Tag Archives: Green Bay Packers

NFL Mid-Season Top Fives

I usually do a review at the NFL season’s midpoint.  Sometimes I’ll do a preview of things to come.  This year I thought a few random Top 5 lists might be the way to go.  So, here we go…

TOP 5 QUARTERBACKS

1. Aaron Rodgers GB – I hate putting him at #1 because I hate the Packers however you can’t argue with results.  The team is 7-0, he has thrown for 20 TDs and his QB rating is 125.

2. Tom Brady NE – Tom is always in the Top 5.  While the Pats have faltered a bit going into the midway point of the season, Tom should continue to produce with the help of WR Wes Welker and his dynamic duo at Tight End.

3. Drew Brees NO – He leads the NFL in yardage and at times makes this game look very easy.  Sunday night against the Colts was an indication of that.  He has been starting to turn the ball over a lot again but when you throw the ball 40 times a game you are going  to throw a few picks.

4. Matt Stafford DET – I am not sure he’ll be on this list by season’s end but he is on it now.  He has led his team to hard fought and come from behind victories and they’re off to their best start in several decades.  He is a bit banged up and the team is starting to look more human lately.

5. Eli Manning NYG – I have to give it up to Eli.  I am usually very critical of him but he is off to a great start.  He has only thrown 5 Ints and has a QB rating over 100.  He has taken this team on his back and made big plays all season.  As a team they are good but not great.  Eli makes them better and could guide them to a division title.

TOP 5 PLAYMAKERS

1. Aaron Rodgers GB – See above

2. Matt Forte CHI – Where would the Bears be without Matt Forte?  He has almost 700 yards rushing, 400 yards receiving and 3 TDs.  He is the Chicago Bears offense.

3. Adrian Petersen MIN – He is stuck on a terrible Minnesota team and has over 700 yards on the ground at the break.  He has held on to the ball for a change and put the ball in the endzone 8 times.

4. Calvin Johnson DET – The Autobot or Decepticon or whatever the hell he calls himself is “the stud” when it comes to receivers.  This guy makes Matt Stafford that much better.  10TDs at the break says it all.

5. Wes Welker NE / Steve Smith CAR – I was torn here so it is a tie.  Wes has been everything to Tom Brady.  He leads the NFL in receptions and 2nd in yards.  1st in yardage is Steve Smith with over 800 yards at the break.  That is quite the accomplishment for a WR on a bad team with a rookie QB.

TOP 5 BUSTS

1. Chris Johnson TEN – He has gone from the NFL’s top back to 35th in rushing yards with a 2.9 per carry average.  Tennessee is struggling this season but those numbers aren’t all their fault.

2. Sam Bradford STL – From rookie phenom to a total bust out.  He only has 3 TDs, 51% completion percentage, a QB rating of 72 and a team that hasn’t won yet.  Is it all his fault?  Hard to tell but Josh McDaniels is calling the plays.

3. Peyton Hillis CLE – This guy was supposed to be the Browns 1,500 yard battering ram.  He is more like the battered ram as he has missed time for a few different reasons, one being strep throat.  Really?  He only has 211 yards on the ground, 3.5 yards per carry and 2 TDs.

4. Andre Johnson HOU – Fair or not he is hurt again and you can’t produce from the sidelines.  When on the field he isn’t producing as he only has 25 catches for only 350 yards.  He only has 2 TDs and if Houston is going to contend they need production from Andre.

5. Josh Freeman TB – I could have gone a couple of different ways with the last pick but Josh and the Bucs were supposed to be floating to the top of the division, not the bottom.  Josh consistently misses open receivers, his mechanics are off and he has already thrown 10 interceptions.  His QB rating is a sad 73.1.

TOP 5 DEFENSES

1. Baltimore – They are only allowing 13.8 point per game.  With a team offense that has struggled all season they are keeping the Ravens in every game.  They also have 19 sacks, 13 forced fumbles and 3 TDs.

2. San Francisco – Who knew Harbaugh would have such a profound influence on the defensive side of the ball.  They are only allowing 16.2 points per game and sit a top the NFC West.  The Niners have racked up 17 sacks, 8 interceptions, 1 safety and a TD.

