Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We're Getting the Band Back Together

After nearly a three month layoff, and some time to totally cogitate, I figured it was time to start putting pen to pad again. After nearly two years of writing about everything that came up in the sports world, I was growing weary and my writing was suffering. With some time to sort through all the wonderful things going on in the sports world, I think I can provide a fresh outlook on some of the recent events. Plus, with my post count sitting dangerously close to 300, I have to get to at least 298 to pass that sissy Favre. Then I will turn this site into a merchandise store selling autographed footballs and mini-helmets with the number 298 on them to all my fans. But before I get ahead of myself, let's get a good rant going here.

Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Boston, Chicago. These are the cities that have had the Winter Classic over the last four years. Chicago and Boston I am okay with, Pittsburgh and Buffalo I am not. The NHL has certainly come a long way in bringing itself back from the brink of where the NBA was in the late 70s, but can we get some less bozo cities to host the Winter Classic? I'm thinking New York, Toronto, Montreal or Detroit. Personally, I also wouldn't be against Philly having the game, but something about the prospect of a New Year's day, outdoor hockey game in Philadelphia frightens me. Let's land the Winter Classic in a few more marquee cities though.

Next, did the Celtics sign Shaquille O'Neal to play basketball or to head up their PR department? So far we have seen Shaq in Harvard Square, leading the Boston Pops orchestra, and when I was at the Natick Mall last week I saw a sign saying that he would be their in January. He has played a total of 372 minutes for the Celtics this year, and has probably done three times that amount of appearances. Get your 350 pound, barely able to dunk the ball ass in gear Shaq. A question for another day: How did Shaq's ex-wife not get beaten to death by "The Diesel" (catch my drift)?

Back to the Gunslinger. I would venture to say that he has set the Vikings franchise back at least five years. Adrian Peterson is starting to show some signs of wear and tear, the defense is no longer at its prime, and the receiving corps will be wasted on a new quarterback. Brett Favre has the ability to take a team from contender to rebuilder in two years. Glad I got that one off my chest. Also, looking at my football picks from a few months ago, I did alright! Also, also, my only Giants burn; along with "taking my talents to..." I will be using the phrase "err on the side of..." a lot in the future. Such an educated man Justin Tuck is. Who knew he was also Mayan royalty?

That brings us to Vick vs. Brady for the MVP race. Let's compare stats:

Vick- 2,755 yards passing, 20 TDs, 5 INT, 103.9 QB Rating
Brady- 3,561 yards passing, 31 TDs, 4 INT, 109.9 QB Rating

Vick- 631 yards rushing, 8 TDs
Brady- 17 yards rushing, 1 TD

Basically, there are two ways to look at this and they hinge on how you rate the most valuable player. Brady and Vick's numbers are very similar once you adjust for Vick's rushing value. However, Vick did not play in three games for the Iggs due to injury and only played in the second half of the first game. If he plays in those games, his numbers are probably better than Brady's and the Iggs probably probably don't go 2-2 during that stretch. That to me truly shows his "value" (FFWD to 3:03) to the team. On the other hand, do you discount Vick's season because he was injured and missed three games? It is a total toss-up, and it will probably be decided in the last two games as most people vote on recent memory.

Finally, I would be cheating myself if I did not mention anything about golf in this post. The last post before TPLIYP was put on life support concerned the Ryder Cup. Now we are looking forward to the 2011 season. The Donk and I have discussed, and besides Tiger, our boy for the upcoming season is Jeff Overton. New year, new curse? We shall see. It's good to be back, let's hope I can find the motivation to keep going in 2011. BOOM BABY, YEAH!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ryder Die

WHATCHALL REALLY WANT?!?!?!? That's right, we are starting this Ryder Cup preview with a throwback to the baddest rapper of our generation, DMX. Tomorrow, the USA defends their Ryder Cup trophy against the blokes from across the pond. For those of you not familiar with the Ryder Cup, I'm about to school you. The best way to describe it in my opinion though, is a war. It's the USA vs. Europe, and I want nothing worse than to send those stuck up snooty bastards back to their hamlets with a thorough beating. Though team USA is defending their win in 2008, they have not won on foreign soil since 1993. This crowd is going to be hostile, the course will be unrelenting, but the United States shall prevail. Queue the Bruce Springsteen and the USA chants!

For those poor, unfortunate souls out there unaware of the Ryder Cup, allow me to explain. The Ryder Cup is a bi-annnual tournament between the best golfers from USA and Europe that alternates between courses on each team's home soil. The event lasts three days, and consists of four ball (two players on each team per group, players play their own ball, lowest score wins the hole for their team), foursomes (two players on each team per group, players on each team alternate shots with the same ball, lowest score wins the hole), and singles matches (straight match play, one on one, lowest score wins the hole) over the course of three days. Matches won result in one point, tied matches are worth a half point. There are a total of 28 points up for grabs, but since USA is the defending champ, they only need to score 14 points (a tie) to retain the Ryder Cup. Europe would need to score 14.5 to take the cup away. This year, the matches take place at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. Therefore, standard British Open rules apply.

Even though the British Open style course favors the Euro trash, the fact that USA only needs 14 points to retain the cup gives them the upper hand in my opinion. Furthermore, the team selections also give me reason to believe that the USA is primed to win in Europe for the first time since 1993. Let's take a look at the squads and break them down a bit more:

TEAM USA:
Cpt. Corey Pavin- Showed his meddle by calling out that doucher Jim Gray.

Matt Kuchar- This Ryder Cup rookie has been one of the most consistent players all year. He will be ready to go at Celtic Manor. Check out the IST driver, Donk!

Jeff Overton- Not a huge fan of Overton. He has choked under pressure several times this year, and has a bad attitude.

Tiger Woods- People are questioning the decision to put Tiger on this team, saying he is not ready to play. Moreover, the European media are getting after him as will the fans. Do you really want to piss this guy off? Just watch.

Rickie Fowler- Fowler was one of the best Walker Cup (Ryder Cup for amateurs) players ever, and is a great putter. He will be a great captain's pick.

Stewart Cink- He has struggled in Ryder Cups past, but the picture tells you what you need to know about Stewie on Open style courses.

Dustin Johnson- DJ appears to have expelled his demons. He is gonna tear it up.

Bubba Watson- Bomber.

Jim Furyk- FedEx Cup champ. Ryder Cup gets his intensity going.

Phil Mickelson (not even gonna diss him)- Lefty.

Steve Stricker- Dominates with Tiger. They are boys.

Hunter Mahan- Solid player at Valhalla in 2008. I expect him to take over this year.

Zach Johnson- ZJ played very well at the President's Cup last year.


TEAM EUROPE:
Cpt. Colin Montgomerie- Fat lump of jell-o meets common dandy.

Ian Poulter- Fear him. Great match player, and ultimate competitor.

Lee Westwood- Usually a solid player, but how will the injury effect him?

