Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fantasy Football: Top 10 Keepers For 2010

With August just around the corner, it's time to start preparing your keeper league football team for the season. Picking the right keepers is key to starting your season off right.

Here is a look at the 10 best players to hold on to for this year.

Honorable Mentions

Ray Rice, RB

A revamped Ravens offense will limit Rice's production, meaning he may not get quite as many balls thrown to him, but he will still be the primary back in the team's rushing attack.

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, RBs

Williams and Stewart are by far the best running back duo in the game today and possibly in the top 10 or 15 of all time. Both backs could easily break 1,000 yards, plus maybe we'll see double digit TD totals from the two considering they will have an inexperienced quarterback under center.
Reggie Wayne, WR

He's still the primary, go-to guy in Indy, but the return of Anthony Gonzalez could limit his production. Not to mention the fact that breakout receiver Pierre Garcon made a living catching key passes from Manning late last season.

Philip Rivers, QB

Losing Vincent Jackson (and possibly offensive tackle Marcus McNeill) for the beginning of the season will hurt Rivers' stock badly. Probably the primary reason he was left out of my top 10.

Matt Schaub, QB

Houston was the best passing team in the league last season, and if Steve Slaton struggles again this year he could be passing the ball even more often.

Frank Gore, RB

Many guys would say he's a top 10 keeper, but for some reason he doesn't quite impress me as much as he impresses everyone else. I mean, yes, he did have a monster '06 season, but since then he's only been getting as much as 1,100 yards a season and has scored in double-digits only once. I do like his consistency and his ability to come out of the backfield, though.

The List:

10. Michael Turner, RB

Turner ran for only 871 yards last season, but that was because he ran the ball only 178 times in 11 games (4.9 yards per carry). With Turner back and healthy this year, he will hopefully play all 16 games and get the ball much more often. Especially since defenses will be focusing more and more on emerging QB Matt Ryan and the passing attack led by Roddy White.

Also, keep in mind that Atlanta likes to use Turner in the red zone. He scored 10 times on his 178 carries, giving him back-to-back double digit touchdown seasons.
9. Tom Brady, QB

Brady has surely dropped down the list pretty far over the last couple of seasons, which may have been caused by his inconsistent 2009 season in which he had great games but also had disappointing performances. According to ESPN, Brady had four games which he scored less than 10 fantasy points.

The return of Wes Welker early in the season will certainly help Brady out a bit, but he still may not be able to match that of Rodgers, Brees and Manning.

8. Andre Johnson, WR

Johnson is the go-to guy in last season's best passing offense. That, alone, should be enough to put Johnson, a physical, 6'3'' wideout from Miami. Johnson has put up two straight 1,500-plus yard seasons.

In his seven NFL seasons, the four-time Pro Bowler has yet to catch 10 or more touchdown passes in a single season, but this may finally be the year he accomplishes that feat. With Schaub, a top 10 quarterback, passing more than ever, Johnson could put up yet another 1,500 yard season as the Texans make the first playoff appearance in franchise history.

7. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB

Jones-Drew finally broke through for his first 1,000 yard season in 2009, but has been a touchdown machine in all four of his professional seasons.

Jacksonville doesn't exactly have what you would call a potent aerial attack (ranked 19th in passing yards last season), meaning the offense is revolved around MJD. In the red zone is where Jones-Drew has the most success--running for a career-high 15 touchdowns last season and a total of 34 in his previous three seasons.

The 25-year old back has been overlooked by such names as Johnson, Peterson and Jackson, but Jones-Drew is still a top-tier keeper and an automatic first round pick in non-keeper leagues.
6. Aaron Rodgers, QB

Believe it or not, a couple of "experts" have come out and said that Rodgers is the best fantasy quarterback out there. Although I highly disagree that he's the best of the best, he is still a top-five talent and ahead of Brady, Favre, Schaub and Rivers.

In his first two complete seasons as the starter in Green Bay, Rodgers has passed for 8,472 yards, 58 TDs and 20 INTs. Despite being sacked a league-high 50 times last season, Rodgers posted a rating of 103.2 while leading the Pack to an 11-5 record and a playoff spot.

Chances are Rodgers sees more time in the pocket and doesn't get sacked 50 times in 2010, meaning his numbers could see an increase from last season. Scary, I know.

5. Steven Jackson, RB

Much like Maurice Jones-Drew, St. Louis' offense revolves around Jackson. Especially since this year they will likely have rookie Sam Bradford under center.

Jackson only scored four times in 2009, which ties a career-low. But this year, he could easily score double-digit TDs. In 2006, he caught 90 for over 800 yards, plus his 1,500 yards and 13 TDs on the ground. That may have been four years ago, but he has yet to hit the wall and was just plagued by injuries in '07 and '08.

With Jackson looking to be back to full health, we could see a season much like his career-best 2006 campaign.
4. Drew Brees, QB

As scary as this may sound, New Orleans didn't lose anyone from their 2009 offense over the offseason. Brees threw for 4,388 yards and 34 TDs last season for an offense which ranked first in overall offensive yards gained.

Robert Meachem had a breakout season last year--45 receptions, 722 yards, nine TDs after just 12 receptions in his rookie season in '08--while Lance Moore had a bad year. If Brees can get more production from Meachem and a bounce-back year from Moore, Brees could improve on both his yards and touchdowns.

3. Peyton Manning, QB

What can I say about Manning? Everyone knows he is the most consistent quarterback in the game, who basically runs the offense on his own. But, his receivers will be back and healthy this year, meaning plenty more fantasy points from Mr. Fantasy himself.

Expect another 4,500 yards and 30-35 TDs. You know, the usual stat-line for Manning.

2. Adrian Peterson, RB

The definition of an off-year for AP? 1,300-plus yards and a league-high 18 rushing touchdowns.

Peterson's stock has been hurt badly by late season fumbles, which hurt his owners' chances of winning a league championship (this included me, lost by a couple points in the semi-finals). But, the yards and touchdowns will be there and he will have help from rookie Toby Gerhart, which will help keep AP's legs fresh.

If Adrian can work on holding on to the ball during camp, he could take his spot back as No. 1 fantasy player by season's end.
1. Chris Johnson, RB

Becoming just the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000-plus yards in a single-season is what put him atop the fantasy rankings. On 358 carries, Johnson average 5.6 yards per carry and managed to get himself in to the end zone 16 times (14 rushing, two receiving).

Opposing defenses will be out to get Johnson, and defensive coordinators will most likely revolve their game plans around No. 28. That being said, he wont be able to break 2,000 for a second straight season, but because of Tennessee's offense he will certainly produce great numbers.

Other Possible Keepers: Tony Romo, Brett Favre, Larry Fitzgerald, Miles Austin, Donovan McNabb, Randy Moss.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Early News and Previews from Training Camps (Part 1 of 4)

With six more teams reporting to camp today, and the rest of league reporting by Sunday (Colts and Giants last two teams to report), the dog days of two-a-days can officially begin. What happens to teams and players during camp will have a major affect on how the rest of the season turns out, so it is important to stay aware and pay attention to injuries and holdouts.

Here are my personal notes and thoughts on what has happened, sorted in alphabetical order by city name (note: This is only eight of the 32 teams. I will be posting the rest of the teams in parts two, three and four within the next couple of days).

