Previewing the 2010 NFL Season – NFC EAST EDITION

In this segment I am going to preview every team in the NFL, division by division, and predict their level of success throughout the season.  Today, I will cover the NFC East and over the next several days work my way to the AFC East.


1. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

(Notable games: Week 1 – September 12th at Washington, Week 6 – October 17th at Minnesota, Week 7 – October 25th vs. New York Giants, Week 9 – November 7th at Green Bay, Week 10 – November 14th at New York Giants, Week 12 – November 25th vs. New Orleans, Week 13 – December 5th at Indianapolis, Week 17 – January 2nd at Philadelphia)

The Cowboys have a very tough schedule this season, coinciding with them being in arguably the toughest division in all of football, the regular season record may not be as good as many expect.  Their only sure fire wins on the whole schedule seem to be week 8 vs. Jacksonville and week 16 at Arizona.  But, as we all know, the NFL season never turns out as everyone expects it to.  Tony Romo seems poised to have a big season.  He certainly has enough weapons around him with Miles Austin, a motivated Roy Williams, and rookie wide out Dez Bryant; not to mention his best friend Jason Witten.  Along with the passing game, Dallas presents a three-headed monster in the backfield.  Felix Jones seems to be in line to get most of the carries this season, while Marion Barber is transforming into more of a goal-line back.  As always, Tashard Choice will fill in wonderfully for an injured running back (or two) and exceed expectations.  The Cowboys’ defense hasn’t changed much from last season…but did it really have to?  I look for the Cowboys to finish first in the NFC East, but by a smaller margin than most expect.  As for the Super Bowl, I don’t put you in that game until you prove that you can make it.  A Cowboys’ loss in the NFC Championship game?  Sounds good to me.

2. New York Giants (10-6)

(Notable games: Week 2 – September 19th at Indianapolis, Week 7 – October 25th at Dallas, Week 10 – November 14th vs. Dallas, Week 14 – December 12th at Minnesota, Week 16 – December 26th at Green Bay, Week 17 – January 2nd at Washington)

Similarly to the Cowboys, the G-Men have a very tough schedule this year as well.  One game vs. Jacksonville looks like the only gimme on the schedule.  Last season, the Giants’ offense, their passing attack in particular, exceeded expectations as Eli Manning turned Steve Smith (yes, the not as good Steve Smith) into a 1,200 yard receiver, while making Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks into 800 yard receivers.  Nicks is one year more experienced and looks to take his game to the next level, while Smith will no longer surprise teams, so his play needs to rise to the occasion.  Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw will be a productive combination for the Giants in the backfield, but offensive inconsistencies will limit the potential success for the G-Men.  At least on paper, the Giants’ pass rush is very intimidating.  Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Osi Umenyiora will be a combined force to reckon with, while a healthy Chris Canty will hope to be a run stopper up the middle.  Although their linebackers as a whole scare me, the pressure on the quarterback will help to alleviate a lot of pressure off of the back seven of that defense.  I expect the Giants to sneak in as a wild card team, but making it anywhere past the divisional round is a bit ambitious.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

(Notable games: Week 1 – September 12th vs. Green Bay, Week 9 – November 7th vs. Indianapolis, Week 11 – November 21st vs. New York Giants, Week 14-17 – at Dallas, at New York Giants, vs. Minnesota, vs. Dallas)

As much excitement surrounds Kevin Kolb and the Eagles’ offense, I truly believe that the loss of Donovan McNabb hurts the team.  Parting ways with a quarterback who has 11 years of experience, over 32,000 passing yards, 216 touchdowns, one NFC Championship, and five trips to the NFC Championship game certainly can not be beneficial to a team.  But, Andy Reid parted ways with his buddy McNabb, and now it’s Kolb’s turn to run the show.  He certainly is equipped with the best set of offensive weapons that have been in Philadelphia since McNabb’s tenure began.  DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek look to all have big seasons in the Eagles’ offensive system.  Combine those targets with the pass catching ability to LeSean McCoy, and the Eagles’ offense should be pretty proficient.  On the defensive side of the ball, they also looked to be ready for a big season.  Their defensive line is stacked with talent, especially with rookie end Brandon Graham on the left side.  Graham has made a seemless transition from college to the pros and looks to have a big rookie campaign.  Ernie Sims adds some speed and playmaking ability to the Eagles’ linebacking corps but that is still an area of concern.  Ellis Hobbs looks to be starting opposite of Asante Samuel this year, and as all of us Patriots’ fans know, that can be a scary thought.  Inexperience and inconsistent play from Kolb costs the Eagles a few games, but 9-7 in the nest division in football isn’t that bad.  Sadly, the Eagles miss out on a playoff spot, leading to questions about the McNabb move.

4. Washington Redskins (8-8)

(Notable Games: Week 1 – September 12th vs. Dallas, Week 5 – October 10th vs. Green Bay, Week 6 – October 17th vs. Indianapolis, Week 12 – November 28th vs. Minnesota, Week 13 – December 5th at New York Giants, Week 15 – December 19th at Dallas, Week 17 – January 2nd vs. New York Giants)

Mike Shanahan is an animal.  He has changed this team dramatically since taking over earlier this year.  From a new franchise quarterback, a remodeled offensive line, to a improved defensive unit, the Redskins’ fortunes are looking up from their lowly 2009 season.  The one glaring weakness on this team is a playmaking wide receiver.  Santana Moss really isn’t that guy anymore, and Joey Galloway isn’t looking like he can do the job either.  Chris Cooley is looking to have a huge season because of his skill set and McNabb’s infatuation with checking down to tight ends, but that still doesn’t solve the problem at receiver.  With a better offensive line, and run-happy Shanahan at the helm, Clinton Portis looks to revive his career, but again, that doesn’t solve the receiver problem.  A new-look defensive line featuring a disease ridden Albert Haynesworth, combined with a good group of linebackers and one of the most underrated secondaries in the league have Redskins’ fans hopeful for a great 2010, but that still doesn’t solve the problem at receiver.  Shanahan and McNabb will not let this team win less than eight games, but without a wide receiver to speak of, that’s all they get.

