Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekly Draft Profile; Week 3

With so much time left before New England and New York kick-off, what better way than to bang out another ten-draft prospects. We're covering the most elite linebacker in the draft, a trio-of National Championship players, and the best tight-end west of the Mississippi! From Chestnut Hill to Palo Alto and back . . .

Let's Get After It . . . Weekly Draft Profile; Week 3

Luke Kuechly, linebacker Boston College He's no question about it, the next great young linebacker in 'The League.' Sideline to sideline the most dominant defensive player in college football this past season, Kuechly brought home a slew of postseason awards; Nagurski, Butkus, Lombardi/Rotary, and Lott IMPACT, to name a few. After the junior campaign that Kuechly boasted in 2011, there was no way he could return to Boston College for his senior season. Slightly undersized at 6'3", Kuechly makes up for what he lacks in size by his intelligence on the field. As the 2011 ACC Defensive POY, Kuechly also was given Walter Camp honors as a 1st Team All-American, the only back-to-back selection on the defensive side of the 1st team. Give it two seasons and Kuechly will fall somewhere between Bears all-global linebacker Brian Urlacher and Patriots tackling machine Jerod Mayo. Disclaimer; Watching Kuechly since his freshman year on Chestnut Hill as an STH has left me slightly biased. Projection: Arizona, Chicago, and Tampa Bay.

Stephon Gilmore, cornerback South Carolina We have zero issues identifying talent here at LynchyRightNow, that being said, Gamecocks junior corner Stephon Gilmore has Top-25 talent, as a junior! Two-and-a-half minutes into game film against Auburn, you can see how good Gilmore's ceiling is, and I'm talking about his sophomore year. Open field tackles on Cam Newton, ripping up Nick Saban's Crimson Tide, that's what it took for SEC foes to take notice of the 6'1" sophomore and prepare for him this past season. Gilmore can shed blockers with the best of them and step up to make plays with the size on his frame. At the next level he'll have be forced to play up on receivers, as there are 31 other teams with a receiver the caliber of Julio Jones. In our mind, we picture Gilmore and fellow Gamecock receiver Alshon Jeffery doing battle in practice and you don't get better NFL prep than that. Projection: New England, Dallas, and Buffalo.

Dwayne Allen, tight end Clemson You don't think the postseason performance of Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, 49ers TE Vernon Davis, and Saints TE Jimmy Graham hasn't gotten NFL draft scouts giving the best tight end in college football second looks?!?! While not as vertically gifted as Gronk, Davis, and Graham, Allen has shown glimpses of brilliance this season in Death Valley. Good blocking tight end, check. Ability to get up the field on linebackers and make catches over the middle, check. Endzone monster? Check. Eight touchdowns this season, and we're good. Expect Allen to be the first tight end off the board and for every good reason there is. Projection: Atlanta, NY Giants, and Indianapolis.

Courtney Upshaw, linebacker Alabama My man played so well in the National Championship, he pumped his draft status to top pass rusher available! All reports out of Mobile, AL and the Senior Bowl have been great for Upshaw. Scouts have said not only is Upshaw NFL ready, but his quickness off the ball and strength up front have yet to be matched by anyone else in Mobile. On a Nick Saban team you can expect team from all of these Crimson Tide players profiled, they're supremely gifted, ready to play at the next level, and at the top of their positions. I don't expect there to be too many people comparing him to Broncos star linebacker Von Miller, but that's where we've got Upshaw. An upperclassmen with above average intelligence and super-human strength. Expect Upshaw to sneak into that top ten. Projection: Buffalo or Seattle.

Trent Richardson, running back Alabama We love Trent Richardson on the next stage! He's a bigger, stronger, version of our favorite AFC running backs, Raven Ray Rice and Jaguar Maurice Jones-Drew. Every one of those 96-yards he banged out against LSU in the National Championship game were what we refer to as 'man-yards,' had to earn every last one of them! A 3-down back in the NFL, Richardson is a quality blocker with his strength and you know he can get 1st downs! Considered a very good pass-catching running back, there are a number of NFL teams that are going to fall in love with what Richardson can add to their offenses. He's that talented to be a top-five pick in the draft, if the NFL hadn't turned so pass-happy. Projection: Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Denver.