3. Cincinnati – The resurrection of the Bengals isn’t with their young TCU QB, it is with their stingy defense.  Like a switch the defense went from bad to good in one season.  They are only allowing 18.5 points per game, 14 sacks and under 280 total yards allowed per game.

4. New York (J) – The Jets have been and should continue to be a roller coaster team all season.  One thing that is pretty consistent is that stingy defense.  They have 18 sacks, 11 interceptions, 9 forced fumbles and 3 TDs.

5. Jacksonville – The roar is back in N.Florida.  They have only allowed 84 points with 14 sacks and 7 interceptions.

TOP 5 ON THE HOT SEAT

1. Andy Reid PHI – Many pre-season polls had the Eagles as the odds on favorites to win the NFC Championship and go to the Superbowl.  Currently they sit at 2-4 at the bottom of their division.  Can they turn things around, finish 10-6 and squeak into the playoffs?  It is possible but chances are slim.  Andy will be looking for work if they can’t manage more than 8 wins.

2. Steve Spagnola STL – He has certainly built a better defense.  It is improving but the offense has been incredibly inconsistent and riddled with injuries.  Is this unraveling Coach Josh McDaniels fault?  Partially, but if they can’t manage at least 6 wins (currently sitting at 0 wins), Steve will be let go.

3. Tony Sparano MIA – Tony is a fiery guy.  He is also a pretty good coach.  However, Miami is sitting at ZERO after playing the equally terrible Broncos to an overtime loss.  A coach needs to find a way to win a game like that.  The Phins have had chances to fix the offense and haven’t.  Perhaps this is more of a front office screw up but we know that if the GM goes, so goes the coach.  I can see that happening.

4. Ken Whisenhunt ARI – Ken and coaches told the GM they were a good QB away from being a playoff contender.  Well, they traded for Kevin Kolb and they sit at the bottom of an mediocre NFC West with 1 win.  If they can’t turn it around, show some progress and end up with 6 or 7 wins, look for ownership to clean house.

5. Lovie Smith CHI – Can we ever get Lovie off of the hot seat?  I don’t think so.  There is way too much talent on this team for them to struggle like they do.  It is how they are coached.  It is the scheme.  It is the lack of adjustments, poor use of time and lack of offensive knowledge.  If they finish in 2nd and get a wildcard spot his job will be safe.  If they finish .500 or less and miss than he could get the axe.

TOP 5 TO CATCH FIRE

1. CAROLINA – Their young QB will make mistakes but he is a playmaker.  Offensively this team ranks near the top of the league and the D is improving.  Not to mention they play softies in Minnesota, Tennessee and Indy.  I look for them to finish around .500.

2. CHICAGO – Despite Lovie being on the never cooling hot seat, I think the Bears are set up for a nice run.  They get the AFC West division along with Seattle, Philly and Detroit and what they get are 7 VERY winable ball games.  The Bears should be 10-4 when they get to their XMAS Day match up with the Packers.

3. JACKSONVILLE – I can’t see them making the playoffs until Gabbert gets a better feel for the offense and the speed of the pro game.  However, the running game is good and the defense is excellent.  There are 5 or 6 very winable games on the back end of this schedule.  The Jags should make a run in this poor division but my guess is they finish about 8-8 and just a game or two back of Houston.

4. DALLAS – After a tough loss to New England, the Cowboys pounded St. Louis in response.  Statistically they are a very good and balanced football team.  They have a 5 game stretch that includes Seattle, Buffalo, Washington, Miami and Arizona.  I look for Dallas to finish with 10 or 11 wins and possibly steal this division title from NY and a struggling Philadelphia.

5. FALCONS – Atlanta struggled early on and have rebounded nicely the last two weeks with wins over improving Carolina and Detroit on the road.  Offensively they are beginning to get things on track and I feel the defense will soon follow suit.  To that add games against Indy, Tennessee and Minnesota and this Falcons team should be neck and neck with New Orleans at the end of the season.

