Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - New York Jets

NEW YORK JETS                                                  

2013 Record: 8-8-0

Key Additions: QB Michael Vick; RB Chris Johnson; WR Eric Decker; WR Jacoby Ford; OL Breno Giacomini; CB Dimitri Patterson.

Key Losses: CB Antonio Cromartie; QB Mark Sanchez; WR Santonio Holmes; DB Isaiah Trufant; OL Austin Howard; OL J.B. Shugarts; OL Vladimir Ducasse.


Offense: Geno Smith or Michael Vick? That's the question for the Jets as they look to the quarterback position in 2014.
Smith passed for 3,046 yards with 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions and also ran for 366 yards and six rushing touchdowns in his rookie season. Vick saw Nick Foles take over the starting QB role in Philadelphia last year and signed with the Jets via free agency after passing for 1,215 yards (five TD and three picks) while also going for 306 rushing yards (8.5 ypc average) and two touchdowns.
The running game could be the dubbed the "three headed monster" as Bilal Powell (697 yards with 4.0 ypc average), Chris Ivory (833, 4.6, three TD) and Chris Johnson (1,077, 3.9, six TD with Tennessee) will carry the football in NYC in 2014.
The receivers were downright awful last season, so the Jets hit the free agent market at this spot and landed Eric Decker from Denver, where he had a career year (playing with Peyton Manning at QB) with 87 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Along with Decker, the Jets have Stephen Hill (24, 342 for 14.3 ypc average and one TD), Jeremy Kerley (43, 523, three TD), David Nelson (36, 423, two TD) and three rookie draft picks as well in Jalen Saunders (Oklahoma), Shaquelle Evans (UCLA) and Quincy Enunwa (Nebraska) as well as a rookie tight end in Jace Amaro (Texas Tech). Veteran Jacoby Ford is also in camp after an injury plagued season in Oakland last year. Jeff Cumberland played tight end last year and had 26 catches for 398 yards (15.3 ypc) and four touchdowns.
The line is once again anchored with Nick Mangold at center while D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Breno Giacomini will play tackle. The guards are Willie Colon and Brian Winters.

STATS - The offense averaged 318 yards per game last year, which ranked 25th overall. The running game was sixth in the league (135 yards per game) while passing attack ranked next to last in the NFL, getting just 183 yards per game. The Jets' QBs were sacked 47 times last season while they turned the ball over 29 times (22 picks and seven fumbles lost) to rank 30th in the turnover charts.

Defense: Up front in the 3-4 set will be nose tackle Damon Harrison along with ends Muhammed Wilkerson (10.5 QB sacks) and Sheldon Richardson. The linebacking unit has Calvin Pace (ten sacks) and Quinton Coples on the outside while David Harris and DeMario Davis man the inside spots.
The secondary isn't what it used to be as former Pro Bowl players Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis (gone after the 2012 season) are playing elsewhere, leaving the Jets with Dee Milliner (three interceptions) and Dimitri Patterson at the corners. The safeties are Calvin Pryor (rookie from Lousiville) and Dawan Landry.
Playing in backup roles will be Dexter McDougle (rookie from Maryland), Josh Bush, Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls.

STATS - The Jets finished 11th in the NFL last year, giving up 335 yards per game. The run defense was outstanding, only giving up 88 yards per game (third) while the pas defense was awful. The Jets allowed 247 yards per game while ranking 22nd in the league while getting just 13 interceptions. The team did accumulate 41 QB sacks, which was respectable.

OUTLOOK: The New York Jets appear to be going the route the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles have gone in recent years by trying to (re)build on the fly with free agents.
It didn't go quite so well for the two former teams mentioned, but Head Coach Rex Ryan has never been shy about touting his team's expectations heading into a new season.
No doubt the pressure will be on for the team to get after the New England Patriots in the AFC East and also improve upon last year's .500 finish. To do that, the team will need either Smith or Vick to step up and perform with all the new tools they have on offense.
The defense needs to improve against the pass and not give up so many big plays through the air as they did a year ago and continue to get after enemy quarterbacks while also stopping the run.
There is a chance it could all pan out for the Jets this season as they seek to get back to the post-season for the first time in four years. But that's asking a lot, so look for the Jets to finish 6-10 this season as they try to fend off the Bills and Dolphins to avoid the AFC East cellar.

