Tag Archives: Andrew Luck

Tim’s 2018 NFL Awards: Comeback Player of the Year

And the nominees are…

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans

345/505 for 4,165, 68.3% completion, 8.25 ypa, 26 TDs, 9 INTs, 103.1 passer rating, 99 carries for 551, 5.6 ypc, 5 TDs

Had it not been for Deshaun Watson’s early exit from the 2017 season, he likely would have won Offensive Rookie of the Year. He was electric, doing things that played homage to Mike Vick. He was throwing darts all over the field and carrying fantasy teams single-handedly. He was by no means perfect but he made for excellent television. His elusiveness in the pocket behind a turnstile of an offensive line was incredible. Houston’s future looked real bright.

I guess you could say there were high expectations for Watson’s sophomore year and while it did include the stereotypical sophomore slump, we saw flashes of what got us crowning him as a franchise quarterback after only a couple of games. The Texans offensive line is still dreadful, allowing a league-high 62 sacks this season.

Remember that Watson, the agile squirrel that he is, is the man behind that line and if it was someone with the elusiveness of an iceberg, say, Tom Brady, that number would likely be closer to 80.

Remember that Watson took a lot of hits removed from those sacks and combined that total likely approached triple digits.

Remember that the Texans were near the bottom in red-zone efficiency this year. Even during that impressive winning streak they put together, Bill O’Brien continued to struggle to get six, which is what made Ka’imi Fairbairn the highest-scoring kicker in fantasy football this year. Had it not been for poor coaching, Watson would have likely got close to 40 touchdowns this year.

The Clemson product throws balls on the run that most players in the National Football League can’t. The arm talent is still there and I didn’t notice any huge changes in his mobility after the injury. Still had over 500 yards rushing. Thanks in part to Watson, DeAndre Hopkins had a career year and firmly established himself as a top-tier receiver and Offensive Player of the Year candidate. Deshaun Watson is here to stay, peeps. Hopefully Houston makes upgrades to the offensive line before Watson suffers a similar fate to Andrew Luck in Indianapolis.

Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

430/639 for 4,593, 67.3% completion, 7.19 ypa, 39 TDs, 15 INTs, 98.7 passer rating

Speaking of the man himself, Andrew Luck returned to the NFL this year after not being able to throw a football. Many feared he might never play another down in the NFL. I was one of them.

I’ve been a Luck fan for a long time. It’s hard not to be. Great attitude, great character, great player. Hard to hate on that. Indy had the golden goose.

Then their management team royally messed it up. With no offensive line help for multiple years, Luck was hammered again…and again…and again..and it was only a matter of time until the man broke.

Andrew Luck had carried the Colts, an average squad, to the playoffs for three consecutive years, once to an AFC title game. He set passing records and performed surgery on NFL defenses. He was a one-man wrecking crew. He was someone you loved to root for.

Andrew Luck was the dark knight and now the inevitable time had arrived: his body broke.

It was heartbreaking and as the months wore on, you began to appreciate even more how good Luck really was. This was a guy who had the talent and skills to make it to Canton. You began thinking about what could have been. The Colts didn’t deserve Luck. They never protected the guy. They sent him out there to die. The Colts had just had a first-ballot Hall of Famer in Peyton Manning and were blessed enough to draft another potential HOFer and they had bludgeoned him by the hand of their own incompetence. This was a tragedy.

I underestimated the human spirit, and specifically, Andrew Luck, again. Luck was certainly helped by a new offensive line and a surging coach but it cannot diminish what he did this year. Over 600 days between touchdowns. Now that’s a comeback.

J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

J.J. Watt could end his career tomorrow and make the Hall of Fame. He’s been one of the most dominant edge rushers the league has ever seen, possibly the best I’ve ever seen. Three Defensive Player of the Year awards and a near MVP in his first five seasons. The only thing that can stop J.J. Watt? Injuries. The man can’t be blocked, the man can’t be stopped but the man can get hurt. He missed almost the entire last two seasons with injury.

Coming back after missing two whole years involves facing a lot of adversity. Watt played 2018 like the man we once knew, recording 16 sacks. I wasn’t sure we’d see the old J.J. ever again. I was wrong. Don’t doubt Mr. Watt.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins

251 carries for 1,042 yards, 4.2 ypc, 7 TDs, 20 receptions for 208, TD

Since the merger, three running backs have had 1,000 yard seasons at the age of 33 or older: Franco Harris, John Riggins and Frank Gore. Knowing that, the odds didn’t seem to be in Adrian Peterson’s favor. In fact, the odds hadn’t seemed to be in his favor for the last several years.

In 2016, he tore his meniscus and missed almost the entire campaign. The following year saw him go to New Orleans, where he was oddly skipped over by Sean Payton, and then to Arizona, where he had a few strong games before a neck injury ended his season.

Now at 33 himself, you had to wonder how much AP had left in the tank.

Apparently, a 1,000-yard season was still in the cards. He still has some burst and he’s still elusive. He no longer has the speed he once did and yet can still turn the corner on those who short him. This year, Adrian Peterson showed us he’s still capable of being an NFL running back.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants

Odell Beckhham Jr. came onto the field of play quickly and made one of the greatest catches you’ll ever see in his first year. That catch gave him top billing and heaped even more expectations upon him. It did not seem to bother him. Odell continued to set records In his first three years, he had a minimums of 91 catches, 1,305 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was remarkable.

It has not been all smooth sailing. Odell is highly competitive and struggles to channel that passion in the best ways, which has led to quite the media circus.

Coming off a season-ending ankle injury, Odell put together his 2018 tape. It was impressive.

I think he’s lost some ground in the best receiver race but Odell is certainly top-five at the position. It was nice to see him up and running again.

And the Oscar goes to…

Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck went from not being physically able to throw a football to playing at an MVP-level in his first year back. That’s incredible and it’s something we might never see again.

See more from my 2018 NFL Awards:

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Coach of the Year

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Matt Ryan and the Quarterback Conundrum

“You need a great franchise quarterback to win a championship” might be the most popular fallacy in professional sports. It is paraded by media pundits, analysts, broadcasters and fans alike. The position is likely the most worshipped in the arena of athletics and not by a close margin either. Quarterbacks are automatically leaders of their team regardless of overall performance or character and all victories and defeats are brought to their doorstep. In exchange for this undeserved attention, franchises throw bank vaults at them, which is not sound financial strategy. Franchises are hamstrung by disastrous quarterback contracts regularly, a problem that they themselves are responsible for manifesting. We saw a new one occur this summer.

The Falcons signed 33-year-old Matt Ryan to a five-year deal with an annual average value (AAV) of $30 million, including $100 million guaranteed. A reminder that the current salary cap number for teams is 177. Starting in his age 35 season, Ryan will have a cap hit above $30 million for the final four seasons of the deal, meaning Ryan will take up a penny under 17% of the team’s finances.

To give that type of money to a player that isn’t even the most valuable athlete on his own offense is financially irresponsible. Matt Ryan is the Andy Dalton of the NFC but with more talent. Dalton will never win an MVP award or have the ceiling that Ryan has, but it’s also true that Ryan, like Dalton, has made a career of chucking the football to a top-five receiver. Colin Cowherd did a segment on this last year. Matt Ryan and Andy Dalton had virtually the same season in 2017, the season after Matt Ryan led an air strike on NFL defenses. Look at the stats comparison if you remove Ryan’s MVP season:

In nine seasons (minus MVP), Ryan averages 7.29 yards per attempt, 64% completion, 24.7 touchdowns,13.2 interceptions and a passer rating of 90.5.

