Sunday, December 30, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 17

Being that it is Week 17, there were no games earlier in the week and there is no Monday Night Football. It is also the worst gambling week of the season, with so many teams with potentially nothing to play for (my fantasy team needs you Julio Jones, please play). I'm going to put this disclaimer here: I have no confidence in most of my picks this week. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, it's time to get some picks wrong! I went 10-6 last week bringing my overall record to 115-127-4*.  Ever since the Seahawks got a gift from the replacement refs, this year has been cursed, including the math of this season. This of course means that after today, I would have picked 262 games this year, 6 more games than there are in a season. Just ignore that terrible mathematical error, I tried to fix that, and failed miserably.

After this week's games, I'll write my end of season power rankings. I meant to do one after Week 9, but Hurricane Sandy stole my electricity. 

I'll try and make some comments on these games, but I'm moving and therefore I've basically been a hermit since last week. That's always fun.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 16

I once again forgot to make my pick for an early week game, but I did pick it on ESPN's Pigskin Pick'Em prior to the beginning of the game. As you can see, I went with the obvious route and took
Falcons (-3.5) over LIONS. 
The early week slate of games has ended with me at 10-8 and 106-121-4* on the year. Wow it's been a rough time for me, especially when Golden Tate was given a touchdown that he didn't deserve.

No comments, just picks this week.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 15

Coming off of the worst week that I've had so far, I completely forgot to pick the Thursday Night Game. There's a reason for that, because no one cared about Bengals/Eagles. The Eagles are bad, and the Bengals aren't too hot themselves. Trust me on this, I'm not picking the Eagles again this year, regardless of opponent or spread. Chalk this up as a win for me.
Bengals (-4.5) over EAGLES. 
This means that I miraculously came out of early week games with a 9-8 record, after starting off 2-6 in such games. I'm also, 1-0 this week and 100-111-4* overall. Ask Golden Tate why there's an asterisk there.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 14

I tweeted (@WilliamBotchway) my pick for the Thursday Night game as usual:
Broncos (-10) over RAIDERS.
This was way too obvious. The G.O.A.T. Peyton Manning against the awful Raiders defense. Of course, this was a win, so I'm at .500 at 8-8 on early week games, 1-0 this week, and 94-101-4* on the season. If you want to know why there's an asterisk? This season is tainted.

I have to go to the Nets/Bucks (to see my boys Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis) game later today, and I have a ton of work, so no comments, just picks today.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 13

On Thursday, as usual, I tweeted (@WilliamBotchway) my pick for the Thursday Night Game:
FALCONS (-3) over Saints.
I was correct once again, and it feels good. A 3 game win streak on Thursday games, 7-8 on early week games overall, and 87-92-4* on the season. That's right Golden Tate, you still didn't catch that ball.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 12

On Thursday morning, I tweeted (@WilliamBotchway) my picks for the Thanksgiving games. Surprisingly it avoided the trend of my previous Thursday games, and I got two of them correct:
Texans (-3.5) over LIONS.
Redskins (+3) over COWBOYS.
Patriots (-7) over JETS. 
I'm now 6-8 on early week games and 77-85-4* (blame Golden Tate for that asterisk. This whole year is tainted) on the year. I'm (slightly) moving back up!

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 11

As usual, I tweeted my Thursday Night Pick (@WilliamBotchway), and as I have done way too many times, I got it wrong:
Dolphins (+1.5) over BILLS.
Now I'm 4-7 on early week games, and 68-78-4* (yes, I'm still annoyed at losing the Replacement Ref game in Seattle in Week 3) on the year. I've given up on trying to get to .500 now... Oh well, let's get on with this week's picks.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

2012-13 NBA Preview

**NOTE** I started writing this on October 29, which is also the day that Hurricane Sandy hit New York, and I lost power for a week. Due to that, I've been struggling for time, so this "preview" is really late. Just trust that these predictions were those that I made (or would have) prior to seeing anything. There's some very strong evidence of that in some cases.

It's that time again. The NBA has returned, and this season (unlike the NHL) will not be shortened by a lockout. Personally, I enjoyed the shorter season and would totally advocate for 66 games to be the normal length for a basketball season. Hopefully that is changed in the summer of 2014. Either way, I'm excited for what should be a very interesting season. Now it's time for me to make some predictions that are sure to go wrong:


Thursday night was the culmination to about two months of arguing and vitriol about who the true American League MVP is. Who should forever be known as the Most Valuable Player in 2012? Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera, the "sabermetric darling" or the Triple Crown winner. It all seemed so easy, and it is.

The answer, is Mike Trout

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 10

I got my power back this past week, but due to a lot of schoolwork and trying to catch up on some old posts from two weeks ago, this will be abbreviated, much like last week's.

In terms of my Thursday Night pick, the early week games have been so terrible that I don't pay attention to them. As a result, I had idea the game was happening until the next day. Well, let's just say that no matter what the line, I would have picked the Colts.
Colts (+3) over JAGUARS.

Alright, on to the rest of the games. Home team in CAPS.

BENGALS (+4.5) over Giants.
DOLPHINS (-7) over Titans.
VIKINGS (+3.5) over Lions.
PATRIOTS (-13.5) over Bills.
Falcons (-2) over SAINTS.
BUCCANEERS (-3) over Chargers.
Broncos (-4) over PANTHERS.
RAVENS (-8) over Raiders.
SEAHAWKS (-5.5) over Jets.
EAGLES (+1.5) over Cowboys.
49ERS (-13) over Rams.
BEARS (-1) over Texans. Super Bowl Preview.
STEELERS (-12) over Chiefs.

Friday, November 2, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 9

Due to Hurricane Sandy, Post Tropical Storm Sandy, or Extra Tropical Storm Sandy (whatever floats your boat), I have no power and limited time on the Internet. This will be a very abbreviated version of my picks and hopefully I can continue regular posting very soon.

Thursday Night Twitter Pick:
CHARGERS (-8) over Chiefs.

Home team in CAPS

Broncos (-4) over BENGALS
Ravens (-3.5) over BROWNS
PACKERS (-10.5) over Cardinals
Bears (-3.5) over TITANS
Dolphins (-2) over COLTS
REDSKINS (-3.5) over Panthers
JAGUARS (+4.5) over Lions
Bills (+10.5) over TEXANS
Buccaneers (+0.5) over RAIDERS
Vikings (+4) over SEAHAWKS
GIANTS (-3.5) over Steelers
FALCONS (-4) over Cowboys
Eagles (+3) over SAINTS

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Harden to Houston

The beard is moving one state to the south with last night's trade of James Harden from the Thunder to the Rockets.

NFL Picks: Week 8

I made a Thursday Night pick on my twitter page (@WilliamBotchway) and I immediately regretted it:
VIKINGS (-5.5) over Buccaneers.
I knew it was bad at the time, but I couldn't talk myself out of it. As a result, I'm 2-6 on early week games, 0-1 this week, and 49-54-4* on the year. The Monday Night Massacre in Week 3 is the reason for the asterisk. I've yet to have my big breakout week, but it's coming. I hope.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Weekly Awards 10/24/12

Best Player in Baseball- Trout! No, not the fish, the person.
Right Tackle of the Week- Kelechi Osemele got out of Houston without allowing a sack to J.J. Watt. While he wasn't lined up directly across from Watt, I'm giving him credit.
J.J. Watt Award- Speaking of...
Jets Touchdown of the Week- Dustin Keller finally get back into the action.
Game of the Week- The Redskins/Giants game was great. Both quarterbacks put on a clinic.
Time to Jump off the Bandwagon- The Patriots are going to win their division, but by default. They aren't exactly that great of a team, and I will not trust them at all in the playoffs. They will probably get to 11-5, but that is not what I expected.
Time to Jump on the Bandwagon- My New York Jets are definitely better than I thought. Maybe Rex Ryan is the smartest man on the face of the Earth.
King of the Bottom of the Hill- Now that Brady Quinn is the starter, Matt Cassel has earned his crown. Once you are replaced by Brady Quinn, you should probably retire.
Worst Team in the NFL- The Jaguars. I have no more words.
Panda of the Week- The World Series is over, the Tigers aren't hitting, and they haven't faced Vogelsong or Cain yet.
Coach of the Week- I'm going with an offensive coordinator, Tony Sparano. Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots fumbled the kickoff with a tied score with two minutes left. Unfortunately, the Jets relied on the playcalling of Sparano and lost 7 yards in the process. Had the Jets hired a functional offensive coordinator, they would not have used a Tebow direct snap on first down, could have gotten into the endzone while taking more time off the clock, and probably won the game.
Best Team in the NFL- Out of nowhere, the Chicago Bears have by far the best defense in the league. Everyone knew that unit would be good, but not like this. Combined with a competent offense, they are the best team in the league, right up there with the Texans.
My Fantasy Team Player of the Week- Not Kyle Rudolph... I still won however.
Amar'e Stoudemire/Javale McGee Stupid Act of the Week- The aforementioned Sparano debacle, sending Prince Fielder home (from first base) in the second inning of Game 2 of the World Series, and the Stephen A. Smith situation. Yikes.
Amar'e Stoudemire Injury of the Week- Ruptured cyst in his left knee. Originally thought to be 2-3 weeks, but instead it will take about 4-5 weeks for him to heal. This man...
Birthday of the Day- Good ole Corey Dillon. Also, that Wayne Rooney fellow.
Bye Week, Still the G.O.A.T.- Peyton Manning was amazing sitting on his couch. Great performance, he really mastered that guacamole.
Mike Trout Award- He should win World Series MVP. Because he exists.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 7