Week 1- vs. Oakland
Week 2- at Green Bay
Week 3- vs. Chicago
Week 4- vs. Detroit
Week 5- at San Diego
Week 6- vs. Denver
Week 7- at New England
Week 8- vs. Buffalo
Week 9- at Kansas City
Week 10- vs. Pittsburgh
Week 11- BYE WEEK
Week 12- at Buffalo
Week 13- vs. Miami
Week 14- at Minnesota
Week 15- at Tennessee
Week 16- vs. New England
Week 17- at Miami

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - New England Patriots

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS                                       

2013 Record: 12-4-0

Key Additions: CB Darrelle Revis; CB Brandon Browner; WR Brandon LaFell; S Patrick Chung; DL Will Smith.

Key Losses: RB LeGarrete Blount; CB Aqib Talib; LB Brandon Spikes; DL Cory Grissom; LB Dane Fletcher.

HEAD COACH: Bill Belichick

Offense: Quarterback Tom Brady had another steady season in 2013, passing for 4,343 yards with 25 touchdowns and eleven interceptions. The 36-year old is entering his 15th season in the NFL and seems to get better with age. Backing him up will be Ryan Mallett and/or rookie Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois).
The running game lost LeGarrette Blount to free agency (signed with Pittsburgh) but still has Stevan Ridley (773 yards for a 4.3 ypc average and seven TD) and Shane Vereen, who gained 208 yards in limited playing time last year.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected back in time for the season opener, but is taking it easy in training camp following major knee surgery to repair torn ACL and MCL after making 39 receptions for 592 yards and four touchdowns last season.
The wide receivers include Julian Edelman (105 catches for 1,056 yards and six TD), Aaron Dobson (37, 519, four TD), Danny Amendola (54, 633, two TD) and Brandon LaFell, who had 49 receptions for 627 yards and five scores with the Carolina Panthers last year.
The O-Line is solid, even though they allowed 40 QB sacks a year ago. They are efficient and open the lanes for the Pats' running game. Center Ryan Wendell anchors the unit. The guards are Dan Connolly and Logan Mankins and the tackles are Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer.

STATS - Brady and company managed to finish seventh overall in total offense last season, gaining 384 yards per game while scoring just under 28 points per game, which was third in the NFL. The Patriots were in the top ten in both rushing (129 yards per game) and passing (255 yards) last season.

Defense: The 4-3 set the Patriots use will have Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly at the tackles with Chandler Jones (11.5 QB sacks) and Rob Ninkovich (eight sacks) playing the end positions.
Wilfork and Kelly both were injured last year and Wilfork missed a good portion of the 2013 season. Adding depth up front is Chris Jones (six sacks), Jake Bequette, rookie Dominique Easley (Florida), Will Smith and Joe Vellano.
The linebackers are Jerod Mayo (MLB) and outside men Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins. Josh Hull, Ja'Gared Davis and Chris White provide backup.
The secondary, which got lit up quite a bit last year, has two solid veterans in camp this year as Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner join the team. Browner is suspended for the first four games this year, but is a major player who won a Super Bowl ring with Seattle last season. And Darrelle Revis needs no introduction. The safeties are Duron Harmon and Devin McCourty.
Former Patriot Patrick Chung is back in the secondary this season after a short stay in Philadelphia and Logan Ryan (five interceptions as a rookie in 2013) is also available to provide depth.

STATS - The Pats accumulated 48 quarterback sacks (5th in NFL) but finished 26th in overall defense as they allowed 373 yards per game, which included 134 on the ground (30th overall) while finishing 18th against the pass, yielding 239 yards per game. Like the good sack total, New England was 10th in scoring defense, giving up 21 points a game. In addition, the Patriots intercepted 17 passes and had twelve fumble recoveries.

OUTLOOK: As long as future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady is on the field, the Patriots are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Along with Head Coach Bill Belichick, Brady and the Patriots have won at least ten games for eleven consecutive seasons and should do so again in the 2014 season.
Having a healthy Rob Gronkowski does wonders for the "red zone" offense and he is also Brady's favorite target. The offense should hum along once again this season.
Defensively, the Patriots must improve and stop the run more consistently after allowing opponents to run almost at will against them after run stuffers Wilfork and Kelly went down with season ending injuries last year. With Revis and Browner on board this year, the secondary should be much better as well.
After reaching the AFC Championship Game for the third straight year, the Patriots would like to get back to the Super Bowl after falling short the past two seasons. Brady knows the window will someday be closing on this team, but another AFC East title should be in the offing again this year following an 11-5 finish as the Patriots look to move on to the big game once again. Beating Denver out for the AFC crown is another subject, but it's not entirely out of the question.