The Joke Known as Congress

This morning Roger Clemens arrived in Washington for his arraignment on three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury, and count obstruction of Congress.  This morning, our elected officials gathered to bring charges forth on a superstar athlete for lying under oath.  This morning, Congress did what it does best, waste taxpayers money.

Does anyone truly care that Roger Clemens perjured himself during the steroid scandal of 2007?  Our own President committed the very same act in 1997 about a sex scandal and he was simply impeached. Nothing notable in terms of punishment happened to Bill Clinton, and he was the leader of our country! Why are we wasting our time with a has been?  Aren’t there more pressing matters in our country than whether or not someone lied about taking performance enhancing drugs?  Isn’t handing out indictments on lying to Congress much like giving out speeding tickets at the Indy 500?

It’s funny.  I thought that there were pressing matters going on in our country.  I am pretty sure there is around a 9% unemployment rate across the country.  Isn’t there an oil spill in the Gulf that should require some attention?  What about our soldiers over seas fighting in yet another senseless war?  Or how about how about the treatment of our soldiers (or lack thereof)  when they come home after serving our country?

No, none of these issues can hold a candle to Roger Clemens lying under oath.  What is an oath anyways?  It is defined as a promise calling upon calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact.  In today’s liberal world is anything scared anymore?  Is there a God? What makes Clemens lying so significant?  People lie everyday.  An oath in today’s world is as valuable as dirt.

This morning Roger Clemens was arraigned in Washington.  This is only the start of the process in which millions of dollars will be wasted.  Congress is going to have to waste time and resources researching the alleged charges, preparing their prosecution, and then wasting even more time with procedure.  This morning, American’s from Maine to Hawaii saw just why the country is deep in the proverbial hole.  American’s are great at wasting resources.  The only people better than us?  Our leaders.

Previewing the 2010 NFL Season – NFC WEST EDITION

In this segment I am going to preview every team in the NFL, division by division, and predict their level of success throughout the season.  I will begin with the NFC West and over the next several days work my way to the AFC East.


1. San Francisco 49ers (10-6)

(Notable games: Week 2 – September 20th vs. New Orleans, Week 4 – October 3rd at Atlanta, Week 5 – October 10th vs. Philadelphia, Week 13 – December 5th at Green Bay,  Week 15 – December 16th at San Diego)

Mike Singletary seems to have his 49ers primed and ready for a good season.  The team finished a respectable 8-8 last season and looks to build upon the success that they have had under coach Singletary.  According to multiple reports, Alex Smith is having a good preseason and hopes to fulfill some of the promise that he showed at Utah, which led to him being the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.  Michael Crabtree hopes to elevate his play with an entire NFL off season under his belt, while the addition of Ted Ginn Jr. hopes to open up some throwing  lanes for Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Josh Morgan.  Frank Gore, if healthy, is a stud at running back, and will benefit from two rookie additions on the offensive line, right tackle Anthony Davis and left guard Mike Iupati.  Patrick Willis leads a defense that looks to be one of the best units in the league.  Manny Lawson’s ability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks will be a big factor in how dominate the 49ers defense is.  I expect the 49ers to easily win one of the worst divisions in football, and maybe sneak out of the first round of the playoffs.

2. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)

(Notable games: Week 1 – September 12th vs. San Francisco, Week 3 – September 26th vs. San Diego, Week 9 – November 7th vs. New York Giants, Week 11 – November 21st at New Orleans, Week 14 – December 12th at San Francisco)

Pete Carroll scares me, plain and simple.  It’s not like he’s new to this whole thing.  Carroll has coached in the league before, and hadn’t had much success doing it.  That being said, he has basically come in to Seattle and built this team the way that he wanted to.  The additions of Leon Washington, Golden Tate, a rejuvenated Mike Williams, and Russell Okung actually provide some spark to this previously indolent offense.  Combine that with one of the better young linebacking corps in the NFL, and I think that the Seahawks might surprise some people.  I expect the Seahawks to edge out the Cardinals for second place in the division, but their season ends there.

3. Arizona Cardinals (6-10)

(Notable games: Week 2 – September 19th at Atlanta, Week 4 – October 3rd at San Diego, Week 5 – October 10th vs. New Orleans, Week 12 – November 29th vs. San Francisco, Week 16 – December 25th vs. Dallas, Week 17 – January 2nd at San Francisco)

Matt Leinart got yanked from his starting spot before he even had a chance to prove whether or not he deserved to be there.  Derek Anderson is obviously the answer than Ken Whisenhunt and his staff has been looking for to lead them to the Super Bowl.  Let’s be serious for a minute here Arizona, Kurt Warner, as much as I think he was overrated throughout his career, was the sole reason that your team had success over the last few seasons.  Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin loved having Warner around because of his ability to throw the ball 55 times a game.  Since Warner’s departure, Leinart (former 10th overall pick in 2006) was expected to step in and live up to his potential.  So far, it isn’t looking that good.  Their running game isn’t good enough to carry the offensive load, and their defense took a huge hit with the loss of Karlos Dansby.  I expect the Cardinals to get back to their losing ways in 2010, and wind up on the bottom half in arguably the worst division in the NFL.