I won yet another Thursday Night pick! On my twitter (@WilliamBotchway) I correctly chose:
Seahawks (+8.5) over 49ERS. 
This is one of the most outrageously stupid lines I've seen in a while. Under what circumstances should a 49ers team coming off of a blowout loss at home against the Giants should be giving 8 points to a Seahawks team straight off of a comeback win over the Patriots. Easy money. So now I'm 1-0 this week, and 43-47-3* on the season. You can thank the replacement refs for that asterisk.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Weekly Awards 10/17/12

Best Player in Baseball- He's not in the World Series, but he's still Mike Trout.
Right Tackle of the Week- Marcus Gilbert. He was part of the quartet of Steelers linemen helped off the field in Thursday's loss against the Titans. His health is a key to the perpetually injured Steelers offensive line.
J.J. Watt Award- A beast, a monster, a freak, and a predator.
Jets Touchdown of the Week- That beautifully executed play between Mark Sanchez and Stephen Hill. Hill impressed me by recognized that he needed to adjust his route, and it was great on Mark's part to see this and not just go with the original route, as most passers would have done.
Game of the Week- The G.O.A.T. Peyton Manning put on a show against the Chargers on Monday Night.
Time to Jump off the Bandwagon- Surprised I haven't mentioned them in this space yet, but the Philadelphia Eagles are not good. At all.
Time to Jump on the Bandwagon- The Cincinnati Bengals still aren't very good, but in the AFC, that gets a team into the playoffs.
King of the Bottom of the Hill- Russell Wilson decided to morph into Tom Brady on Sunday, so I need a new man to award the crown. I'm very tempted to give it to Alex Smith, hoping that none of you forget how atrocious he was in the pre-Harbaugh era. But instead, I'll honor both Chiefs QBs. Yes, two kings, Matt Cassell and Brady Quinn.
Worst Team in the NFL- Yes, they beat the Steelers and the Lions, but the Tennessee Titans are beyond terrible.
Coach of the Week- Jason "Clock Management" Garrett. Learning from the king of messing up the clock, Andy Reid, he cost his team a chance to run another play at the end of the game against the Ravens. I have no idea what he was thinking there. Oh yeah and Norv is just being Norv out in San Diego.
Newest Boy- I'm done with being an A.J. Green skeptic. He's amazing.
Best Team in the NFL- Still tempted to put the Texans in here, but instead I'll go with the Atlanta Falcons. They have struggled against some bad teams, but they found a way to win.
My Fantasy Team Player of the Week- The best running back in the NFL, Ray Rice.
Amar'e Stoudemire/Javale McGee Stupid Act of the Week- Yet another extreme opinion on A-Rod, stop blaming him for everything and wanting the Yanks to eat a giant portion of his salary just to get rid of him. He's above average and should be on the Yankees roster next year unless some crazy team wants to take a major part of the contract. You also need to realize that Cano, Granderson, and Swisher deserved a lot of the blame for the team's .188 batting average in 9 playoff games.
Birthday of the Day- Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas. My boy AVB is still top form, carrying over from his Chelsea days. I love this man.
The G.O.A.T.- Peyton Manning is amazing. Period.
Mike Trout Award- My boy!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 6

Once again, a Thursday night loss, I made my pick on Twitter (@WilliamBotchway):
Steelers (-6) over TITANS. 
Perfect, just perfect! I am now 1-5 on early week games, 0-1 this week, and 35-40-3* this season. The Packers and Seahawks know why there is an asterisk there. There are 13 games left this week, and my goal is to get to at least even.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weekly Awards 10/10/12

Best Player in Baseball- He's not in the playoffs, but he's still Mike Trout.
Right Tackle of the Week- The winner of this award will never be a guy who faced the Texans...
J.J. Watt Award- He is too good.
Jets Touchdown of the Week- I said it on the facebook page and I'll say it again, Kick Returns are the most exciting plays in football. Joe McKnight delivered.
Game of the Week- Packers/Colts had an amazing second half. It seemed like the game was out of hand when the Pack went up 21-3, but Andrew Luck chipped away at Green Bay's defense and came away with a shocking upset.
Time to Jump Off the Bandwagon- Maybe that game wasn't that shocking... Green Bay has looked unbelievably out of sync on the offensive side of the ball all season, and didn't even look as good as they should have against the Saints. Outside of a Thursday night game versus Chicago, the defense has been bad again. With the Bears playing so well on defense and the Vikings not being a fluke, I'm seriously wondering if the Packers can make the playoffs. Oh, and there goes my Super Bowl pick.
Time to Jump On the Bandwagon- Ryan Tannehill is still bad, but I'm liking his team. As long as their running backs can stay on the field, they have a balanced two-headed monster. Defense is the hallmark of this team, and it's very hard to challenge their front seven. One of the best run defenses in the game. In fact, they rank #1 in yards per game currently. They won't lose games without a fight.
King of the Bottom of the Hill- Russell Wilson was still mediocre against the Panthers. I have a feeling that he will be mentioned here for a long time.
Worst Team in the NFL- Okay, picking the Saints may have been an overreaction, but even though they won (thanks to a gift from the refs) they are still near the bottom of the league. New cellar dweller, the Bills. They have surrendered 97 points in two weeks after they spent the offseason improving that unit.
Coach of the Week- Harbaugh is still using his best QB, my boy King Kaepernicus, to his advantage. Shoutout to Norv Turner being Norv Turner.
Newest Boy- Welcome to the club Percy Harvin.
Best Team in the NFL- They somehow struggled against my Jets on Monday, but they still won. They can't be tamed.
My Fantasy Team Player of the Week- Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Marshall, and JULIO! Jones all got at least 25 points.
Amar'e Stoudemire/Javale McGee Stupid Act of the Week- All people getting angry at Joe Girardi for pinch-hitting for A-Rod. Stop acting like the player is amazing. Right now, he's slightly above average and in a major slump.
Birthday of the Day- Crazy name club! Paul Posluszny and Troy Tulowitzki.
The G.O.A.T. Got No Help!- Willis McGahee cost the Broncos their game in New England.
Mike Trout Award- The true MVP is sitting on his couch.

Monday, October 8, 2012

MLB Postseason Predictions

Yeah, I get that I probably should have written this a very long time ago. That's a lot to ask of a high school student. Don't worry, these picks have not been effected by the results.

Wild Card Round

Braves over Cardinals. Kris Medlen has been the best pitcher in baseball for a while. Eh, well thanks to the outfield fly rule, I was wrong here.

Orioles over Rangers. Texas looked terrible down the stretch. Somehow the Orioles sustained their level of play even though they aren't a very good team.

Division Round

Tigers over Athletics. Los Tigres will have a better pitcher in every game this series, and you are only as good as your starting pitcher.

Yankees over Orioles. I have legitimate issues with the Yankees and their pitching staff, but they are better than Baltimore. Unless of course Mark Reynolds continues to be a true Yankee killer.

Nationals over Braves. Would have been an amazing matchup if a certain umpire (along with the Braves defense) would have let this happen. Washington is better.

Reds over Giants. A lot of people think that the Reds can't do well in the playoffs, but I say that their bullpen will be hard to match up with. Not to mention that they have Joey Votto.

Championship Round

Tigers over Yankees. I can't believe that the Tigers even snuck into the playoffs after the White Sox decided to fall apart. Once again their pitching staff is much better than that of the Yankees.

Nationals over Reds. Strasburg who? They are in general a better team than Cincinatti, but it should be a fun series.

World Series

Nationals over Tigers. The not-AL MVP Miguel Cabrera won't do that well against this Nationals pitching staff.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 5

I'm back to my losing ways on my Thursday Night Twitter picks! (@WilliamBotchway). I chose:
Cardinals (-1) over RAMS.
Yep. Thank you to the Cardinals left and right tackles for trying to get Kevin Kolb killed. Alliteration! Now I  am 1-4 on Wednesday/Thursday games, 0-1 this week, and 28-33-3* on the year. The asterisk is of course for the Fail Mary in Week 3. I need to pick it up with the remaining 13 games this week.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Weekly Awards 10/4/12

Best Player in Baseball- Mike Trout. He didn't win the Triple Crown, but he sure is better than Miggy.
Right Tackle of the Week- Wayne Hunter is back!
Jets Touchdown of the Week- Well.........
Game of the Week- Saints/Packers was a very good game, even though it's apparent that referees hate Green Bay.
Time to Jump off the Bandwagon- I'm done with the Raiders. They are still as bad as ever.
Time to Jump on the Bandwagon- It looks like the Browns can be a very pesky team this year. Weeden is improving.
King of the Bottom of the Hill- Speaking of improving, Tannehill is still bad, but throwing for 400 yards means that he gets stripped of this crown for now. I have a feeling that he'll get it back, but the new monarch, Russell Wilson. I'm starting to feel a Tebow-mania feel about him. Stop it.
Worst Team in the NFL- The Saints!
Replacement Ref of the Week- NOOOOOO! The fun is over! R.I.P Replacement Refs 2012. See you guys in 15 years during the next referee lockout.
Hey, You've Done It!- Weeden! Stop! I can't be a Weeden fan!
Coach of the Week- Jim Harbaugh did the right thing this week. He brought in the best QB on his team, and while he did it to spite Rex and the Tebow offense, my boy Colin Kaepernick got some snaps. Harbaugh deserves a ton of credit. Now if only he benched Alex Smith for good... Shoutout to Sean Payton's abscene making his team lose yet again.
Newest Boy- Speaking of my boys, welcome to the club Christian Ponder. It only took four weeks, but you've converted me.
Best Team in the NFL- The Texans are just taking care of business. It's scary. My boy J.J. Watt is the best defensive lineman in the NFL.
My Fantasy Team Player of the Week- Let's say that it was not JULIO! Jones.
Amar'e Stoudemire/Javale McGee Stupid Act of the Week- The season of stupid acts culminated with Bobby Valentine being let go. Excuse me while I act surprised.
Birthday of the Day- Chansi Stuckey! No, just kidding, it's Jered Weaver.
Puck You to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks- Bettman. I hate you Bettman.
Just Kidding, the G.O.A.T. is Indeed Back- Peyton Manning demolished Oakland last week. But then again, they are the Raiders.
Mike Trout Award- MVP! MVP! MVP!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 4

