Saturday, August 31, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - San Diego Chargers

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS                                                 

Head Coach: Mike McCoy

2012 Record: 7-9-0 (2nd in AFC West)

New Players: LB Dwight Freeney; RB Danny Woodhead; CB Derek Cox; OL Max Starks; OL Chad Rinehart.

Gone Elsewhere: CB Quentin Jammer; CB Antoine Cason; LB Takeo Spikes; LB Antwan Barnes; OL Jared Gaither; K Nate Kaeding; DL Antonio Garay; LB Shaun Phillips; DL Aubrayo Franklin; OL Louis Vasquez.

Offense: The Chargers have to be hoping that quarterback Philip Rivers snaps out of his two-year slump after he threw for his lowest yardage total in five seasons in 2012. Rivers had just 3,606 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Protecting Rivers better is a priority for the Chargers this season after allowing 49 sacks last year. The line is undergoing an overhaul as rookie D.J. Fluker (Alabama) was drafted in the first round to play right tackle.
QB Philip Rivers
The left tackle is slated to be King Dunlap. The center is Nick Hardwick and the guards are Chad Rinehart and Jeromey Clary.
The running game has to get better after leading rusher Ryan Mathews rushed for 707 yards (3.8 ypc average) and scored just one touchdown while missing all or parts of five games last season. Aging veteran Ronnie Brown (220 rush yards and 49 receptions for 371 yards) provides backup along with newcomer Danny Woodhead, who ran for 301 yards and scored four touchdowns while also making 40 catches for 446 yards and three more scores with New England last year.
The wide receivers are looking to bounce back from injuries last year as Malcolm Floyd, who is recovering from a knee sprain, caught 56 passes for 814 yards and five touchdowns in 2012. Tight End Antonio Gates is a favorite target of Rivers and he caught 49 passes for 538 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Other wideouts include Vincent Brown, who showed real promise in 2011 before suffering a season ending injury in the 2012 pre-season. Rookie Keenan Allen (California) is another option along with Robert Meacham, who was a complete bust in 2012, catching just 14 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Eddie Royal is also available and also returns kicks as does Richard Goodman.

Defense: The Chargers defense ranked ninth overall last season, giving up 326 yards per game, including 96 on the ground (6th overall) and 230 passing yards, which was 18th in the NFL. The 'Bolts recorded 38 QB sacks while getting 28 turnovers, including 14 interceptions.
Up front in San Diego's 3-4 set is nose tackle Cam Thomas while Corey Liuget (seven QB sacks) and Kendali Reyes (5 1/2 sacks) play the ends. Jarius Wynn and Damik Scafe provide depth.
Linebacker Dwight Freeney
The linebackers have rookie Manti Te'o (Notre Dame) on the inside along with Donald Butler, who registered three sacks. The outside linebackers are Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney, who had five sacks with Indianapolis last season.
The secondary is completely revamped at the corner spots with Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason leaving for free agency and being replaced by Shareece Wright and Derek Cox. The safties are Marcus Gilchrist and Eric Weddle, who had three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.


OUTLOOK:  New Head Coach Mike McCoy takes over for the fired Norv Turner, who in six seasons with the Chargers led the team to the playoffs three times, but not since 2009 have they made the post-season.
The offense, once upon a time the best in the NFL (with QB Philip Rivers leading the way) dropped off drastically last season to 31st in the league, averaging just 297 yards per game. The running game (27th) gained only 91 yards a game while the passing game averaged 206 yards to rank 24th in the NFL. The Chargers averaged 21.8 points per game and that must improve if the Chargers want to be taken seriously in the AFC West.
Rivers can't do it by himself, so it's vital that fourth year running back Ryan Mathews lives up to promise this season after spending parts of his first three years in the league in the trainer's room.
The wideouts have been hampered by injuries once again as Malcolm Floyd was hurt in training camp and Danario Alexander, who put up big numbers last year for San Diego, is out for the year with a knee injury. Meanwhile, on the bright side, tight end Antonio Gates appears to be one hundred percent healthy for the first time in six years.
There are numerous questions surrounding the new faces on offense and defense as well as the new coaching staff and system being implemented. All that said, the Chargers appear to be in rebuilding mode as Rivers looks to get his team back to the post-season for the first time in four years.
Perhaps better days are ahead as they look to get back to the basics and revamp the team to challenge once again in the AFC West. But don't count on it this season as the Chargers appear to be headed for yet another 7-9 finish in the 2013 season.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 9- vs. Houston
Sept. 15- at Philadelphia
Sept. 22- at Tennessee
Sept. 29- vs. Dallas
Oct. 6- at Oakland
Oct. 14- vs. Indianapolis
Oct. 20- at Jacksonville
Oct. 27- BYE WEEK
Nov. 3- at Washington
Nov. 10- vs. Denver
Nov. 17- at Miami
Nov. 24- at Kansas City
Dec. 1- vs. Cincinnati
Dec. 8- vs. NY Giants
Dec. 12- at Denver
Dec. 22- vs. Oakland
Dec. 29- vs. Kansas City

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - Oakland Raiders

OAKLAND RAIDERS                                                

Head Coach: Dennis Allen

2012 Record: 4-12-0 (3rd in AFC West)

New Players: QB Matt Flynn; S Charles Woodson; RB Rashad Jennings; LB Nick Roach; LB Kevin Burnett; CB Tracy Porter; P Chris Kluwe.

Gone Elsewhere: QB Carson Palmer; DL Tommy Kelly; WR Darrius Heyward-Bey; S Michael Huff; TE Brandon Myers; LB Philip Wheeler; DL Richard Seymour.

Offense: The Raiders will have a new quarterback this season as Matt Flynn comes over from Seattle after being expected to be the starter there last season only to watch rookie sensation Russell Wilson take the team over and advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.
Flynn will be expected to lead the team with Terrelle Pryor backing up. Rookie Tyler Wilson (Arkansas) will hold the clipboard.
Darren McFadden is the top running back after going for 707 yards with two touchdowns in 12 games a
Darren McFadden
year ago. He also caught 42 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown. Rashad Jennings was signed as a free agent in the off-season and will be ready to play should McFadden suffer any injuries this season.
The wide receivers are Denarius Moore (51 receptions for 741 yards and seven touchdowns), Rod Streater (39, 584, three TD) and Juron Criner, who had 16 receptions for 151 yards and one score.
Jacoby Ford is expected to be a starter after missing the entire 2012 season with a foot injury. The tight end spot is up in the air as Richard Gordon, David Ausberry and rookie Nick Kasa (Colorado) are looking to earn the starter's role.
The line is manned by tackles Jared Veldheer and rookie Menelik Watson (Florida State) and guards Tony Bergstrom and Mike Brisiel. The center is Stefen Wisniewski.
Oakland was 18th in total offense last season averaging 344 yards a game. The running game was 28th, getting only 89 yards per game. The passing game had a 4,000-plus yard passer in Carson Palmer (gone to Arizona this season) so last season's eighth ranked passing game is a moot point. The Raiders averaged just 18 points a game in 2012 as they scored 290 points.

Defense: While they employ the 4-3 set on defense, the Raiders will be without main man Richard Seymour up front as he departed for free agency in the off-season. Tommy Kelly also left in the off-season.
Charles Woodson
So it will be Pat Sims and Vance Walker at the tackles with Lamarr Houston (four QB sacks) and Jason Hunter at the ends this season. Backing up are Andre Carter, Jack Crawford and Christo Bilukidi.
The linebackers are Kaluka Maiava in the middle with Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett manning the outside.
The secondary will have veteran safety Charles Woodson returning to the Raiders after spending the past seven seasons in Green Bay. Along with Woodson is Tyvon Branch as the strong safety. The corners will be Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins. Top draft pick D.J. Hayden (Houston) will provide good depth in the secondary.
Oakland gave up a lot of points (443)  last season as only three other teams allowed more scoring. In addition, the Raiders finished 18th overall on defense, giving up 355 yards per game, including 119 on the ground and 236 passing yards per game.