Week 1- at Miami
Week 2- at Minnesota
Week 3- vs. Oakland
Week 4- at Kansas City
Week 5- vs. Cincinnati
Week 6- at Buffalo
Week 7- vs. NY Jets
Week 8- vs. Chicago
Week 9- vs. Denver
Week 10- BYE WEEK
Week 11- at Indianapolis
Week 12- vs. Detroit
Week 13- at Green Bay
Week 14- at San Diego
Week 15- vs. Miami
Week 16- at NY Jets
Week 17- vs. Buffalo

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - Cincinnati Bengals

CINCINNATI BENGALS                                          

2013 Record: 11-5-0

Key Additions: QB Jason Campbell; S Danieal Manning; OL Marshall Newhouse; DL Sam Montgomery.

Key Losses: DL Michael Johnson; LB James Harrison; OL Anthony Collins; WR Andrew Hawkins; S Chris Crocker; OL Kyle Cook; LB Michael Boley.

HEAD COACH: Marvin Lewis

Offense: The Bengals have quarterback Andy Dalton back in 2014 after posting solid regular season numbers with 4,293 passing yards with 33 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. The "Red Rifle" also scrambled for 183 rushing yards and scored two rushing touchdowns. Veteran journeyman Jason Campbell is in camp this year vying for the backup spot along with rookie A.J. McCarron (Alabama).
The running game features two backs who can do damage in BenJarvus Green-Ellis (756 rushing yards and even TD) and Giovani Bernard, who ran for 695 yards (4.1 ypc average) and scored five touchdowns as well making 56 catches for 514 yards and three touchdowns. Rookie Jeremy Hill (LSU) and Cedric Peerman are the backups.
A.J. Green (98 receptions for 1,426 yards and 11 touchdowns) is the primary target for Dalton after another Pro Bowl season. Marvin Jones had 51 receptions for 712 yards and ten touchdowns and lines up opposite Green to make a formidable duo in Cincy.
Mohamed Sanu (47, 455, two TD), Brandon Tate and Dane Sanzenbacher are also on hand at wide receiver. The tight ends are Jermaine Gresham (46, 458, four TD) and Tyler Eifert, who had 39 receptions for 445 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.
The offensive line is solid with the likes of center Trevor Robinson, guards Clint Boling and Kevin Zeitler and tackles Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith. 

STATS - The Bengals offense ranked tenth last season, averaging 368 yards per game while scoring just under 27 points per game (6th in NFL) as they rushed for 110 yards per game (18th) and passed for 258 yards, which ranked eighth in the NFL. The Bengals allowed only 29 sacks a year ago and turned the football over 30 times.

Defense: Geno Atkins (six QB sacks) and Domata Peko are the tackles while Carlos Dunlap (7.5 sacks) and Wallace Gilberry man the end positions in the 4-3 alignment that finished third in overall defense last season. Margus Hunt and rookie Will Clarke (West Virginia) will get playing time along with Robert Geathers and Christo Bilukidi in reserve.
The Bengals linebackers are Rey Maualuga (middle) and outside backers Vontaze Burfict and either Emmanuel Lamur or Jayson DiManche. Sean Porter, Sam Montgomery and Vincent Rey and rookie Marquis Flowers (Arizona) provide depth.
The cornerbacks are Leon Hall and either Terrence Newman (two interceptions) or rookie Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State) to form a solid secondary along with safeties Reggie Nelson and George Iloka. Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick each had three picks last season and provide good depth along with Danieal Manning, Shawn Williams and Taylor Mays.

STATS - Finishing third overall on defense by allowing 306 yards per game (97 rushing and 209 passing) along with getting 43 quarterback sacks and 20 interceptions is reason for optimism once again in 2014 for the Bengals.

OUTLOOK: There is reason for high expectations once again in Cincinnati in 2014 after another playoff appearance following a solid season.
However, along with Bengals fans, Head Coach Marvin Lewis would like to see QB Andy Dalton get a playoff win after three consecutive setbacks, including the 27-10 beatdown at home against San Diego last winter.
The running game appears to be intact again and the wide receiver tandem of Green and Jones is among the best in the game. The Bengals also have two solid tight ends to boot.
On defense, barring injury, this team is among the best in the entire NFL heading into the 2014 season. So it stands to reason that Cincinnati can win the division again and a 11-5 record should do the trick, but they have to be ready against the likes of Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the AFC North.
How far they can go in the playoffs will rest on the shoulders of Dalton and Cincy fans are hopeful the "Red Rifle" doesn't turn into the "Red Ryder BB Gun" once again in the post-season.
Stay tuned because it should be interesting to see what happens in Cincinnati this year.