TOP 5 DUMP TAKERS

1. DETROIT –  They started 5-0 and that is great for Detroit fans.  That hasn’t happened in a very long time.  However the feeling here is the Lions bubble is about to burst.  Detroit can’t run the football and they can’t stop the run.  Teams are starting to tee off on an already banged up Stafford.  To that add games against Tebow’s Broncos in Denver, Chicago, Carolina, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Diego and Green Bay again and you have an 8-8 season at best.

2. TENNESSEE – I had hopes for this team as a dark horse in 2011-12.  Those hopes are totally dashed with the subpar performance of Chris Johnson.  The defense was shredded for the 2nd week in a row.  They do have Indy twice but the other games are Cincy, Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa, Buffalo, New Orleans, Jacksonville and Houston. There is no way these guys see 8 wins, more like 6 or 7.

3. GREEN BAY – Now, keep in mind, when I say this I still think they are going to the playoffs.  When you start 7-0 you have nowhere to go but down.  The Packers are very good in areas and look invinsible to the media, but keep in mind they beat New Orleans, Carolina and Minnesota by only one score and perhaps got a little lucky in a couple of those games.  The Saints game was almost a gift.  While they are throwing the ball all over the field they are still having problems running the football.  This could be bad for Rodgers if teams can start bringing more consistent pressure.  On the other side of the ball they can’t seem to stop teams from passing on them.  The problem there is they still have games against Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Matt Stafford (twice), Josh Freeman, Matt Cassell and perhaps a more settled in Carson Palmer.  These are some big arms against a flimsy defense.  Despite this “slump” the Pack still go 12-4 and win the division but just by the hair of Rodgers chinny chin chin.

I can’t really find a #4 or #5 so I’ll go out on a limb and say San Diego and the NY Giants could run into some issues with their 2nd half schedules.  However I don’t think they’ll “dump” but I think they will struggle a bit.  San Diego should get into the playoffs and NY might struggle to make it if Dallas gets hot.

 

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Finally…

Finally the Daddy has come BACK to the Sports Rag!!!!

Daddy!  Daddy!  Daddy!

I’ve been gone a long time in Blog years but it is good to be back.

Since I’ve been gone the Green Bay Packers have become World Champs.  Well that’s just great.  The big silver football is a town where the biggest building is a corn silo and the players look like they work for John Deere.  The fans all wear big pieces of foam cheese on their heads and the big G on the side of the helmet stands for GIVE ME A BREAK!  Hey Matthews!  Thor called and he wants his hair back.  Or was that Pamela Anderson?

The multi-millionaire dollar Miami Heat are off to a good start with King Douche and company but let’s count 1, 2 , 3…17 losses already.  Some return on investment.  The Bulls, Celtics and Knicks have all kicked their candy asses so far this year.  Sure, they’ll make up excuses like oh LeBron and D Wade missed some time.  Well, waaaaaah!  Cry me a river.  You think that’s it?  Do you really think that’s it?  IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK!  The Bulls have missed one of more of their big three all season and they are right on your asses.  The Knicks and Celtics have made themselves stronger as well.  So Miami sHeat, enjoy your time in the sun.  Relax, order some more mojitos and get ready for the beat down of your lives come play off time.

If you smellllllllalalalala what the Daddy is cookin’!

Oh, and yes, thank you Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for you return and inspiring me to write this.

 

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NFL Championship Games

This Sunday the nation watches as two teams will advance to SUPERBOWL XLV.  In the AFC you have the steel-city bruisers versus the trash-talking boys from the Big Apple.  In the NFC you have the leagues oldest rivalry.  The opportunistic Bears versus the aggressive, high-scoring Pack.  Both games should be fantastic and fans of these four teams will be on the edge of their seats as both games should be close.

NFC

Chicago v. Green Bay

These two teams don’t like each other very much.  They respect each other, but don’t like each other.  The fans can’t stand one another.  The back and forth between fans through the media and online has reached new heights.  Who knows, there could be more action in the stands on Sunday than on the field.  To analyze this game really doesn’t go much further than Jay Cutler.  Bottomline, how he plays will dictate if Bears are prowling the streets of Dallas in two weeks.  As a Bear QB he is 1-3 versus the Pack with 9 interceptions.  That of course scares me big time but I won’t necessarily put that all on him because last years Bears were not very good.  Conversely, Jay Cutler is 22-0 as a QB when he concludes the game with a 100 QB rating or better.  That is a very telling statistic.