OUTLOOK: With a new quarterback taking over this season, expect some growing pains for the offense as Matt Flynn becomes familiar with the system the team wants to run.
Head Coach Dennis Allen would like to see running back Darren McFadden return to full strength after another season confounded by injuries.
If McFadden can stay on the field, he is one of the better offensive players in the league, but only time will tell this year. The wide receivers are decent and Flynn will have to keep things moving for the offense, which has to do better than 18 points per game.
On the bright side, any time the Raiders cross midfield, they are in field goal range for one of the best in the business with kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who made 91 percent of his field goal attempts last year.
The defense must have a better pass rush after getting just 25 QB sacks a year ago. Likewise, turnovers have to improve as the Raiders had just eleven interceptions and eight fumble recoveries in 2012.
Playing in the AFC West is tough enough with Denver dominating these days while San Diego and Kansas City always play the Raiders tough. So division games will be crucial for the team once again this year. The overall schedule is pretty tough as well, so don't expect too much from the Raiders this season with all the new faces in key spots on both sides of the ball.
A 3-13 finish is likely this year for the Raiders as they simply have too many questions surrounding them in the upcoming season.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8- at Indianapolis
Sept. 15- vs. Jacksonville
Sept. 23- at Denver
Sept. 29- vs. Washington
Oct. 6- vs. San Diego
Oct. 13- at Kansas City
Oct. 20- BYE WEEK
Oct. 27- vs. Pittsburgh
Nov. 3- vs. Philadelphia
Nov. 10- at NY Giants
Nov. 17- at Houston
Nov. 24- vs. Tennessee
Nov. 28- at Dallas
Dec. 8- at NY Jets
Dec. 15- vs. Kansas City
Dec. 22- at San Diego
Dec. 29- vs. Denver

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - Kansas City Chiefs

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS                                       

Head Coach: Andy Reid

2012 Record: 2-14-0 (4th in AFC West)

New Players: QB Alex Smith; QB Chase Daniel; WR Donnie Avery; WR A.J. Jenkins; TE Anthony Fasano; DL Mike DeVito; LB Akeem Jordan; CB Sean Smith; CB Dunta Robinson; OL Geoff Schwartz.

Gone Elsewhere: QB Matt Cassel; QB Brady Quinn; TE Kevin Boss; WR Jon Baldwin; RB Peyton Hillis; DL Glenn Dorsey; OL Ryan Lilja; OL Eric Winston.

Offense: Gone are quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn and in their places are Alex Smith (1,737 passing yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions with the 49ers) and backup Chase Daniel, who held the clipboard for the New Orleans Saints the past few seasons while QB Drew Brees was setting new passing records.
The running back is Jamaal Charles, who came back strong from a knee injury in 2011 to gain an AFC best 1,509 yards last season with a 5.3 ypc average and scored five rushing touchdowns. He also caught 35
RB Jamaal Charles
passes for 236 yards and one score. Rookie pick Knile Davis (Arkansas) will be the primary backup now that Peyton Hillis is gone.
Wide receivers include Dwayne Bowe (59 receptions for 801 yards and three TD), Dexter McCluster (52, 452, one TD), Donnie Avery (60, 781, three TD with Indianapolis) and tight end Tony Moeaki, who made 33 receptions for 453 yards and one touchdown. Moeaki was recently injured in pre-season, meaning Anthony Fasano (41, 332, five TD with Miami in 2012) will likely be the starter once the season kicks off. Rookie pick Travis Kelce (Cincinnati) provides depth.
The offensive line has center Rodney Hudson, guards Jeff Allen and Jon Asamoah along with Branden Albert at left tackle and Number-One NFL Draft pick Eric Fisher at right tackle.
The Chiefs have nowhere to go but up after last season's anemic offensive production, particularly in the passing game, where they ranked dead last in the NFL with just 169 passing yards per game. Overall, thanks in large part to the number-five ranked rushing attack (150 yards per game), the Chiefs finished 24th in total offense and were last in the league in scoring with 211 points, which was a paltry 13.2 points per game.


LB Tamba Hali
Defense: Playing the 3-4 defense, Kansas City will have nose tackle Dontari Poe along with ends Tyson Jackson and Mike DeVito up front.
The linebackers are led by outside men Tamba Hali (nine QB sacks) and Justin Houston (ten sacks) while Akeem Jordan and Derrick Johnson are the inside linebackers.
The corners will once again be Brandon Flowers (three interceptions) and Sean Smith while Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis are the safties.
The Chiefs were 20th in total defense last year, allowing 357 yards per game (136 rushing and 221 passing yards) while giving up 425 points, including 30-plus points in seven games. The Chiefs totaled only 13 turnovers (six fumble recoveries and seven INT) which led to a woeful minus-24 on the turnover charts, which tied Philadelphia for worst in pro football.

OUTLOOK: Improvement on both sides of the ball is definitely the agenda for new Head Coach Andy Reid as he looks to get the team back into the playoff hunt in the AFC.
The Chiefs were awful in 2012, going 2-14 while being doubled up in points (425-211) for the season and that must change if the team wants to be competitive in the AFC West, let alone talk about getting back to the AFC Playoffs for the first time in three years.
Alex Smith was the starting QB in San Francisco before suffering an injury and then losing the starting spot to Colin Kaepernick as the 49ers went to the Super Bowl.
Smith would love to show what he can do and the Chiefs may be just the tonic for that in 2013. BOTH have points to prove to doubters around the NFL.
As long as Jamaal Charles stays healthy again this season, look for the breakaway back to continue to lead the way on offense.
The defense took a huge step back last season and the key ingredient to their success the previous two seasons was turnovers, which were very far and few between last season. That must improve along with better run defense (KC was 27th against the run last year) and better pressure on opposing quarterbacks as the Chiefs had just 27 sacks last year.
There is a lot of room for improvement in Kansas City in 2013 as they attempt to chase down the division champion Denver Broncos while battling San Diego for second place. The playoffs may be pushing the envelope for this team this season.
Andy Reid had better talent in Philadelphia the past two years and they did poorly, missing the playoffs and costing Reid his job after last season's 4-12 disaster. That being said, Reid does have a proven track record and can turn this team around quickly as long as the offense comes together with Smith running the show.
Look for a 8-8 finish this season from the Chiefs, which would be a six-game improvement from 2012 as they get back to .500 and look to a better future with Reid and Smith leading the way.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8- at Jacksonville
Sept. 15- vs. Dallas
Sept. 19- at Philadelphia
Sept. 29- vs. NY Giants
Oct. 6- at Tennessee
Oct. 13- vs. Oakland
Oct. 20- vs. Houston
Oct. 27- vs. Cleveland
Nov. 3- at Buffalo
Nov. 10- BYE WEEK
Nov. 17- at Denver
Nov. 24- vs. San Diego
Dec. 1- vs. Denver
Dec. 8- at Washington
Dec. 15- at Oakland
Dec. 22- vs. Indianapolis
Dec. 29- at San Diego


Monday, August 26, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - Denver Broncos

DENVER BRONCOS                                                         

Head Coach: John Fox

2012 Record: 13-3-0 (1st in AFC West)

New Players: WR Wes Welker; CB Quentin Jammer; LB Shaun Phillips; CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie; DL Terrance Knighton; OL Louis Vasquez.

Gone Elsewhere: DL Elvis Dumervil; RB Willis McGahee; WR Brandon Stokley; CB Tracy Porter; DL Jason Hunter; S Jim Leonhard; LB D.J. Williams.