Week 1- at Baltimore
Week 2- vs. Atlanta
Week 3- vs. Tennessee
Week 4- BYE WEEK
Week 5- at New England
Week 6- vs. Carolina
Week 7- at Indianapolis
Week 8- vs. Baltimore
Week 9- vs. Jacksonville
Week 10- vs. Cleveland
Week 11- at New Orleans
Week 12- at Houston
Week 13- at Tampa Bay
Week 14- vs. Pittsburgh
Week 15- at Cleveland
Week 16- vs. Denver
Week 17- at Pittsburgh

Monday, July 28, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - Baltimore Ravens

BALTIMORE RAVENS                                           

2013 Record: 8-8-0

Key Additions: WR Steve Smith; RB Justin Forsett; S Darian Stewart; TE Owen Daniels.

Key Losses: TE Ed Dickson; CB Corey Graham; OL Michael Oher; S James Ihedigbo; LB Jameel McClain; DL Arthur Jones.

HEAD COACH: John Harbaugh

Offense: After a Super Bowl season in 2012, quarterback Joe Flacco went back to mediocrity last season, passing for 3,912 yards with only 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions while also being sacked 48 times.
The running game was anemic as well as Ray Rice (suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season) ran for just 660 yards while averaging a paltry 3.1 yards per carry and scored four rushing touchdowns. Bernard Pierce also had a down year, gaining 436 yards (2.9 ypc average) and scored just two touchdowns. Justin Forsett was signed as a free agent from Jacksonville to add depth in the backfield.
Targets for Flacco to throw to include Torrey Smith, who had a huge season last year, catching 65 passes for 1,128 yards (17.4 average) and four touchdowns. In addition, veteran wideout Steve Smith (64, 745, 11.2 average and four TD) comes over from Carolina to start on the other side. Jacoby Jones is also on hand for three wide receiver sets in the Ravens offense. Jones caught 37 passes for 455 yards (12.3 average) and two scores. The tight ends include Dennis Pitta, who had 20 receptions in limited action last season and Owen Daniels (signed as free agent from Houston), who made 24 grabs, including three for touchdowns in just five games.
The offensive line is comprised of center Jeremy Zuttah, tackles Eugene Monroe and Rick Wagner and guards Kelechi Osemele and Marshal Yanda.

STATS - The Ravens scoring dipped to just 20 points per game last season while they finished 29th overall on offense, averaging 307 yards per game, including just 83 yards rushing per game (30th) and also finished 18th in the league in passing with 224 yards per game.

Defense: This unit was respectable last year, but far from the dominant defenses of seasons past as they missed All Pro outside linebacker Terrell Suggs for a good deal of the season due to injury as well as no more Ray Lewis, who retired following the Super Bowl season.
The team will have Suggs (10 QB sacks to lead the team) from the start this year at OLB and he will be joined by Elvis Dumervil (OLB), who had 9.5 sacks and inside backers C.J. Mosley (rookie from Alabama) and Daryl Smith, who had five sacks and three interceptions.
Up front in the 3-4 alignment is veteran nose tackle Haloti Ngata and ends Brandon Williams and Chris Canty. Backups include Terrence Cody (nose), DeAngelo Tyson and rookie Timmy Jernigan (Florida State).
The secondary has safety Matt Elam on the strong side and either Darian Stewart or rookie Terrence Brooks (Florida State) at the free safety. The corners are Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, who each had two picks a year ago.

STATS - Baltimore finished 12th in total defense in 2013, giving up 336 yards per game, including 106 yards rushing (11th in NFL) and 230 passing yards per game, which ranked 12th overall. The Ravens allowed 352 points (22 points per game) which also was 12th in the league. The team registered 40 QB sacks while intercepting 16 passes and recovering eight fumbles.

