Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 4

Bounce back week; Week 4. At least that's what we're calling it. 148 Games in the City of Brotherly Love and they're going to boo Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia. Am I the only one who thinks the Steelers don't need 2X Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger?!? The Bears aren't the team you think they are, the 49ers are, and the Chiefs being 3-0, well you figure that one out.

Get After It!

Last Week: 7-9-0
On The Season: 21-23-3

San Francisco @ Atlanta After an 0-3 start the 'Niners fired their offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. With replacement Mike Johnson, that makes the sixth coordinator quarterback Alex Smith has worked under since being drafted by San Francisco in 2005. With that, they travel to 2-1 Atlanta who just had one of their biggest wins defeating division rival New Orleans in The Bayou. Being said, take the 49ers +6.5, big game hangover + must win for Singletary = finally getting a win.

Cincinnati @ Cleveland Despite the 2-1 start, I have my doubts about the Bengals. 8-Year veteran quarterback, Carson Palmer, has underperformed thus far. Throwing just three touchdown passes and two straight weeks of a quarterback rating south of 65, Palmer is struggling. His poor completion percentage of 56.6% is worse than both Detroit backup quarterback Shaun Hill and Cleveland backup Seneca Wallace, both of whom have two starts under their belt. Take the Browns +3, they're at home and getting points.

Seattle @ St. Louis If anyone thought we'd have to wait and see what Sam Bradford could do, they were wrong. The Rams weren't afraid to let Bradford take the reigns early and for $50 million in guaranteed money, can you blame 'em? The rookie quarterback has attempted more passes (albeit with far less weapons) than the likes of Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Brett Favre. Against Seattle, Bradford could have his best day as an NFL quarterback. The Seahawk secondary gave up 455 yards passing to Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers just a week ago. Rams +1

Denver @ Tennessee As good as the Broncos have been against the run, they haven't seen a running back like the Titans Chris Johnson. Johnson has already gone over 120 yards rushing in two of his first three games this season. As much as I don't like the Broncos and am just as unsure as you about what their plan is, they can keep it close in against a run first offense. Bronco quarterback Kyle Orton is getting in sync with rookie receiver Demaryius Thomas (10 completions, 140 yards) and he may just be the perfect replacement for Brandon Marshall. Broncos +6.5

New York (Jets) @ Buffalo Will the Mark Sanchez haters please stand up?!?! [Excuse me while I stand]. Yep, I thought he was Leinart II but he appears to be much more than that. He's managed through two straight division wins including a road victory in South Florida. Is he the next Trent Dilfer?!? Don't knock it, he's a Super Bowl winning quarterback. I wasn't out partying with Braylon Edwards, sober as a judge, the Jets are legit through three. Don't expect the Bills to put up another 30 points against a division opponent. Even without Revis the Jets secondary isn't nearly as soft as the one in New England. Jets -5

Detroit @ Green Bay The Packers Monday night performance was pathetic. They've made Jay Cutler into the next coming of Christ, yet he only completed 16 passes and had not one but two interceptions called back. That isn't even the worst of it. 18 Penalties for 152 yards, trust me even the Packers weren't overcoming a game played with so little discipline. Don't care that they're at Lambeau, with their horrible play Monday night I'm not about to spot the Lions 14 points, even if Detroit is 0-3. Lions +14

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh I'm not entirely convinced that Big Ben gets his job back in two weeks. Mike Tomlin is a disciplined guy, this organization is still angry with Roethlisberger no matter what he's been doing while on suspension. IF, Charlie Batch were to go out and beat Baltimore improving their record to 4-0 prior to the bye week? Why not!?! The Ravens offense hasn't exactly been dominating, but their defense is exactly as good as they've been over the past ten years. Expect Baltimores defense to put a clamp on the Steeler running game, bank that. Ravens +1.5

Carolina @ New Orleans Now that Saints turn it on, right?!?! A rookie quarterback, a defense that hasn't looked the same without Julius Peppers, and on yes, they're 0-3. The Saints will have to bounce back after two straight weeks looking very un-Super Bowl Champlike. The once high-flying Saints have yet to score more than 25-poins in a game and their defense just gave up over 200 yards rushing. I'm going against my better judgement in an effort to prove a point. Even the 0-3 Panthers aren't getting spotted 13.5 points. Panthers +13.5

Indianapolis @ Jacksonville Took the Colts giving the same line in Denver last week, and the Broncos are better than Jacksonville. The Jaguars looked absolutely awful against the Philadelphia Eagles, and Mike Vick made them look JV. The Colts need to take care of business in Jacksonville just to keep up with the Texans who already have a leg up on them after the Colts week 1 loss. Doesn't matter who is catching balls for Indy, especially after Manning threw 12 passes to Austin Collie for 171 yards. You thought Vick tore them up? Colts -7

Houston @ Oakland Oakland's rushing game has looked great over the past couple weeks. Running back Darren McFadden is averaging nearly five yards per carry and closing in on 400 yards through just three games. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the Texans are the second ranked defense against the run and Oakland's got no passing game. This game will feature a top ranked passing offense in Houston against a top ranked passing defense in Oakland. Coupled with the opposite in the run game, get ready for a slug fest. Texans -3

Washington @ Philadelphia Vegas loves the Eagles going forward. We can't get enough of Mike Vick. McNabb returns to to the scene of his greatest accomplishments as a football player. Back to the fans who booed him when he was drafted, the fans who called for his replacement when he didn't know you could tie, when they figured Kolb should take over, and yes they'll boo him again. The Eagles and Mike Vick want this win to get up in the division and stay up. In their loss to the Rams last week, Washington looked bad. The Michael Vick comeback tour continues. Eagles -6

Arizona @ San Diego The Chargers have an opportunity to recover nicely from their 1-2 start. In the next three weeks they get Arizona, Oakland, and then St. Louis. The problem, you ask?!?! Their first two losses were against teams they "should" beat as well. However, it doesn't get easy for the struggling Cardinals. Arizona rolls into San Diego without receiver Steve Breaston who is out due to injury, and a banged up Chris Wells in the backfield. Their best offensive weapon, Larry Fitzgerald, has only 12 touches through the first three games. The Chargers rebound in a big way, Chargers =8.

Chicago @ New York (Giants) The one thing I can't take away from the Bears is the play of their defense. The Bears defense has yet to allow an offense to score more than 17 points (Dallas scored 20, 7 on a punt return). Furthermore, they're getting after the quarterback with new addition Julius Peppers and returning from injury in 2009, captain Brian Urlacher. Between these two heavy hitters and linebacker Lance Briggs, the Bears defense is fast and all over the field. All this spells bad news for a Giants team that needs a win. The 1-2 Giants got beat up last week against Tennessee and couldn't put the ball in the endzone. The Bears stay undefeated folks, especially getting points at 3-0. Bears +4

Monday Night

New England @ Miami Any fan of the Patriots should be alarmed. The Bengals Carson Palmer went for 345 yards in week 1. Sanchez went for 220 and three touchdowns in week 2, Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 247 with two touchdown passes in week 3. That's a problem for the Patriots secondary. The New England Patriots will need to correct that before long. This season they've got games against Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Philip Rivers, all quarterbacks who will abuse their secondary. The Dolphins however, are in the roughest part of their schedule with last week against the Jets, this week welcoming New England, and following a bye week they get Pittsburgh and Green Bay. That's tough! I like the way the Jets offense moved the ball against Miami this past week and we know the Patriots can score. Big road win for New England. Patriots -1

Bye Week: Dallas, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, & Kansas City

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Three Weeks In

Too many people liked the 49ers, including myself. The Vikings and Cowboys have way too much talent to be bad. The Chiefs and Bears will not meet in The Big Dance. That Patriot secondary, well you look up the numbers. Even Drew Brees has rough games. The Colts and Jets have recovered from their week 1 losses. Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, or Dennis Dixon, doesn't matter, the Steelers keep rolling along. Week 3 is in the books and more than one statement has been made.