Offense: The Broncos were 4th in the NFL in total offense last season, averaging 398 yards per game (115 rushing and 283 passing) with quarterback Peyton Manning leading the way.
Manning threw for 4,659 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while showing no real ill effects from multiple neck surgeries that kept him out for the entire 2011 season.
QB Peyton Manning
The wide receiving corps Manning targets will have a new weapon in 2013 as well in the person of Wes Welker, who led the AFC in receptions last season with New England, catching 118 passes for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns.
In addition to Welker, Denver has Demaryius Thomas (94, 1,434, ten TD) and Eric Decker, who had 85 receptions for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns. The tight end combination of Joel Dreesen (41, 356, five TD) and Jacob Tamme (52, 555, two TD) is solid.
The running game will be tweaked with rookie Montee Ball (Wisconsin) set to join Knowshon Moreno (525 rushing yards and four TD) and Ronnie Hillman (330 yards and one TD) as the primary backs following the departure of Willis McGahee, the team's leading rusher the past two seasons.
The O-Line is solid, allowing just 21 QB sacks last year while keeping the team respectable in the running game. The center is J.D. Walton, the guards are Zane Beadles and Louis Vasquez and the tackles will be Ryan Clady and Orlando Franklin.

Defense: The Broncos will be without their best defensive player, linebacker Von Miller for the first six games while he serves a league mandated suspension.
That being said, the team also no longer has Elvis Dumervil, who went to Baltimore in the off-season. Miller had 18 1/2 quarterback sacks last season and will be missed with the first six games featuring some tough opponents.
Playing up front in the team's 4-3 set  are ends Robert Ayers and Derek Wolfe (six sacks) along with tackle
Broncos LB Von Miller
Terrance Knighton and rookie tackle Sylvester Williams (North Carolina). Shaun Phillips (DE/LB) comes over from San Diego to provide solid depth after registering 9 1/2 sacks.
The linebacking unit will be led by Miller on the outside along with Wesley Woodyard (5 1/2 sacks and three interceptions) and middle linebacker Nate Irving.
In the secondary are veterans Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at the corners while Rahim Moore and Mike Adams are the safties. Chris Harris (three picks) and Quentin Jammer (three INT with San Diego in 2012) add depth to the secondary.
The Broncos finished tied for the league lead with 52 QB sacks last year while finishing second in the NFL in total defense, allowing 291 yards a game. They were third overall against both the run (91 yards allowed per game) and pass (200 yards allowed) while giving up 289 points, which ranked fourth in the league.

OUTLOOK: After finishing the regular season 13-3, the bitter taste of a first game (Divisional Round) playoff defeat to Baltimore in overtime will be a motivating factor for the Broncos entering the 2013 season.
With Peyton Manning leading a high powered offense, expect the Broncos to light up the scoreboard once again after finishing second in the NFL last year in scoring with 481 points.
The running game was productive last year to go with the high octane offense that Manning likes to run. It will be interesting to see how the running attack is this year with some of the changes made in the off-season.
On defense, the team has to overcome the loss of Von Miller for the first six games. There is plenty of talent here to hold the fort until Miller serves the suspension. The big question will be whether the Broncos can muster up the fierce pass rush they had last year with Miller out and Elvis Dumervil no longer on the team.
As long as Manning stays healthy and the Broncos continue to pile up the yardage and points each week, they will be a force to be reckoned with and Head Coach John Fox knows this very well.
A 12-4 season looks to be in order for the Broncos this season as they appear to once again be head and shoulders above the rest of the AFC West.
Once the playoffs begin, they (and Manning in particular) must forget about last year's collapse in the final minute of regulation when they allowed the Baltimore Ravens to steal the game from them which eventually ended in a double overtime loss.
The time is now for the Broncos and they know it... now they must go out and prove it.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 5- vs. Baltimore
Sept. 15- at NY Giants
Sept. 23- vs. Oakland
Sept. 29- vs. Philadelphia
Oct. 6- at Dallas
Oct. 13- vs. Jacksonville
Oct. 20- at Indianapolis
Oct. 27- vs. Washington
Nov. 3- BYE WEEK
Nov. 10- at San Diego
Nov. 17- vs. Kansas City
Nov. 24- at New England
Dec. 1- at Kansas City
Dec. 8- vs. Tennessee
Dec. 12- vs. San Diego
Dec. 22- at Houston
Dec. 29- at Oakland

Sunday, August 25, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - New York Jets

NEW YORK JETS                                                

Head Coach: Rex Ryan

2012 Record: 6-10-0 (3rd in AFC East)

New Players: LB Antwan Barnes; RB Chris Ivory; RB Mike Goodson; OL Willie Colon; S Dawan Landry.

Gone Elsewhere: CB Darrelle Revis; RB Shonn Greene; TE Dustin Keller; LB Bart Scott; OL Matt Slauson; S Yeremiah Bell; DL Mike DeVito; S LaRon Landry; DL Sione Po'uha.

Offense: Revamping this unit around either quarterback Mark Sanchez or rookie draft pick Geno Smith (West Virginia) is where the Jets offense is heading this season.
Sanchez was woeful last season, throwing for 2,883 yards with 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez
Smith is a flashy rookie who has had his ups and downs in the pre-season, but may yet get the starting nod when the opening game kicks off in just two weeks.
The running game is also going through big changes with leading back Shonn Greene departing for Tennessee in the off-season.
The starting candidates are Bilal Powell (437 rushing yards with four TD), Chris Ivory (217 yards and two TD with a 5.1 ypc average in only six games with New Orleans) and Mike Goodson, who had 221 yards in limited action with Oakland last season.
The wide receivers include Jeremy Kerley (56 receptions for 827 yards and two TD), Stephen Hill (21, 252, three TD) and Santonio Holmes, who played in just four games last year while catching 20 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown. Clyde Gates and Jordan White add depth to the receiving corps. The tight end is Jeff Cumberland, who made 29 receptions for 359 yards and three scores last season.
The line has Nick Mangold at center, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Austin Howard at tackles. The guards will be Stephen Peterman and Willie Colon.

Defense: With two rookies slated to start on defense in 2013, the Jets vaunted defense is also undergoing changes.
Gone is Darrelle Revis (aka Revis Island), perhaps the best cornerback in the NFL. Also gone is linebacker Bart Scott, safties Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry and defensive linemen Mike DeVito and Sione Po'uha.
Head Coach Rex Ryan
That's a big  laundry list of players and the Jets will go this year in the 3-4 set with Antonio Garay at nose tackle with Muhammad Wilkerson (five QB sacks at defensive end) and rookie Sheldon Richardson (Missouri) at defensive tackle.
The linebacking crew has outside men Antwan Barnes and Quinton Coples (5 1/2 sacks) along with inside backers Demario Davis and David Harris. Veteran LB Calvin Pace will step up again when needed.
The secondary will have rookie Dee Milliner (Alabama) and Antonio Cromartie (three interceptions) at the corners while Dawan Landry and Josh Bush play safety. Others in the fold include Aaron Berry, Kyle Wilson, Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett.
The Jets were eighth in the NFL on defense last year, including number-two against the pass, allowing 190 yards per game. They also allowed 375 points (23.5 points per game) in 2012.

OUTLOOK: The quarterback situation appears to be a huge mess at this point in time and Head Coach Rex Ryan has been testy (to say the least) when addressing the situation.
Whether it's Sanchez or the rookie Geno Smith taking the snaps this year, the Jets have to have stability at the most important position on the field.
The running back by committee will be a project as well. The line has to open the holes for the backs while also providing much better pass protection for the quarterbacks as they allowed 47 sacks last year.
The wide receiving corps is decent, especially if Santonio Holmes can stay healthy this season.
On defense, replacing cornerback Darrelle Revis and both safties is impossible. You don't replace 'Revis Island' with anyone, let alone a rookie defensive back.
The Jets struggled against the run last season (allowing 133 yards per game while ranked 26th in NFL) and that must improve. The turnovers cannot be a problem either in 2013 after the Jets were a minus-14 (18 fumbles and 19 interceptions on offense) last season.
It very well could be a long season in the Big Apple this year as the Jets re-tool and look to the future in the AFC East division. Figure on 5-11 this season as they attempt to stay out of the cellar.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8- vs. Tampa Bay
Sept. 12- at New England
Sept. 22- vs. Buffalo
Sept. 29- at Tennessee
Oct. 7- at Atlanta
Oct. 13- vs. Pittsburgh
Oct. 20- vs. New England
Oct. 27- at Cincinnati
Nov. 3- vs. New Orleans
Nov. 10- BYE WEEK
Nov. 17- at Buffalo
Nov. 24- at Baltimore
Dec. 1- vs. Miami
Dec. 8- vs. Oakland
Dec. 15- at Carolina
Dec. 22- vs. Cleveland
Dec. 29- at Miami

Saturday, August 24, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - New England Patriots

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS                                              

Head Coach: Bill Belichick

2012 Record: 12-4-0 (1st in AFC East)

New Players: WR Danny Amendola; QB Tim Tebow; DL Tommy Kelly; S Adrian Wilson.

