Friday, January 29

2010 NFL Mock Draft

Alrighty, so I am going to try a new thing for me… A mock draft. Everyone has always seen and looked for NFL Mock drafts before, so I think it would be fun to try and put one of my own together. The first one is very tricky; trying to get a read on college players and see how they would translate their game into the NFL can be very difficult. But at the same time, it will be fun to see how many picks you can get correct. Now, a lot can and will change between now and the draft which will be held in NYC in April. So without any further ado…. the mock draft

1: St. Louis Rams:
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

The Rams need a lot of help. They need the QB of the future in addition to help at WR, but with a pick like Suh, who is a defensive monster, will be a very safe pick. This pick might have drawn some criticism if Mario Williams didn’t pan out for Houston a few years back. The Rams need to shore up the defensive line in order to put some pressure on the QB, which was very scarce last year. (They finished with 25 total sacks on the season, third to last in the NFL.) They can find some other needs with their later picks. Wide receivers and QB’s can be found in later rounds and pan out.
2: Detroit Lions:
Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

The Lions, like the Rams also need help in a variety of positions. The Lions finished fourth to last in the NFL with only 26 sacks last season and getting another monster on the defensive line will force the opponents offensive line to double team McCoy, thus opening up an extra lane for other defenders. The Lions also need help on the OL so reaching for a guy like Russel Okung, the OT from Oklahoma State can be an option as well, but I think the Lions decide to go defense with their first pick and McCouy is the second best defensive player in the draft.
3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

And we see the trend of lousy defenses picking at the top of the draft continue. The Buccaneers found their QB of the future in Josh Freeman, their first round pick last year, who played well down the stretch. Now they need to find their bookend on defense to help force some turnovers and give the offense some short fields to play with. Morgan is the best defensive end in the draft. He is very versatile, someone who can rush the passer, stop the run and even drop back into coverage on occasion.
4: Washington Redskins:
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

People will go back and forth on which QB should be taken off the board first. I think Clausen is a better pro prospect. He has a solid arm, played in an NFL style offense and was coached by Charlie Weis. Now Sam Bradford would have been the number 1 overall pick had he came out of college last year, but since he stayed in school he will likely drop due to his shoulder injury. I think that Clausen will fit in well in Washington and can lead the Redskins into the future.
5: Kansas City Chiefs:
Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

I think the Chiefs can go one of two ways here. They can look at their offensive line, which gave up 45 sacks last season, sixth most in the NFL, and say they need to protect their huge investment in Matt Cassel. Or, they can look at their defense, which gave up 388 YPG, and decide that shoring up their secondary will be what helps them. I think that once they look at some other options for the secondary they will pass on Eric Berry and decide that protecting Matt Cassel is highly important and getting a guy like Okung, someone who brings instant credibility to their OL, will be the wise choice.
6: Seattle Seahawks:
Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

Pete Carroll is rejoicing in his war room that Berry dropped to him. Berry reminds Carroll of another great safety with similar size and skills, Troy Polamalu. Carroll loved coaching Troy at USC and will now cherish having a guy with the ball hawking skills of Berry on his defense on Seattle. It should make his transition back to the NFL a little smoother.
7: Cleveland Browns:
Joe Haden, CB, Florida

The Browns are a little uncertain at QB. They have Brady Quinn, whom they used a first round pick on a few years back. I don’t think they use another first round pick on Bradford. Instead I think they focus on defense and pick the best CB in the draft in Haden. He is shutdown corner from the first day he puts on that Browns uniform. He has solid tacking skills and is by far the best corner in the draft. With the way the Browns closed out their season and with the new additions in the front office I think the Browns fans have something to cheer for next season. That’s for you Erik!
8: Oakland Raiders:
Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

The Raiders are always the most unpredictable team in the NFL draft, maybe this year they go with a guy who can protect JaMarcus Russell. Al Davis still is high on Russell, not sure why, but since he is, he should draft a guy that is trending upward in terms of skills on the OL. With Davis in the mix Russell can have a little more time to make reads and get the ball out.
9: Buffalo Bills:
Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

The Bills need some help at QB. They don’t have anyone who can take the reigns of the position and guide the team into the future. Bradford, as mentioned earlier, would have been the unanimous number 1 pick in last years NFL draft. Bradford has an underrated, but strong and accurate arm. Bradford can be the steal of the first round with him dropping this far.
10: Denver Broncos:
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

The Broncos have a lot of different ways they can use this pick. If Brandon Marshall is gone, they can easily use this pick on Dez Bryant, who has the home run capabilities of making huge plays in the vertical passing game. They can also go with a QB if either Clausen or Bradford fall this far as well all know Kyle Orton doesn’t scare anyone. But what I think Denver does is get someone who can rush the passer form the edge and is very athletic.
11: Jacksonville Jaguars:
Brian Price DT, UCLA

The Jaguars have a decent team assembled. They do need some help on defense and the parade of DT to be drafted early in the first round keeps on coming. Price, who has a mammoth presence inside will help clog up the middle of the defensive line and help with the rush defense of the Jags.
12: Miami Dolphins:
Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