In seven seasons, Dalton averages 7.21 yards per attempt, 62.8% completion, 23.9 touchdowns, 13.3 interceptions and a passer rating of 88.7.

Eerily similar numbers, eh?ill

I’m a Matt Ryan fan myself and follow Atlanta but this is a contract that will hamstring the franchise from reaching another chance at a championship. Investing that much into one player simply isn’t smart business.

If we take a look at 2017 cap hits, we’ll find that 13 of the top 20 highest cap hits belonged to quarterbacks. Of those 13, take a guess how many made the playoffs. 13 is nearly half the league and we’re probably talking about the best guys at their position. If quarterback is truly the most valued position, it’s probably high. At least seven, right?

Four. The answer is four.

  1. Joe Flacco tops the list at $24.5 million and threw for barely 3,000 yards, only 18 TDs to 13 INTs, and had a yards per attempt average of 5.72 (32nd).
  2. Carson Palmer. Arizona paid 37-year-old Carson Palmer $17.5 million ($24 million cap hit) to play six and a half games and produce old man numbers during them. *Vomits off stage
  3. Kirk Cousins performs at an above-average level (over 4,000 yards, 27/13 TD/INT) on yet another franchise tag ($23.9) and the Redskins go nowhere.
  4. Matt Ryan ($23.75) makes the playoffs with a rich Atlanta roster before they implode on their final play of the divisional round against the Eagles. If you’re just now reading, Ryan is rewarded with the richest contract in NFL history.
  5. Aaron Rodgers ($20.3) predictably breaks after getting slammed to the turf repeatedly with no offensive line help. Packers have no team past Rodgers and detonate.
  6. Ryan Tannehill ($20.3) considers himself a doctor and decides not to get surgery on a knee injury following the 2016 season. He promptly tears it before the 2017 preseason. Rest in peace, Miami. Hopefully you can find a better quarterba-Jay Cutler?!
  7. Cam Newton ($20.16) continues his trend of attending the playoffs every other year. He ends the regular season with a completion percentage of 59.1 and 22 touchdowns with 16 interceptions. Not exactly super, though he did run for 754 on a 5.4 clip.
  8. Poor Eli. ($19.7) Young Eli’s receiving core is murdered and Eli is left throwing the ball for the remainder of the year to chicklets Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. Left tackle Ereck Flowers impersonates a chew toy and his coach becomes a dark hole sucking all kinds of garbage into the orifice on his face. 3-13.
  9. The Colts front office is still dealing with the repercussions of not protecting their franchise quarterback who took them from winless to 11-5 in his rookie year. Cheer up, Indy. Maybe Andrew Luck ($19.4) will throw a football again this decade. *chatter off-screen. Wait, he threw a football?! He played in a preseason game?! Indy, you might be back in business!
  10. Drew Brees ($19) throws for a little over 4,300 yards, his fewest in over a decade, and only 23 touchdowns, his fewest since 2003. Sean Payton finally figures out that putting a defense on the field might be a formula for success. And look! They found running backs, too! What an insane carriage of ideas. Too bad about the Minneapolis Miracle, huh?
  11. Big Ben ($18.2) spends the first half of the season looking like he just came out of a nursing home, completing a smidge over 61% and throwing 10 touchdowns to nine picks in his first eight games. Ben gets his act together for the second half, the Steelers go 13-3 and then go full Steelers and blow a playoff game to Jacksonville in which they give up 45 points to Blake freaking Bortles. Ben, to his credit, threw for 469 yards and five tuddies in that game.
  12. Rivers ($18) finishes second in the league in passing (4,515 yards) and throws 28 touchdowns to 10 picks. However, the Chargers can’t find anyone who can kick a field goal at the beginning of the season, losing them two games in the final seconds. They also started 0-4 to miss out on a playoff spot. It’s 2018 and Philip Rivers has twice as many kids as he does playoff wins in his 14-year career.
  13. Sam Bradford? Oh, Jesus, seriously? Yup, the china doll of the NFL had an $18 million cap hit. Say what you will about Bradford, he gets paid an enormous amount of money to spend time on injured reserve every year. Don’t worry, the Cardinals didn’t learn a damn thing from Palmer. They gave Bradford $20 million to spend a year on their IR.

If you look further, you’ll find only six of the top 20 highest cap hits for quarterbacks made the playoffs. Those other seven names?

  1. Alex Smith ($16.9) has a career year only for Kansas City to go full Kansas City in the playoffs and blow an 18-point lead in yet another home playoff game.
  2. The first year of Matt Stafford’s megadeal only brings a $16.5 cap hit, but with Detroit still not knowing what a running back is, the Lions predictably miss the playoffs again. Cheer up, Detroit. This season Stafford’s cap hit jumps to $26.5.
  3. After an MVP-caliber season, Derek Carr ($15.7) returns from injury to play average football, throwing for just under 3,500 and a touchdown-interception split of 22/13. Next season, his cap hit jumps to $25.
  4. The Cincinnati front office learns you need an offensive line to play football. Andy Dalton ($15.7) gets sandwiched all season and the Bengals look to be worse than Cleveland this upcoming campaign. The Bengals could cut Dalton and start McCarron, oh wait.
  5. Russell Wilson ($14.6) is a one-man offense behind an offensive line that’s still garbage and a defense that is losing cohesiveness. Our franchise quarterback looks far less important when his defense can’t stop DeShaun Watson from turning them into a fajita. Seattle will spend the offseason dismantling the Legion of Boom. At least they drafted a lineman…in the fifth.
  6. Mike Glennon (man, this one didn’t age well, huh?) takes his $14 million cap hit behind and sits it on the bench behind novice Mitchell Trubisky. Money well spent!
  7. Tom Brady ($14.0) does Tom Brady things, wins MVP, takes team to Super Bowl. Give that man all the money.

If you look at production, you could argue most quarterbacks weren’t even the best player on their own team this past season. The list of signal callers who were is rather short:

Rivers, Smith (this one is debatable given Hunt led league in rushing), Brady, Stafford, Wilson, Wentz, Cousins. Only three (Smith, Brady, Wentz) made the playoffs.

A team built around a quarterback is not a guaranteed victory for front offices, even if that quarterback delivers in effectiveness. Rivers has been an above average quarterback nearly his entire career and has only four playoff wins to show for it. Teams seem to forget that building around said quarterback is vital and if you devote too much of your deposit box to them, it’s difficult to do that.

Other teams simply don’t build for some reason. The idea Aaron Rodgers has made only one Super Bowl is inexcusable. Maybe if Green Bay could’ve looked at a stat sheet years ago and realized defensive coordinator Dom Capers was disastrous in big games and the running game was dwindling, they could have changed that. Instead, Cheeseheads are left watching Green Bay get ousted too early in the playoffs or seeing how incompetent their coaching staff/team really is when Rodgers is taken out of the picture. Green Bay is an example of what goes wrong when you get a franchise quarterback and then don’t do anything of substance after that. A team this fully reliant on one player is doomed for failure (See Indy, and God bless Detroit if Stafford ever misses a season.)

