I’m ready for some (NFL) football.

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I’ll admit it: I was all ready to devote myself to watching  college football and spending time with my family to fill my

Welcome back NFL!!

weekends this fall. So needless to say: thank God they resolved this lockout! Of course there is no silver lining without any clouds, and while I am excited about the start of football, I am not excited about the start of this Packer dynasty. All-world quarterback, four quality receivers and a young, fast defense? Shoot me now. So without further Adu, let’s get this season under way:

NFC East:
1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-4): On one hand, the potential of this offense terrifies me. With Jackson, Maclin and McCoy burning up the field, the last thing a defense needs to worry about is a QB with 4.4 speed. So when you throw a rejuvenated Michael Vick into the mix, this has the potential to be the best offense we’ve seen since the 2007 Patriots. However, on the other hand, Vick has a somewhat fragile past (two games missed last  year due to a rib injury), and if Vince Young still isn’t good at football (he’s not) then this turns into a six win team.

2.*Dallas Cowboys (11-5): Last year seemed like a bit of an aberration to me. You had an incompetent coach, too many arrogant players and a season ending injury to their star quarterback. This team still has a ton of talent, and I’m excited to see how Jason Garrett does without the bumbling Mr. Phillips around anymore. We’ve seen how bad things can go when a Head Coach loses the respect of the locker room, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this happened to the ‘Boys last year. Whether a coaching change is enough to turn things around, I”m not sure; the one thing we do know, is that with Jerry Jones around, it won’t be dull in the big D.

3. New York Giants (8-8): What do you get when you combine an injury-prone defense, an aging offensive line and a twenty-five interception quarterback with an inferiority complex? you get one angry Tom Coughlin. This team might be very bad, but at the very least Coughlin might try to stab one a referee with the first down marker after Eli’s sixth pick in week one. Keep an eye on this situation; there will be fireworks.

4. Washington Redskins (3-13):Let’s see here…. we have an old coach who hasn’t caught up with the rest of

Yeah, I'm still bitter

the league, a team with no wide receivers outside of five foot nothing Santana Moss and a stacked division to play against. The only question that remains with this team is whether John Beck or Sexy Rexy will back up Andrew Luck at the start of next season for Jon Gruden’s 2012 Washington Redskins.

NFC North:

1. Green Bay Packers (14-2): I discussed this in the intro, but this team is stacked across the board and could legitimately make a run at an undefeated season. Just shoot me now.

2.Detroit Lions (8-8): This Lion’s defensive line terrifies me; especially when you factor in Ndamukong Suh’s insatiable blood lust. Calvin Johnson might be the best wide receiver in the league, and is someone who can take over any game at any point. His only real weakness is an inability to hold on to the ball

after he makes touchdown catches.If they can develop their young tight end and wide receivers, they could make some serious noise this year. However, Matt Stafford is still made of porcelain and the O-line is pretty beaten up right now. When you throw in the two guaranteed losses to Green Bay, eight wins sounds about right. With this young talent, I’m not excited about the next five years in the NFC North.

3. Chicago Bears (8-8): I’m a Bears fan, so it hurts to pick them for third, but I’m also not an idiot. This was the luckiest team in all of football last year. They had a total of one player go on Injured Reserve, and they played a host of back-up quarterbacks throughout the season. The dirty secret from last year’s division championship? They weren’t actually any good! And while the Lions and Packers both got better, I’m not sure what the Bears did to improve this team. Eight wins might actually be a bit of a stretch.

4.Minnesota Vikings (5-11): Adrian Peterson’s badassness (it’s a real word, deal with it.) is the only reason this team wins any games this year. They do have some excited young players in Kyle Rudolph and Percy Harvin, but this defense is getting old, and unless someone else steps up at the wide receiver spot, this could be another long season for Donovan McNabb. It will be interesting to see how long Leslie Frazier sticks with the status quo before Christian Ponder sees some serious playing time. Nobody other than the Pack is winning this division, so I say we see the change somewhere around week eight or so. Have fun picking yourself up off the turf Mr. Ponder.