Albeit a little bit late, I did tweet my pick (@WilliamBotchway) for the Thursday Night Game. Rest assured that I was occupied prior to the tweet and had not checked the score for the game, even though I knew it had started. Here it is:
Browns (+11.5) over RAVENS.
Finally! I have won an early week game! 1-3 on early week games, 1-0 this week and  23-23-3* on the year.  Of course that should be 24-22-3 because I had the Packers winning, but that's neither here nor there.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Weekly Awards 9/26/12

Best Player in Baseball- Stop it. It's not Miguel Cabrera. It's Mike Trout.
Right Tackle of the Week- Let's just say that it is not Bryan Bulaga, his Packers let up 8 sacks in the first half on Monday night. At least they overcame it to win the game! Oh...wait.
Jets Touchdown of the Week- Laron Landry taking it to the house of a terrible throw by Tannehill.
Time to Jump off the Bandwagon- The Detroit Lions could easily be 0-3 because they nearly cost themselves by letting the Rams hang around for a while in Week 1. Their defense looks terrible. The good thing however...
Game of the Week- Lions/Titans was great. That has to be the first walk-off chain measurement in NFL history.
Time to Jump on the Bandwagon- Minnesota Vikings. They look like they can be this year's spoiler-ish team with a lot of talent, but too many gaping holes to make a playoff run. Christian Ponder doesn't just look like an NFL QB, he looks really good so far. They've already exceeded my prediction of 1-15.
Replacement Ref of the Week- Lance Easley made the worst call in recent history. It was him!
Hey, You've Done It!- Why am I all of a sudden impressed by Brandon Weeden? Gah, make it stop!
King of the Bottom of the Hill- Ryan Tannehill is still bad. No surprise here.
Worst Team in the NFL- New Orleans Saints. Their defense is beyond atrocious, and their offense isn't exactly in sync. Long season out in N'awlins. But hey, at least they upgrade from the interim interim coach to the interim coach in Week 7!
Coach of the Week- If Sean Payton was with the team, they would not have blown such a large lead against KC. Unbelievable.
Best Team in the NFL- The Houston Texans have been taking care of business so far this season. They will roll through their division and go deep into the playoffs.
Fantasy Pickup of the Week- Andre Brown and Mikel Leshoure.
My Fantasy Team Player of the Week- Thank you Andre Brown.
Amar'e Stoudemire/Javale McGee Stupid Act of the Week- No, Miguel Cabrera should not win AL MVP and anyone who says that he should is completely wrong.
Birthday of the Day- The Sedin twins.
The G.O.A.T. Looks a Bit Off!- Okay, I'm officially worried about my boy Peyton Manning.
Mike Trout Award- Just give him the MVP already!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 3

I tweeted my pick for the Thursday Night Football game. My twitter is @WilliamBotchway and here is my pick:
PANTHERS (+3) over Giants.
Of course now I'm 0-3 on early week games and 14-16-3 on the season. Also, I have Cam Newton in one of my fantasy leagues. But thankfully, in my most important league, I have....ANDRE BROWN!

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Weekly Awards 9/19/12

Best Player in Baseball- Mike Trout
Right Tackle of the Week- Cordy Glenn was very impressive for the Bills on Sunday. The Bills have yet to allow a sack to Fitzpatrick, and part of the reason is because Glenn can move really well.
Jets Touchdown of the Week- Well they only scored one TD.....
Time to Jump off the Bandwagon- The Kansas City Chiefs looked terrible in Week 1, but the excuse (that I believed) was that they were missing key players on their defense. Well they played in Week 2, and they still were destroyed by the Bills. Inexcusable performance by a team that I thought will win their division.
Time to Jump on the Bandwagon- If you read my Arizona Cardinals preview in August, I mentioned a lot of good defensive players, and they have as a unit exceeded my expectations. They play very physically and are dominant enough to mask their offensive shortcomings, such as the fact that Kevin Kolb was played in both games this season. Patrick Peterson is amazing. He's one of the best defensive players in the league.
Replacement Ref of the Week- That idiot who cost the Ravens the game by calling a pass interference penalty on Jacoby Jones for no reason. Shoutout to the phantom pass interference on Ike Taylor.
Hey, You've Done It!- Brandon Weeden threw for 300 yards. Really? Speaking of...
King of the Bottom of the Hill- Weeden no longer deserves this crown. Last week I mentioned that Ryan Tannehill was making a push, but after last week's performances, Tannehill is taking this award home for the week. Congrats Ryan.
Worst Team in the NFL- You win some, you lose some. Tannehill gets the previous award, but he and his team lost their stranglehold on the worst team in the league because they won. Well, who gets it? It was between the Raiders and the Chiefs, and I'm going with the Oakland Raiders. KC has talent on their roster, but this looks like a classic Raiders season. Everything goes wrong; they get screwed by their long snapper, then they are "forced to wear black uniforms in the Miami heat."
Coach of the Week- Sean Payton is still gone, the Saints and their interim interim coach are still bad.
Cortland Finnegan Victim of the Week- He always knows how to anger someone to no end, and thanks to these replacement officials, he takes some extra unnecessary shots at WRs and doesn't get properly penalized. Josh Morgan cost his team the game by throwing the ball at Finnegan, but credit to the Great Instigator.
My Fantasy Team Player of the Week- Eli Manning had 510 yards. His picks lowered his final total, but he still got me 26. Great job there. (I still lost.)
Amar'e Stoudemire/Javale McGee Stupid Act of the Week- Two winners, the NFL and Brian Strapolo. The NFL made a gigantic mistake with the replacement referees. Their background checks were not very thorough, and they had a full-blown Saints fan assigned to a game between the Panthers and the Saints. The man had pictures of himself in Saints gear plastered all over his Facebook page. It took Chris Mortensen to tell the league at 11 AM before they pulled him and replaced him with an alternate official that was travelling with the crew. Bad job by Goodell and the league, but even worse by Strapolo. How stupid can one be to have Saints gear on their public Facebook page when he has to be an objective authority figure on national television. That's literally inviting the NFL to remove him from the game. Not smart.
Birthday of the Day- The guy who should come in second in the NL Cy Young voting, Gio Gonzalez. Unfortunately he will win because of "wins."
The G.O.A.T is Still Back!- Peyton Manning looked terrible in the first quarter on Monday. That's okay because he still found a way to bring his team back within striking distance. Don't overreact, he's fine, he just had a bad game.
Mike Trout Award- This is the new name of the AL MVP Award.

**NOTE** I have been attempting to write this since Tuesday, sorry for the delay, but you know, schoolwork.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Three Things to Remember about the Jets and Steelers

While watching yesterday's game, I felt the ultimate moment of "I told you so" toward my fellow Jets fans. Talk about overreactions, apparently the Jets are an amazing offensive team. Yeah, right. I'm going to quote the great William Botchway:
"Don't worry, we still suck. Over the course of the season, Stephen Hill will continue to look like Victor Cruz did on Wednesday. Austin Howard will struggle blocking. Shonn Greene will remember that he's Shonn Greene and start to suck again. Also, Sparano has already made some stupid Tebow/Sanchez decisions, he'll continue to screw with Sanchez's rhythm in the middle of drives. Though the defense and special teams really is this good. Expect an average of 13 points for the rest of the year."
Jets Offense is not Good
I wrote that on facebook right in the middle of the Jets making Bills fans circle the wagons.  Why is it that most Jets fans ignored the deficiencies of the offense?

Yesterday, two of these problems reared their ugly heads yesterday as the Jets were dismantled. The receivers forgot to do their jobs, and the running game was anemic. Mark Sanchez actually played a very good game despite his statistics. The only problem was that Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill were getting mauled (the contact was very legal and I applaud the Pittsburgh corners for their play) downfield and could not get open to save their lives. The old Sanchez would have attempted to force the ball into very tight coverage and get picked off. He now sees how stupid that is and checks down to a shorter route hoping that something will happen. Nothing happened.

Shonn Greene is not good. He got hurt early in the game with a head injury, at which point I thought it would be an improvement. Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight did nothing to fill in for Greene until he finally returned in the 2nd half. He came back and continued to do nothing.

Why is it that so many fans were blinded  by one game and forgot all about the horrible shortcomings of most of the offense.

Dick LeBeau is a Genius
I don't know how I seem to forget this all the time, but Dick LeBeau is a defensive mastermind. I keep calling Pittsburgh's defense old and slow, and while I'm somewhat joking, I do mean it. Does it matter? Apparently not; LeBeau has an amazing scheme and it doesn't really matter who plays for him, his defense is good. It obviously helps when he has elite defensive talent. 