Report dates: July 30 (rookies and vets)
Players to watch in camp: Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson
Key offseason acquisitions: Derek Anderson, Alan Fancea, Joey Porter, Kerry Rhodes, Jay Feely
Key offseason losses: Bertrand Berry, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle, Neil Rackers, Kurt Warner (retirement), Bryant McFadden, Mike Gandy, Chike Okeafor

The biggest headline in Arizona will be the quarterback competition between the unproven first rounder Matt Leinart and the former one-time Pro Bowler with Cleveland, Derek Anderson. Leinart seems to be the favorite to win the job, but he will most likely be on a short leash.

Second year player Chris "Beanie" Wells will be battling it out with Tim Hightower for the starting running back spot. Wells should win the job, but Hightower may be used on third downs and in the red zone.

Report dates: July 29 (rookies and vets)
Players to watch in camp: Dunta Robinson, Sean Weatherspoon (R)
Key acquisitions: Matt Giordano, Dunta Robinson
Key losses: Tye Hill, Chris Houston

The core of the offense seems to be set with 25-year Matt Ryan under center and weapons such as Roddy White, future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner coming out of the backfield.

The questions in camp revolve around the team's secondary. Last year the team allowed 241.9 passing yards a game (28th in league). Some may blame it on the lack of pass rush, which sacked the opposing quarterback just 28 times. But, John Abraham is hoping to get back to his '08 form after recording just 5.5 sacks last season. Plus, despite the loss of two of their corners (Hill and Houston), Atlanta added a pure talent in Dunta Robinson.
Report dates: July 26 (rookies) and July 28 (vets)
Players to watch in camp: Anquan Boldin, Fabian Washington, Tom Zbikowski
Key acquisitions: Anquan Boldin, Donte' Stallworth, Corey Redding
Key losses: Justin Bannan, Dwan Edwards, L.J. Smith, Adam Terry, Kelley Washington

Baltimore's 13th ranked offense got a huge boost this offseason with the addition of wide receivers Anquan Boldin and deep-threat Donte' Stallworth. Ray Rice's breakout 2009 season is just the beginning for his career, meaning be prepared for another great performance from him coming out of the backfield. With McGahee being the short-yardage and red zone back again this year, Rice will be able to get some breaks in the action, as well, to keep his short legs fresh.

Believe it or not, the concern in Baltimore is on the defensive side of the ball. All Pro safety Ed Reed is likely to miss the first six weeks of the season, which is the reason that Tom Zbikowski is one of the 'players to watch' in camp. Baltimore's second round pick, linebacker Sergio Kindle, will most likely miss at least a majority of camp after suffering a neck injury from falling down a flight of stairs. If Fabian Washington doesn't improve his technique during camp, this secondary could be in a lot more trouble than they think.

Report dates: July 29 (rookies and vets)
Players to watch in camp: C.J. Spiller (R), James Hardy
Key acquisitions: Andra Davis, Dwan Edwards, Marlon Favorite, Cornell Green
Key losses: Terrell Owens, Ryan Denney, Chris Draft, Josh Reed

Trent Edwards lost a lot of production in the wide receiver position after both Terrell Owens and Josh Reed parted ways this offseason. But with the addition of Clemson's C.J. Spiller (taken 9th overall in draft), who will battle it out with projected starter Fred Jackson during camp, Buffalo may have to focus more on the running game.

The Bills have possibly the best secondary in the game, led by Pro Bowl free safety Jairus Byrd, who will be entering his second season. Byrd, Bryan Scott and corners Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin make up a secondary which ranked second (184 yards/game) in passing defense last season despite just 32 sacks from the rest of the defense. The big question mark on the defensive side this season will be how well the team adjusts to switching from the 4-3 to the 3-4 scheme this season.

Report dates: July 29 (rookies and vets)
Players to watch in camp: Jimmy Clausen (R), Chris Gamble
Key acquisitions: Aaron Francisco, Ed Johnson, Jamar Williams, Wallace Wright, Marcus Hudson
Key losses: Jake Delhomme, Julius Peppers, Na'il Diggs, Chris Harris, Brad Hoover, Maake Kemoeatu, Damione Lewis, Dante Wesley

Carolina is currently undergoing major remodeling, yet still may make a strong run for a playoff spot thanks to their top-tier rushing attack of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Just last year Williams and Stewart combined to be the sixth rushing pair to in league history to run for 1,000 or more yards in a single season. And, because of that Carolina won 8 games despite Delhomme's career-high 18 interceptions and 59.4 rating.

Carolina's pass defense was ranked fourth in the league last season, but the loss of Julius Peppers and Maake Kemoeatu may cause a bit of a drop in sacks. It will be up to defensive ends Everette Brown, who started just one game in his rookie season last year, and Tyler Brayton, who has started 78 games in seven professional seasons, to anchor Carolina's defensive line. The linebacking corps, led by the two-time Pro Bowler Jon Beason, is the strongest point in the Panther defense. Beason has accumulated at least 100 tackles in all three of his NFL seasons and is looking to take this team to the next level.
Report dates: July 28 (rookies and vets)
Players to watch in camp: Jermaine Gresham (R), Rey Maualuga, Terrell Owens
Key acquisitions: Terrell Owens, Antonio Bryant, Adam "Pacman" Jones, Matt Jones, Mike Mugent, Dave Rayner, Gibril Wilson

Cincy's front office spent most of the offseason working on getting Carson Palmer some weapons to add to his arsenal. The latest acquisition? Future Hall of Famer Terell Owens. This addition is a pretty big risk, but if it works out it could pay huge dividends. Having Owens and Ochocinco in the same backfield will certainly bring ticket sales up, but it may also take the Bengals to the next level. Cedric Benson is still finding himself getting in trouble, but with Ochocinco, Owens, Bryant and Gresham, Palmer can focus a little more on throwing the ball 30-40 times a game and not rely on the run.

Cincinnati's linebacking core is also pretty solid, led by young names such as Maualuga and Keith Rivers. The Bengals, in fact, were ranked fourth in total defense last season, and could have won more than the 10 games they won last season had the passing offense succeeded a little more. At this point, things are looking decent in Cincinnati, but because of the division they are in, they still may miss the playoffs.

Report dates: July 30 (rookies and vets)
Players to watch in camp: Jay Cutler, Devin Aromashodu, Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher
Key acquisitions: Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor, Chris Harris, Tim Jennings, Brandon Manumaleuna
Key losses: Alex Brown, Adewale Ogunleye, Orlando Pace. Nathan Vasher

Fans and experts alike will be keeping a close watch on Cutler, who struggled last season throwing a career and league-high 26 interceptions. Whenever Cutler wasn't throwing the ball to the opposing team, Chicago's running backs were being stuffed in the backfield. As a team, the Bears gained just 93.2 yards a game on the ground, good enough for 29th overall. Therefore, Matt Forte and former Minnesota Viking Chester Taylor will be in the spotlight during camp as well. The run game should improve thanks to the addition of Taylor, who will be used primarily on third down and possibly in the red zone. If Chicago's underrated, breakout receivers improve on their 2009 campaigns, and Cutler limits his turnovers, Chicago's offense should see improvement throughout camp.