Martin Kaymer- PGA Champion. Kraut.

Luke Donald- He and Poulter are the two most formidable players on this team.

Padraig Harrington
- Reach.

Graeme McDowell- Does this guy know how to party or what?

Rory McIlroy- I love Rory, but he deserves to get his ass beaten for talking shit this week.

Miguel Angel Jimenez
- Miguel Angel: talented Spanish golfer or aging porn star?

Francesco Molinari- Hate him.

Eduardo Molinari- Hate him.

Ross Fisher- Another reach of a captain's pick for Sir Monty.

Peter Hanson- WHO?!?!?

The first thing that jumps out at me about Team Europe is that there are some loners on the team. Peter Hanson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Padraig Harrington and Martin Kaymer are all the only representatives from their respective countries, and to me this could result in them feeling less a part of the rest of the team members, who come primarily from the UK. Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but it jumps out at me. I'm sure Europe has won with scenarios like this before, but in my opinion, I don't see Marty Kaymer really gelling with the rest of the group. The U.S. of course does not have this problem to deal with, we are one country with one cause.

Furthermore, I think a couple of the Euros are not at the top of their game right now. Lee Westwood has been injured for a month or so now, and we can't really know what to expect from a normally crucial cog in the European Ryder Cup machine. Padraig Harrington has also been very erratic this season, and we wont know what to expect from him either. He was one of Euro Captain Colin Montgomerie's captain's picks for the team, and in my opinion a poor one. Paul Casey is a great match player, and has been playing great golf for about the last two months, but was left off the team. A mistake.

Team USA consists of many newcomers, including Jeff Overton, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar. How these players react to their first Ryder Cup experience will be crucial. I think Dustin Johnson could be a huge force for team USA, and Rickie Fowler could provide the young spark that this team needs. These guys will be great partners with the more experienced players, and they will certainly be jacked up for the tournament. Speaking of partnerships and pairings, here are some combinations that I would love to see at Celtic Manor this weekend.

Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler- Rickie Fowler is one of the best putters I have seen in a while. Consequently, that is what Tiger has been struggling with lately. These two could compliment each other very well out there.

Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson- A left-hander's dream pairing. Bubba is a bomber, and Phil is one of the best from 100 yards in. In alternate shot, this team would be almost unbeatable; Bubba bombs one off the tee, Phil spins it close, Bubba taps it in.

Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson- Two of the longest hitters in all of golf. This pairing would demoralize their opponents by being about 40 yards ahead of them in every fairway.

Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker- This team was unbeatable, literally, in the President's Cup. Expect this to be a definite pairing sometime this week. They are boys.

Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler- Phil performed well when paired with the energetic Anthony Kim in the 2008 Ryder Cup. Rickie Fowler would provide the same kind of foil for the aging hipster.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell- Two of Northern Ireland's finest would be a tough matchup for any team.

The Molinaris- I can't think of a pairing that I would root against more.

SINGLES:
Rickie Fowler vs. Rory McIlroy- The future of the Ryder Cup would no doubt be a showdown of epic proportions this year.

Tiger Woods vs. Rory McIlroy- Rory has been talking some trash to Tiger this week, and I would love it if Tiger fucked his shit up on the course.


The Ryder Cup is a matter of national pride. It is important that every American watch it, root for Team USA, and root vehemently against the other team using as many racial slurs as possible. Like I said before, it is like a war. It is like the Revolutionary War fought on a golf course. The time has come to kick those commies asses from the other side of the pond and let them know that cold, watered-down beer is the best, fast food is delicious and good for us, and discotheques and leather clothing is not cool. WHO'S WITH ME? RYDER DIE BITCH!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

On the Road to Vicktory

It was only a matter of time before I decided to offer my two cents about the decision to start Michael Vick against the Jaguars this Sunday. In his first six quarters as the Eagles starting quarterback, Michael Vick has looked like the same player that represented the NFC in the Pro Bowl for three straight years, and in my opinion earned the right to start. That is, at least in the short term. Critics are quick to criticize Andy Reid for flip-flopping on his starting quarterback so quickly, saying that he has turned his back on the future of the franchise. However, the thing to remember is that Andy Reid is fighting for his job as well and he could change his mind back just as quickly. This decision is in no way final, but Michael Vick has breathed life into this offense and has earned the right to start in week 3. Long story short; you can lose your starting job to injury.

In only six quarters this season, Michael Vick has completed 64 percent of his passes for 459 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Moreover, he has rushed for 140 yards on 19 carries. For a team that has had serious struggles with pass protection so far, Vick is able to take pressure off of the lousy 0-line by creating his own plays and has been a reliable passer as well, showing off that rifle arm that got him drafted by the Rockies in 2000 despite not having played baseball since 8th grade. He also has seemed to establish a very good rapport with receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, who both looked very frustrated when Kevin Kolb was at the helm. For all these reasons, Michael Vick has earned the temporary starting job. But wait, there's more.

Not only does Michael Vick help the offensive line, he also helps running back LeSean McCoy. With Vick under center, the opposing defense always has to worry about him taking off, and usually has to commit a linebacker to spy him. In turn, this takes one guy off of Shady McCoy. Don't believe me? In his one half with Kevin Kolb at quarterback, McCoy had three rushes for 10 yards. Since Vick has taken over, 20 rushes for 145 yards and four touchdowns. You do the math folks.

I'm not saying that Kevin Kolb should be left for dead on the side of the road, but there is no doubt in my mind that Michael Vick should be the starter in the short term. If Vick can remain consistent, which has been a problem for him in the past, he could remain the starter for the whole year. But at any hint of trouble, Kolb could come right back in as the starter. In an age in the NFL when fans demand instant gratitude, and coaches can be fired at the drop of the hat, the decision to start Michael Vick in week 3 makes perfect sense to me. The bottom line is that he gives the Eagles the best chance to win. On another note, you can now file Kevin Kolb under T, for TPLIYP curse.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Free Reggie!

As the whole world probably knows by now, Reggie Bush has been stripped of his Heisman Trophy for receiving improper benefits while he was at USC, essentially making him no longer an amateur athlete and thus making him ineligible to compete in the NCAA. Now I'm not here to argue that NCAA players should get paid, or that Reggie Bush is the only player to do this, or anything like that. What I am here to argue is that if the NCAA is going to rule Reggie Bush ineligible as an amateur athlete, they should rule themselves ineligible as an amateur institution as well.

College sports, especially college football is a business. The fact that the University of Michigan can fill up a 110,000 seat stadium at an average of maybe $50 a ticket gives you an idea of just how much money college sports can bring in. The NCAA claims that they are an amateur institution, but they in fact are very similar to the NFL in how they are run, and their players are essentially locked into contracts that can be terminated in order to produce money for the "company." The only difference being that NFL players are paid. College football has gotten so big over the years because it is a huge money maker for schools.