Ben Roethlisberger is Elite
Big mistake by me here, but it's easy to forget how good he is. Unless of course he's playing against the team that you root for. It's extremely frustrating to watch your team attempt to stop him. So many free runners at him thanks to his terrible offensive line, but nobody can tackle him. He escapes hits so well, and when he does get whacked, he's so big that he just absorbs it and shrugs off lineman left and right. The touchdown that he threw to Mike Wallace was one of the most astounding things I've seen in a while. He was down. The Jets were closing in on him and he avoided a few hits and launched a bomb to Wallace that made Antonio Cromartie look like a complete bum. He always gets forgotten in the conversation of the best QBs, but this skill of his makes him so good. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 2

As you already know, I'm tweeting my pick for the Thursday Night Football Games for this year. My twitter is @WilliamBotchway and here is my pick:
Bears (+5.5) over PACKERS.
I'm now 0-2 on early week games, and 7-10 on the season. I would like to thank the Chicago offensive line for doing this to me. I hate you too.

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Weekly Awards 9/12/12

Best Player in Baseball- Mike Trout, don't argue
Right Tackle of the Week- Austin Howard! I finally realized the fundamental problem with Mario Williams's style of play. He doesn't exactly get pressure on the quarterback, he gets sacks when there are open holes. Lining up against Austin Howard on Sunday, there were no open holes. Of course this led the $100 Million Man to complain about the Replacement Refs, but of course he's wrong.
Jets Touchdown of the Week- I'll have to give to give this one to Antonio Cromartie channeling his inner Neon Deion and taking this to the house.
Worst Long Snapper in the History of the World- Travis Goethel
Time to Jump off the Bandwagon- Buffalo Bills. They looked beyond inept. Inept I say. I finally remembered why everyone thought that Ryan Fitzpatrick was so bad. He's so stubborn! He stares down a receiver, allows the corner to lie in wait and it's an interception. There's a reason why he led the NFL in picks last year. Why did I buy the "cracked ribs" excuse?
Time to Jump on the Bandwagon- I was one of those "49ers will take a step back" people. Boy, is their defense physical. It's dominating and they will definitely go deep into the playoffs.
Hey, You've Done It!- Two things happened on Sunday that I never thought would happen.

  1. Blaine Gabbert looked like an NFL quarterback
  2. Christian Ponder looked like an NFL quarterback
They are no longer in the cellar. However....
King of the Bottom of the Hill- Brandon Weeden has arrived on the scene and taken the league by storm. By that I mean he's ready to continue handing interceptions away. The 28-year-old rookie is really bad. If the joke that is Cleveland realized that Colt McCoy has the amazing combination of being both younger and better than Weeden, they would be 1-0 and the city of Philadelphia would be rioting and attempting to murder Andy Reid. Not like they don't call for his head every week...Credit to Ryan Tannehill for attempting to get this award, but don't worry, he'll be involved later in this post.
Worst Team in the NFL- Remember when I said that Ryan Tannehill would be involved? Yeah, he's the leader of the worst team in the league. I said that the Bills looked inept, but the difference is that they have legitimate talent on their roster. What do the Dolphins have? Jake Long, Karlos Dansby, and would it be wrong if I said that Reggie Bush was their third best player? In fact, I should edit out the word inept in reference to the Bills, because that word was created for a team like this. Good Luck Miami! (Don't worry Jets fans, they'll still hand us the obligatory loss against the Fins in New Jersey. Can't have a Jets season without it).
Coach of the Week- Sean Payton. Without him, the Saints are nothing. Talented, but nothing. Speaking of that Saints-Redskins game...
RGIII Award- He deserves his own award after that amazing performance. As a pure QB, he looks better than Cam Newton.
My Fantasy Team Player of the Week- Let's just give him player of the year. The man. The myth. The legend. JULIO! Jones!!!!! (Your first introduction to my unhealthy obsession with JULIO!).
Amar'e Stoudemire/Javale McGee Stupid Act of the Week- Do I even need to say it? (That's my way of getting out of giving this to anyone because I can't think of a winner).
Tennis Player of the Week- Finally Andy Murray. Finally. It took you 2 extra sets that you should not have lost, but you finally got your major. Congrats, the man has worked hard.
Fix Your Bullpen- *Sigh* Let's Go Mets, whatever, I'm done with them until April.
Birthday of the Day- Andrew Luck! First NFL game on Sunday, birthday on Wednesday, good week for him.
G.O.A.T is Back!- Speaking of Andrew Luck, I can't finish this without mentioning my boy, Peyton Manning. He looked like he was back to being Peyton Manning. That sound you hear: Chiefs fans, Raiders fans, Travis Goethel, Chargers fans, Norv Turner, and Eli Manning all crying at once.
Mike Trout Award- Don't think I've been too caught up in the NFL to care about yet another unhealthy obsession of mine, Michael Nelson Trout. I didn't even bother to verify whether or not that is his full name, I'm confident that I have that memorized.

In terms of my NFL Picks for Week 1, I finished a whopping 7-9. Thanks to good ole Mike Vick, Matt Stafford, and Phil Rivers. They don't deserve to have their full first names.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 1

Here it is. Football has arrived, and you know what that means; weekly picks. This is the first year that I'll be actually picking against the spread. I'm using the average of the six lines that appear on Before we begin, I must mention that for the early week games (Wednesday for this week, Thursday from Week 2 on), I will tweet my pick, so go follow me @WilliamBotchway. Unfortunately I didn't get to do that because the powers that be at Twitter decided to throw me in Twitter Jail five minutes before the game so I was blocked from doing anything. Well here is what would have been my pick:
GIANTS (-4) over Cowboys.
As you can see, that failed, so my record is already at a sterling 0-1. I'll improve on that, don't worry. How exactly? Let's see this week's picks:

"UPSET ALERT" next to games in which I think the underdog will win outright, not only cover. Also, home team in CAPS.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

32 in 32: Putting It All Together

Preview Extravaganza
Read the introduction here
Read the Giants preview here

After 32 days of late night and early morning blogging, tons of research, racking my brains to remember what I thought about certain things, and a lot of deliberation, I have finished. Now what? I put all the records together, give you the standings, the playoffs, and even the awards. Y'all ready for this? Here you go, starting with the divisional standings:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

32 in 32: New York Giants

New York Giants
Read the introduction here
Read the Patriots preview here
Full on preview extravaganza full with awards and playoff predictions tomorrow.

2011 Record: 9-7

Key Acquisitions: Martellus Bennett, Jayron Hosley, Rueben Randle, Keith Rivers, Shaun Rogers, David Wilson
Key Departures: Jake Ballard, Jonathan Goff, Deon Grant, Brandon Jacobs, Mario Manningham, Kareem  McKenzie, Aaron Ross, Dave Tollefson

Here it is! The final team preview, and of course it ends with your Super Bowl Champions, the New York Football Giants. I had very low expectations for this team last year, not because of the talent, but because of health. Now I think it's their new skill; deal with a bunch of injuries and lose to bad teams, while beating the really good teams and getting healthy right at the end of the season to make a run through the playoffs that they really shouldn't by beating the Packers at Lambeau, the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and two other teams that are better than them. I picked against them in every playoff game last year (thanks a lot Atlanta) even though they're still a great team. The offense should actually be better this season because both the running backs and the receiver positions have improved. The defense has some questions. While they do have the best defensive line in the NFL (more specifically, the best group of three defensive ends), the back seven could be a problem. They got over it last year, and they'll find a way this year. As I just mentioned, they are notorious for playing down to their opponents, which is really frustrating to watch as a football fan, but awesome as a Jets fan (I actually like the Giants myself, except Giants fans annoy me). They have a bunch of good teams on their schedule, which of course means that they'll be fine. I have them winning the division, but just you wait, Giants fans will be firing Tom Coughlin after every loss, and there will be mutiny if they lose two in a row. I honestly don't get the constant obsession with hating on Coughlin because he's one of the best coaches in the game. But it's New York so being overreactionary and looking for something to hate is normal.

Eli(te) Manning is great. I've always been a fan, but he finally proved himself to the masses last year. Now he's not as good as his big brother (because that would mean that Eli is the best ever, and trust me, Eli is not the best ever), but he's great and well on his way to the Hall of Fame. He's a leader and knows how to get the most out of his offensive players, which is great because he has major weapons on this offense.

I don't know if Ahmad Bradshaw can really carry the load as the top running back. He has struggled with injuries at times in his career, and he was the leading rusher in the worst running attack in the league last year. I think he's in for a bounce back season, but David Wilson is right on his tail. Wilson basically has the same running style as Bradshaw, except he might even be better. He might not be, we'll have to see. What I am sure of however, is that Wilson is much better than Brandon Jacobs, so the running game will be much more of a factor this year. That's right Giants fans. That means a whole lot of points.

Victor Cruz had great chemistry with Manning last year, but don't expect him to repeat his performance or to get better. He's a legit receiver, worthy of being a #1 in this league, but it's impossible to have that many big plays in back to back seasons. He'll get tackled once in a while. The scary part is that Hakeem Nicks is probably better than Cruz, even though he disappointed last year. By disappoint, I mean that he reeled in 76 balls for 1,192 yards. He didn't exactly seem at full strength. He has had some injury troubles in the past, so hopefully that doesn't thwart his development. Mario Manningham made a great play in the Super Bowl. Alright, he wasn't that good otherwise, and Rueben Randle is much better. He has a load of talent. Ramses Barden is healthy! That sound you hear is Eli Manning rejoicing. Barden is a stud and his height makes it pretty easy for him to make catches. He could be a massive factor in the red zone. Manning will throw it up, and hopefully Barden will get it. The Giants have tried to incorporate Domenik Hixon into their offense for two years. They got rewarded with two ACL tears. It would help if he could stay on the field. Jerrel Jernigan was a non-factor last year, but was considered a good prospect out of college.

Martellus Bennett was a failure with the Cowboys, and he won't be much better in New York. They don't need him though.