Ryan Tannehill, quarterback Texas A&M When Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Trojan Matt Barkley opted to return to college football in 2012, the first thought that came to our mind was, Ryan Tannehill just made a bunch of money! Now widely considered as the third best available quaterback in this years draft crop, Tannehill has heard his name float everywhere from the early first round to late second round, from Miami to Cleveland. With former Aggie head coach Mike Sherman ousted from College Station and sure to find his way back onto an NFL sideline, things are working out for Tannehill. Sure, Tannehill has a tendency to throw interceptions in big games, three against Oklahoma, three against Texas, but he's got that NFL size and big arm teams look for. We don't buy Tannehill as a starting quarterback over the next few seasons, but then again we didn't buy Ponder last year and now the Vikings aren't looking to upgrade at all. A couple years learning the position, or thrust into a good situation, Tannehill could work in the NFL. Projection: Miami.

Dont'a Hightower, linebacker Alabama The third 'Tide player this week, following a week where we included corner Dre Kirkpatrick, and we're almost done gutting Saban's defense, with just safety Mark Barron to follow, and you wonder why we loved Alabama in the National Championship. Let's get to Hightower though, he's an inside linebacker with a ton of talent up the middle of the field. More so, we really hope Hightower lands late in the first or second round on a defense that is built which needs to improve their inside linebackers, say the Steelers or Ravens. A linebacker who benefited most at Alabama playing on a defense with help all over the field, he'd be a great addition to either one of those AFC North squads. Much like Kuechly at Boston College, Hightower leads a defense by making tackles all over the field (85 this season), Projection: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Dallas.

Nick Perry, defensive end USC Perry really made a name for himself in the second half of the this season, and he's a huge reason why the Trojans turned it on late as well. The Detroit native is a terribly fast pass rusher with a gift at getting to the quarterback, his nine and-a-half sacks led the PAC-12 in 2011. In the NFL there are a number of teams looking for a pass rusher with the upside of Nick Perry. At 6'3" and 250 lbs., Perry will most likely have to put on a little more weight without losing any of his lighting fast speed. Being coached by Monte Kiffin in 2011 has really done wonders for Nick Perry and there are a ton of teams at the next level that will be putting a call into Kiffin to find out just how good Perry has become. Projection: Tennessee, New England, and Green Bay.

Coby Fleener, tight end Stanford Andrew Luck had to pass to someone right?!? In his four years at Pala Alto, the 6'6" Fleener got better and better each year collecting career-highs in catches, yards, yards-per catch, and touchdowns all in his senior year. Fleener has developed into a terrific route runner and has an uncanny ability to find holes in the secondary in which to make big plays down the field. With the success of such big tight ends as Jimmy Graham in New Orleans this past season, Fleener who is nearly identical in size is going to get many looks, including looks from the team who drafts his college quarterback Andrew Luck. Projection: Indianapolis, New York Giants, and Buffalo.

Jayron Hosley, cornerback Virginia Tech The Virginia Tech cornerback is a double threat, he's a quality return man and plays great in pass defense. I expect there to be a run on corners in the early going of the draft, previously we've discussed Mo Claiborne, Janoris Jenkins, Dre Kirkpatrick, and this week Stephon Gilmore, which means it's Hosley's turn. With lighting quick recovery speed, Hosley makes up for his smaller stature. Now I have my reservations on Virginia Tech defensive players, was it really there ability or the ability of defensive coordinator Bud Foster to have them in the right position to be most effective. That being said, a player who can be a quality return man and pitch in on a good secondary, I like Hosley. Projection: New York Giants, Atlanta, and Chicago.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

All Caught Up

I've been out of pocket for a week or two, paying gig had my focus! However, don't fret, we still at it!! (that grammar error was on purpose) Before we get back into our regular routine, thought we'd get you all caught up!