At this point, Green Bay and Detroit are carbon copies of each other. Green Bay has seen its death grip on the NFC North slip away to a more complete roster in Minnesota. Rodgers will get an extension and stay in Green Bay (called it) and then Matt and Aaron will try to throw their teams to victory single-handedly for the remainder of their careers while Minnesota finally discovers the formula to playoff success and makes an appearance in a Super Bowl. Giving Kirk Cousins a fully-guaranteed contract is risky but a necessary signing if the Vikings want to get over the hump. Also, the team isn’t putting its entire body weight on Cousins’ shoulders and has shown it can win with a backup quarterback and runner on the field for a majority of a campaign. Imagine the level of lethality this team can reach with a healthy Cousins and Dalvin Cook. Also, Cousins contract is only three years, so if the signing doesn’t go as planned, Minnesota can move on to another option without putting their piggy bank in a vice grip.

Football is a team sport, not a quarterback one. Complete teams win championships, not quarterbacks. That is not to say a team can’t win a championship with a great quarterback. Great quarterbacks have been winning titles for a while but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a plethora of examples where they did it by themselves. The great John Elway couldn’t win one without Terrell Davis’ help. Dan Marino went on a historic passing tear in his sophomore season, won MVP and took his team to a Super Bowl before getting pounced on by the 49ers dyansty. He never got to another one.

It’s actually far easier to find a team who carried a quarterback to a Super Bowl: 2015 Broncos, 2006 Steelers, 2003 Bucs and let’s not forget about Trent Dilfer and the 2000 Ravens.

Teams predicated on quarterback success often falter in big moments because it’s difficult for one man to do it all. Look at the Colts with Andrew Luck. Drafted first overall by a winless team, he took Indy to 11-5 and a wild-card game. The next season, he advanced them to the divisional round and the year after that to the AFC Championship game, one of the most impressive starts to a career in quite a while. He was given a massive extension, which he had earned and which was the right move for the franchise. Problem is, during all these playoff runs, Indy management had done little to build the team around Luck. In 2013, they drafted defensive end Bjoern Warner, a bust. In general, the entire class was a robust failure. In 2015, they reached for receiver Philip Dorsett, a receiver that didn’t play out his rookie deal with Indy he was so unwanted. Their second choice, cornerback D’Joun Smith, played a total of five game for the Colts. At one point, general manager Ryan Grigson blamed Andrew Luck’s extension for his inability to put together a competent defense.

This claim was complete nonsense. These were their defensive rankings, beginning during Luck’s rookie year:

Yards/Pass/Rush/PPG

2012 26th 21st 29th 21st

2013 20th 13th 26th 9th

2014 11th 12th 17th 16th

2015 26th 24th 25th 25th

2016 30th 27th 25th 22nd

 

You’ll notice the year they were passable, in 2014, is the year they made it to the AFC Championship game, once again, on the shoulder of one Andrew Luck. Without Luck, we’ve seen what the Colts are: garbage. Quarterbacks hide a team’s flaws. They don’t cure them.

Drew Brees has had a similar problem with the Saints. A player of his caliber should have made it to more than one Super Bowl by now.

Look at those defensive rankings!

Yards/Pass/Rush/PPG

’06 11th 3rd 23rd 13th<—-Nice start!

’07 26th 30th 13th 25th<–Straight to garbage, huh?

’08 23rd 23rd 17th 26th<–Not trying anymore?

’09 25th 26th 21st 20th<–We have Brees! What is defense?

’10 4th 4th 16th 7th<——Got to be a Super Bowl here, right? No? It was the ’09 season?

’11 24th 30th 12th 13th<–Nice PPG! Lose to a better defense in the 49ers.

’12 32nd 31st 32nd 31st<-Here’s where it gets a lot of fun.

’13 4th 2nd 19th 4th<—–Good defensive year lost due to running into Legion of Boom.

’14 31st 25th 29th 28th<–Back to not trying again, I see.

’15 31st 31st 31st 32nd<–Sean Payton is a great coach!

’16 27th 32nd 14th 31st<-Why run on this team when we can throw them into oblivion?

’17 17th 15th 16th 10th<-Minneapolis Miracle time!

Imagine what the Saints’ reputation would be if Drew Brees didn’t throw for 4,500 nearly every year during his time in New Orleans. Remove Brees from Louisiana and Payton doesn’t have a job in three years, maybe less, and Saints fans’ only respite is watching who they pick with their top-five slot in the draft. People aren’t kidding when they call Brees the heart of New Orleans. If he wasn’t there, New Orleans would be a corpse.

 

Sadly, Rodgers, Luck and Brees have seen their careers mostly wasted to this point. Rodgers and Brees are likely going to visit Canton and yet they both have only one Lombardi. Luck still has time to change his fortunes if he can ever get his shoulder to operate again. I’m rooting for it, even if the Colts franchise clearly doesn’t deserve him.

Stafford also belongs on this list. Not a Hall of Fame talent, but a gunslinger who has deserved better. Detroit wasted the prime years of Stafford to Calvin, including taking one of the greatest receivers to ever play the game into a winless season and so much turmoil that Megatron would rather not play football than continue to play in Motor City. The last time the Lions were tenth or better in rushing, Barry Sanders was playing football. Let’s see how the Lions have done since then.

’98 10th<—–Man, that Barry dude is so good. Hope he never retires. *Immediately retires

’99 28th<—–It will take us some time to recover from the loss of Barry.

’00 20th<—–See, improvement! We’re gonna be fine.

’01 28th<—–Oh, God. 2-14. Hope this doesn’t happen again any time soon.

’02 29th<—–We’re gonna be fine. Joey Harrington is the future!

’03 32nd<—-Man, we’ve spent four of five years in the bottom five in rushing. Starting to miss Barry, now. Receiver Charles Rogers at number two will help us though!

’04 19th<—–Roy Williams looks like an elite receiver. Kevin Jones is the savior of Detroit!

’05 26th<—–It’s just a sophomore slump for Kevin. He’ll be fine.

’06 32nd<—-Oh geez, we need some help. How about Brian Calhoun! *tears ACL, ends career

’07 31st<—–Look, we’ve gone from 3-13 to 7-9. We’re on the verge of greatness!

’08 30th<—–Oh, God. A winless season. Where did it go wrong? We better get Calvin some help. He looks pissed.

’09 24th<—–Matt Stafford is a generational talent. Stafford to Calvin is gonna be one of the greatest connections in pro football history.

’10 23rd<—–Suh is a tank and Jahvid Best is a phenom. The days of not having a running game are finally behind us.

’11 29th<—–We made the playoffs for the first time since Barry! We got Mikel Leshoure! We are bound for great-(demolished by New Orleans).

’12 23rd<—–10-6 to 4-12 was quite a fall but Ryan Broyles is the best receiver college football has ever seen. We’ll finally have another option for Matt!

’13 17th<—–Reggie Bush is gonna become the GOAT for us. This is the team to break the streak!

’14 28th<—–We haven’t won a playoff game since 1991. We’re finally gonna (Cowboys crush Motor City dreams 24-20).

’15 32nd<—-Last in rushing again? Geez, starting to think this might be the problem. Oh, no. We made Calvin quit, too?