Chicago overpaid Peppers, but he should still be a nice addition to the 17th-best defense of last season. Urlacher should be under much scrutiny in camp as well, seeing as his numbers have declined since the 2007 season and he missed 15 games last season.
Report dates: July 23 (rookies) and July 30 (vets)
Players to watch in camp: Jake Delhomme, Jerome Harrison, Joe Haden (R)
Key acquisition: Sheldon Brown, Scott Fujita, Peyton Hillis, Jake Delhomme, Tony Pashos, Chris Gocong, Seneca Wallace, Benjamin Watson
Key losses: Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Hank Fraley, Michael Gaines, Rex Hadnot, Steve Heiden, Jamal Lewis, Brodney Pool, Corey Williams, Kamerion Wimbley

New President Mike Holmgren has completely re-done the Cleveland Browns roster, and it looks like they are finally turning the franchise around. Jake Delhomme will be the starting quarterback, making a fresh start for a new team in a new city. Jerome Harrison will be a focal point in the offense as well, looking to add to his strong finish from last season.

On defense, Cleveland added a couple of role players to add on to a full roster. Cleveland's defense ranked 21st last season, but will hopefully make improvements with a healthy D'Qwell Jackson back on the field and Sheldon Brown in the defensive backfield. Rookie corner Joe Haden will be looking to make an immediate impact with Cleveland.

Part two (Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Kansas City) coming soon.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bengals, Terrell Owens Agree on 1-year, $2 million Deal

Yes, you heard correctly. The Cincinnati Bengals and the former 49ers/Eagles/Cowboys/Bills wide receiver, reality TV star and full-time diva Terrell Owens agreed on a contract earlier today.

This not only means that Carson Palmer will get to put up with Chad Ochocinco's drama, but he obviously now has to put up T.O.'s as well. Oh so much fun.

Over the past several months it has become very obvious that the two are close friends, and both have back-to-back reality television shows on VH1. Personally, I thought this deal was almost inevitable. Ochocinco seems to have quite a bit of things to say within the organization, and the front office must have heard his plea to sign the 36-year old, despite his diminishing speed.
When you mix all that in with the fact that the Bengals are lacking depth in the receiving position, it seems as though this was the right move. Although at the same time I really don't see this working out. Owens' reputation remains the same as it has his entire NFL career, and may not ever change.

This surely will be a sight to see this season. If it doesn't work out, I am almost positive that this will be the end of the line for Terrell's Hall of Fame-worthy career.

Getcha popcorn ready!

Former Raider DB Jack Tatum Dead at 61

The Oakland Raiders, and the National Football League, lost a legend today. Former Raiders' defensive back Jack Tatum passed away of a heart attack. He was only 61.

Tatum, the three-time Pro Bowler in his 10 professional seasons (nine with Raiders, one with Houston Oilers), was drafted by Oakland with the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 1971 draft.

"The Assassin," as he was nicknamed, was probably best known for his ferocious hit on New England Patriot WR Darryl Stingley in a 1978 preseason game. The hit paralyzed Stingley from the chest down.
There's no doubt that Tatum was one of the best safeties to ever play the game, and he could arguably have been the most feared tackler to ever step foot on the field. In his first NFL game, Tatum knocked out two of the Baltimore Colts' tight ends, one of which was Hall of Famer John Mackey.

It's a shame we lost Tatum at such a young age, and because of this I may just go and read the books that he wrote about his career.

R.I.P. Jack Tatum

Monday, July 26, 2010

HOF's Future: Who's in, Who's out (Offensive Edition)

With the 2010 Hall of Fame induction coming up in August (I will post an overview on the inductees later on), I thought this was a good time to take a look at the careers of current NFL players and decide who are the sure locks, who the borderline players are, and who may have a shot in five to ten years.

HOF Locks:

Brett Fave, QB

This is a no-brainer. Favre hurt his legacy just a bit with this whole soap opera each offseason, but no matter what he says or does, Favre will see himself in Canton on the first ballot.

Favre, the definition of a gunslinger, holds the all-time passing touchdown record with 497, but also happens the be the leader in career interceptions (317). Favre could easily be considered the best Green Bay Packer of all-time, and has a ring to prove his greatness. His will to play the game has yet to be matched as he holds the record for the most consecutive starts (287), discluding Jeff Feagles' 336 since he was only a punter.

His legacy isn't quite complete, seeing as he could win another ring this year in Minnesota. But his Hall of Fame campaign was over several years ago when he left Wisconsin. Entering what could be his 20th and final season, Favre has both attempted (9,811) and completed (6,083) the most passes in league history. One last thing Favre will be remembered for is his cannon of an arm.
Peyton Manning, QB

Peyton is, by far, the smartest quarterback in league history. He is his own offensive coordinator and basically runs the offense himself. Manning's Super Bowl victory against Chicago in 2006 solidified his immortal future in the Hall.

Manning holds numerous records, and has thrown for 4,000-plus yards in 10 of his 12 NFL seasons, all in Indy. Even more miraculous, Manning has yet to miss a game, starting all 16 regular season games throughout his career.

Manning is the only player in history to win the league MVP four times, and he once held the record for most passing TDs in a season with 49. In his 192 starts, Peyton has accumulated a winning percentage of .682 (131-61) and has helped the Colts capture a Lombardi trophy, two AFC titles and seven division titles. While the starter, Indy has missed the playoffs just two times.

Manning is a sure-fire, first ballot HOF no matter which way you slice it.

Tom Brady, QB

Brady's three Super Bowl rings and 16-0 regular season in '07, in which he threw for a record 50 touchdown passes, should be enough to put him in. But, it wont be.

Lucky for him, he has done some other great things such as put up a regular season record of 97-30, a postseason record of 14-4 and even post a 93.3 career QB rating. The only season his rating dipped below 83.9 was in his rookie season when he completed just one pass on three attempts, which went for six yards.

The five-time Pro Bowler was said to have had an off year in '09, just one season off a major knee injury, yet still threw for 4,398 yards and 28 TDs in New England's 10-6 season. Since his first start in 2001, Brady has produced 21 fourth quarter comebacks and 29 game-winning drives.

I'm sure there are guys out there that will disagree with me, but I would certainly vote Brady in based on what he has done so far.

Ladainian Tomlinson, RB

Tomlinson is the leading active rusher right now (12,490 yards; 8th all time), and still holds the coveted single-season rushing touchdown record which he set back in 2006 with 28. The three-time All Pro has run for double-digit touchdown totals in all nine of his NFL seasons.

Just this past season, his final year with the Bolts, was the first time Tomlinson didn't break a 1,000 yards on the ground. His durability shows with the fact that he missed just three regular season games so far in his career, but come playoff time he didn't seem quite as reliable. In seven playoff games, LT managed just 327 yards and four touchdowns on 96 carries (3.4 YPC).

That may be the only thing that will hurt Tomlinson's case, is playoff struggles. But, despite that, I would still give Tomlinson my vote, especially when you consider that PFR compares his nine-year career to players such as Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, Marshall Faulk, Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson.
Terrell Owens, WR

Despite being a locker room cancer to many of the teams he's been a part of in his 14-year career, Owens  has Hall-worthy numbers. T.O. is first among active players in receptions (1,006) and receiving yards (14,951). Those numbers are good enough for sixth all time and third all time respectively.

The six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All Pro has recorded nine 1,000 yards seasons and caught double digit touchdowns eight times. In 11 career playoff games, Owens has caught 54 passes for 751 yards and five touchdowns.

His career has been compared to players such as Steve Largent, Raymond Berry, Tim Brown, Marvin Harrison, Jimmy Smith and Cris Carter. All of which are either already in the Hall or Hall-bound.