NFC South
1. Atlanta Falcons (12-4): This was already a dangerous team, with an improving Matt Ryan and Michael Turner in the backfield, no team did a better job of establishing their offensive identity from week to week. The only thing they really needed was another game breaker to complement Roddy White. While I’m not normally a fan of mortgaging your future for one player, I think Julio Jones is the real deal and will make a big impact from day one. Also, let’s keep in mind that the last time we saw this team play, Aaron Rodgers was preening in the end zone on their home field. Ryan seems like the type to sit and watch those replays again and again and come back better than before. This could definitely be the year he makes “The Leap”.

I really hate this man....

2.*New Orleans Saints (11-5): This defense is a shell of what it was two years ago when they gave us this wonderful moment  and I think they will miss Reggie Bush a lot more than they think. Luckily for them they still have the most accurate quarterback in the league and a head coach who can get the most out of any offensive players he has. The other good news is that with Darren Sproles in this lineup, they finally have a running back who can actually stay healthy for more than three games a year.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7): While I may not love Josh Freeman as much as Bill Simmons does, I still think he’s got the potential to be a top-five quarterback in this league for a long time to come. When you throw in my LeGarrette Blount man-crush, this team looks very tough out of the gate this year. Unfortunately for them, this defense still needs quite a bit of work, and I’m not completely sold on their wide receiver corps yet, but this is definitely a team on the rise. Cheer up Bucs fans, there are brighter days ahead.

4. Carolina Panthers (3-13): Yes, Jonathon Stewart and DeAngelo Williams can move the chains as well as anyone (not worth thirty million guaranteed, but still good), but who exactly is Cam Newton going to overthrow? It really sucks to be him this year; not only did he take a paycut to come to this team, but he doesn’t even get to throw to a good Steve Smith anymore. On another note, who would have thought we would ever have a league where Danny Woodhead is a better fantasy option than Steve Smith? What is this world coming to?

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals (9-7): Kevin Kolb may not be the next Joe Montana the way Arizona fans think he is, but he’s a heck of a lot better than John Skelton and Max hall. And let’s not forget, Larry Fitzgerald’s still a beast. Plus, I won’t be drafting Beanie Wells this year, so he’s bound to have a break out year.

the real Beast Mode

2. Saint Louis Rams (8-8):  Everyone in the sports world is ready to hand this division to the Rams, but i’m not sold just yet. They still don’t have enough quality pieces on defense, and I need to see a lot more from this group of wide receivers before I’m completely convinced that this is anything other than the Steven Jackson show. Sam Bradford may evolve into a top-five quarterback at some point, but as of right now, he’s no better than Mark Sanchez or Matt Stafford.

3. San Francisco 49ers (6-10): Alex Smith is terrible. There’s no clever way to say it, he’s just an awful football player. Every day, I wish that the Niners would have taken Aaron Rodgers first overall instead of Smith. But no, they’re stuff in NFL hell and the Packers are on the verge of a dynasty. If the roles were reversed the Packers would be stringing together five win seasons and the 49ers would be winning their fourth straight NFC West. Either way, Frank Gore and Vernon Davis may both be studs, but the rest of the team is awful. However, they’re still better than:

Seattle Seahawks (3-13):   Let’s do a rundown of the key figures for the Seahawks this year: They have a quarterback and wide receiver that weren’t good enough for the Vikings to resign, their starting running back wasn’t good enough for the Bills, and their Head Coach bombed so miserably his first time around that he had to relocate to USC where he could buy his way into victories. That’s what you call an embarrassment of riches. Or just an embarrassment.

AFC East
1. New England Patriots (14-2): I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t know what Bill Belichick is up to, but whatever it is, it can’t be good for the rest of the league. I know that OchoCinco and

5'2" and a legitimate fantasy option

Haynesworth haven’t produced in the last couple of years, but anytime you can bring in All-Pro level talent at a discounted price, you have to do it. We’ve seen this before (Moss, Dillon, Seau, Harrison), so it doesn’t surprise me that the Pats are going in this direction. I am probably in the minority, but I believe Ocho is going to click with Tom Brady and strengthen what was already the best offense in football. On defense, they’re still young, which means Brady and company will still have to put up points, but they’ve never had a problem with that in the past.