The Dolphins have some other, maybe more pressing, needs other than WR, however when a guy like Bryant falls in your lap at number 12 you have to pounce. The Dolphins need some help at WR and I hear whispers they might be afraid to draft one this high in the draft, because of the whole Ted Ginn thing, but Bryant is a guy who give Chad Henne an instant big time threat. I like the way he can play off of Devone Bess and Greg Camarillo. The Dolphins can also use this pick to grab a great ILB like Rolando McClain. But I think the Dolphins should add the big time playmaking abilities of Dez Bryant.
13: San Francisco 49ers:
Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

The 49ers need help at the right tackle position. Williams gives them someone who will help out in the running game. He will also help with protecting the QB and giving their playmaker receivers more time to operate.
14: Seattle Seahawks:
Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

The Seahawks get another great defensive presence on the line in Dunlap. The guy is big and can rush the QB. Couple him with Berry and the Seahawks have the makings of strong defensive foundation for the future. Dunlap will give the Seahawks an instant pass rush as he gets of the edge quickly and efficiently. Carroll will use their later picks to grab some offensive help.
15: New York Giants:
Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama

The Giants need help at linebacker and McClain is an ILB who can be a great leader in the huddle for the Giants. McClain is the highest rated LB in the draft and to grab him this late in the draft could be a steal. He will fill a great void in the Giants defense.
16: San Francisco 49ers:
Earl Thomas, S, Texas

The 49ers have a great deficiency in the secondary. Thomas is the best safety available, who has the athleticism and cover skills to be an immediate contributor in the 49ers defense. The 49ers have a great draft and with the retirement of Kurt Warner, they should be the favorites to win the NFC West.
17: Tennessee Titans:
Everson Griffen, DE, USC

The Titans need help in the secondary and with pressuring the QB. Since no DB fell to them here that has first round talent, they take a value pick in Griffen. He has been consistent this season and has the NFL body to boot. He is very versatile and will be a good fit with the Titans.
18: Pittsburgh Steelers:
Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

The Steelers need some help up front on both side of the ball. Their OL was very inconsistent this season, but they also need a replacement for Casey Hampton who is near the end of time in the NFL. With Williams, the Steelers get a DL that will replace Hampton after learning fro him for a year. If the Steelers decide to go with protection for Big Ben then look for them grab Bryan Bulaga for their offensive line.
19: Atlanta Falcons:
Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan

The Falcons need someone to shore up the outside on their defensive line. By picking Graham, the Falcons get someone who led the nation in tackles for a loss, which shows he is able to get off the edge and put pressure in the defensive backfield something that was missing from Atlanta last season. They need to create a better pass rush in order to bring up their sack total from last season.
20: Houston Texans:
C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

The Texans can also use some help at safety and DT so Taylor Mays or Jared Odrick can be in the picture. However, I think the Texans go with the RB who has been slipping down the draft board. Spiller is a very talented and versatile player. He also posses the skills to be a game-breaker, he is a great value pick here for Texans.
21: Cincinnati Benagls
Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida

The Bengals need someone at TE and Hernandez is the best one in the draft. He has great hands and excellent YAC skills. He will give Carson Plamer an instant threat down the middle of the field.
22: New England Patriots:
Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas

The Patriots need major additions on the defensive side of the ball. They need someone who can rush the passer form the LB position on a consistent basis. Kindle will fit in perfectly in Belichick’s 3-4 alignment and be a great addition for the linebackers group that already has an up and coming stud with Jarod Mayo. The Patirots also need a RB so they will take a hard look at Spiller if he drops to them, or possibly jonathan Dwyer. But I think in the end they need to find someone who can rush the passer and Kindle is their guy.
23: Green Bay Packers:
Bryan Bulaga, OL, Iowa

The Packers need major help on the offensive line. Buluga will be a great fit up in Green Bay. He has great positioning and leverage skills that allow him to thrive while protecting the QB. The Packers could go defense with this pick and look to draft another USC product in Taylor Mays. They had enormous success with Brain Cushing coming out of USC last year.
24: Philadelphia Eagles:
Taylor Mays, S, USC

If Mays slips past the Packers look for the Eagles to swoop in and draft him, the Eagles need help in the secondary and Mays has the physical tools to become a ball-hawking safety in the NFL.
25: Baltimore Ravens:
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

The Ravens need some help for Joe Flacco and adding a big talented TE will help Flacco in the play action passing game. Gresham is tall and athletic, everything you look for in a TE.
26: Arizona Cardinals:
Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland

Arizona needs help protecting Matt Lienhart now that Warner has retired. Campbell is still learning the position, but has the physical skills and the determination to become a force on the offensive line. The Cardinals could also go defensive line with this pick and draft Terrance Cody. However, I like the pick of Campbell.
27: Dallas Cowboys:
Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri

The Cowboys have some talent on the defensive side of the ball, but pairing Weatherspoon opposite DeMarcus Ware makes their pass rushing ability dynamic. They have some needs on the OL so if Campbell drops to them, they would happily take him.
28: San Diego Chargers:
Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech

The Chargers need to find their replacement for LaDainian Tomlinson and they have that in Dwyer. Dwyer has the ability to carry the ball 20+ times a game and gives them the explosiveness as well. He runs low to the ground and has a good center of gravity that allows him to evade would-be tacklers.
29: New York Jets:
Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State

The Jets need someone who can play over the ball and protect the middle of the defense against the run. Odrick is a big, strong defensive presence that will help the Jets with their rush defense, which despite how great their passing defense is needs help.
30: Minnesota Vikings:
Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State:

The Vikings need help in the secondary and they can use a guy like Robinson right away to bring some stability to their defense. He is the second best cornerback in this draft and has the characteristics to develop into a shutdown corner in the NFL.
The last 2 picks depend on who will win the Super Bowl, and I don’t want to give away my prediction just yet, so I will just give you who I think each team will take with no order starting with the AFC Colts
Indianapolis Colts:
Mike Iupati, G, Idaho

The Colts need a big guy in the middle of the offensive line to pass block and open up holes for their running backs to squeeze through. Iupati is the best guard in the draft and should be able to be an immediate starter on the line.
New Orleans Saints:
Terrance Cody, DT, Alabama

The Saints can use some help on the defensive end and they get a great value pick this late in the draft. Cody is huge and gets good penetration off the edge of the line. He should be able to cause some havoc in the backfield.

Today Kurt Warner announced his retirement from football. He will be missed form the game, but hopefully he will continue to be part of the NFL. He was always a class act who knew how to compete on the field. He retires as one of the best QB’s this past decade and should eventually work his way into the Hall Of Fame.

Next week I will break down the Super Bowl matchup.

Thursday, January 21

NFL Championship weekend

NFL Championship weekend

The final four teams in the NFL square off this weekend to determine who will play in Miami for the right to be crowned king of the NFL for the final season of the decade. We have a matchup in the NFC that everyone predicted way back in week 7 or 8, while over in the AFC we have a matchup that even Rex Ryan didn’t think would happen (he famously claimed after a loss to the Falcons that the Jets had been eliminated from playoff contention, only to be corrected and informed they still had a shot). The Colts had their perfect season broken up by these same Jets, eight days after Ryan’s gaffe. So let’s start with the AFC.
As mentioned before, the AFC Title game is a rematch to the week 16 meeting in Indy. The Jets came into that game looking to play spoiler, while the Colts came in knowing they cared more about winning a Super Bowl than going undefeated. The Colts lead 9-3 at the half, a half where they had their starters play the whole time. However, after halftime it was a completely different game. The Jets took the opening kickoff of the second half and returned it 106 yards for a TD and they later added a TD that put them up for good after a Curtis Painter fumble was returned for a score. The Jets put up 26 second half points that afternoon, while the Colts second stringers put up just 6.
No one knows what would have happened on that Sunday had the Colts left their starters in for the entire game, but what we do know is how the Jets and Colts have played since then. The Jets shocked fans of the NFL last week when they forced the Chargers into playing a terrible game of football. The Jets forced two picks, one of which set up their first TD, three fumbles, all of which were recovered by the Chargers, and ten penalties. The Jets offense did not play well. They managed only 262 yards, 53 of which came from one play, a game-sealing run by Shone Green that occurred midway through the fourth quarter. The Chargers offense was able to move the ball on the Jets, as evidenced by their 344 total yards, 283 of which came through the air, the alleged strength of the Jets defense. The Jets also benefited immensely from three missed field goals by Nate Kaeding, a kicker who is THE most accurate in the history of the NFL, and a kicker who missed three kicks ALL season.
The Jets did not play a perfect game by any definition of the phrase. The Chargers had plenty of chances to win this game and force a matchup with Indy in the Championship Game, but decided they would rather play some golf with the Patriots. As a reward for the lackluster play, Norv Turner got an extension and will remain their coach. Crazy.
The Colts on the hand completely dominated their matchup with the Ravens. They won their matchup because they out hustled and out hit the Ravens. The Colts had a pedestrian day on offense, racking up only 275 total yards, but like I said before they out hustled the Ravens. They forced 4 turnovers, while only committing 1. (And on the one pick Manning threw, Pierre Garcon chased down Ed Reed from behind and knocked the ball loose which was of course the Colts recovered) Once this play occurred you knew the Ravens had no chance of coming back. The Colts are an immensely focused and talented team that showed their poise through out the season.
This matchup will come down to the Colts offense vs. the Jets defense. If the Jets defense can do to Indy what it did to the Chargers the Jets will be in the game late in the third quarter and be in a position to win the game. However, if the Colts are able to throw their quick slants and crossing routes, keep the Jets honest with Joseph Addai and Donald Brown they will force the Jets to play catch-up and put the game on the shoulders of Mark Sanchez. Rex Ryan knows that if this occurs, his Super Bowl parade route will be clear on February 9th. The Jets are 8-point underdogs according to Vegas, but they were big underdogs last week and pulled off the upset. However, the Colts are not the Chargers. The Colts are better coached, and they have a far superior QB than the Chargers and the Jets. Manning will be able to make the necessary pre-snap adjustments that will neutralize the Jets defense. I like the Colts to be able to control the offensive tempo and Manning will have clear lanes to throw to his receivers. Colts 24 Jets14

