Tag Archives: eli manning

One Team, One Jersey: Los Angeles Chargers

With the beginning of a new year comes the beginning of a new series. I’ve spent hundreds of hours (not an exaggeration) enthralled in game film sessions, reading player profiles, scrounging through stat sheets and scanning the histories of all the NFL franchises. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Welcome to One Team, One Jersey.

As a jersey collector and connoisseur, I am constantly expanding my repertoire and so I thought I should probably expand my search to all the teams of pro football. Buying every jersey I want would be too expensive though. Picking one for each team is reasonable and so became the idea that is One Team, One Jersey.

If you could only have one jersey from each NFL team, who would it be? There are a few ground rules:

The player you choose must have played for that team more than any other AND must have been on that team’s roster during the 2017 season.

Aside from that, it’s up to you what you prioritize: character, statistical production, championships, a combination of the three. Your call.

Who will you choose?

The 2004 quarterback class was one for the ages as franchise stalwarts Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger all went in the first round. (Poor J.P. Losman was also taken in the first round by the Bills.)

All three have aged well and Rivers has been no different. Over his 14-year NFL career, Rivers, along with Eli and Ben, has thrown for over 50,000 yards and 300 touchdowns, putting all three in the top ten of each category. All three have the chance to be Hall of Famers but there’s a notable difference between them: Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning have each won two Super Bowls. Philip Rivers hasn’t been to one.

That monkey has been on Rivers’ back for a long time and will be for the rest of his life. That’s what happens when you’re drafted alongside talented stars that also play your position. You will always be compared to them, no matter how unfair it is that you are judged by someone else’s merits rather than your own.

Roethlisberger is a probable HOFer for moments like the final drive in Super Bowl 43 or the back-to-back games he threw six touchdown passes or the multiple playoff wins he has. Eli is a possible HOFer for moments like the Tyree helmet catch that dethroned the undefeated Patriots. Rivers is unlikely to get into Canton because he doesn’t have that moment.

That’s not to say the guy isn’t a good player. He’s breached 4,000 yards nine times in his career and owns nearly every Charger passing record.

But it’s also difficult to overlook the 2006 season, when the then San Diego Chargers went 14-2 with Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield and couldn’t win even one playoff game with home-field advantage. Also, Tomlinson won MVP and Offensive Player of the Year during that run, just as a friendly reminder.

It’s hard to overlook the Chargers falling short in the AFC Championship the following year to New England, although I do give Rivers a ton of credit (Rivers played the game with a torn ACL).

In the 2008 season, Rivers led the Bolts to their third consecutive AFC West title before dropping yet another contest in the divisional round, this time to the Steelers.

In 2009, after a 13-3 campaign, Rivers and San Diego left defeated in their first playoff game again, this time to the Mark Sanchez-led Jets.

Rivers has spent six of the last seven years on the couch come playoff time and don’t worry, the one game he did get to, he lost.

Look, I have nothing against Rivers. He’s a talented quarterback and still one of the better ones in the NFL. The Chargers haven’t made it to the playoffs solely because of Rivers. There are plenty of other factors at play.

The fact remains: 4-5 in the playoffs. Zero AFC Championship wins.

That just doesn’t scream Hall of Fame.

Is there a chance he gets in? Sure. He’s still been one of the most prolific passers of his generation, but he’s not Ben, Brady, Brees, Peyton, Rodgers or even Eli. He’s just not a good bet.

He’s still fun to watch. He’s still a gunslinger. He’s still elite. He’s just not tier one, top-of-the-game elite.

Neither is his number one receiver, Keenan Allen. After a strong rookie season (Fun fact: At the time, only five receivers in NFL history had more receiving yards their rookie year than Allen’s 1,046), Allen suffered a broken collarbone, lacerated kidney and torn ACL in back-to-back-to-back years. He performed great this past campaign, winning Comeback Player of the Year. He’s a constant target for Rivers who will pad his stat sheet with receptions (one of five players with over 100 catches last year), run a full route tree (His 13.7 ypc was in the upper third for receivers) and has the vision to make plays in the open field (His 458 yards after catch ranked him fifth among wideouts).