’16 30th<—-We got Nebraska star Ameer Abdullah! The streak will finally… *placed on season-ending IR.

’17 32nd<— *flips table, exits stage left

12 times in the bottom five in the last 20 seasons and seven times in the bottom three in the last 15. Gross mismanagement, plain and simple.

 

Build around your team. There’s more to the game then quarterbacks.

Teams with quarterbacks on their rookie deals are the easiest to manage because they don’t have the money invested in their signal caller. Look at the Eagles. Wentz had a cap hit of a little over $6 million in 2017 and was my MVP for the season. In addition to the incredible value they got from his performance, they allocated their savings in the trenches and now have a top-five offensive and defensive line.

Dak Prescott’s entire rookie deal will cost the Cowboys less than $3 million, savings they’ve invested in Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick. Extensions for these three stalwarts wouldn’t have been possible if Dak had Jimmy Garoppolo’s 2018 cap hit of $37 million.

And let’s say, for sake of argument, that Dak ends up being average over the course of his deal. (In 2017, Dak threw for 3,324 and a 88.6 rating (16th), regressing from a rookie year that made him a candidate for offensive player of the year.) It still would be a win for the organization because they now have three regular All-Pro players locked on their roster.

Deshaun Watson has a cap hit of $6 million and if he performs like he did during his unfortunately short rookie year, the team will have a serious shot at a playoff run by the end of his rookie contract.

This is how you build a football team. You want to be the 49ers and go mad spending on an unproven commodity? Be my guest. You’re gonna have a hard time building a roster. Yes, that quarterback might bring you out of the swamps of depression but one player will have a hard time pulling you out of the quicksands of mediocrity. You want $30 million quarterbacks? Go for it. Just know history and the numbers aren’t on your side.

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Tim Sports Report for 2015 NFL Week 2

Top 5

1. QB Tom Brady 38/59 for 466 yards, 3 TDs, Fmb, 105.6 QBR vs. BUF

2. RB Matt Jones 19 carries for 123 yards, 2 TDs, Fmb vs. STL

3. WR Antonio Brown 9 receptions for 195 yards, TD vs. SF

4. WR Larry Fitzgerald 8 receptions for 112 yards, 3 TDs vs. CHI

5. QB Derek Carr 30/46 for 351 yards, 3 TDs, INT, 100.9 QBR vs. BAL

Worst of the Worst

5. Romo suffers fractured clavicle. Cowboys now without two biggest play-makers.

4. QB Andrew Luck 21/37 for 250 yards, TD, 3 INT, Fmb, 52.8 QBR vs. NYJ

3. Giants choke again, drop to Falcons after 10-point 4th quarter lead

2. RB DeMarco Murray 13 carries for 2 yards vs. DAL

1. The Eagles-Cowboys game was one of the worst sporting events I’d ever seen. Dallas had 18 penalties for 142 yards. Philadelphia had 7 total rushing yards.

Steelers Recap

Against one of the weakest teams in the NFL, the Steelers exploded. Ben went 21/27 for 369 yards and three touchdowns, DeAngelo Williams had three touchdowns of his own on the ground and Antonio Brown delivered one of the best performances of the week, catching nine of 11 targets for 195 yards and a touchdown. The defense allowed three points in the game’s first three quarters, sacked the elusive Kaepernick five times and held Carlos Hyde to 43 yards on the ground. The Steelers throttled the 49ers all game long. The only down side was that Josh Scobee, the former Jaguars kicker that the Steelers traded for to replace Shaun Suisham, still can’t make a field goal, missing yet another extra point in Sunday’s contest.

Looking forward to this Sunday, the St. Louis Rams have played at their best and their worst in the season’s opening weeks. They defeated the Seahawks in overtime at home, scoring 34 points against one of the best defenses in the league. Last week, however, that team was nowhere to be found, as they struggled against the Redskins, one of the worst teams in the league, on both sides of the ball, including their defensive front being run over by rookie running back Matt Jones. They would go on to lose that game 24-10.

Given the Rams desperate offense, even with the planned introduction of Todd Gurley, I don’t expect many if any struggles from the Steelers defense. Meanwhile, Le’Veon Bell returns to the lineup and I can only imagine how lethal the offense will become with his return. I’m taking Pittsburgh in this one.

Game of the Week: Chiefs @ Packers

This week’s slate of games holds little interest aside from this Monday Night football  mash. The Chiefs and Packers both hold a top-ten spot in my power rankings this week. Got to take Green Bay at home though.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Championship Week

Top 5

1. Seahawks amazing comeback vs. GB

Become first defending champion to make the Super Bowl in 10 years.

2. Jermaine Kearse’s redemption story: During the game, Kearse was thrown to five times and four of those passes resulted in an interception. Wilson didn’t give up on him and threw one pass his way in overtime, which ended in the game-winning score.

3. RB LeGarrette Blount 30 carries for 148 yards, 3 TDs vs. IND

4. RB Marshawn Lynch 25 carries for 157 yards, TD vs. GB

5. QB Tom Brady 23/35 for 226 yards, 3 TDs, INT, 100.4 QBR vs. IND

Worst of the Worst

1. GB kicks five field goals including two inside the 20-yard line, contribute to one of the biggest playoff losses in recent memory.

2. QB Russell Wilson 14/29 for 209 yards, TD, 4 INTs, 44.3 QBR vs. GB

3. QB Andrew Luck 12/33 for 126 yards, 2 INTs, 23.0 QBR vs. NE

4. Colts get 209 total yards on offense, allow 177 on the ground and seven red zone drives in 45-7 throttling.

5. Marshawn Lynch continues press conference charades.

Before I go over my Super Bowl prediction, here are some of the Super Bowl records that are up for grabs on Sunday.

Most Super Bowl MVPs: 3, Joe Montana

Most starts at quarterback: 6, Tom Brady

Highest passer rating: 150.92, Phil Simms, NYG vs. DEN, SB XXI

Lowest passer rating to win game: 22.6, Ben Roethlisberger, PIT vs. SEA, SB XL

Most passing yards: 414, Kurt Warner, STL vs. TEN, SB XXXIV

Most rushing yards: 204, Timmy Smith, WAS vs. DEN, SB XXII

Most receiving yards: 215, Jerry Rice, SF vs. CIN, SB XXIII

Most interceptions: 3, Rod Martin, OAK vs. PHI, SB XV

Most tackles: 12, Gary Brackett, IND vs. NO, SB XLIV

Most sacks: 3, Reggie White, GB vs. NE, SB XXXI and Darnell Dockett, ARI vs. PIT, SB XLIII

Longest field goal: 54 yards, Steve Christie, BUF vs. DAL, SB XXVIII

Super Bowl prediction: NE vs. SEA

I’m not happy about this matchup because I didn’t want to see either of these teams win. The Seahawks are looking to become the first repeat champions in a decade and the Patriots are looking to continue their dynasty reign. I hate Blount and Gronk and I hate Carroll, Lynch and Sherman. Overall, I’m rooting for the Patriots because I just hate the Seahawks too much. It should be a close one, probably about 27-21 New England.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 16

This one is really late and I apologize. Week 17’s will be out tomorrow as well as a regular season recap. Get ready for the playoffs!

