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NFL ‘You’re The Man’ Rankings — Week 6

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.

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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.

NFL ‘You’re The Man’ Rankings — Week 5

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LOS ANGELES — The quarter point of the NFL season is a great measuring stick to see what trends we thought when the year began are following through, what teams are on their way toward the postseason and who should start thinking about next year, and what players are dominating and destroying fantasy leagues. In terms of the latter, Maurice Jones-Drew and Stevan Ridley are KILLING ME, while with the former, the trend of this being a passing league has taken on new heights. Gone are the days of the grind-it-out, premier 1,500-plus-yard back (Adrian Peterson not withstanding), here are the times of every team basically being a backfield-by-committee, every quarterback throwing it 40-plus times per game and scoring through the roof (of course, not if you play in Jacksonville or Tampa Bay).

It’s a fun and exhilarating time to be a football fan, player and analyst. The game is evolving by the week. Players are bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, quicker, slicker. Lots of other -er words. As it stands now we have five, count ‘em five undefeated teams, two still winless and  10 teams at 2-2. Can’t wait for the second quarter of the season.

Let’s find out who’s The Man.

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32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (2013 record: 0-4) (last week: 32) What would you put the odds of the Jaguars going winless up against the Broncos going undefeated? Right now I’d say it’s 60-40 in favor of Jacksonville. Oh, and your weekly MJD fantasy update: he got me a whopping 2.87 points this week. Trust me, I wish I had a better option.

31.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) (30) How much longer before we start a Free Doug Martin campaign? Mike Glennon slinged it on the opening drive last week but after that he looked like a guy making his first NFL start. Only way to go but up.

30.) New York Giants (0-4) (27) Not sure how it got so bad for the G-Men but they have no running game, they can’t pressure the quarterback, and Eli Manning is getting killed back there. It can’t get much worse but does anyone see it getting better?

29.) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) (29) Ben Roethlisberger said the Steelers are the worst team in the league. It’s tough to argue with him though Le’Veon Bell really looked good in his first game action this season. The ankle looked good. He caught the ball and made moves. Ran hard. If the offensive line can hold strong, Ben could rally them back to .500.

28.) Oakland Raiders (1-3) (25) How in the blue hell did the Seahawks think Matt Flynn could be their starting quarterback and pay him $12M or whatever it was? Did you see him standing back there on Sunday, afraid to get hit, not knowing where the ball was supposed to go? Might as well had Darren McFadden run the WildCat all day. Oh wait, he got hurt again.

27.) St. Louis Rams (1-3) (22) I wonder if Steven Jackson is glad he’s out of St. Louis or not, given the state of the Falcons at the current moment. Both the NFC West and South are proving to be formidable divisions and SJax can’t stay healthy. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.

26.) Washington Redskins (1-3) (28) Preseason Week 4 went better than the first three, as a win finally found its way into the column. Robert looked better. The defense played better. Alfred Morris got banged up but Roy Helu didn’t miss a beat. Oh, right, they played the Raiders.

25.) Minnesota Vikings (1-3) (31) Whenever you have Adrian Peterson you’re in any game. Vikings fans have been waiting for Christian Ponder to do something to represent that he’s The Guy. I’m not saying Matt Cassel is that guy but he did sling it pretty well across the pond. Glad the Brits got to see a good game for once, too.

24.) Carolina Panthers (1-2) (24) I’ll be curious to see how the Panthers look this week coming off a win and a bye. They really put the bang thing on the Giants and a strong front four knocked Eli around something good. Cam Newton had his best week of the year.

23.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) (18) Well, this Eagles team certainly is exciting. I don’t know what the record is for points allowed in a season but Chip’s Crew might just give it up this year.

22.) Arizona Cardinals (2-2) (23) Beating a rookie quarterback on the road isn’t much to celebrate, let alone one in the eye of that Tampa Bay hurricane, but a win is a win is a win, and the Cardinals are at .500 which is impressive. Just thought they’d be getting a little more out of Carson Palmer than 250 ypg and a 70 QB rating.

21.) Buffalo Bills (2-2) (21) Nice breakout game for Bob Woods and a solid win at home against he defending champs. The Bills are going to be in every game but E.J. Manuel is going to be running for his life far too often unless the offensive line gets some cohesion.

20.) New York Jets (2-2) (20) This Geno Smith roller coaster is going to be more fun this season than any ride on Coney Island. Have a hot dog at Nathan’s, get some cotton candy and take a walk on the boardwalk. Then take the train to the Meadowlands. Just make sure you have on your seatbelt.

19.) Cleveland Browns (2-2) (26) Wanna turn around your season? Get your starting quarterback injured, play your 3rd string, trade your No. 1 draft pick, show your fan base you’re giving up on the year, then start balling out! The Browns are definitely winning this Thursday. Count on it.

18.) Baltimore Ravens (2-2) (16) Well, I mean, Eli Manning never threw five interceptions in a game like Joe Flacco did last week against Buffalo. Not yet at least. This Ravens team is going to have good times and bad this season. Get used to it.

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17.) Dallas Cowboys (2-2) (15) Man, I really thought the Cowboys were going to run away with the NFC East, and they still might, but I’d really like to see a team with a 21-10 lead in the 3rd quarter put one a way. Especially on the road. That would’ve been a good one. Dez Bryant sure had some nice catches in this game though. He’s really putting it all together.

16.) Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) (8) You can’t talk all offseason about how you’re an AFC contender and how you’re ready to win in the playoffs not just reach the playoffs, go on “Hard Knocks” and run your mouths, then go to Cleveland and only score 6 points. Six points?! That’s embarrassing. Come on, Andy Dalton, impress us! We want to believe in you!

15.) Atlanta Falcons (1-3) (11) As Bill Parcells always said, you are what your record is, and while the Falcons on paper still look like a playoff team, right now they are 1-3 in a division the Saints look like they’re running away with. And when you think about who else you think is going to make the playoffs, that means there’s only 3 spots for the Packers, Bears, Lions, Saints, Falcons. Every game is important. Oh, and thank you, Tony Gonzalez for ballin’ out this week and lifting my fantasy team to its first win.

14.) Houston Texans (2-2) (14) Lotta people talking smack this week about Matt Schaub and how every week he does something late in the game that makes you shake your head. Can he be a Super Bowl quarterback?

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13.) San Diego Chargers (2-2) (17) — Something’s gotten into Phil Rivers. Lemme throw some stats at ya: 2nd in completion % (73), touchdowns (11) and passer rating (118); 5th in yards-per-attempt, 7th in total yards. Is it Ken Whisenhunt? Is it no more Norv Turner? Beats me. But I sure like this new Phil Rivers.

12.) Tennessee Titans (3-1) (13) Who’s ready for a month of the Amish Rifle?! Get excited Titans fans! Man, just when Jake Locker seemed to be coming into his own back there, he gets cheapshoted and taken out. That defense is better than I thought, too.

11.) Chicago Bears (3-1) (3) Our biggest drop this week, and maybe it’s a market correction on the Bears, but Jay Cutler was back to doing Jay Cutler-like things is not good news in Chi-City. And maybe that big bad Bears defense is no more, because Matthew Stafford and Reggie Bush ran rampant over them. We’ll see how they respond with the Saints coming to Soldier Field this week. Huge game.

10.) Detroit Lions (3-1) (19) Conversely, our biggest jump of the week belongs to The D, who put a hurt on the Bears. Maybe the Lions are good? I dunno. Reggie Bush sure is making a difference. It’s gonna be that kind of year in the NFC North, I think. Lotta points, not a lotta defense and some slingin’ of the football. Should be fun.

9.) Green Bay Packers (1-2) (9) If the Packers want to win this division, and I’m guessing they do, they’re gonna need a healthy Eddie Lacy and James Starks running the football. Hard. Strong. Tough. We know Aaron Rodgers is gonna do his thing but they need that balance.

8.) Indianapolis Colts (3-1) (12) OK, we all know not much can be learned after a thumping of the Jaguars but I’m liking this team more and more each time I think about them.

7.) Miami Dolphins (3-1) (7) The Dolphins aren’t ready for primetime, that was evident Monday night against the Saints, but they do some nice things. I like how they ran the football, and Mr. Lauren Tannehill stands tall back there and showed his mobility (the key fumble not withstanding). Defensively, still a few things to sure up, especially with Patriots, Bengals and Chargers coming up.

6.) New England Patriots (4-0) (10) Now that was a pretty impressive win Sunday night by Tom and the Bunch. What I love about the Patriots is that they do whatever it takes. If it’s running the ball, great. Passing and a hurry-up offense, super. Stick their finger in the dirt and play smashmouth, we can do that. Whatever it takes. Losing Vince Wilfork for the season definitely hurts, but is there a better defensive back in the league right now than Aqib Talib? Dude wants to get paid.

5.) San Francisco 49ers (2-2) (6) Very solid, back-on-track win Thursday night, and while it was against the struggling Rams, it was nice to see the 49ers get back to doing what they do so well: run the football and play defense. That’s the recipe for returning to the Super Bowl. And establishing that will open up Colin Kaepernick to do this thing.

4.) Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) (5) Alex Smith finally turned the ball over, but yet the Chiefs defense reeked enough havoc on the Giants to cruise to a comfortable win. There’s a lot to like about this Kansas City team and it starts with Smith, Andy Reid, Jamaal Charles and ends with that defense. Can’t wait for them to play Denver in Week 11.

3.) New Orleans Saints (4-0) (4) I’m officially impressed with the football being played in New Orleans at the moment. Offensively, they are clicking. Defensively, they are swarming. Sean Payton is doing kettle bell workouts and kissing Drew Brees. And thank you, Marques Colston, for being that wonderful ball catcher you are in the second half and getting the 8.67 points I needed to win this week.

2.) Denver Broncos (4-0) (2) You know what Ying Yang Twins (or whomever) song “Shots!”? Well they should write a remix for the Broncos called “Points!” since that’s all Denver seems to be doing this year: scoring points. Averaging over 44 points per game, more than Jacksonville and Tampa Bay have scored TOTAL all year.