2. New York Jets (10-6): We come now to the most overrated team in all of football. Somehow in the last two years, Rex Ryan and Bart Scott have talked enough about how good the Jets are that we’ve completely overlooked how streaky and lucky they’ve been. They have a below average quarterback, a thin receiving corps and an inconsistent running game based on one back who fumbles too much (Greene) and one who’s over the hill (Tomlinson). I know the defense is good, but we might need to tone down the Jetlove until they win something.

3. Buffalo Bills (5-11): I like the direction the Bills are going. They’ve done a good job of cutting the bad apples and wasted talent (Marshawn Lynch and Aaron Maybin respectively) from this team over the last few years, and finally seemed to add some good young pieces to the mix. With that said, Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the answer at quarterback, even if he did have a higher SAT score than me. And at least we finally got an answer to why the Bills drop so many passes.

4. Miami Dolphins (3-13): We have yet another entrant into the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Unless the ‘Fins make a trade for Kyle Orton in the next three weeks, the fans down in South Beach will have a long season coming up. After choosing to not to resign their two leading rushers they have no running game to speak of and it will be interesting to see how long it is before Brandon Marshall finally snaps and kills someone after being triple covered every game. Even with Orton, this is a six win team, with Henne or Moore back there? this could get ugly in a hurry.

AFC North
1.Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): With any other team, I’d be worried about all of the offseason issues. But this is the same team that has dealt with, in no particular order: rape accusations, coaching changes, running back injuries, DWI’s and mouthy linebackers. I think a bigger concern will be whether or not Rashard Mendenhall can give them sixteen healthy games this season and they can find a complementary piece to go with Mike Wallace. Hines Ward may be a better dancer than a receiver at this point in his career, so they need to start moving in a new direction. With all that said, this defense is still as nasty as any out there and can pick up any necessary slack.

2.*Baltimore Ravens (11-5): Every year for the last five years was supposed to be the last productive year for Ray Lewis. At this point I treat him like the Atlanta Braves from the 1990‘s: I’m going to pick him to succeed until he proves me wrong, not the other way around. While he’s shown some signs of slowing down, he makes up for it with his superior intelligence and experience. As Lewis goes, so go the Ravens, so I plan on that defense carrying the team until Flacco is playing up to his high potential.

3.Cleveland Browns (6-10):I can’t think of any better example of subtle racism in this country than Peyton Hillis beating out several other candidates for the Madden ‘12 cover this year. It’s been so long since we’ve had a starting white running back, we all decided to put an above average back on the cover of a game rather than the most electric player in the league. I’m in full support of the whitewash that is the Brown’s backfield, but it doesn’t mean he’s the most deserving. Either way, he’s a solid runner, and Colt McCoy looks like he’s going to be a stud someday.This team will be competitive, but they don’t have enough pieces to win just yet.

Finally... someone whiter than me!!

4.Cincinnati Bengals (3-13): It’s impossible for me to understand the thought processes of Mike Brown when it comes to running this franchise. Three years ago, the Redskin’s Dan Snyder offered two first round draft picks for Chad Johnson, both of which turned out to be top ten picks. Rather than unloading an aging headache onto a new team, Brown decided to hold tight with his crappy aging wide receiving corps. Now three years later, all he got was a late round pick and some cash to take Ochocinco off his hands. When you throw in his refusal to trade Carson Palmer out of some stubborn pride, I don’t blame Bengals’ fans for being fed up with this leadership. Andy Dalton could be the best quarterback in the league, and this team still won’t succeed until there is some change at the top. That’s even if he can survive hits like this.

AFC South
1. Houston Texans (11-5): I’m still not convinced that Peyton Manning will be completely healthy for this season, and all reports out of Indy suggest that the Colts will be more than happy to let him rest up until the last possible moment. We’ve seen a rusty Peyton Manning before, and that led to a bad start for them. The competition in the South isn’t weak enough for the Colts to get away with that this year. I like the Texans’ balance on offense, and Andre Johnson remains completely terrifying. The real question is how long it takes the defense to come together as a unit. This team will go as the secondary goes, and I think the improvements they’ve made will be enough to make the jump from a frustrating team to a contender.