Let's get after it!

The passing of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno (1926-2012) is an awfully difficult moment to digest. The winningest coach in major college football history (409 victories) meant Paterno's passing should have been different, but we understand it can't be. The last several months of his life Paterno spent cancer stricken and a shade off the center of an awful sexual abuse scandal directly involving his longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Paterno's failures off the field surrounding the Sandusky scandal will remain a very sad but truthful end to both his coaching career and now his life. A life and career that just months ago would have been remembered for his contributions to Penn State both on and off the field amongst all the college football memories. The 46-seasons as head coach of the Nittany Lions, the two national championships, the 37 bowl game appearances, and of course each and every last one of those 409 victories, all play second fiddle now. All due respect to Joseph Vincent Paterno and his family, I believe it was said best by Maximus Decimus Meridius, "Men, what we do in life, echoes in eternity."

Lack of grace?!? No. Political statement?!? No. Display of freedom?!? We beg to differ. Newly anointed Stanley Cup Champion and 2X Vezina Trophy winner, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, opted out of this week's Bruins visit to the White House to be recognized by the top office in all of the land. Now let's not be confused here, I care very little about the political beliefs of Tim Thomas, his opinion on government spending means absolutely nothing to me. So why does this make the column!?!? Because I'm beyond tired of self-centered, over-opinionated, and boldly arrogant athletes believing it is their duty to 'make-a-statement.' Take it one step further, where does Thomas, the 3rd highest-paid player on the Bruins roster, get off making a 'Bruins-day' about himself. The moment Thomas released his statement on government spending on Twitter, he made himself the story of his teammates visit to the White House. That I have a problem with. I have a major problem with stealing the scene from your teammates who showed up and probably wanted a less controversial visit and to just enjoy the momemnt. Funny how a boy from Michigan forgets the cash that the same government he slammed put up to put the paddles on the heart of the American Auto Industry, right in his back yard.

Are you ready for Part II?!? As the Patriots and Giants set to do battle for the second time in recent memory, on the games biggest stage, it's got us thinking, what more could we ask for?!?! The stakes for New England & Tom Brady are at an all-time high. A fourth Super Bowl since 2001, the legacy of a future Hall of Fame coach and quarterback, laying claim to the most dominant franchise in the Super Bowl era?!? To the Meadowlands, a 2x-Super Bowl winning quarterback moving to an elite status in more minds than his own, a coach looking to add another Lombardi, and a franchise that would love to play spoiler to Bill Belichick one more time for good measure! If we aren't going to get treated to the sound clips from Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, if we aren't going to get to see the scoreboard light up as it would have if Brees or Rodgers had made it back, what better way to cap this thing off?!?! Aside from the Harbaugh family, and people who dislike these two insufferable fan bases, this thing could be g-r-e-a-t!

Now that you're all caught up, for more Lynchy hit us on Twitter and look for new episodes of TheRightNowPodcast!

Friday, January 13, 2012

'Bama Storm In 'The Bayou'

That was exactly what I had hoped for. A grind-it-out performance (as much as you can grind out a 21-0 win) from Alabama en route to a second National Championship in three years. It's taken me a few days and one podcast, to take all of the 2012 BCS National Championship Game in, but I think I've done it.