NFC Championship:

Over in the NFC we have the predictable matchup. Ever since week 8 when the Saints were 7-0 and the Vikings were 7-1 we knew this would be the matchup for a trip to the Super Bowl. The Vikings played a great game against the Cowboys last week. They put up big numbers on offense, 323 total yards, and were able to hold a Dallas offense to 248 total yards; the Cowboys were averaging over 415 yards per game in their previous four contests. Everyone knows the Vikings defense is highly talented. They have great bookends in Pat and Kevin Williams and Jared Allen. The Vikings were ranked 6th in overall defense. They can bring the heat on D. On the other side of the ball the Viking boast one of the statistical greats of all time in QB Brett Favre. He is an old time gunslinger. He loves to play with a childish like enthusiasm and his ability to carry teams on his back. They also have a workhorse in Adrian Peterson; however, he has not had a 100-yard rushing game since week 10 against Detroit.
The Saints have been the perennial favorites to represent the NFC since very early in the season. They started off extremely hot, going 13-0 before finally dropping to the Cowboys. Their offense can light up any scoreboard, especially when it is the scoreboard in the Superdome. They are an extremely tough team to beat at home. Losing their last 3 games seemed like it was a bad omen since no team that lost their final three games of the regular season has made it to Super Sunday. The Saints have the offensive power to change that. The Saints put up 45 points, and 418 yards of total offense in their win last week over the Cardinals. Now no one is going to mistake the Cardinals for the Steel Curtain, but the Saints can put up points. Drew Brees has the same qualities that make Peyton Manning so successful. Brees can make great pre-snap reads; and more importantly he gets the ball out quickly, he has a great mix of receivers with Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Jeremy Shockey, and Robert Meachem. He also has Reggie Bush, no relation to the former President, who had 217 all-purpose yards including a punt return for a TD. The Saints are loaded on offense.
This game will come down to Special teams and turnovers. The Saints offense will have the ability to beat the Vikings defense, as great as their D is, the Cardinals still put up 398 yards in total offense in a win in week 13, and the Viking will be able to put up points to keep up with the Saints. This Game hinges on the shoulders of Brett Favre. If he can play the way he did last week against the Cowboys the Vikings can and should win this matchup. However, if he throws a costly pick, similar to what he did in the 2007 NFC Championship game, the Saints will be able to get the extra score needed to pull out a victory and advance to the Super Bowl.
I have gone back and forth with this pick. On the one hand you have the highest ranked offense in the NFL (the Saints) that seemingly can put up points on anyone. On the other hand you have a team in the Vikings who have a stellar defense, a defense that had the ability to shut down a high-powered offense last weekend against Dallas. What I know for sure is that this will be a highly entertaining game, one that should go back and forth, and come down to the wire. In the end I am going to go with my gut. Drew Brees and the same core of players were in the situation three years ago. They know what it takes to prepare for a game of this magnitude and being there gives players a greater grasp on the urgency that is upon them; an urgency that cannot be transferred by stories. Thus I give the edge to the Saints, and I follow my gut. Saints 38 Vikings 31

Next week I will break down the Super Bowl matchup and you will find out if I think Reggie Bush will be proposing to his girlfriend in the near future. Enjoy the games.

Tuesday, January 19

The Celtics and Ramblings....