As I said, I'm not here to argue that college players should be paid. But the balance in the phrase "student-athlete" has swung way towards the athlete side for these kids. You might argue that a college scholarship is just as good as payment, and I would agree with you there, but how is an athlete (talking primarily about football and basketball here now) expected to use that scholarship when they have games on weekdays and are constantly traveling and training? Moreover, a player can lose their scholarship for poor play, or even getting injured. Does that not sound like sports being run like a business to you? If the NCAA is going to impose these rules on players, and take swift action in punishment of them, they should take a look at themselves as well.

One thing I would like to see the NCAA do is give players a full ride no matter what. If a player gets injured, or doesn't perform to expectations, the school should do their best to bring that player along or at least let them get their education. Then the players get the scholarship they were promised, and the school gets their athlete to bring them in all the money they make. I guess that this post is less a demand for immunity for Reggie Bush than it is a condemnation of the NCAA. If they are going to come down on players like they do currently, I think they need to drastically re-think some of their policies and decide just whether or not they are an "amateur" institution after all.

It All Comes Down to This

The field has been pared down to 30. The points have been redistributed. Now, it is time to crown a champion. The PGA Tour heads to East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia this week for the final leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. One man will go home $10,000,000 richer when it is all said and done, and this year it will be someone new. Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh both failed to crack the top 30, so the FedEx Cup will have a new name etched into it this year. What better name could it be than Matt Kuchar?

Bobby Jones has always been the golf hero in the state of Georgia, but the timing is just right for Matt Kuchar to become the state's newest hero. Though he was born in Florida, Kuchar played his college golf at Georgia Tech and has long been recognized as a Georgia boy. If he were to win the Tour Championship in Atlanta after coming back from total golf obscurity the way he has, he would become an ever bigger icon in Georgia than this man or even this man. Sitting #1 in the re-adjusted points standings, and with Tiger Woods out of the way, all the stars seem to be aligned in Kuchar's favor. Moreover, he will certainly be the local favorite at East Lake.

Other than Kuchar, the favorites to win the Tour Championship are those that control their own destiny. Anyone in the top-five in points going into the Tour Championship can win the FedEx Cup automatically with a win at East Lake. Those men are, besides Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Charley Hoffman, Steve Stricker and Paul Casey. I'd give any one of those guys a great shot to win it all. Here are some dark horses that could upset everyone if they win and the chips fall in their favor:

Zach Johnson- ZJ has posted a round of 10 under at East Lake before, and if he gets hot he could win this tournament, and possibly the Championship. He also knows a thing or two about winning big tournaments in Georgia.

Fat Phil- Phil won this tournament last year, and finished third in 2008. God I hate him. TPLIYP curse, do your thing.

Hunter Mahan- Hunter has been hit or miss at East Lake in his career, but we know what he is capable of.


The Tour Championship is a little tricky because you can win the tournament, and not win the FedEx Cup championship. The top five control their own destiny, and have proven throughout the course of the year that they are consistently good golfers. One of them deserves to win the championship, and none more so than the Donk's boy "Hoochie" Kuchar in my opinion. Let's sit back and watch the thrilling conclusion of a great PGA season. See you in a few weeks Tiger.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rolling Along in 2010

The long awaited AFC East preview is here! After all the hoopla and attention that the NYJ got this offseason, I am still not sold on them being a Super Bowl contender. In my opinion, as long as TB12 and BB are on the same team they are the team to beat. TB12 has won Super Bowls with players like J.R. Redmond and Jermaine Wiggins, so provided that he is healthy, I think he can lead any team to victory. TB12 appears to be completely returned form his knee injury two years ago, and because of that I like the NEP to win the AFCE this year. Now let's enjoy a BB PBJ and break down the rest of this division. By the way, how badly does Dump wish that he was that dog?

1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The NEP looked really good in week 1 after a lackluster preseason. Classic BB not showing his cards. Randy Moss and Wes Welker both looked solid and Fred Taylor appears to be ready to be the lead back on this offense. Moreover, youngsters Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez could add a new dimension at tight end. The Pats offense will once again have a great season in New England.

The defense is the mystery for the Pats. They looked REALLY shitty in the preseason, but stood tall against a decent Bengals offense in week 1. Brandon Spikes, Patrick Chung, Darius Butler, Jerod Mayo and Ron Brace all have the talent to step up on this defense, and my guess is they will, but with lapses along the way. Look for the Pats to go about 11-5 and win this division.


2. NYJ
The Jets are going for broke this year. They have loaded their offense with talented guys like LT, Braylon Edwards, and Santonio Holmes, but I don't think that their quarterback is ready to win a Super Bowl. Mark Sanchez simply is not good enough to win. He was basically coached how not to lose last year, but with more responsibility and the threat of a sophomore slump in 2010, I don't see him able to put this team over the top. It's all on him, and that is a bad thing.

The defense will most likely win most of the games for the Jets this year. They are easily one of the best squads in the league and can stop the run, shut down a team's best receiver, and create turnovers. Defense can win championships, but they still need help. I see the Jets being good this year at about 10-6, but ultimately falling short of Super Bowl glory because of Todd's boy Mark Sanchez.


3. MIAMI DOLPHINS
The Dolphins are another mystery team this year. Their offense could make strides with the addition of Brandon Marshall and the progression of Chad Henne. However, I don't think they are quite at the talent level of the NEP or the NYJ overall though. University of New Haven alum Tony Sparano will give it his best shot though.

On defense, the Dolphins should have a strong secondary with Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, but lost quite a bit in the pass rush department when Jason Taylor and Joey Porter skipped town. Karlos Dansby did bring his talents to South Beach though, so they get a little back there. All in all, this team is average. That is not enough to cut it with the big dogs in the AFC East. Look for a 7-9 season from the Dolphins.


4. BUFFALO BILLS
Long gone are the days when the Buffalo Bills were a relevant franchise in the NFL. They did the right thing hoping to hit a home run by drafting C.J. Spiller, but Trent Edwards blows and Lee Evans will never be a stud receiver with him at QB.

The Bills defense has some talent has a decent secondary, but they will probably be on the field the whole game so they will get pretty tired. This team is awful, and if they don't turn it around soon they might have to move north of the border in order to keep their franchise financially viable. Buffalo should go about 4-12 and once again be the whipping boy in the AFC East.


That about does her. Wraps her all up. Let's now take a look at how the playoffs might unfold:

AFC
1. Baltimore Ravens
2. NEP
3. San Diego Chargers
4. Indianapolis Colts
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
6. NYJ

NFC
1. New Orleans Saints
2. Green Bay Packers
3. Dallas Cowboys
4. San Francisco 49ers
5. Iggs
6. Skins

ROUND 1:
NYJ over Chargers
Pittsburgh over Indy

Cowboys over Skins
Iggs over 49ers


ROUND 2:
Ravens over NYJ
NEP over Pittsburgh

Saints over Iggs
Pack over Boys (Ice Bowl?)