Off The Mat. With a dominating performance against the previously undefeated Texans, the Cowboys reasserted themselves before their bye week. The defense that watched Jay Cutler throw for three touchdowns a week ago got after Texans' quarterback Matt Schaub, sacking him four times. Even more impressive, it wasn't just Miles Austin carrying the load for the offense. Quarterback Tony Romo completed five passes for 117 yards to Roy Williams as the Cowboy offense flexed their muscles. After the week off, Dallas gets three of their next four at home, including a division game with the fast falling Giants. The Cowboys not only needed a win, they needed a win that gave them the confidence to get out of the 0-2 hole that they'd dug for themselves. A 27-13 win that got them off the mat and reminded anyone outside of North Texas who the top dogs in the Lone Star State are, well that was just what Jerry had in mind.

J-E-T-S, Look G-O-O-D! 2-0 In the division, wins against the Patriots and on South Beach against the Fish, yes I'd say they look sharp. After a 31-23 road win on Sunday night, the New York Jets are right where they told you they would be. We knew their defense would be ready, holding a Patriot team who scored 38 points in two of their first two games to just 14 points. Surprisingly so, it's been the second year quarterback Mark Sanchez who has looked both efficient and seasoned. After week 1 offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer loosened the reigns on Sanchez and he's impressed. Sanchez has thrown three touchdown passes in each of the two games since and boasts a quarterback rating good for sixth in the league. With a win in their third straight division game this weekend in Buffalo, the Jets will go a long way toward front running in the AFC East. What sophomore slump for Mark Sanchez?!?!?

It Is Only Going To Get Better! With the 1-2 Redskins and 0-3 'Niners coming up, the Michael Vick show in Philadelphia is only going to get better. The Eagles quarterback torched the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon. With young receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin taking to the embattled quarterback, the Eagles look very dangerous. Couple things to clear up though: [1] The McNabb v. Vick showdown this weekend, wasn't what anyone was looking forward to just a month ago. Kevin Kolb was McNabb's replacement, then he wasn't. [2] He's been the MVP through three weeks, but don't for one second think anyone is going to actually trophy him up at the end of the season. No matter what. [3] Second to Peyton in QB rating, behind just Tom, Peyton, and Philip in TD passes, and zero interceptions through 10 quarters under center. Get it yet? Oh, and more rushing yards than the Saints Pierre Thomas, the Bears Matt Forte, and the Colts Joseph Addai. He's passing and running. Easily, the best story through three.

The slate is full again. The Steelers look to stay undefeated, New England travels to South Beach and a whole lot more . . .

Get After It!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

'Bama Survives, Ann Arbor Waits, & Texas Falls

[1] Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett is not a Heisman candidate. [2] The Texas Longhorns are not the best team in Texas. [3] Whether your willing to admit it or not, a decision on Boise State as a National Champion is still in play. [4] The PAC-10 could be decided just next week in Eugene. [5] Fans of the SEC West, you've got something special on your hands.

With September in the books, college football is off and running. The Crimson Tide escaped Fayetteville with their top ranking still intact and Boise State dropped another ranked opponent. Steaming into October there are several things you need to know, let's get after it!

Auburn, LSU, & 'Bama are firing on all cylinders.

The Crimson Tide rushing attack of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson continued their assault running for 242 yards and quarterback Greg McElroy completed passes to seven different receivers beating the previously undefeated Razorbacks on their own field. The 24-20 victory in Fayetteville was their first test and with the Gators and Gamecocks on the horizon, it won't be their last.

With their second victory against a top 25 team, the Mountaineers and Tar Heels, the LSU defense is looking sharp. Allowing just 12 points per game in their first four, the Tigers are heading into SEC play (4 of their next 5) at their best. Holding West Virginia stud running back Noel Devine to his first under 100 yard rushing performance (14 carries, 37 yards), Patrick Peterson and the Tigers made a statement Saturday night.

A close win in Starkville, an overtime win vs. Clemson, and a comeback victory over Spurrier's Gamecocks late last night. With the echoes at Jordan-Hare still sounding out all over the SEC, the Auburn Tigers won't be sneaking up on anybody going forward. Down 20-7 against a previously undefeated South Carolina squad, the Tigers would outscore the SEC rival 28-7 from the mid-second quarter on. Behind junior quarterback Cameron Newton and his 176 yard rushing / throw for 2 and run for three TD night, the Auburn Tigers are on the map in the SEC.

Check, Boise State won vs. the teams they needed to win against. With wins against Virginia Tech and now Oregon State in their rear view mirror, the Boise State Broncos are going to run the table and see where the chips fall. Aside from strength of schedule, because we know that's where you're going, what makes them different from every other team in college football? They've got quality wins outside their conference, Virginia Tech isn't that team who lost to James Madison that was a hangover loss, and Oregon State is a very good football team who is willing to play anywhere, anytime (in Texas v. TCU, in Idaho v. Boise). Boise State has a Heisman candidate, a real candidate; Kellen Moore [291 yards passing per game, 8 touchdowns and 1 INT, and an over 65% completion percentage]. They've got a team littered with talent from Titus Young, Austin Pettis to running back Doug Martin. A defense that is fast, hard hitting, and can get after the quarterback. If Boise is going make history this year and get to the National Championship, I'm on board.

The PAC-10 is about to get it on! With the Trojans on postseason hiatus, the Ducks and Cardinal are already chomping at the bit. This week in Eugene, Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal are looking to decide the PAC-10 and in their way are the undefeated high flying Oregon Ducks.

Oregon enters this week as the highest scoring offense in college football, averaging 57.75 points per game. With all their points, under the radar is a defense that is allowing 11 points per game and good enough for the 3rd best defense (points allowed), in the country. Leading the Ducks is their star running back LaMichael James. After sitting out in week 1, the 2009 1,500 yard rusher has already racked up 475 yards and four touchdowns in just three weeks. The 3rd ranked rushing offense in the country has already ran for over 1,200 yards and scored 14 touchdowns averaging north of six yards per carry. Scary!

In Palo Alto, the Stanford Cardinal have done just what they've expected to do. Behind quarterback and Heisman candidate Andrew Luck, Stanford has ripped through the first four weeks most recently through South Bend and Brian Kelly's Notre Dame Fighting Irish. However, it was their week 2 35-0 win against UCLA in Pasadena that looks even more amazing now after the Bruins victory in Texas this weekend. And while their numbers aren't as mind boggling as Oregon's, they're close. Luck's offense is averaging 48 points per game and himself has thrown 11 touchdowns with just 2 interceptions. They've proved they can win on the road in South Bend and Pasdena, a victory in Eugene would put this team instantly in the top 5, if they aren't already.

The leaves are turning and so is the college football landscape. Get After It!

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 3

Last Week; 5-10-1
Season; 14-14-3

1:00 PM [ET]

Tennessee At New York (Giants) Vince Young's struggles (20 completions in 2 games & 4 turnovers) v. the Giants defense inability to stop the run (249 yards allowed in two games). Expect heavy doses of Chris Johnson if the Titans plan on avoiding dropping two straight. Take the Giants -3, back in their new digs the Giants can take care of business and bounce back from their blowout loss against the Colts a week ago.

Pittsburgh At Tampa Bay Weathering the storm pretty well are the Steelers. With Roethlisberger returning in three weeks the 2-0 Steelers are again being tested after the injury to quarterback Dennis Dixon. Veteran Charlie Batch will start against the 2-0 Bucs with Byron Leftwich in the hole. The Bucs boast two victories against Cleveland and Carolina, probably two of the worst teams in the league. Take the Steelers -2.5 on the road.

Cincinnati At Carolina I'm not sure if the Bengals defense is better than their week 1 performance against the Patriots or if their week 2 win was a result of how bad Joe Flacco's Raven offense really is? The Panthers rushing attack hasn't looked good and I don't think the jump to rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen is going to improve the offense. With Clausen under center I'm sure Marvin Lewis is going to have the Bengal defense with ears pinned back looking to rattle the rookie. Bengals -3.

Cleveland At Baltimore The only certainty in Baltimore is their defense, but we've known that. Against the Jets and Bengals, the Ravens gave up just 8 field goals and 0 touchdowns. Downside? The supposed newly structured scoring Raven offense has put up just 20 points in those same games. Throwing 4 interceptions in Cincinnati was just the icing on the cake for the 3rd-year quarterback. The cure? A home game against the Cleveland Browns. On board with the Ravens -10.5, even if that seems a bit high.