The offensive line does not look very good. David Diehl was constantly allowing pressure on Manning last year. Kevin Boothe also struggled, and Will Beatty is almost never healthy. Chris Snee is the only sure thing on this line. He has always been great and should be healthy this year, a good sign for Manning.

The best defensive line in the NFL. They led the league in sacks last year, despite injuries to two of their best defensive ends, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. Tuck had only 5 sacks in his 12 regular season games, but constantly got pressure on the QB, even with his lingering injury. Umenyiora had 9 sacks in 9 games, and an additional 3.5 in the playoffs. If he is healthy for 16 games, he'll do a whole lot of damage. I haven't gotten to Jason Pierre-Paul yet. He has the most raw talent out of these pass rushers, and showed that off last year, getting 16.5 sacks. He still has a lot of untapped potential,so there's no telling what he can do. I still think it's too early to bring him up in the conversation as the best defensive player in the league, because his first season was pretty bad, but if he puts together yet another great season, he's earned it. Chris Canty and Linval Joseph are both strong individuals in the middle but Canty won't be available for the first six games due to injury. Rocky Bernard is pretty good too, so he'll do a nice job filling in. Joseph and Canty stop the run very well and are able to get to the quarterback. Marvin Austin missed all of his rookie season with an injury, and with his talent, the Giants could end up with an embarrassment of riches at both the defensive end and defensive tackle positions.

The Giants traded for extremely talented linebacker Keith Rivers, but he's always injured, which means he's a perfect fit for the Giants. When he plays, he does everything well. Michael Boley will actually start over him on the weak side, but Rivers should get a good amount of playing time. Chase Blackburn should start in the middle, and he's alright. Both he and Boley struggle at times. Mathias Kiwanuka certainly has found his spot at the linebacker position. He's really good.

Here comes the weakness of this team, the secondary. Terrell Thomas got injured yet again, missing his second straight season with an ACL injury. His career is going to be affected greatly by his fragile ligaments. Corey Webster is not nearly as good as Giants fans like to give him credit for, but he was really good in the playoffs last year. He can get a good amount of interceptions, but he's not a shutdown corner at all. Prince Amukamara was obviously affected by injuries last year and looked really bad. Unfortunately, he's not playing in the season opener, which means that Miles Austin and Dez Bryant will take turns trying to exploit Michael Coe or Justin Tryon. Speaking of exploiting, Antrel Rolle was a disaster. It seemed every big pass play given up by the Giants was in his direction, yet he wasn't there to stop anything. He's really bad in coverage. Kenny Phillips however, was the opposite of a disaster. He's a really good safety who will only get better.

Special Teams
Lawrence Tynes was mediocre last year, but that's because he was recovering from multiple injuries (what else did you expect? He's a Giant, they always find a way to get hurt!). Steve Weatherford was a great punter last year, but he's probably in Coughlin's doughouse after his actions earlier this month. Jerrel Jernigan was alright on returns last year, and he should be getting better.

11-5, 1st in NFC East

**NOTE** Go ahead Giants fans, tell me that I have too much Jets bias and that Antrel Rolle, Corey Webster, and David Diehl are amazing. You're wrong.

Monday, September 3, 2012

32 in 32: New England Patriots

New England Patriots
Read the introduction here
Read the 49ers preview here
New York Giants tomorrow

2011 Record: 14-2

Key Acquisitions: Will Allen, Jake Bequette, Tony Fiammetta, Steve Gregory, Dont'a Hightower, Chandler Jones, Brandon Lloyd, Tavon Wilson
Key Departures: Mark Anderson, Andre Carter, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Gary Guyton, Matt Light, Chad Ochocinco (at the time he was Ochocinco, but of course now he's Chad Johnson).

Once again, the Pats will have a great regular season, but at this point it seems like a forgone conclusion that they will lose in the playoffs. Tom Brady is 35, but you can never predict when the greats will regress, so I won't try. The offense looks really strong once again, and the running backs could be surprisingly good as a unit. The defense has to be better this year, as they were way too talented to be next to last in the league. While it will be better, that doesn't exactly mean that they'll make the stops in the playoffs when needed. While they are almost a lock for a top 2 seed every year, they might end up with another playoff failure. Let's just say that I couldn't find too many losses on their schedule this year. They have the easiest schedule in the NFL (based on last year's record), despite it being a first place schedule.

Tom Brady is great. No surprise there. If you are surprised however, then you have major issues or you're a super homer Jets fan. He had the second most passing yards in a season in NFL history. Of course he finished behind Drew Brees in that category. Let's hope this dog won't track his scent and try to latch onto his arm again.

Individually, none of the running backs really stand out, but Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, and Danny Woodhead will all see a good amount of carries. Woodhead will be utilized more as a pass catcher out the backfield, taking over the longtime Kevin Faulk role. Ridley has the most breakout potential, so he'll end up getting the bulk of the rush attempts.

Wes Welker is still a slot receiver disguised as a #1. He is not a #1. Not enough down field speed, but what he lacks in speed, he makes up for with hands, route running, and intelligence. Once again, he'll be Tom Brady's best friend. The real deep threat on this team, is Brandon Lloyd. Josh McDaniels returned to New England as the offensive coordinator, which means that Lloyd is very excited. With McDaniels as his coach in Denver, he had by far his best season, with Kyle Orton as his quarterback. This about how that season would have turned out with Tom Brady throwing him passes. Yeah, exactly. Julian Edelman is a decent short yardage receiver. Matthew Slater is a very good special teamer, so maybe he can bring some of that skill to the offensive side of the ball. Maybe.

Rob Gronkowski. Physical specimen, freak of nature, legendary partier. The Gronk will have another great season, but not nearly as good as last year. That was just way too good to be repeated. Especially since Aaron Hernandez will be featured more in the offense, fresh off his new contract extension. Hernandez is the third best tight end in the NFL, but the second best on his own team. And talk about an embarrassment of riches, the Pats claimed Jake Ballard off waivers early in the offseason and they went out and signed Visanthe Shiancoe. Ballard was a good young pass catcher for the Giants but he is currently on the inactive list. Shiancoe has proven himself to be an average at worst NFL tight end. If the top two members of the Boston TE Party happen to go down with an injury, Ole Hoodie won't worry too much.

Nate Solder was good at times, but had a lot of bad moments. He's excused however, because he was only a rookie last year. Logan Mankins is probably the best guard in the league, so he'll have yet another fine year. Dan Connolly is currently penciled in as the starting center, but that could change. It's very possible that  he can move to right guard and Ryan Wendell could take over in the middle.  Donald Thomas didn't really impress during the preseason. This all of course hinges on whether or not Brian Waters comes back. He was excused from all of training camp and he's considering retirement, but if he does return, he should still be a really good blocker. That is if he is healthy and in shape, something that we won't know until he finally makes his way to Foxborough. Sebastian Vollmer is a great tackle on the right side. It's possible that he could switch positions with Nate Solder, simply because Vollmer is more of a sure thing on Brady's blind side.

For some reason, the Pats decided to improve their hellacious defense by adding to the part of it that was good. The pass rush was the only saving grace for this defensive unit last year, with impressive pass rushers Mark Anderson and Andre Carter being the key factors with 10 sacks each. Carter was injured late in the year and as a result, was not signed by anybody in free agency. Anderson on the other hand, went to the division rival Bills. They are going to be replaced by first round pick Chandler Jones and third rounder Jake Bequette. Bequette won't be starting, but he could possibly find playing time as a situational pass rusher. Rob Ninkovich got a good amount of pressure on the quarterback last year, despite the fact that he was playing at the linebacker position. Expect a jump in his sack totals when he moves to defensive end this season. He's also pretty good in run support, and his biggest weakness was in pass coverage, so playing with his hand on the ground should help that deficiency. Jermaine Cunningham was good in his rookie year and took a step back last season, so I'm assuming that the lockout had an effect on him. Kyle Love is not a good pass rusher at all, but he's decent at stopping the run. Hopefully that makes up for his inability to scare the quarterback. Vince Wilfork had yet another great season. While his sack totals don't reflect it, he did a very nice job of getting into the backfield. He is a rock in the middle of the defensive line, and also stops the run pretty well. He even recorded two interceptions. Run fat man, run! He's also much younger than I expected, as he's turning 31 in November. He's probably the best defensive tackle in football.

The group of linebackers look really stout. Jerod Mayo is a former Pro Bowler and All-Pro who wasn't at his best in 2011. He's still young and he's talented. Brandon Spikes is very good at stuffing the run. Dont'a Hightower looks to be a jack-of-all-trades at the outside linebacker position, and I certainly think that he'll prove to be a very good draft pick.

Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty both have major big play potential. That's only when they aren't being victimized in coverage. Neither will lock any receiver down, because they both enjoy going after interceptions. Not the greatest mindset in the world, but they cause turnovers. Sterling Moore of Lee Evans fame could push for a starting job over one of these two corners. As you can see by that video, he goes to knock the ball away rather than for the pick. Patrick Chung is a good safety, while Steve Gregory looks to be a joke in coverage. A joke I say.

Special Teams
Stephen Gostkowski is one of the best kickers in the league because of his accuracy. He has a very reliable foot. Zoltan Mesko was once again very good, and he's one of the best punters in the NFL. Nice kicking game here. Julian Edelman will handle most of the punt returns, but don't be surprised to see some Wes Welker sprinkled in there as well. Danny Woodhead could return some punts as well, and he and Matthew Slater are currently listed as the kick returners this year. Some potential here.