Green Bay will rush everyone at Jay all day long.  Jay will run, Jay will fall and Jay will not collect $200.  The best thing Jay can do under rough circumstances is not turn the ball over.  Mike Martz has to help Jay by running the ball and keeping the passes under 15 yards.  Quick looks in the slot and passes to the back out of the backfield will make any pressure Green Bay brings negligible.

On Green Bay’s side of the ball Aaron Rodgers will do well, he always does.  The Bear simply have to do what they did in Green Bay a few weeks ago which was stop the run and put pressure on Aaron without blitzing too much.  The Bears D is almost unbeatable if Peppers, Harris and Idonije are able to put pressure on the QB.  It allows Briggs and Urlacher to stay back and do what they do best which is filling the running lanes and taking away the intermediate passing attack.

There are two other intangibles worth noting.  If Hester and Manning get the ball on special teams the Bears should have great field position all day.  So, even if the Bears don’t score much, Punter Brad Maynard should keep Green Bay inside their own 20 most of the day.  If Green Bay has to play up hill all day they won’t win.  One other one worth mentioning is the matchup between Matthews and Webb.  LB Clay Matthews is Jack Lambert, Dick Butkus and Thor all rolled into one.  He makes a huge difference on that defense.  On the Bears side is very green rookie OT Webb.  He has shown steady improvement all year but he will be staring down the blitzes from Clay all day.  If he can contain him even a little that will help Chicago.  If he can’t than Chicago could be in trouble.

MY PICK – Chicago 17 Green Bay 13

AFC

New York v. Pittsburgh

This is going to be a great game.  Pittsburgh has been tough as nails since Big Ben’s return and the Jets have been like a boulder rolling downhill.  Both teams, on the surface, are very equal.  Both defenses are very tough, the QBs don’t make too many mistakes and the running games are very good.  Both teams are also well coached.

NY is facing a better running team than they did last week.  Rashard Mendenhall is vastly underrated.  He is very tough.  The one thing that the Steelers have going for them and this should come into play this weekend is the knack for the big play.  At almost guarantee at one point in this game when things are tight Big Ben is going to hook up for a big TD with Wallace, Sanders or Ward.  It will more than likely be a difference maker.

The Jet offense is good but has been inconsistent.  While Pittsburgh making big plays is almost a guarantee, I don’t feel the same way about the Jets.  I don’t think the offense can break open a game or come from behind late to win.  Their recipe for success is their defense holding the opposing team to under 20 points.  That is pretty much the bottom line.  I don’t want to knock Sanchez or the couple of weapons he has at wideout but that offense doesn’t scare me much.  I can see them moving the ball decently enough against Polamalu and the boys but I can’t see them making big plays and scoring too much.  LT could be a difference maker and open up the passing game but it isn’t likely against Pittsburgh.

Some intangibles worth mentioning might be the Jets pass rush.  They were able to disrupt any sort of passing attack from Tom Brady last week by keeping constant pressure on him.  That will be their plan against Ben as well.  The only difference is if they bring too many of their talented LBs on the rush it could open up for a big run or pass play.  Big Ben always played well under pressure.  The final intangible I can think of would be Pittsburgh’s depth and experience.  This is their fourth AFC championship in 7 years.  They have a great coach and an amazing system that works.  They can plug in and rotate guys all over the field and not lose too much.  They Jets are close but on the road against a team like Pittsburgh is going to be tough.

MY PICK – Pittsburgh 27 NY 16

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NFL Divisional Playoffs

The NFL playoffs are in full swing.  It is a wonderful time of year, but sad at the same time because we know the glorious game of football is coming to an end for the year.  To make matters even worse there is that pesky issue of the CBA which has next season up for grabs.  Well, I guess none of us can control what the NFL does in the off season.  Obviously we hope it is the two sides playing nice and coming to terms.  But, if they don’t it is going to be a long time until we see football again.  SOOOOO, let’s enjoy the hell out of these playoffs.