AFC & NFC CHAMPIONSHIP:
Ravens over NEP

Saints over Pack

SUPER BOWL:
Ravens over Saints

On the Hot Seat

Last year, Tony Homo and the Cowgirls exercised their playoff demons from several years back and were able to win their first playoff game in over 10 years. This year, the pressure is on to win much more than one game in the playoffs. With the Super Bowl in the Death Star this year, Jerry Jones obviously expects Wade Phillips and the boys from Big D to at the very least represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Anything less for Dallas is considered a failure. While I do like Dallas to win the NFC East, I think they will ultimately fall short of their goal, culminating in the end of the Wade Phillips era in Dallas.

1. DALLAS COWBOYS
The Boys in Big D looked like a couple of flapper girls a little loopy on the gin and juice on Sunday night, but I think they are too good to continue playing like that for the whole season. Tony Romo might feel a bit scorned by this jilted lover, but he still has an all-star cast on offense to distribute the ball too. Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Jason Witten, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Roy Williams are all at his disposal, and the only problem might be making sure everyone is happy. They will score many points this year.

On defense, this team is also stacked. They have a talented secondary with Malcolm Jenkins and Terrence Newman, and a fearsome pass rush with DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears. If it wasn't for careless play by the offense that led to a TD, the defense would have won the game for Dallas in week 1. Look for the Cowboys to come on strong in the second half and win the division going 12-4. However, look for another playoff failure to be the end of the dopey Phillips administration in Dallas.


2. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
The Eagles got killed with injuries in week 1, but still managed to hang in there with one of the Super Bowl favorites. The most devastating injury might have occurred though when Glenn Halstead skinned his knees jumping on the Packers bandwagon. Whether it is Michael Vick under center for this offense, or the young John Moxon, I think they are extremely talented. Shady McCoy may be the second coming of Brian Westbrook, and Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek are all receiving threats. The only real worry is the O-line; but if they can give whoever is at QB a little bit of protection they will be just fine.

The Birds defense is gonna be good. Provided Stewart Bradley can return from his concussion, they will have a good run stuffing defense, solid pass protection with Asante Samuel, and an improved pass rush with potential rookie of the year Brandon Graham. Look for the Birdies to go about 11-5 and make the playoffs again.


3. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
There is new hope in our nation's capital with Mike Shanahan and Dirty Don McNabb coming to town this offseason. This hope was reflected in the Skins' week 1 upset over the Boys from Big D. I put the Redskins here because Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb are winners. Donovan McNabb may not have won the big one, but he does win, and I think he will improve this team immensely. That said, I'm still glad he's out of Philly. McNabb doesn't really have anyone to throw to on offense, but I think they can put up enough points to win some games this year and potentially make the playoffs. In case you missed it, I didn't pick any wild card teams in the other divisions with the thought that the NFC East would take both wild card slots.

On defense, the Redskins are very good. LaRon Landry, DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers make up a talented secondary, and Brian Orakpo, Rocky McIntosh, London Fletcher and Andre Carter should be playmakers in the middle. They were able to shut down the Cowboys in week 1, so I like their chances against everyone else as well. Look for the Redskins to go 9-7 and have a chance at the playoffs.


4. NEW YORK GIANTS
It's no secret that I don't like the G-Men, but this prediction is clearly out of lack of knowledge. They could easily go 11-5 or 12-4 and win this division, but I'm just not sure. On offense, it looks like they can cause fits for opposing secondaries with Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, but will Brandon Jacobs or Ahmad Bradshaw be able to shoulder the load at running back? Moreover, can the team focus enough to cut down on the 4 turnovers they had in week 1? In my opinion, no. In Borst's opinion, yes. In Koey's opinion, huh?

On defense, the Giants should be decent. Their pass rush will be good as always, but I'm not sold on their linebackers or their secondary. Kenny Phillips looked god awful out there, and other Steve Smith was able to burn the secondary even with Shane Victorino look-alike Matt Moore throwing the ball. I know I am making too much out of one week, but I didn't like what I saw out of a team I wasn't sure what to expect out of. I see the Big Blue wrecking crew going about 8-8 and possibly contending for a playoff spot.


That's how the NFC shakes out. If you don't like it, take solace in how poor my predictions were last year. If you do like it, thank you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Flying North

The AFC North has become the new black and blue division in the NFL. This division fields some of the best defenses in football and often has a legitimate Super Bowl contender in their midst. This year, I like the Ravens very much to win the division and possibly to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2000. Their defense has been extremely solid for the last 10 years or so, but this year it is their offense that will push them over the top. This division battle is an all out war though, and the way these teams play against each other could have a large impact on what happens in the playoffs.

1. BALTIMORE RAVENS
The Ravens are totally stacked this year. On offense, they can finally compliment their defense with a totally revamped arsenal including Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmanzadeh. Stupid Flacco hair finally has some good targets to add to the Ravens power-run game.

On defense, the Ravens are always a tough matchup. Ray Lewis seems as if he doesn't age, and their defensive line completely snuffs out the opposing run game. Look for Joe Flacco to reach his potential, the Ravens D to dominate as always, and the Ravens to go 13-3 and win this division. Nevermore.


2. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Everybody seems to be focusing on the turmoil of the Steelers offseason with Ben Roethlisberger when it comes time to forecast their season. I am going to look at the positive however, and highlight that the man that brings the energy in Pittsburgh is back after an injury-plagued season. Troy Polamalu is the most important player on the Steelers defense, and his return means a return to form for a once great D. This means a return to Super Bowl contending form for a team that was 9-7 last year.

On offense the team might take their lumps while GD is out, but they can still rely on their running game and probably will not miss a beat when Roethlisberger comes back. I'm not worried. The Steelers could be a real sleeper this year. When Roethlisberger comes back, I think all is well and I like them to go about 11-5 and make the playoffs.

3. CINCINNATI BENGALS
The Bengals are in prime position to take a step back this year after a division title and playoff appearance in 2009. On offense, they are pretty much the same team as they were last year. Jermaine Gresham and T.O. are nice acquisitions, but I don't think they will make a huge difference in the offense, and you never know what could happen with T.O. on the roster.

On defense, this team was expected to make big strides. In week one they got completely torched by B.B. and the NEP. Obviously this was only one week, but I think that the Bengals are going to be surpassed by the other teams in the AFC North this year. They stayed pretty much the same while the other teams got much better. Or, to put it in Dorne language, they are playing checkers while the other teams are playing chess. Look for the Bungals to go 8-8 and miss the playoffs.


4. CLEVELAND BROWNS
The Cleveland Browns have Jake Delhomme so it is not OK to like them anymore. That said, because of him they might do a little bit better this year. He'll have games where he will lead them to victory because of his veteran guidance over their young guys like Jerome Harrison, Mohammed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs; but he will also have his classic Delhomme five interception games. Because of the latter, I hope he is just keeping Colt McCoy's seat warm for him. Suffice it to say, the offense isn't gonna be good though.