Remove this past year and the game to game consistency that you look for number one receivers to produce isn’t there. He’s a capable route runner but ran a 4.7 at the combine. He was recovering from a knee sprain that year and admitted he wasn’t 100% for Indy, but ran a 4.56 dash his senior year of high school, which isn’t out of this world speed for a receiver. While he’s 6’2″ and can make vertical plays, he doesn’t play an aggressive style like Demaryius or, more appropriately, like DeAndre Hopkins does. He prefers to out-finesse defenders than out-muscle them. He’s got the cut ability to do that.

He is athletic enough to torture defenses who don’t have either agile corners or experienced defenders (12 recs vs BUF, 11 vs DAL, 10 vs CLE). When he has to play top-end corners, such as Aqib Talib in division-foe Denver, he struggles to take over games the way we are used to seeing top end flights do. In two games against Denver this season, Allen compiled 5 catches for 35 yards and 3 for 41.

There are a lot of other factors at play. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or funding needed to go over additional game tape and count his matchups against man versus zone and do even more stat-crunching than I’ve already done. You also have to consider the team’s game plan that week and the in-game situation at that moment.

Overall, Allen is a great receiver in fantasy football. He’s a reliable option for an experienced and still physically-gifted quarterback and is in a scheme that allows him a high volume of targets. For that reason alone, he can be counted on for five receptions a game and a solid yards after catch bonus on a week-to-week basis. As a receiver, Allen is an above average talent that has never seen his potential fully nurtured due to injury and it’s prevented him from joining the ranks of AB, Julio, Green and Odell.

Melvin Gordon, the stud from Wisconsin, still has the breakout speed that commands respect. Even now, defenses are still trying to force him to the inside and still he is able to make it work. You saw it in college, you saw it in 2016 and you saw it this past schedule. He hasn’t peaked yet though and I want to see what the next stage of his progression looks like before I buy in, which leaves me to discuss the player I just can’t pass up.

Antonio Gates is one of the best tight ends in NFL history and when you consider he never played a down of college football, well, that just speaks to the amount of athleticism this guy has. Imagine being so physically gifted that you could pick up something at the last possible second and be better than people who had been doing that thing for their whole lives. Everyone around you has spent countless hours perfecting their craft and you’ve made them look like boys among a behemoth who just learned the rules of the game. That’s frightening.

When you say the phrase “red zone threat,” I think Antonio Gates. Dude is too big and too strong. You could make the argument he was the one that started bringing basketball stars to the game of football.

He’s one of only ten players in NFL history to amass 100 touchdown catches and he’s currently 30th in receiving yards.

Melvin Ingram is a solid edge rusher. Joey Bosa is a technically-refined player that has some more hurdles to go through. Jason Verrett is a capable corner.

Antonio Gates? He’s a freak and worth my jersey spot for the Chargers.

My pick: Antonio Gates. My jersey: Home Blue.

 

Image result for antonio gates home jersey free use

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Tim Sports Report for 2015 NFL Week 4

Late again. Finally getting on top of things. Stay tuned.

Top 5

  1. RB Chris Ivory 29 carries for 166 yards, TD vs. MIA

2. QB Eli Manning 20/35 for 212 yards, 3 TDs, INT, 91.6 passer rating vs. BUF

3. RB Devonta Freeman 14 carries for 68 yards, 3 TDs vs. HOU

First running back to score three touchdowns in his first two starts. Seven touchdowns in his first four games, the most since LaDainian Tomlinson had eight in 2005.

4. RB Todd Gurley 19 carries for 146 yards vs. ARI

5. RB Justin Forsett 27 carries for 150 yards vs. PIT

Worst of the Worst

5. Eagles blow game late to Washington, fall to 1-3

4. Dolphins crushed by Jets, fire Philbin

3. QB Jameis Winston 26/43 for 287 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 57.0 passer rating vs. CAR

2. Blown call in endzone for illegal touching in DET-SEA game

  1. Josh Scobee misses two late field goals, leads to Steelers losing in overtime.

Steelers Recap

Josh freaking Scobee. I don’t think I’ve hated a Steelers player this much since Tommy Maddux. I don’t know what kicker we traded for, but I’m fairly certain it wasn’t Josh Scobee because Scobee could kick when he was in Jacksonville. The player that was in the lineup for the Steelers these past few weeks clearly could not. Scobee missed two crucial field goals against the Ravens, allowing Baltimore time to regain its composure, tie the game, and win it in overtime. There also was Todd Haley’s questionable play calls on two fourth down opportunities in the fourth quarter, a quarterback designed run, which failed miserably, and a pass that Vick threw over the head of Antonio Brown. In short yardage, handing it to Le’Veon Bell, who ran over the Ravens defense most of the game, was the clear choice and I still remain dumbfounded why the Steelers didn’t take that option.