NFC

The miracle Seahawks v. the Jekyl and Hyde Bears.  This should be a better game than most people think.  The Bears came off of a flat game against Green Bay in their finally while the S’Hawks are on a roll with wins over St. Louis and New Orleans.  Seattle is mostly healthy.  Matt is back at QB and Marshawn is running like Earl Campbell.  All of those things do work in the S’Hawks favor.  What doesn’t is the brutal weather expected for Chicago.  Snow showers and a high of 14 degrees.  Now Tom Brady torched the Bears a month ago in similar weather but that was Tom Brady and the Patriots.  They’re awesome and Brady plays ridiculously well in poor weather.  The S’Hawks are used to the moderate climate of Seattle.  So, what other than the weather is against the S’Hawks?  How about the Bears staunch run defense.  They are among the league leaders and if Seattle can’t run, Seattle won’t win.  For Chicago not to blow this game on offense is simple.  They have to NOT turn over the football and convert on 3rd Downs.  If they can do this than it will be an uphill battle for the S’Hawks.  PREDICTION – Chicago 24 Seattle 14

The Green Bay Packers are on fire.  They beat the big, bad Bears in a brutal defensive game and then the GB defense whooped up on Vick and Philly.  On the downside they are entering the Georgia Dome to face Matt Ryan and the Falcons.  Simply put they don’t lose much at home.  Actually, they have only lost once there so the odds are against GB right out of the gate.  Both QBs are great so they cancel each other out.  Green Bays defense is good and ATLs is underrated so they cancel each other out.  That leaves special teams, receivers and runners.  ATL wins each of those battles.  Weems should be able to give ATL great field position all day.  Michael “the Burner” Turner is better than, well, just about anything Green Bay has.  Finally GB does have some good receivers but ATL gets the edge with TE Tony Gonzalez.  Other intangibles?  Can’t see any really.  It should be a close game with the home team squeaking out a win.  PREDICTION – Atlanta 20 Green Bay 17

AFC

This is going to be a hate fest from the word GO!  Rex Ryan has his boys playing well.  They have a chip on their shoulder and they’re daring just about anybody to knock it off.  The J E T S are talking smack, especially Cromartie who called Brady an “asshole”.  Wow!  That is some hate.  Now, I like confidence.  Heck, the 85′ Chicago Bears were as brash as they came but they NEVER disrespected another player and they always backed up their talk.  Now the J E T S might want to pipe down a bit because Brady and company are healthy and rested.  Why do I get the feeling, if I may make this analogy, the NY Jets are the Japanese after Pearl Harbor and the Patriots are the sleeping giant.  I so have this feeling Brady will tear up that NYJ defense and the Patriot defense will treat Sanchez like their bitch.  PREDICTION – New England 35 NY Jets 10
This should be the game of the weekend.  I have gone back and forth on this matchup.  Baltimore looked spectacular against the Chiefs last week.  The defense looked like the Ravens defense we recognize.  Flacco and company are efficient.  They run and pass and last week made it look easy.  However, their opponent this week is just a little bit tougher in Pittsburgh.  The Steelers haven’t done any one thing superbly this season but they have been so solid all around since Ben’s return.  RB Rashard Mendenhall is a key guy for the Steelers.  He can wear down the aging Raven defenders with his physical in-between the tackles running and take pressure off of Big Ben.  If however the Ravens are able to contain Mendenhall they will begin teeing off on Ben.  The Steeler D should be able to keep Baltimore in check.  Once again it isn’t a great defense but they do everything very well.  They don’t make too many mistakes.  The final stat if you will is that Pittsburgh has a 6 game winning streak over the Ravens.  That may be something too difficult for this Ravens group to overcome.  PREDICTION – Pittsburgh 21 Baltimore 16

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NFL Draft Wrap Up – NFC Central

1 – Chicago Bears (C+)

The Bears did not have many or early picks but did pretty well considering.  Taking S Major Wright with their first pick was pretty solid.  He lacks top end speed but has the intelligence and physicality to compete for playing time right away.  Taking DE Corey Wooten and QB Dan LeFevour in the next two rounds was solid.  Corey, if healthy, should be in the DE rotation this coming season.  Dan will be deep on the bench now but could compete for a starting job in 3 to 4 years.