Randy Moss, WR

Randy's 12-year career is very much similar to Owens'. Moss, a seven-time Pro Bowler, has 926 career receptions (10th all-time, second among active players) and 14,465 receiving yards (sixth all-time, second among active players).

In both of those categories Moss is behind only Owens on the list, but Moss's 148 receiving touchdowns is good for second all-time, four ahead of Owens. Moss is only 32, which is four years younger than Owens, meaning Moss could easily end up surpassing Owens in most categories. Especially when you consider that Terrell may not even have a team in 2010.

Moss may not have a ring, but he can say he was part of one of the best offenses in league history, the '07 Patriots. That season, his first with the Pats, he reeled in 98 balls for 1,493 yards and a record 23 touchdowns catches.
Tony Gonzalez, TE

Big Tony, who has proven that he can both block and catch passes over the middle, will likely go down as one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the game. The 10-time Pro Bowler has caught 999 passes throughout his 13 year career, which is good enough for the second-most among active players (behind only Terrell Owens).

Not only that, but it is also good enough for seventh-most in history. The next tight end on the list is Ozzie Newsome, who is all the way down at 39th-most. Had Gonzalez not been stuck on the Chiefs' roster for a majority of his career, who knows what else he could've accomplished.

But, nevertheless, Tony G. was a chief, and arguably the best to ever put on that uniform. The 6'5'' end reeled in double-digit TD totals three times, and surpassed 1,000 receiving yards four different times. His  102 receptions in the 2004 regular season is an NFL record by a tight end.

Gonzalez was a monster on the field and is considered, in my book at least, the best to ever play the position. He totally set the path for other tight ends, like Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark, to be more involved in the passing game.

Offensive linemen: Steve Hutchinson, Flozell Adams, Orlando Pace

Recently retired locks: Isaac Bruce, Marvin Harrison


Drew Brees, QB

Brees' career got off to a rocky start in San Diego after throwing 29 touchdown passes as compared to 31 interceptions through his first three seasons. But things started to turn around for him in his last two years on the west coast ('04 and '05). He managed to get enough attention from New Orleans, despite recent shoulder surgery, and they grabbed him in the offseason heading in to the 2006 season.

What a great move, I'd say. Brees was named to his second Pro Bowl and first All-Pro team that season after passing for 4,418 yards, 26 TDs and just 11 INTs as the Saints finished the season 10-6. Two years later Brees would pass for 5,000 yards and 34 TD's, and then this year he passed for another 34 TDs while completing 70 percent of his passes.

Brees is only borderline because he really only has six solid seasons under his belt, but he has proven he's a winner by winning a ring this past year, and he's certainly considered an elite NFL quarterback. If he can put up another solid 4-5 seasons, I would most definitely give him the nod for the Hall. Keep it up, Drew!
Edgerrin James, RB

James is currently 11th on the all-time rushing yards list with 12,246 yards, behind only Ladianian Tomlinson on the active list. Selected to four Pro Bowls, James has put up seven seasons with 1,100 or more rushing yards, including 1,500-plus and 13 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons in the league.

James's 80 rushing touchdowns puts him 18th on the all-time list and, again, he is behind only Tomlinson on the active list. James has had two straight sub-par seasons with Arizona and Seattle, but his numbers from 1999-07 should be good enough to at least get him consideration from the Hall voting committee.

Torry Holt, WR

Holt, a member of the 'greatest show on turf,' put up eight straight seasons of 80-plus catches, 1,100-plus yards from 2000-07. During that span, he was named to seven Pro Bowls and selected to an All Pro team. His 74 career touchdowns is good enough for sixth among active players.

His 13,382 receiving yards is good for third among active players behind, of course, Owens and Moss. Holt has twice caught for over 100 balls in a season, which included 117 in 2003.

Holt has taken part in two Super Bowls with the Rams, winning one of them in 1999, when Holt caught seven of Kurt Warner's passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Hines Ward, WR

Ward holds Pittsburgh's franchise records in all three of the main receiving categories: receptions (895), yards (10,947) and TDs (78). The four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XL MVP is known as one of the most feared blockers from the receiver position, and isn't afraid of going over the middle to catch a key pass on third down.

Despite his size, Ward has proven himself with consistency. In his 12-year career Ward has broken 1,000 yards through the air six times, and has caught double digit TDs on three separate occasions.

The two-time Super Bowl champ set career-highs in receptions, yards and TDs in 2002 after catching 112 passes for 1,329 yards and 12 TDs. Ward's toughness and consistency will make him a Hall of Fame finalist and could eventually push him over the top and in the Hall.

Offensive linemen: Kevin Mawae, Chris Samuels, Jeff Saturday, Brian Waters

Recently retired borderlines: Kurt Warner


Adrian Peterson, RB

What concerns me the most at this point is the fumbles. There aren't any backs in the Hall that were fumblers like Peterson has shown recently. But, other than the fumbles Peterson looks like he could be on his way to a Hall of Fame career if he keeps up his pace.

After his first three seasons, Peterson has put up back-to-back-to-back 1,300-plus yard, 10-plus TD seasons. He could even find himself a Super Bowl champion after this season.
Chris Johnson, RB

The sky is the limit for this guy after he became just the sixth player to ever rush for 2,000 yards in a season. And he did it in his second season. He says he can do even better, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR

Larry Fitz is one of the most well-known wide receivers in the game right now and attracts two or three DBs easily.

In just six NFL seasons, Fitzgerald has accumulated 7,067 yards and 59 touchdowns. He is even more successful when playoff time comes around. In six career playoff games Fitz has caught 42 passes for 705 yards and nine touchdowns, which includes a record-breaking postseason in 2008 in which he went for four straight 100-yard games and seven touchdowns on Arizona's run to the Super Bowl.

Antonio Gates, TE

In seven seasons, Gates has put up two seasons of 80-plus receptions and 1,100 yards on separate occasions. Gates has been chasing Tony Gonzalez as the best tight end in the game for several years now, and thanks to his quarterback Philip Rivers, he may make it back to his seventh Pro Bowl this year.

Josh Cribbs, Return Specialist

This season, Cribbs broke Eric Metcalf's record for most kick returns for touchdowns in a career, with eight. What's so great about this is that he's just 26 years old and did it in only five seasons, while Metcalf returned six over 13 NFL seasons. Next for Cribbs? Breaking the punt returns record (he currently has two, and the record is 10).
Offensive linemen: Joe Thomas, Matt Light

Other noteworthy names:

Donovan McNabb
Ahman Green
Fred Taylor
Joey Galloway
Derrick Mason

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tweet of the Day: Braylon Edwards to Larry Fitzgerald

After doing my daily Twittering (FYI: I only have a twitter account so that I can follow what former and current NFL players and personnel are up to, and to do a little advertising for this blog) I came across an interesting tweet between two receivers.

Edwards, the current New York Jet, posted a funny comment on Arizona Cardinal Larry Fitzgerald's profile. He said, "I heard you been skoolN (exact spelling) @KerryRhodes lol he needs it haha."
All this really means is Larry Fitzgerald is his normal self, you know, burning DBs like it's his job. I just thought it was cool to see a little bit of friendly competition between former teammates (Braylon and Kerry) and opposing players.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Early Outlook: AFC North

There is still a lot of things that will need to be--and will be--settled when training camp is in full swing in the first part of August.

But until then, the speculation surrounded certain teams will continue to spread around the league. Here are the early favorites, darkhorses, storylines, etc. that litter the AFC North division.