4. St. Louis Rams (4-12)

(Notable games: Week 10 – November 14th at San Francisco, Week 11- November 21st vs. Atlanta, Week 14 – December 12th at New Orleans, Week 16 – December 26th vs. San Francisco)

The Rams have a pretty easy schedule leading up to their week 10 showdown with the 49ers, which will certainly assist them in with improving upon their record from last season.  Maybe it’s because I think highly of the 2010 New England Patriots’ defense, but Sam Bradford looked really good in the Rams’ preseason game against the Pats.  He was going through his progressions, fitting the ball into some tight spots, and checking down when necessary; the things that rookie quarterbacks normally struggle with.  No, I’m not saying that Sam Bradford should be inducted into the Hall of Fame right now, but he didn’t look that bad.  I really feel for Steven Jackson.  The poor guy runs like his hair is on fire every single time he touched the ball, and often when his team is down big.  That takes heart.  I wish the Pats could get a running back like that.  The Avery injury hurts an already questionable receiving corps, so Bradford and Jackson’s supporting cast isn’t really ready for a 6 or 7 win season.  Their defense is okay, Chris Long looks like he is finally ready to contribute which is nice.  But, I don’t think that the Rams can muster up the testicular fortitude to win more than four games this season.

Knee Jerk Reactions

Just like that, the 2010 Boston Red Sox season is all but mathematically over.  Going into the weekend there were positive vibes that the Sox could turn their truck accident of a season into one in which they’d play baseball in October.  After Jon Lester baffled the Rays Friday night, the hope was affirmed.  Fans that fell off the wagon long ago were brushing the dust off of their pink hats on Saturday morning and were planning on where to watch game 2 of the series, even though they couldn’t name the starting lineup.  Saturday night is when disaster struck.

On Saturday Clay Buchholz cruised through seven innings giving up one run.   One that quite possibly should have never scored because of a mental error by JD Drew.  It was mental errors that did in the Sox in 2010.  Sure people can point to a weak bullpen, Papelbon’s struggles, the injuries, you name it.  But August 28 and August 29 were days that the Sox were uncharacteristically flawed in their approach to the game. 

On a foul ball hit into the Tampa Bay bullpen area, JD Drew made what normally would be a sensational catch.  The problem was there was a runner on third and that runner easily tagged up and scored tying the game.  It appeared JD wouldn’t be the goat, as Victor Martinez promptly launched a bomb off of Rays’ reliever Joaquin Benoit.  Then Grady Little, umm I mean Terry Francona did the unthinkable.  He got away from his formula and let Clay Buchholz go out for the eighth inning where he gave up a home run to BJ Upton tying the game. 

Then in extra innings Francona inexplicably went to Scott Atchison instead of Jonathan Papelbon.  Atchison gave up a walk off home run to the first batter he faced in light hitting Dan Johnson.  Game over.

Tonight John Lackey showed that he is nothing more than an overpaid number 4 starter at best.  Given a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning Lackey couldn’t wait to give it all back.  A base hit by Ben Zobrist (hitting .160 since the All Star break) off of Yamaico Navarro’s glove (why he was starting, I still have no idea) followed by a rocket into the bleachers by Carl Crawford and the Rays tied it up just like that.  A few batters later that same light hitting Dan Johnson struck again with what would prove to be the game winning single.  Goodbye 2010 for the Sox.

In summation the goats of the 2010 Red Sox season are JD Drew, Terry Francona, and John Lackey.  Some will say that the Sox still have a chance.  I disagree.  The Yankees and Rays are healthy and refuse to lose.  More importantly they don’t make stupid mistakes.

Time to Put Up or Get Out

I’m pretty sure that I put up a post earlier this summer about it being time for John Lackey to prove his worth.  Well, this is the final hour, the last chance.  Time for John Lackey, aka Lackmaster, to either put up, or get the hell out.  I don’t need to mention that this is the biggest series that the Red Sox have played all year, that has been stated more times than I can count.  I don’t need to mention that tonight’s game is probably the biggest single game that the Red Sox have played to date, that has also been mentioned more time than I can count.  But, I do want to say that a great performance from John Lackey tonight would completely justify his $18.7 million salary this season, well for me at least.

If nothing else, John Lackey’s reputation before coming to Beantown was his ability to perform well in the “big game.”  Lackey has shown throughout his entire career in Los Angeles…I mean Anaheim…well, actually Los Angeles and Anaheim…well whatever, you get the point; he showed the ability to show up when his team needed him the most.  Whether it was a big game in August or September, or a playoff game when his team was facing elimination, the Angels could always count on Lackey.  It goes without saying that Lackey, despite a respectable 12-7 record, has had his fair share of struggles this season.  The most alarming of which have occurred when the Red Sox have needed him most (most recently a loss against the Yankees on August 7th).

Unlike many of you out there, I have yet to abandon hope for the Lackmaster.  I actually expect him to come out and step up for the Sox tonight (don’t worry I’m knocking on wood as you are reading this).  My concern tonight lies not as much with John Lackey as it does with that bullpen that has let the team down continuously this entire season.  I’m not sure if Daniel Bard is available tonight (considering he has thrown in the previous two games), but this game needs to be approached by Lackey, the entire team, the bullpen, and maybe most importantly the coaching staff, as a playoff game.  It is no longer the time to protect players, watch pitch counts, create lineups by the numbers, or get guys their fair share of playing time.  Tonight begins the playoff run for the 2010 Red Sox.  A win catapults the Red Sox into a battle for the wild card with these very Tampa Bay Rays.  A loss almost completely eliminates any hope for a playoff run, and we will be watching the Sox in September only to see what kind of talent is in the organization’s farm system.