14-2, 1st in AFC East

Sunday, September 2, 2012

32 in 32: San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers
Read the introduction here
Read the Ravens previe here

2011 Record: 13-3

Key Acquisitions: Perrish Cox, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James, A.J. Jenkins, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss
Key Departures: Josh Morgan, Chilo Rachal, Adam Snyder, Shawntae Spencer, Madieu Williams

The 49ers were so close to making to Super Bowl for the first time since Jerry Rice was running up and down the field. They played a great game against the Saints in the Divisional Round and played a really tough game against the Giants. Jim Harbaugh was able to jump in and flip this franchise around, cementing himself as a top coach in the NFL. The Niners were only 6-10 in 2010, but the former Stanford coach mustered everything that he could out his team, especially Alex Smith. Smith was considered to be a draft bust, and while he didn't put up gaudy numbers, nor was this an offensive juggernaut, he was able to successfully manage games and found ways to not hurt his team. The offense may not have been great overall, but they were situationally good. Let's not forget this defense though. They only allowed 2 rushing touchdowns last year, but none in the first 15 weeks of the season. Taking into consideration this division schedule, this overachieving team will still be good.

I still don't trust Alex Smith. He was so bad for so long, that I don't see how this is sustainable. He was really accurate, having his best completion percentage of his career. I just can't see how a player can be so inconsistent and bad for his whole career and just turn it all around. I realize that NFL coaches have a great effect on their players, but this was an amazing job by Harbaugh. My mistrust of Smith might have a lot to do with my partiality towards his backup Colin Kaepernick. I think he can be a very successful quarterback, so he should be the starter eventually. For the sake of the Bay Area, I hope it's this year.

The 49ers have four legitimate running backs. Frank Gore is obviously still the main guy, though he has always struggled with injuries. He's a very powerful runner when he is on the field. Brandon Jacobs was not very good last year and seemed lost in New York. Considering that he is the fourth best running back on this team, he's fine. Yes, Jacobs is the worst running back of the crew of four. Why do I say that? LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter are better than him. James is a very elusive back who will make a lot of big plays. Once he bursts into the second line of the defense, watch out. Kendall Hunter is the best running back on the team. He has the frame and the running style of Ray Rice, and he might actually be that good. Soon enough, Gore and Jacobs won't be factors on this team. Mark my words.

The wide receivers have definitely improved from last year, even though each one of the receivers will have a much bigger role than they should. Michael Crabtree is still Michael Crabtree, and that's not that good. Mario Manningham isn't as good as you would think. He made a great play in the Super Bowl. He has health problems. and he is pretty inconsistent. A.J. Jenkins was considered by everyone to be a reach at the end of the first round this year, so I'm not sure what to expect from him this year. Then of course there is Randy Moss. I actually liked this signing because it was cheap and he's better than the other options that they have. That has been proved by the fact that he survived the preseason cuts.

The right side of the offense is terrible. Alex Smith will get sacked, a lot. That's terrible because he was the most sacked signal caller in the league. Hopefully when Kaepernick comes in, he can use his running ability to get around it. The left side is alright, and should be the way to go for all runners. It's also good that the QB's blind side has solid protection. The center, Johnathan Goodwin is old and getting pretty bad.

Both rush ends, Justin Smith and Ray McDonald are both really good. They were constantly getting a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks. Isaac Sopoaga is a rock in the middle of the line who is very good at stopping the run. This defensive line has quality mix of players.

That can also include Aldon Smith at times, who can play defensive end along with his spot at linebacker. Aldon Smith was not an every down player, which is crazy to think about because he had 14 sacks. At the opposite side of the linebacking corps is Ahmad Brooks, who great at stopping the run. He also rushed the passer pretty well, so he's a very well rounded defensive player. NaVorro Bowman is a tackling machine. He had 140 tackles and 113 of them were solo. Great numbers. Next to him is the best linebacker in the NFL, Patrick Willis. He didn't have his greatest season, so he'll certainly step it up this season. He's not going to have two bad seasons in a row. Bad by his standards, not by everyone else's.

Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown form a pretty good duo at the corner position. Rogers was a good playmaker last year. There is good depth here, because Perrish Cox, Tramaine Brock, and, Chris Culliver are talented cornerbacks in certain packages. Cox is very talented, so if he gets his head straight, he may even become a starter. Dashon Goldson is really overrated, but he's fine. He's a hard hitter, and got his fair share of picks last year, but he tends to be exposed in coverage. He's hit or miss on each play. Donte Whitner is good at stopping the run, but he, like Goldson might have some issues in coverage. The corners will definitely make up for the possible problems at safety.

Special Teams
David Akers was allowed to walk out of Philadelphia for basically no reason. He signed on with the Niners and went on to have the best season in the history of kickers. He set the record for most field goals made in a season, and he was pretty accurate. Then Andy Lee had a very good year himself. He averaged 50.9 yards per punt, good for third on the all time yards per punt list. Amazing years for the kickers on this team. It's outstanding that they both had historic seasons in the same year. Ted Ginn is what makes this special teams unit the best in the NFL. Ginn failed as a wide receiver, but he's an amazing kick returner. 

11-5, 1st in NFC West

Saturday, September 1, 2012

32 in 32: Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens
Read the introduction here
Read the Packers preview here
San Francisco 49ers tomorrow

2011 Record: 12-4

Key Acquisitions: Corey Graham, Jacoby Jones, Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Ryan McBean, Kelechi Osemele, Courtney Upshaw, Bobbie Williams
Key Departures: Chris Carr, Lee Evans, Ben Grubbs, Jarret Johnson, Brandon McKinney, Haruki Nakamura, Cory Redding, Tom Zbikowski

This team finally got over the hump for the first time in John Harbaugh's tenure and won the division. The defense was great as usual, but the offense stepped up greatly. Joe Flacco had a really good year and in the AFC Championship Game, went toe to toe with Tom Brady and played at his level. Some may argue that he outplayed Tom Terrific. When it comes to the wide receivers, this team is thin, but still pretty good. The offense should be much better than you would expect. The defense was yet another classic Ravens, but the biggest story going into this year is that Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles tendon and while he should be out for the season, he claims that he'll be back in November but he won't be. They'll miss him, but their defensive scheme is so good that almost anyone can be plugged in there.

Joe Flacco spent his offseason saying that he is the best quarterback in the NFL. While he obviously didn't mean it to be cocky, he isn't. He certainly is very good though. He also proved in 2011 that he is reliable. He does have one of the strongest arms, if not the strongest, in the NFL. The deep pass isn't the issue with him, it's his decision making. It can be bad at times, but it improved last year. Major step forward for him.

Ray Rice has consistently been one of the best backs in the league, and for that reason I do consider him to be the best. He has great speed, but can also overpower guys with his big frame. He's also a lethal receiver because of his great hands. He is Flacco's #1 target and the QB knows how to find him on the quick dump offs, and they usually turn into big plays.

Anquan Boldin is good, but not as good as the Ravens expected when they traded for him. He's still fine and might even have his breakout Ravens season. Torrey Smith emerged as a legitimate deep target last season and played injured, so he has a great chance to improve. Hopefully, the other young guys will step up, because they are the only guys left in the receiving corps. Either Tandon Doss or LaQuan Williams will have to step up and be the third option. Williams was decent in a replacement role last year.

Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta are the tight ends, and neither of them are very good. Once Todd Heap left, it created a whole that has yet to be filled by either of these guys. They need to step it up.

Bryant McKinnie has always been really inconsistent, so no one has any idea what he'll do. They lost Ben Grubbs, but have three people lined up to possibly take over his left guard spot, so at least one of them will be solid. Matt Birk is great, or at least he was. He's now 36, but he'll be fine. The impressive Marshal Yanda should continue his great blocking. Michael Oher was terrible last year. He was pretty good before that, so I'll blame the lockout.

Haloti Ngata causes havoc on the defensive end. He was amazing last year, and I remember saying that he deserved Defensive Player of the Year just based on his performance at the beginning of the year. He was awesome. Terrence Cody is a large individual. Pernell McPhee was okay at rushing the passer.

Ray Lewis is still Ray Lewis. He never slows down, so I can't predict him to stop being great. I'll believe that he's old when I see it. Jameel McClain isn't that bad. He's actually really good and does a very nice job at stuffing the run. Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw will shine as great pass rushers. Upshaw has massive upside and was a very good second round pick.

Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb form a very good tandem along the sidelines. Smith was only a rookie last year and he got better as the year went along. Webb is extremely underrated and is a great corner. Ed Reed will somehow end up with a lot of interceptions and a lot of backwards passes. It's inevitable.

Special Teams
Billy Cundiff got cut during training camp, but it's obviously for this. No one believes that the Ravens think that Justin Tucker is a better kicker. Just that Justin Tucker never did this. What is this you ask? Oh just a really clutch kick that he missed that would have sent the AFC Championship Game into overtime. Okay, I'm done. Sam Koch was good last year. Adding Jacoby Jones is a major boost to this special teams, and Lardarius Webb is a good kick returner himself.

11-5, 1st in AFC North 

Delusional Rex Ryan

I've already ripped the Jets to shreds in my 32 in 32 series. I even talked about the quarterback stupidity in a separate article. The only problem is, I have not had enough angry Jets fan posts yet. I heard something yesterday that really angered me.