Favorite: Baltimore Ravens

With another year under young Joe Flacco's belt, plus the addition of a couple play-making receivers (YAC pro Anquan Boldin and deap threat Donte' Stallworth), Baltimore's offense seems to be exactly where head coach Jim Harbaugh wants it to be. Ray Rice will get his fair share of carries and continue to be a threat out of the backfield as well. The biggest question mark surrounding this team is, believe it or not, on defense.

There's a rather large possibility that All-Pro free safety Ed Reed will miss the first six weeks, maybe even more. With that said, Baltimore's secondary will surely be lacking. The affect of the gaping hole in the lineup could be equivalent to the Polamalu injury of last year (in Pittsburgh). However, the Ray Lewis-led front seven will be intact and the Reed injury may not be all that bad considering the improvements made on the other side of the ball.
With or without Reed, Baltimore is still the favorite up North.

Darkhorse: Cleveland Browns

Mike Holmgren has completely rebuilt the Browns this offseason. Getting rid of quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn and signing veteran Jake Delhomme, who was in dire need of a change in scenery. If the offensive line can keep Delhomme off his back, Cleveland's offense may have a shot at scoring some points as long as he limits the turnovers. Young Cleveland wideouts such as Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie will get their chance to shine with a proven quarterback under center.

It will be interesting to see how Jerome Harrison adapts to being the new No. 1 running back, although he will receive help from James Davis and rookie Montario Hardesty.

On defense, Cleveland boosted its secondary by drafting cornerback Joe Haden in the first round. Cleveland will hopefully be able to improve on the overall defense, which was ranked 29th against the pass, and 28th against the run (31st overall in yards allowed; 22nd in points allowed). If they can get a healthy Shaun Rogers (NT) and D'Qwell Jackson (ILB) back in the lineup, that would help plug running lanes and hopefully open up the pass a bit more.

Offensive MVP: Ray Rice
Defensive MVP: Troy Polamalu
Best Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger (despite 4-6 game suspension)
Best Running Back: Ray Rice
Best Receiver: Anquan Boldin
Best Tight End: Heath Miller
Best Offensive Lineman: Joe Thomas
Best Defensive Lineman: Haloti Ngata
Best Linebacker: Ray Lewis
Best Defensive Back: Troy Polamalu
Best Special Teamer: Josh Cribbs
Best Head Coach: Mike Tomlin

Rookie of the Year: Montario Hardesty
Comeback Player of the Year: Troy Polamalu
The Other Two:

Steelers...Big Ben's 4-6 game suspension is the only thing holding Pittsburgh back this season. Dennis Dixon isn't quite the same player as Ben, and may struggle a bit early on. The loss of Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes may end up being devastating if Mike Wallace doesn't live up to his expectations. Troy Polamalu's return is the headline on the other side of the ball and may turn this team around. The reason for Pittsburgh's 9-7 record last year is because of the loss of Polamalu in the secondary. Once Roethlisberger returns, Pittsburgh should turn things around for the good.

Bengals...A healthy Carson Palmer will be a huge plus, but I have my doubts about the offense as a whole. Ochocinco has certainly seen better days and seems to be focused on other, non-football activities (such as his MTV show). Cedric Benson, the big surprise of last year, has run in to more off-field troubles this offseason and his days may be numbered. With this offense in a wreck, I would have to say that Cincinnati may find themselves in third, maybe even last place behind the rebuilding Browns.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

13 Games to Watch in 2010

For NFL fans, the summers are usually pretty long.
I don't know about you guys, but I am sort of ready for the action to kick-off right now, not in September.  But, nonetheless, we are forced to play the waiting game.

While you are attempting to pass the time, I came up with a list of 10 games to watch this upcoming season.  Enjoy!

Week 1: MIN @ NO

This game alone may be one of the main reasons Favre is leaning towards returning for another year. What better way to start off the season than to get a shot at going in to the defending champs' dome and giving them a beating.
Week 1: BAL @ NYJ

You know Rex Ryan has this game circled on his calendar.

Not only does the second year head coach get to face his former employer, but this game will also provide intriguing match ups between last year's top ranked defense (Jets) and last season's fifth ranked rushing offense, led by little man Ray Rice.

To top it all off, the game will be the first game of a Monday Night doubleheader on ESPN.

Week 2: NYG @ IND

The two Manning brothers have gone head-to-head only once in their careers, back in week one of the 2006 regular season. Peyton, the elder of the two, came out on top in the 26-21 thriller.

Just like in '06, Peyton and Eli will most definitely be the center of attention in this week two showdown, so I would expect plenty of passing, and a high-scoring affair in front of the crowd inside Indy's Lucas Oil Stadium. The fact that the game will be in primetime will only add to the hype.

Week 5: MIN @ NYJ

Favre/Sidney Rice vs. Revis, Peterson vs. Ryan's hard-hitting D, Jared Allen vs. second-year QB Mark Sanchez. All three of those match ups should be getting you pumped for this week five showdown between AFC's runner up and the NFC's runner up. Once again, in primetime.
Week 6: DAL @ MIN

This game marks the beginning of a tough road ahead of Dallas. After this game between 'America's Team' and Childress's Vikings, Dallas plays five division games and match ups with Jacksonville, Green Bay, New Orleans and Arizona. If Dallas wants to make a run, they will have to play well against Jared Allen and Co. in this week six smack down in the Metrodome.

Week 8: PIT @ NO

It will be interesting to see how Big Ben plays after returning from his suspension. Much like Dallas, the Steelers will have to win this game if they expect to make a run and this will surely be the perfect test for Pittsburgh's defense. Brees vs. Polamalu will make this Sunday Night game a must-see.

Week 9: DAL @ GB

A shootout between Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers, what more could you ask for? Despite figures such as Demarcus Ware and Charles Woodson on the defensive side of the ball, I would expect a high-scoring, back-and-forth game between these two pass-oriented teams. Seems to me we will need to keep our Sunday night's free this fall.
Week 10: NE @ PIT

By now many of you are probably noticing a bit of a pattern. Many of these games on my list involve great head-to-head quarterback showdowns, and this one is no different. We always witness a show every time Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger step on to the field against each other. If Wes Welker is back in the lineup by the time week 10 rolls around this game could get just that much more interesting.

Week 11: IND @ NE

Coach Belichick's gaff in last year's New England/Indy game, which costed him a big ol' W, could be one of the biggest headlines heading in to this year's Brady/Manning Bowl. No need to hype this game up too much more really, the Patriots and Colts always play a great game.

Week 12: SD @ IND

This game will test Indy's midseason durability as they will be coming off an intense road game against the Pats, and will play San Diego and Dallas in back-to-back weeks. Meaning, yes, three straight 2009 playoff teams. I expect yet another great game between these two teams.

Week 13: PIT @ BAL

With strong safety Troy Polamalu back in Pittsburgh's lineup, hopefully as healthy as ever, the Steelers defense should be back to their 2008 form. With Joe Flacco's maturity, and another weapon in his arsenal (Anquan Boldin), we could see a little firepower on the offensive side of the ball rather than just the normal defensive struggle we see between these two teams.
Week 15: GB @ NE

Only thing that will make this late-season game between two playoff contenders is if it were being played in Lambeau. But, good news is it will still most likely be played in very cold weather in Foxboro. There's a chance one of these two teams could already have a playoff spot locked up, but if not, we will see a great game between two Pro Bowl quarterbacks.