That all being said, tonight’s success or failure falls completely into the hands of John Lackey.  A great performance by the Lackmaster justifies his offseason signing, while his failure to show up simply expedites his departure from Boston.

Playoff Baseball is Here

With 34 games remaining in the Boston Red Sox season, and with them being 5.5 back of a playoff spot, it is fair to say that playoff baseball has arrived in New England.  The Red Sox will be in Tampa Bay for the weekend for a pivotal, make or break the season series against the Rays.  If the Sox are swept, the season is over.  It is imperative that they take 2 if not 3 games from the Rays.  These facts are not lost on Sox management.  This was evident by moving Jon Lester back in the rotation to tonight’s game instead of having him pitch Wednesday night against the Mariners.  Dice-K conveniently came down with a back issue, Kevin Cash was conveniently brought back to the active roster on Tuesday so he could catch Tim Wakefield Wednesday night.  This allowed the Sox throw 2 of their aces in Lester and Buchholz against the Rays instead of just Buchholz.

The Sox will throw Lester, Buchholz, and Lackey against David Price, Matt Garza, and James Shields.  All 3 of these matchups are marquee matchups but none is better than the gift we have tonight.  Jon Lester and David Price to open the most important series of the season is perfect for the severity of the situation.  Lester is fresh off getting smacked around by the Blue Jays in his worst career start while Price is trying for that elusive 16th win as he has been dealt no decisions his last 2 times out.

While this series is going on, the Yankees will have their hands full with the Chicago White Sox this weekend.  There is a lot of potential for the Red Sox come Monday to be in a prime position as is related to a playoff spot.  Unfortunately, there is also a ton of potential for them to be out of the thing altogether when they wake up Monday morning. 

There are several key aspects to this series but there are two that are most concerning to me.  The Red Sox need to limit the Rays’ running game.  It seems every time the Sox go down to Tampa they are victims of larceny.  Tampa loves to steal bases and with Victor Martinez behind the plate it will be of the utmost importance for the Sox pitchers to keep Tampa baserunners close to the bag and stop the Rays from creating scoring opportunities.  The other main concern is the bridge to Bard and Papelbon.  Is there any reliever in the bullpen that a Red Sox fan can trust?  I even have a hard time trusting Papelbon! It is crucial for the Sox starting pitchers to get through the seventh inning.  If they can’t then, there will be a lot of bars in the New England area collectively holding their breaths on each pitch with the likes of Delcarmen, Atchison, and Doubront on the mound.

Lastly, I will leave you, the faithful readers of NTCF, with some food for thought.  Many of you know that I was a huge Johnny Damon fan when he was with the Red Sox.  I, like many of you, felt betrayed when he went south to suit up in pinstripes. When I heard the Sox won the waiver claim on Damon, I was ecstatic and hopeful he would comeback to Fenway.  We all know how that worked out.  Yes, I was somewhat disappointed.  But then I stepped back from the situation and did some thinking.  Here are Johnny’s stats this season:

In 115 games Johnny has hit .269 with 7 home runs and 41 RBI’s with an on base percentage of .359.

In 94 games Darnell McDonald has hit .273 with 8 home runs and 31 RBI’s and an on base percentage of  .340.  Not to mention that Darnell races horses and smashes windshields.

Would Johnny have been an upgrade or a downgrade?

2011 NFL Mock Draft – August Edition (Picks #21-32)

Final installment of the August mock draft, wrapping up the first round.

21. Cincinnati (10-6)

After reviewing my two previous mock drafts over the past few hours I realized that I have yet to place a quarterback in the first round.  That is certainly due partially to my forgetfulness, but also because of the lack of star power (at least in my opinion) surrounding the quarterbacks for the 2011 Draft.  But, I’m certain to try and work in at least one quarterback before the conclusion of this mock draft.  Cincinatti certainly doesn’t have a quarterback problem, nor do they have a glaring need at any one position.  The Andre Smith experiment (6th overall pick, 2009 draft) has yet to pan out, so offensive line is certainly an option.  Also, the Bengals are decent at safety but could certainly look to improve, and the same holds true for wide receiver.

SELECTION: Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU

22. New England (10-6)

As I’ve said in previous mock drafts, I’m not sure why I keep attempting to predict who the Pats are going to select because they either take someone that you’ve never really heard of, or they trade their pick 11 times and wind up with 76 draft selections in the next years draft.  But, the whole reason for the post is for me to make a prediction, so I might as well take a shot at it.  I’ve been saying for a few seasons now that the Patriots could use a playmaker at running back.  This draft is not necessarily very deep at the position, but at 22 you can certainly get an explosive player.

SELECTION: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma

23. Green Bay (11-5)

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers looked pretty damn good last night, wiping the field with the Colts.  I don’t know if I see the same level of success for the Colts this season than we have come to expect every year, but that is a topic for another day.  The biggest need areas for the Packers are interior offensive line depth, wide receiver depth, a safety, and cornerback depth.  At 23, they will be looking to take the best available player at one of these positions.

SELECTION: Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida

24. Philadelphia (11-5)

My immediate reaction when I heard that Donovan McNabb was traded was that Kevin Kolb is an underrated player and will play pretty well for the Eagles.  Now that everyone else has jumped on to the Kevin Kolb bandwagon, I think he may be getting a bit too much credit for his success in his two career starts.  But, the Eagles won’t be looking to draft a quarterback.  Their needs are at offensive line, linebacker, cornerback, safety, and running back.  I like LeSean McCoy, but I question his durability over a 16 game season as a number one running back simply because of his size (similar to Brian Westbrook).  Ellis Hobbs is a good corner, but I’m not sure if I would feel comfortable with him as a starter.  They are desperate for a right tackle.