Rex Ryan claimed that this is his best Jets team since he's been coach. Red the full article from here. This is the actual quote:

"I really like this team. I really like this team. I don't know if we're strong in this one area or that one area or special teams, whatever it is, but overall in my opinion, this has the chance to be the best team I've had since I've been the coach here. And I say that because I think we understand complementary football. Sometimes, your offense is going to be rolling. Sometimes, you're going to have to ask your defense to stand on their head. Our coaching staff, everybody understands it's not about winning, it's not about stats, it's about trying to find a way to win, and I think our team understands that."
Okay, digest that for a second. It's pretty obvious that Ryan was not exactly sober when he was saying this. This Jets team is actually the worst of his teams since becoming coach in 2009. You disagree? Let's put that to the test.

I will name the starters for each of his four teams, including this year, starting with the beginning of the Rex Ryan era, 2009.

Friday, August 31, 2012

32 in 32: Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers
Read the introduction here
Read the Saints preview here
Baltimore Ravens tomorrow

2011 Record: 15-1

Key Acquisitions: Cedric Benson, Casey Hayward, Phillip Merling, Nick Perry, Jeff Saturday, Jerel Worthy
Key Departures: Chad Clifton, Nick Collins, Ryan Grant, Scott Wells

The Packers were getting close to running the table before they lost to Kansas City in a really weird upset. The problem is that the Packers had no business going 15-1. Their defense was atrocious last year, but that had a lot to do with injuries and underachieving. They should have been much better last year, and they still have a good amount of talent on the defensive end. The D won't lead the league in anything, but they'll be better. Obviously the offense is great. Even though the running game was not very potent, this was the best offense in football. Why? Aaron Rodgers. I think he's the best quarterback in the league.  On top of that, he has really good weapons around him. The regular season record will drop a little bit due to the schedule and their division, but Green Bay will not play in the first round of the playoffs. I have them as the #1 seed in the conference, but now the issue is whether or not they can live up to expectations in the postseason.

Aaron Rodgers is great. As a passer, he's right up there with Brady and Brees, but the thing that he does better than those guys is run. Don't mistake Rodgers for Cam Newton or Michael Vick, but #12 can move. He would have been right near that 5,000 yard mark if he played in the final game of the season, especially after seeing what Matt Flynn did to the Lions defense.

I was very surprised that Cedric Benson was not signed until August, but I like this signing for Green Bay. Benson is a powerful back, and they could use him considering that speedster James Starks has always struggled with injuries. Alex Green is coming off of an ACL injury, so Benson could be all alone by the end of the year.

Greg Jennings is obviously an elite wideout. He has great chemistry with Rodgers and is a major factor down the sideline. It's not completely crazy if Jordy Nelson was the #1 wide receiver somewhere else. When the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, I thought that Nelson made a legitimate case for being Super Bowl MVP. He had his breakout year last year, and is a really good talent. Speaking of really good talents, James Jones is amazing as a third receiver. I heard some trade rumblings about him earlier this week, and that's only because he's too good to be relegated to the slot. No team has given a suitable offer yet, so he's still a Packer. He's pretty dangerous. Donald Driver brings his experience back to this team, and he's still productive. Being this deep on the depth chart means that he'll be matched up against a lot of inferior defensive backs. He'll be good. Then there's the first NFL player born in the 1990s, Randall Cobb. He is fast. Fast I tell you. Aaron Rodgers will place the ball perfectly for him once he gets separation, so he'll have some big plays.

Remember Jermichael Finley? He was a disappointment last year, but that's partially because of the injury he suffered in 2010. This could be the year that he finally maximizes his talents, and possibly join the Boston TE Party and Jimmy Graham at the elite level.

The left tackle spot is the only hole on the line. Derek Sherrod broke his leg late last year, and he's currently on the PUP list. His counterpart on the right side, Bryan Bulaga is amazing. The interior is really good, with T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton. There's also Jeff Saturday, who is one of the best in the game, even at his advanced age. He showed no signs of slowing down last year.

Last season, B.J. Raji was not anywhere near the stud that he was in 2010. He still made the Pro Bowl, but only because a lot of people love his dancing. He should be much better this year. Jerel Worthy will most likely overtake C.J. Wilson at defensive end because Worthy is a better pass rusher, and they need that. Ryan Pickett is pretty good at stopping the run, but can't get pressure on the QB.

Desmond Bishop is a very important player to this defense, and he got injured in the first preseason game and was placed on IR on Monday. That's unfortunate because he is a very good linebacker. I'm not sure if he will return this year. A.J. Hawk is fine, and D.J. Smith looked good at times last year. Clay Matthews suffered a drop in production last year, but that's because teams were able to double team him due to the lack of other pass rushers. He was still really good. Nick Perry's ability to rush the passer should help Clay's numbers.

Tramon Williams is a great cornerback, but the opposite side of him could be an issue. Future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson is moving to safety this season due to the ineptitude of the safety position. It's no one's fault really, Nick Collins suffered a possibly career ending neck injury. Jarrett Bush will play at the other corner position, and I'm not sure what to expect there. Casey Hayward and Sam Shields could possibly take over that job. Morgan Burnett will man the free safety position next to Woodson. He did a really nice job last year when Collins went down.

Special Teams
Mason Crosby was much more consistent last year, becoming a reliable kicker. Tim Masthay was really good himself last year, so the kicking game should be in Green Bay's favor. The aforementioned Randall Cobb is still fast. Fast I tell you.

12-4, 1st in NFC North

Thursday, August 30, 2012

32 in 32: New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints
Read the introduction here
Read the Texans preview here
Green Bay Packers tomorrow

2011 Record: 13-3

Key Acquisitions: Brodrick Bunkley, Chris Chamberlain, Ben Grubbs, David Hawthorne, Nick Toon (son of Al Toon. Just needed to say that as a Jets fan. Love Al Toon even though I never saw him play.)
Key Departures: Aubrayo Franklin, Robert Meachem, Carl Nicks, Tracy Porter, Shaun Rogers
Key Suspensions: GM Mickey Loomis (8 Games), Head Coach Sean Payton (Full Season), Will Smith (4 Games), Jonathan Vilma (Full Season), Assistant Coach and Interim Coach Joe Vitt (6 Games)

Some teams lose the offseason by letting good players walk in free agency, or failing to address a major need in free agency or the draft. The Saints however, all hipster on everyone. They found a way to have the worst offseason in the history of ever while locking up one of the top three quarterbacks in the NFL to a long term contract. The bounty scandal has been talked about enough, I'm not going to get into that. The problem for this team is that in the NFL, coaches mean much more than in any other sport. A team can go from a terrible coach to a good coach and make a huge jump without major personnel changes. Just look at what occured out in San Francisco last year. The addition of Harbaugh to that team elevated them into the NFC Championship game. I would have expected that this team takes a step back even in the absence of the tumult, based on their schedule alone. Losing Sean Payton is going to be a huge blow, and they won't even have the assistant coach for the first six games of the year. This can go one of two ways: the team rallies around each other and pulls of a good season, while still losing a few games solely because of the lack of their coach, or, they will fail miserably. I wanted to predict them above .500, but I couldn't find enough wins on their schedule. They can become the Chargers East, great talent, elite QB, terrible coach.

Drew Brees is great. In terms of yardage, not only did he have the greatest season ever in 2011, he nearly broke the record back in 2008. He now has #1 and #4 on the list. He knows how to put the ball in the perfect spot for his receivers, and he has the ability to make big names out of random receivers. He always spreads the ball around, and without Brees, Lance Moore would be on 0% of fantasy football teams in the world.

This team has four good running backs, something that no other NFL team can boast. Let's start with my favorite man of the group, Darren Sproles. He set the all-time record for all-purpose yards last season, and he was a major weapon out for Brees. He was a great running back, averaging 6.9 yards per attempt in his limited action as the speedy ball carrier out of the backfield. He had 87 receptions last year and he was an amazing offensive weapon. He can do it all. Chris Ivory barely played last season, spending the first 6 games on the PUP list. He'll play a lot more this year and, considering that he's the fourth running back, will be a factor. Pierre Thomas really took a backseat last year, and he's always been a good second running back. Mark Ingram needs to stay healthy this season, and I'm not sure if he can. He scared teams off in the draft because of knees, and his knees were the issue.

Marques Colston is an important target for Drew Brees. While Brees is very accurate, he doesn't have to be when it comes to throwing to Colston. The Hofstra kid knows how to go up and grab the ball. The aforementioned Lance Moore is a security blanket for Brees when needed, and he's alright. Devery Henderson wasn't very good last year, but that didn't matter.

The Tight End Renaissance hit New Orleans last year and Jimmy Graham pulled off one of the greatest year in the history of tight ends. Too bad that it happened in the same season as the Gronkowski season. Graham could even be more talented than Gronk, and was a great target last year. Jimmy is a large individual at 6'7, and has amazing hands, making him almost impossible to stop. He only played one year of college football before being drafted in 2010, so he could still be a little bit green in terms of football IQ, so he might even be better. I know, scary.

The ends of the offensive line aren't that good, but it doesn't matter because Drew Brees doesn't get sacked very often. Carl Nicks is gone, but Ben Grubbs can fill in very nicely. Obviously he's a downgrade, because Nicks was so great last year, but Grubbs will be good. Brian De La Puente was only a rookie last season, so he should be improving this year, which means that he could jump into the conversation of top tier centers. He was really good last year. Jahri Evans played hurt in 2011, leading to diminished success. He'll return in full force this time around.

Brodrick Bunkley will be very good in run defense, just as he was last year. Sedrick Ellis will have to improve upon his performance recently to add a pass rush to the interior of the offensive line. Will Smith wasn't great last year, especially towards the end of the year when he seemed to fade. Cameron Jordan didn't rush the passer very effectively. Junior Galette will most likely slide into the starter's role in the wake of Smith's suspension.