The Steelers should have beat this team. The Ravens are far worse than I expected them to be this year and you cannot lose to division rivals at home, not in the AFC North. They go on the road to San Diego this week, who is also falling behind my expectations. Melvin Gordon hasn’t been the dynamic player everyone expected and the Chargers defense struggled to hold Cleveland. I still have the Chargers for this game though because of the Steelers poor secondary. It’s definitely a winnable game for Pittsburgh though.

Game of the Week: Seahawks @ Bengals

If you didn’t get a chance to see this game, you missed out big time. Best game of the year thus far.

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2015-2016 NFL Preview: New York Giants

*Originally posted on SportsTalkFeed

The New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr. is a boss, plain and simple. In 12 games, OBJ still cracked the top ten in receptions (91), receiving yards (1,305) and touchdowns (12). Already infamous for what can only be called the catch of the century, Odell Beckham, Jr. will be the focal point of the New York Giants offense. Hopefully the Madden curse doesn’t stick to him.

With no running game to be found last year (23rd) and Victor Cruz losing his knee, the Giants’ offense was Eli to OBJ all day and they had some success with that. As I said, OBJ is set to become one of the league’s best receivers for years to come and Eli finished with 4,410 yards passing, sixth-most. That’s the most passing yards Eli’s had since the 2011 season. The Giants went on to defeat the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Does that mean you should expect a Giants’ Super Bowl appearance? Hahahaha, no. Not a chance, but it does show Eli has the potential to carry this team. Last year’s 30 touchdowns to 14 interceptions was a huge improvement over 2013’s 18:27. In fact, Eli’s 30:14 last year was the best ratio of his career and that ratio came from throwing the ball 601 times last season, the most he’s ever thrown in one season.

Given the team’s faulty play in the backfield, Eli will have the opportunity to repeat those numbers. Whether he does, I don’t know. Eli’s not the most consistent quarterback, but the chance is there is what I’m saying. If I’m not being forward enough, Eli and Beckham should be huge fantasy pickups. Victor Cruz might even have a resurgence.

With that said, the Giants don’t have a lot of excitement elsewhere. In 2014, the Giants started the second-oldest lineup in the league and are 25th this year. While there are plenty of older players in the league that still make huge contributions to the team, such as Frank Gore, the Giants personnel doesn’t have any of them.

The entire left side of the Giants offensive line is fresh out of the gate with rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers,third-year left guard Justin Pugh and second-year center Weston Richburg. Youth like that brings hope and promise for the future but not the immediate one. The NFC East gets a breather in some regards, playing the defensive lines of the NFC South but will be tortured by the boosted defenses of the AFC East. Regardless of how they do, I don’t see how the running game can succeed given last year’s numbers, only putting more onus on Eli’s play-making ability and the defense.

Let’s talk about that defense. The front seven is screaming for help, finishing 3oth against the run last year. The linebackers and the defensive line have no real play-makers aside from Jason Pierre-Paul who managed to blow his finger off this season and currently isn’t on the team’s depth chart. Imagine how much worse it would be without JPP. JPP isn’t amazing but when compared to the Giants’ current front seven, he’s like the new Lawrence Taylor which means JPP definitely has the upper hand in future contract negotiations. The Giants drafted S Landon Collins, who looks to be a strong candidate for rookie of the year but no linebackers got on their draft board at its conclusion, in my opinion, their most dire need. Offensive line was a huge one, too, but the Giants best linebacker is Jon Beason. Jon Beason!!!

Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are serviceable but neither in my mind opinion has the talent required to guard a top receiver. In case you forgot, the top receivers in the other NFC East clubhouses are Dez Bryant, Jordan Matthews and DeSean Jackson. Good luck with that, New York.

Half the defense is too young and the other half isn’t good enough. Five projected starters have less than three years experience. That’s almost half if you struggle with math.