The Boston Celtics are in a funk. Since losing Kevin Garnett to a mysterious knee injury, they have a pedestrian record of 5-5. A knee injury that is starting to eerily play out a lot like Garnett’s injury last year, an injury he never returned from. The Celtics are calling the injury a hyperextension of his knee. The same knee he injured last year. The Celtics are claiming that Garnett will be back for their game against Portland this Friday the 22nd. If he retunes on Friday, he would have missed almost a month of game action.
As you can see from last nights Celtics game against the Mavericks, Garnett’s defensive presence is sorely missed. They miss his intensity, his athleticism, and his long arms that can bother shots for many players on opposing teams. Dirk Nowitzky had a field day against the Celtics last night. Putting Rasheed Wallace, or Brian Scalabrine on Dirk did not get the job done. The Celtics defense has gone down hill since KG got injured and they need him back sooner rather than later in order for them to be a true contender.
Once KG returns to the lineup the Celtics will once again be the team to beat in the East. They have a very well rounded team that, with the addition of Rasheed, has excellent playoff weapons. When healthy, the Celtics are contenders to win the NBA title, if they are not healthy they are a team that will lose in the second round of the playoffs. We saw these outcomes in each of the past two years. In 2008, the Celtics had their first year with the Big 3. They remained healthy all year long and the Big 3 led the Celtics to a championship. However, last year, once KG got hurt, their season went down hill and they had to fight and claw their way out of the first round and they took the eventual runner-up Magic to 7 only to lose on their home court. If the Celtics are healthy they will have enough weapons to win the East and and have an excellent shot at beating the Western Conference Champions in the Finals. But when you rely on the knees of a 33 year old seven-footer who has played in over 1100 games in his career, IF is a very key word.
I think that once KG comes back on Friday and he gets some of the rust off from the hiatus, the Celtic fans will be much more relaxed and the fact that they lost their seventh home game last night, compared to just six in each of the last two seasons, won’t be so magnified. The talking heads on ESPN seem to forget the Celtics have the best road record in the NBA, which currently stands at 16-5. The Celtics will be fine.
NFL Playoffs:
Crazy weekend in the NFL playoffs….
The Jets closed out the games with a thrilling come from behind win which saw them gain their first 1st down late in the second quarter and didn’t see them cross the goal line until the fourth quarter. They punished the Chargers late with Shone Green who broke free on a key 53-yard rushing touchdown midway through the 4th quarter. The Colts got to the AFC Championship game by dismantling everyone’s favorite darling, the Ravens, who were over-hyped after a big win in Foxboro the opening weekend of the playoffs.
Over in the NFC the Vikings defense dominated against an inferior Cowboys team. Favre played a solid game and didn’t turn the ball over. He can possibly carry this game into the Superdome where they will face the Saints in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. The Saints laid the smack down on the Cardinals who, despite reaching the Super Bowl last year, looked very weak and couldn’t handle the Saints offense. We will see what the Vikings defense can do to stop the Saints offense later on this week.
The new season of 24 started this past Sunday night and it picks up with Jack healthy from his trial and risky procedure that was done with his daughter Kim to save his life. He tries to get you to believe that he is moving back to LA with his daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter, but there is an on-going peace process between President Taylor and President Omar Hassan, which of course, being the 24 veterans that we all are, be disrupted with an assassination attempt. An old informant, who has been shot, tells Jack that he helped bring in an assassin that is trying to assassinate President Hassan, sucks Jack back into helping CTU, which is in NY now and looks remarkably fake and ridiculous. Furthermore there is someone on the inside that is helping the assassin. CTU quickly and swiftly finds evidence that incriminates a journalist who is having an affair with President Hassan. This seems curiously suspicious to Chloe who wants CTU czar Brian Hasting to follow up on a lead, but is too arrogant and stupid to think he has the wrong person, so Chloe asks Jack to help, which he reluctantly agrees. Long story short, Jack and new CTU head of field ops Cole Ortiz, played by Freddie Prinze Jr., thwart the assassins attempt to kill President Hassan and they kill the assassin shortly after.
This sets up the season, as we learn that the assassin, who has traces of weapons grade uranium on his body, is part a very intricate and deadly sect of a Russian Mob syndicate. We then learn that President Hassan’s brother has nuclear ambitions and is against the peace process, was this a surprise to anyone? Jack is now sucked in for the season, and has to work with Renee Walker in order to infiltrate the Russian Mob sect to try and buy the Uranium. Why this would work? I am not sure seeing how the Russians have a very lucrative offer and deal with President Hassan’s brother.
So we shall see where this season goes, from the premier it looks like a typical season of 24, you aren’t going to get blown away by dialogue and great acting, but watching Jack do his thing is always good entertainment.
I enjoyed the wildly predictable season premier of 24 and look forward to watching season 8 and finding out all the secrets that were set up in the premier.

Coming up later in the week I will break down the Conference Championship games.