Dallas At Houston Do or die time for the 0-2 Cowboys. With a bye week coming up if the Cowboys were to go in at 0-3 following a loss in the Lonestar State, I can't imagine things in Dallas getting more uncomfortable. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans the Texan offense is no joke, more importantly the Texans aren't the team to recover against. All that being said, and yes this is a homer pick (me being a Cowboys fan), at some point this team has to make a statement, has to. Cowboys +3

San Francisco At Kansas City I loved the way San Francisco played in the final minutes of their Monday night loss to the Saints. But wait, do it on the road and for four quarters. If San Francisco were to go into Kansas City and come out with a decisive win, avoiding an 0-3 start, then we'll perk up. Till that happens I'm still out. The Chiefs do a couple things well, they run the ball and they play run defense. 49ers -3, Frank Gore is the toughest player that rush defense has seen.

Detroit At Minnesota A division loss here would be crippling for the Vikings. The 0-2 start, failure to trade for an impact receiver, division rivals the Bears and Packers jumping out 2-0, Favre coming off an awful performance, a loss would really stun the Vikings. While I love what Detroit has been able to do thus far, put points on the board, show off their young talent, and handle an early injur to their starting quarterback, it may just be too much. Just like the points. Lions +10.5

Buffalo At New England That Kevin Faulk injury means something, don't brush it aside. The Bills are awful, they should spend their weekends in college football stadiums from coast to coast finding a quarterback to draft next season. These are the games that get people talking about the Patriots again, blowouts against division opponents. With a road game in Miami on Monday night in a week, a loss to the Jets last week, this victory is very important for New England. I can't believe I'm giving an NFL team 13 points and call them to lose. Patriots -13.

Atlanta At New Orleans That blowout win against the Cardinals proved one thing, the Cardinals are terrible. Atlanta isn't a team that can put up major points every week, they're average. After New Orleans near loss in San Francisco and a sub par performance in the opener against the Vikings, I do think they'll go back to the drawing board this week. However, just as important has Kevin Faulk is to the Patriots, the utility-man Reggie Bush of the Saints being injured is just as important if not more. For the second time this season, Saints -4.5

4:05 PM [ET] & 4:15 PM [ET]

Washington At St. Louis A tough overtime loss to the Texans last week, the Redskins defense still looked good. They held first week sensation Arian Foster to just 69 yards but came up short. But wait, I know St. Louis isn't all that good but they can't be overlooked. Their first two games this season they didn't play well enough to win but made strides. First year quarterback Sam Bradford looks pretty good thus far and a test against Washington's fast defense will really be tough for him. Still, McNabb is to veteran to let his team look past St. Louis. Redskins -3.5

Philadelphia At Jacksonville Well Mike, your turn. Not because someone is injured, because you proved you give one team the best chance to win and better than anyone else on the depth chart. Last week Phil Rivers torched this Jaguars secondary for nearly 350 yards, so be prepared to see Vicks arm often. The receivers seem to be taking a liking to the more mature quarterback in Vick and seem to have rallied behind him. As written yesterday, Mike Vick spread the ball around last week against the Lions very well and he'll do more of the same this weekend. Eagles -3

Oakland At Arizona The Raiders may have problems at quarterback, Jason Campbell being benched last week, but so do the Cardinals. Derek Anderson threw two interceptions last week against the Falcons and also turned in a QB rating south of 45. Gradkowski gets the start for the Raiders this week but the thing to keep your eye on is Darren McFadden who is having a pretty solid start rushing for over 240 yards through two. The Raiders getting points is strictly because they're on the road, nothing that Cards have done. Raiders +4.5 The Cardinals are bad and their quarterback is on Dancing With The Stars.

San Diego At Seattle Thumped the 49ers in week 1, got hammered by the Broncos in week 2. What do I expect from Pete Carroll and the Seahawks now? I, unlike most people, show Phil Rivers the respect he should be getting. Throwing for over 300 yards in a bounce back win last week against Jacksonville last weekend. The Seattle defense isn't good and watching that Bronco offense rip them up last week cemented that. Unfortunately, I do believe a handful of places in the NFL are tough to play and Seattle is one of them. Close win by San Diego but, Seahawks +5.5

Indianapolis At Denver Yep, those are the Colts we thought we would see. Indianapolis ripped up the Giants last week by running the ball and passing all over them. Manning hit his favorite targets Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai rushed for nearly 100 yards and almost 5 yards per carry, and that was all she wrote. They got after brother Eli a bunch of times and will look to do the same thing in Denver against Kyle Orton. I like the Colts to start their win streak now but that Denver team is still hard for me to put a finger on. Being said, Colts -6

8:20 PM [ET]

New York (Jets) At Miami Monster Sunday night game and again the Jets are on center stage. They play their third straight tough game and second straight division game to start the season. The 2-0 Dolphins looked good beating up the Vikings in week 2 and already have a 1-0 division record with their week 1 victory over Buffalo. No Revis, and going against Brandon Marshall that is going to be a problem. The interesting thing is the side story surrounding the Jets, the Braylon Edwards DWI in New York on Monday night is a bad sign for them with this game coming up. After this week I expect the Dolphins to be sitting pretty looking down at the rest of the division. Dolphins -1.5

Monday Night, 8:30 PM [ET]

Green Bay At Chicago Back to Earth Jay Cutler, back to Earth. Yes, the Bears are 0-2 but these are the kinds of games they have to win if they want to say anything. You stole the opener from the Lions, in week 2 you beat a Dallas team playing not to lose, now meet Aaron Rodgers. The Packers quarterback is going to look to beat Chicago by going through the air and often. The Bears defense allowed Miles Austin to get his second straight 140+ yard receiving game last week and I watched Calvin Johnson rough up their defensive backs in week 1. Get ready Bears fans, your in for a long night. Packers -3

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You Don't Want To Hear It

Michael Vick has been flat out electric. He's said the right things off the field and he's done more than expected on the field. After six quarters of starting quarterback, his first since 2006 and his first since spending 18 months in Leavenworth, Michael Vick is back.

After taking over for the injured Kevin Kolb in week 1, Vick torched the Packer defense and almost beat them. The Eagles backup rushed for 103 yards and threw for another 175 on 16 completions. The decision to start in week 2 while Kolb recovered from a concussion was an easy one for head coach Andy Reid, and it paid off. In the Eagles 35-32 road victory against Detroit, Michael Vick was very Michael VickESQUE, yet with a twist. This time around, Michael Vick was pass first and played inside the pocket as well as outside with his feet. Vick completed 21 passes for over 280 yards and hooked up with DeSean Jackson four times for 135 yards. Vick spread the ball all over the field completing passes to eight different receivers. He looked phenominal. Vick wasn't turning the ball over or making bad decisions in the passing game. He hit receivers in stride, he fit the ball into tight spaces, and for all intents and purposes he owned week 2 in the NFL. Michael Vick left no doubt on the field that day. He's got more gas left in the tank than some first and second year quarterbacks in this league have.

Then, on Tuesday morning after probably the most exciting 8 days of the last four years of his life, Vick agreed that Kevin Kolb was the starter of this team and played company man to perfection. The following morning, Michael Vick was named starter of the Eagle offense going forward by head coach Andy Reid. Reid saw exactly what everyone else saw. Mike Vick didn't just stay error free and win a game, he won the game. Michael Vick made up for the injuries to the Eagle offensive line, he escaped the pocket when he needed to, and made up for the defense allowing over 300 yards passing. With the Eagles playing against two tough road defenses in the next three weeks, at Jacksonville and at San Francisco, as well as the return of Donovan McNabb to Philadelphia in two weeks , of course THIS Mike Vick was the right decision. You don't want to hear it, but he's about to take the next step.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 2

Four losses a week ago. Allow me to excuse myself: (1) I should have treated the Giants with more respect, at least one Big Apple team didn't disappoint unveiling their new digs. (2) Other than Peter King, who was calling Houston Texans RB, Arian Foster? (3) Only one game in and yes, Pete Carroll's act is holding up. (4) Cowboys backup tackle Alex Barron, Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, they'll take the blame on my final loss.