Top 5

1. QB Russell Wilson 20/31 for 339 yards, 2 TDs, 122.9 QBR, 6 carries for 88 yards, TD vs. ARI

2. QB Ryan Tannehill 35/47 for 396 yards, 4 TDs, INT, 118.8 QBR vs. MIN

3. WR Odell Beckham, Jr. 8 receptions for 148 yards, 2 TDs vs. STL

4. RB Frank Gore 26 carries for 158 yards, TD vs. SD

5. TE Zach Ertz franchise-record 15 receptions for 115 yards vs. WAS

Worst of the Worst

1. 49ers drop to Chargers after 21-point lead

2. Colts smashed 42-7 vs. DAL

3. QB Joe Flacco 21/50 for 195 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 41.7 QBR vs. HOU

At one point, 4/22 for 80 something yards.

4. QB Peyton Manning 28/44 for 311 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 61.8 QBR vs. CIN

5. QB Andrew Luck 15/22 for 109 yards, 2 INTs vs. DAL

Steelers Recap

Despite the narrow win the box score may give those who didn’t watch Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, it was one of the Steelers’ best games of the year. The offense may have struggled against one of the best defenses in the league, accumulating only 282 total yards of offense, but the steel curtain came to play, limiting one of the league’s best running backs to 29 yards rushing and forcing a fumble. Six times the Chiefs entered the red zone and they left with four field goals, a fumble and a failed fourth down conversion. This defensive highlight was only more impressive when you consider that the Chiefs were second in the league in red zone touchdown percentage coming into the game. The Steelers are 7-2 since losing to the Browns and dropping to 3-3 in October.

In my week 13 Steelers Recap, I said I was disappointed with the team this year because of their lackluster play against substandard opponents. As we’ve been saying in Pittsburgh for the last three seasons, the outcome of Sunday’s game usually doesn’t depend on who we’re playing. It depends on which Steelers’ team decides to show up.

This season has been one of the most stressful seasons of Steelers football that I’ve watched but looking at the blooming talent the team has right now, including the B3 attack of Ben, Bell and Brown, the Steelers look to have a bright future right now, especially with the Bengals poor season this year.

The Steelers will win on Sunday night and will clinch the division. And they did by the way.

Game of the Week: Lions @ Packers

Week 17, aside from finalizing playoff spots, is the least exciting week in football, leaving for few big games. However, the Lions were looking to hold on to a NFC North division title and Aaron Rodgers is probably this year’s MVP. It was a game to watch, but as always, the Lions choked in December and the Packers maintain their dominance of the division.

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2014-2015 NFL Preview: Playoff Picks

First off, if you haven’t gotten a chance to read my division previews, here were my predictions.

AFC North               AFC West               AFC East               AFC South

4 Bengals 10-6        1 Broncos 12-4      3 Patriots 10-6     2 Colts 11-5

6 Steelers 8-8          Chiefs 8-8              5 Dolphins 8-8     Titans 6-10

Ravens 8-8               Chargers 8-8         Jets 6-10               Texans 5-11

Browns 5-11              Raiders 5-11          Bills 5-11                Jaguars 4-12

 

NFC North               NFC West               NFC East               NFC South

3 Packers 11-5         1 Seahawks 13-3    4 Eagles 8-8          2 New Orleans Saints 11-5

5 Bears 10-6            6 49ers 10-6           Redskins 8-8         Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-7

Lions 6-10               Cardinals 7-9          Cowboys 5-11        Falcons 7-9

Vikings 4-12            Rams 6-10               Giants 3-13           Panthers 6-10

 

Wild Card Round:

4 Bengals vs. 5 Dolphins

The Bengals defense is arguably the best in the AFC which will prove to be a tough match-up for Tannehill and his sub par offensive line. The Dolphins running game was terrible last year and I’m not sure how much of a difference Knowshon Moreno will be able to make. The Dolphins defense is pretty good but I think they’ll struggle to contain A.J. Green and keep their eye on Giovanni Bernard at the same time. It’ll be a low-scoring game, which means you pick defense, and the Bengals have the better one hands down. I’d watch out for the Dolphins though. They have potential.

3 Patriots vs. 6 Steelers

I love my Steelers but this is a tough one. Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Big Ben are all great players but it’s hard to see them bettering the Patriots. The Patriots might be thin on receivers and runningback but their defense is top-notch and probably the only one that can be argued to be better than the Bengals. There are so many big names on this defense from Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jerod Mayo, and Dont’a Hightower to Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Devin McCourty. Defensively, the Steelers can’t match up with a battered Polamalu, declining Ike Taylor and young Lawrence Timmons. Unless the Steelers manage to play their best game of the season on the day they play the Patriots, I got to go with Tom Brady’s Pats.

4 Eagles vs. 5 Bears

This one is a serious toss-up because neither team has a very good defense and both are offensive-minded. I’ll take Cutler over Foles this year, but McCoy over Forte, leaving me to debate the receiving cores, which isn’t much of a debate at all. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and Martellus Bennett vs. Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Zach Ertz. Do I have to answer that? Taking that into consideration, the Bears also have some veteran linebackers and two of the best corners in Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, so I got to take the Bears in an upset.

3 Packers vs. 6 49ers

This match-up has come to the board in two of my last three playoff predictions. Both times I took the 49ers. Both times I was right. The Packers have a great offensive scheme with Rodgers, Lacy, Nelson and Cobb, there’s no doubting that. However, if you watched the Thursday night game between the Packers and Seahawks, it was disgusting. The Seahawks dominated in every facet. McCarthy couldn’t get Lacy into a groove and after the first half, Rodgers lost sync with his targets. I was reminded how bad the Packers defense is. They were really bad. QB Russell Wilson didn’t have to make any big plays. He just had to throw it to the open receiver seven yards down the field and let them run through the open field again…and again….and again. I don’t know who the defensive coordinator is for the Packers and I don’t feel like looking it up right now, but he’s terrible and so’s this defense. The 49ers have bigger chinks in the armor than before but they have all the offensive weapons they need to dismantle this one-layer defense.

Divisional Round:

1 Broncos vs. 4 Bengals

This is super tough. As I said earlier, the Bengals have arguably the best AFC defense. The Broncos have the best offense in the league. Peyton Manning’s better than Dalton, but I’ll take the Bengals backfield, leaving us with Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker vs. A.J. Green. Not very fair is it? What really pisses me off is that the Bengals are one step away from being the best. If only they would draft a receiver in the first round. Until they do, I got to take the Broncos in a close one.

2 Colts vs. 3 Patriots

The Colts got the two-seed because of a weak schedule and an even weaker division but that doesn’t mean they should be underestimated. Andrew Luck’s limited his mistakes and Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton are fantastic. The defense receives a lot of hate it doesn’t deserve because stats say they’re a top ten defense. Trent Richardson needs to prove he can produce when it matters. Tom Brady has been to the playoffs many times before but I think this Colts team can do it. I’m not as high on Stevan Ridley as I used to be and the receiving core for Brady is going to end up being the deciding factor in this one and I don’t think they’re up to the task. The Patriots D will be rock-hard, but Andrew Luck will find the will and the luck to win.