On defense, the Browns lost their only good player, and their first round pick Joe Haden isn't even pegged in as a starter. What the hell's going on out there? If you can't already tell, I really have nothing to say about the Browns. 4-12.


Tomorrow, AFC and NFC East previews followed by playoff previews. Huzzah!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Leaders of the Pack

Last year I had the Packers winning the NFC North. Like many of my ideas, this one was before its time. This year though, all the prognosticators have clearly read up on their TPLIYP and are picking the Pack as trendy Super Bowl favorites. Now you're on the trolley fellas. The Packers appear to be trending very positively this year, while the GUNSLINGER and the Vikes appear to be on the decline. Meanwhile, the Lions and Bears are stuck in and endless cycle of losing. Therefore, I see the Packers winning the NFC North this year and making a strong run at the Super Bowl. Go crazy Dump!

1. GREEN BAY PACKERS
The Packers offense is very solid at every position. Aaron Rodgers is a legit MVP candidate, Ryan Grant is steady at running back, Donald Driver and Greg Jennings can both make big plays, and JerMichael Finley looks to be the second coming of Pro-Bowler and accused rapist Mark Chmura.

On defense, the Pack have a bevy of talented first-round draft picks. Chucky Woodson should be able to shut down every team's best receiver, and linebackers Clay Matthews, Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk are all tackling machines. Moreover, B.J. Raji (Eagle) is a run stuffer up the middle. The Packers defense has gotten much better over the past few years, and should be even better this year. The sky is the limit for this team as I see them going about 13-3 and possibly representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.


2. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
As I write this, the Vikings have just lost to the Saints in the season opener, putting up a paltry 9 points. The end to last season could not have been sweeter, as the Gunslinger threw away the NFC Championship with an interception after being good the whole year; but this year I see the whole thing unraveling even further and myself being even happier. The Gunslinger doesn't have it any more. I don't think he cares about the playbook, and he doesn't have his favorite receivers to throw to. Because of this, the Vikings might return to a run-first offense and will regress because of it.

On defense, the Vikes are getting pretty old too. The Williams boys up front are completely immobile oafs, and Jared Allen has lost a step. Lito Sheppard is a big pussy at corner, and the linebackers are nothing to write home about. I take pleasure in seeing Brett Favre fail, and this year looks pretty good for me. The Vikes go 9-7 and the Favre era goes out with a whimper.


3. CHICAGO BEARS
Speaking of quarterbacks I hate, let's turn our focus to Jay Cutler now. Jay Cutler shall be dubbed "the mediocrity machine", and should continue his fine record of 7-9 seasons this year. The Bears didn't really do anything on offense, but their young receiving corps should progress a little bit and Matt Forte hopes to have a bounce back year. Regardless, Crybaby Cutler will steer them to a 7-9 record.

On defense, Urlacher is back baby! The pride of southeastern New Mexico should galvanize this Bears defense, and they might resemble the Bears defense of a few years ago. Moreover, the addition of "I'm bout to go" Julius PEPPERS should help the pass rush. Though the defense might be good, this team is just not good enough to win consistently and have a tough schedule to boot. Yadda yadda yadda, Jay Cutler is a loser.


4. DETROIT LIONS
These Lions could surprise some people this year. I picked them to finish last because it is tradition, and practically muscle memory at this point, but they are definitely on the rise. The nucleus of Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Jahvid Best, and Brandon Pettigrew is certainly one that inspires hope in the hearts of the 42 people still living in Detroit, but we just don't know what to expect from them.

On defense, I can't wait to see Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch feast on some quarterbacks this year, especially the gunslinger. The Lions are definitely looking up, but are probably still a few years away from being really competitive. I like them to go a robust 6-10 this year and maybe play spoiler to some teams at the end of the season.

3 divisions left! Let's get BUSY!!! Go crazy Dump!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Red Alert

Don't look now, but Eldrick Woods is starting to find his game. Last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, he closed with three straight rounds in the 60s. Coming into the BMW Championship this week at Cog Hill, Tiger needs a really good finish in order to survive the cut down to 30 and advance to the Tour Championship. I really don't want to put the old hornet hex on Tiger, but I have a feeling that he is going to bust out this week and advance to the Tour Championship. From the way he is talking, I don't think I'm the only one either.

Cog Hill and the BMW Championship have been owned by Tiger over the years. They might as well rename this thing the Tiger Championship, as he has five wins there since 1997. The course is a long one at over 7500 yards and features very long par 3's (all over 200 yards), some tough par 5's, and a signature finishing hole that demands a difficult shot over a pond. Distance off the tee and accuracy with long irons are necessary at Cog Hill, as is good judgement with several water hazards. With Tiger's resume at Cog Hill so spectacular, I very much like his chances to win this week and if not at least to advance to the Tour Championship. I just hope I don't jinx him.

All season, you could tell Tiger was not satisfied with the way he was playing. Last week something changed though. Tiger was smiling on the course, and when he was interviewed afterwards he spoke positively of the way he played. He is starting to hit the ball straight, land it close and make putts. If you couple that with the fact that Tiger has dominated this course in the past, I can't help but choose him to win this week. Other than Eldrick, let's see who else we got.

Camilo Villegas- The spider needs to move up a few spots from 33rd in order to move on to the Tour Championship next week, so he needs to play well at the BMW. With a win and two other top-10s at Cog Hill, look for Camilo to be on the war path.

Jim Furyk- Furyk has a win and eight other top-10s at the BMW, and needs to atone for his DQ from The Barclays. Win or lose, nobody likes him.

Steve Stricker- Stricker will be in the top-10. It's as consistent as gravity. Can't wait for this team to dominate.

Charley Hoffman- Hoffman tore it up at the Deutsche Bank so he has a chance this week, but the real reason I mention him is to highlight his uncanny resemblance to another Hoffman. Long lost twins?

Adam Scott- Adam Scott is a pretty boy, but he is playing well lately. He could take home a big win at Cog Hill.

J.B. Holmes- J.B. is out to make Corey Pavin regret not picking him for the Ryder Cup team. Look for a few 400 yard rips from J.B.

Please Tiger, prove me right this week. I can't bear to watch the Tour Championship if you are not in it. I think we are on the verge of something here, and Tiger Woods could just, strangely, shock the world this week.

Long Awaited NFC South Preview

Drew Brees, seen here with Alfonso Ribeiro, has become the darling of the NFL over the past few years due to his re-building efforts in New Orleans as well as his Super Bowl championship last season. This year, I see the bon temps continuing to roulez in New Orleans as the Saints take the NFC South running away. The only possible thing that can stop Drew Brees and the Saints is the Madden Curse. And maybe the TPLIYP Curse.


1. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
On offense, the Saints still are very potent with Drew Brees and his deep corps of receivers including Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore. However, I see their offense getting even stronger with the continued progression of Reggie Bush. Reggie still has all of his quickness, but appears to have gotten more physical this year. I see him being a huge factor in the Saints success this year and making their offense even more dangerous.

On defense, the Saints are about the same. The injury to Darren Sharper might hurt them, but I think Malcolm Jenkins is a solid replacement. The offense is the straw that stirs the drink in New Orleans, and that will continue to be the case this year as the Saints should go about 13-3 and win this NFC South by a landslide.


2. ATLANTA FALCONS
The Falcons look to bounce back from an average year last year and they need their leader Matty Ice to step up and be all that he can be. He has plenty of targets with Roddy White, Michael Jenkins and Tony Gonzalez, and has an all-pro back in Michael Turner to hand the ball off to. This year will show just what Matt Ryan is made of. Will he bounce back from his sophmore slump? Dorne probably thinks so, but I'm not sold.

On defense, the Falcons have improved from last year. The addition of Dunta Robinson will help them immensely in the secondary, and their defensive line will be stout with John Henderson, Jonathan Babineaux and Perria Jerry leading the way. Despite these improvements, the Falcons have a very tough schedule with at least 9 games against very good teams. Because of this, I see them again going about 8-8 or 9-7 and missing the playoffs.

3. CAROLINA PANTHERS
Now that Jake Delhomme is gone, it is officially ok to like the Panthers again. That said, I don't really like them. Their offense will have to rely heavily and Crash and Dash, or Hash and Splash. Whatever they are called. However, if defenses bring too many guys in the box, they still have that Steve Smith guy. Matt Moore is not quite ready to lead this team into the playoffs though.

On defense, this team doesn't have much besides Dan Connor (Mark Forwood's boy). Look for them to go about 7-9 this year, and it may be off with coach John Fox's head.


4. TAMPA BAY BUCS
If the Bucs were ever to go back to the mandarin orange uniforms, I would predict them to win this division. As it is now though, I'm not even going to say anything about them. They stink. How about 5-11? Sound good? Ok cool.


The Saints could make another Super Bowl run this year, but who will their competition be in the NFC? Tune in tomorrow as I give you all the dirt on the NFC North.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pick Me A Winner Corey

With the announcement of Corey Pavin's captain picks today, the Ryder Cup field is complete. Stewie Cink, Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and Tiger Woods round out Team USA and make them a pretty formidable squad in my opinion. Though they only have a combined one win between the four of them this season, these were the right picks for the Ryder Cup. Let's take a look at each player and see what they bring to the squad looking to defend its title at Celtic Manor in 2010.


STEWART CINK- Stewie will play on his fifth Ryder Cup team in 2010, but he has not had great success in his past four go-arounds with a win percentage of about .200. However, he has had success on Open-style courses, winning the British Open in 2009 and finishing in sixth in 2007. I think this was Pavin's weakest pick, and I might have chosen J.B. Holmes instead, but it was a good choice to add another veteran to a team rife with rookies. Hopefully Stewie can turn his Ryder Cup record around this year.

ZACH JOHNSON- ZJ went 1-2-1 at the K Club in 2006, but he is a very good match player. He has played on two winning President's Cup teams and has fared well in the Accenture Match Play Championships. I think he will win more matches than he will lose in 2010. Plus, Jesus is his homeboy.

RICKIE FOWLER- HUGE PICK. Rickie is a rookie on tour, but he is a career 7-1 in the Walker Cup (Ryder Cup for amateurs) and brings the youthful enthusiasm that Anthony Kim brought in 2008 at Valhalla. Moreover, the matchup of Rickie Fowler versus Rory McIlroy is going to be one of the most exciting matches in recent memory and will mark a new generation of Ryder Cup players. This was a huge pick for Pavin and I could not agree with him more on it. If Kuchar is the Donk's boy, then Rickie Fowler is my boy. I see him dominating at Celtic Manor.

TIGER WOODS- If Pavin did not pick Tiger, it would have been the stupidest decision ever made. Tiger and Stricker showed that they are a dominant pairing at the President's Cup last year, and I expect that to continue again this year at the Ryder. Moreover, you can tell Tiger is starting to find his game. He put three sub-70 rounds together in a row at the Deutsche Bank Championship, and he started to speak positively about his game. Expect Tiger to peak at the Ryder Cup.


Pavin's picks were solid, Monty's were not. Luke Donald was a good pick, but Padraig Harrington is off his game, and nobody likes Italian people like Edoardo Molinari. He would have been better served to choose Paul Casey and Justin Rose, but decided to be a keep a European tour theme for his squad. Couple those picks with the fact that Lee Westwood is coming off an injury and you've got the potential for an upset across the pond. If the young guys for Team USA can come through, Team USA could win for the first time overseas since The Belfry in 1993. We will have more coverage on this as the tournament draws nearer, but for now I like where Team USA is sitting.

Slip Slidin' Away

Peyton Manning and the Colts have been the class of the AFC South for many years now. This year they might remain at the top of the division, but their grip is tenuous. The Texans and the Titans are coming strong, and pretty soon old pepper Peyton won't be able to keep them down. I like one more year for the Colts at the top of the heap though. Let's see how the rest of the AFC South shakes out in TPLIYP's return from New Mexico football preview.


1. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
The Colts enter 2010 with the tried and true formula of Peyton Manning at the helm on offense. This year though, he has an even larger array of weapons at his disposal with Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark all healthy. Not to mention, Donald Brown and Joseph Addai in the backfield. This offense is primed for another very good season to say the least. On defense, the Colts look to take a step back. Bob Sanders can not shake the dreaded "injury prone" label, and Dwight Freeney is on the downside of his career. Look for this team to give up more points than in the past, but still score enough points to win games, and the division. I see the Colts going about 11-5 and quickly exiting the playoffs.

2. TENNESSEE TITANS
The Titans shrugged off an 0-6 start last year to manage a respectable 8-8 record. Now it appears that Vince Young is finally ready to lead this team. Vince Young is a consummate winner, and with him starting for a whole season I like the Titans chances of making the playoffs. On offense, there might not be many household names other than Chris Johnson and Vince Young but this team will score points. Kenny Britt is ready to break out, and Justin Gage and Bo Scaife are reliable targets. This offense will get the job done, I'm as sure of it as I was that the Texans would make the playoffs last year. Brilliant.

On defense, the Titans are again a group of no names. Again though, they will perform. Look for DE William Hayes to have a defensive MVP type season and lead the Titans to about a 10-6 finish, and possibly a wild card berth.


3. HOUSTON TEXANS
Last year, I was certain that the Texans would make the playoffs. This year, I'm not so sure. They have pretty much the same team as last year, so why should anything be different? On offense, the only differences between this year's team and last year's team is a healthy Owen Daniels at TE and rookie Arian Foster at RB. Maybe this will be enough to get them over the hump, but I think with Matt "Stump the" Schaub at QB the Texans are doomed to go 9-7 again.