Onto week two. The brothers Manning square off on Sunday night. An AFC East showdown between the Jets and Patriots. Baltimore heads to Cincinnati, Mike Vick under center again, and New Orleans travels out west. We've got a full slate and we're going coast to coast.

Last Week ; 9-4-2

1:00 PM (ET)

Pittsburgh +5 @ Tennessee The Titans were one of the more impressive teams this past weekend. Chris Johnson did what he wanted against the Raiders and their defense didn't look too bad either. A win this week and the Titans could really wake some people up if they aren't already. As for the Steelers, can't say I was all that impressed but they are getting back to the running game of their past. Titans -5 [stay away]

Miami +5.5 @ Minnesota The Dolphins didn't look all that impressive in their opener, and that was against the Bills. However they did go over 100 yards rushing and got the ball to big offseason acquisition Brandon Marshall early and often. When it comes down to it, the Vikings are going to have to find their identity quickly. Either you turn down the run game road and play defense or you get Brett in sync with his wideouts, one or the other. Miami +5.5

Arizona +6.5 @ Atlanta The Falcons have to be taken to task at some point here. They've drafted offensive linemen, defensive linemen, a quarterback, and went out and got Tony Gonzalez, yet still they have problems getting into the endzone. Scoring 9 points against Pittsburgh last weekend have been the Troy Polamalu factor or it may just be a sign of things to come. Stop the Atlanta ground game and force the young quarterback to make plays down field. Then there is Derek Anderson. Atlanta +6.5

Baltimore -2 @ Cincinnati If your the Bengals you've got to the be really disappointed in the effort your team put forth in the first game. They were sloppy on defense and it resulted in a big Patriot win. However if your Baltimore, the first glimpse of junior year Joe Flacco didn't look great. Showing signs of life in the second half, the Bengals were able to put up monster passing yards, don't expect Carson to have as much time in New England as he will against Baltimore. Ravens -2

Kansas City +2 @ Cleveland I don't know how many weeks it'll take for KC to start shopping for a new quarterback, but it's still more than Cleveland has. If the Chiefs can lean on Jamal Charles and play better defense up front they'll have a shot against plenty of teams like Cleveland. The Chiefs won't be getting points by kickoff, take it now. Chiefs +2

Chicago @ Dallas -8 Hold on Cowboys nation, don't start thinking you have a cake walk next. Peppers could have a breakout game as a Bear if the Cowboys plan on blocking as poorly as they did against Brian Orakpo of the Washington Redskins. The Dallas offense struggled last week and that's no surprise to anyone. Cowboys -8; Come on, you think I'm really going to jump on the Cutler bandwagon?

Philadelphia @ Detroit +6 The hits keep coming for the Lions. First Stafford gets knocked out of a game that looks like your in control. Then you have the game won before the refs steal it back. Now your going to have to go weeks without Stafford? That being said, Michael Vick has got to be the most excited individual in the game. Vick is probably going to be starting this game on the road with the chance to really make a statement, or at the very least audition for anyone willing to take a flyer next season as well. If there is a next season. Philadelphia -6

Buffalo @ Green Bay -12.5 This seems a bit crazy. No, this is an NFL team in Buffalo and as much as you hate to admit it, this is an NCAA football type of spread. Still, I don't know where the Bills points are coming from and Green Bay is going to head back to their friendly confines. The Packers have something to prove after their sloppy win last week in Philadelphia. I like the Packers to really show up and put a serious hurting on Buffalo. Packers -12.5

Tampa Bay +3.5 @ Carolina Here I was thinking Carolina would turn a corner, then they got blown out by the Giants and Eli. Fortunately for them, Tampa Bay isn't the Giants. Carolina has had a week to head back to the drawing board and like it or not, Tampa is just bad. The Panthers need to get more out of their rushing attack because it seems as though it's all they have. Huge division game for the Panthers, must win. Panthers -3.5

4:00 PM (ET)

Seattle +3.5 @ Denver The Seahawks shocked everyone in week one but now they'll have an even tougher test, win on the road. The Broncos didn't look good in Jacksonville. But I've got a theory about teams who stun everyone and know they just did, it doesn't last in the following week. After saying that, wait. The Seahawks are getting points?!? I'm in. Seattle +3.5

St. Louis +3.5 @ Oakland I'm not a fan of the Rams putting the game on their rookie quarterbacks shoulders so early. Asking him to throw the ball 50+ times in his first start? Not a great idea. Speaking of bad ideas, the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are a win one this week then lose one the next tyep of squad, and they got blown out last week by the Titans. Oakland -3.5

Houston -3 @ Washington I was surprised at how well the Redskins defense played and even more so surprised at how Houston handed it to Indianapolis. I saw some bad things from Washington however. The 'Skins offense didn't look great and you still have to wonder as to what their gameplan is. I think Houston is going to really shake up Dan Snyder in this one and stomp Washington at FedEx. Houston -3

New England -3 @ New York Jets What I took away from that big Jets/Ravens showdown was this. The Jets aren't ready for Mark Sanchez to win them games and Joe Flacco needs to get his act together. For the remaining ten people on the New York Jets to the Super Bowl bandwagon, please step off or prepare to be embarrassed. The Patriots are going to put up a couple big scores on the Jets and make a statement, this is a game they care about even if they tell you its like any other. New England -3

Jacksonville +7 @ San Diego We didn't see much against Kansas City from San Diego. Yes, Rivers put up his numbers. Yes, the rookie running back played well. Then they lost. The Jaguars stuck to their gameplan, take shots when you can, run the ball, play tight defense. If Jacksonville heads out to San Diego playing the same way they are going to make it tough for the Chargers. People need think about San Diego, their best offensive weapon after the quarterback is still holding out and that's not a good thing. Jacksonville +7

8:00 PM (ET)

New York Giants +5 @ Indianapolis The Colts have to recover after that performance against Houston. They will. I like how the Giants opened up but that was against Carolina who neither of us think are going to do anything this year besides win a couple close games. The Colts on center stage need to step up after their Super Bowl loss then opening loss. Close one. Colts by a touchdown Colts -5

Monday Night

New Orleans -5.5 @ San Francisco The 49ers have to bounce back this week, the division loss to Seattle in the opener was pathetic. Unfortunately, you don't bounce back against the Saints. New Orleans really took care of business against the Vikings in the opener and they for sure could put up more points against San Francisco. Saints -5.5 ON THE ROAD!



Get After It!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Good, Bad, & Ugly: Week 1

The Good

Titans RB, Chris Johnson doesn't stop. In his first game of the season, last years 2,000 yard rushing champ Chris Johnson continued his assault and torched the Raider defense. The 3rd-year running back out of East Carolina put it in work on Sunday afternoon racking up 142 yards and ripping off 5.2 yards per carry. It's no secret the Titans plan on riding Johnson as far as they can, rushing the ball 39 times on Sunday (27 to Johnson) and passing only 17, Tennessee isn't leaving it up to Vince Young to take them where they want to go. With tough defenses in Pittsburgh, New York, and Dallas coming up, Johnson and the Titans are going to be tested.

Houston Texans break through. If the Texans were going to finally break through Indianapolis it was going to be on the arm of Matt Schaub. Insert rookie running back Arian Foster and his monster breakout game, and we're scrapping that plan. Foster rushed for 231 yards on just 33 attempts while quarterback Matt Schaub was just 9 of 17 passing. With the big physical wideout Andre Johnson and a defense that boasts All-Pro Mario Williams and 2009 defensive rookie of the year Brian Cushing, the Texans may have just filled their gap. The former Tennessee running back hit the end zone three times as Houston routed the Colts 34-24. As the Colts have had the Texans number for so many years its great to see the Texans finally show up and play their "game." If this is going to be the year for Houston, this start is exactly what we had in mind.

Pete Carroll hits the ground running. Though we say it won't work at this level, Pete Carroll's style seemed to work pretty well against San Francisco. For Carroll, his near 35-year old past his prime quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, looked pretty damn young spreading the ball around to 8 receivers for an 18 of 23 day. The embattled former Trojan Mike Williams, he just led the Seahawks in receiving catching 4 balls for over 60 yards. The defense that was supposed to be overwhelmed with the 49er rushing attack, held Frank Gore to just 38 yards on 17 carries. As Pete Carroll ran up and down the sidelines slapping helmets and running onto the field, his veteran quarterback looked just as jacked up, his defense looked faster than we've seen Seattle in quite some time, and all due respect to Mike Singletary, but one of these coaches actually looked like his team is buying into his philosophy. It may just be one game but the Seahawks looked better than any team in their division on Sunday and you've got to tip your cap.