Gone Elsewhere: WR Wes Welker; WR Brandon Lloyd; S Patrick Chung; OL Donald Thomas; RB Danny Woodhead; TE Aaron Hernandez (under arrest/prison).

Offense: What more can you say about future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Tom Brady?
All he did last season was pass for 4,827 yards with 34 touchdowns and just eight interceptions in 637 attempts. This was done with a new slew of receivers (except for top receiver Wes Welker) and now he gets to do it again this year as Welker left for Denver during the off-season while another starter, Brandon Lloyd, also left the team.
Enter Danny Amendola, who caught 63 passes for 666 yards and three touchdowns with St. Louis last year.
Along with Amendola, the Patriots will have Julian Edelman (21 receptions for 235 yards and three scores) as well as rookies Aaron Dobson (Marshall) and Josh Boyce (TCU). Unproven Kamar Aiken is getting a long look in the pre-season.


QB Tom Brady
The tight end spot was a worry free zone for the past three seasons in New England, but this season there are questions galore.
Rob Gronkowski had multiple surgeries in the off-season and his status is still uncertain as the season opener looms. If he is healthy and ready to go, Gronkowski (55 receptions, 790 yards and 11 TD in 11 games in 2012) is one of the premier tight ends in the league.

Then of course, there is the Aaron Hernandez story.

The former Patriots tight end was immediately cut when it was learned he was indicted on murder charges this past summer. So much for him in the NFL.
The other options for New England at tight end is Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard and Michael Hoomanawanui.
The running game was very effective last season, gaining 137 yards per game last year with Stevan Ridley (1,263 yards, 4.4 ypc average and 12 TD) leading the way. Shane Vereen (251 yards and three TD) and Brandon Bolden (274 yards and two scores), along with newcomer and former 1,000-yard rusher LeGarrette Blount, add depth to the roster.
The line is one of the better ones around the NFL, led by center Ryan Wendell, guards Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly and tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer.

Defense: This unit finished 25th (allowing 373 yards a game) in the NFL last year, allowing 102 yards rushing (6th in NFL) but were torched by opponents for 271 passing yards per game, which was 29th in the league.
Defensive Tackle Vince Wilfork
Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly are the tackles up front along with ends Rob Ninkovich (eight QB sacks) and Chandler Jones, who registered six sacks. The linebackers include Brandon Spikes (MLB) and outside linebackers Dont'a Hightower (four sacks) and Jerod Mayo.

The secondary is getting an overhaul as safety Patrick Chung left the team in the off-season. He will be replaced by cagey veteran Adrian Wilson. The other safety is Devin McCourty, who made five interceptions last season. The corners will be Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard. Kyle Arrington, Steve Gregory (three INT) and Tavon Wilson (four picks) add depth.



OUTLOOK: It seems that the Patriots have a way of plugging in players around Brady and the offense just continues to hum along.
Head Coach Bill Belichick knows what he has with Brady, but there are some serious question marks revolving around the receivers this year. The apparent lack of a burner on the outside could be a problem for the team, but adding Amendola will be a benefit as he is a player in the mold of Wes Welker, who was Brady's favorite target the past six seasons.
And what about Rob Gronkowski? He has to return to form (provided he is one hundred percent healthy this season) because the Pats are lacking at the tight end spot with Gronk injured and not having Aaron Hernandez any more.
Given their track record, the Patriots will likely figure it out quickly and continue to be among the top of the heap on offense. Last season, they led the league in scoring (557 points) while also ranking number one in total yardage with 428 yards per game, including fourth best in passing and seventh in rushing offense.
The defense looks to be improved against the pass coming into 2013, but only time will tell. The run defense is solid with big Vince Wilfork and company up front.
Look for more of the same (barring any major players getting injured) from the Patriots this season as they attempt to get back to the Super Bowl and possibly win one for the first time in nearly ten years.
A 12-4 finish is likely and how far they can go in the post-season will depend on the defense and the experience factor for the newcomers on offense. But with Brady at the controls, don't bet against the Patriots reaching another Super Bowl.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8- at Buffalo
Sept. 12- vs. NY Jets
Sept. 22- vs. Tampa Bay
Sept. 29- at Atlanta
Oct. 6- at Cincinnati
Oct. 13- vs. New Orleans
Oct. 20- at NY Jets
Oct. 27- vs. Miami
Nov. 3- vs. Pittsburgh
Nov. 10- BYE WEEK
Nov. 18- at Carolina
Nov. 24- vs. Denver
Dec. 1- at Houston
Dec. 8- vs. Cleveland
Dec. 15- at Miami
Dec. 22- at Baltimore
Dec. 29- vs. Buffalo

Friday, August 23, 2013

AMERICA'S BIGGEST ASSHOLE

Here he is ... America's biggest asshole!

Senator TED CRUZ (Republican- Texas)

NFL 2013 Preview - Miami Dolphins

MIAMI DOLPHINS                                                        

Head Coach: Joe Philbin

2012 Record: 7-9-0 (2nd in AFC East)

New Players: WR Mike Wallace; WR Brandon Gibson; LB Dannell Ellerbe; TE Dustin Keller; CB Brent Grimes; OL Lance Louis; LB Philip Wheeler.

Gone Elsewhere: RB Reggie Bush; OL Jake Long; CB Sean Smith; LB Kevin Burnett; LB Karlos Dansby; TE Anthony Fasano; K Dan Carpenter.

Offense: Second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill leads the way after throwing for 3,294 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last year. Matt Moore looks to be the primary backup QB once again.
The running game lost Reggie Bush to free agency but has Daniel Thomas (91 carries for 325 yards and four
QB Ryan Tannehill
TD) and Lamar Miller (51 carries for 250 yards and a TD) ready to take over this season.
The bigger change for the Dolphins offense will be with the passing game as wide receivers Mike Wallace (64 receptions for 836 yards and eight TD) and Brandon Gibson (51, 691, five TD) join last season's leading receiver Brian Hartline, who caught 74 passes for 1,083 yards and one touchdown.
Dustin Keller (28, 317, two TD with the Jets last year) was slated to be the starting tight end, but suffered a season ending knee injury recently. Miami has Charles Clay (18, 212, two TD) and rookie pick Dion Sims (Michigan State) listed on the depth chart behind Keller.
The O-line will be without tackle Jake Long, who left in the off-season. In his place for 2013 will be Jonathan Martin along with right tackle Tyson Clabo. The center is Mike Pouncey and the guards are Richie Incognito and John Jerry.

Defense: The Dolphins play the 4-3 look and Cameron Wake (15 QB sacks) is the leader of the defense from his Defensive End spot. The other end looks to be rookie Dion Jordan (Oregon), although he is listed as a linebacker. The tackles are Randy Starks and Paul Soliai.
Dolphins sack leader Cameron Wake
The linebacking corps has Dannell Ellerbe in the middle, flanked by outside backers Koa Misi and Philip Wheeler. Rookie Jelani Jenkins (Florida) will get a chance to play along with Austin Spitler and Jonathan Freeny.
Safties include Chris Clemons (two interceptions) and Reshad Jones (four picks) while Dimitri Patterson and newcomer Brent Grimes will be the cornerbacks. Rookies Jamar Taylor (Boise State) and Will Davis (Utah State) will be ready to play when needed.
Miami was nothing special defensively last season, finishing 21st in the NFL while allowing 357 yards a game. The pass defense allowed 248 yards per game, which was 27th in the league.