OUTLOOK: For the Ravens to get back to the playoffs in 2014, they must control their division (3-3 a year ago in AFC North) and get improved play up front from the O-line in protecting Flacco and opening running lanes for Rice and Pierce.
Head Coach John Harbaugh would like to see Rice shake the off-season drama and get back to football after he serves his two-game suspension for an assault charge on his fiancee'/wife earlier this year. Rice is the engine that makes this offense go and when he is on, it makes life easier for Flacco and company to do more damage through the air.
The defense let down late last year, giving up 75 points in the last two games (both losses) of the season, which cost the team a playoff spot for the first time in the Harbaugh era, which began in 2008.
The Ravens can bounce back and it will be vital for them to get off to a good start as they play all three division opponents in the first three games this season. Protecting Flacco in the pocket is vital as well.
The Ravens can be a playoff team once again and with a 10-6 record, they should get back to the playoffs in 2014 as either AFC North division champions or a wild card.

Week 1- vs. Cincinnati
Week 2- vs. Pittsburgh
Week 3- at Cleveland
Week 4- vs. Carolina
Week 5- at Indianapolis
Week 6- at Tampa Bay
Week 7- vs. Atlanta
Week 8- at Cincinnati
Week 9- at Pittsburgh
Week 10- vs. Tennessee
Week 11- BYE WEEK
Week 12- at New Orleans
Week 13- vs. San Diego
Week 14- at Miami
Week 15- vs. Jacksonville
Week 16- at Houston
Week 17- vs. Cleveland

Sunday, July 27, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - New York Giants

NEW YORK GIANTS                                                

2013 Record: 7-9-0

Key Addtions: DL Robert Ayers; CB Zack Bowman; S Quentin Demps; QB Josh Freeman; WR-KR Trindon Holliday; RB Rashad Jennings; WR Mario Manningham; CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie; OL Geoff Schwartz; CB Walter Thurmond.

Key Losses: OL David Baas; RB Andre Brown; WR Hakeem Nicks; LB Keith Rivers; DL Justin Tuck; DL Linval Joseph; TE Brandon Myers.

HEAD COACH: Tom Coughlin

Offense: Following a disastrous 2013 season in which he completed just 57 percent of his passes, quarterback Eli Manning returns for his 11th season. The former Super Bowl champion QB passed for 3,818 yards with just 18 touchdowns and a whopping 27 interceptions last year. Josh Freeman has been brought in for a look to be a backup QB in 2014, competing with journeyman Curtis Painter for the job.
The running game has a plethora of backs in training camp, including former Jacksonville Jags and Oakland Raiders RB Rashad Jennings, who had a career high 733 yards on the ground a year ago for a 4.5 ypc average and six touchdowns. Along with David Wilson (injured for most of 2013) and Peyton Hillis, Jennings will look to become the starter this season. Rookie Andre Williams (Boston College) is also on hand to provide depth.
Victor Cruz leads the wide receiving corps after grabbing 73 passes for 998 yards and four touchdowns last season. Rueben Randle (41 catches for 611 yards and six TD) is the other projected starter. Jerrel Jernigan (29 receptions for 329 yards and two TD), along with rookie Odell Beckham (LSU) and veteran Mario Manningham (back for a second stint with the Giants) provide other targets for Manning. The Tight Ends include Adrien Robinson and Kellen Davis.
Up front will be center J.D. Walton, guards Geoff Schwartz and Chris Snee and tackles Justin Pugh and Will Beatty.

STATS - In 2013, the Giants anemic offense ranked 29th in scoring with just 294 points (18.4 per game) while averaging 307 yards per game (28th in NFL) while also ranking near the bottom of the heap in rushing (29th with 83 yards per game) and passing, gaining only 224 yards per game, which was 19th overall. Eli Manning was sacked 39 times while compiling just a 69.4 QB rating.

Defense: The Giants finished in the top ten in overall defense last season and will look to keep the team competitive once again in 2014.
The line in the 4-3 alignment will see Jason Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore at the ends while Cullen Jenkins (five QB sacks to lead team) and Jonathan Hankins will play tackle. Long time starter Justin Tuck (team leading 11 sacks) left via free agency for Oakland, so depth is even more important heading into the 2014 season. Robert Ayers, Mike Patterson and rookie Jay Bromley (Syracuse) are on hand to spell the starters.
The linebackers are Jon Beason in the middle, flanked by outside backers Jameel McClain and either Spencer Paysinger or Jacquian Williams.
The secondary features Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at the corners with Antrel Rolle (six interceptions in 2013) and Will Hill (two picks) playing safety. Zack Bowman, Cooper Taylor, Stevie Brown, Quentin Demps, Trumaine McBride and Walter Thurmond will backup in the secondary.