1.) Seattle Seahawks (4-0) (1) It wasn’t looking good for 3 quarters down in Houston, but wouldn’t you know Russell Wilson and that defense found a way to win. Beast Mode, a pick 6 by the Legion Of Boom and voila, we have a ball game. Then we have overtime and whaddyaknow, Seattle escapes undefeated. Always compete.

NFL You’re The Man Rankings — Week 4

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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.

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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.

NFL You’re The Man Rankings — Week 3

LOS ANGELES — Passionate fan bases are part of what makes sports so amazing and unique and special, but it’s not just that we are fans of our favorite teams, rather it’s how we go about cheering them on to victory that makes it so awesome. Sunday, I watched the first half of the Seahawks/49ers game at a Seattle bar and in it where about 150-200 of the most insane people I’ve ever met. Every single one of them was decked out in some kind of Seahawks’ paraphernalia, including some pretty awesome old jerseys: Steve Largent, Jon Kitna, Joey Galloway and then today’s stars, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Sidney Rice. One of the dudes, who was in the group I was in – my friend Stacye invited me out after I told her I had to watch a game with her given how rabid she is about Pete Carroll’s crew – even had a 12th Man jersey with “U Mad Bro” on the back. Oh, and it was sleeveless.

The other thing that struck me about everyone in the bar was their decibel level. Ironic that the Q set the record for outdoor noise the same night, because it felt about 136db around me every time Wilson was shown on TV. Seriously, these people went ape nuts every time anything happened. Seattle’s tight end DROPPED a touchdown and everyone lost their mind. It was pretty awesome to be there, too bad I missed most of the scoring plays, surely I would’ve lost my hearing by then. Even on Twitter everyone is crazy about them. I posted a couple nuggets and got immediate response. Love it.

The Hawks’ beatdown of San Francisco this week was definitely as impressive as their fans’ loyalty and devotion, but was it enough to make them The Man this week?

Let’s find out.

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32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) (32) I wonder what Teddy Bridgewater thinks of the Jaguars helmets? Because if he doesn’t like them, you can be he’s going to pull a John Elway/Eli Manning and refuse to play for them when he’s drafted No. 1 overall less than 8 months from now. And I know no one cares about anyone else’s fantasy team, but you guys are my people, so I assume you care about mine. Well guess who got hurt Sunday for the Jags? You guessed it: EFFIN’ MAURICE JONES-DREW. I’m never taking him again. Ever. Ever.

31.) Cleveland Browns (0-2) (31) I’ve seen “Old School” at least 150 times, no joke, and one of my favorite lines (among a hundred) is when Blue dies, and ,  his funeral Vince Vaughn says to Luke Wilson, “dammit, Blue was old, that’s what old people do, they die.” I feel like this is what we have to say about Brandon Weeden. Except he’s only 29. It’s just funny.

30.) Minnesota Vikings (0-2) (25) Early Sunday a report was circulating that Bucs head coach Greg Schiano and quarterback Josh Freeman at odds and that Freeman might be traded on Tampa’s bye week. Immediately, I started seeing rumors of him going to the Vikings. I know Minnesota would do that faster than Adrian Peterson can sprint 78 yards for at touchdown, but who does Tampa want in return? Sure as hell not Christian Ponder.

29.) Tampa Bay Bucanneers (0-2) (30) So yeah, who’s going to be quarterbacking this team a month from now? I think Vince Young and Matt Leinart are available. Also, for the second week in a row, the game was handed to them to win and they flubbed it up and got the L. That really tells you all you really need to know.

28.) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) (28) It could be a long year in the Steel City. Ten points last night against the Bengals, nine the week before against the Titans. No running game. Lost their center for the year, another starter on defense.

27.) Carolina Panthers (0-2) (27) Something’s not right with Cam Newton. Clearly, I don’t know what it is, but watching Sunday’s game, he was downright Weedenonian in the first half. Overthrowing guys by 15 yards, balls into the turf, bad sacks. He got better in the second half, but this is beginning his third year, he should be further along than this. He should be beating the Bills.

26.) New York Jets (1-1) (26) I’ll give the Jets this: they sure played hard on Thursday and really should’ve beaten the Patriots. Geno Smith showed his rookie colors in the New England downpour and let one too many ball sail on him, but that Jets defense stymied Tom Brady the entire game, save for the opening drive. It’ll be interesting how this plays out, but Rex coached ‘em up and if they can get any offense, they got a punchers chance.

25.) Oakland Raiders (1-1) (29) For years it was so typical of the Raiders to have the most money on their team tied up in their kickers. Now it’s their fullback who’s cashing big checks. Well, Marcel Reese scored a touchdown Sunday to “justify” the pay day. And good for him. Fullbacks are people, too. And I know they played Jacksonville, but the Silver & Black’s defense didn’t look half bad.

24.) Washington Redskins (0-2) (15) Umm… so this was Preseason Week 2, right?

23.) Buffalo Bills (1-1) (24) Impressive win on Sunday, even though it was against the Panthers, but EJ Manuel didn’t play great – he left a lot out there despite Carolina giving him multiple chances – but he led an impressive sub-2-minute drive (got some help on a phantom PI call on Luke Kuechly) and tossed a game-winning TD pass. Once he figures out what he’s doing in this league, he’s going to be a good one. And if there’s any silver lining for my fantasy team this season (yes, I’m already thinking about next year) it’s that he LOVES throwing to Stevie Johnson. It’s only just two games in, but it appears Doug Marrone made the right move going all-in on EJ.

22.) Arizona Cardinals (1-1) (22) Even with a hobbling Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona still managed to find a way to pull out a come-from-behind win against what looks like a pretty decent Lions team. Tryann Mathieu yet again made a big defensive play and Carson Palmer did just enough not to lose it. Not sure what to make of their running game but the Cardinals can compete with anyone.

21.) St. Louis Rams (1-1) (21) So THAT’s how Jeff Fisher wants to use Tavon Austin. Got it. That kid might have a future in this league. I like how the Rams showed some fortitude in coming back when it appeared they were gonna get blown out by the Falcons. They play in the toughest division in football and last year went 4-1-1 in that division. There’s no reason to think they couldn’t do that again.

20.) New York Giants (0-2) (13) David Wilson gets benched for two fumbles and Eli Manning keeps his job despite 7 interceptions. Now, I understand how the quarterback position works. There’s a lot that goes into some of those picks; deflections, bad routes, and so on. But this is not a good start for the Blue Men Group. Again. Tom Coughlin on the hot seat in 3…2…1…

19.) Indianapolis Colts (1-1) (16)  Andrew Luck’s magic couldn’t extend for a second week in a row, but T.Y. Hilton showed why many raved about him in the preseason, hauling in 6 passes for 124 yards. This is a tricky team to get. The Colts won a lot of games last year in the closing minutes. Has their good fortune run out?

18.) Detroit Lions (1-1) (19) Every time I watch Matthew Stafford throw the ball I’m reminded of how I must’ve looked growing up playing pick-up football in the field behind our house in the Coast Guard housing complex. Just slinging it from all angles. And is anyone else concerned that Reggie Bush is already ailing in a few different places?

17.) Baltimore Ravens (1-1) (14) — Still getting the champions discount, this Ravens team is a funny one. Struggled to beat the Browns on the day they raised the banner, no great offensive go-to guy outside of Ray Rice, who’s banged up. A defense without an identity. Good thing John Harbaugh is a helluva coach.

16.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) (10) Michael Vick had another outstanding offensive game (guy in my fantasy league has him AND Peyton Manning, as if that’s fair). As did DeSean Jackson. But that defense gave up a boatload of points, that’s what would concern me moving forward. Really excited for Thursday’s game against the Chiefs, ya know, that team coached by Andy Reid.

15.) San Diego Chargers (1-1) (23) — The Chargers are one of those teams who should be undefeated, but alas, they’ve looked much better than most expected to start. Philip Rivers seems to have fixed what’s been ailing him the last two seasons. Still without a run game, he’s really doing it all on his own. To beat an Eagles team on the road in the early east coast game was damn impressive.

14.) Dallas Cowboys (1-1) (7) Dallas has never lost a game when DeMarco Murray rushes 20-or-more times, but yet he only had 12 carries in Week 2 after 21 in Week 1; a win. We’ll see if he gets the rock this Sunday. Nice of Dez Bryant have himself a game, and you can see how he can affect a game when he’s ballin’. Also another good game from that Cowboys defense.

13.) Tennessee Titans (1-1) (20) It’s crazy to think about a team like Tennessee, which everyone was writing off heading into the season, is a play away from being 2-0. Chris Johnson has 50 carries through the first two games and appears to be his old self. Jake Locker isn’t playing competently, and this defense appears tough, despite giving up the lead to Houston.

12.) Miami Dolphins (2-0) (18) Maybe I should’ve kept Mike Wallace in fantasy after all, as dude blew up to help the Dolphins to a surprise start and take out the Colts on the road. Now they head home and host the Falcons with a chance to lead the AFC East for the first time since they won the division back in 2008. Warren Sapp said Lauren Tannehill’s husband was going to break Dan Marino’s team passing record and he’s on his way.

11.) Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) (17) We kinda figured the Jaguars weren’t that good, so it was tough to judge just what we had with the Chiefs after Week 1, but after a Week 2 home win against Dallas, I’m a Chiefs believer. Alex Smith has been solid, the defense is flying around, and Jamaal Charles is running hard. I’m happy for Andy Reid and all the rib places in K.C.

10.) Atlanta Falcons (1-1) (6) Matt Ryan is ballin’ out of control right now, but the big question is can his line keep the $100M man upright, especially now that Steven Jackson is out a couple weeks with a soft tissue injury. Roddy White’s health is a concern but if he can get healthy and Tony Gonzalez keeps playing his way into shape, there’s no stopping this offense.