The Bad

Derek Anderson's Arizona Cardinals The Cardinals passed the ball nearly twice as often as they ran it in their 17-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Only problem, Kurt Warner is no longer under center. Arizona's new signal caller Derek Anderson completed just 22 of 41 passes and found All-World wideout Larry Fitzgerald just three times. With an injured Beanie Wells the Cardinals once high-powered, tooled up offense, looked very mediocre. Tim Hightower rushed for just 54 yards and committed two of the Cardinals mind blowing seven fumbles. The Cardinals are in for a long season after watching them struggle against St. Louis a team with a rookie quarterback and protection problems. An offense which lost their second best receiver, their quarterback, their backup quarterback, and currently has an injured rusher, well they'll have problems and if the Cards were to make the postseason after watching them play, I'd be shocked.

Brett Favre and his receivers I know, I know. When you've played as long as "The Gunslinger," who needs training camp? However, when your averaging just six yards a pass and seem more out of sync with your receivers than ever, maybe you should have been in camp. After watching HBO's Hard Knocks for the last couple of years I really question Brett Favre's choices. A quarterback is the most important position in professional sports, and Brett should know that. Favre should be in camp with the rest of his teammates motivating them, showing them how it's done, and all in all being there. Here's the thing, Sidney Rice isn't Jerry Rice, get over it. Favre did his team a great dis-service by not getting his behind in camp earlier and preparing for the season with everyone. Lastly, someone needs to come down and remind Brad Childress who is in the backfield, because that guy was in camp and can deliver from all over the field.

Philadelphia not turning to "plan B" on Monday morning I watched that game on Sunday, everyone did. I watched what the Eagle offense looked like with Kevin Kolb, and I then watched them with Vick. Michael Vick moved outside the pocket, looked down field, escaped Green Bay's pass rush, and I swear with another quarter Mike Vick would have dropped the Packers in their path. Then it hit me, that's what Michael Vick was. That's what he does. That's what this 30-year old quarterback from Virginia Tech who has been to hell and back is capable of. Vick posted a day of over 100 yards rushing and close to 200 yards passing, he tried to throw first to prove he was a passer and when he couldn't he didn't throw interceptions he took off. Sure, four years younger and the gameplan to move to Kevin Kolb isn't a terrible one but it probably isn't the right one either. Why was Andy Reid so unwilling to give Mike Vick the chance to compete for this job? Because both you and I know how exciting it is to watch him play and three quarters of that after what Kolb was doing, well how do you turn back now? I'm all for going with the young guy, but at some point you have to turn to the guy who gets it done. Wait till the Philly fans become restless, it's about that time.

The Ugly

The New York Jets offense 10-21 for 74 yards. No sophomore slump there. If the Jets don't take the reigns of young Mark Sanchez you can bet he won't have a slump, because you can bet they aren't letting him. The Jets offense was lazy and slow. Three field goals, just five carries for Shonn Greene, the back meant to take the place of Thomas Jones, and to put it bluntly, a real sight for sore eyes. Now to put three field goals up against Baltimore, maybe you can chalk it up to their defense, but that team didn't even look like they were trying. Fortunately for Jets fans you're actually going to get to find out if their fear of Sanchez is real this week. Their next opponent is the Patriots, a team that while they blew the doors off of Cincinnati also allowed the Bengals to do some work in the passing game. Palmer threw for over 300 yards, Ochocinco caught 12 balls for 160, and if the Jets offense isn't ready to attack New England it's going to be a long day again.

Cowboys OL, Alex Barron You can't grab any guy off the street and ask him to protect an offense that is prepared to throw the ball all over the field. You can't trade your scraps to St. Louis and expect a team that has won about six games in five years to give you anything in return, especially not a guy your going to bank on. Alex Barron is just that guy. The Cowboys didn't put enough stock into losing Flozell Adams, then they got the injury bug which was bound to happen. Both Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo on the sideline and the Cowboys were forced to move Alex Barron into the starting rotation on Sunday night against one of the toughest players in the league, Redskins LB Brian Orakpo. What happened? Exactly what you knew should have happened. It didn't matter that they gave up seven points on a stupid play before the half, the Cowboy offense should have been able to make that up. Furthermore, when you choose to go out and get another wideout in the draft, as good as Dez Bryant is, then you've got to live with the consequences. For right now, till the Cowboys get their line healthy, your going to have to deal with this and that's how bad it was. Alex Barron holding Brian Orakpo, what else was he going to do?

Being a Lions fan Not only do you start off the season watching your team getting ready to notch up a opening road victory in Chicago only to have it taken away from you on a bad call, but your starting franchise quarterback gets banged up with a shoulder injury again. Tough break. Ouch!

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Boise Bottomline

Boise State's National Championship, gone. For four days the dreams of a National Championship bid were alive and well in Boise, Idaho. Then Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg, James Madison University stunned Virginia Tech and in doing so evaporated the National Championship hopes of Boise State. The non-BCS Broncos were planning on riding their September 6th victory over the Hokies all the way out and letting the polls do the talking, now that's gone. On the same day as the Hokies were stunned, both the #2 ranked Buckeyes of Ohio State and #1 ranked Crimson Tide of Alabama put their best foot forward and made a statement from coast to coast: Your going to have to beat us, to stop us. As the Buckeyes leaned on their Heisman candidate Terrelle Pryor to throw for 233 yards and rush for another 113, the Crimson Tide held Penn State to just three points and punished the Nittany Lions offense. With Boise State out of the picture and these two titans of college football looking as good as they do, the next three months might just be foreplay.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Week 2: Saturday Morning Pick 'Em

1-4 To open the college football season, not good. We've got a full slate this week with three games featuring top 25 teams squaring off against each other. From Norman, Oklahoma to Columbus, Ohio then back down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama the matchups get better and better this week. Sprinkle in a little Rich Rod and the Wolverines heading to South Bend and it doesn't get much better. For the West Coast readers of LynchyRightNow we haven't forgotten about you either, Andrew Luck on display against UCLA, satisfied?

Get After It . . .

No. 17 Florida State +7 at No. 10 Oklahoma The Seminoles in Norman?!? While it was only Samford, the 'Noles offense looked terrifying last Saturday. Scoring five touchdowns in the second quarter, 59 points in the game, Jimbo Fisher's debut in Tallahassee couldn't have gone over better. As for Oklahoma squeaking out a touchdown win over visiting Utah State and allowing 341 yards passing, well that is the other side of the coin. With senior quarterback Christian Ponder looking to make a Heisman run, a win in Norman would be a great start. Florida State +7, shocks the Red River.

No. 12 Miami (FL) +8.5 at No. 2 Ohio State Ohio State superstar Terrelle Pryor lit up Marshall in Week 1. However the Hurricanes aren't Marshall. Miami also hung 45 points in their season opener. Junior quarterback Jacory Harris led a Miami offense that racked up over 400 total yards of offense. All that offense between these two teams and it's defense we're going to really be waiting for. Ohio State's defense gets after the quarterback and for Jacory Harris who was sacked 34 times last season and threw 17 interceptions, that spells trouble. The Buckeyes could make a big statement with a handling of Miami this weekend, but I'm not so confident. Miami +8.5, that's two straight road dogs.

Michigan +3 at Notre Dame Brian Kelly got his first win as coach of the Fighting Irish this past Saturday and the Wolverines looked very good against Connecticut. In the second week the Irish will have their hands full again with Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Robinson rushed for nearly 200 yards in week 1 and passed for another 19 completions and 186 yards. The Michigan quarterback moves well outside the pocket and obviously has the numbers to prove it, is the Irish defense fast enough to keep up? While both teams cost me a game a week ago, this matchup is still to intriguing to go away from and will say something about which ever school comes out on top. Does Brian Kelly impress right away or is Rich Rodriguez making the comeback at Michigan? The Irish defense is solid and will have the weight on them this week. Notre Dame -3, can't do three in a row.