OUTLOOK: With the influx of new wide receivers this season to aid Tannehill, the Dolphins may be airing it out more often in the 2013 season.
Head Coach Joe Philbin would like to see more scoring from the team after the Dolphins scored just 288 points (18 points per game) last season. So it stands to reason the team may be more pass happy heading into the new season. Last year, Miami averaged just 199 yards passing per game while getting 113 yards on the ground.
On the other hand, the defense has to be better against the pass which may be why Miami took two cornerbacks as well as two linebackers in the draft.
If Miami can find the right mix with the running game and the passing game, they should be able to score more often, which would take pressure off the defense. The Dolphins did register 42 QB sacks last year, so they can get after opposing signal callers.
More turnovers on defense would be a plus as well in 2013. The Dolphins forced only 16 turnovers last season while allowing 317 points, which equaled a respectable 19.8 points allowed per game.
 The New England Patriots, who have won the AFC East division four consecutive seasons, look to be the favorites once again this year. So the key this season will be division battles with Buffalo and the New York Jets as Miami attempts to maintain second place in the division.
Look for an 8-8 season from the Dolphins, but with some breaks during the regular season, perhaps they could steal a game or two and make the playoffs.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8- at Cleveland
Sept. 15- at Indianapolis
Sept. 22- vs. Atlanta
Sept. 30- at New Orleans
Oct. 6- vs. Baltimore
Oct. 13- BYE WEEK
Oct. 20- vs. Buffalo
Oct. 27- at New England
Oct. 31- vs. Cincinnati
Nov. 11- at Tampa Bay
Nov. 17- vs. San Diego
Nov. 24- vs. Carolina
Dec. 1- at NY Jets
Dec. 8- at Pittsburgh
Dec. 15- vs. New England
Dec. 22- at Buffalo
Dec. 29- vs. NY Jets

Thursday, August 22, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - Buffalo Bills

BUFFALO BILLS                                                             

Head Coach: Doug Marrone

2012 Record: 6-10-0 (4th in AFC East)

New Players: QB Kevin Kolb; QB E.J. Manuel; DL Alan Branch; LB Marcus Dowtin; LB Manny Lawson; OL Doug Legursky.

Gone Elsewhere: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick; LB Nick Barnett; WR David Nelson; WR Donald Jones; CB Terrence McGee; OL Andy Levitre; OL Chad Rinehart; S George Wilson.

Offense: The Bills brought in veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb from Arizona, where he passed for 1,169 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions in a nightmare season in the desert. They also drafted E.J. Manuel from Florida State to compete for the starting job.
C.J. Spiller
Manuel appears to have the inside track so far in the pre-season based on his performances compared to Kolb, but the final call has yet to be made for the opening game in two weeks.
Aside from that, the Buffalo running game is in solid shape with C.J. Spiller (1,244 yards, 6.0 ypc average and six TD) and Fred Jackson, who chipped in with 437 rushing yards and three touchdowns last year.
The wide receivers have Stevie Johnson (79 receptions for 1,046 yards and six TD) and T.J. Graham, who had 31 catches for 322 yards and one score. Scott Chandler (43, 571, six TD) is the tight end.
Rookies Robert Woods (USC) and Marquise Goodwin (Texas) are looking to contribute right away at wide receiver. Brad Smith (14, 152, two TD) can play wideout as well as run the ball and can even play quarterback in a pinch. He also returns kicks.
The O-Line has center Eric Wood, tackles Erik Pears and Cordy Glenn. The guards will be David Snow and Kraig Urbik.

Defense: The Bills defense gave up 435 points last season while also ranking 30th in the NFL against the run, giving up 146 yards per game. The pass defense (217 yards allowed per game) did much better, finishing tenth overall.
DE Mario Williams
The Bills play a 3-4 defense and have ends Mario Williams (10 1/2 QB sacks) and Kyle Williams (five sacks) along with nose tackle Marcell Dareus (5 1/2 sacks) up front.
The linebackers will have Mark Anderson and Manny Lawson on the outside while Nigel Bradham and perhaps rookie Kiko Alonso (Oregon) will be starting on the inside. Bryan Scott (four interceptions), Arthur Moats and Greg Lloyd provide depth to the linebacking corps.
The secondary is a good one with safety Jairus Byrd (five interceptions) and cornerback Stephon Gilmore leading the way along with Leodis McKelvin at the other corner spot. Da'Norris Searcy is the strong safety.


OUTLOOK: It appears the Buffalo Bills are rebuilding (sort of) on the fly with the quarterback changes taking place after the Ryan Fitzpatrick two-year experience ended last season with a thud.
New Head Coach Doug Marrone will have his work cut out as the team looks to compete with New England in the AFC East.
If Manuel or Kolb can get a grasp on the offense and Spiller continues to shine in the backfield, the team will improve on offense, where they ranked 19th last season, averaging 343 yards per game while scoring 21 points per game.  The running game was sixth in the NFL, gaining 139 yards each game. The passing game must improve if the Bills want to be competitive all season long.
The defense gave up too many points and rushing yardage and that must improve or the Bills will likely suffer through another losing season in 2013. They haven't made the playoffs since 1999 and it won't be easy this year given the changes they are making on both sides of the ball, particularly at quarterback.
The Patriots still appear to be the beast of the AFC East division, but the Bills are hopeful to make a move this year. Most likely, it will take more than one year for the changes to jell and the Bills to be considered a legitimate contender in the division.
Buffalo should finish the season at 5-11 while building a new foundation with the new coaching staff and a new starting quarterback. Eventually the playoff drought will end, but it just won't be this season.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8- vs. New England
Sept. 15- vs. Carolina
Sept. 22- at NY Jets
Sept. 29- vs. Baltimore
Oct. 3- at Cleveland
Oct. 13- vs. Cincinnati
Oct. 20- at Miami
Oct. 27- at New Orleans
Nov. 3- vs. Kansas City
Nov. 10- at Pittsburgh
Nov. 17- vs. NY Jets
Nov. 24- BYE WEEK
Dec. 1- vs. Atlanta
Dec. 8- at Tampa Bay
Dec. 15- at Jacksonville
Dec. 22- vs. Miami
Dec. 29- at New England

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - Tennessee Titans

TENNESSEE TITANS                                                             

Head Coach: Mike Munchak

2012 Record: 6-10-0 (3rd in AFC South)

New Players: RB Shonn Greene; WR Kevin Walter; TE Delanie Walker; QB Ryan Fitzpatrick; DL Sammie Hill; OL Andy Levitre; S Bernard Pollard; OL Robert Turner; S George Wilson.

Gone Elsewhere: TE Jared Cook; QB Matt Hasselbeck; DL Sen'Derrick Marks; S Jordan Babineaux.

Offense: The Titans will have Jake Locker at quarterback again this season after an up and down year for the third year signal caller.
Locker missed five game with injuries but did pass for 2,176 yards and threw ten touchdown passes to go with eleven interceptions. Backing up will be Ryan Fitzpatrick, former starting QB with Buffalo, and Rusty Smith.
RB Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson (1,243 yards rushing with six TD) is the main man in the backfield while Shonn Greene (1,063 yards with eight TD with New York Jets) is also on hand for the 2013 season.
Wide receivers include Kenny Britt (45 receptions for 589 yards and four touchdowns), Nate Washington (46, 746, four TD) and Kendall Wright, who made 64 catches for 626 yards and four touchdowns.
Rookie draft pick Justin Hunter (Tennessee) will have a chance to play as well. Veteran Kevin Walter had 41 receptions for 518 yards and two TD for Houston last season. The tight end is Delanie Walker, who had 21 receptions for 344 yards and three scores in San Francisco last season.
Up front on the line is center Fernando Velasco, tackles David Stewart and Michael Roos. The guards include Andy Levitre and rookie draft pick Chance Warmack, who played for national champion Alabama.