First thing is first, had the Stanford Cardinal (11-1; pre-Fiesta Bowl) or the Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-1 pre-Fiesta Bowl) been awarded a shot at the LSU Tigers, we'd be looking at the second best team in the country holding that crystal football today. Let us make no bones about it, the Crimson Tide were the most complete team in college football throughout the entire season. Couple their dominant rushing attack led by Heisman finalist Trent Richardson (1,679 yard and 21 touchdowns) with the best defensive team in the nation (allowing just 8.2 ppg), and you've got no arguement otherwise. We'll put it down right now if you haven't already heard; The Crimson Tide would have never allowed a conference foe to hang 53-points on them in Tuscaloosa as Stanford allowed Oregon to do in Palo Alto. More so, Crimson Tide would never have lost in Ames, Iowa to an Iowa State Cyclones team that would finish their 2011- 2012 campaign 6-7 with a loss to Rutgers in The Pinstripe Bowl, as Oklahoma State did. If anyone in Stillwater wants to lay claim, including those four voters in the Associated Press who somehow arrived at the decision to select Oklahoma State as the #1 team in the country after all was said and done on Tuesday morning, you ought to have your head examined.

Blame LSU head coach Les Miles and the 'Bayou Bengals coaching staff for that offensive performance on Monday night. Two series, that's all it took for the entire country to realize that LSU had nothing on offense and if they planned on winning a National Championship, their defense was going to have to create points. Real talk now, was it arrogance or short-term memory loss?!? Back on November 5th, the first night these two teams met and a 9-6 LSU
overtime victory, it was Miles & his staff that quickly realized starting quarterback Jarrett Lee didn't have what it took to beat Alabama on their turf and a switch to the more mobile Jordan Jefferson was the answer. On Monday night however, when Jordan Jefferson was being swarmed each time he attempted the option and that LSU ground game was stagnant, Miles and that coaching staff refused to turn to Jarrett Lee and any semblance of a passing attack. The 'Bama defensive backs stepped up seven-yards off the ball and that linebacking duo of Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower crowded the line of scrimmage, and that's all she wrote folks. I've got to call it arrogance though, the Tigers are too smart to not know that a change had to happen as early as the first quarter or they were going to be on the losing end. Credit the 'Bama defense though, not allowing LSU over the 50-yard line till the 4th quarter, well that's making a statement.

Lastly, he wasn't the BCS National Championship Game offensive MVP for nothing. Ladies & Gents, I give you Alabama sophomore quarterback A.J. McCarron. Sure, it helps having Trent Richardson in the backfield grinding out a 96-yard performance on twenty carries, but McCarron stepped up on the biggest stage. Completing 23 of 34 passes
is pretty good, hooking up with seven different targets for over 230 yards passing is real good, but against LSU's ball-hawking defense, staying interception free has to be the biggest of all McCarron's stats on Monday night. McCarron didn't force passes, he dumped it off to his senior tight end Brad Smelley seven times, and that tear drop to Darius Hanks right over the head of Tyrann Mathieu, well that was just flat out baller. He may not have been the reason they lost to LSU the first time back in early November (while that interception that night right in front of the endzone didn't help things), but he sure was one of the biggest reasons Alabama hoisted a trophy the second time around. Roll Tide, Roll.

So now we find ourselves all wrapped up at the end of a near perfect season. LSU came so close and on the final night looked so far away. Nick Saban captured his third title, chalk that one up for the bad guys. Last but not least, the Southeastern Conference placed a National Champion on top of the mountain for the sixth straight year. Some things are just the way they're supposed to be . .

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Weekly Draft Profile; Week 2

It's been an exciting couple weeks, for all of us who have been invested in Bowl Season we've seen some great games! Yet lets turn our focus back to some of those stars who will be playing on Sundays next season . . .It's the Week 2 Draft Profile!

Let's Get After It!

Morris Claiborne, cornerback LSU The leader of the LSU secondary, this six-foot corner makes opposing quarterbacks know exactly where he is on the field at all times. As a junior, Claiborne had several key games including a monster outing against Alabama which saw him record three tackles and break up a couple passes to go along with his game changing interception. A part of several post-season All-American honors, Claiborne was also able to bring back The Jim Thorpe Award to Baton Rouge as the nation's top defensive back. For the second straight year, an LSU corner could be selected within the top five selections of the NFL Draft. Projection: Minnesota, Dallas, and Cincinnati.