No. 25 Stanford -6.5 at UCLA Andrew Luck got off the mat last weekend and opened the season with a monster performance in his opener. Two programs headed in opposite directions in this case. Jim Harbaugh has his team ready to play and make a ton of noise out west this season, just as they did a year ago. Can't get away from Stanford on this one, expect Luck to put up big numbers again as they handle UCLA. Only thing keeping this game close is where its being played. Stanford -6.5

No. 18 Penn State +12.5 at No. 1 Alabama As much as I like the Nittany Lions, Alabama's season doesn't end this early and with a loss and the emergence of both Ohio State and Boise, that is exactly what would happen if Penn State could pull off an upset. Don't expect them not to cover. Penn State doesn't get blown out and this line may be too high for any of our liking. Ingram or not, the Alabama offense still runs the ball with Trent Richardson and plays fast in your face defense, I like the Nittany Lions to cover but make no bones about it, Alabama is winning this game. Penn State +12.5

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 1

NFL IS BACK! After a rough showing in game 1 on Thursday night, the NFL is back with a vengence this weekend. We've given you our take on TheRightNowPodcast and now down on print! The opener in the rear view, a big game between the 'Skins and 'Boys on Sunday night, and two Monday nighters to cap it off . .

Get After It!

1:00 PM (ET) Games

Carolina Panthers + 6.5 @ New York Giants Carolina finished the 2009 season 4-1 while quarterback Matt Moore was under center. The NFL's 3rd ranked rushing attack last season featured (2) 1,000 yard rushers in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The Giants allowed the 3rd most rushing touchdowns in the entire league. Take Carolina +6.5

Atlanta Falcons -2 @ Pittsburgh Steelers Call him interim quarterback Dennis Dixon, but he has the support of the entire locker room and coaching staff. With a soft Falcon pass rush the Steeler backup should have some time to get his feet under him. Behind a raucous Pittsburgh crowd, Take Pittsburgh +2

Cleveland Browns +3 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers This is the worst game of Week 1. However, as previously mentioned on the most recent episode of TheRightNowPodcast, if your involved in a do or die suicide pool, this is the week you get Tampa Bay out of the way because it's the first and only time they'll be favored. Take Tampa Bay -3

Denver Broncos +2.5 @ Jacksonville Jaguars Denver has had way to many injuries to start this season like they did the last. Losing Elvis Dumervil to injury, a player who recorded 17 sacks a season ago, is a huge loss. How many games can you expect to win when you trade your best offensive weapon to Miami and lose your best defensive player to injury? Josh McDaniels is overthinking this. Jax can straight run the ball. Take Jacksonville -2.5

Indianapolis Colts -2 @ Houston Texans So your saying the Colts only have to win by a field goal? If there has ever been a team with a "been there, done that" attitude it's the Colts. They average something crazy like 13 wins a season over the past decade and in all honesty, they love breaking the hearts of this Houston team. While this has to be THE GAME for Houston, it's Indy's to lose. Take Indianapolis -2

Miami Dolphins -3 @ Buffalo Bills While Cincinnati ties up the Patriots and the Ravens look to rip through the Jets, the other contender in the AFC East gets Buffalo! Expect Miami to make things interesting with a healthy Ronnie Brown and a big target in Brandon Marshall for Dolphin quarterback Chad Henne. Things couldn't be more grim in Buffalo with rookie C.J. Spiller being the only bright spot to look forward to. After Spiller gets one early, Take Miami -3

Detroit Lions +6.5 @ Chicago Bears These two teams locked up for the regular season finale in 2009 and Chicago ran wild with a two-touchdown win. However, while adding veteran impact defensive end Julius Peppers in the offseason to ignore, the Bears aren't as good as people are expecting or hoping. Detroit is getting very young and very good. With quarterback Matthew Stafford and reciever Calvin Johnson already in place on the offensive side of the ball, the defense was next. Adding veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch, a player head coach Jim Schwartz is familiar with from his days in Tennessee, and of course the great rookie Ndamukong Suh. I love the Lions. Take Detroit +6.5

Oakland Raiders +6 @ Tennessee Titans It's all about quarterbacks in this league, you know that. What do we expect from former Redskin Jason Campbell being in control for the time being in Oakland? What can we expect from Vince Young, to me the jury is still out?!? If the Raider defense can't contain Chris Johnson it'll be a long day for Raider fans. Again though, the Raiders are a very tricky team and I just think it's too early for them to put it together. Take Tennessee -6

Cincinnati Bengals +4.5 @ New England Patriots Normally, I love a division winner who can play defense and score with the best of them. However, with Cincinnati I still can't get their playoff performance and final game performance of last season out of my mind. A betting man says New England will score early and often and make this a non-factor. The Bengals are in trouble opening in Foxboro. Take New England -4.5

4:15 PM (ET) Games

Arizona Cardinals -4 @ St. Louis Rams What we saw from Sam Bradford in the preseason, well that was preseason. Now at home in front of the only fans with hope for he and his franchise, Bradford meets his first test. For the Cards, Beanie Wells is out, Derek Anderson is bad, Kurt Warner retired, Anquan Boldin in Baltimore, four points?!?!? If the Rams weren't as bad as they've been the last few seasons I'd actually be emptying the sofa cushions for a little coin to trust them with. Take St. Louis +4, for fun.

San Francisco 49ers -3 @ Seattle Seahawks Fire your offensive line coach a couple weeks before the kickoff of the season?!?!? Bad news for the Seahawks. San Francisco has one of the best defenses in the entire NFL. Patrick Willis creates huge problems for Seattle and Pete Carroll is going to have a very long debut in the NFL. Frank Gore goes off in the opener, Take San Francisco -3

Green Bay Packers -3 @ Philadelphia Eagles The Eagles were 17th against the pass last season and Green Bay was 7th in passing. Aaron Rodgers is looking to breakout this year and make a statement. He's got a 1,200 yard rusher in the backfield. He's got Donald Driver and Greg Jennings catching his passes. More importantly, he's got a shut down defense with a ton of talent starting with veteran cornerback Charles Woodson, linebackers Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk, and Clay Matthews. The Packers are going to attack Philly early in and often. Take Green Bay -3

Sunday Night 8:20 PM (ET)

Dallas Cowboys -3 @ Washington Redskins As much excitement that surrounds the Redskins, with the line down to 3, I'm all over Dallas now. The Dallas defense is a top tier defense and even with injuries in the secondary they get after the quarterback. Just as it was in the opener with Minnesota and New Orleans, your probably going to get a defensive battle without a ton of scoring. Why?!? Offenses are going to take some time to find their way, and that includes the Cowboys. Big game from Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware. Take Dallas -3

Monday Night 7:00 PM (ET)

Baltimore Ravens +2.5 @ New York Jets I hope Rex Ryan has been watching the same team that everyone else has. The Jets have done enough talking for every Super Bowl contender there is. On the other hand, more people have hyped the Ravens and their improved offense than any other. For the Jets their biggest opportunity would be to take advantage of that banged up Raven secondary. Unfortunately, Mark Sanchez isn't able to do that and they've got protection problems. Bottom line. Take Baltimore +2.5

Monday Night 10:15 PM (ET)

San Diego Chargers -4.5 @ Kansas City Chiefs The Chargers have lost some players this season and much like Dallas, it's time to get there or not. But wait, I've picked way to may road
teams giving points already and I'm not about to do that with an inconsistent Chargers team. I love what Kansas City has done suring up their coaching staff, their backfield, and taking the best players available in the NFL draft. Arrowhead is a tough place to play and as the second Monday night game, it gets even tougher. Take Kansas City +4.5

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Days Away

We're less than or almost 48 hours away. The NFL season is about to kickoff, the Saints and Vikings about to get under way. As NFL teams straighten out their rosters and make final cuts as some scramble to fill holes, the stories continue to fly. Let's clean this up and get after it!