SELECTION: Chris Galippo, ILB, USC

25. Baltimore (9-7)

I can see the pain in the eyes of Ravens fans across the country.  Sergio Kindle somehow slipped through the cracks and fell to your team with the 43rd pick.  A guy that has top 15 talent, fell into your lap because of “off the field issues.”  I would be ecstatic.  Later in that round you somehow find yourself looking at, in my opinion, the best nose tackle in the draft.  The mammoth (6’4” 250lbs) Terrence Cody looks to be your nose tackle of the future.  As if that wasn’t enough, your team selects two of the better tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, in all of college football in the third and fourth round respectively.  Man, it is a hell of a time to be a Ravens fan.  The only area of weakness that I see on that entire team is at corner.

SELECTION: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

26. Arizona (10-6)

Matt Leinart’s starting spot has been revoked already?  Can someone give this guy a friggin’ chance to play in the regular season?  Every time Leinart seems to have an opportunity to get some playing time, he gets the rug pulled out from underneath him.  If he isn’t good enough to play then cut him, otherwise let him play!  Derek Anderson is going to win more games than Leinart?  MISTAKE!  But I digress…it is about time I get a quarterback off of the board.  This will never happy, but I forgot about the quarterbacks so here goes…

SELECTION: Jake Locker, QB, Washington

27. Dallas (11-5)

Dallas to the Super Bowl…that is the trendy pick now-a-days.  How come at the beginning of every season, when all of these “bold” predictions are made, everyone seems to forget that the Cowboys (and specifically Tony Romo) suck in the playoffs?  I’m sorry but I refuse to anoint a team preseason Super Bowl champion until they prove that they can win in the playoffs.  That being said, the Cowboys are stacked on both sides of the ball so look for the best available player to be taken here.

SELECTION: Marcus Cannon, OT, TCU

28. San Diego(13-3)

I despise Philip Rivers, but I kind of feel bad for him.  His left tackle and best wide receiver are holding out.  The team’s running game is resting solely in the hands of a rookie running back.  I think that the Chargers may be selecting somewhere in the high teens next season, which will give them a better chance of grabbing a playmaker of grabbing a playmaker to help out Rivers next season.

SELECTION: Terrance Toliver, WR, LSU

29. New York Jets (9-7)

I hate the Jets, but Hard Knocks is great.  Not that the Jets make it great, because I loved it last year with the Bengals too.  It is just a damn good show. It does rub me the wrong way how they just beg for Darrell Revis to come back every show though.  Come on Rex, how do you think that makes Kyle Wilson or Cromartie feel?  Anyway, the Jets could use a 3-4 defensive end or a rush OLB, although I have to agree with Rex, Vernon Gholston looks pretty damn good at defensive end (even though it is against other teams’ 2’s and 3’s).

SELECTION: Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama

30. Minnesota (12-4)

Brett Favre makes me want to vomit.  I used to enjoy watching him play and if nothing else, I certainly respected him.  Fuck Favre!  He has not one ounce of my respect.  I can’t stand to see his face on the television bitching about how much he loves his teammates, or how much his ankle hurts but he will certainly still play, or on the relationship between him and Childress.  Seriously dude, just shut the fuck up.  Here is your replacement asshole!

SELECTION: Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas

31. Indianapolis (14-2)

The more I watch Brett Favre piss me off, the more I respect Peyton Manning.  The guy goes about his business, doesn’t bother anyone, is a class act, and just wins games.  He doesn’t gloat about how amazing he is.  He doesn’t put the team’s business out in public.  Doesn’t call press conferences to announce that he has a hang nail on his big toe that may hinder his performance and may have lead to ending three consecutive season on interceptions (fuck you favre).  As I said earlier I don’t see prototypical Colts’ success this season, but I’m sure they will still end up in playoff contention.

SELECTION: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas

32. New Orleans (13-3)

To the Saints: Congratulations, you won the 2009 Super Bowl…hopefully you know it’s not against the rules to stop celebrating.  Seriously, Drew Brees and Sean Payton have been drinking their own Cool-Aid for like 8 months now, enough is enough.  Gruden’s champ camp, or whatever it is called…seriously?  Best available player, enough said.

SELECTION: Travis Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma

Down the Stretch they Come

With a month left in the 2010 MLB regular season, 4 out of the 6 divisions in baseball are still up for grabs, as well as both wild card berths.  The Texas Rangers pretty much have the American League West wrapped up with a healthy 8.5 game lead over the Oakland A’s while the surprising San Diego Padres have the NL West all but won with a 6.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants.  Barring a collapse of epic proportions these teams have their playoff ticket punched.

That leaves 6 playoff spots open for the taking among 10 teams.  There is nothing more exciting than a chase for the pennant in baseball.  This September will no doubt produce some serious drama.  Here is my take on what is ahead of us for the rest of the season.

A note about the percentages I used in figuring out what the probability is of the teams making the playoffs: there is absolutely no mathematical thought behind my theories.


The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays are in a tie for the division lead with the Red Sox 5.5 games back.  All three of these teams play each other 6 times setting the stage for a playoff like atmosphere before the playoffs even start. 

The Yankees have to be the favorite to win the division simply because they are the Yankees, but they are no doubt a flawed team.  Alex Rodriguez is on the disabled list, the starting pitching has question marks galore outside of CC Sabathia, and Lance Berkman has been awful.  But even with these flaws they still have the best closer of all time.  When “Sandman” comes on at Yankee Stadium the game is over. Mariano Rivera continues to dazzle over all these years with just one pitch, breaking bats left and right.  The Yankees also know how to win with players like Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.  They have an MVP candidate in Robinson Cano and a gold glover in Mark Teixeira.  I believe the Yankees will make the playoffs but they will need to find some pitching outside of CC and Phil Hughes.