Week 17: DAL @ PHI

Thanks to commissioner Goodell, all week 17 games will be between division rivals. I don't know about everyone else, but I love the idea. Dallas and Philly always play tough against each other. Even without McNabb in the picture, we will be able to witness a great game between two teams who aren't very fond of each other.

Keep your calendars open this fall and you will see some great football being played.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Inevitable: Five Things That are Bound to Happen in 2010

Each season brings change and new hope for each team.

But, then again, certain things never do change. Here's five things that are unavoidable, and will happen whether you want it to or not.

Brett Favre Returns for 20th Season


As much as we all hate the Favre talk it's going to pop up in conversation, and he's going to make yet another return. There have been more Favre sightings at a local high school and Minnesota head coach Brad Childress has reportedly already met with him.

If those are telling signs that Favre is going to mosey on in to the Metrodome come September 9, then I don't know what is. I mean, he even chose to get the ankle surgery, which was required if he planned on playing another down.

Favre, we all know you don't want to go through training camp. So, instead of trying to hide the fact that you are a huge diva, just come out and admit it so we all feel better about ourselves.

Favre will suit up in the purple in gold this season. Count on it.

Terrell Owens Will be in an NFL Uniform by October

Teams have been good about staying as far from T.O. as possible (so far), but don't expect this to last too much longer.

Obviously the 36-year old is past his prime, but as soon as the injury bug hits a couple of these teams they will start to get desperate enough to give this man a call. Heck, it may even come before then. He could find himself on the field by the end of August or early September. It's really all up to him.

If he is willing enough to sign a short-term deal with a contender, like he should be, he shouldn't have to wait too long to suit back up.

Personally I would be shocked if he was still unemployed by November. But hey, why complain? The NFL world seems to be better off without this diva in any locker room at all.
Neither the Saints Nor the Colts will Return to the Super Bowl

One of the great things about the NFL is there are so many talented teams out there. Unlike the NBA and MLB, talent in this league seems to be much more spread out amongst the teams.

In the AFC, there's at least five or six teams that could give Indy a run for their money. The NFC has about seven.

Teams the Colts will have to look out for include, but are not limited to: Jets, Pats, Ravens, Chargers, Titans, Steelers and, yes, even the Texans could make a playoff run. New Orleans needs to be aware of basically the entire NFC East, Green Bay, Minnesota, Atlanta and Arizona.

I don't know about you, but I think it's a pretty safe bet that neither team will make a return.

Rams' Rookie QB Bradford Starts From Beginning

There has been a lot of talk about whether Sam Bradford should be the starter from day one in St. Louis. Some say yes, others say no.

But, if you're St. Louis you don't really have many other choices. Sure you could go with the veteran A.J. Feeley and let Bradford ride the bench for a couple weeks. Although I really don't think a couple more weeks will make too big a difference.

Bradford has already shown some maturity and appears to be as healthy as ever. If St. Louis wants the best chance to win this season, it will be with the 22-year old Bradford, not the 33-year old Feeley who has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns throughout his career.
Houston Texans Make Playoffs for First Time in Franchise History

With the No. 1 passing attack last season, ahead of both Indy and New Orleans believe it or not, Houston finished the season with a winning record for the first time in its eight seasons.

2006: 6-10
2007: 8-8
2008: 8-8
2009: 9-7

Houston has improved each season and it seems as though they finally have everything in place to capture an AFC wild card spot. Last year's defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing has been suspended for the first four games of the season, but besides that, the defense looks to be in pretty good shape as well, with the secondary being the weakness.

Don't expect them to take the top spot in the division (that usually belongs to Peyton's Colts), but Matt Schaub's top tier passing attack shouldn't have much trouble nabbing the sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Top 10 Quarterbacks for 2010

After watching NFL Network and ESPN fail at ranking their top five quarterbacks in the game today, I've decided it was time to show them what's up with a list of my own. I put together a list of the top 10 quarterbacks. Hopefully this will eliminate any complaints about guys being left off the list.

In addition to my top 10, I added a couple honorable mentions (players who just missed the top 10 list), a couple quarterbacks who are 'on the verge' of being the next big thing/elite NFL QB. I even included a short list of QBs who are on the decline and are no longer considered elite.

Honorable mention:

Carson Palmer, CIN
After a disappointing, injury-littered 2008 season, Carson bounced back nicely, throwing for 3,000 yards and 21 TDs last year. Expect a healthy, hungry Palmer leading Cincy's team this season.

Joe Flacco, BAL
In his second season last year, Flacco set career highs with 21 TDs and 3,600 yards with a weak WR corps. But Baltimore went out and acquired former Cardinal Anquan Boldin and former Patriot Donte' Stallworth to complement veteran WR Derrick Mason.

Donovan McNabb, WAS
McNabb's stock may have been damaged a bit when he left the pass-happy Eagles and arrived in D.C. But, nevertheless, McNabb's ability is still there and, as long as he has the right targets around him, should have a very productive season under center.

On the verge:

Chad Henne, MIA
The addition of All-Pro Brandon Marshall to go along with Miami's state-of-the-art running game should complement Henne greatly.
Eli Manning, NYG
Manning topped 4,000 yards for the first time and set a career-high in TD tosses last year with 27. As long as he can limit the turnovers, Manning could see himself a top 10 QB in the next couple of years.

Still has a ways to go:

Vince Young, TEN
His passing mechanics have improved, but he still resorts to using his legs a little too often. Being a little more consistent would help his case, as well.

Matthew Stafford, DET
Stafford would have a better chance at becoming elite if he wasn't stuck in Detroit.

Mark Sanchez, NYJ
Once he manages to limit his turnovers (20 INTs as a rookie last season) and completes more than half his passes we could see him as an elite passer...maybe. Give him a few years.

Over the hill:

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA
Injury issues continue to dominate Hasselbeck's career. The acquisition of Charlie Whitehurst may be a sign that Seattle wants to go a different way sometime in the near future.

Jake Delhomme, CLE
The fact he has gotten away from Carolina and is starting over in Cleveland is a good sign for Delhomme. Change can be a good thing. But that still doesn't take away from the fact that Jake is aging quickly and may have lost his touch.

Top 10:

10. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

Big Ben would be ranked higher on my list if he was not making off-field headlines during the off season. His 4-6 game suspension has hurt his 2010 value greatly, but he still cracks the top 10 simply because of the fact that he makes big plays when the game is on the line and has numbers to prove his elite status.

Despite being sacked a career-high 50 times last season, Roethlisberger put up a season QB rating of 100-plus for the second time in his six year career. He also passed for 4,000 yards for the first time in his career, which included a franchise-record 503 passing yards against the Packers on December 20.

Throughout his career, the 28-year old gunslinger has 17 fourth quarter/OT comebacks. The truth is, Ben knows how to win and his two Super Bowl rings tells the story.
When he comes back from his suspension this season he will get right back to what he does best, and will most likely climb up my list in the process.
 9. Matt Ryan, ATL

In just two seasons at the helm in ATL, Ryan has led the Falcons to a 20-10 record as starter and carried them to a playoff appearance. In 14 starts this past season, Ryan threw for just short of 3,000 yards and set a career-high in TD passes with 22.

Had Ryan started all 16 games this season, Atlanta may have had a chance at making the playoffs. Running back Michael Turner has been a great addition for Atlanta over the last couple of seasons, and has really made Ryan's NFL transition much easier.