Defense: After giving up a league high 471 points last year, the Titans know the defense has to step up and do better this season.
DE Kamerion Wimbley
The run defense was fair,but the pass defense allowed too many big plays and was torched to the tune of 248 passing yards per game. Even though the defense came up with 19 interceptions, the Titans ranked  26th in the NFL against the pass.
The 4-3 set has tackles Sammie Hill and Jurrell Casey along with ends Derrick Morgan (6 1/2 QB sacks) and Kamerion Wimbley, who had six sacks.
Colin McCarthy is the middle linebacker while Akeem Ayers (six sacks) and Zach Brown (5 1/2 sacks) are on the outside. Patrick Bailey, Moise Fokou and rookie Zaviar Gooden (Missouri) will be the backups.
The secondary has safties Michael Griffin and Bernard Pollard, who had a big role for Baltimore's Super Bowl run in the post-season with some timely interceptions. The corners will be Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner.


OUTLOOK: Tennessee is a team that seems to be it's own worst enemy at times with the inconsistencies on both sides of the ball.
Head Coach Mike Munchak would like to see Locker take the next step at the pro level and provide the offense with more explosiveness in the passing game. The Titans have a decent trio of wide receivers and Chris Johnson showed some of his old form at times last season in the running game.
So it's up to Locker to become a leader and show he can be consistent for the full season.
The offense ranked 26th last season, gaining 313 yards per game (105 rushing and 208 passing) while scoring 330 points.
The defense is another story as the Titans brought in an array of players and drafted three defensive players with their first six picks last spring.
Stopping enemy air attacks is a must for the team if they want to be competitive this season because it is hard to win when allowing just under 30 points a game.
Playing in the AFC South provides the Titans with a chance to have a quick turnaround (like the Colts did last season) with Houston being the top dog in the division.
If the Titans can get consistent play from the quarterback and the defense is better against the pass, then perhaps they can make a move in the AFC South. In today's NFL landscape, anything is possible from one season to the next.
The call is for another 6-10 season for the Titans in 2013 as they hope for better fortunes while looking toward the future.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8- at Pittsburgh
Sept. 15- at Houston
Sept. 22- vs. San Diego
Sept. 29- vs. NY Jets
Oct. 6- vs. Kansas City
Oct. 13- at Seattle
Oct. 20- vs. San Francisco
Oct. 27- BYE WEEK
Nov. 3- at St. Louis
Nov. 10- vs. Jacksonville
Nov. 14- vs. Indianapolis
Nov. 24- at Oakland
Dec. 1- at Indianapolis
Dec. 8- at Denver
Dec. 15- vs. Arizona
Dec. 22- at Jacksonville
Dec. 29- vs. Houston

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS                                                      

Head Coach: Gus Bradley

2012 Record: 2-14-0 (4th in AFC South)

New Players: CB Alan Ball; LB Geno Hayes; DL Sen'Derrick Marks; RB Justin Forsett; WR Mohamed Massaquoi; DL Roy Miller.

Gone Elsewhere: S Dawan Landry; OL Eben Britton; CB Derek Cox; RB Greg Jones; RB Rashard Jennings; WR Laurent Robinson; LB Daryl Smith; CB Rashean Mathis; DL Terrance Knighton.

Offense: The quarterback position has Blaine Gabbert (1,662 passing yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions) and Chad Henne (2,084 passing yards, 11 TD, 11 INT) who split time last year after Gabbert was benched in favor of Henne. Gabbert has the inside track this season to win back the starter's job, but must show more entering his third season.
The running game will have (hopefully) a healthy Maurice Jones-Drew back in 2013. MJD, who led the
Maurice Jones-Drew
NFL in rushing in 2011, gained 414 yards in the first five plus games before a foot injury ended his season. Justin Forsett (374 yards, 5.9 ypc average) comes over from Houston to provide some depth.
Justin Blackmon (64 receptions for 865 yards and five touchdowns) had a good rookie season and will start along with Cecil Shorts, who had 55 catches for 979 yards and seven touchdowns. Jordan Shipley and Mohamed Massaquoi, along with rookies Ace Sanders (South Carolina) and Denard Robinson (Michigan)  are the backups. The tight end is Mercedes Lewis, who grabbed 52 passes for 540 yards and four touchdowns.
The O-Line has center Brad Meester, guards Will Rackley and Uche Nwaneri. The tackles will be rookie Luke Joeckel (Texas A & M) and Eugene Monroe.
In 2012, the Jaguars offense ranked 29th overall (299 yards per game), which included 30th in rushing and 21st in passing. The Jags were also 30th in the NFL in scoring, getting just 255 points.

Defense: Playing the 4-3 defense, Jacksonville will likely start Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks at tackles while Jason Babin (seven QB sacks with Philadelphia and Jacksonville in 2012) and Tyson Alualu (3 1/2 sacks) will be the ends.
Jags sack leader Jason Babin
The linebackers are led by middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, who had three interceptions last season. The outside backers are Russell Allen and Geno Hayes.
In the secondary, two rookies could start along with veterans Alan Ball (cornerback) and safety Dwight Lowery. Dwayne Gratz (Connecticut) will be at cornerback while Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International) will play safety. Veteran Marcus Trufant, along with Mike Harris and Chris Prosinski are also available.



OUTLOOK: After winning only two games last year, the Jaguars have a new Head Coach in Gus Bradley, a defensive minded coach who led the defense in Seattle.
And the Jags' defense, like the offense, needs a lot of help.
Jacksonville must improve the pass rush as they had only 20 QB sacks last season. In addition, the defense finished 30th in the league, allowing 381 yards per game, including 240 yards passing. The Jags also allowed just under 28 points per game (444 allowed) as only Tennessee and New Orleans allowed more points.
Ouch!
On offense, getting back Maurice Jones-Drew will help immensely, as he is the spark plug who makes the offense go. Blaine Gabbert must show more this season or else ... he has a decent array of wide receivers and a talented tight end as well. If he can get it together this season and MJD shows his old form, the offense will definitely be better than last year's version.
It will be all about adjusting to a new system in this rebuilding season in Jacksonville, so don't expect much better than a 5-11 (possibly worse) record. The Jags are building a new foundation for a better future.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8- vs. Kansas City
Sept. 15- at Oakland
Sept. 22- at Seattle
Sept. 29- vs. Indianapolis
Oct. 6- at St. Louis
Oct. 13- at Denver
Oct. 20- vs. San Diego
Oct. 27- vs. San Francisco
Nov. 3- BYE WEEK
Nov. 10- at Tennessee
Nov. 17- vs. Arizona
Nov. 24- at Houston
Dec. 1- at Cleveland
Dec. 5- vs. Houston
Dec. 15- vs. Buffalo
Dec. 22- vs. Tennessee
Dec. 29- at Indianapolis

Monday, August 19, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS                                                          

Head Coach: Chuck Pagano

2012 Record: 11-5-0 (2nd in AFC South)

New Players: RB Ahmad Bradshaw; WR Darrius Heyward-Bey; OL Gosder Cherilus; DL Aubrayo Franklin; S LaRon Landry; OL Donald Thomas.

Gone Elsewhere: WR Austin Collie; WR Donnie Avery; LB Dwight Freeney; CB Jerraud Powers; S Tom Zbikowski.

Offense: Quarterback Andrew Luck returns after a superb rookie season in which he tossed 23 touchdown passes along with 18 interceptions while also racking up 4,374 passing yards. Luck also showed his mobility, rushing for 255 yards and scoring five touchdowns.
A trio of runners will man the Colts' backfield this season as leading rusher Vick Ballard (814 yards and two
QB Andrew Luck had a huge rookie year.
TD) will team with newcomer Ahmad Bradshaw, who ran for 1,015 yards and scored six touchdowns with the New York Giants last season. In addition, there is Donald Brown, who gained 417 yards and scored one touchdown.
The receivers are led by veteran Reggie Wayne, who enjoyed a big year in 2012, catching 106 passes for 1,355 yards and five touchdowns. Along with Wayne will be Darrius Heyward-Bey, who comes over from Oakland after four seasons. He had 41 receptions for 605 yards and five scores last season.
T.Y. Hilton is back after many big catches last year, including seven TD grabs to go with 50 total receptions for 861 yards. LaVon Brazil is also available at wide receiver. Coby Fleener (26 catches for 281 yards and two TD) is the tight end.
The line has tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus, guards Donald Thomas and Mike McGlynn and the center is Samson Satele.
Indy finished tenth in total offense a year ago, gaining 362 yards per game while averaging 22.3 points per game. The passing game was seventh in the NFL, averaging 258 yards a game.