In closing, the Giants are not going to contend for a division title, nor compete for a wild-card spot. They’ll have their games and the fans will still have stuff to see in the passing game, but there’s not any developed talent on this team’s defense. On the other hand, they’ll be better than the Redskins.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 11

Top 5

1. Eight RBs had over 100 yards this week, five over 150 and two over 200. Also, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon set the NCAA record for rushing yards in a single game (408), proving the point he’s been trying to make all year: running backs still matter.

2. WR Mike Evans 7 receptions for 209 yards, 2 TDs vs. WAS

Evans (21) is the youngest player ever to have a 200-yard receiving game and the first rookie with seven catches for 100 yards and a TD in three straight games.

3. RB Jonas Gray 37 carries for 201 yards, 4 TDs vs. IND

4. RB Jamaal Charles 20 carries for 159 yards, 2 TDs, Fmb vs. SEA

5. RB Le’Veon Bell 33 carries for 204 yards, TD vs. TEN

Worst of the Worst

1. Steelers’ safety Mike Mitchell goes ballistic on Twitter. I wrote a post about this.

2. RB LeGarrette Blount walks off the field in the middle of the game vs. TEN

3. QB Eli Manning 22/45 for 280 yards, TD, 5 INTs, 36.6 QBR vs. SF

4. QB Robert Griffin III 23/32 for 207 TD, 2 INTs, 73.3 QBR vs. TB

5. NFC South Standings: Atlanta 4-6, New Orleans 4-6, Carolina 3-7, Tampa Bay 2-8

Steelers Recap

Overall, the Steelers’ performance on Monday night was frustrating. The offensive fluidity fans had seen just a few weeks ago was gone. The team looked uncoordinated and unorganized. The fact that the Steelers had to come back to win this game was exactly the opposite of what Steelers nation wanted to see on Monday. They, like myself, wanted to see a dominant win against a struggling team. Instead, the Steelers gave the Titans boatloads of confidence going into their next game, while Tomlin needs to start re-evaluating the team depth chart and playbook. Le’Veon Bell and the offensive line were excellent during the second half but against the Titans front seven I think it’s important not to give them too much credit. The fact that Bell ran for over 200 yards and we still almost lost is pretty sad. This bye week could not be more well-timed. They need a break to recuperate some players but they also need to silent these off-the-field issues immediately. Mitchell’s tirade was a catastrophe on so many levels and I’m very happy they cut Blount almost instantaneously, but his actions need to be a reminder to the whole team that this is a team effort and if you’re not happy with your role, then get off the field.

Game of the Week: Dolphins @ Broncos.

I have the Broncos for this game but the Dolphins are surging and looking like a top-ten team right now. Their defense is excellent as I expected and if it weren’t for the lack of play-makers on offense, this team could probably threaten New England. It’s important Denver get’s back on the right track after dropping two of their last three. Expect a close one and don’t be surprised if an upset occurs.

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Tim Sports Report for NFL Week 15

Top 5

1. RB Jamaal Charles 8 carries for 20 yards, TD, 8 receptions for 195 yards, 4 TDs vs. OAK

2. QB Ryan Tannehill 25/37 for 312 yards, 3 TDs, 120.6 QBR vs. NE

3. QB Matt Cassel 26/35 for 382 yards, 2 TDs, rush TD, INT, 116.6 QBR vs. PHI

4. WR DeSean Jackson 10 receptions for 195 yards, TD vs. MIN

5. WR Julian Edelman 13 receptions for 139 yards, TD vs. MIA

Worst of the Worst

1. Cowboys lose after 26-3 halftime lead to Rodgers-less Packers while Packers match biggest comeback in franchise history

2. QB Eli Manning 18/31 for 156 yards, 5 INTs, 31.9 QBR vs. SEA

3. Redskins commit 7 turnovers, 5 fumbles in loss to Falcons

4. QB Matt McGloin 18/35 for 297 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, Fmble, 59.8 QBR vs. KC

5. QB Matthew Stafford 18/34 for 235 yards, TD, 3 INTs, 48.0 QBR vs. BAL

Steelers Recap

Sorry I’m late this week guys. The Steelers dismantled Cincinnati at home this past Sunday 30-20, but Steelers’ fans should not get overexcited. Cincinnati has never played well in Pittsburgh. Next they play in Lambeau and I’m going to take yet another leap of faith and take the Steelers against the Rodgers-less Packers.