1 Seahawks vs. 5 Bears

The Seahawks defense is record-setting. The Bears offense could be record-setting. It depends on if Jay Cutler decides to play this year. If the offensive line can provide Forte the alleys they provided him last year, the Bears could pull the upset. The Seahawks defense is fantastic but the offense is weak. As great as they were on Thursday against Green Bay, that was Green Bay. When they are truly tested, how will the Seahawks offense fair? Against the Saints in last year’s divisional round, QB Russell Wilson threw for just 103 yards. All the offense was Marshawn Lynch and while he’s one of the best runningbacks in the league, he’s still only one man and one man can only do so much. See Adrian Peterson. With all that said, I think the Bears will come up short but reveal the Seahawks may not be as perfect as we think.

2 Saints vs. 6 49ers

The Saints defense is thousands of times better than it used to be, which is why the Saints should be able to grab the two-seed this year. However, the running game and receiving depth are problems and those are even bigger problems when your team can get too comfortable being offense-based. The 49ers have one of the best aerial squads in the league and if Colin Kaepernick can be a middle-of-the-road quarterback, this team should find tons of success. Frank Gore is still trucking as is this offensive line and the defense has some bruises and injuries to deal with but I think they will find a way to overcome them whereas the Saints will collapse when they can’t get the ball to Jimmy Graham. Relying too much on one man will do that to you as you advance in the playoffs and I think that’s what will happen here.

Conference Round:

1 Broncos vs. 2 Colts

The Broncos put everything they had into making a Super Bowl team. Veteran defensemen were brought in to replace youthful inexperience. The price tag wasn’t a question and that’s because the end of Peyton Manning career’s coming to a close. He’s probably got two years left, maybe three. Based off last year’s performance, he might be able to go even longer but I think deep down he might be tired. Moving on, I complained that the Bengals, had they had another aerial threat, would have made it here over the Broncos. You know who has more than one aerial threat? The Colts. Do you know who has a top ten defense? The Colts. Do you know who’s lucky? Andrew Luck. You know who’s going to win? The Colts in probably the best game of the year.

1 Seahawks vs. 6 49ers

The Seahawks offense worries me but Kaepernick’s indecision, rookie mistakes, and the defense’s wound wrappings worry me more. With the 12th man at their side, the Seahawks overpower the older version of themselves and assert themselves once again as the NFC’s best.

Super Bowl XLIX

2 Colts vs. 1 Seahawks

Taking the Colts over the Broncos is a gutsy call. The Broncos could easily see themselves in a rematch with Seattle but I hate picking rematches because very rarely do they happen. Luck will be tested more than he’s ever been tested before. If Trent Richardson gets stuck in the mud, he’ll have to face the Seahawk secondary a lot. He’ll have to be precise and overly cautious but not so cautious that he fails to act when he should. That balance of composure and controlled action must be found. I know reading that I’m even contemplating picking the Colts over the Seahawks is lunacy, but keep in mind a couple of things. This is the same team that beat the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos in five weeks. This team doesn’t quit. If you watched last year’s Super Bowl, you know the Broncos quit on themselves. They got beat down and they stayed down in front of millions of onlookers who had waited all year to see this game. The Colts don’t quit. They were losing by 28 points in the third quarter of last year’s playoff game with Kansas City and they came back and won when no one believed it was possible, including me. Luck, as a leader, showed some real heart, some dedicated passion and an unbending resolve and in turn, so did his team. This is what I think we’ll see on Super Bowl Sunday. The Seahawks will jump ahead early. Luck will rally the troops, deliver a speech that we all in the audience wish we could hear, and he will make us believe in young underdogs again. He will tear down the era of Peyton and become the Colts’ Aaron Rodgers. No one could replicate Brett Favre, said everyone. Everyone but Aaron Rodgers. Any Luck doubters will, if not like Luck, at least respect him by the end of this game if it goes the way I visualize.

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Tim Sports Report for 2013 NFL Week 12

Top 5

1. Patriots have biggest comeback in franchise history, overcoming 24-point halftime deficit to the Denver Broncos to win 34-31 in OT.

2. QB Philip Rivers 27/39 for 392 yards, 3 TDs, 127.3 QBR vs. KC

3. WR Josh Gordon 14 receptions for 237 yards, TD vs. PIT

4. RB Knowshon Moreno 37 carries for 224 yards, TD vs. NE

5. WR Julian Edelman 9 receptions for 110 yards, 2 TDs vs. DEN

Worst of the Worst

1. Broncos blow 24-point halftime lead in loss to Patriots

2. QB Geno Smith 9/22 for 127 yards, 2 INTs, Fmble, 22.3 QBR vs. BAL

3. Vikings-Packers game ends in tie. I don’t know why the NFL hasn’t made a rule change to eliminate ties yet. No major sport aside from soccer allows ties. The NFL needs to change that rule for reals because ties are stupid.

4. QB Peyton Manning 19/36 for 150 yards, 2 TDs, INT, 70.4 QBR vs. NE

*Sidenote: I don’t understand why Peyton can’t beat Brady. Last year I picked Brady and he won…again. This year Peyton had every tool he needed to get a win and he still couldn’t do it. The overall series between the two is 10-4 in favor of Brady. Brady has not lost to Peyton since 2009.

5. QB Andrew Luck 20/39 for 163, TD, INT, 60.1 QBR vs. ARI

Steelers Recap

Despite being 4/14 on third down, the Steelers got the win in Cleveland 27-11. They forced four turnovers, got a defensive TD and had five sacks. However, they allowed Josh Gordon to get 14 catches for 237 yards and a touchdown, something they cannot allow to happen again. Facing the Baltimore Ravens this week on Thanksgiving Day in Baltimore makes me inclined to pick the Ravens, but they have struggled as of late and the Steelers have not, including that big upset of the Detroit Lions. Don’t fail me now Pittsburgh, because I’m trying to get caught up in our pick’em tournament.

Game of the Week: Saints @ Seahawks

It’s offense versus defense. The Seahawks are at home though, which spells L-O-S-S for the Saints.

 

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Tim Sports Report for 2013 NFL Week 7

Top 5

1. QB Andrew Luck 21/38 for 228 yards, 3 TDs, 99.5 QBR vs. DEN

2. RB Matt Forte 16 carries for 91 yards, 3 TDs vs. WSH

3. WR Calvin Johnson 9 receptions for 155 yards, 2 TDs vs. CIN

4. QB Andy Dalton 24/34 for 372 yards, 3 TDs, career-high 135.9 QBR vs. DET

5. WR Vincent Jackson 10 receptions for 138 yards, 2 TDs vs. ATL

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Matt Barkley 11/20 for 129 yards, 3 INTs, 35.2 QBR vs. DAL in just the 4th quarter

2. QB Josh Freeman 20/53 for 190 yards, INT, 40.6 QBR vs. NYG

overthrew 16 attempts Monday, most by any QB since 2006

overthrown % is highest in the league, 23.8%

2nd QB in league history to throw for less than 200 yards on more than 50 attempts

3. Refs call penalty in OT of Pats-Jets game

Folk’s 56 yd missed field goal attempt nullified by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on DT Chris Jones for pushing a teammate in the back in an attempt to block the kick. The refs  ruled that Jones was a second-level defender that pushed teammate Will Svitek from behind. The rule states “Team B players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation.” Though Jones did appear to push Svitek, he was originally lined up on the line of scrimmage. The violation is said to occur only when the pushing player starts at the second level of the defense. It’s the first time the penalty has been called and it’s a rule change for 2013. 61% of Sports Nation said it was a bad call. I personally don’t know why they have a rule like that and I think it’s dumb, but that’s just me.