Robert Griffin III, quarterback Baylor Since putting up nose bleeding numbers en route to a Heisman Trophy, so much has gone right for Team Griffin III. (1) A monster performance against Washington in the Valero Alamo Bowl. (2) The success of fellow Heisman winner and current Panthers signal caller Cam Newton. A very similar quarterback with a big arm, ability to lead, and make plays from all over the field. (3) A ringing endorsement from established NFL coaches such as former Colts coach Tony Dungy. So yes, I'm pretty sure that Griffin III can expect his name to be called very early on draft night. Projection: Miami, Jacksonville, and Washington.

Dre Kirkpatrick, cornerback Alabama The Crimson Tide's top defensive back is either 1A or 1B in the country. He's a 6'3" speedster with the ability to make big plays in big moments. With the type of game the NFL has become on a week to week basis, defensive backs like Kirkpatrick are going to be all the more important at slowing down receivers and passing games. His physical play is what we love, Kirpatrick can stuff receivers at the line and also get down field with them very quickly. After LSU's Morris Claiborne comes off the board, expect teams to start jockeying to get where Dre Kirkpatrick is. Projection: Dallas or Carolina.

Riley Reiff, offensive tackle Iowa Someone is in the ear of this 6'6" mammoth of an offensive lineman because Reiff wasted no time declaring he'd be headed to the NFL as a junior. Along with Trojan Matt Kalil and Cardinal Jonathan Martin, both in our Week 1 Draft Profile, Reiff could be yet another offensive tackle chosen within the top ten selections, he's that good. After quarterback, tackle is the most important position to draft here in the early going to sure up your protection for that signal caller, making Riley Reiff a ton of money! Maybe it's just us, but Oakland's 2004 draft selection of tackle Robert Gallery has soiled us on Hawkeye lineman, just throwing it out there. Projection: Miami and Buffalo.

Devon Still, defensive tackle Penn State Possibly the baddest defensive player in the draft, and we mean bad in the best possible way. Devon Still is a monster on the field, weighing in at 310 pounds with lighting speed off the snap, who wouldn't be? Devon Still could have been a top pick in 2010 after making ten tackles for a loss and adding four sacks along the way. This season however, Still made a huge impact on the Nittany Lion defense. Not only was Still the Big Ten defensive player of the year, post season the Nittany Lion defensive tackle was selected as finalist for both the Bednarik and Outland Awards. Expect a team looking to free up linebackers to find a way to get to the top of the draft to grab Devon Still. Projection: San Diego, Tennessee, and Dallas.

Peter Konz, center Wisconsin It's a Badger offensive lineman, what more do you need to know?!? Following in the footsteps of current Wisconsin offensive linemen in the NFL, Gabe Carimi, Joe Thomas, John Moffitt, Kraig Urbik, and Bill Nagy, the All-American center will be on his way to the next level. With several quarterbacks losing their centers this season, Konz will make more than one team look to select a center as high as the early first round. Badgers running back Montee Ball can speak on Konz' behalf for how dominant he is in the center of the offensive line. Projection: New York Jets, Detroit, and Dallas.

Alshon Jeffery, receiver South Carolina With one great touchdown catch at the end of the first-half in the Capital One Bowl, the 6'4" Gamecock receiver reminded us how great he really is. Playing with instability under center in 2011 and the absence of injured running back Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina could never find a rhythm to get Jeffery involved in their offense. That being said, slide back to his 2010 numbers where Jeffery grabbed 88 balls for well over 1,200 yards. For Jeffery, his challenge to NFL teams is proving that he is on the same level as Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, who prior to 2011 were battling each other for top receiver honors. Those in the market for a big, physical receiver with great hands as a first or second option could see themselves grabbing Jeffery early. Projection: San Francisco, New York Jets, and Philadelphia

Kendall Wright, receiver Baylor Someone has been catching passes from Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin all season long, right?!?! Thirty more catches, 711 more yards, and twice as many touchdowns (14), those are the off-the-chart numbers Wright put up in his senior year in Waco, Texas. Nine times this season Wright has racked up 100+ yard games, including two big games down the stretch, 208 against Oklahoma and 166 against Texas. Now vaulting himself amongst the top 3 or 4 receivers available in the draft, expect Wright to become a very hot commodity after Jeffery and Blackmon fall off the board. Projection: San Francisco, New York Jets, and Philadelphia.