Curtis Lofton is a very good tackler who played for their division rival Falcons over the first four years of his career. He doesn't let many ball carriers slip past him. David Hawthorne is pretty good at everything, so he'll provide a boost to this defense. This team will dearly miss defensive leader and really good linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson are both good in coverage, so it won't be terribly easy for receivers to break big plays down the sidelines. Unless of course either of the corners expect help from the debacle that is Roman Harper. He gets burned a lot deep downfield. Malcolm Jenkins was better, but not very good.

Special Teams
Garrett  Hartley and John Kasay are embroiled in a kicker battle that will be decided on the final cut day tomorrow. I expect Kasay to lose and subsequently get cut. Thomas Morestead was really good last year. Darren Sproles is a really good kick returner, and in addition to his offensive talents, Saints fans forgot who Reggie Bush was.

7-9, T-2nd in NFC South

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

32 in 32: Houston Texans

Houston Texans
Read the introduction here
Read the Broncos preview here
New Orleans Saints tomorrow

2011 Record: 10-6

Key Acquisitions: Alan Ball, Shayne Graham, Bradie James, Donnie Jones, Whitney Mercilus
Key Departures: Mike Brisiel, Jacoby Jones, Neil Rackers, DeMeco Ryans, Mario Williams, Eric Winston, Lawrence Vickers

This team was hilariously unlucky last season. Andre Johnson had a nagging hamstring injury all year and he was completely terrible. Then there's also Matt Schaub getting hurt, just when everyone was starting to realize that the Texans were probably on their way to the Super Bowl. Then, backup Matt Leinart got hurt. So of course, this is the point at which the city of Houston was punching holes in their walls. Rookie T.J. Yates even had to leave the season finale with an injury. Jake Delhomme came in and they lost. They hung onto their playoff spot due to the ineptitude of their divison, and entered the playoffs with a healthy Yates. Just when you thought that there was way too much bad karma surrounding this team for them to win a playoff game, they beat the Bengals, and they almost beat the Ravens with a 3rd string rookie drafted in the 5th round as their QB. The reason: the defense was one of the best in the NFL. The offense has always been the hallmark of this Texans team, but that shifted in 2011. While they lost Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans, they won't skip a beat. The defense might be the better unit on this team, the offense should score a lot of points. This is why the Texans could be one of the best teams in the NFL this year.

Matt Schaub is a very good quarterback who never gets the respect that he deserves. Year in and year out, he has helped the Texans be one of the top offenses in the NFL. He can sling the ball. His favorite target Andre Johnson will be healthy again this year, so Schaub should have a nice year even though Houston has been throwing the ball much less lately.

Arian Foster is arguably the best running backs in the NFL. He has great speed and is also able to power his way through tackles. He's the best running back in his division this year because of Jones-Drew's future injury caused by his holdout. Foster is also a very good pass catcher and he can block really well. An all-around back, which is why he's so valuable. Don't forget about Ben Tate.  He should be a starter somewhere else, but he was really good last year. The Texans running game will still be great even if Foster goes down with an injury at some point this year. They'll be a run-first team, with the threat of the pass in certain situations.

When they need to pass, Andre Johnson will be targeted a whole lot. He could be on the decline, but it's possible that he could be back in form. That will provide a major boost to this bad receiving corps. Kevin Walter should not be a #2 receiver, and Lestar Jean will probably be the third option. Schaub will have to work hard to make something out of these receivers.

The offensive line took a few hits in free agency this year, losing the right side of Eric Winston and Mike Brisiel. The line was a key factor in the great rushing attack last year, so these losses could be major. They'll be replaced by a couple of backups. The rest of the line is still there, with center Chris Myers being a great run blocker. He opened up a lot of holes up the middle for the running backs.

Mario Williams is gone. As if Wade Phillips cares. Williams missed most of the season with injury, and while having him there would have helped, they were still a great defense without him. J.J. Watt is a really talented defensive end who had a successful year in rushing the passer and stopping the run. He's an all-around talent and should improve now that he has a full training camp to work with this defensive scheme. That's scary. On the opposite side, Antonio Smith was a good pass rusher in his own right. The nose tackle Shaun Cody isn't very good, but with the attention that the ends will attract, Cody could be a beneficiary.

Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed are really good pass rushers. Barwin amassed 11.5 sacks last year, stepping up pretty nicely in Mario's absence. Reed might be demoted to package usage with first rounder Whitney Mercilus arriving. He's a stud of a pass rusher, so there will be a lot of sacks to go around this defense. Brian Cushing was amazing last season. He was a real jack-of-all-trades, with tackling being his best skill. He was also able to get pressure on the QB when needed. Bradie James wasn't good last year, but his familiarity with Wade Phillips could help him improve.

Johnathan Joseph is a very good corner, and he's a very reliable shutdown guy. Kareem Jackson improved from his rookie season, so he should still be on the upswing. They have two quality safeties in Glover Quin and Danieal Manning.

Special Teams
Shayne Graham is the kicker now that rookie Randy Bullock is on injured reserve. He has struggled with consistency at times. Donnie Jones isn't very good. Danieal Manning will take over as kick returner now that Jacoby Jones is gone.

12-4, 1st in AFC South

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

32 in 32: Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos
Read the introduction here
Read the Steelers preview here
Houston Texans tomorrow

2011 Record: 8-8

Key Acquisitions: Mike Adams, Justin Bannan, Andre Caldwell, Drayton Florence, PEYTON MANNING (sorry for my outburst), Tracy Porter, Brandon Stokley, Jacob Tamme, Derek Wolfe
Key Departures: Brodrick Bunkley, Brian Dawkins, Andre Goodman, Mario Haggan, Spencer Larsen, Ryan McBean, Eddie Royal, Tim Tebow

On March 20, 2012, the batteries fell out of the clock and Tebow Time ended. The most famous bad quarterback in the history of history left, and was replaced by the best quarterback of all time. The G.O.A.T!     Peyton Manning switched his uniform color for the first time since 1998, going back to the orange that was so familiar to him at Tennessee. The era has begun. Around him is basically the same average team that rode on Tim Tebow's coattails to the playoffs last season. The offense around Manning isn't great, and the defense is fine. They won a playoff game with Tebow, and if they don't at least make it back there in 2012 with Tebow x48954458686787658902476524309187578942043765754321423678908765432456789087, it's a disappointment. Peyton Manning is an automatic 10 wins, and has always been throughout his career.

Peyton Manning will not play like the Peyton Manning of old. That guy is gone. He's in Indianapolis and he hasn't had any neck surgeries yet.  Four neck surgeries later, out comes a diminished version of what he used to be. He still has the ability to read defense like the old Peyton Manning, but physically, it's going to be tough to recapture what he had. I don't however expect him to miss any games due to injury. If the doctors though he could get re-injured, he would not have been cleared to play. He'll be above average.

I don't trust either running back to show any consistency at all this season. Willis McGahee carried the load pretty well in the absence of Knowshon Moreno, but McGahee was seemingly done before that. He wasn't very good in his final year in Baltimore, so 2011 could have been an anomaly. He's been up and down for a few years now. Moreno, just isn't very reliable. He hasn't been very good either.

Demaryius Thomas is the real threat on this offense. He's the guy to worry about because of his ability to get separation. He also has pretty good size. Eric Decker isn't going to help Peyton Manning very much because he had stone hands at times last year. While he had a stretch of very good games, he dropped quite a few balls. Andre Caldwell was fine in 2010, but had a terrible 2011 season. Brandon Stokley reunites with Manning, and while he's old, he has previous experience (and pretty good chemistry) with #18 and his hands make him an asset.

Jacob Tamme comes over from Indy to join Manning on his comeback tour. Tamme is a seemingly average tight end who was really elevated by Peyton Manning's ability. I don't think he's great, but he'll be above average. Being that the guy throwing him the ball is more Peyton Manning than PEYTON MANNING, he's not going to look like a Pro Bowler. But since that guy's name is still Peyton Manning, Tamme will look better than he should.

The offensive line, oh boy is this a disaster. Ryan Clady has been pretty over the past few years after he was considered to be the best offensive lineman in the NFL. The rest of the guys are a disappointing group of guys who will get Peyton Manning killed. They have looked good during the preseason so far, so they could have improved as a unit. Judging based on past performance, I think Manning should have gone to the Jets and away from this offensive line. You know, because I'm a Jets fan. Love of the Jets aside, he should have run far away from Denver.

The loss of Brodrick Bunkley will definitely hurt this defensive line. He was a monster against the run, and Justin Bannan will have to take his spot, a situation in which nobody is a winner. Rookie Derek Wolfe will have a grand ole time rushing the QB, and could be the major factor in this team's pass rush. While Wolfe takes up space in the middle, that leaves room for Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller to roam. Said all opposing QBs: "NO!" Both also have shown the versatility to play both defensive end and linebacker.

D.J. Williams is serving a six game suspension to begin the year, and that could prove to be a major blow to this defense. Joe Mays and Nate Irving aren't the most trustworthy guys at the middle linebacker positions. Old man Keith Brooking is on this team. He's not going to do much at all.

Champ Bailey has recently been overlooked as a shutdown cornerback due to the attention that Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha have receivers, but Bailey does it year after year. He never seems to stop annoying opposing receivers. Tracy Porter is on the opposite side of him, and he was atrocious last year. The safeties are really bad. Mike Adams hasn't been very good throughout his career, but he isn't a complete disaster.

Special Teams
Both Matt Prater and Britton Colquitt put together fantastic seasons last year, which leads me to believe that this year's special teams unit will be very productive. Eddie Royal is gone, and they haven't found themselves a kick returner to take his place.

10-6, T-1st in AFC West