4. QB Brandon Weeden 17/42 for 149 yards, TD, INT, 48.6 QBR vs. GB

5. QB Tom Brady 22/46 for 228 yards, INT, 53.5 QBR vs. NYJ

Steelers Recap

Steelers beat the defending Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens, 19-16 this past Sunday. I took a huge leap of faith on the Steelers, picking them to win, and they didn’t let me down. Ben was 17/23 for 160 yards and a TD, no turnovers, and had only three sacks. While it may have only been 160 yards passing, the Steelers had 141 yards rushing, including rookie Le’veon Bell’s 19 carries for 93 yards. Lawrence Timmons had 17 tackles and Suisham was 4/4. While the redzone field goals were an issue, the Steelers were able to hold on for the win. It’s a huge improvement and definitely a step in the right direction. The Steelers face the Oakland Raiders on the road this week after losing to the Raiders at home last year. This is a must-win for Pittsburgh, even more so then the Ravens game, because if they lose to the Raiders, they lose all the momentum they just gained after beating the Ravens on their home turf. If they like they did this past Sunday, they should be able to win by 7+. They just can’t overlook the Raiders. They’re 2-0 since their bye, which I predicted, and I predicted them to beat Oakland before losing against New England. I’m going to stick with my guts. Let’s go ‘Burgh!

Game of the Week: Cowboys vs. Lions

The Lions once again get in my game of the week as they face a Cowboys team that leads the struggling NFC East. The Lions only lost by three points against Cincy and they played a great game. Meanwhile, the Cowboys struggled against the Eagles despite numerous takeaways, scratching by with a 17-3 win. While the Cowboys may bounce back, I’m taking the Lions. It’s Calvin Johnson vs. Dez Bryant in this air attack fiasco. It’s sure to be a good one.

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Tim Sports Report for 2013 NFL Week 6

Top 5

1. QB Cam Newton 20/26 for 242 yards, 3 TDs, 143.4 QBR, 9 carries for 30 yards, TD vs. MIN

2. RB Brandon Jacobs 22 carries for 106 yards, 2 TDs vs. CHI

3. RB Stevan Ridley 20 carries for 96 yards, 2 TDs vs. NO

4. TE Vernon Davis 8 receptions for 180 yards, 2 TDs vs. ARI

5. QB Nick Foles 22/31 for 296 yards, 3 TDs, 133.3 QBR vs. TB

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Eli Manning threw 3 INTs last Thursday to get the Giants to 0-6. Up to this point in the season, Manning has a 53.7 completion percentage, 15 INTs, and a 64.0 QBR, all worst among qualified players.

2. Texans lose to Rams 38-13, extend 4-game losing streak. Six turnovers including Yates’ pick-six, making five consecutive games a Texans QB has thrown one. 1/4 in the red zone. Schaub knocked out of the game, fans cheer.

3. QB Terrelle Pryor 18/34 for 216 yards, TD, 3 INTs, 10 sacks, 45.7 QBR vs. KC

4. QB Andrew Luck 18/30 for 202 yards, INT, 66.3 QBR vs. SD

5. QB Alex Smith 14/31 for 128 yards, 56.9 QBR vs. OAK

Steelers Recap

The Steelers finally got their first win of the season against the New York Jets this past Sunday, winning 19-6. Ben Roethlisberger had a good game and while the rushing game struggled, they were facing the second-best defense against the rush. However, I want to see the Steelers run the ball more. They need to make opposing defenses respect the run so that they can’t drop seven back into coverage on every third down. The Steelers finally got some takeaways, which put the game out of reach. They need to get some more this Sunday against Baltimore at home if they want to pull out a win. The Ravens are the clear favorite to win here, but I’m going to take a huge leap of faith and pick the Steelers. Last year, the Steelers were clearly out-matched and yet somehow backup QB Charlie Batch led Pittsburgh to a victory. I believe it can happen again. Regardless of the outcome, I expect it to be a close one.

Game of the Week: Bengals vs. Lions

While most people will be dying to watch the Broncos-Colts match, I’ll be focusing on the Bengals-Lions. The Colts and Broncos should put on a good show but the Bengals lead the AFC North and the Lions the NFC North, so it has implications. Andy Dalton had arguably his best game of the year last week and no one wants to mess with Matt Stafford no matter what season it is. BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Reggie Bush. A.J. Green vs. Calvin Johnson. It should prove to be a great match-up. The Bengals have the stronger defense though and I’m not willing to gamble on the Lions secondary so I’ll take Cincy.

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2013-2014 NFL Preview: AFC South

All the numbers that come after players’ names represent how they were rated on ESPN’s Free Agent Tracker.

AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON TEXANS

GET: S Ed Reed (84), P Shane Lechler (77)

LOSE: LB Connor Barwin (79), P Donnie Jones (75), DT Shaun Cody (71), WR Kevin Walter (70), FB James Casey (67), RB Justin Forsett (63)

RE-SIGNS:CB Brice McCain (67)

DRAFT: 1st round: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson     2nd round: S D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina     3rd round: OT Brennan Williams, North Carolina     DE Sam Montgomery, LSU     4th round: DE Trevardo Williams, Connecticut     6th round: OT David Quessenberry, San Jose State     WR Alan Bonner, Jacksonville State     DT Christopher Jones, Bowling Green     TE Ryan Griffin, Connecticut

SUMMARY: The Houston Texans looked unstoppable before dropping three of their last four games, losing home field advantage in the playoffs, and losing to the Patriots 41-28 in the divisional round. I do not expect another collapse this year. This team still has a top five defense and their offense is actually underrated. They finished 11th in passing and 8th in rushing last year. They will definitely be a team to watch out for in the playoffs. QB Matt Schaub is a consistent quarterback that doesn’t force turnovers and RB Arian Foster is the second best runningback in the league behind Adrian Peterson. LB Brian Cushing is returning after missing a year with an ACL injury and inserting S Ed Reed alongside S Danieal Manning, CB Johnathan Joseph and CB Kareem Jackson gives Houston one of the best secondaries in the league. The Texans also did great in the draft, picking up Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins and LSU DE Sam Montgomery. My only concern is the receiving core. Aside from WR Andre Johnson, no one on the roster has more than three years experience or has played in a starting role in the NFL. However, I don’t see it stopping this team from winning the AFC South.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 12-4

 

Week 1: @ SD   Week 2: vs. TEN   Week 3: @ BAL   Week 4: vs. SEA   Week 5: @ SF   Week 6: vs. STL   Week 7: @ KC   Week 8: BYE   Week 9: vs. IND   Week 10: @ ARI   Week 11: vs. OAK   Week 12: vs. JAC   Week 13: vs. NE   Week 14: @ JAC   Week 15: @ IND   Week 16: vs. DEN   Week 17: @ TEN

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

GET: S LaRon Landry (78), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (78), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (76), OT Gosder Cherilus (76), QB Matt Hasselbeck (75), DT Aubrayo Franklin (72), LB Erik Walden (70), WR Kevin Walter (70), LB Kelvin Sheppard (trade)

LOSE: LB Dwight Freeney (83), WR Austin Collie (75), S Tom Zbikowski (65), WR Donnie Avery (64)