9.) Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) (4) I still need to see more out of Andy Dalton. He missed some easy throws Monday night against Pittsburgh but that defense was strong and Gio Bernard looked like a mini-Ray Rice out there. That Bengals defense is stingy, too. Pacman is playing some solid corner. Oh, and I know they won and dropped a few places, but that an adjustment since I had them over-rated a bit last week.

8.) New England Patriots (2-0) (5) You know what, if I was Tom Brady, and believe me, I’ve thought about what that would be like, I’d be yelling too at everyone on the sideline, in the stands, on Twitter, if my receivers dropped balls like his did. Julian Edelman is the Patriots No. 1 option. Think about that for a second. Go ahead. I’ll wait … if you’re a Patriots fan, I’d be worried. Unbeaten or not.

7.) Houston Texans (2-0) (11) What was the stat I saw, the Texans are the first team in NFL history to win their first two games of a season on the last play of the game. Think about that, and the handful of teams who could have their records reversed if one or two things went differently. Matt Schaub looks good so far and DeAndre Hopkins looks like the real deal after this game-winning TD grab (possibly the lone bright spot on my fantasy squad?). And not sure if you saw J.J. Watt on “The League” the last two weeks, but pretty hilarious stuff. As always.

6.) New Orleans Saints (2-0) (12) — The Saints had the worst defense in the NFL last season and so that led Marshall Faulk to make a bold prediction that they would be Top 5 by the end of the year. Currently, after two games, they are 11th. Subsequently, they are undefeated. These two items are not unrelated.

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5.) Green Bay Packers (1-1) (8) You think Aaron Rodgers was sick of hearing about all these young quarterbacks taking over the league? Especially when one of them was coming to his house? How’s almost 400 yards in the first half taste? Granted, me, Rich and Law and a few of the other NFL Media folks could probably score 30 on the Redskins, but damn, Aaron Rodgers can sling it. Now, the Pack just needs to play some defense and this is once again a legit Super Bowl contender.

4.) San Francisco 49ers (1-1) (1) It’s safe to say none of us saw that Sunday night stinkfest coming out of the 49ers. That was a beatdown to the Nth degree. Anquan Boldin was held to one catch after turning the clock way back in Game 1 and Colin Kaepernick looked nothing like the superstar he showed himself to be against the Packers. It’s also worth nothing that no one wins in Seattle, so I wouldn’t be too worried.

3.) Chicago Bears (2-0) (9) Could this really be the new Jay Cutler? Not getting sacked, throwing game-winning TD passes and generally acting like the opposite of the football player we know him to be. We’ve seen this act before out of the Bears; fast start, looking like a playoff team, then Cutler gets hurt and Bears fall apart. I wanna see some consistency. A win against Pittsburgh would be a nice proving ground.

2.) Denver Broncos (2-0) (2) Wait. Peyton Manning just threw another touchdown pass. He’s pretty good.

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1.) Seattle Seahawks (2-0) (3) If Seattle gets homefield in the NFC, it’s going to the Super Bowl. There’s no bones about it. The Seahawks can’t lose there. When it’s that loud and Beast Mode is running like he’s on a Skittles high and First Name Russell, Last Name Wilson is throwing darts and the Legion of Boom is lowering the hammer. Shoot. No wonder Pete Carroll is always smiling.

2013 NFL You’re The Man Burning Questions — Week 2

LOS ANGELES — Wow. What a Week 1 in the National. Football. League. Hey, what do you think Ryan Seacrest? Cool. Seriously, though, it had stunning plays, fantastic finishes and rousing introductions to the league, it’s hard to believe we went seven months without football. Seriously, it’s almost as if the epic Super Bowl 46 and Ray Lewis’s final cry were an eternity ago, and combine that with what seemed like an offseason cloud that would never lift. But lift it has, and the 2013 NFL season couldn’t be off to a more amazing start.

When I last left you here at the “You’re The Man” rankings back in February, I asked questions each team should be thinking about heading into the offseason, along with their final rankings. Now, as we head into Week 2, I’m going to give you their rank along with how they answered my question plus one more to think about as we embark on 22 weeks of pure football bliss.

As always, these are scientifically proven and 100% accurate. Now let’s find out who’s The Man.

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32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (2013 record: 0-1) (2012 final YTM ranking: 32) Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t get paid and Shad Khan didn’t bring in Tim Tebow, which means you can bet MoJo will be doing the Eisen Podcast End Zone Dance for another team next year while Blaine Gabbert continues to throw interceptions for the worst dressed team in the NFL. Seriously, how bad are those helmets? Burning Question: How do they get worse? Honestly, what do they do for an encore, sign that 9-year old girl from the YouTube videos last year to return kicks? Wait, that might actually work.

31.) Cleveland Browns (0-1) (26) Brandon Weeden has some great AARP insurance because it guaranteed him the starting job this season, and would you believe the help he and Trent Richardson were seeking actually came? Maybe it’s because I watched two Browns preseason games and they looked above average, or maybe I got drunk listening to Bernie Kosar during the broadcasts. Burning Question: Every year there’s a team that surprises, could the Browns be this team?

30.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) (16) If you want to stop explosive passing offenses you go out and trade for a guy like Darrelle Revis. Or you just go get the man himself. Now, whether or not he’s 100% healthy is another question, but in the NFC South, the Bucs are the only team who improved defensively. That’s a start. Burning Question: Josh Freeman was all over the map in Week 1; if Tampa Bay wants to be a player, he needs to be consistent and consistently great. Jury’s out.

29.) Oakland Raiders (0-1) (30) Well, it’s always nice to start the column off with a correct prediction, like I did in accurately guessing Carson Palmer would be let go in favor of Terrelle Pryor. What I didn’t anticipate is Matt Flynn crapping down his pants in the process after being given the keys to the… wait, what kind of car would the Raiders be? I’m thinking the burnt out minivan Thomas Kubb has to drive at the end of “Project X” (awesome movie). But hey, at least he had wheels. Burning Question: At what point this season will Darren McFadden just say “eff it” and stop showing up for work? Week 6? 10? 2?

28.) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) (15) The Steelers thought they found some running help, then Le’veon Bell got hurt and is out six weeks. Now, their most important offensive player not named Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season, after Maurkice Pouncey’s knee injury in Week 1 vs. Tennessee. Burning Question: A team without an identity heading into the season, Pittsburgh’s back is against the wall immediately. What team will emerge from the smoke as the season rolls on?

27.) Carolina Panthers (0-1) (17) So the Panthers went out and kept their roster basically the same as 2012 and what happened, Cam Newton had his lowest total yardage output of his career in Week 1. I don’t think this is a coincidence. Burning Question: This is something to monitor as the beginning of the season moves on, because Steve Smith isn’t getting any younger and faster.

26.) New York Jets (1-0) (27) Turns out Mark Sanchez got irrevocably broken sooner than I anticipated. But for the second year in a row, the Jets did Sanchez dirty (see what I did there) by bringing in another quarterback while at the same time pledging he was the man. He’s never been the man. Ask me point blank and I can’t tell you why I feel bad for Sanchez, I just do. He didn’t deserve all this. He could’ve been a fine NFL backup for a dozen years. Sadly, I think he’s out of the league in two. Burning Question: How exactly will Rex Ryan go down? Will it be guns blazin’ “Desperado” style? Will it be quietly in his sleep? Will there be a bloody horse head? Will he choke on a Krispy Kreme? I just hope it’s broadcast live on NFL Network.

25.) Minnesota Vikings (0-1) (12) It’s almost as if the Vikings read my column back in February, because they went out and signed Greg Jennings and drafted Cordarrelle Patterson to be pass catchers for Christian Ponder. But in Week 1 they were hardly effective. And after a 78-yard jaunt on his first play, Adrian Peterson was held to 17 yards on 15 carries. Get used to this, Vikings fans. Burning Question: It’s still all about Ponder for the Vikings. If he can develop and make teams respect the pass attack, this will be continue to be a playoff team.

24.) Buffalo Bills (0-1) (23) The Bills were 7 seconds away from beating the Patriots, and the Dolphins took care of Cleveland in Week 1, which means Bills fans have something to be encouraged by. However, CJ Spiller was held in check and failed to show anything really of what made people think last season he could be a superstar in this league. EJ Manuel, however, now there’s something Bills fans should be encouraged by. Burning Question: Will Manuel be the guy this season and make Buffalo forget about Fitz, Trend Edwards, Rob Johnson, and all the other jamokes it trotted out behind center since No. 12 hung ‘em up?

23.) San Diego Chargers (0-1) (22) Do you think Norv Turner watched the Monday night game? Let’s say that he did. What do you think his range of emotions were? Kinda like Deb on “Dexter” I’m guessing. In the end, Norv got the last laugh after the Chargers choked away what would’ve been a pretty big statement win to start the year. Now who do you blame? Philip Rivers? Burning Question: Will Manti Te’o get himself a real-life girlfriend this year? I hope that’s reported on to no end like we all did his fake one.

22.) Arizona Cardinals (0-1) (28) Bruce Arians decided on his quarterback and the name he pulled out of his Kangol hat was Carson Palmer. I’ll let you make your own joke. I actually think the Blonde Bomber could have a big season and no, he didn’t pay me to say that. Burning Question: Will we see the Larry Fitzgerald of old this year or did the year’s of gawd-awful quarterbacking suck the superstar blood from his veins?

21.) St. Louis Rams (1-0) (21) Tavon Austin might not be a huge, household name as we head into Week 2, but it was a splash, and a potentially explosive one for Sam Bradford and that Rams offense. Austin wasn’t showcased at all in the preseason and exactly how he’ll be used is something everyone is watching for. Burning Question: Is Sam Bradford going to finally show he was worth of that #1 pick back in 2010?

20.) Tennessee Titans (1-0) (25)The Titans kept Chris Johnson and his 1,200 yards around this year and people are predicting a comeback season for CJ. Looking at his stats, he’s never had a sub-1,000 yard season, which is pretty amazing. You wonder how much he has left in that tank. Burning Question: What will the Titans get out of Jake Locker this season and can he be a franchise quarterback?

19.) Detroit Lions (1-0) (24) I don’t think anyone on the Lions got arrested this offseason (though league-wide odds would say otherwise) so that’s a good start, but this team is still full of knuckleheads and it begins with the head coach. Burning Question: Matthew Stafford got a boatload of cash this offseason for his 17 career wins; does he improve from the chubby gunslinger to elite status to carry his team?

18.) Miami Dolphins (1-0) (20) The Dolphins went and out signed Steelers big-play receiver Mike Wallace to catch the ball from Lauren Tannehill’s husband but that didn’t stop No. 11 from saying the media should “ask the coach” after the game as to why he wasn’t more involved in the offense. Uh oh. Burning Question: Do they have enough defense to stop the Patriots and win the AFC East?

17.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) (31) Here’s the funny thing, even I’ve talked myself into being a Chiefs fan. I’m almost ready to pick them to win the AFC West. Unlike most, I don’t think Denver can repeat 2012 and San Diego/Oakland are completely inept. Burning Question: How much weight will Andy Reid put on this season? OK, a serious question: will Jamaal Charles carry the ball on consecutive plays?

16.) Indianapolis Colts (1-0) (9) The Colts picked up right up where 2012 left off, meaning Andrew Luck had to lead them from behind to victory, against the hapless Raiders, no less. Indy didn’t get any better on defense so look for Luck to have a lot of games like Week 1. Burning Question: Peyton Manning made a huge leap in his second year in the league; can Luck do the same and a repeat playoff berth as well?

15.) Washington Redskins (0-1) (10) In the first half against the Eagles, it looked as if My Good Friend Robert hadn’t run or played football in quite some time; which he hadn’t. He either a) shouldn’t have been out there or b) should’ve played some in the preseason. His health is paramount. Burning Question: Will Robert stay quiet this season (the opposite of his M.O. this offseason) and let his superb play do the talking?

14.) Baltimore Ravens (0-1) (1) It isn’t exactly clear who replaced Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Dannell Ellerbe, or even Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin, but they still have the hardware and every team this year is going to give the Ravens their best. That is a fact. Burning Question: When the Ravens get behind in games, much like they did in Week 1, who is going to be their go-to guy to bring them back? Bueller?

13.) New York Giants (0-1) (14) As it turns out, consistency is not for sale at any price, though Tom Coughlin probably wishes there was a price tag attached so he would at least know what it might cost him. You saw the famed Giants roller coaster on full display Sunday night in Week 1 vs. the Cowboys. Six, count ‘em, six turnovers but yet there they were, a final drive touchdown away from victory. Get used to it. Burning Question: In the wake of Andre Brown’s injury and David Wilson pissing down his leg for the second straight season opener, what will New York do at running back to compliment Eli Manning? ‘Cause they have to do SOMEthing.

12.) New Orleans Saints (1-0) (19) The Saints were DFL in the NFL in defense last season and hired Rob Ryan to make them less sucky. So far, so good, holding the explosive Falcons to 17 points in a huge Week 1 win. Hey, when you hit rock bottom, there’s only two ways to go: straight up or sideways. Burning Question: Will New Orleans consistently be able to stop teams so that Drew Brees doesn’t have to score 40 a game to win?

11.) Houston Texans (8) (1-0) There’s no boost to the secondary like adding the words “Ed” and “Reed,” however you’d like to get the Ed Reed that was making Pro Bowls and winning Super Bowls, not the one who looks better in a tux at the Oscars Red Carpet with me. Unfortunately, that’s who the Texans have at the moment. Who knows when Ed is going to play again, because he sure doesn’t. Burning Question: Could this be the beginning of the end for Arian Foster? Simmons threw out Larry Johnson’s name in his Cousin Sal podcast and it doesn’t seem that far off given how Monday night played out.

10.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) (29) Not only did Chip Kelly stick with Michael Vick, but after watching what a disaster Geno Smith has turned into with the Jets, I’m sure Mr. Hurry-Up is doubly glad he didn’t trade his whole draft away to get him. This new college-style offense seems tailor made for Vick, who is flying under the radar as someone who could have a potential monster season (OK, I’m talking myself into him after drafting him in my 5th fantasy league). 2013 Burning Question: When will the first column be written saying “I told you so” about Chip’s offense never being able to work in the NFL?

9.) Chicago Bears (1-0) (13) It seems as if the Bears are going to replace Brian Urlacher with an even better version of 2012′s Peanut Tillman. It took him all of 15 minutes to have two forced turnovers. Though rookie MLB Jon Bostic looks as if he could be the real deal. Burning Question: As always, the onus is on Jay Cutler to lead this team and be the new face of the franchise. Whether he can do it is a whole other red hot question.

8.) Green Bay Packers (0-1) (7) Green Bay didn’t get younger or faster on defense and guess what happened? Colin Kaepernick torched them again. Oops. Packers/49ers is turning into one awesome rivalry. Burning Question: Will Aaron Rodgers score enough points this season to render the inept Green Bay defense unnecessary?

7.) Dallas Cowboys (1-0) (18) Dallas brought in Monte Kiffin to call the defense and Bill Callahan to call the offense, leaving head coach Jason Garrett to supervise and ya know, be the head coach. While try as they might to lose it, a Week 1 win against the rival Giants is a good start. Still, gotta be weary of Tony Romo’s bruised ribs. Burning Question: Will Dez Bryant be the all-world guy we saw the last 8 weeks of last season or the dog of the first 9?

6.) Atlanta Falcons (0-1) (3) You want to know how the Falcons improved on defense? They let John Abraham and Brent Grimes walk, and signed Osi Umenyiora. That’s it. Not sure how they stop the 49ers and Seahawks with that, let alone the Saints, Cowboys or Packers. Burning Question: Can Matt Ryan complete 4th and Goal to advance to the Super Bowl? Because Arthur Blank sure has hell didn’t pay him serious Home Depot money not to.

5.) New England Patriots (1-0) (4) The Patriots did sign a receiver this offseason. That is a fact. They did not sign a big-play corner guy (Aqib Talib re-signed) nor did they bring in a big-time rush end. Now, if you had Game 2 as the first Danny Amendola would miss, raise your hand. I see too many hands up. Maybe my roommate was right. Who knows what the Pats are gonna do this season. Burning Question: Who will emerge as the darkhorse offensive go-to guy, since it has to be someone?

4.) Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) (11) If “Hard Knocks” star Jay Gruden uses his Week 1 gameplan for A.J. Green in the playoffs this time around, I’m guessing the Bengals will have a different result. Dude is a beast and could be better than Calvin Johnson this season. It’s just up to Gruden and Andy Dalton to get him the ball. Burning Question: How will the Bengals handle the title role of expected greatness?

3.) Seattle Seahawks (1-0) (5) Despite the suspensions and notoriety the Seahawks got this offseason, I still stand by them being the most complete team in the NFL, though they’re not my pick to win the Super Bowl. I also can’t recall if they bolstered their offensive or defensive lines. Go Hawks! Burning Question: What will Percy Harvin look like when he returns to the team for the final month? Will he make an impact or will it not matter at that point?

2.) Denver Broncos (1-0) (6) Wait. Peyton Manning just threw another touchdown pass. OK, back to the column… In other news, was I really that stupid to predict a Favre-in-2010-esque season for Manning this year? Jesus. No wonder I’ve never won the ROFFL championship. Burning Question: Will Rahim Moore be able to knock down a 2nd-and-72 Hail Mary?

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1.) San Francisco 49ers (1-0) (2) Oh, you want Colin Kaepernick to stand in the pocket and beat you? No problem. You didn’t think they had a deep threat with Michael Crabtree out? How’s Anquan Boldin doing these days? Forgot how awesome that defense was? How’s Aaron Rodgers feeling this week? Burning Question: As the tape grows on Kaepernick, will someone figure out a way to stop this kid, or will he continue to wreck the whole league?

Finally, we made our picks on the Rich Eisen Podcast last week and here’s who I said would take home individual crowns:

Passing Champion: Matthew Stafford, Lions
Rushing Champion: Doug Martin, Buccaneers
Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick, Patriots
MVP: Tom Brady, Patriots
Super Bowl: Patriots vs. Falcons

The Price is Wrong

LOS ANGELES — One theme of this NFL offseason (aside from dudes getting arrested – though that seems to be a yearly tradition) is quarterbacks taking their teams to the woodshed for contract extensions. You can blame Joe Flacco for this. In fact, I’m going to start blaming Mr. Delaware Blue Hen for most of the league’s problems – blackouts, high-concession prices, Jon Gruden. (Maybe I’ll stretch this blame game into my personal life, too, but that’s another column.)

When Flacco decided to play out the the 2012 season without signing an extension it reminded me of Rod Tidwell in “Jerry Maguire” playing out his crappy contract at the behest of his wife, Marcy. She convinced Rod it his only move and the loudmouthed receiver hence told Jerry, “you bet on me like I bet on you.” Flacco bet on himself and cashed the biggest poker chip the table allows. He won the whole damn thing, which forced Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to open up his wallet and Cut The Check (Rasheed voice). Nine figures later the Ravens locked up their Super Bowl MVP quarterback (though probably at the expense of their other free agents).

That was the first domino which has since seen Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers sign monster nine-figure extensions of their own; Matt Ryan should get his soon. Rodgers is himself a Super Bowl MVP, and everyone in the free NFL world can see why he’s max player, but Romo? There’s not enough words to explain why his $100 million man is a bad move, but I’ll let Cowboys fans justify it to themselves all they want. “Look at the stats!” they all say. Sure, Romo might win you a few fantasy games, but he only has one playoff win in his career. That’s it. One.

If one playoff win gets you Scrooge McDuck money, complete with a vault and diving board, then zero playoff wins and a lifetime winning percentage of .378 gets you $76.5 million, which is like a Scrooge hot tub. That’s what Lions doughboy quarterback Matthew Stafford signed for on Wednesday, inking a three-year, $53-million extension with $41.5 million in guaranteed cashola. Add that to the $41.7 million he received when he was the top overall pick in 2009 (the penultimate year of the crazy money given to untested and unproven first round picks) and that puts $83.2 million in his bank.