2 – Minnesota Vikings (C+)

I thought first pick CB Chris Cook was a bit of a reach where they picked him but he should fit nicely into their system.  RB Toby Gerhart is a great kid and athlete but I’m not sure he replaces the production of a Chester Taylor.  DE Everson Griffen was a great steal in the 4th Round.  He might have some off the field issues but well worth the risk where he was picked.  He should become a very serviceable back up on the Vikings.  One other interesting pick was QB Joe Webb from UAB.  He might actually fit their system better than any other back up QB on the roster.  Rumor has it he is going to become a WR project.

3 – Detroit Lions (A)

First off they get the best DT in the country in Suh.  He should contribute right away.  The next pick was on Cal RB Jahvid Best.  Injury issues could plague his career but if healthy could become a very good double-threat RB.  The next pick was on CB Amari Spivey.  He is a quick ball hawk who should be able to help out in the nickel immediately.  The other pick I liked a lot was OT Jason Fox.  He might not contribute immediately but he should make the roster and develop into a solid RT.

4 – Green Bay Packers (C)

OT Brian Bulaga was a very solid first pick.  Green Bay has a couple of entrenched vets at that position but Brian should provide much needed depth.  The Pack got another nice player in DT Mike Neal.  I don’t think much of him as a Nose-Tackle in their scheme but he could provide depth at DE.  The only pick of theirs to garner any starting time should be SS Morgan Burnett.  He is a speedy, ball hawk who should kick Bigby to the bench.  TE Andrew Quarless was a decent pick in the 5th Round but why?  They needed CBs and LBs and they picked another TE.  Hmmmm?

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Fox Sports Adrian Hasenmayer is High

While scanning the Chicago Bears Web site in anticipation of the upcoming summer camp I stumbled across Larry Mayer’s Chalk Talk.  It is basically a Q&A section where fans can shoot questions to Bears expert Larry Mayer.  Some of the questions are pretty softball and some are just silly but the first one in his list of questions caught my eye immediately.  Fox Sports ranks the Bears 20th in pre-season poll.  WTF!  I had to check this out.

Writer Adrian Hasenmayer ranked the Chicago Bears 20th in the league after a 9-7 season and one of the best off-seasons in recent memory.  Even a novice football fan can realize an average football team with an amazing off-season usually translates into more wins, not less. 

He ranked Atlanta #4.  Atlanta who will have a great offense and absolutely no defense.  The Cardinals are #5 and while I think they are probably good enough to be in the top 10 they did lose some personnel and have a 39 year old QB.  The Colts at #10 is pretty laughable considering they lost more depth in the off-season and head football coach Tony Dungy.  Not too mention P.Manning isn’t happy and that usually isn’t a good thing. 

The 6-10 Packers are ranked #14.  Now while I thought their off-season was OK they really don’t impress me at all.  They have a new defensive coordinator and a whole new scheme.  There will be growing pains. 

The Bills are #15 and Saints are #16 and while that probably is pretty accurate their is no way those two teams are better than the Chicago Bears.

Now I don’t expect the Bears would be in the Top 5 but somewhere between 6-10 would be appropriate.  I mean they did acquire a Pro-Bowl QB in Jay Cutler and improve the offensive line.  They also signed several players to add depth to a defense that suffered injuries last season.  If they had acquired a top WR I probably would have put them in the Top 5.  They still have time to do that.  Overall they are a very good team with a very weak schedule.  11 to 12 wins is a very realistic goal for them. 

Here is BPD’s more REALISTIC Power Ranking.

1 – NEW ENGLAND – The Brady Moss show is back and action and their defense is loaded.

2 – PITTSBURGH – The Steelers didn’t get any better in the off-season but they didn’t get any worse.  They had O-Line depth issues and addressed it in the off-season.

3 – TENNESSEE – The receiving corps was weak so they drafted Kenny Britt and signed free agent Nate Washington.  They lost DT Haynesworth and drafted Sen’Derrick Marks and signed Jovan Haye.  Solid team all around.