On defense, the Texans are almost exactly the same as a year ago. However, they will be without the talents of Brian Cushing for six games. The most important question for this defense is; "Which player will Bernard Pollard put out for the season in 2010?"


4. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Though the Jaguars might not win any championships anytime soon, there is one title that they seemingly always win and this year is no different. The Jaguars are once again the blackest team in all of football. Brad Meester and Aaron Kampman are the lone whities on either starting side. On offense, MJD will once again shoulder the load for a lackluster squad and the Jagoffs will not be able to compete with the rest of the fire-power in the AFC South.

This team could be on the rise on defense, but not quickly enough to compete. Their defensive line of Tyson Alualu, Derrick Harvey, Aaron Kampman and Terrence Knighton should be very stout against the run though. Overall, the Jaguars might be a little improved, but it won't reflect in their record. I see them going 6-10 and perhaps ushering in a new coach and a new QB at season's end.


Only three more shitty divisions to get through until we can get to the AFC and NFC East. Onward and upward!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Playoffs?

This week marks the beginning of the FedEx Cup playoffs. That's right baby, its playoff season. For those of you who do not understand how the FedEx Cup works, I will enlighten you all in the coming paragraphs. It is actually really interesting once you understand it, because everything happens so quickly and it is constantly changing. The first stop for the playoffs is The Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. With a full field in tow, except for this dolt, let's take a look at who might win this week, as well as who might win the elusive FedEx Cup championship this year.

For those of you out there unclear on how the FedEx Cup works, allow me to explain the system. During the regular season, golfers amass points based on how they perform in tournaments: the better you perform, the more points you get. By virtue of his two tournament wins and 11 top-25 finishes, Ernie Els sits atop the FedEx Cup standings right now with over 1,800 points.

When playoff time rolls around, only the top 125 golfers in the FedEx Cup standings are allowed to advance. Playoff wins are worth 2500 points, so the standings can shift dramatically after one tournament. Throughout the 4 playoff events, the field is pared down to the top 30 golfers by the final tournament, the Tour Championship. After The Barclays, the field is cut to the top 100, down to 70 after the Deutsche Bank Championship, and down to the final 30 after the BMW Championship.

After the field is cut to the final 30, the remaining players are re-assigned point totals by their rank. The top player gets 2500, and the amounts decrease slightly down to the 30th ranked player who receives 210 points. It all sounds very confusing, but the 30th ranked player still has a shot to win the FedEx Cup if he can win the Tour Championship. When it is all said and done, the FedEx Cup champion receives a check for a tidy $10,000,000 and gets his name engraved on a pretty sweet looking trophy. Though it is confusing the FedEx Cup playoffs certainly make the golf events down the stretch very interesting, and rankings can change at the drop of a hat. The TV networks do all the math for you, so just sit back and enjoy.

Now that I got all that 'splainin out of the way. Let's have a look at this week's tournament; The Barclays. The Barclays, formerly the Buick Classic and the Westchester Classic, has its roots in the good old Northeast. For 40 years it was hosted at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, but recently has been played at Ridgewood Country Club and Liberty National Country Club in New Jersey. Personally, I think all this flip-flopping between clubs is BS, and the PGA Tour needs to find a permanent stop in this area for a playoff event. They are all very nice courses, but for a playoff event you can't be changing it every year. A TPC Boston-like solution needs to be made here.

The key to Ridgewood Country Club is the greens. Almost all of them have some pretty severe slope to them and are guarded closely by bunkers. That said, tee shots are imperative too as trees lining the fairway can doom your approach shot. Accuracy and putting will be crucial this week. With that knowledge under our caps, here's who I like this week at The Barclays:

Brandt Snedeker- Brandt quickly became my boy after he slightly acknowledged my hooting and hollering at the PGA. He played well last week, is a very solid putter, and hits fairways decently well. Plus, he looks like my boy Z-Mac (left).

Paul Casey- I'm surprised Dorne hasn't latched onto this fella yet. Casey finished 7th at Ridgewood in 2008, and has been playing well recently. However, he hasn't played in a PGA Tour event for two weeks. Still, I like his chances though.

Bubba Watson- Bubba broke all of our hearts by losing to Marty Kaymer in a playoff at the PGA, but he finished 12th at Ridgewood in 2008 and obviously has been playing well lately. Gotta unbutton that top button though.

David Toms- How about a guy like Dave Toms? He hits fairways, and can roll it pretty well. Moreover, he finished 2nd at the Wyndham last week. Ground control to Major Toms?

Tiger Woods- Tiger is officially divorced now, and that is sad. Perhaps he can take his aggression out on the course. He didn't get to play here in 2008 due to injury, but Stevie says he is continuing to progress with his game. Bottom line, we don't really know what he is capable of at this course. However, sitting at 108th in FedEx Cup points, he needs to work his way up in order to make the cut for the next tournament. This might just re-ignite some of Tiger's competitive dominance. I still got your back Tiger.

Matt Kuchar- I totally meant to give the Donk's boy a shoutout in my PGA picks, but I just plum forgot. Therefore, I'm gonna let "Hoochie" Kuchar's complete stonewalling of me when I told him he was the man from all of about 5 feet away as he was walking off the 6th green at Whistling Straits slide, and pick him as a solid bet at Ridgewood.

Rory McIlroy- Rory has never played Ridgewood CC before. Normally this would be a bad thing; but as we have seen at Quail Hollow and Whistling Straits, Rory dominates courses that he has never played before. I like his chances to win here, and maybe the whole darn thing.

Louis Oosthuizen Shot in the Dark: Chris Couch- I like this guy's name and that's about it. The sad thing is, this bowl of jell-o has missed the cut in half of his tournaments this year, and is still ranked higher than Tiger in FedEx Cup points.

As for who might win the FedEx Cup championship, this year it is really up for grabs. I think the best chance lies with the guys who consistently play in tournaments though: Hoochie Kuchar, Strick Daddy, Dustin Johnson, and Ernie Els are my four top picks to take home the whole thing. Other than the regulars, Rory McIlroy would round out my top five. There you have it. This should set everyone up to enjoy a brilliant finish to the golf season. Enjoy the playoffs!

Gold Rush Out West

Another division that will be going through some turnover this year is the NFC West. The Cardinals have ruled the roost in this relatively weak division for the past two years, and represented the NFC in the Super Bowl (tear) in 2009. However, with the retirement of Kurt Warner this entire division is flipped on its ear. With Warner gone, it is my opinion that the San Francisco 49ers will win this division in 2010. If it is not out of fear of Mike Singletary mooning them, or the improved play of the offense, it will be the old school uniforms that push the Niners to the top of the division this year. Classic. Just classic.

1. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

The Niners have been on the rise for a few years now, and with Kurt Warner out in Phoenix I think it is their time to take this division by the horns. They improved their offense immensely in the offseason with the additions of Mike Iupati at guard, Brian Westbrook at running back, and a full training camp with wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Alex Smith has all the pieces around him, now he just needs to prove that he can lead this offense.