With Turner and emerging receiver Roddy White on his side, Ryan is poised for a career season this year.

8. Tony Romo, DAL

The only thing Romo's resume is missing is playoff success. Tony, whether you're a fan or not, is an elite QB during the regular season, but when playoff time comes, he drops out of the top 10.

Romo has put up a record of 38-17 over the last four seasons, which includes two seasons of 4,000-plus passing yards and a combined 107 TDs. All this makes him a top five fantasy quarterback, but because of his playoff struggles (1-3 record as starter) Romo misses my top five.

With rookie Dez Bryant and last year's surprise emerging receiver in Miles Austin at his disposal, Romo should continue to put up solid regular season totals. As for playoff success? That all depends on his maturity.

7. Brett Favre, MIN

We still have no idea whether Favre will return to Minnesota this year or not, but chances are he will. And, once he returns to the field I assure you he will be throwing as hard as ever.

Last year, the 40-year old had arguably one of his best seasons, leading the Vikings to the Conference Championship--falling just short of the Super Bowl. Favre threw a career low seven INTs (discounting his rookie season with ATL in '91 in which he threw two INTs on four pass attempts), and put up the second-best passer rating in the league (107.2) behind only Drew Brees, the Super Bowl champ.

Favre underwent ankle surgery this off-season and has been seen working out at a local high school, which leads many to believe he will, in fact, return for his 20th NFL season. As we all witnessed last season, Favre hasn't lost his touch and is still in physical shape to play quarterback at the NFL level.

If/when he returns, Favre will put up solid numbers for the Vikings and lead them back to the playoffs, in what should be his final season.

6. Philip Rivers, SD

With Pro Bowl WR Vincent Jackson out at least the first three games of the season due to his violation of the league's personal conduct policy (he could end up sitting out up to 10 games due to his contract dispute), Rivers' numbers will take a hit. But, Rivers' career-high 34 passing TDs came in '08 when Jackson wasn't quite as big a threat to defenses.

In four full seasons as San Diego's starter, Rivers has put up a record of 46-18, thrown for 14,000-plus yards and tossed 106 TDs. In postseason play, Rivers has struggled at times (3-3 as starter), but does have the ability to take this team to the Super Bowl considering he has matured greatly over the past couple of years.

Rivers fell one win shy of a Super Bowl appearance in 2007 but has managed to get San Diego to the playoffs all four of his years as San Diego's starter. Consistency is one of his biggest strengths, and many experts believe he is ready to take the next step: Super Bowl.
 5. Matt Schaub, HOU

Schaub's Texans are just a step or two away from making the franchise's first playoff appearance, and it all hinges on this guy's right arm.

Schaub broke in to the fantasy world last season with his 4,770 passing yards and 29 TDs (67.9 comp %) as signal caller on one of the league's best passing attack. The underrated wide receiver Andre Johnson made for a great target for the one-time Pro Bowler.

With Johnson and Kevin Walter running routes for Schaub again this year, don't be surprised if Schaub tops 30 TDs and comes close to 5,000 yards yet again. Especially if Steve Slaton returns to his 2008 form. The arrival of former Auburn tailback Ben Tate will take pressure off both Schaub and Slaton, leading to more production both on the ground and through the air.

4. Aaron Rodgers, GB

Unlike NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes, I believe Rodgers is a top five quarterback.

After backing up legend Brett Favre for his first three seasons, Rodgers stepped in and had immediate success two years ago. Rodgers started all 16 games in the 2008 season, throwing for 4,000 yards and 28 TDs (GB went 6-10).

The following season, last year, Rodgers topped that performance with 4,434 yards and 30 TDs, leading the Pack to an 11-5 record and Rodgers' first playoff appearance. Rodgers impressive performance of 8,801 passing yards and 59 TDs and just 21 INTs in two full seasons at the helm.

Green Bay's early exit in the playoffs didn't help Rodgers' case too much, but the Packers will, without a doubt, find themselves a top the NFC North.

3. Tom Brady, NE

Brady's name alone may have put him in the top three, but let's keep in mind that last year he was just one year removed from a serious knee injury and he still managed to lead the Pats to a playoff appearance while putting up decent numbers (65.7 comp %, 4,398 yards, 28 TDs, 13 INTs, 96.2 passer rating).

Brady puts up great numbers and wins games year after year, making him one of the most accurate passers in the game. Consistency and reliability are among his many strengths. He may struggle at times when under pressure, but when he gets the ball out on time he is usually right on target.

Brady started all 16 regular season games in seven of his 10 seasons in the league as he put up a regular season record of 97-30 (14-4 in postseason). Once Wes Welker returns in September/October, Brady's numbers should go up tremendously.

Expect five or six more productive seasons from the 32-year old Brady.

2. Drew Brees, NO

As much as I hate to be the one to put the Super Bowl champ behind the Super Bowl runner-up, I feel as though I have to.

Brees has a very strong and accurate arm, and targets to his disposal. With four straight seasons of 4,000-plus yards, 26-plus TDs, the only thing Brees doesn't have going his way is his height of six feet. As we have already discovered, Brees' height doesn't stop him from throwing TDs and winning games.

Let's face it, Brees wins the top spot as best fantasy quarterback, but his plethora of football knowledge just doesn't quite match up to Manning's. Though his will to win and ability may. As long as Brees is under center, the Saints will be scoring 30-40 points a game.
1. Peyton Manning, IND

Like I said above, Manning is without a doubt the smartest quarterback, if not player, in the NFL. Who needs an offensive coordinator when you have Peyton Manning as your quarterback.

Manning and Brees both have a ring, but Peyton has twelve seasons of 3,000 passing yards and a 131-61 regular season record. With 50,000 career passing yards and the third-most passing TDs in league history (366), you can't go wrong with one of the most successful signal callers in history.

There's no question that Manning is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and, despite losing the Super Bowl last season, Peyton's Colts seem to be the favorites instead of the defending champion Saints.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tweet of the Day: Andre Johnson

In celebration of Houston Texans wide out Andre Johnson's 29th birthday today:

"It's my birthday and I'm very thankful to have a great family and friends and very thankful to have been bless for 29 years."

Happy birthday to Johnson, who is one of the best, yet highly underrated, wide receivers in the league. Expect big numbers yet again this season from Matt Schaub's favorite target.

Hall, Hester, or Cribbs? Take Your Pick

Far too many fans seem to take a solid special teams core for granted.

Yes, most of the scoring happens on offense. And, yes, the defense is actually the ones whose job it is to stop the opposing offense. But a great special teams unit is deadly.

Just think at how much better off the Baltimore Ravens were during the decade-plus that Matt Stover spent on the team. It was a rarity to see the guy miss a field goal. In my opinion, he was probably the most reliable kicker in history—modern history at least.
The punter is very much underrated as well, and is often taken for granted. If you can't pin the other team deep in to their own territory, they obviously have a much better chance to drive down the field.

It's common sense, people! Don't take special teams for granted.

Kicking and punting is most likely a bit too boring for those casual football fans. That's where return men like Dante Hall, Devin Hester, and Josh Cribbs come in.

Hall, ("The X-Factor"), now 31 and currently unemployed, was one of the most electrifying kick/punt returners in the game while with the Chiefs in the early 2000s. The two-time Pro Bowler returned six punts and six kicks for TDs during his nine year NFL career.