4 – PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles look tough with a stud WR corps in place.  The defense looks like one of the best in the league and Donovan McNabb is happy.  This team should do very well.

5 – NEW YORK (NFC) – The Giants have a very talented and very deep offense.  The offense had struggles last season but they have the talent and leadership to re-group.  They also had a great draft to add depth to the offense.  They will contend.

6 – MIAMI – Fox Sports picks them #19 and that is crazy.  This team won 11 games last season and added weapon Pat White to the Wildcat Offense.  They improved the offensive line and defensive backfield.  Wildcard team.

7 – CHICAGO – Fox Sports again drops the ball with a #20 ranking.  The Bears added a pro-bowl QB and left tackle.  They also added depth on the O-Line, D-Line, linebacking corp and defensive backfield.  The only weakness may be the WR’s inexperience.  They should win 11 to 12 and their division.

8 – ATLANTA – I love the Falcons offense.  It should be one of the most entertaining in the NFL.  They did take some hits to the defense in the off-season and haven’t adequately replaced their losses. 

9 – CAROLINA – The Panthers had a nice off-season and should run neck and neck with Atlanta all year.  They should have a dominate run game again and with Peppers back in for another year one of the better pass rushes in the game.

10 – ARIZONA – The Cardinals are a good team but they had some issues in the off-season.  Boldin still isn’t happy and they lost their offensive coordinator.  They also have a 39 year old QB.  His health is the difference between 10-6 or 6-10.

11 – BALTIMORE – Harbaugh has his work cut out for him after the loss of Bart Scott and his defensive coordinator.  They do have enough depth on the defensive side of the ball to remain one of the better groups in the league.  Flacco is for real but does he have enough weapons?

12 – MINNESOTA – This is really a Favre question isn’t it.  A healthy Favre plays and they probably win 10 to 11 games and push Chicago for the Division title.  He dosn’t play and they go with the Jackson and Rosenfels than they are probably a 9 win group pushing for that final Wildcard spot.

13 – SAN DIEGO – The Chargers could be a little better #13 depending on their health but they play in a weak division.  They should  win 9 games easily and that should be good enough to get into the playoffs.

14 – DALLAS – The Cowboys have removed their cancerous growths and this could be good for them.  They do seem to lack depth at some key positions and happen to play in the best division in the NFL.  They may not be able to break .500.  Can you say Shanahan in 2010?

15 – NEW YORK (AFC) – The Jets are going to be fun to watch under new coach Rex Ryan.  They will have to endure the rookie QB growing pains most teams go through but I look for them to start slow and pick up steam at the end of the season.  Wildcard longshot.

16 – WASHINGTON – In any other division Washington would be 2nd best and have a shot at the Wildcard.  In the NFC East they are a .500 record doormat.  If they stick with Zorn I do like their future. 

17 – INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning can’t do it all and this should be a challenging season for him.  He will still put up decent numbers with Wayne and Clark but the rest of the team is very average looking.

18 – SAN FRANSISCO – The 49ers are improving under Mike Singletary.  They have an arsenal of WRs for Shaun Hill to throw too.  Gore’s health is very important to the success of this team.  7 or 8 wins should be the max but if Arizona falters an 8 win division title is possible.

19 – HOUSTON  – I really wanted to put this team higher but QB Matt Schaub has not proven he can stay healthy.  If he misses time again the next QB is Rex Grossman and I think that says it all.  Their defense is good but proved to be inconsistent last year.  Will that continue? 

20 – GREEN BAY – Now this is the team that belongs #20, not the Bears.  Aaron Rodgers is a good QB but not great.  He doesn’t have a strong running game behind him despite his arsenal of receivers.  The defense is a work in project.  While they’ll improve later in the season the first 5 or 6 games could be rough.

21 – JACKSONVILLE – I look for Garrard to bounce back and have a better season.  RB Mo Jones Drew is the main guy now and should be a top back in the AFC.  They also improved their WR situation purging off the field headache Matt Jones and adding Tory Holt and Troy Williamson.  Defensively they should continue to struggle against the pass.