Thursday, January 14

2009 NFL Playoff Round 2!

So the Patriots are out, now what? Everyone is talking about how the dynasty is over, and you know what in a way it is. Will the Patriots be in the playoffs next year? Absolutely they will. Do they need some retooling? Of course, but who doesn’t need retooling from year to year. The Pats still have a solid core on the offensive side of the ball. They have Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Kevin Faulk (who is a free agent, but I expect them to resign him) and Wes Welker once he returns from his ACL/MCL injury by mid season. The offensive line has some promise as well with Logan Mankins, and Sebastian Vollmer having very solid seasons. On the defensive side of the ball is where the creative thinking needs to be done. They have some young guys who showed promise in Brandon Meriweather, Jerod Mayo, Pat Chung, Jonathan Wilhite, and then some veteran presence with Ty Warren, and they need to resign Vince Wilfork. The rest can be filled by the draft and free agency, and now that the Patriots didn’t make the final 8, they are able to sign free agents even if they don’t lose any of their current players. For those who don’t know, next year will most likely be played with no salary cap because the current CBA is going to expire therefore meaning that in order to sign free agents if you are one of the final 8 teams left you can only do so as a replacement for a free agent you lost. The Patriots have four picks in the first two rounds of what pundits are calling a very deep draft. They can easily play around with their picks and grab a running back, and some defensive help that will give them the foundation for the future and help them next year as well.
So guys step back off the ledge of the Tobin Bridge, everything will be fine. Brady will heal, as will Welker and Moss. They will bring in some creative minds for the offensive and defensive side of the ball (this would have made me look great if I had posted this article yesterday as Dean Peeves announced today that eh will not be back to coach the defensive side of the ball) and everything will be fine in Foxboro.
Round 2 of NFL Playoffs
Arizona v. New Orleans
The Cardinals come into New Orleans hot, coming off a crazy back and forth round 1 matchup with Green Bay in which Arizona jumped out to a big lead, only to squander it away and then miss a game winning field goal with under a minute to go only to recover a fumble on the first drive of overtime to win the game. The Cardinals have playoff experience and success behind them, while the Saints have, on paper at least, a better team. Remember the Saints are a team that started out 13-0 only to finish 0-3 and the only good team they lost to was the Cowboys in week 15. Midway through the Saints season, especially after they shellacked the Patriots, I thought, along with the rest of the talking heads, that nothing could derail the Saints, and that playing in the Superdome was the TOUGHEST place to play, but since they lost to the Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it doesn’t seem that way anymore. In addition you have the Cardinals, who lost in the Super Bowl last year, and everyone thought was a one-year wonder, right back in the thick of things. They looked spectacular on offense, and mediocre on defense last week, but the only part of that last sentence that matters is the spectacular on offense. What the Cardinals did last was show they can win a shootout, and that is what it will take to beat the Saints.
The Cardinals are now the team I have hitched my wagon too. Don’t worry I was accepted onto their bandwagon by the Josef Cousins. They have accepted my application and I am now riding the Cardinals back into the NFC Championship game. I think the Cardinals will put up plenty of points and stop the Saints when it counts. The Cardinals have Early Doucet who showed what he can do when team focus to heavily on Steve Breaston and Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals are a very tough matchup for the Saints. The Cardinals went on the road last year and showed everyone they can win when it counts. And is it just me, or do the Cardinals play their best when it matters the most. I like the Cardinals in a shootout. Cardinals 38 Saints 35
Dallas v. Minnesota
The Cowboys finally got off the Shnide and won a playoff game. They were the better team all year and they finally proved to America that they could win when it counts. They played spectacular defense against the Eagles and on offense they ran all over the Eagles defense. The Cowboys look like a solid all around team.
On the other side of the ball with the Vikings and Bret Favre who were all know is due for a clunker. Favre likes to run around and make the wild throws, although this year he reined it in just a bit, but he did blow some winnable games late in the season. The Vikings have an incredible D line and run game, but will Favre play second fiddle to them in this game? That is the key X-factor for the game. If Favre can manage the game and the Vikings can pound the ball with Adrian Peterson, they have an incredible chance of winning this game.
However, the X-factor for the Cowboys will be the amount of fans they will have in the stadium. Minnesota is notoriously known for not selling out games. Cowboy fans can easily procure plenty of seats and cause a lot of raucous for the Vikings. The Cowboys can run on the Vikings front 7 and thus open up the passing lanes for Tony Romo to Miles Austin, who will be able to run for Miles (sorry had to do it) on this Vikings D. I think the Cowboys go into the Metrodome and come out victorious. Cowboys 31 Vikings 23
Indianapolis v. Baltimore
The Ravens got here by dismantling my Patriots by pounding and pounding the football down the Patriots front 7. Normally the Patriots beat up on one-dimensional offenses, but not this week and the Ravens deserve all the credit in the world. They showed up to win, and the Patriots definitely did not. The Ravens have a great D and very solid running game. However, what they don’t have is a reliable quarterback. Joe Flacco can not be trusted to win a big playoff game by himself, so that means if the Ravens running game is stopped, or they fall behind early it will be very bad for the Ravens.
The Colts got a bad rap for resting their starters the last 2 weeks of the season, but if they win the Super Bowl no one will be able to second-guess Jim Caldwell. Unfortunately we have seen this movie before for the Colts. They start hot, rest some guys and then stumble in the playoffs because they are not used to playing meaningful football for over a month and it isn’t a light switch that you just turn on and all of a sudden there is electricity. The Colts have lost their first playoff game after a bye twice in the last five years, and that doesn’t include last year when they lost their first playoff game. In other words, in 3 of the last 4 years they lost in their first playoff game.
Now does this mean I think Indy is going down? No. I think Peyton Manning is ready to play and I think Baltimore played a perfect football game against a weak opponent. In their regular season matchup the Colts held the Ravens to five field goals and a 17-15 loss and people love to hype up certain teams after a round 1 victory, but don’t be fooled by the Ravens, this is the same team that shot themselves in the foot way too many times during the regular season. I think the Colts grind out a close football. Colts 24 Ravens 20
New York Jets v. San Diego
In what looks to be the most exciting matchup of the weekend, the Jets travel to San Diego to play in Mark Sanchez’s backyard. The Jets beat the Bengals for a second consecutive week and they did so by running the football, and to my surprise with Mark Sanchez managing an excellent game plan. The Jets are a very good team on D and they have an extremely confident coach (Rex Ryan handed out a schedule to his players that included a date for a Super Bowl parade) who knows how to scheme.
The Chargers have a very poor matchup with the Jets since they can’t run the football, which is the Jets main weakness on D. They have a very athletic and tall wide receiver in Vincent Jackson, with Phillip Rivers, who is an extremely confident and talented quarterback; throwing him the ball they have a chance to neutralize the Jets best defensive weapon, Darrelle Revis. Rivers has the ability to throw the ball to perfect spots where only Jackson can out jump Revis and retrieve a jump ball.
This is a very scary game to call because on the one hand you have a team that has won 11 in a row and is extremely hot coming into the playoffs, and then the other team is a team that struggled mightily to get into the playoffs and then beat a team in the first round that wasn’t too good to start with. The Jets D is solid, a Super Bowl caliber defense. As much as it pains me to say this, because I hate the Jets, but I think the Jets have an extremely favorable matchup and have an excellent chance at winning this game. However, at the end of the day I am going to trust my gut and go with the Chargers at home to prevail. I think the Chargers win a very close game, a game that can easily be won by the Jets if a call or two, or a turnover goes their way. Chargers 24 Jets 21
This weeks playoff matchups should be great and I hope the before each game the have a moment of silence for the fallen citizens of Haiti. What a tragic week for them and all the Haitian immigrants in America, my thoughts and prayers go out to them.
Next week we will break down the championship games. Should be great matchups and even though the Patriots are out, I am very excited for the rest of the playoffs.