Let's talk about new Texans backup QB, Matt Leinart. Or maybe even the 3rd quarterback in the Houston offense. After four seasons in Arizona, one under former head coach Dennis Green and three under current head coach Ken Whisenhunt, former 10th overall pick Matt Leinart's opportunity in Arizona is over. I wanted to however take this opportunity to defend the former Trojan, and we're going to do this with current Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. In 2006 Leinart's rookie year, he didn't actually play all that bad. All things considered, Leinart did what rookie quarterbacks do. His rookie year he started 12 games and after the first six he went 4-2 before getting injured before the half of week 15. Leinart may have actually played his best game in a loss at Minnesota that same season. Leinart completed 31 passes and threw for over 400 yards in a 31-26 loss. After Wisenhunt's arrival in 2007, that job was awarded to veteran quarterback Kurt Warner, and Leinart's fate was sealed. However, when it comes to Mark Sanchez in New York, Leinart's numbers were better than the franchise quarterback in New York. Leinart threw for more yards, less interceptions, higher quarterback rating, and a better completion percentage. Now Matt Leinart wasn't just a victim of circumstance, he made bad choices off the field and never really developed early enough. However, going forward at least he's got another shot and hopefully he'll have the opportunity to start at some point.

Placed on the physically unable to perform list, Ravens safety Ed Reed will miss the first six weeks of the season. Yes, this does have Super Bowl implications. 2-2 While Reed was sidelined in 2009 with the same hip injury that is holding him back now, the Ravens aren't the same defense without him. The two losses Baltimore suffered in Reeds absence were absolutely telling of his affect on their secondary. Against Green Bay, the Raven defense gave up 263 yards passing and watched Aaron Rodgers pile on three touchdown passes. Against Pittsburgh, a division rival, Ben Roethlisberger completed 17 passes for almost 260 yards averaging nearly 15 yards a completion. In the first six weeks of this season Baltimore will face two of the leagues toughest quarterback / receiver tandems all while playing three of these six against division rivals. Week 2 after opening on Monday night against the Jets, the Ravens travel to Cincinnati six days later to see Bengal twosome Chad Ohcocinco and Terrell Owens. Week 6, just prior to Reeds expected return, Baltimore goes up to New England and a healthy Tom Brady and Randy Moss. With a depleted secondary already, the Reed factor is going to play a big role in the AFC early going.

Still with those Ravens . . .

When Seattle released receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh in a surprise move after only one season in the pacific northwest, the scrambling and rumours began. Would the Redskins add the receiver in the midst of 6-straight seasons of 900+ yards receiving? Would the Vikings look to rebuild their receiving core in the wake of injuries to Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin? The Chargers at a crossroads with holdout Vincent Jackson, would they be after Houshmandzadeh? Then, without so much as a peep, the Ravens have signed, sealed, and delivered the 3x pro-bowl receiver right to Baltimore. Replacing the injured Donte Stallworth with Houshmandzadeh makes the Ravens even stronger and a bigger favorite than they were a week ago. With Houshmandzadeh the Ravens bring in a player with experience in the Cincinnati offense, which they'll see twice a year. They bring in a veteran presence in both the locker room and huddle, it should come as no surprise the immediate impact this plays on on the Raven offense. Joe Flacco has got to have a smile from ear to ear at this point. Ask the question, with Rice, Flacco, Boldin and the other new addition, is their offense finally stronger than their defense?

You better believe they weren't starting 2010 without Darrelle Revis. Right now, he's the most dominant cornerback in this league. As far as defenses go, he's the toughest defensive player this side of DeMarucs Ware and Patrick Willis. So you better believe that before the Jets and Rex Ryan enter this season, they were going to do everything they could to make sure Revis was in their secondary. Opening with Baltimore, New England, and Miami, yes the Jets needed to get it done and get it done sooner than later. So you've got to really think about it if your Rex Ryan, you've done a very, very good thing here. Don't let anyone say things like "you had to beg him to come back" because you needed to do whatever they say. This Jets team was 7-7 looking at the outside of the postseason looking in. Luckily, both the Colts and Bengals laid down with their playoff tickets punched and let the Jets sneak in the back door, then they went to work. Those two postseason wins where they gave up 14 points in both on the road and came up with wins, were impressive. As both Rex Ryan and the world believe that second year quarterback Mark Sanchez is going to take a step back this year as their run game tries to recover after losing Thomas Jones, their defense is going to have to really come ready to play. That only happens with the welcoming back of cornerback Darrelle Revis.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saturday Morning Picks

Feeling great. Cool outside, coffee is brewing, and most of all college football is alive and well. I've got my Saturday morning picks lined up and ready to go. TCU & Boise State will have their preseason rankings tested, Brian Kelly ushers in a new era in South Bend, and Wolverine head coach Rich Rodriguez welcomes in an old Big East foe from his days at West Virginia. Now make me some sushi and cook me some rice.

Oregon State +13.5 v TCU (At Cowboys Stadium; Arlington, TX) It isn't exactly a home game for the 6th ranked Horned Frogs, but it's close enough. For Gary Patterson and TCU, the near two touchdown favorite on Saturday night, the task is as tough an opener in your neck of the woods can get. Senior quarterback Andy Dalton will have to be on his A-game after averaging nearly 2,500 yards a season for his first three years at TCU and coming off his best season in 2009. Their opponent, the Beavers of Oregon State, are afraid of no one squaring off against both TCU and Boise State within three weeks of the opener. Why be afraid when you lean on a running back as dominating as the Beavers 5'7" back Jacquizz Rodgers? With a ton of speed in their secondary expect big things from the TCU defense at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday night. Call ; TCU Rolls -13.5

LSU -9.5 v North Carolina (At Georgia Dome; Atlanta, GA) Empty out the children's college funds, tap out your second mortgage, that change between your couch cushions, pull out all that too. As the 'Bayou Bengals come roaring into the Georgia Dome for the SEC v. ACC kickoff, they'll be at full strength, as for the Tar Heels of North Carolina? Down 12 players, including all-world defensive end Robert Quinn, they're in trouble. With six starters suspended due to NCAA rules violations, Butch Davis' team is in trouble. Receiver Greg Little, 62 receptions and 724 yards receiving; out. Cornerbacks Kendric Burney and Charles Brown; out. Defensive linemen Marvin Austin and Michael McAdoo; out. Since 1959 the LSU Tigers have won 18 consecutive games against the Atlantic Coast Conference, behind future NFL shutdown cornerback Patrick Peterson, the LSU Tigers are going to be all over North Carolina early and often. Be prepared for a blowout in the ATL. Call; LSU -100

Connecticut +3 @ Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) Two programs which tell entirely different stories. For UConn, it's been nothing but success. Three straight seasons of Randy Edsall top notch football. 9-4, 8-5, 8-5, two bowl victories in recent years and more than a player or two drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. As for Rich Rodriguez and the Wolverines, 5-7 last season including losing five straight to finish out the season. The year prior, 3-9 including an embarrassing final loss at Ohio State 42-7. Rodriguez is going to have to turn things around and do it quick, as nothing but controversy and losses have surrounded Rodriguez since he arrived in Ann Arbor. As for Randy Edsall, it's payback time, remembering all those beatdowns at the hands of the Mountaineers and Rich Rodriguez in the Big East. Call; UConn +3

Purdue +10.5 @ Notre Dame (In South Bend, IN) I'm coming around on Notre Dame and their offense. Brian Kelly coached to big numbers and big plays while at Cincinnati and with quarterback Dayne Crist in his debut they'll try and duplicate that same success. To do it through Purdue, may be too early too soon. Purdue brings pass rushing monster Ryan Kerrigan (13 sacks in 2009). Returning a slew of starters in their front seven Purdue is ready to rattle Crist early and often. He won't be out there alone though, bringing back Michael Floyd will be a big factor for Notre Dame this season and especially during the opener this afternoon. The junior receiver expects to come up big and make a larger name for himself heading into the season, expect Kelly to use him like he did Gilyard a season ago. Being said, I love the Purdue defense and they'll keep this one close. Call; Purdue +10.5

Monday Night

Boise State -1.5 v Virginia Tech (At FedEx Field; Landover, MD) Monday night, not exactly in Blacksburg but close enough for the Virginia Tech fans that won't have to travel that far. If Boise State is going to showcase their top three preseason ranking and prove they're worth it, what better way? Despite Virginia Tech Hokies running back Ryan Williams, I'm not concerned for the Broncos. Boise State comes to play in big games and you can turn to their Fiesta Bowl performance just a season ago to prove it. Returning nearly every starter from their undefeated season, minus Kyle Wilson, the Broncos are primed to do the unthinkable and contend for a National Championship as a non-BCS school. Kellen Moore is going to burst onto the Heisman forefront and do it against the Hokies. Call; Boise State -1.5

Put it in the bank!