RE-SIGNS: none

DRAFT: 1st round: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State     3rd round: G Hugh Thornton, Illinois     4th round: C Khaled Holmes, USC     5th round: DT Montori Hughes, Tennessee-Martin     6th round: S John Boyett, Oregon     7th round: RB Kerwynn Williams, Utah State     TE Justice Cunningham, South Carolina

SUMMARY: I’d like to start off by saying this team is overrated. While the Colts finished 7th in passing, they were 22nd in rushing, 21st against the pass, and 29th against the rush. QB Andrew Luck may have beaten QB Peyton Manning’s rookie passing record, but his 23:18 touchdown-to-interception ratio was horrible. While everyone may have been impressed with all of the fourth-quarter comebacks this team had, I was not. Aside from a true comeback against Green Bay in week 5, this team had comebacks against Miami, Detroit, and two comebacks against Tennessee. They also scraped by with wins against Cleveland, Buffalo, and Kansas City. These teams were not that good last year and yet the Colts needed a comeback to beat them in Tebow-esque fashion. I don’t expect that to be the case this year. While the signing of S LaRon Landry, LB Erik Walden, DT Aubrayo Franklin and the drafting of DE Bjoern Werner will bolster the defense, I think the struggles will continue. Hopefully RB Ahmad Bradshaw will make his presence felt in the running game and QB Matt Hasselbeck will be able to tutor QB Andrew Luck into making less turnovers. I’m not saying this team is going to be bad, I’m just saying don’t expect eleven wins from this team.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 8-8

Week 1: vs. OAK   Week 2: vs. MIA   Week 3: @ SF   Week 4: @ JAC   Week 5: vs. SEA   Week 6: @ SD   Week 7: vs. DEN   Week 8: BYE   Week 9: @ HOU   Week 10: vs. STL   Week 11: @ TEN   Week 12: @ ARI   Week 13: vs. TEN   Week 14: @ CIN   Week 15: vs. HOU   Week 16: @ KC   Week 17: vs. JAC

TENNESSEE TITANS

GET: G Andy Levitre (78), S George Wilson (77), S Bernard Pollard (77), RB Shonn Greene (76), C Chris Spencer (74), TE Delanie Walker (72), WR Kevin Walter (70), QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (70)

LOSE: TE Jared Cook (77), QB Matt Hasselbeck (75)

RE-SIGNS: K Rob Bironas (76)

DRAFT: 1st round: G Chance Warmack, Alabama     2nd round: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee     3rd round: CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Connecticut     OLB Zaviar Gordon, Missouri     4th round: C Brian Schwenke, California     5th round: DE Lavar Edwards, LSU     6th round: CB Khalid Wooten, Nevada     7th round: S Daimion Stafford, Nebraska

SUMMARY: This team finished in the twenties in all four major stat categories this past year, but things are looking up for Tennessee because Tennessee had one of the best offseasons in the league this year. They boosted their offensive line with the signing of G Andy Levitre and C Chris Spencer and the drafting of G Chance Warmack in the first round. RB Shonn Greene was brought in to help out RB Chris Johnson and two new safeties were brought in, S George Wilson and hard-hitting S Bernard Pollard. TE Delanie Walker was also picked up to replace the loss of TE Jared Cook, just as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was picked up to fill in for the departed QB Matt Hasselbeck. Despite all this, I still have them behind the Colts. Why you ask? Two names: RB Chris Johnson and QB Jake Locker.  In his first 3 games last year, Johnson had a total of 32 carries for 45 yards. He later had 24 against Minnesota, 44 against Indianapolis and 28 against Green Bay. As someone who claims to be an elite runningback, Johnson has got to be able to do better than this. He is still the leader of this team and when he falters, the team falters. Of all those games I mentioned, Tennessee lost all of them, except for an overtime win against Detroit in week 3. Locker had to throw 42 times for 378 yards and two touchdowns to get the win, a performance Locker is not capable of duplicating week-to-week. With a boosted offensive line in front, if Johnson stalls again, Tennessee will most likely turn to RB Shonn Greene and the switch could end up being permanent. I also don’t think Locker is worthy of a starting quarterback job and so I’m not willing to put my faith in him.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 7-9

Week 1: @ PIT   Week 2: @ HOU   Week 3: vs. SD   Week 4: vs. NYJ   Week 5: vs. KC   Week 6: @ SEA   Week 7: vs. SF   Week 8: BYE   Week 9: @ STL   Week 10: vs. JAC   Week 11: vs. IND   Week 12: @ OAK   Week 13: @ IND   Week 14: @ DEN   Week 15: vs. ARI   Week 16: @ JAC   Week 17: vs. HOU

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

GET: WR Mohammed Massaquoi (72), LB Geno Hayes (68), CB Marcus Trufant (67), RB Justin Forsett (63)

LOSE: LB Daryl Smith (81), WR Laurent Robinson (77), S Dawan Landry (75), CB Derek Cox (75), DT Terrance Knighton (74), RB Rashad Jennings (72), CB Aaron Ross (71), OL Eben Britton (69), G Matt Slauson (69)

RE-SIGNS: C Brad Meester (74)

DRAFT: 1st round: OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M     2nd round: S Johnathan Cyprien, Florida International     3rd round: CB Dwayne Gratz, Connecticut     4th round: WR Ace Sanders, South Carolina     5th round: QB/WR Denard Robinson, Michigan     6th round: S Joshua Evans, Florida     7th round: CB Jeremy Harris, New Mexico State     CB Demetrius McCray, Appalachian State

SUMMARY: This team has a lot of holes to fill and they aren’t getting filled any faster then they are popping up. The Jaguars lost practically half their team this offseason, including one of if not their best defensive player, LB Daryl Smith. S Dawan Landry, CB Derek Cox, and CB Aaron Ross all departed also. To fix these problems, the Jaguars decided to make a new team logo. Surprisingly, the problems weren’t fixed. Rookies S Johnathan Cyprien and CB Dwayne Gratz will be asked to fill in for the departed veteran leadership, so it will be a demanding year for them as well as for rookie OT Luke Joeckel, who will be starting at right tackle. LB Paul Posluszny, DE Jason Babin, and Cyprien and Gratz will be forced to lead the defense and try to keep it from falling apart. QB Blaine Gabbert nor QB Chad Henne can limit their turnovers and so they can’t take advantage of talented receivers such as WR Cecil Shorts. RB Maurice Jones-Drew will get no extra time to rest his ankle because the team will be resting on his shoulders once again. As for Michigan phenom Denard Robinson, I’ve seen him listed as a QB on one draft board, a RB on another, and a WR on still another. If I were the Jaguars, I’d just throw him in as a quarterback because he has more talent than Gabbert and Henne combined. However, Robinson is currently listed as a runningback on the Jaguars depth chart. It appears that once again, the Jaguars are saying “Wait till next year.”

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 3-13

Week 1: vs. KC   Week 2: @ OAK   Week 3: @ SEA   Week 4: vs. IND   Week 5: @ STL   Week 6: @ DEN Week 7: vs. SD   Week 8: vs. SF   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: @ TEN   Week 11: vs. ARI   Week 12: @ HOU   Week 13: @ CLE   Week 14: vs. HOU   Week 15: vs. BUF   Week 16: vs. TEN   Week 17: @ IND

 

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