Hall was dethroned of the title "most electrifying return man" a couple years later when Hester, in his rookie campaign in '06, returned three punts and two kicks for TDs.

Hester topped that performance in his sophomore season with Chicago, returning four punts and two kicks
for TDs. Unfortunately, Hester hasn't returned a ball for a touchdown since then.

Both Hall and Hester had just two or three great seasons until they slowly faded away—most likely as a result from seeing less kicks come their way.

The two had burning speed and could change directions on a dime, making them tough to bring down. They also had very recognizable names.

Josh Cribbs, Cleveland's 27 year old WR/return specialist, is nothing like the others. Cribbs is built much larger (6'1", 215 lbs.), yet has the ability to change directions just as quickly.

His size allows him two options—he can either run through or around you. Defenders seem to underestimate his speed because of his powerful, bruising size.

In each of his five NFL seasons (all with the Browns), Cribbs has returned at least one kickoff for a touchdown, including three this past season (two in one game against Kansas City). This allowed Cribbs to set the all-time record for career KO returns for TDs with eight.

This is quite an accomplishment since Cribbs has played just five seasons so far. He set this record while returning a total of 265 kicks. It took Hall 426 kick returns to get to six career TDs.

So, while you guys may be choosing the flashy Hall or Hester (in their prime, of course), I will choose the overall more athletic—and consistent—Josh Cribbs, who very well may double his TD total by the end of his career.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tweet of the Day: Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay's franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers had this to say after NFL Network analyst, and former NFL player, Jamie Dukes left him off his list of top five NFL QBs:

"He's never been a fan of mine. His rankings are about as important to me as the oracle octopus's world cup picks."

Ouch, I know that one hurt , Jamie. This is especially shocking because of the fact that Mr. Dukes included the 33-year old Donovan McNabb in his list. McNabb, of course, has seen better days and will be under center for the Skins this season, which leads to cause of concern for fans everywhere.

The Five Most Exciting Matchups in Football

For an NFL fan, every matchup is fun to watch, and has its own storylines.

But at the same time, certain matchups stick out, and are usually a must-see for every fan.

While many key showdowns involve division rivals, there may also be one or two contests where both teams play each other like it's the Super Bowl.

So here we go, my list of the most exciting/intriguing NFL matchups to watch.

Note: This list is not based on the 2010 regular season schedule, so these teams may or may not be playing each other this year.

Honorable Mentions

Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys
Classic rivalry between "the Cowboys and Indians". The two teams have met 100 times, and Dallas has scored over 2,000 regular season points against its division rivals.

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Nothing like a December clash between these two teams. Doesn't even matter who's home, both teams have great stadiums (Lambeau Field and Soldier Field), which more often than not are covered with snow.

Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers
San Diego owns Indy over the last five games, which includes two postseason victories. Good to know someone has a secret for beating Peyton.

5. New England Patriots (AFC East) vs. New York Jets (AFC East)
New York leads RS 50-48-1
New England leads PS 2-0

The Spygate scandal in 2007 and the mini feud between coach Bill Belichick and former Jets head coach Eric Mangini (former assistant under Belichick) seems to have ignited some flames.

Since then, it seems the two teams, who are division rivals to begin with, have played each other with even more motivation.

Rex Ryan's big mouth may make this rivalry even more intriguing this season.

The tables have turned in the division and this season, we may see New York in the attic and New England in the cellar.

How juicy.

4. Minnesota Vikings (NFC North) vs. Green Bay Packers (NFC North)
Green Bay leads RS 49-47-1
Minnesota leads PS 1-0

Whether Brett Favre returns as a Viking or not, this will be just as exciting to watch come Fall, considering both teams are playoff contenders.

Personally, I think Green Bay is a little better off than Minnesota at this point. The Packers haven't faced offseason issues like Minnesota has.

Coach Mike McCarthy has kept his team a bit more focused, and they are no doubt hungry to return to the playoffs after falling to Arizona in overtime last year.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (NFC East) vs. Dallas Cowboys (NFC East)
Dallas leads RS 55-43
Dallas leads PS 3-1

Before last season, the series had usually been pretty even (between 2005 and 2008 each team won four games). But Dallas swept Philly in 2009.

Not only did they outscore the Eagles 44-16 in the two regular season matchups, but they also blew them out in the first round of the playoffs, 34-14.

After hearing all that, you know Andy Reid's Eagles will seek revenge on Dallas this season.

With a new signal caller under center for the Eagles, this rivalry could get just a bit more interesting. Stay tuned, folks.

2. Indianapolis Colts (AFC South) vs. New England Patriots (AFC East)
New England leads RS 42-28
New England leads PS 2-1

This is the only non-division rivalry on my Top Five, but for good reason.

From 1998 (the year Peyton Manning came into the league) to 2004, New England dominated Indy, going 10-2 against them, with two of those victories coming in the playoffs.

Since then, Manning and the Colts have turned the tables on Brady, going 5-1, including a playoff win that led to Manning's lone Super Bowl Championship in '06.

Fortunately for us, we get to see the two face off once again this season, despite being in different divisions. In fact, the game is in November at Gillette Stadium.

Lucky us, we may even get to see a snowy, defensive struggle for a change.
1. Baltimore Ravens (AFC North) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC North)
Pittsburgh leads RS 17-11
Pittsburgh leads PS 2-0

Baltimore and Pittsburgh is clearly the top rivalry in the game today.

Whether it's smack talk between Bart Scott and Hines Ward (a few years back), or a little pregame battle between fans in the parking lot, there will always be hype, and then a great smackdown to back up all that talk.

Despite Pittsburgh leading the overall series, Baltimore has the upper hand in the rivalry this year, especially when you consider the Steelers will be without their star quarterback for the first game between the two.

Both teams are so much alike.

Baltimore and Pittsburgh both pride themselves on the defensive side of the ball and now, thanks to two young guns under center, have switched their offenses to focus more on passing.

No matter what, these two teams bring their A-games whenever they face each other.
That's all there is to it.

Snyder Brought on the Albert Haynesworth Dispute

The Albert Haynesworth/Washington Redskins contract dispute continues to dominate the NFL offseason headlines.  Many are throwing all the blame on Haynesworth himself. But, in my opinion, the Redskins' front office brought this upon themselves.

Daniel Snyder, in particular, threw far too much money on the table to begin with. Plus, the 'Skins were well aware of his past troubles before throwing the $100 million contract at Big Al.
Obviously his size—6'6", 350 pounds)—allows him to plug running lanes and his ability to sack the quarterback (28 career sacks in eight seasons) made it tough to pass on the opportunity, but the baggage wasn't worth the price.  Signing anyone to such a large contract comes with huge risk, let alone a guy who already carries character issues with him.

There have been a couple of other very productive defensive tackles that came with less baggage who signed elsewhere for a lot less, including Corey Simon and Vonnie Holliday.

Holliday may have only played three of his 12 seasons at D-tackle, but he was very successful at the position in Miami where he accumulated 116 tackles and 14 sacks from 2005-07 (he was already over 30 years old at the time).  Simon, now retired, played seven seasons and totaled 192 tackles and 32 sacks with three different teams.

Both guys were highly underrated, therefore came pretty cheap, yet produced solid numbers for their respective teams.  Using those two examples alone, tells me that there is hidden talent at the defensive tackle
position without throwing $100 million on the table.

Silly Dan. Next time, use the draft to pick up a defensive tackle to build your defense around.