STATS - The Giants were eighth overall in yards allowed, giving up 332 yards per game while ranking 14th against the run (109 ypg) and tenth (223 ypg) against the pass. The defense intercepted 17 passes a year ago while registering 34 quarterback sacks. New York also ranked 18th in scoring defense in the league, allowing just under 24 points per game.

OUTLOOK: Changes galore are in store for the G-Men this season as they look to get back to the post-season for the first time in three years.
Head Coach Tom Coughlin may or may not be on the proverbial "hot seat" this year as the team will look for all the new players to fit into place around Manning on offense. That's the area that needs the most work in 2014.
Playing in the NFC East means the Giants can turn things around in a hurry if the team comes together quickly. The Philadelphia Eagles look to be the odds-on favorites to win the division again this season and the Giants will look to get after it from the start after the 0-6 hole they dug for themselves a year ago.
Getting their bruising running game back to form is a priority and the men up front must mesh and open the holes for the backs to rumble through while also protecting Manning in the pocket. Speaking of Manning, he is coming off ankle surgery and needs to return to form and cut down on the turnovers this year.
The schedule appears on paper to be favorable for a better start for the Giants this season, but they must go out and perform once the games begin.
If the defense plays similar to what they were in 2013 and the offense shows vast improvement, the team can compete in this division and possibly get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they got hot and won it all.
The call here is for a 9-7 finish for the team. Depending on how they handle the division opponents in 2014 will determine the Giants chances for a post-season appearance.

Week 1- at Detroit
Week 2- vs. Arizona
Week 3- vs. Houston
Week 4- at Washington
Week 5- vs. Atlanta
Week 6- at Philadelphia
Week 7- at Dallas
Week 8- BYE WEEK
Week 9- vs. Indianapolis
Week 10- at Seattle
Week 11- vs. San Francisco
Week 12- vs. Dallas
Week 13- at Jacksonville
Week 14- at Tennessee
Week 15- vs. Washington
Week 16- at St. Louis
Week 17- vs. Philadelphia  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - Buffalo Bills

BUFFALO BILLS                                                            

2013 Record: 6-10-0

Key Additions: WR Mike Williams; LB Brandon Spikes; CB Corey Graham.

Key Losses: WR Stevie Johnson; S Jairus Byrd; DT Alex Carrington.

HEAD COACH: Doug Marrone

Offense: E.J. Manuel is back to start at quarterback after an up and down rookie season in which he threw for 1,972 yards with 11 TD passes and nine interceptions. He also scored two rushing touchdowns while going for 186 yards on the ground. Thad Lewis (1,092 yards passing with four TD and three picks) is the backup.
The running game will feature T.J. Spiller (933 yards rushing with 4.6 ypc average) and Fred Jackson (890 yards with nine TD and 4.3 ypc average) once again with Bryce Brown providing an occasional spell for the Bills' running duo. The wide receivers include top rookie draft pick Sammy Watkins (Clemson) and Mike Williams (22 catches with two TD grabs with Tampa Bay in 2013) along with T.J. Graham (23 receptions for 361 yards and two TD) and Ramses Barden. The tight end is Scott Chandler, who led the Bills last year with 53 receptions for 655 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The line features center Eric Wood, guards Kraig Urbik and Chris Williams and tackles Chris Hairston and Cordie Glenn. Rookies Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama) and Cyril Richardson (Baylor) and Doug Legursky are available as well in the trenches.

STATS- The Bills ranked 19th in total offense last season (338 yards per game) while finishing second in the NFL in rushing the ball with 144 yards per game and 28th in passing with 194 yards per game. Buffalo averaged 21 points per game, which ranked 22nd in the league.

Defense: Up front in the Bills' 4-3 set will be ends Alan Branch and Mario Williams (13.5 QB sacks in 2013 to lead the team) and tackles Kyle Williams (10.5 sacks) and Marcell Dareus, who had 7.5 QB sacks. Jerry Hughes backs up Williams at end and recorded 10 QB take downs last season. Jarius Wynn is another player the Bills will look to up front in 2014.
The linebacking corps has Keith Rivers at one outside spot (All Pro OLB Kiko Alonso was lost for the season with an injury early in training camp) while newcomer Brandon Spikes will man the middle. The other LB position could go to Ty Powell or possibly rookie Preston Brown (Louisville)  both of whom can play middle linebacker as well.
The secondary is loaded with ball hawks in corner men Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore, who made two interceptions a year ago. The safeties are Aaron Williams (four picks) and Da'Norris Searcy.  Jairus Byrd left for New Orleans and veteran Jim Leonhard is gone too so the Bills will look to youngsters such as Jonathan Meeks and Duke Williams, Ron Brooks and rookie Ross Cockrell to fill the voids. Veteran Corey Graham, a playoff hero for Baltimore two seasons ago, is also on hand to provide depth.