22 – NEW ORLEANS – I was destroyed by some Saint faithful last year for suggesting they were a .500 team with no defense or running game.  Ooops, I was right.  However they are probably in the same boat again this season.  Thomas and Bush will be carrying the running load and I am not sure that’s good enough.  The defense, while better, is still weak against the pass.  Look for Brees to throw…a lot.

23 – TAMPA BAY – New coach, similar philosophy and a team full of 2nd string QBs.  It doesn’t sound good to me either.  The defense should be adequate but the offense doesn’t look good to me at all.  Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans are much better than they are.  Long season for Tampa. 

24 – DENVER – The Broncos ownership thought they were stepping in the right direction when all they did was step in a big, smelly pile of McDaniel.  Cutler is gone and Orton is in.  Their stud WR and TE both want out.  The defense was terrible last season and won’t be much better this year.  They get to 6 wins only because Oakland and Kansas City are worse than they are.

25 – BUFFALO – I look for Buffalo to take a tumber for three reasons.  The first is that is what happened to the Dick Jauron Bears.  The second is they are not better than New England, NY or Miami.  The third is Terrell Owens is going to end up being a pain in the ass and cause problems with their young QB.

26 – KANSAS CITY – They aren’t a good team but I like their upside.  I like their coach and draft too.  I am not sure about paying Cassell all that money though.   That was a huge risk and I am a fan of Thigpen.  But Cassell will probably do well long term.

27 – CINCINNATI – Ocho Cinco says playoffs for Cincy but I don’t see it.  The defense doesn’t look very good and the RB situation is kind of a mess.  On the upside Carson Palmer is healthy behind a better line.  The downside is he is missing T.J.  They’ll struggle. 

28 – CLEVELAND – Mangenius should be able to restore the pride to the ‘Dog Pound’ but not this season.  This team looks like a mis-matched quilt pattern.  Eventually the pieces will come together although that future may not include Quinn or Anderson.

29 – SEATTLE – Mora is the new coach and simply doesn’t have his guys yet.  There are a lot of old timers left from the previous coach.  The addition of TJ Houshmanzadeh was a key building block.  The running game probably won’t be too great and the defense looks to be inconsistent.

30 – OAKLAND – I don’t get it.  It has been years since Oakland was good.  Not even great, I am talking good.  The ownership has destroyed the team, they lack effective leadership and passing up on Crabtree for Bey was idiotic.  They will struggle and win only 3 or 4 games again.

31 – ST. LOUIS – The owner wants the team back in L.A.  The coach is competitive and wants to  win now.  I am not sure how long this marriage will last.  Bulger is old and his best days are behind him.  Although they are rebuilding this team on the lines they have quite a ways to go.

32 – DETROIT – They suck.  They should break the winless drought and maybe win twice.  They had a nice draft but they are terrible at every position.  The ‘Restore the Roar’ project is a 5 year project at least.

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Favre in Purple?

 brettfavreviking

This is the image we are going to see in a couple of weeks.  This was the plan the whole time.  He has a hatred for the organization he used to call his home.  He is a tremendous competitor who can’t walk away from the game.  It is the reason Minnesota has only back up QBs on its roster. 

Why else would Favre ask for his release instead of just sitting on New York’s reserve/retired list?  Brett wants options just in case that itch returns.  Which, according to Pioneer Press, has already happened because he has hired a professional trainer. 

Let’s face it, Brad Childress wants him and who can blame him.  His team is a good QB away from competing for an NFC crown.  Favre may not be great anymore but he still certainly qualifies as good.

Green Bay had concerns about Favre breaking down late in the season which was one of the reasons they committed to Aaron Rodgers.  The NY Jets did experience that breakdown.  What the media and team didn’t elaborate on was that Favre played the last few weeks with a torn biceps tendon.  I don’t care who you are, that injury will effect how you throw a football.

brettfavreviking2

That season is over.  It is May 2009 and NFL teams are preparing for the new season.  With that we are certain of a few things.  Favre is a free agent.  Favre is healed.  Favre is rested.  Favre didn’t go out the way he wanted to.  Favre wants to go out beating the Packers and getting to a Superbowl.  Minnesota is the perfect location for him to accomplish that goal.

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