And do you know how many games he’ won for the Lions in his four-year stint as their starting quarterback? Here’s a hint: Justin Bieber has more speeding tickets and Amanda Bynes has had more nose jobs. OK, now I’m just being silly.

I’ll tell you how many wins: Seventeen.

Seventeen whopping wins in four seasons. Sure, he led them to a playoff appearance in 2011 and even threw for 41 touchdowns that year, but they got shellacked by the Saints. At the risk of sounding like Darren Rovell, that’s $4.89 million per win and $1.04 million per touchdown pass (80 career TDs). Awesome. Now can you please shave, get a hair cut, and stop wearing baseball caps and shopping at Ross.

With the extension, Stafford becomes the 7th highest paid quarterback in the NFL, cashing a check for a little over 15 million per season. Here’s who he trails on that list:

  1. Joe Flacco                   20,100,000
  2. Drew Brees                  20,000,000
  3. Peyton Manning           19,200,000
  4. Aaron Rodgers             18,678,571
  5. Tony Romo                  17,071,429
  6. Eli manning                 15,280,000

Here’s a fun game; look at that list: would you take Stafford over any of those quarterbacks? Maybe Romo but definitely not any of the others. Now run through the league and look at each team’s starting quarterback; where does Stafford rank for you? Depending on your personal preference, you could have last season’s standouts Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III ahead of the Georgia bulldog. (It should never be a question if Andrew Luck is ahead; he is.)

By my accounts, I’d rather have 14 other quarterbacks than Stafford (which is different than calling him the 15th best QB in the league). Sure, he has a big arm, but how many times does he throw off his back foot Jay Cutler style? Far too many for my liking. Yeah, he throws for a lot of yards, but Calvin Johnson can salvage a lot of poor throws. Is he ahead of Cutler? Philip Rivers? Romo? Sam Bradford? Eh. They’re all the same player. None will ultimately win because they can’t be counted on with the game on the line. Games are won in the 4th quarter and these guys don’t deliver. If you’re starting a franchise today, perhaps you’d change your tune because Stafford is only 25. Again, another debate.

Notice someone you didn’t see on that list above: Tom Brady. And all he’s done is lead the Patriots to 5 Super Bowls in 11 full years starting for New England (he played 1 game in 2000 and 2008). And while both Mannings and Brees are among the highest paid quarterbacks in the league, those teams chose to reward them handsomely at the expense of letting other pieces to their championship teams go. Brady routinely takes less money so that the Patriots can build around him to continue their winning tradition (136 career wins).

Because in the end, you play to win the game, but unfortunately a lot of these signal callers play to get paid.

Mission Accomplished.

Game of Thrones: NFL Style

LOS ANGELES — With apologies to Don Draper and Walter White, an argument could be made the two most popular television programs in the country right now are anything involving the National Football League and “Game of Thrones.” So, logically, we here at The Chris Brockman Website decided to combine the two, matching our favorite backstabbers, schemers, and philanderers of Westeros with their respective NFL counterparts. You don’t need to be a loyal book reader of the George R.R. Martin series to appreciate these footballers are who we say they are. (some spoilers ahead)

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TYWIN LANNISTER — Bill Belichick, Patriots: Leader of a dynasty and the self-proclaimed “smartest guy in the room,” the similarities between Belichick and the eldest Lannister are endless. Watching Tywin talk down to his Small Council, you can almost hear his Belichikian tone. All that’s missing is cutoff armor and hooded chainmail. There’s no question these two weathered veterans are winners, leaders, and probably not as smart as they or everyone thinks they are. But any time they’re on camera, you can’t look away.

TYRION LANNISTER — Steve Smith, Panthers: Both the undersized Carolina receiver and the Imp have been counted out their whole adult lives because of their physical stature, and while Tyrion has used his brain to get ahead, Smith has used his giant heart and fierce determination. The pair are extremely crafty despite being overlooked from most. Additionally, and this is a point we can’t harp on enough, each are equally despised by their own family as evidenced by Joffrey trying to have Tyrion killed at the Battle of Blackwater, and Smith getting in multiple fights with teammates and his alleged feud with Cam Newton.

BRONN — Aaron Rodgers, Packers: Money and winning are the only pure motivators for Bronn, who is fearless, reckless, and doesn’t play by anybody’s rules. Sounds a lot like the newly-minted, richest-man-in-the-NFL Rodgers if you ask me. Bronn is also funny – have you seen a Rodgers post-game press conference? – and petty – Rodgers got miffed at “60 Minutes” for suggesting he was short for a quarterback. Just not sure if the evil notions in Green Bay come free.

PODRICK PAYNE THE SQUIRE — Josh Scobee, Jaguars: Podrick has proved to have a way with the ladies, to the amazement of Tyrion and Bronn, and the same can be said for Scobee, who has one of the hotter wives in the NFL. Like the young squire, Scobee, as a kicker, knows his role on the team and when to speak up. And like Podrick saved his Lord’s life at the Battle of Blackwater, Scobee on occasion has lifted his teammates to victory in the closing seconds with a game-winning kick.

JAIME LANNISTER — Eli Manning, Giants: By virtue of being a Manning, Eli was automatically enshrined into NFL royalty, and like the one-handed Lannister, Eli has shown his prowess for taking what he wants. You could easily pass on the moniker “Kingslayer” to No. 10 for taking down the league’s Golden Boy not once, but twice in the Super Bowl, thusly denying Tom Brady championships 4 and 5.

WALDER FREY — Al Davis, Raiders: Old, crotchety, respected and always one to hold a grudge, there may not be a better Game of Thrones / NFL match that these two, especially after what took place at the Red Wedding. Davis is renowned for suing the league he helped create and living by his “Just Win, Baby” mantra, and well, we all know how Lord Frey likes to party.

BRIENNE OF TARTH — Joe Thomas, Browns: It takes someone lacking fear to defend a blindside, and no one does that better than Joe Thomas, even though whichever QB the Browns trot out any given Sunday is likely worthless. And like Brienne, a left tackle has to be big, bullheaded, and full of duty and honor. Often overlooked in the stat line, like the lady of Tarth, Thomas often has an impact when his master is unscathed.

DAENERYS TARGARYEN  — Russell Wilson, Seahawks: Like the Mother of Dragons emerged from a hopeless girl to dominate across the Narrow Sea, Wilson came out of nowhere to be a real NFL power player after a breakout 2012 season. And while Khaleesi now has a trio of new weapons in her dragons, Wilson now has Percy Harvin’s plethora of talents at his disposal. Both are now major contenders to wear the crown after being unknowns when the season (and show) began.

JORAH MORMONT — Pete Carroll, Seahawks: Jorah was disgraced and booted out of Westeros, which is not unlike Carroll’s tail-between-his-legs exit from Southern Cal following the Reggie Bush scandal. Now, both are fortunate to have fallen into backing big-time winners. Loyal, slick, wise, and cheerleaders, Jorah and Carroll are cut from the same mold and seem to have positioned themselves for long-term success.

BARRISTAN SELMY — Dick LeBeau, Steelers: It’s not often that a battle-tested warrior lives to become an old man in the Seven Kingdoms, much like the NFL translates to “Not For Long.” So it makes sense that Barristan and LeBeau are counterparts. A pair of grizzly veterans of the game, they’ve seen it all, done it all, and have survived to pass on their defensive genius to a new crop of players.

ROBB STARK — Tom  Brady, Patriots: Brady is the unquestioned leader of the North, untouchable, and received this tutelage from the best; very similar to Robb, who trained under his well-respected father, Ned. And like Robb, Brady has had moments of resounding brilliance (multiple Super Bowl championships & MVPs) and ones of shake-your-head foolishness (dancing in Brazil, water sliding, ridiculous haircuts). Brady’s big-game performance of late has also matched well with the eldest Stark son, whose actions have left his men wondering if he’s fit to be King.

TALISA STARK — Gisele Bundchen: Like Talisa, Gisele stole the heart of the King of the North, and an argument could be made both Robb Stark and Tom Brady haven’t won anything since. Brady has come up short in two Super Bowls since hooking up for the former Victoria’s Secret model. Stark, meanwhile, has upset his own men, soiled the faith of an ally, and been blundering away strategic position since shacking up with the battlefield Volantis nurse.

EDDARD STARK — Brett Favre: One of only two deceased GOT characters to make the list is a fitting match for Favre. Both Ned Stark and the Ole’ Gunslinger were honorable statesmen, loyal to their homeland for many, many years before abandoning what they knew for the perils of the Big City. Favre jettisoned Green Bay for New York and then Minnesota, figuring his built-up good faith would carry over into this new surroundings, not realizing he was out of his element. And while Ned showed he could hang briefly at King’s Landing – like Favre’s career year with the Vikings – he ultimately ended up backstabbed and without his head; Favre’s magical journey ended on the sideline, consecutive games-played streak history, and after he retired, he’s barely been heard from.

JON SNOW — Wes Welker, Broncos: You could say undrafted players are the bastard children of the NFL, which would make Welker much more than Jon Snow given his success. And whether it was by his own doing or not, Welker left the safe haven of the North and joined up with the enemy on the other side of The Wall, or on his case, the Rocky Mountains. If Welker is still working for his new team’s enemy or knows more than nothing, a la Snow, has yet to be seen.

BRAN STARK — Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Both heirs of the North, Bran was thrown from a tree and lost the use of his legs, while Peterson was chopped down and needed reconstructive knee surgery. Bran has since been running like the wind in his dreams, while Peterson went out and nearly broke the NFL single-season rushing record in 2012. You almost get the feeling that Bran is destined for great things and likewise Peterson is only scratching the surface of what he could accomplish, especially after his recent 2,500-yard pronouncement.

ROOSE BOLTON — Bill Parcells: So let’s say you’ve worked your entire career for one team, had a lot of success with that team and grown really close to that team. Now let’s say, a little later on you went to work for that team’s most hated rival because they paid you a lot of money and it’s gotten to the point so much that your other team doesn’t even know you anymore. Maybe you died your hair blond, I don’t know. That would make you kind of a traitor, huh? Thought so.

HODOR — Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: Could you imagine if Gronkowski had a press conference and just said, “Hodor, Hodor, Hodor” every time someone asked him a question? It would be the greatest YouTube moment in sports. Just a big, lovable galoof is what Hodor is, and you could make a serious argument that’s exactly what Gronk is, only with more alcohol. Now if we can just get GOT’s writers to work in “Yo Soy Fiesta” as a battle cry.

THEON GREYJOY — Mark Sanchez, Jets: No one has taken public abuse and been the brunt of more media scrutiny (warranted or otherwise) and sports radio rants than Sanchez, who like Theon, can’t seem to get out of his own way. Seemingly the toast of the New York only a few years ago when he had the Jets in the AFC Championship, Sanchez is practically in shackles after the drafting of Geno Smith. Theon tried to make a bold move in taking Winterfell only to have it backfire into this weird torture play that’s hashing out slowly in Season 3. Neither is a bad guy on the surface, and unfortunately not a winners either, and I suspect both will have an unhappy ending.

STANNIS BARATHEON — Jay Cutler, Bears: When coming up with words to describe Stannis a few immediately came to mind: dull, boring, and pussy-whipped. That led me to only one NFL counterpart: Jay Cutler. Who else embodies Stannis’ spirit of being at times awesome at his position while being an enormous d-bag? Stannis had his best friend, Davos, thrown in jail! Doesn’t that remind you of Cutler screaming at his offensive line for getting sacked all the time? Literally all that’s missing is a Smokin’ Stannis Baratheon Tumblr page and we have Internet perfection.

DAVOS — Ronde Barber, Buccaneers: Davos stood by his King, Stannis, until the bitter end at the Battle of Blackwater, and you could say the same for Ronde, who remained a faithful Buccaneer following their Super Bowl title in 2003, when he no doubt had opportunities to just ship and play for a contender. While he didn’t get made to walk the plank by ownership, he might have well been, as Tampa Bay went 69-91 over the next decade.

JOFFREY BARATHEON — Tim Tebow: The most hated man in the Seven Kingdoms easily could be the most talked about, over-hyped, and dare I say, hated man in the NFL in Tim Tebow. Both Joffrey and Tebow were unfairly placed in their position of power (one by his scheming mother, the other by the scheming media machine and Josh McDaniels) and seemingly have no idea what to do. Joffrey can’t lead his men at the Battle of Blackwater, and while leading seems to be only what Tebow can do, his elsewhere skills so limited at the pro level, as evidenced by his current ouster from the league all together. Joffrey, meanwhile, doesn’t seem likely to sit on the Iron Throne for much longer.

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ROBERT BARATHEON — Rex Ryan, Jets:Robert was a terrible king, but by all accounts, a great guy to be around, and he was a helluva warrior. Rex really isn’t that great of a head coach, but he sure looks like he’d be a fun guy to go to the Old Country Buffet with, and he used to scheme a good defense. Robert really liked fathering bastards and Rex, well, he liked to, well, make weird videos with his wife. Both were blubbering idiots who were mostly all show and no go. We know what happened to Robert, so I’m guessing Rex’s days are numbered.

GENDRY — Andrew Luck, Colts: Whether he knows it or not, Gendry is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, and by virtue of Peyton Manning’s bum neck, Luck is the future of NFL quarterbacking. The best prospect at the position since the man he replaced, Luck’s upside is exponential, especially after his record-breaking rookie campaign. And the best thing about him, is there’s no ego. Much like Gendry, who just wants to be a part of SOMEthing, Luck is happy to be here and help his team win. The future is bright for both these young, goofy men.

SANDOR CLEGANE — Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: Natural counterparts, The Hound and Roethlisberger are both larger than life, fierce warriors, and survivors of life-altering facial injuries – Big Ben’s after his June 2006 motorcycle accident and The Hound’s after his brother shoved him in a fire. Both like to party (though Ben’s days appear to be over) and never back down from a challenge. Ben is known for always playing through pain and keeping plays alive by being nearly impossible to take down, and The Hound is lauded whooping serious ass and being loyal to those he has a soft spot for.

PETYR BAELISH — Jerry Jones, Cowboys: No other owner can truly stake claim to being the NFL’s Lord of Coin like Jerry Jones, who out of his own pocket practically built the world’s greatest sports stadium. Like Baelish, Jones is extremely crafty and always scheming (how else do you explain the multitude of Draft-day trades?), likens himself as the smartest guy in the room (what other owner is also his team’s General Manager?) and commands an audience. Though you get the feeling others in Westeros laugh at Littlefinger behind his back, as I suspect those across the NFL do as the Cowboys blunder away season after season.

VARYS — Mike Shanahan, Redskins: Not similar in stature but definitely in mind, Varys and Shanahan are without a doubt the ultimate backroom deviants who know who they are and are completely comfortable in their own skin. Varys waited his whole lifetime to get his revenge on the mad scientist who crippled him while Shanahan lived through all the Raiders madness before achieving success with the Broncos. Now, he has the ear of Robert Griffin III and knows good things are on the horizon.

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BERIC DONDARRION — Peyton Manning, Broncos: Manning being able to come back and have the kind of MVP 2012 season that he did after four, count ‘em four, neck surgeries is damn near the equivalent of Beric coming back from the dead a half dozen times after suffering fatal battle wounds. You could also make the argument now Manning is closer to the Lord of Light given Denver’s mile-high altitude, but you’d need to check with Thoros first, since he’s the one who actually returns Beric from the other side, which we know is dark. Speaking of.

THOROS OF MYR — John Elway, Broncos: If it wasn’t for Elway and his belief in Manning returning to his Colts championship and MVP form, then the Broncos No. 18 jersey wouldn’t be flying off shelves at ludicrous speed in the 303 and 720. It’s well known The Duke likes to throw ‘em back, too, and that fits well with the Brotherhood Without Banners’ red priest’s mantra of getting drunk and searching for ways to swindle gold. Thoros was a renowned warrior who now is an adviser of sort to Beric, which fits well with Elway, who is arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history and is doing a mighty fine job thus far as an executive.

MANCE RAYDER — Clay Matthews, Packers: Maniacs, defensive leaders who don’t play by anyone’s rules but their own, and strong men of the North, Matthews and Mance are quite the pair. While Mance doesn’t quite have Clay’s hair, they are both giant, rugged figures, who elicit loyalty from their men and fear in their opponents.

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TORMUND GIANTSBANE — Brett Keisel, Steelers: The man with the best beard north of The Wall and the man with not only the best beard in the AFC North, but the entire NFL, are a match made in facial hair heaven.

— thanks to James Wright for his contributions to this column.

Hard Knocks 2013: A Wish List

LOS ANGELES — Whenever NFL Network airs old episodes of “Hard Knocks,” no matter the team, I always tune in. In addition to being fantastically produced by the NFL Films team, they are hilarious to watch with the benefit of hindsight. When the Jets cut little Danny Woodhead in 2010 you had no idea he would turn into this all-world, do-everything back for the Patriots. Nearly three years later, after New York has proven to be the buffoons of the league, the move is even more laughable. Watching the Dolphins last summer you never got the impression they would ever sniff the .500 mark or be a competent football team; you were too busy waiting patiently for any scene with Lauren Tannehill. In 2009, Chad Johnson looked like a lock for Cooperstown and his career faded quicker than the yellow enshrinee jacket. And on and on.

So, with less than 3 months until the 2013 season begins – the Hall of Fame Game between the Miami and Dallas is on Aug. 4 – here’s my wish list for teams for this upcoming season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” (in no particular order).

Washington Redskins: They have the most dynamic young player in the league who just so happens to be coming off a horrific knee injury in Robert Griffin III, a  squirrelly coach in Mike Shanahan, an owner who likes to meddle and flash his deep pockets, and a rabid, rabid fan base thirsty for a winner again. What’s not to like here?!

Seattle Seahawks: Football is back on the Pacific northwest and the Seahawks have a dynamic, rah-rah coach in Pete Carroll and some explosive players (Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice) to go with their charismatic young quarterback, Russell Wilson. Throw in the big mouth of Richard Sherman and the rest of the Boom Squad and this would be a very, very fun season of Hard Knocks.

Atlanta Falcons: I was pulling for them to be the choice last season, as the Falcons were a team on the rise, a thought confirmed as they were a play away from the Super Bowl. This time around is no different. Tony Gonzalez, the greatest pass-catching tight end of all-time, is back for a final season. Matt Ryan is one of the top quarterbacks in the league, Mike Smith looks like an extra on “The Sopranos,” Roddy White is among the chattiest in the league, Julio Jones as well; not to mention Brian Banks and his struggle to get back his football life.

Arizona Cardinals: Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I think the Cardinals would be extremely entertaining over four weeks of Training Camp. Bruce Arians and his Kangol hats would bound for laughs, Larry Fitzgerald is among the worldly NFL players, Patrick Peterson, the Honey Badger, not to mention Carson Palmer and his old tired arm and perfect hair. Sounds good to me.

New England Patriots: Yes, this is a homer pick, but who wouldn’t want to see exactly how Bill Belichick and Tom Brady perform their magic; to go behind the curtain with a 3-time Super Bowl Champion as they gear up for another AFC-dominating campaign. I know I would, and if you’re honest with yourself, you are, too.

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers is the NFL James Bond and is now paid like a Sultan, same goes for Clay Matthews, who now has enough cashola to have a room full of FatHeads of himself. Throw in Mike McCarthy, the people of Green Bay, the young and exciting Randall Cobb, and you have the recipe for entertainment.

Philadelphia Eagles: This one makes a lot of sense. You got a rookie head coach with a pretty high profile in Chip Kelly and the hype surrounding his new offense, of course there’s Michael Vick and the “dynasty” comments he’s made in recent offseasons, add in the outspoken DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, the fans who would be bound to call into local radio to complain about the show, and I can’t see how this wouldn’t be a hit.

Buffalo Bills: A bit of a sleeper here, but think about it: Stevie Johnson is the new Chad Johnson right down to the game to back it up, they have a rookie quarterback learning the NFL game in surprise-First-Round-pick E.J. Manuel, a rookie head coach with a larger than life personality and enthusiasm for life in Doug Marrone. I’m guessing C.J. Spiller will wear a bunch of outrageous outfits, Marcel Dareus will do something ridiculous and they’ll eat a lot of wings. I hope.

San Diego Chargers: Two words: Manti Te’o.

2013 NFL Draft — 1st Round Running Diary

Roger Goodell

LOS ANGELES — The annual abnormally giant human fashion and accessory show we call the NFL Draft gets underway tonight at Radio. City. Music. Hall. Where the flyest 21 and 22-year olds have their names called and then they awkwardly hug the Commissioner for an uncomfortably long period of time. Seems like we were just here, doesn’t it? Yes, it’s that time of year again where NFL teams load up on potential and What-Could-Be, and kids become instant millionaires before a single ball is snapped on Sunday. Who will be the Next Big Thing? Who will be the Next Big Bust? All speculative, all conjecture, all fun. That’s what the NFL Draft is and will be from here until the end of time. Let’s get started.

As always, I’m tuning into NFL Network for my coverage; not because I’m a company man but because it’s the best. Enjoy.

4:01pmPST - The draft is now an hour away and already a couple Radio. City. Music. Hall. calls from my man Rich Eisen (he’s joined by Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci, Michael Irvin and, of course, draft guru Mike Mayock). Gonna try and drop a few thoughts here before the real coverage begins at 8pmET… And look at this, show starts with old footage of the guys on the set in college. Marshall’s is of him getting drafted. So tiny and nice flat top with Paul Tagliabue

4:02 - WOW. Look at that mustache on Mooch. “National Champion Northern Michigan!” Mooch is a proud Yuper, indeed.

4:03 - Man, Irvin is so hood. That soundbite from his draft day was incredible. Referred to himself as “The Playmaker” even way back then. Guaranteed he could still catch 50 balls for 700 yards and a couple scores even today.

4:04 - MAYOCK JUST INTERCEPTED DAN MARINO. Didn’t see that in the “30 for 30.” “Did you hold that up?!” Marshall yells at him. Incredible. And love that Mayock finally ditched the Philly gangster pinstripe suit. Still 3-piece though. Always OG.

4:06 - Hot damn, now THAT’s a gangster suit from Alabama running back Eddie Lacy. Early front runner for best dressed.

Geno Smith

4:08 - Geno Smith tells Melissa Stark and Deion on the Red Carpet that today his his mom’s birthday. That’s pretty awesome. Can’t beat getting drafted as a birthday gift.

4:18 - Feature on Pat Summerall and John Madden gave me instant goosebumps. Incredible piece. Sumerall was so smooth and told you so much by being so brief. Best of all time.

4:30 - A Django reference from Eisen talking about John Idzik, the Jets GM. Wonder if it’ll be the last? probably… what the hell is a “War Daddy?” We need a Mayock dictionary.

4:44 - Assignments that don’t suck: Hawaii. Alex Flanagan is the big winner of the Draft reporters tonight.

4:47 - Manti Te’o says he’s not angry. I’d be pretty pissed if I was him, though what ya gonna do. Everyone will forget about this soon enough. All that matters in the NFL is how he performs on the field. That’s it. If he can play, all this crapola about Catfishing and whatnot will go away.

4:59 - Shot of Geno Smith sitting at his Green Room Table and he’s rocking some Nike Flight lines in the side of his head. Very sick.

5:03 - HERE WE GO!! Mayock says Eric Fisher, followed by Luke Joeckel are the first two picks and then the intrigue begins with the Raiders at #3. Mayock loving Lane Johnson. Thinks someone will move up.

5:04 - Roger Goodell hits the stage to welcome the crowd to a chorus of boos. New York Fans are seriously the best… classy move remembering the people of West Texas and Boston as crowd chants U-S-A! Love America. Land of the free, home of the brave.

Joe Namath

5:06 - Someone resembling Joe Namath just did some awkward chanting to put the New York Superbowl on the clock. I can’t tell if he’s your kooky drunk uncle or just plain kooky. His hair is so bizarre, too. It’s a terrible rug, that’s for sure. And just under 283 days and counting until Super Bowl LXVII… and Goodell puts the Chiefs on the clock.. and look at that Hawaiian shirt on Andy Reid. Thanks for dressing up, Andy.

5:09 - Whoa, Eric Fisher’s mom. What’s up.

5:11 - I know these two oafs are going 1-2, but I really wish Al Davis was still alive so the Raiders could screw everybody’s board and take West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin at #3. Now that would really be something.

Eric Fisher, Roger Goodell 114

5:16 - Here comes the Commish to more boos … “with the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Eric Fisher, tackle, Central Michigan” … Alex Smith sleeps a little easier tonight.

5:17 - Jacksonville is on the clock. What are they waiting for? Immediately take Luke Joeckel. Come on! Blaine Gabbert is your franchise QB!!

5:20 - “I’m so proud of myself” … big ups to you Eric Fisher for giving yourself props. Somewhere Freddie Mitchell is nodding in agreement.

Luke Joeckel, Roger Goodell

5:24 - Goodell out with the Jags pick … Joeckel is it, on his iPhone5 as he shakes hands and hugs his peeps in the Green Room. How do we feel about their new uniforms? Helmets are kinda cool with the half matte, half gold… classy 3 piece gray suit for Luke .. and good to see we’re still hugging the Commish like crazy. This is by far the weirdest facet of Draft day to me.

5:24 - Hip snap! Mayock needs that pop-up video treatment explaining all his lingo.

5:28 - Rich explains this is the first Raiders First Round pick since 2010 when they took Rolando McClain and his flock of pistols. They have to trade down, right?

5:29 - Darren McFadden is the only Raiders First Round pick still on the team since 2003. Being a Raiders fan must literally be the worst.

5:31 - “We need a word better than rebuilding,” Irvin says about the Raiders… OK, clock has stopped, which means we have a TRADE!!! Yes!!!! It’s about to get hairy up in herrrre.

5:33 - Dolphins move up. WOW. Miami going for broke this offseason to compete in the AFC East … and here comes Roger with the call …

Dion Jordan, Deion Sanders

5:34 - DION JORDAN!!! and we have a round of “whooooaaaaaasss!!!” from the guys on set. Unbelievable. Turning to my resident Ducks fan Chelsea for some reaction: “HOLY SHIT!!!! and it’ll be really easy to get tix to see him play.”

5:35 - “This is all about going to get some pressure on Tom Brady” – says Marshall. He’s absolutely 100% right. Miami has to compete and to do that they have to stop the Patriots. Well here’s one way to do it. What a move. Love it. Love when crazy takes over the Draft.

5:36 - Amazing bow tie on Jordan and not for nothing, he’s a freakin’ giant…. “He’s breathtaking off the edge.” Mayock is swooning.

5:39 - If you’re scoring at home, and I know you are, that’s 4 Radio. City. Music. Halls. out 0f Eisen.

5:42 - First pick of the Chip Kelly era is Lane Johnson, the big tackle from Oklahoma. Mayock’s adoptive son. “Most athletic offensive tackle in the Draft” … ROCKY theme playing in the background. Hilarious.

5:45 - Lane Johnson just said something about buffets. I have no idea. Great southern accent. Good ole boy for sure. Said he was excited to protect Michael Vick. Wonder what Chip has to say about that?

5:49 - Joey Harrington jokes never get old. Love Mooch pretending not to listen to Eisen rib him.

Ezekiel Ansah, Roger Goodell, Barry Sanders

5:50 - Barry Sanders, your new Madden cover boy, out to announce the Lions pick.. and it’s Ziggy Ansah. Never played football until a couple years ago after getting cut from BYU hoops team and track team. Amazing. What a story. Mayock explaining how Ziggy wasn’t on scouts radars in September until he started dominating and then blew up the Senior Bowl…

5:53 - Browns fan draft party and guy wearing a “Punters Are People Too” shirt in the front row jumping up and down. Very cool.

5:55 - Browns select Barkevous Mingo. the winner of the All-Name team today. Don’t even think about it. He’s the winner.

6:00 - The Cardinals pick is in and we’re waiting … great shot of Bruce Arians rocking the Kangol. Are they officially licensed team gear? The Arians Era is basically going to be like if Samuel L. Jackson coached an NFL team. Someone get HR on the phone …

6:01 - Jonathan Cooper picked by the Cards….zzzzzzzzz…. come on, Cardinals fans, you’re not happy about that?! You don’t even know who he is?! Mayock says the team got better by drafting him. Well then, what the hell do I know??

Tavon Austin, Roger Goodell

6:04 - Rams have traded up with Buffalo to the #8 slot and talk from former scout and guru Daniel Jeramiah is they’ll be taking Tavon Austin, whose stock has risen like Apple computers in 2001 in the last couple days… Also, love Jeramiah. He’s going to be a huge star very soon and a big media winner when this Draft is over.

6:08 - Mega trade with the Rams and Bills with St. Louis getting 2 picks (1st and 3rd) and Buffalo getting 4 in this year’s draft. Bills loading up and here’s the Commish with the pick … Tavon Austin … Sam Bradford sleeps a litlte easier tonight… and snap, look at that burgandy jacket. Looking sharp, son. West Virginia swag.

6:12 - Deion asks Austin if he always has this much confidence. Um, come on Deion, look at that suit, of course he does. Pretty sure he wakes up and pisses excellence …

6:16 - Jets on the clock here with the 9th pick… fans on the edge of their seats in Radio City. Oughta be realllly interesting here … and the Commish says : Dee Milliner from Alabama … Revis out and another corner in. No pressure, kid.