The Tampa Bay Rays refuse to lose and have been keeping pace with the Yankees.  Their pitching has been unreal and they have the best road record in baseball. The Rays have a solid five man rotation featuring Cy Young candidate David Price and supported by Matt Garza, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Davis.  The weakness for the Rays comes in their offense as they are among the bottom dwellers in team batting average in all of baseball, not having one.300 hitter on the team.  That is trumped by having one of the best managers in the game in Joe Maddon. When it comes down to the end, I think the Rays and Sox will be in a dogfight for the wild card berth. But I believe that the Rays will get their playoff ticket punched.


Somehow, some way the gritty Boston Red Sox still find themselves in contention for a playoff berth.  They have been without two thirds of their projected starting outfield for pretty much the entire season, without their two perennial MVP candidates, and getting mediocre pitching from John Lackey and Josh Beckett.  Yet here they are with a Cy Young candidate of their own in Clay Buchholz, overachieving players in Darnell McDonald, Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava, and Billy Hall.  The Sox will need their bullpen to be strong down the stretch and can get away with a weaker offense because their starting pitching is that good.  The main question is if the deficit is too steep to overcome at this point in time.  They have a weekend series coming up with Tampa that they must win at least 2 out of the 3 games.



The Central is a two horse race with the Minnesota Twins currently up on the Chicago White Sox by 3.5 games.  They will play each other just 3 more times this season.  The White Sox have a tough schedule playing Boston 7 times and the Yankees three times. Meanwhile, the Twins have a cake schedule the rest of the way only playing the Rangers 4 more times.

Help is supposedly on the way for the White Sox in the form of Manny Ramirez.  It is widely known throughout baseball that the White Sox will put a claim on him.  I doubt his addition will be enough to help the Sox leapfrog the Twins for the Central Division banner because the Twins schedule is just to easy the rest of the way. 


The Twins have gotten great pitching this season from Carl Pavano and Brian Duensing.  Joe Mauer has hit .411 since the All Star break and they have gotten great seasons from Justin Morneau and Delmon Young which should surprise no one.  Barring a collapse, the Twins should cruise into the playoffs warding of the Chicago White Sox.


Projected American League Playoffs:

Yankees v. Twins

Rays v. Rangers


Right now the Phillies are 2.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves.  If history tells us anything, it is to not discount the Phillies and to not have much confidence in the Braves.  The two teams square off 6 more times including a season ending 3 game series in Atlanta.  The Phillies are tied with the Giants for the wild card and have a one game lead on the Cardinals.  It amazes me how open the National League is right now.  Anything can happen!

The Braves have a solid lineup getting Martin Prado back from injury, acquiring Derek Lee from the Cubs, and stud rookie Jason Heyward.  But going forward I feel the Braves have weak pitching after Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson.  They can’t afford to lose games like they did last night being up 9 runs.  Billy Wagner and Jonny Venters have been solid out of the bullpen.  The schedule is favorable to the Braves as they only have 10 games left against contending teams.


The Phillies have a cake schedule the rest of the way facing the Braves 6 times and the Padres 3 times.  Other than those teams, they play the dregs of the National League.  The Phillies may have the best “playoff type rotation” in the NL with Doc Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels.  The only question mark in Philadelphia is the reliability of Brad Lidge.  He can be great or he can be terrible.  The Phightin Phils are healthy and are destined to do damage come October.


Cincinnati is my adopt a team out of the National League.  I tend to grab a team to get behind if the Red Sox fall behind.  This year it is the Reds.  How can you not love this team? They have the National League MVP in Joey Votto, a huge comeback season for Scott Rolen, and exciting players in Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Drew Stubbs.  Mike Leake is the rookie of the year at the top of their rotation with Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto behind him.  Factor in the managing expertise of Dusty Baker and what is not to love?  They have only 3 games left against their closest competition in the Central, the Cardinals and an easy schedule the rest of the way.


The Cardinals sit one game out of the wild card lead and 3.5 back of the Reds.  How the Cards aren’t cruising into the playoffs without a worry in the world is beyond me.  They have 2 Cy Young candidates in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter and some guy named Pujols and Pujols is battling Votto for the triple crown!  The Cards have a tough schedule from this point on facing Atlanta, San Diego, and Cincinnati.  I think that the Cards have the talent to get there but they will need to take at least 7 out of the 11 games they have against the aforementioned teams.


San Francisco has Tim Lincecum pitching not up to his potential with a 11-8 record and an ERA near 4.  Yet are still striking distance of the Padres.  I have pretty much anointed the Padres as champions of the NL West; but I failed to realize that the teams do have 7 games left against each other.  Pitcher Johnathan Sanchez predicted that the Giants would win the division and were going to the playoffs.  The problem here is who is Johnathan Sanchez? a 9-8 starter with an ERA near 4. I firmly believe that he jinxed their season by ignorantly opening his mouth.  The Giants do have my favorite “new” ballpark in baseball but that’s about it.  I am writing of the Giants as being no threat to San Diego or the wild card due to a lack of offense and no pitching after Lincecum.








2011 NFL Mock Draft – August Edition (Picks#11-20)

FYI: The 2010 draft order was in shambles because of trades (ex. Seattle and San Francisco both had two picks in the top 20) so I decided to award all picks back to the original teams to get a more accurate prediction for the 2011 draft.

UPDATE: From the first 10 picks that I posted, I wanted to make sure that you all knew the Patriots have the Raiders’ 2011 first round pick (which for the purposed of this draft was #8).  But, because of the uncertainty of how teams will play/finish the 2010 season, I am not accounting for any draft pick trades in this mock.