Defense: Stopping the run will be a big priority for the Colts defense this season after allowing 137 yards per game, which ranked 29th in the NFL a year ago.
Up front in the 3-4 look is nose tackle veteran Aubrayo Franklin, a free agent signee along with end Cory
LB Robert Mathis
Redding and tackle Ricky Jean Francois, another free agent pick up this off-season.
The linebackers will have Robert Mathis (eight QB sacks) and Erik Walden on the outside spots while Pat Angerer and Jerrell Freeman man the inside. Rookie draft pick Bjoern Werner will back up at end or linebacker.
The secondary has LaRon Landry coming over via free agency to play safety along with free safety Antoine Bethea. The corners are Vontae Davis (three interceptions) and either Greg Toler or Darius Butler, who had four picks, at the other corner.



OUTLOOK: A lot of things went right for the Colts in 2012 as they went from 2-14 to 11-5 and in the playoffs with a rookie (Andrew Luck) starting at quarterback. Not to mention Luck was replacing Peyton Manning, an NFL legend, in that position.
There was also the feel good story of  "Chuck Strong" regarding Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who was battling cancer last season while Bruce Arians (now Head Coach in Arizona) did a great job taking over as interim Head Coach.
However, this is a new season and Luck and the Colts will not be catching any teams off guard this year.
The Colts did win eleven games last year, but nine of those were by seven points or less, meaning the Colts had a lot of breaks go their way last season, including several victories in the final minutes and/or seconds.
To repeat as a playoff team and once again challenge Houston in the AFC South, Luck will have to deliver an encore performance while the running back by committee will have to pan out as well.
The defense MUST stop the run and also do better against the pass as they finished 21st overall in that category last year. The defense gave up 24 points per game, meaning the Colts were outscored by their opponents even though they finished six games over the .500 mark.
An 8-8 season is more realistic this time around, but the way Luck and company pulled games out of the fire last year, don't bet against them making a playoff run once again.
Lotsa' Luck!

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8- vs. Oakland
Sept. 15- vs. Miami
Sept. 22- at San Francisco
Sept. 29- at Jacksonville
Oct. 6- vs. Seattle
Oct. 14- at San Diego
Oct. 20- vs. Denver
Oct. 27- BYE WEEK
Nov. 3- at Houston
Nov. 10- vs. St. Louis
Nov. 14- at Tennessee
Nov. 24- at Arizona
Dec. 1- vs. Tennessee
Dec. 8- at Cincinnati
Dec. 15- vs. Houston
Dec. 22- at Kansas City
Dec. 29- vs. Jacksonville


Sunday, August 18, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - Houston Texans

HOUSTON TEXANS                                                    

Head Coach: Gary Kubiak

2012 Record: 12-4-0 (1st in AFC South)

New Players: S Ed Reed; P Shane Lechler; RB Greg Jones.

Gone Elsewhere: LB Connor Barwin; RB Justin Forsett; CB Alan Ball; S Glover Quin; WR Kevin Walter; RB James Casey; DL Shaun Cody; P Donnie Jones; K Shayne Graham.

Offense: Quarterback Matt Schaub and running back Arian Foster are the bread-and-butter players for the Texans' offense. Wide receiver Andre Johnson (112 receptions for 1,598 yards and four touchdowns) isn't bad either.
Schaub passed for 4,008 yards with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and Foster led the Texans with
Houston's Big Three- Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson
1,424 rushing yards and scored 15 rushing touchdowns. In addition, Foster grabbed 40 receptions for 217 yards and two more scores. Ben Tate backs up Foster and gained 279 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns last year.
After the "Big Three" it's up for grabs as rookie DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson) looks to get a shot at the other starting wide receiver spot this season. Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey played sparingly last year and are available as well as Garrett Graham, who caught 28 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns. The tight end is Owen Daniels (62, 716, six TD) who is a frequent target for Schaub.
Up front in the trenches are center Chris Myers, guards Wade Smith and Brandon Brooks and tackles  Derek Newton and Duane Brown.
The offense is balanced as the Texans were seventh in the NFL in offense, averaging 372 yards per game, with 133 yards on the ground and 239 passing yards. The Texans also finished seventh in the league in scoring, getting 26 points a game last season.

Defense: One name stands out here ... J.J. Watt!
The third year defensive end had an NFL high 20 1/2 quarterback sacks last season and leads the defense along with fellow end Antonio Smith, who had seven sacks.The nose tackle is Earl Mitchell.
J.J. Watt
The linebacking crew is solid with outside backers Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus (six sacks) and inside men Brian Cushing and Darryl Sharpton. Veteran Tim Dobbins is a stellar backup for this unit.
The secondary will have a huge upgrade with safety Ed Reed coming over from the Baltimore Ravens.
Reed brings perennial Pro Bowl experience to the team and will work along with strong safety Danieal Manning (two INT) and cornerbacks Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson, who had four picks last season.
The Texans' defense finished seventh overall last season, giving up 323 yards per game. The pass defense was torched on occasion while allowing 226 yards per game. Opposing teams averaged 20.6 points per game as well.

OUTLOOK: This looks to be a Super Bowl or bust type of season in Houston.
The team is loaded and will look to get past the division round of the playoffs this time around and it will be up to QB Matt Schaub, along with RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson to lead the way on offense while J.J. Watt and Ed Reed lead the defense.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak has seen his team advance the past two seasons in the early rounds of the playoffs only to be stopped by New England last season and Baltimore two years ago.
To get to the Super Bowl, the offense must step up and the defense has to come up with the big plays to keep the Texans in the game.
With Reed looming in the secondary, that just might happen this time around come January.
The Texans do have a knack for coming up big during the regular season, having a plus-12 on turnovers thanks to 29 takeaways last season. But now they have to step up and do it when it counts most ... in the playoffs.
A tough schedule looms large this season, so the Texans will be battled again and the Indianapolis Colts put a scare into them last year in the AFC South division battle.
Another playoff appearance appears to be on the horizon, so look for an 11-5 finish this year as the Texans look to (to borrow a phrase from old school Houston Oilers Coach Bum Phillips) "kick it in" this season during the playoffs and get through that door to the Super Bowl.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 9- at San Diego
Sept. 15- vs. Tennessee
Sept. 22- at Baltimore
Sept. 29- vs. Seattle
Oct. 6- at San Francisco
Oct. 13- vs. St. Louis
Oct. 20- at Kansas City
Oct. 27- BYE WEEK
Nov. 3- vs. Indianapolis
Nov. 10- at Arizona
Nov. 17- vs. Oakland
Nov. 24- vs. Jacksonville
Dec. 1- vs. New England
Dec. 5- at Jacksonville
Dec. 15-at Indianapolis
Dec. 22- vs. Denver
Dec. 29- at Tennessee


Saturday, August 17, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH STEELERS                                                     

Head Coach: Mike Tomlin

2012 Record: 8-8-0 (3rd in AFC North)

New Players: RB LaRod Stephens-Howling; QB Bruce Gradkowski; CB William Gay; TE Matt Spaeth.

Gone Elsewhere: LB James Harrison; S Will Allen; WR Mike Wallace; OL Max Starks; RB Rashard Mendenhall; OL Willie Colon; DL Casey Hampton; CB Keenan Lewis.