Game of the Week: Bears @ Eagles

Both teams are fighting to stay atop the division but I’m going to take the Eagles at home.

 

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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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Tim Sports Report for 2013 NFL Week 3

Top 5

1. Panthers shutout Giants, sack Manning 7 times, hold Giants to 150 yards total offense

2. WR Antonio Brown 9 receptions for 196 yards, 2 TDs vs. CHI

3. RB DeMarco Murray 26 carries for 175 yards, TD vs. STL

4. LB Justin Houston 7 tackles, 6 solo, 4.5 sacks, forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries vs. PHI

5. TE Jimmy Graham 9 receptions for 134 yards, 2 TDs vs. ARI

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Eli Manning 12/23 for 109 yards, INT, 49.0 QBR vs. CAR

2. Packers score 30 unanswered points and cause 4 Bengal turnovers on 4 consecutive drives, then lose to Bengals

3. QB Colin Kaepernick 13/27 for 150, INT, Fmble, 49.9 QBR vs. IND

4. QB Carson Palmer 18/35 for 187 yards, 2 INTs, 43.4 QBR vs. NO

5. QB Michael Vick 13/30 for 201 yards, TD, 2 INTs, Fmble, 49.4 QBR, 4 carries for 99 yards vs. KC

Steelers Recap

The Steelers lost to the Bears 40-23 last Sunday night and while some people were furious over the Steelers’ performance, I actually thought I saw some improvement from last week’s game against Cincinnati. They ran 65 plays for 459 yards, good for 7.1 ypp. They also ran the ball for 80 yards, which was better than last week. I still think Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones should be the primary backs for this team. Jones has potential as a decent back if he can hold on to the ball and Dwyer was the best runningback on this team last year. He has the build and running style of Jerome Bettis. He’ll never be as good as him, but he’s that type of guy, and he’s great at blocking for Ben in passing situations. Ben had more passing yards than any other quarterback in the league this past week with 406, and remember that this was against a top-5 defense. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Steelers got a field goal to make it 27-23 but the Bears proved to be too much for them. The Steelers committed five turnovers including two interceptions and two fumbles for Ben, which led to two defensive touchdowns for Chicago. If you subtract those two scores from the final score, the score would not be 40-23, but 26-23, and considering this was the Chicago Bears defense and a struggling Steelers offense, I’m willing to take that. Did the Steelers give the game away? Yes, but for a second if not third-rate offensive line, a struggling offense, and an aged defense, I expected a 30 point blowout. The Steelers held the Bears to a 17 point win. I’m not saying Steelers fans should be excited, but you can’t ignore that there are some positives to take away from Sunday’s game. This week the Steelers face the Minnesota Vikings who are also 0-3. Christian Ponder will be out with a rib injury so the Steelers will be facing backup quarterback Matt Cassel. That might help, but the Steelers still have to stop MVP Adrian Peterson from running all over them and that is no easy feat. I could see this game go either way, but the Steelers are going to have to show me a little more improvement before I’m going to pick them to win. I’ll take the Vikings in a close one.

Game of the Week: Dolphins @ Saints

While everyone will most likely be watching the Sunday night game starring the Patriots and Falcons, I will be more excited for the Dolphins-Saints matchup on Monday Night. The Dolphins had a huge offseason and while some fans were questioning some of the moves, the Dolphins have showed the results that all Dolphins fans have been looking for. While on paper this team is 21st and 18th against the pass and rush respectively, this defense is underrated. Tannehill is showing improvement and while starting runningback Lamar Miller is struggling, I think he will begin to produce in time. The Dolphins were heavy underdogs against the Colts and I picked the Phins and they won. They were heavy underdogs against the Falcons. I picked the Falcons, but the Phins won again. This week they are heavy underdogs, again, and after beating two tough teams, they’ve impressed me enough that I’m willing to pick them over the Saints. It should be a great game.