STATS- The Bills were second in the NFL in both sacks (57) and interceptions (23) a year ago while ranking fourth in the league against the pass, giving up just 204 yards per game. The run defense was weak, allowing 129 yards while finishing 28th overall. Buffalo's defense allowed 24 points per game a year ago while finishing tenth overall, giving up 333 yards per game.

OUTLOOK: Playing in the AFC East means having to beat out the New England Patriots for the division crown and that isn't likely to happen once again in the 2014 season. The Bills are a team on the rise with some good young players and a solid running game. The defense is decent enough to keep the team in games.
Head Coach Doug Marrone would like to see more development from Manuel at the quarterback position this season to go with the rushing attack and keep opposing defenses honest.
Figure on Buffalo improving slightly from a year ago (6-10 fourth place finish in AFC East) with a 7-9 record as they continue to build for the future.

Week 1 - at Chicago
Week 2 - vs. Miami
Week 3 - vs. San Diego
Week 4 - at Houston
Week 5- at Detroit
Week 6- vs. New England
Week 7- vs. Minnesota
Week 8- at NY Jets
Week 9 - BYE WEEK
Week 10- vs. Kansas City
Week 11- at Miami
Week 12- vs. NY Jets
Week 13- vs. Cleveland
Week 14- at Denver
Week 15- vs. Green Bay
Week 16- at Oakland
Week 17- at New England

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ranking the NFL's Top Ten Quarterbacks

With training camps opening up around the National Football League this coming week, here's a look at the Heftyinfo ranking of the top ten quarterbacks in pro football.

1.  Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos) - Even though his team did not win the Super Bowl last season, what more can be said about the record shattering season this guy had in 2013?

2.  Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) - People keep waiting for the proverbial "bust season" to happen but it never seems to with  Brees. Like  Peyton Manning, he seems to get better with age.

3.  Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) - He was hurt for a good portion of the 2013 season, but still managed to win in final regular season game to get the Packers into playoffs last year.

4.  Tom Brady (New England Patriots) - See above comments on Drew Brees ... the same applies with Brady.

5.  Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) - Slump? Not so fast as Rivers came through big time last season, including a road playoff win and was one of just four QBs to top the mighty Denver Broncos, which was also accomplished on the road.

6.  Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) - Coming off a big season in which he led the Panthers back to the playoffs ... but Newton will be tested this year after losing several key receivers to free agency.

7.  Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) - Don't write this guy off just yet even though the Falcons dropped big time last year. "Matty Ice" is still a QB who can deliver given he has the talent on the field to go along with his own. Several key players were injured last year, so look for Ryan to bounce back big time in 2014.

8.  Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) - How do you not put the QB for the defending Super Bowl champions in here? Wilson can do it all and will hurt opposing defenses with his arm and his legs during games, not to mention the two playoff appearances (including a Super Bowl ring) in his first two NFL seasons.

9.  Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers) - This guy is a winner and has shown the ability to get things done since taking over the starting spot two years ago. 

10. (tie) Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles) - This is a QB who appears to be on the rise after a huge (and surprising) season last year in Head Coach Chip Kelly's high octane offense.

10. (tie) Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) - Third year QB improved last season, including a win against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Looking to take the Colts further in the post-season this year.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What Up Detroit? No Water For You

Thanks to the asshole governor of Michigan, known as Rick Snyder (REPUBLICAN of course) the poor and downtrodden citizens of Detroit are going without water due to the sinister plans of Snyder and his cohorts of that state.
It seems as though Snyder and the republican led state legislature did the good old end run around the will of the voting public from the 2012 elections and implemented a new "law" that allows them to appoint their own little dictators AKA "emergency managers" that now rule the roost in many parts of the one time great state of Michigan.
That includes the city of Detroit, where the dictator Snyder and company appointed is looking to privatize (there's that filthy word again) the water supply in the city and surrounding areas. So, it seems the rate for water services have gone through the proverbial roof and many (including major corporations and sports venues) cannot make good on their payments for the water bills.
But the big shots and corporations are not being denied service to the most basic of human needs, WATER!
Nooooooooo, instead it's the "little people"  (the voters) who will suffer for overturning Snyder's nonsense in Michigan after he became governor in the 2010 elections. He and his minions are going to make those people pay dearly for their votes against Snyder and his political bullshit!
What an asshole Michigan governor Rick Snyder is ... he needs to be taken out of office this fall in the elections, provided the real voters of Michigan can get to the polls in that once great state.
No water for you!  . . .  says Snyder and his minions to the people of Detroit.
Citizens of Michigan and in particular, the city of Detroit  ... do yourselves a huge favor and send that bastard and his minions packing this November!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Major League Baseball - All Star Break

Here it is mid-July and the Major League Baseball season halts for a few days for the annual All Star break, being held this year in Minneapolis.
There have been some surprises to date and also some disappointments in the 2014 season as the teams look to either keep things going or get them going in the right direction the rest of the way.
In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are neck and neck in the West division and it should go down to the wire between these two teams. The NL East has two other teams in the same position as the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves are battling each other for division supremacy.
The NL Central is a completely different animal once again this season as the surprising Milwaukee Brewers (who have slumped big time of late) still hold a one-game lead in the division over the St. Louis Cardinals with the surging Cincinnati Reds just 1 1/2 games back. The Pittsburgh Pirates, another team on the rise after a slow start in 2014, is just 3 1/2 games off the lead.
Four teams in the same division separated by just 3 1/2 games should make for a great second half to the season.
In the American League, things are a bit different as the Detroit Tigers woke up from their terrible slump about a month ago and now enjoy a comfortable 6 1/2 game lead over the Kansas City Royals and 7 1/2 games on the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.
The American League East has the Baltimore Orioles with a four-game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays and five games ahead of the New York Yankees. The disappointing Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are both in a tie for the basement, trailing the O's by 9 1/2 games.
The Oakland A's (the team with the best record in baseball) lead the somewhat surprising Los Angeles Angels (second best record in MLB) by just a game and a half to this point in the AL West.
So just what does all the number crunching mean?
Not a whole lot because every season is different and this year figures to be just as unique as last season when the Red Sox came from nowhere (last place team in 2012) to win the World Series.
So far, the Heftyinfo picks from spring training are in the ballpark (pardon the pun) a little more than halfway through the season, but that doesn't mean that will stick. Here's hoping it does but we will see once October rolls around.
The original pick here was the St. Louis Cardinals topping the Detroit Tigers in the World Series (look it up in the March archives if you want to) and yours truly is sticking with that pick.
The Oakland A's and possibly the LA Angels or Baltimore Orioles can put a stop to the Tiger team making it back to the Fall Classic for the second time in the last three years. Oakland is actually a strong possibility to reach the World Series this season.
The Cardinals are locked in a tough division race the rest of the way and should still win out in the well balanced National League. The Dodgers are the most formidable foe to knock off the Redbirds once October baseball begins.
So we will wait and see what happens as the "Dog Days" of August near and then the home stretch of September takes over as the teams battle it out.
In the meantime, save me a hot dog and check out all the action following the All Star festivities the next couple of days in Minneapolis.
It should be interesting to see what happens.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lebron, Lebron, Lebron ... Zzzzzzz

So Lebron James is going back to Cleveland to play with the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers next season?

Zzzzzzzz . . .

True, James won two NBA titles (one was pure luck) in his four seasons with the Miami Heat, where he and Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh formed the Heat's version of the "Big Three."
 However, the comparisons with 'Bron and MJ (Michael Jordan) need to stop!

Jordan went 6-0 (that means UNDEFEATED in NBA FINALS) during his career while James is 2-3 on the game's biggest stage. So people, please stop with the comparisons. MJ was MJ and Lebron is Lebron. There is no comparing the two players.

Good on you Lebron James for making yet another "Decision" and heading back home to your native Ohio.  But remember this, the San Antonio Spurs are the reigning NBA Champions and Lebron will never be Michael Jordan.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summer Trip

It's Summer and time for a vacation trip!
Just got back from a week long Major League Baseball Park Tour with stops at Cooperstown, NY for the Baseball Hall of Fame and then onto New York City for a Yankees game. That was followed by a trip to Baltimore to see the Orioles game at Camden Yards, then it was on to Pittsburgh's PNC Park to see the Pirates on July 3rd. The final stop on the 4th of July was Cincinnati to see the Reds game at the Great American Ball Park.
A great trip during the week of the 4th of July to see the history of the great American past time, the game of baseball.
You gotta love the summer!