Michael Floyd, receiver Notre Dame There isn't a front-office that won't be looking into Floyd's off-the-field issues. A DUI last year after announcing he'd return to South Bend for his senior season, another minor alcohol related offense earlier, and Mike Floyd has earned himself a reputation that will be difficult to look past if a team is going to spend a high-first round selection on the 4-year receiver. However, when you at production it really doesn't getter better than Floyd. He's amassed back-to-back seasons of 1,000-yards receiving and nine touchdowns or more, never with a consistent quarterback throwing to him over the past two seasons. After 37 career touchdowns, it's possible that there is a team looking to add a very strong pass catcher with great hands. Projection: Philadelphia and New York Giants.

Quinton Coples, defensive end North Carolina It always seems as though there is one of those ACC pass rushers that gains a ton of steam heading into the draft, even former Clemson Tiger Da'quan Bowers gained steam despite injuries. Before we get into how good Coples is, I preface this with the fact that I don't know how well the ACC offensive lineman played this year, really pumping up every edge pass rusher. With that, Coples has double-digit tackles for a loss and has totaled close to ten sacks in 2011. His play has been highlighted in Chapel Hill for each of the last two seasons and rightfully so. With lighting speed off the edge, this 6'6" pass rusher is going to gain a ton of hype after teams see how fast he can be. Projection: Jacksonville, Miami, and Buffalo.

*Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, highlighted in our Weekly Draft Profile; Week 1 is headed back to Norman, OK for his senior season. We're not sure who is advising young Landry, but it is our belief that coming out in 2012 won't increase his draft value at all. Either way, Jones' decision to return has just made a to be determined second-tier quarterback a ton of money.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

First and foremost, Happy New Year from all of us at LynchyRightNow. We truly hope you had a great 2011 and are forging into to 2012 just as we are.

Sunday marked the end of the regular season in the NFL, and as always it was not without its fair share of high drama. From Miami to Denver and back to New York, involving everyone from Tim Tebow, Eli Manning, and a rookie quarterback leading the Cincinnati Bengals into the postseason . . .

Let's get after it!

First up, the un-expected.

It's worth noting that in a virtual meaningless game for the NFC's top-seeded Packers, playing in place of the resting starter Aaron Rodgers, back-up quarterback Matt Flynn had a G-A-M-E. Against division rival Detroit, the Packers 26-year old quarterback tossed six touchdown passes for 480 yards including the game winner with 1:10 remaining on the clock. However, turn back the clock to December 19th in 2010 on the road at New England. That night Flynn put up three touchdowns in a 4-point loss to the Patriots and looked really good doing so. In a league always looking for the next quarterback, someone ought to give a hard look at Matt Flynn.

The Raiders not taking care of business, don't laugh. It is unexpected that Oakland didn't take care of a business with one last opportunity to do so. At home against a 'playing for not' Chargers team, they got dropped 26-38. Finishing the season losing four of five has this franchise which looked so promising heading into December, now on the outside looking in at the postseason. Give Chargers quarterback Phil Rivers some credit for Sunday. With nothing left to play for than pride itself, Rivers completed 19 of 26 passes for over 300 yards while hitting for three touchdowns. The six straight losses in the middle of the season still have us wondering how Norv Turner has survived this long in southern California.

Save it, for the off season.

For the Dallas Cowboys, it began and ended in New York City. First there was the 3-point loss to the Jets in the September 11th opener and then the New Year's Day division losing loss to the Giants. Now, the Cowboys are headed home on the tail end of another disappointing season that they'd once had high hopes for. However, I caution all of you on pointing fingers at veteran quarterback Tony Romo. For the first time in his career, this ain't on him! Sure, Romo had a hand in their losses to the Jets and Lions but missing the postseason, losing to the Giants twice, and coughing up late forth quarter leads (multiple times), that's on the headsets on the sideline. Romo had a very good season in 2011, over 4,000-yards passing, 31 touchdown passes, all while playing with a young offensive line and multiple tough injuries. Without Romo, the Cowboys 8-8 record would look much, much worse.

Adversely, quarterback Mark Sanchez is going to be held accountable for the 2011 New York Jets. It's too easy to point the finger at Sanchez, 18-interceptions, a passer-rating of 65.2, and being completely inept in big game situations. Where do they go though?!? Do they find a veteran and just part-ways with Sanchez? Do they bring in competition for Sanchez? Do they fire offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer? Here is the situation though, they lost their final three this season, they allowed the Patriots to score 67-points on them in their two meetings, they got embarrassed out west, first against Oakland then in Denver, when do you call out head coach Rex Ryan for that?!? His team wasn't prepared heading into the season and it shouldn't be a shock that they finished 8-8.

Great quarterback play, is everything you need.

How good was this season on a passing level?!? Literally, chart topping. This season (2011), not one, not two, but three quarterbacks passed for over 5,000 yards and placed themselves in the top-five single season passing record books. Prior to 2011, only two quarterbacks in THE HISTORY of the game had gone over 5,000 yards in a single season. Drew Brees torched Dan Marino's single-season record which had stood since 1984, for the second time in his career Brees posted a 5,000+ yard season, this one at 5,476 yards. Patriots signal caller Tom Brady also passed Marino's 1984 mark, putting up 5,235 yards, 151 yards more than Marino's. Also, Detroit Lions playoff bound quarterback Matthew Stafford hung a 520-yard game on the Green Bay Packer defense to post a 5,038 yard season, at just 23-years old. For those of you who think a rushing attack will carry a team to a Super Bowl, I highly doubt it!

Because we won't talk about him till next season, the rookie year of Carolina Panthers top pick in 2011, quarterback Cam Newton, has a ton of reach. In his first season in The League, he stayed healthy, he produced, and more importantly he was a leader! His Panthers won four more games than they did a year ago and lost by eight or fewer in six additional games. Even more impressive, he was the major change on the field from the Panthers a season ago. He didn't have Michael Turner joining him in the backfield as Matt Ryan did in Atlanta and he didn't join a ready-made team as Joe Flacco did in Baltimore, he was the change. All of that is more eye-popping than the 4,000+ passing yards and 21 touchdowns. The REACH; Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III will be an option leading a team in the NFL next fall. Just like Newton, he's a leader on and off the field, couple that with his big arm and ability make plays, I'd say someone is going to be very comfortable giving him the keys to their franchise.

Don't Sleep On, they could make noise.

Why not the Bengals?!? Sure they backed in, going 2-3 down the stretch, including a loss to the same Houston Texans team they'll play next Saturday, but why not them?!? Houston is banged up, they'll play a soft New England secondary in the second round of which A.J. Green can tear apart, why not Cincy?!? I don't know if the Bengals will be on everyone's watch list, but I do know that I like what I've seen from first-year starter Andy Dalton.

The Falcons haven't come up big in a single game this season, and while New York is still rejoicing on their New Year's Day division-winning victory over Dallas, the Falcons are preparing for a road trip to The Big Apple. They've only beaten one playoff team all season long, the Lions, but even still I like how their offense has developed. Rookie receiver Julio Jones has been a real factor lately and if the Falcons can keep the Giants defensive line honest by rushing the ball with Michael Turner, things could get scary with Atlanta's receivers in that Giants secondary.

While we can't believe the regular season is over, we're very excited for the next month, from Wild-Card weekend to the Super Bowl . . . GET AFTER IT!

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