11. Chicago (7-9)

The Bears seem primed for a solid 2010 campaign.  Their defense can never be overlooked.  They had a decent unit last season, but the return of Brian Urlacher from a wrist injury as well as the addition of Julius Peppers should vault the Bears’ defense back into the upper echelon in the league.  Their offense should be a bit more explosive this season with the addition of Mike Martz as the offensive coordinator.  Jay Cutler’s big arm will certainly be taken advantage of in Martz’s system.  The problem with Chicago is that Cutler may have trouble finding players to throw to (well offensive players, because Cutler is certainly capable of throwing many good passes to defenders).  A big play wide receiver could be the missing piece that could help the Bears return to the playoffs in 2011.

SELECTION: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

12. Miami (7-9)

The Dolphins’ biggest area of weakness might be the outside linebacker position in their 3-4 defense.  Cameron Wake has shown glimpses of brilliance as a pass rusher in his limited action, but his ability to drop back into coverage a still a huge question mark.  Koa Misi was a second round pick in 2010 (8th overall in the round) draft, but he is making the transition from college defensive end to NFL outside linebacker, so his level of production remains to be seen.  That being said, the two best DE/OLB players have already been selected (Quinn and Miller) so filling another hole (3-4 defensive end) becomes a priority (opposite of Odrick of course).

SELECTION: Marvin Austin, DE/DT, North Carolina

13. San Francisco (8-8)

The San Francisco 49ers are poised for a run at the playoffs this season, pending some decent play out of quarterback Alex Smith.  Everything that I have been hearing out of San Francisco’s camp indicates that Smith looks good and is ready to go.  He does not have to be special, just limit the number of mistakes that he makes and let that vaunted defense and running game dominate the opponent.  I’m looking for the 49ers to finish somewhere in the top 5 in the league in overall defense, and would not be surprised if they end the season as the best unit in the NFL.  Their once questionable offensive line now looks like one of the best young units in the league with Joe Staley and rookie Mike Iupati holding down the left side and rookie offensive tackle Anthony Davis improving every game on the right.  The only two areas that the 49ers really could use help are defensive end and outside linebacker.  As I mentioned in the last pick, the top tier outside linebackers are gone, but this draft is deep in the DE/DT positions.

SELECTION: Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami

14. Denver (8-8)

The Denver Broncos strike me as nothing more than a mediocre team.  Their wide receiver situation is in complete chaos (rookie first round pick Demaryius Thomas hasn’t been able to stay on the field), their running backs can not stay healthy, they potentially have three starting quarterbacks on their roster, and their defense is still transitioning from a 4-3 to a 3-4.  Denver could use another wideout, corner back, to get younger at safety, and even an inside linebacker.  But, their most pressing need is where this draft is the deepest.

SELECTION: Adrian Clayborn, DE/DT, Iowa

15. New York Giants (8-8)

The Giants’ offense is pretty well off.  They have more pass rushers on their roster than the entire AFC East combined.  The addition of Antrel Rolle this off season helps to sure up a previously shaky secondary.  Kenny Phillips return from injury will also assist the defensive backs.  Their one position that is a glaring weakness was previously vacated by Antonio Pierce.

SELECTION: Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State

16. Tennessee (8-8)

How the hell isn’t Jeff Fisher perennially considered the best coach in the NFL.  Ownership says, “Here is an unbelievable running back…and that’s all you’re getting.  Now, go win us at least eight games and if you make the playoffs that’s an added bonus.”  Their receiving corps has improved over the last couple of season by drafting Kenny Britt and Lavelle Hawkins, as well as the additions of Nate Washington and Justin Gage.  They certainly don’t need a running back, and I guess they have to live with Vince at quarterback.  They need to rely on rookie Derrick Morgan helping out their pass rush, because it is essentially non-existent.  But, they best way to counter a sub-par pass rush is by utilizing great corner backs.

SELECTION: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

17. Carolina (8-8)

I can’t envision the Panthers doing much this season.  If I played against them, I would throw 11 defenders in the box and dare Matt Moore to hit a wide open wide receiver.  But, until Jimmy Clausen develops there is not much room for improvement within that offense.  So, the focus shifts to improving on the defensive side of the ball, where safety may be their weakest position.

SELECTION: DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson

18. Pittsburgh (9-7)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are unraveling before our eyes.  Their quarterback can’t keep his hands to himself.  They traded away their best offensive playmaker in Santonio Holmes.  Their starting running back is made of glass and is bound to get broken at some point this season.  One position that they could really look to sure up is cornerback.  Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden are ok, but I think Pittsburgh could do better.

SELECTION: Ras-I-Dowling, CB, Virginia

19. Atlanta (9-7)

Matt Ryan is on all of my important fantasy teams this year, so naturally I am predicting a big season out of him.  Roddy White is a stud and Tony Gonzalez looks like he could catch touchdowns until he is 53.  Michael Turner is a bruiser (which scares me long term) but has at least three of four big years left in him.  Their offensive line is ok, but could use some improving.  Their defensive line is getting younger and more athletic, and the same holds true for the linebacking corps.  The addition of Dunta Robinson helps their secondary, but some room for improvement is still there.  I think that by this point in the draft, looking for the best available player is the way to go.

SELECTION: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

20. Houston (9-7)

The Texans will attempt to replace Dunta Robinson with rookie cornerback Kareem Jackson, but could use some help at safety also to help his transition.  They have one of the best young defenses in the league, and it might take one or two more good young players to put them into the elite category.  Their offense revolves around Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub, which didn’t turn out to be a terrible thing last season.  Wide receive, offensive line, and running back depth can all be addressed in the later rounds.