Tuesday, January 5

2009 NFL Playoffs

2009 NFL Playoffs:

It’s that time of year again. The NFL Playoffs are back and for the first time in a while there is no clear-cut favorite to win it all.

Let’s recap the regular season.

The top seeds in the AFC and NFC got off to a combined 27-0 start only to stumble to a combined 1-5 finish. The Colts look a little better than the Saints do because at least the Colts rested their players in their two losses, where the Saints lost at home to a good team in the Cowboys in a great Saturday Night Matchup, but then put up two stinkers versus Tampa Bay who had 3 wins all season and Carolina who was playing without their top wide receiver.

In the AFC the Chargers, Patriots, Bengals, Jets, and Ravens round out the playoff teams. The Chargers finished strong with a 13-3 record while winning their final 11 games, which earns them a first round bye.

Next the Patriots stumbled into the playoffs with a 10-6 record and with a HUGE loss in Wes Welker who, according to reports, has a torn ACL/MCL they have a had a very Un-Patriot like season, showing that they cannot beat a good team on the road. They also showed their lack of defensive prowess, which has catapulted them into the playoffs and the Super Bowl in previous years.

The fourth seed in the AFC is Cincinnati. They too have had a very turbulent season suffering deaths to a member of their coaching staff and Chris Henry. These tragic losses have derailed what looked like a promising season with Carson Palmer returning to his old self and having a great season.

The Wild Card teams are the Jets and the Ravens who are linked through coaching. Rex Ryan, the rookie head coach for the Jets lead the Ravens to a 2008 AFC Championship game loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Steelers. The Jets are ranked first in overall defense, while the Ravens struggled on the defensive side of the ball this year, while playing better on offense. Joe Flacco has emerged a very solid young QB in this league.

After the Saints, the remaining NFL Playoff teams are Minnesota, Dallas, Arizona, Green Bay, and Philly. Minnesota wrapped up the two seed and a First round bye despite Brett Favre’s best efforts to blow the season in a similar fashion to last year with the Jets. They lost 3 of 4 games in December only to have a punishing win over a Giants team that wanted to hit the Links early.

Dallas is the “IT” team of the NFC now. After knocking off the then undefeated Saints they put up back to back shutouts on the Redskins and the Eagles, whom they happen to matchup with for the third time this season in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The Cowboys are known for a team that struggles in December and a team that can’t handle a snap for a game-tying extra point in the playoffs. Is this the year they finally shake those demons? You’ll have to wait until I get into my predictions.

The Cardinals had a strong season winning a lot of tough matchups on the road. While also losing a few close ones that should have went their way. They have a solid offense and defense. The Cardinals are also the defending NFC Champions so they are battle tested and know how to win in January.

The Wild Card teams are the Packers and the Eagles. The Eagles were playing for the an NFC East Championship, a #2 seed, and a first round and yet they were spanked by Dallas in the final week of the season. That could be a crushing blow to their title hopes. While the Packers were playing for nothing against the Cardinals who were also playing for nothing and beat the Cardinals, does that prove anything? I don’t think so.