 

 

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2013-2014 NFL Preview: NFC East

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

NFC EAST

NEW YORK GIANTS

GET: DT Cullen Jenkins (80), DT Mike Patterson (71), CB Aaron Ross (71), LB Dan Connor (69), S Ryan Mundy (66), K Josh Brown (65), TE Brandon Myers (59)

LOSE: DE Osi Umenyiora (80), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (78), DT Chris Canty (78), S Kenny Phillips (77), TE Martellus Bennett (74), LB Chase Blackburn (66), WR Domenik Hixon (61)

RE-SIGNS: WR Victor Cruz (80), OT Will Beatty (79), S Stevie Brown (71), G Kevin Boothe (71), DT Shaun Rogers (69)

DRAFT: 1st round: OT Justin Pugh, Syracuse     2nd round: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State     3rd round: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M     4th round: QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse     5th round: S Cooper Taylor, Richmond     7th round: G Eric Herman, Ohio     RB Michael Cox, Massachusetts

SUMMARY:  After winning Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots, the Giants went 9-7 with a defense that was 28th against the pass, 25th against the rush and gave up the second-most yards per game behind the New Orleans Saints. So despite a defense that just didn’t click last year, the Giants almost made the playoffs anyway. The Giants had a decent offseason. DE Osi Umenyiora left for Atlanta, but the Giants got two DT’s in Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson to help out up front. TE Brandon Myers is a risk, as Myers never was very productive in Oakland, but the Giants hope that will change with QB Eli Manning throwing to him. RB David Wilson seems ready to take over the starting runningback duties and if he can demonstrate the same explosiveness as he did last year, the Giants may make an improvement from last year’s 14th-best rushing attack. Manning is renowned for his durability, as he has played eight consecutive seasons without missing a start, and should continue to produce consistently as he has done his entire career. The secondary is solid, but the linebacking core is young this year. Despite last year’s poor defensive performance, I expect coach Tom Coughlin will have gotten this defense back into shape. The Giants have won at least eight games in every season since 2004, when they went 6-10 in Coughlin’s first year. I expect that streak to continue this year as the Giants edge out the Redskins for the division crown.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 10-6

Week 1: @ DAL   Week 2: vs. DEN   Week 3: @ CAR   Week 4: @ KC   Week 5: vs. PHI   Week 6: @ CHI   Week 7: vs. MIN   Week 8: @ PHI   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: vs. OAK   Week 11: vs. GB   Week 12: vs. DAL   Week 13: @ WSH   Week 14: @ SD  Week 15: vs. SEA   Week 16: @ DET   Week 17: vs. WSH

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

GET: none

LOSE: OT Jammal Brown (76), S Madieu Williams (74)

RE-SIGNS: TE Fred Davis (79), CB DeAngelo Hall (79), G Kory Lichtensteiger (69)

DRAFT: 2nd round: CB David Amerson, North Carolina State     3rd round: TE Jordan Reed, Florida     4th round: S Phillip Thomas, Fresno State     5th round: RB Chris Thompson, Florida State     OLB Brandon Jenkins, Florida State     6th round: S Bacarri Rambo, Georgia     7th round: RB Jawan Jamison, Rutgers

SUMMARY: This team went far beyond expectations last year, winning their last seven games to make the playoffs. This despite a defense that gave up a total of 377.7 yards per game (28th), 24.3 points per game (22nd) and a pass defense that was 30th in the league. However, the Washington Redskins finished high in two of the most important statistics in the game: turnover differential and turnovers. They had the third highest turnover differential at +17. Only Chicago and New England were better. The Redskins also had only 14 turnovers, the fewest in the league. TE Fred Davis, OLB Brian Orakpo and  veteran S Brandon Meriweather are all coming back from injuries. However, the Redskins lost 4th round pick S Phillip Thomas to a Lisfranc tear, meaning 6th round pick S Bacarri Rambo will be one of the starting safeties. The linebacking core is strong, but the secondary must perform better than last year, especially if CB DeAngelo Hall is part of that unit. RB Alfred Morris should keep the rushing game moving smoothly and although I’m worried about QB Robert Griffin III’s durability, he is consistently accurate and doesn’t commit a lot of turnovers.  If the secondary improves and RG3 stays healthy, this team could overtake the Giants for the division.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 9-7

Week 1: vs. PHI   Week 2: @ GB   Week 3: vs. DET   Week 4: @ OAK   Week 5: BYE   Week 6: @ DAL   Week 7: vs. CHI   Week 8: @ DEN   Week 9: vs. SD   Week 10: @ MIN   Week 11: @ PHI   Week 12: vs. SF   Week 13: vs. NYG   Week 14: vs. KC   Week 15: @ ATL   Week 16: vs. DAL   Week 17: @ NYG