2011 NFL Mock Draft – August Edition (Picks #1-10)

With my co-blogger getting me pumped again about the 2011 college football season, I figured that it is never too early to throw a mock draft out there…

FYI: I used the same draft order as 2010, so some player placement will certainly change as the NFL season unfolds.

1. St. Louis (1-15)

I’m pretty sure on almost every mock draft out there so far, either Jake Locker, Ryan Mallet, or Andrew Luck are going first overall.  I think that Locker is the best athlete of this group, and usually when quarterbacks are rated closely together, overall athleticism pulls one guy over the remaining competition.  Locker has a cannon for an arm, finally has a coach that will install an NFL type system (Steve Sarkisian), and has the ability to run away, and occasionally through defenders.  I’m looking forward to see if he progresses with his touch/accuracy this season and if he does then he’s almost a lock at the top spot.  BUT, the Rams selected QB Sam Bradford with the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, so the Rams will be looking to fill another need.  Chris Long has yet to pan out and the Rams are desperate for a dominant pass rusher.  I doubt anyone selects a defensive end with the first overall pick (pending a rookie salary cap) but this player addresses one of the Rams’ biggest needs.

SELECTION: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

2. Detroit (2-14)

One team that I am really excited to watch this upcoming season is the Detroit Lions.  Matthew Stafford has shown glimpses of being a very good NFL quarterback.  He has a huge arm, which Calvin Johnson certainly benefits from greatly.  If he can lower his interception total from the 2009 season, I would expect the Lions to be selecting somewhere in the 10-12 range next draft.  Jahvid Best looks poised to have a good rookie campaign, and the defense seems to be evolving into a pretty good unit (see Ndamuknog Suh, Louis Delmas, etc.).  The Lions’ biggest needs are at offensive tackle, defensive end, and linebacker.  Protecting Stafford’s blindside is an investment that the Lions certainly should look into.

SELECTION: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

3. Tampa Bay (3-13)

Tampa Bay may have the most holes of any team in the NFL.  Their offensive line is in shambles, their second round pick from 2010 (WR Arrelious Benn) may not even crack the starting rotation, they have no one to rush the passer, and struggle to find anyone to tackle the opponent’s running back.  Ronde Barber is coming to the end to the road, and combining a stud young corner with Aqib Talib could help to take some pressure off of Josh Freeman and that young offense.

SELECTION: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

4. Washington (4-12)

I’m expecting Shanahan to work his magic on this team and for them not to be drafting in the top ten in 2011, but here they are fourth so I’ll go with it.  The Redskins have revamped their offensive and defensive lines, brought in Donovan McNabb, and are returning one of the better secondary’s in football.  The only position that is noticeable week in Washington is the receiving corps.  Luckily for McNabb and coach Shanahan, this draft is pretty receiver heavy.

SELECTION: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

5. Kansas City (4-12)

For the Chiefs to have any success this year, Matt Cassel and Jamaal Charles both need to have big seasons.  Outside of those two positions, Kansas City could use help on the offensive line, at nose tackle, linebacker, and corner.  With Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry roaming the secondary, along with Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey stuffing the run, adding a pass rushing OLB could benefit that young defense tremendously.

SELECTION: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

6. Seattle (5-11)

Pete Carroll has revamped this Seattle team.  He loves young, explosive talent.  I think that the Seahawks are going to surprise some people this year with their passing attack (you heard it here first; pick up Matt Hasselbeck in your fantasy leagues!) and their defense is young and athletic.  That being said, they still have a big hole at running back that has yet to be filled.  Certainly a committee consisting of Julius Jones, Justin Forsett, and Leon Washington will be serviceable, but a headline running back could go a long way towards putting this team back in playoff contention.

SELECTION: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

7. Cleveland (5-11)

I’m not sure if Colt McCoy is the long-term answer at quarterback, but I’m assuming that Holmgren is going to run with that for at least a couple of seasons.  Their offensive line (aside from Joe Thomas) isn’t that great.  Jerome Harrison showed some promise at the end of last season but I don’t see much future with him as a number one back.  Their receiving corps is decent, but nothing special.  They need defensive line help, linebacker help, and safety help.  Basically the Browns need a lot of damn help!  But, I’m not going to doubt Holmgren’s ability to put a decent product on the field.  One of the quickest ways to improve your defense is by suring up your big guys up front.

SELECTION: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

8. Oakland (5-11)

Maybe I’m looking too much into preseason, but so far the Raiders’ defense looks really good.  Their line is revitalized with the addition of Seymour and rookie Lamarr Houston.  Rolando McClain looks like he will be contributing immediately, and Kamerion Wimbley has been shedding blocks like an animal so far.  You know what Asomugha is going to give you, and although their safeties aren’t big names, they can certainly hit.  To protect Jason Campbell left tackle should be the position addressed in 2011.

SELECTION: Anthony Costanzo, OT, Boston College

9. Buffalo (6-10)

I think that we can all agree on one point, the Bills do not need a running back.  But, every other position essentially is an area of need.  Offensive line, wide receiver, nose tackle, linebacker, and cornerback are all position that could be addressed.  But, the 3-4 defense is not very effective unless you have a good nose tackle anchoring the defensive line.

SELECTION: Jerrell Powe, NT, Ole Miss

10.  Jacksonville (7-9)

I don’t know if the Jaguars could go another season without addressing the wide receiver position.  Garrard is decent, MJD is MJD, their offensive line is physical, defensive line is improved with the addition of Aaron Kampman, their linebackers and defensive backs are a decent unit.  But, as I said earlier, wide receiver is their biggest area of need.

SELECTION: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama