LOS ANGELES — Last week in the NFL was one everyone would like to forget. Unless, of course, you’re one of the handful of teams who improved to 2-0 and thus greatly increased your chance of eventually advancing to the playoffs. If you’re winless as we enter Week 3, then what a pity because in the last five seasons just one team – the 2013 Panthers – has advanced to the tournament after beginning the year as such (you’ll probably read that again soon). If the season ended today, who would be your MVP? Good question, glad I asked it. Peyton Manning? C.J. Spiller? Andy Dalton? J.J. Watt? What about Coach of the Year? Bill O’Brien? Bruce Arians? Ah yes, that’s why they play a full 16 games in the National. Football. League.
Let’s find out who’s the man, shall we?
32.) New York Giants (2014 record: 0-2; last week: 31) — It’s a little too early to determine the top college prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft, but I hope he’ll enjoy living in Manhattan because it’s going to be that kinda year for the G-Men.
31.) Oakland Raiders (0-2; 29) — I’ll let future hall of famer Charles Woodson handle this one: “We’re not very good … We suck. I am embarrassed.” OK, then.
30.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2; 30) — According to ESPN’s made up QBR that puts a quantitive score on how well an NFL quarterback performs, Chad Henne got a 4.1 this week. Four-point-one. If you’re scoring at home. We are officially on Blake Bortles watch.
29.) St. Louis Rams (1-1; 32) — Get blasted at home to the Vikings and win on the road against the Bucs; I’m certainly not going to try and figure out this team just two weeks in, but anything’s possible at this point. I’m ready for anything.
28.) Washington Redskins (1-1; 26) — Look, I love Robert as much as anyone. We are forever linked in basic cable television lore but his time as the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins is over. This is Kirk Cousins’ team.
27.) Dallas Cowboys (1-1; 27) — It’s amazing what happens when the Cowboys stick to running the football and don’t let Tony Romo freelance behind the line of scrimmage to basically get himself beat to a pulp. What team shows up this week, however, is up in the air.
26.) Kansas City Chiefs (0-2; 24) — If Jamaal Charles is out for a considerable amount of time this team is in trouble, especially after its best defensive player tore his achilles.
25.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2; 23) — First you lose to Derek Anderson, then you lose to Austin Davis. Oh, and both games were at home. And you’re supposed to be a playoff team. Something ain’t right down in Tampa Bay.
24.) Cleveland Browns (1-1; 28) — Did anyone give the Browns any kind of chance to beat the Saints last weekend? Nope. Turns out these aren’t your brother’s Browns. Tough. Hard-nosed. Brian Hoyer has moxie. Johnny sure looked good those two snaps, right?
23.) Tennessee Titans (1-1; 16) — How do you go from lambasting a playoff team on the road to getting thrashed at home by an inept pretender? Jake Locker looked great and then horrid. Can’t figure out this Titans squad so far.
22.) Minnesota Vikings (1-1; 14) — Umm, yeah, I don’t know what’s going on there as much as you do but one thing is for certain after the Vikings drubbing at the hand of New England last week: Teddy Bridgewater’s time is coming. Soon.
21.) New York Jets (1-1; 19) — Only the Jets could lose because their offensive coordinator called a time out just a split second before their second-year quarterback who may or may not be any good throws the greatest pass of his short NFL career to a young receiver who makes a leaping grab in the end zone to tie the game but it didn’t count and they go on to lose because of it.
20.) Houston Texans (2-0; 20) — Houston has beat the Redskins and Raiders, so not exactly world beaters, but starting the year 2-0 is impressive and J.J. Watt is on a mission to take over the world. I’m afraid just typing his name.
19.) Baltimore Ravens (1-1; 22) — Disaster week in Baltimore last week and considering what was swirling around that football team, what they were able to do on a short week against a good Steelers team; impressive to say the least.
18.) Atlanta Falcons (1-1; 13) — So the Falcons, after showing us their 2012 selves in Week 1, went and showed us their 2013 edition in Week 2. I’m not riding this roller coaster this season. Pick one and be done with it!
17.) Miami Dolphins (1-1; 9) — I was ready to be a believer in the Dolphins, I really was. But they got dominated by the Bills, even more so after Knowshon Moreno went out with an elbow injury.
16.) Detroit Lions (1-1; 12) — Everyone was saying, myself included, that the Lions needed to show us they could beat a tough team on the road before we would start taking them seriously; and we wait another week.
15.) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1; 4) — It was pretty shocking this team let Cleveland get back in the game in Week 1 and then got completely outclassed last Thursday night against a Ravens team fighting controversy.
14.) Buffalo Bills (2-0; 25) — Buffalo has been the most surprisingly impressive team this far, defeating good teams on the road and at home, showing a knack for the big play and coming up with the defense when needed. Gotta see it consistently before I believe though.
13.) Chicago Bears (1-1; 21) — So the Bears, in eight quarters of football this season, have laid an absolute egg in six of them, and absolutely dominant in two. Lucky for them it’s the last two that’s been the most dominant.
12.) Arizona Cardinals (2-0; 18) — Narrowly edging the Chargers at home is sort of impressive, escaping against the Giants is not whatsoever. Not sure what to make of this team so far, but it’s nice that Larry Fitzgerald was targeted 500 times. Quiet his dad for a week.
11.) Indianapolis Colts (0-2; 6) — Why Chuck Pagano doesn’t just turn Andrew Luck loose is beyond me and probably most every Colts fan. But hey, at least Trent Richardson looked like a real life human functioning running back this week, right?
10.) New Orleans Saints (0-2; 7) — The Saints are a team with Super Bowl aspirations, and I know many out there picked them to be as such, but this stat is a very real one: only one team in the last 5 seasons has started the year 0-2 and made the playoffs.
9.) Philadelphia Eagles (2-0; 11) — The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to be trailing by 14-or-more points in their first two games and come back to win them both. Soooo maybe they should work on their starts, ya think?
8.) Green Bay Packers (1-1; 8) — How is it possible that Jordy Nelson doesn’t have the respect of defensive coordinators across the league just yet? All he goes out and does is dominate week-in and week-out. Great fortitude to bounce back after looking like a mess in falling behind 18 against the Jets.
7.) New England Patriots (1-1; 10) — Tom Brady is still pissed the offense isn’t clicking like it should but be honest, I wasn’t the only one panicking after the Vikings went up 7-0 Sunday very easily. What followed was the defensive performance we were all expecting from the Patriots.
6.) San Francisco 49ers (1-1; 3) — Talk about a tale of two halves in the opening game at Levi’s Stadium. Colin Kaepernick shows flashes of being one of the best players in the league, then he slips back down to looking like someone still struggling to pick it all up.
5.) San Diego Chargers (1-1; 15) — Boy, the Super Chargers sure showed the rest of the league something last Sunday, huh? Did they expose the Seahawks? I won’t go that far, but San Diego will be there come season’s end.
4.) Carolina Panthers (2-0; 17) — The Panthers win on the road in Week 1 without their starting quarterback and then do it again in Week 2 against one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL without their best defensive player.
3.) Seattle Seahawks (1-1; 1) — Seattle isn’t going undefeated and the big story is how all-world mouth team defensive back Richard Sherman got “exposed.” Well, he’s still wearing the ring so let’s all just calm down about that for a week or two.
2.) Cincinnati Bengals (2-0; 5) — The Bengals have been the most consistently balanced and impressive team in the league through the first two weeks. Let’s see it continue or maybe even in January.
1.) Denver Broncos (2-0; 2) — Peyton Manning threw three more TD passes, blah, blah, blah. Wake me when something legitimate happens in Denver.
LOS ANGELES — An exciting and thrilling Week 1 in the National Football league with lots of expectedly surprising results has been overshadowed this week by the Ray Rice domestic violence situation, including Monday’s video release by TMZ, Rice’s termination from the Ravens and suspension from the league, and multiple reports that the league office had seen the video months ago before levying a verdict on Rice’s playing future. None of that has anything to do with the first installment of my season-long You’re The Man Power Rankings, except the football part. I don’t know what’s going to come of this independent investigation either, but one thing I do know, is that Week 2 begins tonight. And we need to find out who’s the man. Let’s get to it.
32.) St. Louis Rams (2014 record: 0-1; last week ranking: 26) — It wasn’t bad enough that Sam Bradford was lost for the year with a preseason injury, but Shaun Hill goes down in Week 1 and his status is up in the air for this Sunday.
31.) New York Giants (0-1; 30) — Eli Manning lead the league in interceptions in 2013 and after one week he’s tied for the lead this season. I’m guessing he’ll finish in the top 3 in picks again when it’s all said and done in 2014; should be a long year in the Meadowlands.
30.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1; 32) — The Jaguars have proven after one week that they’re good enough to build a 17-point lead against a tough opponent on the road, and just Jacksonville enough to blow said lead and lose by double digits.
29.) Oakland Raiders (0-1; 29) — Derek Carr proved that he has the goods to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, it’s just too bad he plays for the Raiders and has to endure what should be a long season.
28.) Cleveland Browns (0-1; 28) — Only the Browns could fall behind by 24 points, climb back into the game and make you think they’d pull off the win only to lose in the most Cleveland way; but hey, at least Brian Hoyer finished the game in one piece.
27.) Dallas Cowboys (0-1; 21) — Wait, yeah, Tony Romo just threw another interception. Awesome. It’s bad in Dallas right now but at least Jerry Jones didn’t get slapped with a sexual assault lawsuit this week … oh. You can’t spell disaster without a Big D.
26.) Washington Redskins (0-1; 20) — Robert Griffin III could be amazing in Jay Gruden’s offense, except it’s probably maybe not really a good quarterback, most likely potentially.
25.) Buffalo Bills (1-0; 31) — I don’t know if Buffalo’s win last week says more about them or their opponent’s lackluster home performance, but E.J. Manuel and others looked completely opposite than they showed in the preseason and that’s a good thing.
24.) Kansas City Chiefs (0-1; 7) — Of all the Week 1 teams that laid an egg, none bigger was the one laid in Kansas City and by their newly minted quarterback Alex Smith making most question whether 2013 was a fluke.
23.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1; 14) — The Bucs bandwagon is a little less crowded as we head into Week 2 than it was a few days ago and Josh McCown looked every bit his age and showed why he’s been a career backup.
22.) Baltimore Ravens (0-1; 17) — It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better for the Ravens. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
21.) Chicago Bears (0-1; 12) — There were reports that earlier this summer in Las Vegas the Bears were 6:1 to win the Super Bowl; guessing that is climbing by the minute after an embarrassing showing in the opener against Buffalo.
20.) Houston Texans (1-0; 25) — Top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney is lost for upward to 6 weeks with a knee injury but J.J. Watt more than made up for his absence and Ryan Fitzpatrick was competent in a season-opening win.
19.) New York Jets (1-0; 23) — Expectations are low with the Jets and it doesn’t help that they struggled to beat the Raiders at home, but at least Geno Smith looked like an actual starting quarterback.
18.) Arizona Cardinals (1-0; 19) — If someone can explain to me why Larry Fitzgerald wasn’t targeted by Carson Palmer until the fourth quarter then I’ll put the Cards higher up on this list.
17.) Carolina Panthers (1-0; 15) — Derek Anderson hadn’t started a game in the NFL since 2010 and went out and posted a 108.7 passer rating and led the Panthers to victory; no one thought that was happening Week 1.
16.) Tennessee Titans (1-0; 27) — A strong season’s start by the Titans, who went on the road and dominated the Chiefs in all facets of the game, giving credo to those pundits who said Tennessee could be a surprise playoff team.
15.) San Diego Chargers (0-1; 11) — It was nice of the Chargers to go all Chargers on Monday night and play great for three quarters and then remember they were on national television and disappear in the fourth.
14.) Minnesota Vikings (1-0; 24) — Probably the surprise team of Week 1, the Vikings showed a renewed sense of competitiveness in a loaded NFC North; new head coach Mike Zimmer has the defense opportunistic and flying around.
13.) Atlanta Falcons (1-0; 22) — Atlanta is looking to buck the Hard Knocks jinx and showed a glimpse of its 2012 self with a strong division win to start the year; Matty Ice set a career high in passing yards and his dynamic receiving duo backed up that claim.
12.) Detroit Lions (1-0; 18) — Calvin Johnson is good. Like really good. Like good enough to render Matthew Stafford’s terrible mechanics and backwards hat wearing moot.
11.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-0; 10) — Nick Foles Philadelphia honeymoon is officially over after his three-turnover performance in the first half Sunday, but thankfully for him, he got it together and pulled out the victory or it would’ve been a rough week on the Philly sports talk show circuit.
10.) New England Patriots (0-1; 3) — Great for one half, absolute dung storm for the second is no way to begin the season, so much so that Tom F’n Brady shaved his beard immediately after the game. He means business.
9.) Miami Dolphins (1-0; 16) — Look out, your first place Miami Dolphins! Great fortitude in the second half, the defense looked strong, offensive line was solid and Ryan Tannehill made enough plays to get it done. Strong run game also helped.
8.) Green Bay Packers (0-1; 5) — Look, the ’85 Bears could’ve played the Seahawks on Thursday night and gotten boatraced, so I’m not judging Aaron Rodgers and the Packers too harshly.
7.) New Orleans Saints (0-1; 4) — Drew Brees led the Saints offense to a floatload of points but the defense couldn’t stop the Falcons and looked like the Saints D of old.
6.) Indianapolis Colts (0-1; 6) — Andrew Luck needed to wait until his team was down a couple of scores before he started playing, that’s just what he does, and he nearly pulled the Sunday night upset.
5.) Cincinnati Bengals (1-0; 9) — Bengals fans were calling for Andy Dalton’s job over the summer and then he goes out on the road and beats a division rival while throwing for 300 yards; good start.
4.) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0; 8) — Everyone was waiting to see how this new up-tempo offense was going to work for Ben Roethlisberger & Co. and boy did it work, to the tune of 365 passing yards and a TD; there’s more to come here.
3.) San Francisco 49ers (1-0; 13) — Dallas is a wreck, so I won’t give the 49ers too much credit, but Colin Kaepernick looked good throwing the ball and operating the offense, which was a concern after a shaky preseason.
2.) Denver Broncos (1-0; 2) — Peyton Manning was on his game. Julius Thomas caught a bunch of touchdowns. The Broncos defense looked formidable in the face of another Andrew Luck comeback. Par for the course.
1.) Seattle Seahawks (1-0; 1) — The Champs looked like The Champs in the opener and forced a lot of people to change their Super Bowl pick. I still have them going. They’re that good.
LOS ANGELES — It’s hard to believe seven months have passed since confetti fell on Russell Wilson and the Seahawks after their resounding Super Bowl XLVIII victory over Peyton Manning and the Broncos but it’s gone quickly. A brief rundown of what’s transpired since: Michael Sam had a press conference, Johnny Manziel wore pads for his pro day, Jadeveon Clowney was the top pick, Manziel partied… a lot, so did Jim Irsay, some 49ers got in trouble, Ray Rice and Josh Gordon were suspended, some guys got a whole lotta money, others got hurt and Hard Knocks disapppointed. Of course, other football things happened in between but those were the stories dominating the NFL offseason, which has become appropriately titled the Non-Playing Season because it seems not a day goes by without some kind of important pigskin news. But now all the mumbo jumbo is behind us and it’s time to put foot to ball, shoulders to pads and end zone to dances. Football is back and it’s not going anywhere for the next five months, so strap in, stay hydrated and make sure your fantasy roster is set. Most of all, enjoy.
As I’ve done the last couple years, here are the pre-Week 1 You’re The Man Power Rankings in the form of Burning Questions for each team, based on nothing except what I want to know about each franchise as we begin another glorious season. My playoff predictions and Super Bowl pick are also at column’s end.
Let’s do this.
32.) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (4-12, missed playoffs) — The only question I have about this team is why isn’t Blake Bortles starting from the get-go?
31.) BUFFALO BILLS (6-10, missed playoffs) — Based on the preseason it appears the Bills are in trouble this year, but will Doug Marone be around come Week 17?
30.) NEW YORK GIANTS (7-9, missed playoffs) — Tom Coughlin has already fined me for finishing this so late, but if Eli Manning struggles mightily again will the 2-time Super Bowl winning coach have his QB on a short leash?
29.) OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-12, missed playoffs) — Oakland signed several veterans this offseason but it’s going to be rookie quarterback Derek Carr who determines how far this team goes this season, but who’ll be catching the ball from his talented right arm?
28.) CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-12, missed playoffs) — We all know what’s coming with the Browns this season, the questions is how long will the revolution take to be televised?
27.) TENNESSEE TITANS (7-9, missed playoffs) — Ken Whisenhunt will coach ‘em up, there’s no doubt about that, and with some picking the Titans as a potential sleeper, can Jake Locker make it happen in a make-or-break year?
26.) ST. LOUIS RAMS (7-9, missed playoffs) — This season was already going to be the biggest of Sam Bradford’s career before he was lost with an ACL tear, now that Shuan Hill is leading the charge can he pull a Kurt Warner and take the Rams back to the playoffs?
25.) HOUSTON TEXANS (2-14, missed playoffs) — The Brinks truck was backed up for J.J. Watt, and while he deserves it, all the questions marks surrounding this team are on the offensive side of the ball, such as who is throwing the ball and will Arian Foster stay healthy for an entire season?
24.) MINNESOTA VIKINGS (5-10-1, missed playoffs) — Any team with Adrian Peterson and one of the best young tight ends in the game will have the offense to compete, but will the secondary toughen up to defend the aerial assault it’ll see on a weekly basis in division play?
23.) NEW YORK JETS (8-8, missed playoffs) — Everyone wants to make the Jets 2014 success about Geno Smith and his improvements between last year and this, but I’m more curious if the defense, specifically the secondary can match the artillery of its opponents?
22.) ATLANTA FALCONS (4-12, missed playoffs) — One play from the Super Bowl in 2012 to four wins a year later, Atlanta is a curious crew but the question is who are the real Falcons: the team that frightened opponents or the division doormat?
21.) DALLAS COWBOYS (8-8, missed playoffs) — Yes, Tony Romo is still recovering from offseason back surgery and the offense is poised to put up crazy fantasy numbers but just how bad is the Cowboys defense going to be?
20.) WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-13, missed playoffs) — With a new head coach in Jay Gruden, the Redskins are going to live and die with the right arm and two feet of Robert Griffin III and if he chooses to play smart and remain the reckless headache who can’t stay healthy?
19.) ARIZONA CARDINALS (10-6, missed playoffs) — Patrick Peterson is finally paid but Darnell Dockett is out for the season for a Cardinals team on the verge of returning to the playoffs; can they really contend in the best division in football?
18.) DETROIT LIONS (7-9, missed playoffs) — The defense is always a curious case up in the D but I wanna know if new head coach Jim Caldwell can take all that talent Matthew Stafford has and mold him into one of the game’s best QBs?
17.) BALTIMORE RAVENS (8-8, missed playoffs) — These aren’t your daddy’s Ravens, which means there’s a lot of new faces and the defense isn’t as good as year’s past; can it do enough to make up for what was lost following their improbabe Super Bowl win?
16.) MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-8, missed playoffs) — A sneaky 2014 playoff contender, will Miami play spoiler in a division owned by the Patriots for the last dozen years?
15.) CAROLINA PANTHERS (12-4, lost in NFC Divisional Round) — It’s possible I’ll be getting a few snaps at wide receiver this season in Carolina, but with the corps already thin can Kelvin Benjamin put it all together and be the monster he showed this preseason?
14.) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-12, missed playoffs) — We know Lovie Smith is going to have the Bucs flying around the ball on defense, but one stat I enjoyed was Josh McCown is one of four QBs 35+ starting the season across the league; will he make it through his first season as The Man?
13.) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (12-4, lost in NFC Championship) — It was not the best offseason in the Bay Area to say the least, the events played out like a soap opera, so the only question is are the 49ers set up for a monumental 2014 fall?
12.) CHICAGO BEARS (8-8, missed playoffs) — Defense is not the name of the game in Chicago anymore, and we saw how good the Bears offense could be WITHOUT Jay Cutler last year, but is No. 6 the man still or does the offense begin and end with Matt Forte?
11.) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (9-7, lost in AFC Divisional Round) — Philip Rivers basically willed his team to a playoff win a year ago, but does the Chargers defense have anything in its tank to back him up?
10.) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-6, lost in NFC Wild Card) — It was a wild 2013 in Philadelphia, between Nick Foles 27-and-2 run and LeSean McCoy running wild, what does Chip Kelly have tucked deep in the playbill for an encore?
9.) CINCINNATI BENGALS (11-5, lost in AFC Wild Card) — For this team it’s seemed to come down to Andy Dalton, so now that he’s paid like an elite NFL quarterback, will he start playing like one when it matters most?
8.) PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-8, missed playoffs) — You know Dick LeBeau is going to coach up the defense, what I’m curious about is how this new high-tempo Steelers offense is going to look and how Ben Roethlisberger is going to perform in it?
7.) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-5, lost in AFC Wild Card) — I know the Chiefs just extended Alex Smith for 4 years and $45M but how far can he really take them with his game managing style of play?
6.) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5, lost in AFC Divisional Round) — I’ve seen some NFL experts picking the Colts to win the whole thing and while that’s bold, is anyone going to step up and win a game so Andrew Luck doesn’t have to do everything himself?
5.) GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-7-1, lost in NFC Wild Card) — When you have Aaron Rodgers I know it’s tempting to throw the ball like it’s backyard football, but will Mike McCarthy use Eddie Lacy like he’s one of the best backs in the NFL (which he is)?
4.) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-5, lost in NFC Divisional Round) — Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger but all of his offensive weapons return and they look poised for another huge season, but is Rob Ryan’s defense ready to prove last year’s vast improvements weren’t a fluke?
3.) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4, lost in AFC Championship game) — It’s always Super Bowl or bust in New England, but is age finally catching up with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?
2.) DENVER BRONCOS (13-3, lost in Super Bowl) — Once again, for me, it’s all about Peyton Manning’s health; if #18 is on his 2013 game then there’s no stopping Denver, but if he takes a few big hits, will the 5-time MVP get up?
1.) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (13-3, Super Bowl Champions) — More than any defending champions in recent years, the Seahawks are set up for a repeat run, will they stay hungry enough for 17 weeks to keep that dream alive?
NFC Playoff Predictions:
Division winners: Packers, Seahawks, Redskins & Saints
Wild Cards: Bears & Eagles
NFC Title Game: Seahawks over Saints
AFC Playoff Predictions:
Division winners: Patriots, Colts, Broncos & Steelers
Wild Cards: Chiefs & Bengals
AFC Title Game: Patriots over Broncos
Super Bowl Prediction:
PATRIOTS over Seahawks
LOS ANGELES — Unless you’re still in the theater watching Transformers 4 because that movie is 1800 hours long, or worse yet got traded by the Red Sox, you’re aware that NFL Training Camps started last weekend across the league in Cortland, New York, Oxnard, California and everywhere in between. Rookies are learning playbooks and carrying pads, while veterans are sharpening skills and honing in on what they hope is an upcoming season filled with good health and victorious Sundays. New coaches are finally realizing their dreams of sleeping less than four hours a night and never seeing their families, and us the fans are beginning the early stages of scouting for our upcoming eight fantasy football leagues. Ah, yes, football is back and not a moment too soon. This Sunday marks the officially opening of the 2014 NFL season with the festivities at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. This year’s class is another star-studded affair with Michael Strahan and Andre Reed highlighting the honorees, and of course, the game between the Giants and Bills Sunday night kicks off football every Sunday from now until February.
So with all that in mind, here’s the latest 8 Things To Look For: NFL Preseason Week 1:
1.) Get Ready For JFFTV — If you’ve noticed a theme in your football programing in the last week, you’re not alone. The Browns haven’t got this much coverage since Jim Brown’s days and why not, between Josh Gordon and Brian Hoyer, they’re actually interesting. Though I’ll be the first to admit, a quarterback battle on a team coming off a 4-12 season isn’t exactly the most appetizing meal, but when one of those quarterbacks is Johnny Manziel all bets are off. Johnny makes headlines whenever he speaks or leaves his house. First it was saying he’s not going to change, then it was his biggest challenge is the playbook, then he threw a couple interceptions in practice, then he got spotted on his off day at a bar. He can’t win. His coach and owner have gone out of their way to praise Brian Hoyer which leads you to believe JFF will start the year holding the clipboard. But why then did the Browns draft him? There was the story about the team being shocked his partying was as ramped up as it was between draft day and camp kickoff. Do none of them have Twitter or Instagram accounts? Look, my position on the kid is well known, but I’ll be excited when actual football is actually being played and we all can judge the kid on what really counts: what goes on between the lines on game day. Until then, hope you got your popcorn ready because we’re going to have a front row seat to EVERYTHING he does for the foreseeable future.
2.) Don’t Listen To Anything Anyone Says — If you’ve heard all the player and coach interviews recently a theme has probably been observed: everyone is awesome, we are going to the Super Bowl. Brandon Marshall told Michael Irvin at Bears camp this week that Jay Cutler could win the 2014 NFL MVP. Now Irvin probably believed this because he was the one who said last year Dez Bryant would be MVP, but that aside, Marshall has seen Jay Cutler play football, right? Cutler is the man who’s thrown at least 14 interceptions in a year five times, including a league-leading 26 in 2009. I know he’s Marshall’s boy but take step back, 15. Do you trust Cutler to win a big game for you? Fourth quarter, two minutes to go, down by six? Didn’t think so. The Bears have seriously high expectations this season predicated on their explosive offense. They are a chic Super Bowl pick. I’ve heard that Las Vegas types are putting serious cashola on them as well. But it all hinges on Cutler. All of it. That should make Bears fans very nervous.
3.) Vampire Injury Biting Back — Sure, “True Blood” is going off the air soon, but vampires are still cool, right? OK, forget it … Regardless, in consecutive days the league lost running backs Vick Ballard (Colts) and Kendall Hunter (49ers) to season-ending Achilles’ and ACL tears, and Giants back David Wilson got concussed again. Texans receiver Andre Johnson strained his hamstring this week and on and on. No quarterbacks have gone down yet, thanks goodness, and while injuries are part of the game, every year a handful of stars go down and the domino effect is palpable. You hate to see anyone go down this time of year, especially, but it makes you appreciate how hard everyone works and just how precious our time in this game is.
4.) Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons — Yearly, it’s the best show on television, and “Hard Knocks” returns next week down in Flowery Branch as the Falcons will be this summer’s featured team. What’s funny is that owner Arthur Blank and head coach Mike Smith volunteered for the gig. Atlanta didn’t fall under the new league-mandated guidelines with having made the playoffs in the last two seasons, but I’m guessing Blank wanted to ramp up the team’s profile and put a little pressure on his talented group of veterans in wake of a disastrous 4-12 2013 campaign. I think this will be a fun season of “Hard Knocks.” There are players we all know and are familiar with in Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Steven Jackson, and inevitably a few with personalities we never knew existed will emerge. That’s the beauty of the show; you go in not caring and come out invested in a whole new group of guys.
5.) How Will Holdout Affect Beast Mode — Marshawn Lynch proved last week he’s not only ’bout that action, boss, but he’s also ’bout that paper, boss. The Seahawks running back phoned into NFL Network to announce his hold out and returned Thursday with little bustle. Michael Silver reported Seattle tacked on a few more Skittles onto his existing contract for this season, $1.5 million to be exact, which is always nice. And while Money Lynch was the biggest name who held out this Training Camp others such as Lions all-world DT Ndamukong Suh and Chiefs QB Alex Smith want a new deals before the season kicks of in early September. Many thought Andre Johnson was going to skip Texans training camp but he showed and promptly injured his hammy. How will surrounding contract issues affect these guys? That’s always the question when it appears their main offseason focus has been their wallet and not their body. I’m guessing it’ll be minimal but you never know.
6.) Who’s Awesome/Who’s Trash — Did you hear the one on Monday where Nick Foles is garbage because he came from a rich family and neighborhood and doesn’t scream at his teammates like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? Look, I like Buzz Bissinger as much as the next “Friday Night Lights” fan but seriously, Buzz, I think your leather pants are too tight on this one. It’s amazing to me a guy coming off one of the greatest statistical seasons in some time (8-2, 2,981 yards, 27 TD, 2 INT) could be criticized for not being a leader or having what it takes to be an elite quarterback in this league, but all it takes is a keyboard to take someone down, and that’s what Buzz did this week. This also plays into a larger preseason theme of declaring a player a superstar or on the cut list when no games have been played.
7.) Revis Island Taking Reservations for Weekend Getaways — The first English settlement of Martha’s Vineyard came in 1642 by Thomas Mayhew and since then the island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts has become a playground for the affluent. This fall, however, a new inhabitant will take over the 87.5 square mile paradise island and plant his flag: Darrelle Revis. By all accounts, the Patriots new defensive back has been terrorizing New England practices this July. He even had the gall to intercept Tom Brady not once but twice! In one day! How dare he?! Revis has proven thus far to be the real deal, which is good news for a Patriots secondary that couldn’t stop me and three friends in recent years. If he is locking down half the field this fall, coupled with a healthy Vince Wilfork and Jarod Mayo, New England will be back to being a force defensively.
8.) I Still Have No Idea Who I’m Keeping In Fantasy — I know my fantasy team is always on your mind, but it’s a serious problem I’m having right now and I know I’m not alone. Surely I can’t be the only one who is pacing like Scrooge McDuck trying to decide on two keepers among six legit possibilities, and then after having done a fantasy mock draft factoring in who I think everyone else in my league is going to keep, pacing even more because I can’t decide if I should take Dez Bryant or Brandon Marshall or Jimmy Graham or Julio Jones with the third overall pick?! Right? Bueller? OK, fine. Screw you guys. Never mind. I got this. (no, I don’t. help.)
LOS ANGELES — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was recently the subject of some poor television producing when the topic of his spot in the NFL’s Top 5 QB Elite was discussed. Now, I didn’t pay this one ounce of attention because, well, duh, of course he’s still in there. But for a June conversation, it moved the dial and media outlets deprived of content this time of year ran with it and I’m sure their ratings reflected such discussion involving NFL royalty. Tim Tebow he is not, however.
Fantasy geeks who care only about on-field statistics have their theories as to what qualifies one as NFL Elite and where Brady currently ranks in today’s game. I have my own list but that’s not the point of his article. But to satisfy the stat-heads, let’s just look at basic quarterback measurables over the last three seasons to get an idea: Brady has 1,182 completions, thrown for 14,405 yards and 98 TDs, and just 31 INTs.
In my fantasy league with the scoring as follows – .25pts/comp, 40yds/pt, 6pts/TD and -2pts/INT – that calculates out to 1,181.63 points. There are 14 other QBs who have started a majority of their teams games in the last three seasons – I’ll throw Peyton Manning in there with his 2010 stats as well – so let’s see how they performed purely on a statistical basis:
- Drew Brees: 1,436 comp, 15,815 yards, 128 TD, 45 INT –> 1,432.38 pts
- Peyton Manning: 1,300 comp, 14,836 yards, 125 TD, 38 INT –> 1,369.9 pts
- Tom Brady: 1,182 comp, 14,405 yards, 98 TDs, 31 INT –> 1,181.63 pts
- Matthew Stafford: 1,227 comp, 14,655 yards, 90 TD, 52 INT –> 1,109.13 pts
- Aaron Rodgers: 907 comp, 11,444 yards, 101 TD, 20 INT –> 1,086.85 pts
- Matt Ryan: 1,208 comp, 13,411 yards, 87 TD, 43 INT –> 1,073.28 pts
- Tony Romo: 1,123 comp, 12,915 yards, 90 TD, 39 INT –> 1,065.63 pts
- Philip Rivers: 1,082 comp, 12,708 yards, 85 TD, 46 INT –> 1,006.2 pts
- Andy Dalton: 992 comp, 11,360 yards, 80 TD, 49 INT –> 914 pts
- Ben Roethlisberger: 983 comp, 11,601 yards, 75 TD, 36 INT –> 913.78 pts
- Eli Manning: 997 comp, 12,699 yards, 73 TD, 58 INT –> 888.73 pts
- Joe Flacco: 991 comp, 11,339 yards, 61 TD, 44 INT –> 809.23 pts
- Cam Newton: 882 comp, 11,299 yards, 64 TD, 42 INT –> 802.98 pts (does not include rushing stats/points)
- Alex Smith: 734 comp, 8,194 yards, 53 TD, 17 INT –> 672.35 pts
- Jay Cutler: 661 comp, 7,973 yards, 51 TD, 33 INT –> 604.58 pts
This last Monday, Brady, in so many words, said he didn’t care about those stats fantasy nerds get hard over, that wins and the final score are the only stats that matter to him. This fits with Brady’s Patriotsification over the years. Team first. Winning is all that matters. Get better each game. It is what it is. Of course, his quotes got me thinking about stats vs. wins so I looked them all up and wouldn’t you know the quarterback with the most wins in the last three seasons: Tom Brady.
Tom Terrific is 37-11 in the regular season since 2011, one ahead of Manning for the most in the league. Look at how the rest of the above fantasy studs compare when it comes down to straight wins and losses:
- Tom Brady 37-11
- Peyton Manning 36-12+
- Aaron Rodgers 31-9*
- Drew Brees 31-17
- Alex Smith 30-9-1++
- Andy Dalton 30-18
- Joe Flacco 30-18
- Matt Ryan 27-21
- Ben Roethlisberger 26-18^
- Cam Newton 25-23
- Eli Manning 25-23
- Tony Romo 24-23 **
- Philip Rivers 24-24
- Jay Cutler 22-14^^
- Matthew Stafford 21-27
* missed 7 games in 2013
+ includes 2010 season as Manning missed all of 2011
^ missed 4 games between 2010 & 2011
** missed 1 game in 2013
++ missed 8 games in 2012 & 2013
^^ missed 12 games in 2011, 2012 & 2013
Interesting how they line up, don’t you think? So, yeah, when Brady says he only cares about wins and the final score, he really knows what he’s talking about.
LOS ANGELES — It was two weeks later than normal, but the 2014 NFL Draft is finally here, as the first round gets underway shortly from Radio. City. Music. Hall. in New York City. Once again, I’ll be here to document all the action in running diary style. This is probably my favorite column of the year to write and definitely the longest. Things I’m looking forward to seeing tonight: where Johnny Manziel ends up, if someone straight up tackles Roger Goodell after their name gets called, just how bad Jerry Jones screws up the Cowboys pick, how loudly Jets fans boo their own selection and of course, what these soon-to-be millionaires are wearing. Let’s get this thing started.
4:15pmPT — We’re about 45 minutes out from the official start of this show. I’m posting up today at the lovely West Los Angeles abode of Andrew Siciliano, whom you know as the host of DirecTVs Red Zone coverage on Sundays and various programs on NFL Network. Hopefully some others joins us for what should be a fantastic evening of running commentary during this 1st Round.
4:18 — Johnny Manziel with Deion Sanders just said he was “blessed.” Over/under on how many times we’re gonna hear that today? 5,793? Wish Johnny would’ve went clean shaven, but hey, it’s his world and we’re all just living in it. Ha! He tosses it back to Rich. What a natural.
4:22 — What’s up with Jadeveon Clowney signing with Puma? Were Russell Athletic and Hutch not offering enough? Did Fila want none of that?
4:30 — So a list of the guys walk out songs has been released and we’re breaking down the draftees walk out music right now, or what AS is calling it, “draft up” music. Four Drake songs, Teddy Bridgewater coming out to R. Kelly and Cyrus Kouandjio has chosen Imagine Dragons. Sometimes the jokes write themselves. Maybe that’s why Teddy is falling.
4:35 — Draftees being introduced on the stage now. Blake Bortles was just introduced. Do we have an over/under on how many times they show his girlfriend? It’ll have to break the previous record of 8,000 set by Lauren Tannehill in 2012.
4:36 — Ha Ha Clinton Dix taking the early lead for best dressed with an Alabama crimson tuxedo jacket with a bow tie. And what is this music that’s playing? Didn’t know they turned Radio City into a club. Is Manziel’s girlfriend going to be coming out with the bottle service soon? When’s the foam party start?
4:38 — Jimmy Garappolo is dressed like he’s going to be selling insurance in 3 years. Which he very well might be… Marqise Lee looks like he should be parking cars as the valet at Boa tonight. Though he looks fantastic.
4:40 — Manziel, I think, just got booed. Which is awesome. Haters gon’ hate… Jake Matthews comes out and I ask AS who’s the biggest lock in the draft for a 10-year career and without hesitation he says Matthews. Maybe Greg Robinson…. Morgan Moses looks amazing with that beard and bow tie. Rick Ross style. “He looks like he’s actually Moses.”
4:42 — the bow tie revolution is real, people. Drew Christensen, NFLN researcher would be proud his influence has been passed down to this younger generation.
4:49 — We have now been joined by our former NFLN colleague Matt Abrams, so the commentary will be top notch. Also, AS just added a “Manziel” column to TweetDeck and it’s moving so fast you can’t read it. This guy knows how to move the needle.
4:53 – Kevin Sumlin Manziel’s former college coach, is with Deion Sanders about the Texas A&M guys, who could be 3 of the top 15 picks. What a fantastic mini fro he’s rocking right now, too. “Where would you like them to go?” Deion asks “I’d like them to come back.”
4:57 — We’re debating whether or not AS is as tall as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. He said it’s close. Don’t ask how we got there.
5:00 — “this is kinda like the Hunger Games. We’re all gathered in the streets waiting for young men to be told where they will be going to relocated.”
5:01 — OK, let’s do this. Should be an exciting 1st Round. Of course, we’re watching NFL Network’s coverage of the events with Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci, Michael Irvin in a conservative suit again (wack) and Mike Mayock on the main desk. We also have ESPN on a smaller TV juut in case something different happens over there.
5:03 — our first RADIO. CITY. MUSIC. HALL of the night from Eisen. He’s gonna say this about 100 more times tonight so if you’re playing any Draft Drinking Games you’ve been warned. Mayock with the traditional 3-piece gangster suit. So OG.
5:04 — Goodell welcomes us to the Draft and is heavily getting booed, which has turned into a tradition unlike any other. You can have your Masters and Jim Nantz soothing voiceovers, I’ll take insanely drunk New Yorkers booing the commissioner. New York Fans are the best. Like I say every year. The best, Jerry.
5:05 — Manziel sitting at the table and it looks like he has a Rolex on because of course he does. Have a feeling he’s going to be waiting a long time tonight. Not sure why. Just do.
5:09 — Houston has been on the clock for 130 days, how have they not made a pick yet? 5 minutes to go, maybe they’re looking to trade, most likely. At this point I’m rooting for chaos. I want trades. I want missed picks. I want bear hugs and bling and Tupac as a walk out songs.
5:12 — “who cares about Houston, what are the Raiders gonna do? Probably something dumb.”
5:13 — THE PICK IS IN … OK, let’s do this, Houston. Whaddya got? It has to be Clowney. Can’t pass up on this guy. Mayock thinks it’s Clowney even though he loves Khalil Mack.
5:15 — Here’s Goodell. So many boos. Awesome … “the Houston Texans select … Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina” … and Clowney is crying. All of the tears. Love his hair. I’ll never have hair like that. This guy has been the top prospect and pick for the last 12 months. It would’ve been awesome if he didn’t go to college last year, but you know he was coasting just for this moment. Worth it.
5:16 — giant bear hug for Goodell. You don’t realize just how big Clowney is until he’s standing next to Goodell and Roger is a big, big man.
5:18 — We have already moved on to who the Rams are taking at #2 and we think it’s Greg Robinson. Remember Rams GM Les Snead went to Auburn.
5:22 — shot of the Rams party and there’s a guy there in a Colt McCoy Browns jersey. What the hell is going on?! Man, the Rams are set to succeed right now, if they only had a competent QB. I would love them to pick Manziel here or at 13. But it’s not happening.
5:24 — Goodell out for the Rams pick… “Greg Robinson, tackle, Auburn” … safe pick. This dude is literally the size of a brick shithouse and Bradford, if he’s going to be successful for once, needs to block everybody. Robinson hugging his mom in the green room. “I love this part,” Irvin says.
5:27 — “I won’t let you down.” Robinson says right into the camera to Rams fans. Jaguars on clock and what is taking them so long?! Why are they not taking Manziel?! They have to sell tickets!
5:30 — Pick is in for Jacksonville. Look at Shad Khan and that hair and mustache. Don’t be shocked if it’s Bortles, Mayock just said. Holy shit that would be insane… “Blake Bortles” is the pick. WOW!!! Our first stunner of the draft. I’m stunned. Unreal. Look at Manziel. He’s as stunned as we are. Hoping people from Central Florida make the trip up to Jacksonville.
5:33 — “You think Deion has any idea who this guy is?” someone in the room just said. Hilarious. And WHERE IS HIS GIRLFRIEND?!?!?! And they are partying in the streets in Jacksonville. Did Rich just say “rabid Jacksonville fan base”??
5:34 — and we have a trade! Cleveland swaps down with Buffalo… Bills have to take Mack or Watkins, right? Let’s see what Owl, my resident Bills fan and former Draft Diary sidekick, has to say about this … wow, Bills gave up two picks next year to move up. A 1 and 4. Unreal. What a chaotic few minutes.
5:36 — Bills pick is in … here’s Goodell … Sammy Watkins! E.J. Manuel is doing backflips where he is right now. Aside: you think Watkins can pick out Buffalo on a map? Does he own any winter clothing? “I bet the girls in Buffalo are just as hot as South Carolina.. oh wait, yeah, no.” That’s cold, Abrams.
5:38 — we’ve heard from Owl: “cool! bye Stevie!” … and Watkins takes a selfie with Goodell! That’s so awesome. First one of the draft, surely not the last. Look what Ellen started…. “I thought they was messing when they said they were taking me.” Watkins tells Deion. By the way, Watkins’ suit is awesome. Love the Clemson pin.
5:41 — this Draft is already better than last year’s. Wow. so great…. Goodell out for the Raiders … Khalil Mack… what value there. Never thought he’d fall to 5. Raiders defense is going to be legit next year with him, Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley… this guy looks like a freaking man. Dang.
5:43 — “his game tape against Ohio st. is the single greatest game tape against Ohio st. I’ve ever seen.” Does Mayock like hyperbole? … Now the Falcons are up at 6 and can take their tackle, the only question is if it’s Jake Matthews or Taylor Lewan … Faulk just said “now the Raiders have their Von Miller.” High praise (Nic Cage voice)
5:45 — Another shot of Manziel sitting and chilling as we hear Justin Timberlake to break. He’s definitely not going to Atlanta, could Tampa Bay be the landing spot? Who the hell knows at this point.
5:48 — EJ Manuel just tweeted 12 exclamation points and that’s it. He’s going nuts right now. He’s making it rain and drinking all the Hennessey.
5:50 — Before we get to more excitement, here’s Atlanta with some boring pick … Jake Matthews it is … he’s a lock for a 10-year career at least, 4 Pro Bowls. His pedigree is beyond ridiculous, and he looks like he’s 35… Shot of Falcons party and their RISE UP towels. Get excited for an offensive lineman!!
5:52 — Matt Ryan is sleeping a little easier tonight though. He got his ass kicked last year, and look at Matthews next to Goodell. He’s ripping through his suit like the Hulk. He’s gigantic. Matthews will probably play right tackle next year… great shot on ESPN of the Matthews football family tree. All that family does is procreate amazing football players. Much like the Brockmans except not.
5:57 — Bucs on the clock and who knows what they’re doing here. Mike Evans would be great to go along side Vincent Jackson … and ESPN can’t stop talking about Johnny Manziel … also, you want some comedy, do a quick twitter search of Ray Lewis right now.
5:59 — Mike Evans is the pick … so whomever is throwing him the ball should put up some monster numbers… hope Doug Martin is healthy … and we have another trade … Browns going up from 9 to 8 … who are they taking? Manziel?
6:01 — Who are the Browns moving up to take at 8? I want it to be Manziel, but it’s gotta be a corner, right? We are speculating Justin Gilbert? Marshall is standing up when talking about Mike Evans. He’s excited. This guy catches everything. Evans in tears. Love it when this happens. And we have our first Jesus Christ reference. Speaking of, what network do you think JC gets his coverage from: ESPN or NFLN?
6:03 — I just asked Richard Deitsch that on Twitter and he responded, “HBO.” Hilarious … the pick is in for the Browns and Irvin just called Mike Evans Calvin Johnson … who the hell knows what’s coming now with the Browns … could be anybody … Lewan or Gilbert is what AS says … Gilbert it is and such a let down … Yeah, this guy is good, but he’s not Johnny Football.
6:07 — I really like Justin Gilbert’s suit. He looks fantastic. Gilbert said he had a feeling a couple days ago that Cleveland might be a landing spot for him. And his favorite player was Deion growing up. This guy seems really polished.
6:08 — Vikings pick is in and Mayock says it’s either Darqueze Dennard or Anthony Barr, which is a little early for him. I’m thinking Aaron Donald, but no one is mentioning him. Mooch likes CJ Mosley… a “Who Drafts Manziel?” graphic to the right on NFLN and the Cowboys is at 58%. If he’s gonna side, please let him go there.
6:11 — OK, we’re getting backed up as the Lions have already made their pick … Vikings take Anthony Barr, who has tremendous upside and is our first pick who isn’t in New York. He’s at home in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif. That’s the way to do it. Big party at your house. “He has no idea what he’s doing” Mayock says. What does that even mean. That can’t be good, can it? “Exactly what you want from a top 10 pick.” Mayock contradicting himself already.
6:13 — and Barry Sanders is out to announce the Lions pick … the mic is too tall for him. He’s like Michael Dukakis. Move it down, Barry! and he thanks everyone for voting him on the cover of Madden last year. Get on with it… Lions take Eric Ebron tight end from UNC … what a day for him. He proposed to his GF on the top of the Empire State building this morning and now he’s a top 10 pick … Mayock is baffled by that. Is he locked into football or what? Wow, that offense is LOADED next year. Joseph Fauria is not dancing after this pick, either.
6:15 — this is a great spot for Ebron, I think. Big offense, they throw all the time. Lions are the new Patriots when it comes to tight ends. But honestly, what is he doing proposing? You’re about to be rich and you’re in the NFL. Parker Deay is pissed.
6:20 — Titans pick is in at #11 and it has to be a quarterback … I hope it’s Bridgwater to be honest, that would be hilarious … if we’re thinking about this logically, this is going to be Dennard or Taylor Lewan.
6:22 — Goodell’s out and it’s Taylor Lewan, the big ass tackle from Michigan… dang, Mrs. Lewan everybody. That’s some, um, yeah, upper body strength.
6:25 — So who goes to the Giants here? Has to be Zack Martin right now. Eli got sacked 8,000 times last year. They definitely need a receiver, but Odell Beckham is barely tall enough to ride the Superman at Six Flags.
6:29 — Giants take Odell Beckham. Wow! and look at that hair. He’s got the Honey Badger look going. And look at his watch. I hope that’s a rental. Irvin is loving Beckham. Here’s the question: Is Ei going to be upright long enough to throw it deep to him?
6:32 — look at the Rams and Cowboys war room as we bump to break with Manziel still sitting there waiting… and is that his sister sitting next to him? Some good genes in the Manziel family.
6:35 — Pick is in for the Rams at 13… they’ve been sending up this smokescreen that they’ve been interested in Manziel at this slot all week as Daniel Jeremiah throws out the idea of them taking Aaron Donald here, the best defensive lineman in the Draft, from Pittsburgh, which would make the Rams front line absolutely ridiculous.
6:38 — Shon Coleman, a cancer survivor who plays at Auburn out to make the pick and it’s Donald… wow. This line is insane. Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and now Donald. How on earth do you run the football against these guys. And are you passing out of a 1-step drop? I guess if you play in the toughest division in football you need to load up on defense. Have to try and stop the 49ers and Seahawks somehow.
6:39 — shot of the Rams party and the Colt McCoy is still there. “So is Elvis.”
6:43 — Bears up now and here’s Goodell … Kyle Fuller, the Virginia Tech defensive back. Bears are a boring team when Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett or Smokin’ Jay Cutler aren’t involved, so I really don’t have much to say … Steelers on the clock.
6:46 — Pick is already in and Jed York tweets that Twitter might explode … is he just stirring the pot or what? Here’s Goodell … Ryan Shazier, the all-world linebacker from Ohio St. “He looks like Charlie Villanueva” … “he’s one of the fastest linebackers I’ve ever seen come out of college football.” Thanks, Mike.
6:48 — NFLN shows Shazier running his 40 in basically his underwear and Irvin mutters “that’s a big man.” … Cowboys now on the clock at 16 and the Manziel speculation is through the roof on both channels. “I’m sure Tony Romo is loving this.” – AS
6:49 — Seriously, what is going to happen here? Honestly. Aaron Rodgers tweets that this is going to be an interesting 10 minutes. So awesome. Can Jerry Jones contain himself? “does this not prove this is greatest reality show on earth?” – AS
6:51 — Johnny’s phone is not ringing. What the hell is going to happen????
6:52 — this is so excruciatingly awesome. The suspense is killing me. AS is standing and screaming at the TVs. “what are we waitng for?! The picks is in! Ozzie Newsome has made his pick already!” Goodell is smiling as he walks to the podium. He wants it to be Johnny so badly, just like the rest of us.
6:53 — and it’s Zack Martin. What a let down. Twitter is blowing up with tweets of disappointment. Myself included.
6:57 — We still can’t believe Jerry passed on Johnny and now we’re trying to figure out where he’s going. Several teams coming up legitimately need a QB including Arizona, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and maybe Philly because of Chip Kelly, who wanted to coach him at Oregon.
7:00 — C,J. Mosely is the pick for the Ravens. And is that his dad wearing a white fedora? Maybe an uncle. That is fantastic. He’s going to be a good player. Alabama is known for producing good football players, I’ve been told. #RollTide
7:01 — so we just did some research and the only team left with a first round pick that is eligible to appear on Hard Knocks this summer is the Arizona Cardinals. Guessing Johnny goes there. Imagine the show HBO can put on with Johnny?
7:03 — Jets on the clock and the fans are readying their pipes to boo loudly whomever it is.
7:07 — I hope you’re all enjoying these shots of Manziel sitting there waiting because you’re gonna see them for the next decade… and he hasn’t said one word to his sister or his mom.
7:09 — Jets take Calvin Pryor, the safety from Louisville … “this guy is a bigger bob Sanders” says Mayock.. “that means he’s hurt already?” AS on point. This is totally a Rex move here. He’s gonna love this guy.
7:12 — We go to break with another shot of Manziel, who is seen scrolling his phone, no doubt checking Twitter and as his blood slowly boils. Whenever he’s picked he’s going to be salty in the interview. No way he saw this fall coming, even though news of it was breaking all morning. And on queue, text from Owl: “No wonder you love Johnny Football so much. Every time they show him he’s on the phone.” Well played, sir.
7:14 — a giant-headed Dan Marino is fighting the Dolphins mascot. Rich makes sure everyone at home knows it’s not the real Dan Marino. “If that was the real Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason would be right behind him telling he sucks.” I’m not allowed to say who just said that.
7:18 — Dolphins pick is in and it’s Ja’Wuan James, the big tackle from Tennessee and a few “wows” from the set. “The more tape I watch on this kid, the more I like him” says Mayock. Well there you go. We thought it was going to be Cyrus Killamanjaro.
7:19 — and the Saints have moved up into the 20 spot, swapping with Arizona, and this has to be a receiver, right? Marshall suspects that the saints want to get better on defense in the secondary and Dennard is still available.
7:23 — Saints swap picks and throw in a 3rd rounder this year (91st overall). Marshall likes Brandin Cooks here while Mayock thinks it might be Dennard. they need both positions to be honest.
7:25 — Ian Rapoport saying that Jerry Jones didn’t openly campaign to take Manziel but the room did have thoughtful discussion… and the Commish is out to announce the pick … Brandin Cooks it is… Drew Brees is very happy right now. Another weapon. Irivin compares him to Antonio Brown. We speculate that New Orleans must have thought the Eagles were taking him at 22.
7:27 — Packers on the clock and we’re thinking it’s either Ha Ha or Jace Amaro, the big tight end from Texas Tech … ESPN has something called the Bud Light Blue Room, which isn’t a room at all, it’s just Suzy Kolber on the stage and there’s no blue anywhere. Smart.
7:31 — graphic with a tweet from Mark Ingram about Johnny Manziel which is completely pointless. “great tweet Mark, you’re about a good a tweeter as you are a running back.” Also from someone in the room.
7:32 — Packers should probably take Ha Ha Clinton Dix since no one in that division can play any defense and they have to face the Bears and Lions twice who have tons of receivers… shot of the Packers war room and they’re all clapping and af ew fist bumps for Ted Thompson. They are happy. Mayock says Ted is an “old school scout.” … “And by that you mean he’s old and once went to school.” all of the jokes in here.
7:34 — Goodell is out and Dix is the pick. Well done. “He’s gonna sign his contract and then deliver caviar.” Nick Saban right there in the Chris Brockman role as Hat Guy. Seriously, Dix is amazingly dressed. Seriously, top notch. “That’s what swag is called, everybody at home.” Marshall has said swag 5 times in the last 30 seconds.
7:35 — maybe the tweet of the night from Jon Heyman about Dix.
7:37 — quick switch to ESPN and Gruden is going crazy at the thought of Andy Reid taking Johnny Manziel at 23.
7:40 — AND WE HAVE A TRADE!!! The Browns have moved up to 22 and swapped with Eagles here. Room thinks it’s Bridgewater… Mayock thinks it’s Cyrus Killamanjaro (I know that’s not his name, relax)… “the Dawg Pound will be celebrating if it’s Johnny Manziel.” Swapped picks and added a 3rd rounder this year (83rd overall)… this is going to be a boring pick. I just know it.
7:42 — and here we go … JOHNNY CLEVELAND!!!!!!!!!!!
7:43 — Johnny was the 22nd pick. So was Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden and Tim Couch wore #2. I’m not sure what that means but if anyone can break the curse it’s JFF.
7:46 — I’m the biggest Browns fan next season. And Sicliano is going nuts right now. He just pulled out his Tim Couch jersey and I’ve convinced him to put tape over it. “I’m gonna pour my heart out for this team and this organization.” Johnny is going to kill it in Cleveland.
7:48 — “I’m gonna bring excitement wherever I go.” Yeah you are, Johnny. Wow, look at this guy. He’s a freaking Beatle.
7:51 — Everything after this is the air out of the balloon… as Goodell comes out to announce Dee Ford, who said he was better than Clowney at the Combine, to the Chiefs.
7:57 — Bengals are up at 24 and take Dennard as Abrams punches the couch, hoping he’d be there at 25 for his Chargers. Great value. Didn’t think he’d fall that far.
7:59 — approaching the 3-hour mark of the draft and the Chargers pick is already in … Rapoport and DJ are saying the Browns aren’t done making moves and that they might move back into the first round to take possibly Marqise Lee. Browns aren’t screwing around.
8:02 — getting word of a great Scott Fujita tweet about having a condo to rent or sell Johnny. That’s awesome… and we get out first couch shot of Derek Carr and his girlfriend at home waiting. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
8:03 — Chargers take Jason Verrett who is tiny and dressed like a mortician but he can play and has a ton of hair.
8:05 — Siciliano is on the phone with his dad trying to talk him into the Johnny pick. Words being said over and over again: “gamble” “wow factor” “exciting”… AS might as well be working for the Browns PR department right now.
8:10 — Eagles take Louisville defensive lineman Marcus Smith, and camera cuts to a distraught Eagles fan as Mayock says the fan “has no idea who he is,” while then saying it’s a great pick and addresses a need.
8:12 — Cardinals up now, who traded down … gotta think Bridgewater and Carr are in play right now.
8:14 — cameras following Manziel throughout the Radio City doldrums like it’s Goodfellas at the Copa. Great shot. And he gives Brandin Cooks a hug. That’s awesome. Can the Browns do Hard Knocks next year?
8:16 — Cardinals take Deone Bucannon, which elicits a few groans and is definitely a reach, but that sures up their secondary big time. AFC West loading up on defense. Shot of the Cards party: “all of those fans bought their jerseys this morning.” NFL Media fantasy editor Michael Fabiano has 60k more followers than the official Cards account, by the way.
8:18 — Panthers on the clock and what are they waiting for. Get up there and take Marqise Lee .. ok good, here’s the commish … Kelvin Benjamin! Wow, there you go. I like this guy. He’s enormous. Reminds me of Marques Colston. “now you get a guy who’s area code is the catching range… reminds me a lot of Brandon Marshall.” Well then, high praise: “could be one of the biggest steals in this draft.”
8:20 — Patriots on the clock at 29 and Jace Amaro is available… or will they trade down AGAIN? Need to get somebody for Tom Brady or maybe some defensive line help.
8:25 — the Patriots have kept their pick and I’m shocked … Dominique Easley, defensive end from Florida is the guy. NFLN has a bio board and it’s noted he’s had not one, but two ACL surgeries. Awesome. It’s not enough the Pats have two old guys on the d-line, now they have one with bad knees. Uninspired.
8:29 — 49ers pick is in at 30 … fans are going NUTS at the their draft party …
8:32 — Jimmie Ward is the pick and Mayock immediately says “wow” and thought he was a second or third round pick… they are not surprisingly less NUTS at the 49ers party.
8:37 — Two picks to go and Mayock is praising Cleveland and what they did tonight: “give them credit for moving up and down the board and getting great value.”
8:38 — Broncos take Bradley Roby the defensive back from Ohio St. There’s some jokes here about some off-the-field issues between the front office and the player, but I’m not going to make them.
8:39 — also it’s been more than 3 hours and we still haven’t seen Blake Bortles’ girlfriend. Is she OK? Do I need to fly to NYC and find her? I’m willing to do whatever it takes here.
8:42 — and the Vikings have traded up to 32 and the guys are guessing they’re taking Bridgewater. It’s either him or Carr. Definitely a quarterback here.
8:45 — OK, here we go, Goodell out for the last time tonight … Vikings take Bridgewater … “you don’t have to come back tomorrow, that’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you,” the room says. Good for this kid. Seems like a genuine great kid. Poor pro day made him slip, but still a first rounder… Mayock saying he needs to get stronger but has good intangibles … “loves the game of football.” Me too.
8:46 — this just in: 25% of the first round picks are from Florida. I’ll give you one guess who Tweeted that out … thought Bridgewater would be there for Houston to start the second round, but good job by Minnesota to go up and get a starter… here’s Deion with Teddy: “made my mind up were gonna live in the moment and be anxious for nothing.” well done.
8:48 — OK, that’s gonna do it from here. Very fun start to the 2014 NFL Draft. Definitely a few surprises and of course, we were all captivated by Manziel falling but a lot of good stuff happened tonight. Cleveland made themselves better, for once Jerry Jones did the smart thing and Houston took the best player. Minnesota also helped themselves, as did St. Louis. And I hope you’re ready Rock City, Johnny Football is coming. Once again, no running backs were taken in the first round, and no player from USC or Miami, as their grip on this process loosens slightly. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the weekend brings.
By SHAWN BRADLEY
Special to The Chris Brockman Website
LOS ANGELES — Moving this year’s NFL Draft to May 8th has proved to be a disaster for pundits and fans alike. The torturous wait is almost over though and the First Round should provide fantastic theatre. This years class could prove to be the greatest of all-time and there’s a good chance we see multiple trades that will create seismic shifts to league landscape. However, predicting such deals is a useless exercise, so for Volume 2 of this Mock Draft we’ll pretend each team is pinned down to it’s original slot. To add a little more drama to this piece, we’re starting at the bottom, and like Drake said, soon well be here. I don’t know exactly where “here” is, but for these soon-to-be NFLers they hope it’s Radio City Music Hall this Thursday.
32.) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS — CODY LATIMER, WR, Indiana
Latimer has been rapidly climbing up draft boards after running a 4.38 forty during an stud pro day performance. Surrounded by sub-par talent at Indiana, Latimer battled through a foot injury to up impressive numbers (72 catches, 1,096 yards, 9 TDs) in 2013. His size (6-foot-2, 215 lbs), speed and strength (he led Combine WRs with 23 reps on the bench press) make him an ideal candidate to replace Golden Tate in Seattle.
31.) DENVER BRONCOS — RYAN SHAZIER, LB, Ohio St.
Following their offseason spending spree, the Broncos most glaring need is at inside linebacker. Shazier ran a blazing 4.38 forty a his pro day despite carrying 237 pounds, while also posting a 42 inch vertical leap, highest of any player at this years Combine. Athletically, Shazier is a rare breed and having him join DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller on the front seven should give Denver a defensive identity to go along with that record-setting offense.
30.) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — KONY EALY, LB, Missouri
Ealy provides Aldon Smith insurance for a 49ers team that appears to be crumbling under the weight of past success. Physically, Ealy (6-foot-4, 273lbs) is almost identical to Smith (6’4, 265) and the very thought of having these two Missouri products rushing off opposite edges should give offensive coordinators fits. Ealy could also bulk up and move down to end whenever 35-year old Justin Smith decides to hang it up.
29.) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — DEONE BUCANNON, S, Washington St.
In his on-going arms race with the Broncos, Bill Belichick keeps an eye on January by completing his renovation of New England’s secondary. A four-year starter who led the Pac-12 in tackles this past season, Bucannon flies to the football with abandon – he forced 7 fumbles to go with 15 interceptions during his career at Washington State. Deploying Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Devin McCourty and Bucannon gives Belichick a chance at stifling Peyton Manning Seahawks-style.
28.) CAROLINA PANTHERS — MOSES MORGAN, T, Virginia
Cam Newton’s lack of pass catchers has been well documented this offseason but his lack of pass protection should be an even bigger concern. Long-time left tackle Jordan Gross called it quits after 2013 and Moses (6-foot-6, 314lbs) would become his immediate – and long-term – successor. Ankle surgery currently has Newton in a walking boot so he’d surely enjoy having a long armed (35 3/8″) body guard like Morgan watching his back this season.
27.) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS — KELVIN BENJAMIN, WR, Florida St.
Lance Moore and Darren Sproles are gone, plus Marques Colston will be 31 when the season kicks off – time to find a new target for Drew Brees. Benjamin possesses imposing size at 6-foot-5, 240lbs and came out of nowhere to catch 15 TDs in 14 games for the Seminoles, averaging a score every 3.6 receptions. With Jimmy Graham, Colston and Benjamin all measuring in at 6’4 or taller, Brees should be unstoppable in the red zone.
26.) CLEVELAND BROWNS — JASON VERRETT, CB, TCU
Just like his old boss Rex Ryan, Mike Pettine needs high quality corners for his defense to thrive. Verrett’s speed (4.38) and swagger make his height (5-foot-9) irrelevant and the Browns currently have someone named Buster Skrine atop the depth chart across from All-Pro Joe Haden. When your division rivals have guys like A.J. Green and Antonio Brown the secondary becomes primary – Cleveland can wait 8 more picks to take a quarterback like Zach Mettenberger, Tom Savage or Aaron Murray.
25.) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — KYLE FULLER, CB, Virginia Tech
After facing Peyton Manning three times last season the Chargers can’t pass on a corner like Fuller. Because of a hernia, Fuller played in just three games in 2013 – and he still picked off two passes and defended 10 others (4th in the ACC). Last year, San Diego GM Tom Telesco picked Keenan Allen, who was coming off a significant injury, so he can only hope Fuller is just as productive off the bat.
24.) CINCINNATI BENGALS — BRADLEY ROBY, CB, Ohio St.
Leon Hall is coming off a torn ACL while Dre Kirkpatrick can only be considered a bust at this point, so Cincinnati could certainly use an upgrade at corner. Even though he was burned repeatedly in 2013, Roby is so physically gifted that he has become one of the Draft’s late risers. Roby recently came close to driving over some kids after ingesting alcohol but since when have the Bengals been scared off by character concerns?
23.) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — JOEL BITONIO, G, Nevada
For the second straight year, Andy Reid tries to bolster his offensive line by spending a first round pick on a left tackle. However Bitonio, who started 38 games on the blindside at Nevada, will move to right guard to fill a gaping hole for the Chiefs. Bitonio has a nasty streak, often finishing blocks beyond the whistle and he’s become a favorite of offensive line coaches around the league fallowing his Senior Bowl and Combine performances.
22.) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — MARQISE LEE, WR, USC
While at still at Oregon, Chip Kelly sat front row while Lee piled up 20 catches for 344 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2 games against the Ducks. Lee owns or shares an astounding 22 USC records despite the fact that he left school early following a disappointing junior season. It’ll be an interesting story line to watch as Lee endures season long comparisons to DeSean Jackson in Philly.
21.) GREEN BAY PACKERS — CJ MOSLEY, LB, Alabama
After winning the Butkus Award in the middle of Nick Saban’s 3-4 defense, Mosley is a perfect schematic fit for Dom Capers. The Packers allowed almost 27 points per game last season, so a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine like Mosley would be a welcome addition. With Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews attacking off the edge – plus Mosley patrolling the middle, Green Bay could be headed for a defensive resurgence in 2014.
20.) ARIZONA CARDINALS — CALVIN PRYOR, S, Louisville
Amazingly Teddy Bridgewater won’t be the first Louisville Cardinal to be selected in 2014. Pryor plays with violence and is constantly around the ball wreaking havoc. Adding a sledgehammer safety like Pryor to go along with Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie and a healthy Tyrann Mathieu gives Arizona perhaps the NFL’s most talented secondary.
19.) MIAMI DOLPHINS — XAVIER SU’A FILO, T, UCLA
With all the top-tier tackles off the board, Miami fills its hole at right guard with the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Samoan from UCLA. Su’a Filo was a captain and even got voted the Bruin’s offensive MVP in 2013. After becoming the first true freshman in school history to start as a freshman, Su’a Filo spent two years on a Mormon mission and he should bring a level of maturity that the Dolphins offensive line has been missing recently.
18.) NEW YORK JETS — BRANDIN COOKS, WR, Oregon St.
Steadily improving its anemic offense, here the Jets add the speedy Cooks to free agent acquisitions Eric Decker, Michael Vick and Chris Johnson. Cooks put up eye-popping numbers (128 catches, 1,730 yards, 16 TDs) on his way to winning the Biletnikoff award before scorching a 4.33 forty at the Combine. Former Eagles and current Jets OC Marty Mornhingweg, who attended Cooks’ pro day at Oregon State, might be envisioning a DeSean Jackson type role for the diminutive receiver.
17.) BALTIMORE RAVENS — ODELL BECKHAM, JR., WR, LSU
Even with a $100-million quarterback, Baltimore averaged just 6.3 yards per pass attempt – same as the Jaguars. New Ravens receiver Steve Smith should serve as the perfect mentor for Beckham, Jr., who just like Smith, plays much bigger than his size (5-foot-11, 198lbs). Beckham, Jr. is also explosive in the return game, bringing back two punts for touchdowns during his final season in Baton Rouge.
16.) DALLAS COWBOYS — HA HA CLINTON-DIX, CB, Alabama
You get the feeling that Jerrah is jonesing to make a splash with a dramatic deal but nabbing the Draft’s best safety at 16 would be a nice consolation prize. Clinton-Dix is a rangy ball hawk who collected 7 interceptions in his brief Alabama career and he should be a huge upgrade for the worst defense in Cowboy’s history. Dallas currently boasts Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox atop their depth chart at safety; enough said.
15.) PITTSBURGH STEELERS — DARQUEZE DENNARD, CB, Michigan St.
Pittsburgh’s secondary has been decaying for years and Dennard’s physicality makes him a good fit for Dick LeBeau’s defense. The Steelers intercepted just 10 passes last season, a number which should improve if the 2013 Thorpe Award winner ends up wearing Black and Gold. Having to go up against Josh Gordon and A.J. Green four games a year makes this an easy pick for Mike Tomlin.
14.) CHICAGO BEARS — AARON DONALD, DT, Pittsburgh
Donald would join Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen as the Bears rebuild a unit that gave up a league worst 161.4 rushing yards a game. Posting 11 sacks in 2013, Donald displays rare pass rushing ability for an interior lineman and that’s more good news for a Chicago defense that tied for last with just 31 QB takedowns. Being relatively undersized is the only thing keeping the ACC Defensive Player of the Year out of the top 10.
13.) ST. LOUIS RAMS — JUSTIN GILBERT, CB, Oklahoma
The top tier tackles are off the board in this scenario – but the Rams have another glaring weakness in the secondary. Gilbert had seven picks this past season, returning two for touchdowns and he’ll be the #1 corner right away for a defense that gave up an embarrassing 8.1 yards per pass attempt in 2013. Gilbert also has value as a return man, using his 4.37 speed to return six kickoffs for touchdowns during his four years at Oklahoma State.
12.) NEW YORK GIANTS — ZACK MARTIN, G, Notre Dame
Big Blue struggled to block anyone last season allowing Eli Manning to be sacked a career-high 39 times in 2013. A two-time captain who started every game of his Notre Dame career, Martin’s tenacity more than makes up for the fact that he lacks ideal size (6-foot-4, 308lbs) and length. Versatile enough to play anywhere along the line, Martin will help a Giants team that has serious concerns at both left tackle and right guard.
11.) TENNESSEE TITANS — ANTHONY BARR, LB, UCLA
Ken Whisenhunt will wait until round 2 for a quarterback and take a chance on Barr, who appears to be a classic boom-or-bust pick. Barr played only 2 seasons at linebacker after converting from running back, but in those two years he accumulated 23.5 sacks. At 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, Barr looks like an ideal fit for the attacking 3-4 defense new defensive coordinator Ray Horton brings to Tennessee.
— Check back soon for picks 10 through 1
LOS ANGELES — I have to write about Tony Romo this week. Wow, what a game he played last Sunday against Denver. He went toe-to-toe with Peyton Manning and nearly came out victorious. Nearly. That seems to be a word we use often to describe Romo and his play. He nearly puts it all together. He nearly comes away with big victories when his team needs them the most. He nearly is among the top QBs in the league. In the offseason, when Jerry Jones signed Romo to that outrageous $108M contract, Jones said he wanted his quarterback to be more like Manning. He meant this in terms of being a complete football guy. Putting in the extra hours in the film room, working out, running routes with his receivers. Romo even went out of his way bypass his annual attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open this summer. And look, it’s shown. Romo has been out of his mind this year. He’s second in TD passes (13), INTs (2) and passer rating (114.3), and third in completion percentage (71.8%) but yet the Cowboys are only 2-3. Why is this? Is it all on his shoulders? When you get paid nine figures it all goes on you whether it’s your fault or not. Team can’t run the football? Who cares, you’re getting $100M. Defense can’t get off the field? BFD. You’re getting paid $100M. The NFC East is primed for Dallas’ taking and it’s up to Romo to take it.
Let’s find out who’s The Man.
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (record: 0-5) (last week: 32) — For a second, didn’t you think Jacksonville might pull off the upset against St. Louis? And Justin Blackmon, nice wheels.
31.) New York Giants (0-5) (30) — This is getting ugly with the Giants. Real ugly.
30.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) (31) — So now McGlennon (as Warren Sapp calls him) is the captaining the pirate ship. I’m guessing a lotta turnovers and handoffs to Doug Martin (my pick to win the rushing crown) this week against the Eagles.
29.) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) (29) — Who woulda thought that Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, with four Super Bowl rings between them, wouldn’t have a win after five weeks. Sure as hell not me. And not you, either.
28.) Minnesota Vikings (1-3) (25) — Is it amusing to anyone else that three of the bottom five teams all had byes last week? Welcome to town, Josh Freeman! What week is Freeman the full-time starter? Seven? Eight?
27.) Carolina Panthers (1-3) (24) — Heard an interesting stat: Cam Newton’s top two career passing games are still his first two ever played back in 2011. You believe that?
26.) Buffalo Bills (2-3) (21) — Really feel for E.J. Manuel, but he’s fortunate his knee injury isn’t as serious as Brian Hoyer’s, who’s hit looked less severe in comparison. Can’t believe it’s gonna be Tuel Time for the next couple weeks. There is some bad NFL quarerbacking going on in a few of these cities.
25.) St. Louis Rams (2-3) (27) — If the Rams lost to the Jaguars there were going to be MAJOR problems. Now comes a winnable game against the floundering Texans. Five-hundred a real possibility and a new season.
24.) Oakland Raiders (2-3) (28) — I’ve always said I wanted to like the Raiders. Not sure why, maybe it’s the simplistic badassery of their uniforms, or the “Just Win, Baby” attitude, but now I have a legitimate reason with the way Terrelle Pryor is playing. As Rich Eisen likes to say, he’s a factor.
23.) Washington Redskins (1-3) (26) — Another week’s rest for My Good Friend Robert can’t be a bad thing, nor is it bad for Alfred Morris’s banged-up ribs. But now they return to play on Sunday night against a Dallas team that’s feeling itself after hanging better than maybe anyone will this season against the Broncos.
22.) Houston Texans (2-3) (14) — In our Saturday GameDay Morning meeting, the guys throw out Bold Predictions and see what sticks. Well, before Marshall Faulk settled on taking Terrelle Pryor topping the Chargers in rushing yards, he toyed with the idea of taking Matt Schaub to throw a Pick 6 for a fourth straight game. Seemed laughable at the time.
21.) Atlanta Falcons (1-4) (15) — The wheels are falling off the Falcons bus with Monday’s shocking loss to the Jets and then Tuesday’s news that Julio Jones is most likely lost for the season with a foot injury. Good thing I have Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez on my also 1-4 fantasy team. Oh wait.
20.) Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) (23) — The Eagles have been outscored by 24 points this season, haven’t won at home and yet are tied for the lead in the NFC East but have a big task with Mike vick on the shelf for at least this week. That’s how wide open the NFC is. It’s going to be a such a fun ride the second half of the season.
19.) Arizona Cardinals (3-2) (22) — Raise your hand if you thought the Arizona Cardinals were 3-2? My hand is not raised. I had to double check that. It seems like they’re winning in spite of Carson Palmer, who’s completed less than 60% of his passes, has a passer rating of 67.0 and has nine interceptions to only five touchdowns.
18.) Cleveland Browns (3-2) (19) — Really excited for Browns fans and the city of Cleveland. What an awesome ride the last three weeks have been. Really feel for Brian Hoyer though, who was enjoying his best go as a professional quarterback before tearing his ACL last Thursday. Highly doubt Brandon Weeden can keep it going.
17.) San Diego Chargers (2-3) (13) — If Tony Romo went Tony Romo on Sunday, then the Chargers went Chargers Sunday night against the Raiders. I mean, how classic was opening-drive interception followed by giving up a bomb for a TD?
16.) Tennessee Titans (3-2) (12) — The Amish Rifle had the Titans so close to knocking off the Chiefs but you just knew he was going to turn it over at a key moment, and lo and behold, he did.
15.) Baltimore Ravens (3-2) (18) — Impressive win last week, going down to Miami and taking care of business. Still, it’s a little concerning Ray Rice is still only averaging 2.9 yards per carry this season. Though fantasy owners have to be pleased by his two scores.
14.) New York Jets (3-2) (20) — What did I tell you about the Geno Smith roller coaster?! Wow, that was something on Monday. I officially have no clue about the Jets. They could beat the Steelers this week by 20 or lose by 10. It’s all in play.
13.) Chicago Bears (3-2) (11) — This is the Jay Cutler Era for ya; win three straight, lose two. I’m expecting another 3-game run here followed by an injury and crushed playoff hopes.
12.) Detroit Lions (3-2) (10) — Well, I guess we see how important Calvin Johnson is to the Detriot Football Lions. Still think they’re better than the Bears, though.
11.) Miami Dolphins (3-2) (7) — There’s a lot of teams in the same boat this season. Hard to tell if that boat is sailing toward Playoff Island or not. Also, Brian Hartline was at NFL Network this week and I told him how my buddy Jason took 25 minutes to take him in the 8th round of my fantasy draft. Needless to say he was flabbergasted.
10.) Dallas Cowboys (2-3) (17) — I still say the Cowboys win the NFC East and then get blown out in the Wild Card. But hey, at least they made it, right? That’s worth $108 million. Right?
9.) Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) (16) — Yes, there was a monsoon right as Tom Brady was going to make this trademark comeback. Yes, the Patriots trotted out a JV corps of wide receivers. Yes, they only scored 13 points. But still, the Bengals gutted out that win and look like a playoff team.
8.) New England Patriots (4-1) (6) — At the end of the day, the Patriots are still 4-1 but six points is not going to cut it. The offense has to get better and if Rob Gronkowski comes back this week, it will. Just not sure it’s enough to take down the Saints.
7.) Green Bay Packers (2-2) (9) — Would’ve liked to have seen the Packers blow out the Calvin Johnson-less Lions but a win is a win is a win. If they can run the football a little better, Green Bay should contend in the action-packed NFC.
6.) Indianapolis Colts (4-1) (8) — Rich Eisen was on Dan Patrick Thursday morning talking Top 10 NFL quarterbacks and didn’t want to put Andrew Luck in there. I would have him in there. He’s damn good. And this is a damn good football team.
5.) San Francisco 49ers (3-2) (5) — Colin Kaepernick had just six completions and the 49ers routed Houston. Not sure if that says more about the state of the Texans or how potent this San Francisco offense is when clicking on all cylinders.
4.) Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) (4) — The Chiefs faced a little adversity on Sunday on the road, and when the going got tough made the plays needed to remain unbeaten. Of course, they were playing against the Amish Rifle, so yeah, maybe it wasn’t that impressive.
3.) Seattle Seahawks (4-1) (1) — If the Seahawks had pulled another comeback win on the road I would’ve been very shocked. As it were, they suffered their first loss and are no longer The Man.
2.) New Orleans Saints (5-0) (3) — The Saints have reached the point where there’s no chance I’m ever picking against them. Zero. They are in full-out Eff You Mode and I like it. Even though Sean Payton strikes me as that annoying frat guy who’s always gets hammered and runs his mouth about how rich his daddy is.
1.) Denver Broncos (5-0) (2) — We know how good Peyton Manning is, but the biggest question the remainder of the season will be can that defense get stops when needed. We’ll find out next week when Von MIller returns from suspension.
LOS ANGELES — There’s a lot to be learned after just three weeks of a football season, yet at the same time it’s still a little early to come to conclusions about teams and players’ fate. I’m sure we all don’t expect Peyton Manning to keep this up or the Giants to be this dreadful, though surely we’re all surprised by Trent Richardson’s trade and Josh Freeman’s benching. This we do know: there are several teams and players performing very poorly and a few teams who look really good. One or two will stay on this path and everyone else will go up and down as the season ebbs and flows towards Super Bowl XLVIII.
That’s just how the National. Football. League. works. And why we live and die with it each week and why we love it. I can’t wait to see what Week 4 will bring. Until then, let’s find out who’s The Man.
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) (32) — Of course, the game I bench Maurice Jones-Drew, since he’s playing against the vaunted Seattle defense, at home no less, he scores a late, garbage touchdown. Thank goodness that didn’t cost me a win, since my team is terrible. Then I really would’ve thrown something at my television. Even more so than watching the crappy “Dexter” finale.
31.) Minnesota Vikings (0-3) (30) — We’re about two more brutal losses to teams of the Browns quality (no offense, Cleveland) from me starting a Free Adrian campaign.
30.) Tampa Bay Bucanneers (0-3) (29) — How much would you pay to watch a webcam of the Bucs lockerroom? $2? $5? I think there’s some mess going on in there that I’m guessing is pretty damn interesting. Oh, and good luck, Mike Glennon, you’re gonna need it. And it’s time for a decent haircut, you’re a starting NFL quarterback now.
29.) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3) (28) — When my dad knows the Steelers are in trouble, they really are. Seriously, how are they going to score points outside of Emmanuel Sanders or Antonio Brown breaking free on a long bomb?
28.) Washington Redskins (0-3) (24) — Preseason Week 3 went about as well as it could go, right? And did you know this is the first time EVER the Giants and Redskins have both started the year 0-3?
27.) New York Giants (0-3) (20) — The Giants are only this high because they’ve shown in the past it doesn’t matter how they start, they always seem to make it interesting down the stretch. How many more losses before the New York media starts calling for Tom Coughlin’s job?
26.) Cleveland Browns (1-2) (31) — So apparently the formula is: trade your best player, start your 3rd string QB and start winning games. Which team will be the next to follow this to Ws?
25.) Oakland Raiders (1-2) (25) — I really hope Terrelle Pryor isn’t hurt long term because he could become a special player. Though it might be time to have the conversation about the end of Darren McFadden, or at him being in need of a change of scenery to inject some life into his career.
24.) Carolina Panthers (1-2) (27) — Thirty-eight points?! Where did that come from this week? And does it say more about the Panthers being capable of turning this season around (they’re on a bye this upcoming week) or how miserable this Giants season is going to be?
23.) Arizona Cardinals (1-2) (22) — Almost positive this Cardinals team is going to be the one this season where I have no idea what to write about it each week. Most weeks it’ll probably be a lot of me gushing about the Honey Badger.
22.) St. Louis Rams (1-2) (21) — The Rams are the Cardinals are very similar in the respect that both have quarterbacks who aren’t really good but can make plays every once in a while, have solid skill guys who are underused, and defenses who could be great but something or another holds them back. Doesn’t help they play in the hardest division in football.
21.) Buffalo Bills (1-2) (24) — Not sure why but I like this team. I like E.J. Manuel. I like Doug Marrone. And I like that Manuel likes throwing to Stevie Johnson (have I mentioned that before?) They went up against a tough Jets team (can’t believe I just typed those words) on the road and nearly won. They’re going to be OK here in a bit.
20.) New York Jets (2-1) (26) — A month ago, I really thought we’d be talking about the temperature of Rex Ryan’s hot seat, not a 2-1 team with a rookie quarterback playing decently and a defense near the top of the league. Just amazing. When you think you have the NFL figured out, you realize you have no idea.
19.) Detroit Lions (2-1) (18) — The Lions got their first-ever win in Washington last week and then in the most bizarre story we’ve had this season, Nate Burleson broke is arm in a car accident when he was distracted by falling pizza and then hit the median. Your move, Bengals.
18.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) (16) — We know the Eagles don’t play any defense, but we also know the Eagles are still figuring out their own offense. Since the first half of the win against the Redskins they’ve been punked by the Chargers and Chiefs. I still think they’re going to be OK though. Not enough to make the playoffs but enough to lay the foundation.
17.) San Diego Chargers (1-2) (15) — Tennessee has proven to be a tough, hard-fighting team, so there’s no shame in losing to them. It seems like the AFC West is going to be more than a Denver runaway and the Chargers aren’t going to be an easy beat this year.
16.) Baltimore Ravens (2-1) (17) — I don’t know how the Ravens are above .500 but somehow they are. Very good win last week. Emotional with the retiring of Ray Lewis’s number and they found a way. That’s going to be their M.O. this season: finding a way.
15.) Dallas Cowboys (2-1) (14) — See what happens when DeMarco Murray gets his carries? Now if only he could run against the Rams each week he’d be in Adrian Peterson territory. I happen to think Dallas will beat San Diego this week which will set the ‘Boys up nicely this season, but we’ll see. They’re bound for a stinker.
14.) Houston Texans (2-1) (7) — There’s something about the Texans I don’t like. I can’t put my finger on it. Matt Schaub has done some Matt Schaub-like things this year. Arian Foster seems a bit disgruntled. Andre Johnson is dinged. But J.J. Watt is still awesome, but how long can he carry this team?
13.) Tennessee Titans (2-1) (13) — I haven’t seen more than a few seconds of the Titans play but I know Warren Sapp loves their defense. And when a first ballot Hall of Famer tells you something, you listen. Jake Locker is also proving to be very dangerous with his feet, which is something you can’t ever prepare for.
12.) Indianapolis Colts (2-1) (19) — Andrew Luck bent his old coach over his leg and gave him a spanking last week. I don’t know how else to explain what happened against the 49ers. Trent Richardson’s first carry in the blue and white was a touchdown and Indy’s defense made Colin Kaepernick look like a novice back there. This could be a dangerous team.
11.) Atlanta Falcons (1-2) (10) — I’m not convinced the Falcons could be fine without Steven Jackson, but an unhealthy Roddy White is really limiting Matt Ryan’s vertical attack. His offensive line isn’t giving him much, either, but this still is an explosive offense and a playoff team.
10.) New England Patriots (3-0) (8) — It’s hard to be undefeated yet still drop each week in the rankings, but that’s just what the Patriots have done thus far. I can’t believe I’m about to type this, but Tom Brady hasn’t been good through three games, tantrums, dropped passes or not. He’s missed a lot of throws. But as long as the defense keeps bringing its A Game, the Pats will be OK.
9.) Green Bay Packers (1-2) (5) — Their running backs ran hard, aside from Jonathan Franklin’s late-game fumble, and the defense was opportunistic, Aaron Rodgers made a couple bad throws late in the game which cost Green Bay. This is still a dangerous team but the jury is out if it’s playoff bound.
8.) Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) (9) — Andy Dalton is a good, not great, quarterback. He’s taken this team to the playoffs the last two seasons. He has playmakers all around him and a good defense. The Bengals should win the AFC North going away and contend in the conference. They should.
7.) Miami Dolphins (3-0) (12) — Raise your hand if you saw an undefeated start from the Dolphins coming? Anyone? Didn’t think so. Their running backs aren’t great and you can’t name one of their receivers other than Mike Wallace. But they play hard, Mr. Lauren Tannehill is slingin’ it and Cameron Wake and Dion Jordan are pinching the ends like mofos. They’re gonna be in the hunt all season.
6.) San Francisco 49ers (1-2) (4) — I still think the 49ers are good. I still think Colin Kaepernick is a superstar in the making, but as someone said to me last weekend, he’s feeling himself a little too much. He’s buying into his own hype a little too much. Take him favoriting all the “hate” tweets this week. Why? How does that motivate you?
5.) Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) (11) — What an awesome scene in Philly last week. Really proud of the fans for showing Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb the respect they deserved. Too bad they couldn’t show the same gratitude when the two of them were leading the Eagles to NFC East titles and conference championship games. Chiefs are making the playoffs. Mark it down. That defense and zero turnovers, along with Jamaal Charles, they might even beat Denver.
4.) New Orleans Saints (3-0) (6) — Would you believe the Saints are 4th in Total Defense (295.7 ypg) and 6th in Offense (404.3 ypg)? Jimmy Graham is out of his mind right now and though it appears New Orleans has zero running game right now, at least it doesn’t have to worry about always being in a shootout with teams.
3.) Chicago Bears (3-0) (3) — Jay Cutler has the mojo working so far but before we all get carried away, myself included, let’s remember he’s gotten off to hot starts each of the last few seasons with the Bears with nothing to show for it. So while he looks great now, let’s not count the cubs before they’re done hibernating.
2.) Denver Broncos (3-0) (2) — Actual Yahoo headline on Tuesday: “Is it too early to give Peyton Manning the 2013 NFL MVP?” Manning’s stat line this season is ridiculous with 1,143 yards, 12 TDs and ZERO picks, not to mention his 73% completion rate, only 4.2% higher than his previous career high, but MVP? After 3 weeks? Slow the truck down, people.
1.) Seattle Seahawks (3-0) (1) — Yes, the Seahawks gave up 17 points to the Jaguars. Yes, that is unacceptable. Yes, they’ve won 10 in a row at home. No, they will not lose at home this season. Yes, they are The Man until there’s a something in the “L” column.