Offense: The Steelers leader is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who passed for 3,265 yards with 26 touchdowns and only eight interceptions, while missing three games due to injury.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
Big Ben can't do it alone though and will have some new players surrounding him in 2013 as Jonathan Dwyer takes over as the leading running back after going for 623 yards with two touchdowns. Isaac Redman gained 410 yards and also scored twice last season.
Rookie Le'Veon Bell (Michigan State) will also be ready when needed. LaRod Stepehens-Howling is another option in the backfield and he also returns kicks.
The wide receivers will be without Mike Wallace, who went to Miami in the off-season. Leading the way in 2013 will be Antonio Brown, who made 66 receptions for 787 yards and five touchdowns. Emmanuel Sanders (44, 626, one TD) will be the other starter. In reserve is Plaxico Burress, Jerricho Cotchery and rookie Markus Wheaton.
The tight end is Heath Miller, who led the Steelers with 71 receptions for 816 yards and eight touchdowns. Backing him up is Matt Spaeth, who returns to Pittsburgh after two seasons in Chicago.
The offensive line had center Maurice Pouncey, tackles Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert. The guards will be Ramon Foster and David DeCastro.

Defense: It's a changing of the guard of sorts for the aging Steelers defense in 2013 as veterans James Harrison, Will Allen, Casey Hampton and Keenan Lewis all left during the off-season.
Troy Polamalu
There still is plenty of talent here in the 3-4 D with ends Brett Keisel (4 1/2 QB sacks) and Ziggy Hood teaming with nose tackle Steve McLendon up front.
The linebackers will be LaMarr Woodley (four sacks) and Jason Worilds (five sacks) on the outside with Larry Foote (four sacks) and Lawrence Timmons inside. Timmons led the team last year with three interceptions and six QB sacks.
The secondary is led by veteran safety Troy Polamalu, who missed all or part of ten games last year. The other safety is Ryan Clark (two INT) while the corners will be Will Allen and Ike Taylor. Rookies Shamarko Thomas (Syracuse) and Terry Hawthorne (Illinois) will get looks as well as they look for a chance to contribute.
The Steelers led the entire league in defense a year ago, allowing just 276 yards per game and were also number one against the pass, allowing only 185 yards per game. The Steelers were second in the NFL against the run, giving up 91 yards per game. 

OUTLOOK: While the team finished at .500 last year and OUT of the playoffs for the first time in three years, Head Coach Mike Tomlin, who has led the team to two Super Bowl appearances and one title (in 2008 season) knows the team is capable of making a playoff run once again.
The questions will be whether the adjustments "on the fly" will work with this aging team.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger enjoyed one of his better seasons (statistically speaking) in 2012 and will look to the new infusion of younger players to get the offense, in particular the running game, back in playoff form.
The Steelers were 21st in the NFL on offense (26th in rushing) last season, gaining only 333 yards per game. The running game (usually a strength) gained just 96 yards a game.
In addition, the Steelers must cut down the number of turnovers as they were a minus-10 on the turnover charts, including 16 fumbles.
The defense should be solid once again, in spite of the advancing ages of some of the core players there. A more consistent pass rush would be a benefit that would relieve some pressure on the secondary, which only had ten interceptions last season.
Pittsburgh is rebuilding it seems and with Roethlisberger in his prime, the time is now for the team as well as they look to return to the post-season. That might not be the case however as they attempt to hold off the ever improving Cleveland Browns while trying to catch up to the Bengals and Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in the rugged AFC North.
How well they play in the division will decide their fate in 2013, so look for a 7-9 season this year in the Steel City as the changes made will hopefully pan out in the future.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8- vs. Tennessee
Sept. 16- at Cincinnati
Sept. 22- vs. Chicago
Sept. 29- at Minnesota
Oct. 6- BYE WEEK
Oct. 13- at NY Jets
Oct. 20- vs. Baltimore
Oct. 27- at Oakland
Nov. 3- at New England
Nov. 10- vs. Buffalo
Nov. 17- vs. Detroit
Nov. 24- at Cleveland
Nov. 28- at Baltimore
Dec. 8- vs. Miami
Dec. 15- vs. Cincinnati
Dec. 22- at Green Bay
Dec. 29- vs. Cleveland

Friday, August 16, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND BROWNS                                                         

Head Coach: Rob Chudzinski

2012 Record: 5-11-0 (4th in AFC North)

New Players: WR Davone Bess; QB Jason Campbell; DL Desmond Bryant; LB Paul Kruger; K Shayne Graham.

Gone Elsewhere: WR/KR Josh Cribbs; K Phil Dawson; QB Colt McCoy; WR Mohamed Massaquoi; TE Ben Watson; S Usama Young; DL Frostee Rucker.

Offense: Quarterback Brandon Weeden (3,385 passing yards with 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions) went through his rookie season as the starter and will be the man once again in Cleveland. Colt McCoy is gone and Jason Campbell is now the backup quarterback.
QB Brandon Weeden (3) and RB Trent Richardson make the Browns offense move.
Trent Richardson (950 yards rushing and eleven rushing TD) is the workhorse in the backfield and is joined by Montario Hardesty (271 yards) and Brandon Jackson, who gained 54 yards in very limited action.
The receivers are Greg Little and Josh Gordon, who both played well in their new roles as starters. Little made 53 receptions for 647 yards and four touchdowns while Gordon had 50 catches for 805 yards and five touchdowns.
Davone Bess comes over from Miami this season after making 61 receptions for 778 yards and one score. Another wideout is Travis Benjamin, who had 18 receptions for 298 yards and two touchdowns.
The tight end is Jordan Cameron (20 grabs for 226 yards and one TD), who takes over the starting spot after Ben Watson left in the off season.
The line has big Joe Thomas, one of the best in the business at left tackle, starting along with Mitchell Schwartz (right tackle), center Alex Mack and guards Jason Pinkston and Shaun Lauvao.
Cleveland finished 25th on offense (314 yards per game with 99 rushing per game and 215 passing) last year while averaging just under 19 points per game.


Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson
Defense: The Browns employ the 3-4 look and have Phil Taylor at the nose tackle along with ends Ahtyba Rubin and Desmond Bryant. The linebacking unit will see starters Jabbal Sheard (seven QB sacks),  D'Qwell Jackson, Paul Kruger and Craig Robertson in 2013.
The secondary has corners Joe Haden (three interceptions) and Chris Owens. The safties will be T.J. Ward and Tashaun Gipson. Serving as backups are Buster Skrine, Johnson Bademosi and rookies Leon McFadden (San Diego State) and possibly Jamoris Slaughter from Notre Dame. Another rookie pick is linebacker Barkevious Mingo (LSU), who will get a chance to play as well.
The Browns had 38 QB sacks last year while giving up 364 yards per game to go with 29 takeaways. Opponents scored 23 points per game last season.



OUTLOOK: New Head Coach Rob Chudzinski will have a veteran presence on his coaching staff in Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner, who was San Diego's Head Coach the previous six years.
Turner is well respected as an OC and should be a benefit to the young quarterback Brandon Weeden, who played decent in the starting role during his rookie season.
Improving on last season's mark (5-11) is a realistic goal for the Browns as they continue to improve and look to compete in the AFC North.
If running back Trent Richardson continues to improve along with Weeden and the young receivers, then the Browns will see an improved offense to go with a pretty good defense that likes to go after the football, evidenced by the 29 takeaways in 2012.
Getting off to a good start this season would do wonders for the team's confidence as well. The schedule is favorable early on and the young team just might start believing more and more each week if they learn to win on a consistent basis.
An 8-8 season is not out of the question as the Browns look to improve and compete in the AFC North this season and beyond.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 8- vs. Miami
Sept. 15- at Baltimore
Sept. 22- at Minnesota
Sept. 29- vs. Cincinnati
Oct. 3- vs. Buffalo
Oct. 13- vs. Detroit
Oct. 20- at Green Bay
Oct. 27- at Kansas City
Nov. 3- vs. Baltimore
Nov. 10- BYE WEEK
Nov. 17- at Cincinnati
Nov. 24- vs. Pittsburgh
Dec. 1- vs. Jacksonville
Dec. 8- at New England
Dec. 15- vs. Chicago
Dec. 22- at NY Jets
Dec. 29- at Pittsburgh