football club that they had actually lost to at the beginning of the season with a 58-0 obliteration. Fifty-eight to nothing. Seattle scored in the air, on the ground, by field goals, with a fumble returned for a touchdown and an interception returned for a touchdown. And they allowed zero points. The week following Seattle hosted Buffalo and decided to only humiliate them with a 50-17 win. Seattle is not a team built to throw for 300-400 yards and score tons of points. The Seahawks are modeled loosely after the 2010 Jets. Play suffocating defense and watch as the opponent loses hope with Marshawn Lynch and the ‘Hawks o-line drain the clock away on their way to another score. But I digress, the ‘Hawks wake of devastation wasn’t finished as they faced San Francisco, the eventual NFC representatives in the super bowl and won 42 – 13. We’re not talking about Buffalo or disheveled Arizona any more. These are the to-be NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. An elite defense, a surprisingly talented young quarterback and possibly the most fanatically competitive Head coach in recent memory. And they lost 13-42. This is not the 2010 Jets. This is the powerhouse, video game-like blowout Seattle Seahawks. Seattle didn’t lose again until they faced Atlanta in the playoffs. Atlanta brought a speeding train to a dead stop. That’s why Atlanta is relevant.

Green Bay at San Francisco

Green Bay and San Francisco have a well established rivalry, most especially in the ‘90s with Brett Favre and Steve Young playing respective roles of gunslinger for their team. Both teams won championships in the ‘90s as well. Green Bay has already accomplished that feat this decade with arguably the best quarterback in football with Aaron Rodgers. San Francisco made an appearance last season but failed to capitalize. What San Francisco does have is the quarterback and coaching talent to get them to the playoffs for the foreseeable future. Recently, San Francisco’s been on top of the rivalry with two wins over the past season.

Head coach Mike McCarthy should still put an A+ product on the field as Green Bay reloads with wide receivers Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones in the absence of former leading receiver Greg Jennings. And they have the best quarterback in the league. And they drafted two blue chip running back prospects this past April in Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin. Lacy is being talked about as X-factor for Green Bay’s offense, despite his puzzling 2.0 yards per carry in the preseason. Green Bay, barring a freak Aaron Rodgers injury should be great this year.

San Francisco has a host of new faces on the roster. Former ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, former Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha, first round pick DB Eric Reid, 2nd round pick TE Vance McDonald and enigma 4th round selection RB Marcus Lattimore. San Francisco wasn’t exactly starving for running back depth, but Lattimore could really be something special if he can get healthy. Or he might flop. Either way, he’s worth the fourth round pick to find out.

This should be an exciting contest. Kaepernick’s athleticism gave Green Bay’s defense fits in the playoffs last year. The addition of first round pick DE Datone Jones should help Green Bay better contain mobile quarterbacks like Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Michael Vick, whom Green Bay will have the pleasure of defending against this 2013 season. Jones, in his senior season at UCLA, contributed one forced fumble, five and a half sacks, and nineteen tackles for a loss. Jones and the Green Bay D will have a tall order to fill against the 49ers offense this Sunday.

Take care, enjoy your weekend, and watch some football. It’s week one.

Preseason thoughts

Posted: August 26, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

 

Seattle might have the greatest amount of collective talent at the running back position with Marshawn Lynch, former Utah State standout Robert Turbin and rookie Christine Michael who pounded out 97 yards and one touchdown on only 11 carries in his preseason outing against Green Bay.

At some point I am obligated to mention UFA wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins’ 118 yard night against Detroit amidst a New England offense disguised as the keystone cops. All those free agent signings and the drafting of Aaron Dobson may not be as significant as the signing of rookie free agent Thompkins come November.  

In Jake Locker’s 13 attempts this week against Atlanta, he looked like an actual, starting NFL quarterback. Unlike the past two seasons.

For reasons unknown, Peyton Manning threw the football 34 times in his preseason outing against St. Louis. Peyton Manning. The man made out of cardboard was kept on the field for 34 passes in a preseason game. Maybe Denver should have tried harder to keep Mike McCoy in Denver if this represents the type of decision making the current coaching staff is making. This team isn’t going to intimidate with Brock Osweiler playing QB after Manning is lost because of an injury sustained in preseason.

If you can play quarterback, you might want to contact the Oakland Raiders, as their previously decided quarterback decision just became undecided as Matt Flynn completed 3 of 6 passes and threw two interceptions. Terrelle Pryor scored twice in his playing time. Terrelle Pryor, who left Ohio State early due to allegations of receiving improper benefits, completed less than half of his passes last year in his time at Oakland.

Green Bay’s running back situation became murkier in their contest against Seattle. Although Seattle’s run defense is considered elite, the two stud backs Green Bay took in the draft, Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin, (Lacy thought to be the favorite to win the starting job) combined for 12 carries and -4 yards. You read that right. Negative 4 yards. The Packer’s leading rusher was backup quarterback Vince Young, with 39 yards on 3 attempts.

Two preseason games went into overtime this week. Former Jets quarterback and current drunk hooligan Joe Namath proclaimed that preseason games should end as ties instead of going into overtime. I for one agree with him. With the preponderance of injuries this season, players should not be asked to put their career on the line going into overtime for a game that has no meaning. Dustin Keller and Dennis Pitta, two prominent tight ends for their teams, are already out for the year. Risking unnecessary injury to settle a meaningless contest serves no one.