On defense, Patrick Willis is the leader and is quickly becoming a carbon copy of his head coach. Look for him to put up defensive MVP type numbers and galvanize this squad. Overall, I see the Niners going 11-5 in this division and restoring the glory of red and gold in gay-town.


2. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

It's hard to believe that the Seahawks are only 4 years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. With Pete Carroll now at the helm with a revamped defense, look for the Seahawks to over-achieve this year in the NFC West. Their offense is pretty stale with Hasselbeck, TJ Housh, Julius Jones and Deion Branch still leading the charge; but they have some decent young talent in John Carlson and Justin Forsett ready to step up.

On defense, this team could stymie a lot of offenses. First round pick Earl Thomas is going to be a star, and Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry, Marcus Trufant and Jonathan Babineaux are all very good defenders. This defense will certainly win ballgames for a mediocre at best offense. I like the Seahawks to go 9-7 this year and be just on the outside of the playoffs.


3. ARIZONA CARDINALS

After a good run in the NFC West, the Cardinals really lost a lot in the offseason. Kurt Warner retired, Antrel Rolle left for the Giants, Anquan Boldin peaced for Baltimore, and Karlos Dansby took his talents to South Beach. That is an awful lot to lose. I don't think that the Cardinals can come back from that, and as a result they will slide pretty far back in the NFC West.

Offensively, everything comes down to Matt Leinart. Can he replace Kurt Warner? All indications are that he cannot so far. This will effect Larry Fitzgerald negatively, and place more defensive focus on the run game, hurting Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower. However, if Leinart can figure it out, I see no reason why Steve Breaston can't step up and adequately replace Anquan Boldin. Moreover, Early Doucet will have a chance to show his stuff this year as well.

On defense, the Cardinals lost two of their most important players in Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby. They were the heart and soul of this defense for the past few years. Maybe the signing of Joey Porter can help replace some of this, but all in all this team has just too many questions to be a competitor this year. I see the Cardinals falling back to 7-9 or 6-10 and becoming embroiled in a quarterback controversy of sorts.


4. ST. LOUIS RAMS

Here is a team smack in the middle of a rebuilding project. Hence, they could be the worst team in the league again. Steven Jackson is basically all they have. It will be interesting to see how Sam Bradford does, and if his shoulder can survive the rigors of an NFL season. On defense, Chris Long and Jack Atogwe are two lone bright spots. This team could threaten to go 0-16 this year, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say 3-13. Let the Steven Jackson trade demands begin!


I've said it before, I'm sure I'll say it again; the threat of seeing Mike Singletary's ass is the single greatest motivator in all of professional sports. This year, the Niners will heed the call and take over the NFC West, all the while hearkening up visions of these kings of the gridiron from days of yore.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Are You Ready for Some Football?

With football season only a few weeks away, it is time to survey the NFL landscape and start throwing out some Nostradamus-like predictions for the upcoming season. A lot has changed in many divisions this year. Some teams are on the rise, while others appear to be on the decline. The AFC West is no exception. So without further ado, let's take a look at what might go down in that division. I know D Billz has been waiting very patiently.

The Chargers have been the class of the AFC West for many years now. The Broncos have challenged but ultimately fallen short for several years, and the Chiefs and Raiders have been nothing to write home about. This year I see the gap narrowing, but I still see that Chargers taking the division. With the departure of Ladainian Tomlinson, the Chargers are now Phil Rivers' team. I see him taking total control of this team and changing their identity for the better.

1. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

You would think that a team that lost LT and Antonio Cromartie would take a big step back the next season. I don't see it that way. With LT out, Ryan Matthews in, and Phil Rivers now the undisputed leader of the team, I think the Chargers will be better off. Say what you will about Phil Rivers, but he is one tough SOB. He may be a huge butthead, but his character is a welcome change from the character of the man who recently left for the Jets. LT's lasting image in San Diego will be one of total disinterest when his team needed him the most. You can bet Phil Rivers won't let that happen on his watch.

I don't think the loss of LT or the Vincent Jackson holdout will hurt the Chargers as much as anyone thinks. Ryan Matthews is ready to make a huge impact at running back right away, and the Chargers will get by with Malcolm Floyd as their #1 wide receiver. Moreover, their defense is solid enough to get by without Antonio Cromartie and his mounting child support payments. Look for the Chargers to come back to the pack in the AFC West a little bit, but still go about 10-6 and win this rather weak division.


2. OAKLAND RAIDERS

D Money's die hard support for the Raiders is starting to pay off. They may not win the West this year, but they are moving in the right direction. The JaMarcus Russell experiment is over and the Raiders appear to have found themselves a decent replacement in Jason Campbell. This move improves their offense right away as it gives their passing game some semblance of credibility. The names Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy might not strike fear into the hearts of many, but they might do just enough to take all the defensive focus off the running game. This will help Darren McFadden and Michael Bush immensely.

On defense, the Raiders will continue to be solid. They have a stout line and a solid secondary. Look for the Raiders to creep up to 8-8 or 9-7 this year. Enjoy, D Money.


3. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

The Chefs are moving in the right direction as well. They have loaded up on defensive talent over the past few years, and have found some good offensive players in guys like Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel and Chris Chambers. Moreover, the addition of Thomas Jones will help the team in the red zone.

On defense, it appears as if safety Eric Berry is going to be the next great defensive player, and the defensive line is stacked with first round talent. Now they just have to live up to their talents. Look for this team to make good progress this year and maybe finish around 7-9.


4. DENVER BRONCOS

Last year, I was taken aback by the Broncos 6-0 start. I predicted them to be one of the worst teams in the league, and I couldn't understand how they were winning games. My original suspicion was finally confirmed by their 2-8 finish, but clearly Josh McDaniels wasn't as stupid as I thought he was. This year, I expect them to finish worse than they did last year though. The loss of Brandon Marshall totally destroys their offense. Now, Kyle "fuckface" Orton has no one to throw to, and defenses will put more pressure on the running game.

On defense the Broncs still have stud Champ Bailey, but have lost their best pass rusher in Elvis Dumervil for possibly the whole season. Moreover, Brian Dawkins is prone to getting burned on deep routes in his old age. Look for the Broncos to play more like the 2-8 Broncos from 2010 than the 6-0 variety that started the season. I see them going 5-11 and ushering in the Tebow dynasty about halfway through the season.


Though the Chargers lost some key pieces from last year's 13-3 team, I still like them to win the AFC East. Other teams are certainly on their way up, but they just do not have the talent to compete with the Chargers yet. Phil Rivers is now the face of the Chargers franchise, and he is expected to get them to the Super Bowl. If he can't do it soon, there are a few teams in his rear view mirror in the AFC West that might keep him from ever getting that far again in the near future.