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Saturday Afternoons Are Back!

Gainesville, Oxford, Tuscaloosa, Columbus, Austin, Blacksburg. You ready? For the next five months your Saturday afternoons are booked. Where the 100,000 seat college football stadiums are packed. Where the Heisman Trophy is won. Where a rose, an orange, and a bowl of sugar mean a little more. Where the Bayou Bengals light up Baton Rouge. Where Wolverines and Buckeyes step toe to toe. Where Longhorns and Sooners shoot out over the Red River. From The Swamp to Death Valley, all the way to Autzen and The Coliseum, Saturdays are back! Buckle in as the stadiums begin to roar and the National Championship goes up for grabs. Strike your best Heisman pose, stiff arm your office co-workers.

Let's Get After It . . .

A two-year postseason ban, the loss of 30 scholarships, but yes we're still excited about the Trojans. Believe it! With Lane Kiffin comes his father, legendary NFL defensive coordinator Monte. The Super Bowl winning coordinator has the fortunate task of working with some of the most talented defensive linemen in this country. Massive tackle Jurrell Casey (6-1, 305 lbs) is anchoring a Trojan defense that also includes defensive end Armond Armstead (6-5, 295 lbs), and Nick Perry (8 sacks in 2009). With a rebuilt secondary led by redshirt senior Shareece Wright and co-captain linebackers Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan, Monte Kiffin has a top 10 defense on his hands.

Your not going to find a better story than that of Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich. In 2008 Herzlich was one of the most dominating defensive players in the country and was preparing for his senior season which was going to place the 6-4 linebacker amongst the top selections in the 2010 NFL draft. Then hit with Ewing's Sarcoma, all of that was gone. The reigning ACC defensive player of the year was battling cancer rather than sacking quarterbacks. More than a year after being diagnosed, Herzlich is cancer free and hitting the ground running. After a foot injury set him back this offseason, Herzlich was back at practice this week and plans to play in the season opener this Saturday. Gripping the college football world last season with his story and his fight, Herzlich's return at The Heights this weekend should be a thrill.

A couple of PAC-10 quarterbacks take center Heisman stage. Between Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Locker and the Stanford Cardinal signal caller Andrew Luck, field generals don't get much better than this. Both quarterbacks threw for over 2,500 yards last season and have completion percentages over 55%. Under the tutelage of great minds such as Washingtons head coach and former USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and former NFL quarterback turned Standford head coach Jim Harbaugh, Locker and Luck are preparing to tear up the PAC-10 this season. Virtually equal in size, both quarterbacks are top ten draft selections next season, if the younger Luck comes out early that is. In late September Luck gets another crack at the big stage against Notre Dame in South Bend. Last season Luck leaned on the legs of Toby Gerhart and a 205 yard rushing performance, this year it'll be on his shoulders. As for Locker, the Huskies will follow their leader into battle against the Trojans in Los Angeles on October 2nd as they try to repeat their 16-13 win last season, a game which saw Locker complete 21 passes and throw for more than 230 yards. Out are Bradford and McCoy, in is Locker & Luck.

Boise State has their opportunities early. Losing just four games over the last three seasons has put Boise State on the national stage. At the start of 2010, the Broncos are ranked as high as #3 in the pre-season AP poll. Returning nearly every starter from their undefeated 2009 season, a Fiesta Bowl winning season. Boise State fans are going to get whats coming to them early, a chance to make yet another statement. Monday, September 6th the Boise State Broncos open their 2010 campaign with a road trip to Blacksburg, Virginia, one of the toughest places to play in college football. The Virginia Tech Hokies will be licking their chops to be the first team to beat Boise State since 2008. Behind quarterback Kellen Moore (3,536 yards passing, 39 TD's and 3 interceptions in '09) the Broncos can't slip up if they get out alive, just 19 days later they get 1,400 yard rusher Jacquizz Rodgers and Oregon State, one of the most dangerous teams in the PAC-10. If Boise State wants to knock down the door of a non-BCS team playing for a National Championship, they'll get their opportunity early.

Gators QB John Brantley, wouldn't want to be you. Playing quarterback in Gainesville is tough. Filling the shoes of the greatest Gator of all time, well that just isn't fair. The task for John Brantley, do just that. What can you expect from Brantley at this point? Mop-up duty doesn't show you much, toss stats out the window. By all accounts from The Swamp, Brantley's arm is as big if not bigger than predecessor Tim Tebow, even rumours swirling that the offense under Brantley looks even more explosive?!? Probably the most interesting of new quarterbacks on the map this year, Brantley is a completely different stayle of quarterback than Tebow. Where Tim could run first, Brantley's got that big arm. Where Tebow would get in your face and give that speech, Brantley's going to lead first with his game. The 6-3 signal caller stands large over the Gainesville faithful as they know their hopes of a return to the BCS National Championship rest on his shoulders.

The Crimson Tide can repeat, and but can Mark Ingram? Mark Ingram's effort to join Archie Griffin as the only back-to-back Heisman Trophy winner will be more than tough. For Ingram, his biggest competition comes within his own backfield. 'Bama running back Trent Richardson really came on during last years National Championship game rushing for almost six yards a carry on 19 carries. To boot, Richardson will be taking Ingram's place to start the season as he is sidelined with a knee injury. Secondly, it becomes even harder to repeat as voters know your numbers from the previous year and they've got to be even better the second time around. The 1,600 yards he racked up last year and the seventeen touchdowns, well it's going to be very tough to topple those numbers. Lastly, the Heisman Trust has got their hands full with each and every candidate that is out there. From Terrelle Pryor at Ohio State to Jake Locker in the greater Northwest and all the way back down to the new sheriff of Gainesville, Heisman candidates are all over the map this year.

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You know I like to mock it up . . .

5. Cleveland Browns Jurrell Casey, DT Southern Cal As noted earlier, under Monte Kiffin expect Jurrell Casey to play a big role this season at USC. Cleveland is going to part ways with defensive tackle Shaun Rogers at the end of the season and Casey is the perfect player to step in. He's quick and and moves well inside, enough to entice Mike Holmgren.

4. Arizona Cardinals Patrick Peterson, CB Louisiana State How could the Cardinals pass on the best cornerback in this draft, possibly the best defensive player in the draft. Pair up Peterson with current Cardinal CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the secondary and it won't matter what they do on offense. Patrick Peterson is the latest in a long line of hard hitting defensive backs out of the 'Bayou, and yes he brings all that swagger a DB needs.

3. St. Louis Rams Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina Steve Spagnuolo drafted his quarterback this year and just like Falcons head coach and former Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith, the next year he gets his defense right. That being said, no one is going to talk him off of Quinn. Robert Quinn is 6'5", 270 lbs. and moves as if he is half that size. For Spagnuolo, Robert Quinn is going to anchor his defensive line in St. Louis as Strahan did in New York.

2. Buffalo Bills Jake Locker, QB Washington The Buffalo Bills, the Toronto Bills, call 'em what you want but if they can get their hands on Jake Locker you can consider their quarterback issues over and done with. Jake Locker is a big time quarterback who can throw on the move, in weather, and is tailor made for Buffalo. With everyone and their mother clamoring for Jake Locker to be the top overall pick, if the Bills are lucky to draft in the top two, he's their guy.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars Andrew Luck, QB Stanford Andrew Luck is primed to have a terrific season. He's got a NFL quarterback directing him at Stanford, he's got an offense that can run the ball and allow him plenty of time to pass. The Jaguars are going to be looking at a quarterback and possibly a new head coach, if Andrew Luck comes out of college weighing options between he and Locker are going to be very tough. For my money, Andrew Luck with Jim Harbaugh coming back to the NFL is what the Jaguars need.

College football kicks off tommorow night and if I haven't told you already, I'm pretty jacked up!