Wild Card Weekend:


Jets v. Bengals:

The playoffs start with a rematch of the final game of the 2009 regular season. The Jets whooped the Bengals tuchases 37-0. Now the Bengals technically had something to play for, (had they won the game they would have been the 3 seed and hosted the Houston Texans, and then gone to SD for a round 2 matchup) but if they favored a rematch with Jets in round 1 and then travelling to Indy for a round 2 game, they would have just played the game without showing anything to the Jets. Meanwhile the Jets needed to win in order to make the playoffs. In this rematch I like the idea that Cincy didn’t want to show the Jets anything where the Jets showed the Bengals a lot. Everyone is aware of Darrell Revis and his shutdown corner ability. He will be lined up across Chad Ochocinco who was held without a catch this past Sunday. The Bengals however will not go this game without getting the ball to Ochocinco. He will be able to get a few receptions. The way the Jets can be beat is by the Bengals running crossing routes with Laveranues Coles and their tight ends. Cincinnati can set up their passing game with their running game of Cedric Benson, who had over 1200 yards rushing. The Jets on the other hand have the #1 overall defense and looked very strong in that final matchup with the Bengals. However, they are starting a rookie QB who, despite what the media pundits would like you to believe, is not a superstar. He’s had some very weak games. I see him throwing a costly pick and the Bengals being able to move the ball effectively on the ground and pick up a victory. Bengals 20 Jets 14.

Ravens v. Patriots:

In the early game on Sunday the Ravens come to Foxboro for a rematch of a week 4 meeting in which the Patriots prevailed 27-21. In that game the Patriots were held to 85 yards on the ground and only 258 through the air. The Ravens were able to pick up 116 yards on the ground, but had a subpar game through the air. In case you forgot the Patriots won this game because Mark Clayton drop a pass that hit him right in the chest on 4th down, late in the 4th quarter, inside the red zone. If he makes that catch the Ravens most likely win the game. A catch the he makes probably 99 out of 100 times. However, in the rematch the game will be much different. As I mentioned earlier the Pats lost Wes Welker to injury in their finale and will have to rely on Julian Edelman to fill in for Welker. Edelman is a rookie who played QB at Kent State, but looks like a Welker clone. He can run the crossing routes and elude tackles in an eerily similar way that Welker does. The way the Pats win this game is by jumping out to an early lead, blitzing Flacco to get him moving a bit in the pocket to help protect their weak secondary, by converting on third down and by putting up points in the red zone in the second half of the game. They do that and they win, if they don’t and Flacco is able to throw on this secondary and the Ravens can open up their defense because they know the Patriots need to throw the ball it will be a tough day for the Patriots. If the Ravens are successful in beating the Patriots it will be the first time the Patriots lose a home playoff game in the Brady era. I think the Patriots will be able to use Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris to pound the ball into the Raven defense which will open up the throwing lanes for Brady and the Patriots will be successful against Flacco and force him to be uncomfortable in the pocket and the Patriots win the game. Patriots 27 Ravens 14.


Eagles v. Cowboys:

This will be the third time these two teams meet with the Cowboys winning the prior two meetings, including a beat-down of the Eagles in the final game of the regular season where the Eagle had a ton to play for. Had the Eagles won on Sunday they would have had the #2 seed and first round bye to rest some banged up players. The Dallas defense has been on fire, they are coming off back-to-back games where they didn’t give up a point, and the game prior to that they ended the Saints perfect season. The Eagles are a team that has been to the playoffs before and done well including a trip to the Super Bowl a few years ago. This is tough one to call. On the one hand you have a team, the Cowboys, who never play well in December and January, but this year they have flipped the script and are playing very well coming into the playoffs. On the other hand we have the Eagles who normally play well in the playoffs but got run off the field in Dallas this past weekend. This game will be very close with the edge going to Dallas. I think Dallas has finally figured out their issues and can make a deep playoff run. Dallas 21 Eagles 20.

Packers v. Cardinals

In the last playoff game this week we have what seems to be a recurring theme this first weekend of the playoffs, a rematch of a game from the final regular season game. This game has the same kind of feeling I got from the Jets-Bengals game. The only difference is in this game no one had anything to play for this past weekend. Once Minnesota won the Cardinals had no chance at the #2 seed so there was no need for them to push for a win. As we all know the Packers ended up winning the game. The Cardinals are coming off a Super Bowl appearance and are playing at home. They have very fast, very talented receivers, even if Anquan Boldin is unable to go, which I think will not be the case. The Packers have a swarming defense, but with Kurt Warner taking the snaps the Cardinals will beat the Packers defense with quick slants. The Cardinals defense will have a tough assignment in trying to stop Aaron Rodgers who is playing very well and his years behind Bret Favre may be paying off. But I like the home team in this matchup. The Cardinals proved last year they are a team to be reckoned with and will show it again this postseason. Cardinals 30 Packers 21

Those are the predictions for round 1 of the postseason. I will be back in a week to go over round 2. And remember in each of the last four seasons a team playing Wild Card weekend has gone onto the Super Bowl. So who will it be this year…..? You’ll have to wait and see.