2.*Indianapolis Colts (10-6): Even with a slow start, a hurt Peyton Manning (reports say he can barely turn his head from side to side), injury and drop prone wide receivers and no running game to speak of, this remains one of the tougher teams in the league for no other reason than number eighteen at the quarterback.  The defense has several departures, but the new additions all have something to prove and should add depth to the thinner positions on this side of the ball. With Robert Mathis in a contract year and Dwight Freeney being Dwight Freeney, the defensive line could make life miserable for opponents this year. If the special teams can even improve to the point of being average, then this team could still make some noise.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8): A big part of this depends on the health of Maurice Jones Drew and David Garrard. If both of them can stay healthy, this offense has the ability to move the ball steadily down the field. With both tight ends capable of catching fifty plus passes, they are going to have to rely on ball control and preventing turnovers, both of which are Garrard’s specialty. If Jack Del Rio has his way, Blaine Gabbert won’t see the field except in garbage time this season.

4. Tennessee Titans (5-11): Even if Chris Johnson comes back from his holdout on time (which doesn’t seem likely) this is a team that starts Kenny Britt and Nate Washington and wide receiver. Not exactly Jerry Rice in his prime on the outside, and it’s not like Matt Hasselbeck’s been throwing darts the last couple of years. This team wasn’t any good last year, and with the changes made so far this year I don’t see any reason that will change this year.

AFC West
1. San Diego Chargers (12-4): This is finally going to be the year that San Diego starts off something other than 0-5. With everyone on the team coming into camp on time, a star in the making in Philip Rivers and no running back injuries this year, the offense which led the league in yardage last year will be even better this year. If the defense can actually force some turnovers this year, this is finally a team that can contend for a Super Bowl coming out of the AFC.

2.*Kansas City Chiefs (10-6): I grew up as a football fan believing in the theory that running the ball, playing solid defense and having an insanely loud home crowd led to winning on a consistent basis. Over the last few years as the league turned into a glorified 7-on-7 drill in which you weren’t allowed to look wrong at an offensive player, I questioned this theory. Last year’s Chiefs team showed that with the right system and one star wide receiver you can still win in today’s NFL. I see no reason that in a watered down (read:pathetic) AFC West that this formula can’t work a second time. The Chiefs will again be a team that impresses everyone throughout the season and gets blown out by a legitimate team in the first round of the playoffs.

3. Oakland Raiders (8-8): You know you’ve gotten to a dark point as a franchise when eight wins is considered a successful campaign. Regardless of final record, it was still impressive for this team to go 6-0 in the division and still miss the playoffs. That won’t happen again this year. Darren McFadden has yet to go two consecutive seasons without a season threatening injury since his high school days. For some reason there are plenty of people buying the Raiders this year, but they will be exactly what they were last year: a somewhat dangerous team without the requisite skill players to seriously contend.

4. Denver Broncos (6-10):The whole situation in Denver is absolutely screwed up. Poor Tim Tebow has done nothing but put out supreme effort, and because all of America loves him beyond what they should, he gets thrown under the bus by the media and his teammates. Thank  God John Fox is in control instead of Josh McDaniels or else things would have really gone to hell. As it is, I see no reason to believe that Denver will be anything other than a disappointment

to the fans in Colorado. Even in an abysmal AFC West, they’ll be lucky to sniff six wins this season.

I hate this league...

Even with all my research and planning for these picks, everyone knows that some major injury or loss of ability will happen and throw everything into disarray. The beautiful thing about the NFL is that the only consistency we have is the lack of consistency. Thank God the lockout is over.

Super Bowl Pick
Packers over Patriots. I hate my life.

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One Response to “I’m ready for some (NFL) football.”

  1. Daniel Says:

    The packers will be good, but they’re still beatable. I’m gonna have to do my picks here now that you did yours…

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