DALLAS COWBOYS

GET: LB Justin Durant (77)

LOSE: RB Felix Jones (75), LB Dan Connor (69), DE Kenyon Coleman (69), CB Mike Jenkins (67), WR Kevin Ogletree (64), S Gerald Sensabaugh (retired)

RE-SIGNS: LB Anthony Spencer (80), C Phil Costa (68)

DRAFT: 1st round: C Travis Frederick, Wisconsin     2nd round: TE Gavin Escobar, San Diego State     3rd round: WR Terrance Williams, Baylor     S J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern     4th round: CB B.W. Webb, William & Mary     5th round: RB Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State     6th round: OLB DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina

SUMMARY: The Dallas Cowboys had one of the worst offseasons in my opinion. They got LB Justin Durant in free agency, but that was it, even though their defense was a cause for concern last year. They gave up 25 points per game (24th) and the team had a -13 turnover differential, tied for fifth-worst in the league. The Cowboys had the second-worst rushing attack last year and to solve it, drafted a running back in the fifth round, even though runningback should have been one of the main priorities for this team. RB Demarco Murray breached the 100-mark one time last year, which was on opening day and that’s gotta change if this team wants to win. QB Tony Romo shows time and time again he is not the quarterback for this team, but Jerry Jones signed him to a contract extension this summer so the Cowboys will continue to turn the ball over and fail to perform when it matters. The Cowboys haven’t made the postseason since 2009 and I don’t see that changing this year.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 8-8

Week 1: vs. NYG   Week 2: @ KC   Week 3: vs. STL   Week 4: @ SD   Week 5: vs. DEN   Week 6: vs. WSH   Week 7: @ PHI   Week 8: @ DET   Week 9: vs. MIN   Week 10: @ NO   Week 11: BYE   Week 12: @ NYG   Week 13: vs. OAK   Week 14: @ CHI   Week 15: vs. GB   Week 16: @ WSH   Week 17: vs. PHI

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

GET: LB Connor Barwin (79), S Kenny Phillips (77), DT Isaac Sopoaga (77), S Patrick Chung (75), P Donnie Jones (75), RB Felix Jones (75), CB Cary Williams (73), FB James Casey (67), CB Bradley Fletcher (66)

LOSE: DT Cullen Jenkins (80), CB Nnamdi Asomugha (80), CB Dominique Rodger-Cromartie (78), DT Mike Patterson (71), LB Akeem Jordan (70)

RE-SIGNS: none

DRAFT: 1st round: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma     2nd round: TE Zach Ertz, Stanford     3rd round: DT Bennie Logan, LSU     4th round: QB Matt Barkley, USC     5th round: S Earl Wolff, North Carolina State     7th round: DE Joe Kruger, Utah     CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon State     DE David King, Oklahoma

SUMMARY: This team was once called a dream team by fans a couple of years ago, fated to make a Super Bowl run. Everyone, including myself, was wrong. QB Michael Vick has failed to shine the last few years, WR DeSean Jackson is no longer the electric receiver he used to be, the defense has fallen apart, and RB LeSean McCoy is dealing with injuries. College coaches haven’t had much success in the pros, but the Eagles are hoping new coach Chip Kelly will be different. The team lost two of its best DT’S as well as both of their starting CB’s. They picked up two new safeties, and CB Cary Williams from Baltimore is expected to start. Despite all the help, I don’t think the Philly defense will improve much after allowing 27.8 points per game (tied-29th) last year. The Eagles have to get a better turnover differential, after a -24 last year, tied for worst in the league. The secondary will struggle and the offense will once again fall on RB LeSean McCoy and QB Michael Vick, who has less targets to throw to after WRs Jeremy Maclin and WR Arrelious Benn tore their ACL’s. The city of brotherly love won’t be getting any love on the field this year.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 4-12

Week 1: @ WSH   Week 2: vs. SD   Week 3: vs. KC   Week 4: @ DEN   Week 5: @ NYG   Week 6: @ TB   Week 7: vs. DAL   Week 8: vs. NYG   Week 9: @ OAK   Week 10: @ GB   Week 11: vs. WSH   Week 12: BYE   Week 13: vs. ARI   Week 14: vs. DET   Week 15: @ MIN   Week 16: vs. CHI   Week 17: @ DAL

 

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