6:18 - Mayock had him number 2 on his defensive board … and states “essentially the Jets traded revis for Milliner and  3rd next year” … as we see Milliner at the combine dropping passes like he’s Terrell Owens.. that’s just brutal video. Welcome to the NFL, son.

Roger Goodell, Dee Milliner

6:21 - Nice watch, Dee. Hope that’s a rental.

6:23 - “At least his first game isn’t against Revis’s new team … oh wait, yes it is. … at least his first nationally-televised game isn’t on a short week against Tom Brady … oh wait, yes it is.” Love it when Rich does this.

6:24 - Army troops in Afghanistan says the Titans should take guard Chance Warmack so Chris Johnson can get back to doing this thing .. and the pick is in and the Titans war room is very happy …

6:25 - Pick #10 and the Titans take Chance Warmack from Alabama … Major Taylor picked it right! “I told you 6 fatties would go in the top 12.” Mike Mayock, everybody!!

6:30 - Rapoport reproing the Bills could still take Ryan Nassib at 16 … Chargers pick is in and it’s offensive lineman DJ Fluker … 3rd straight Alabama player taken … Nick Saban, if you need him… Roll Tide.

6:32 - First time since 2000 that a quarterback wasn’t selected in the first 10 picks (Chad Pennington) … some guy named Brady was taken with the 199th pick that year. Whatever happend to him?

6:33 - “I love his length.” Mayock doesn’t give an eff.

6:38 - From Chelsea: “I’d love for the Jets to draft Barkley. Not in the first round, but eventually. That ‘d make me so happy.” Um, that would make us all happy.

6:46 - And the Jets pick is in … wow, fans are gonna go nuts here … Geno? … nope, it’s Sheldon Richardson, some defensive tackle from Missouri … wow. Very Anticlimatic … “explosive, freakish  athlete at 310 pounds .. and Jets fans aren’t that excited” … uum, ya think?

Star Lotulelei,

6:50 - Panthers take Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, a very good player who really shouldn’t have dropped that far. In that division you have to be able to stop offenses and this is one way to accomplish that. Also on the All-Name team for this Draft. He’s at home watching with his family. That’s the way to do it. Why come to New York when you can party with your family?

6:58 - Saints are on the clock and to say they need defensive back help would be an understatement. I threw for 378 yards and 4 scores last year against them… and here comes the Commish with a special guest from St. Jude’s hospital, whose favorite team is the Saints … Kenny Vaccaro is the pick … loving his suit, two-toned three piece .. very fly… can’t wait to hit up @fragglesrocks for the All-Swag team tomorrow.

7:00 - Mayock: “you never want to be limited in the box” … Addison chimes in: “you always want to be strong in the box.”

E.J. Manuel

7:04 - Bills on the clock here at 16 and it’s QB time … will they do it? … EJ MANUEL from Florida St.!! WOW!!! The first quarterback taken!! unbelievable … Deion Sanders is going to have A LOT to talk about with him shortly … dang. Former Syracuse coach and new Bills HC Doug Maronne passes on our guy Ryan Nassib .. Kurt Warner loves that pick … I’m stunned.

7:06 - Just texted Owl, my resident Bills fan … we’ll see how angry of response he comes back with … “Love it. and I LOVE that they traded down.” Didn’t see that coming. Thought for sure he’d want Nassib.

7:08 - EJ emotional with Deion .. “I’m just so happy” .. good moment for him. his mom had breast cancer and beat it… you’ll be seeing this interview a lot in the next couple days.

7:12 - It’s getting fun now in here. The 49ers have traded up and have made a pick … swapped picks with the Cowboys … and we appear to be in a back log … Steelers up right now and take Jarvis Jones … WOW… Jantzen, our Georgia alum friend, is PUMPED RIGHT NOW!! unreal. still think he should’ve named his kid Jarvis.

Eric Reid, Leilani Reid

7:14 - 49ers up and take Eric Reid, the defensive back from LSU, who’s in the green room holding his adorably cute daughter… “big physical safety” says Mayock … love former 9ers great Merton Hanks giving Reid his cap: “maybe he’ll make him do the chicken walk,” says Eisen … Reid walking out to meet the Commish with his daughter in his arms … very cool moment … maybe my favorite so far.

7:20 - G-Men on the clock with the 19th pick and the Commish is out… always curious to the crowd reaction … Justin Pugh … Syracuse Tackle … “I told you it wasn’t sexy, but I love the pick” … as some broad is dancing like crazy on screen … “she likes the pick” says Rich.

7:25 - Oregon guard Kyle Long goes to Chicago amid rampant Manti Te’o speculation. Long is the brother of Chris Long from the Rams and son of Raiders great, Howie. Talk about NFL bloodlines. He’s going to no doubt be a success. And let’s be honest, Jay Cutler needs needs protection.

7:33 - Bengals up at #21 amid report that Falcons have traded up to 22 … Bengals take Tyler Eifert from Notre Dame, arguably the best tight end in the Draft, which perhaps foils the Falcons plans … Eisen points out Falcons knew Bengals were taking Eifert when they made the trade … still curious who they’re grabbing now despite.

7:40 - Falcons take Desmond Trufant, defensive back from Washington who fits in and will start right away with a depleted secondary down in ATL. He’ll be tested too with all the weapons in that division. NFC South shaping up to be a really competitive.

7:42 - Lots of good players still available including Sharrif Floyd, Mayock’s top-rated defensive player and his most explosve player on tape all year … Geno Smith .. Ryan Nassib … Vikings are about to make their pick as members of the military coming out on stage … awesome.

Sharrif Floyd, Roger Goodell

7:45 - Floyd goes to the Vikings … he dropped but he’s going to play right away and learn from Kevin Williams.. what a force they could be in the middle there … “this kid will be a heckuva player,” Mayock says.

7:48 - Mayock getting out of his seat talking about Floyd’s explosiveness … “right now there’s a chip on my shoulder … and I’m ready to get going” he says with Deion … nice simple Mad Men pink shirt black tie combo … “I’m here and I can stand here today and say I’m a better man than I was a year ago.” Redemption is always a nice element to any sport.

7:50 - Painful shot of Geno Smith in the Green Room … getting that Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn treatment right now.

7:51 - Bjoern Werner going to the Colts at 24 … “a taste of Germany going to Indianapolis” says Eisen … “guy that does everything really well but doesn’t have a spectacular trait,” adds Mayock … compares him to Paul Kruger … Werner wipes off his girlfriend’s kiss on his way up. Don’t let her see this tape, young fella.

Geno Smith

7:53 - Aaron Rodgers tweets to Geno Smith to hang in there and said good things come to those who wait … awesome.

7:54 - Vikings back up with their second pick of the round … Xavier Rhodes from FSU … “whoa” from Mayock. Hey, someone has to cover Brandon Marshall and Randall Cobb, right? … Te’o still on the board.

7:59 - Packers on the clock and they need a Running Back … is it Eddie Lacy time? Also, and can’t believe I’m just noticing this; Irvin’s suit is very conservative for the second year in a row…wonder if he’s feeling OK these days.

8:01 - Datone Jones from UCLA to the Packers … hey, you can never have enough pass rushers, right?

8:03 - Rich starts talking about Geno and Manti and how the audience is probably sick of hearing about them by now … “some players on the desk might think that,” Mayock not happy with the repeated Te’o talk.

8:09 - Deandre Hopkins from Clemson, a wide receiver drafted by the Texans at 27 to go with Andre Johnson and those weapons … Irvin says he reminds him of Roddy White … high praise (Nic Cage voice).

8:14 - Broncos pick is in at 28 and the Patriots are on the clock … Mayock giving us three names – Damaontre Moore, Sylvester Williams or Manti Te’o for Denver … we’ll see … guessing it’ll be Moore with the loss of Elvis Dumervil and that fax fiasco earlier this offseason.

8:15 - Goodell out and it’s Sylvester williams … Mayock was right , shocker… “he can immediately come in and start at defensive tackle.” Oh, you don’t say?

8:17 - Apparently Williams worked at a radiator plant … “Do you know how many radiators you have to make to make the kind of money he’s gonna make” … Irvin references “Game Changers” (fantastic show) again to which Rich responds, “I haven’t even once said the P word!” Referring to the podcast … “I HAVE A PODCAST!!” he coudn’t make it anymore.. I knew it.

8:19 - Wow, the Vikings are back in the First Round trading with the Patriots and could take Te’o … unreal … Classic Bill Belichick move. Cant’ wait to see the particulars … damn! 4 picks to the Patriots: a 2, 3, 5 and 7. What must Tom Brady be thinking…

Joe Andruzzi

8:26 - Former Patriots lineman and Boston Marathon first responder Joe Andruzzi out to talk about marathon … unreal moment. That guy is a real man and Patriot.

8:30 - Vikings take Cordarrelle Patterson, the explosive receiver from Tennessee. This is what frustrates Patriots fans. Remember a few years ago when Dez Bryant fell into their lap and they traded down to the Cowboys? Yeah, think Brady would like to have Dez right now? We’ll see how Patterson pans out.

8:37 - Rams up with another First Round pick and take Alec Ogletree from Georgia. “Les Snead played some poker tonight and won.” Guess Mayock likes the Rams draft.

8:38 - Two picks to go. Cowboys and Ravens. We’ll see what Jerry Jones has up his sleeve here. We know he always likes to make a splash.

8:42 - Travis Frederick, center from Wisconsin. HAHA. Wow. So that’s what we were waiting for, Jerry. Isn’t this guy not even the best lineman on his own college team and a 2nd day projected pick? Cowboys fans must be steaming right now. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folk.

8:43 - OK, so one last pick for Manti Te’o. There were only a handful of teams who thought to be in his market – Bears, Vikings, Ravens – and let’s see what they do.

Manti Te'o

8:47 - WOW. So Te’o will have to wait until Day 2 to get drafted as the Ravens go with safety Matt Elam from Florida to replace Ed Reed. What a First Round.

8:48 - Thanks for tuning in, everyone. Had a lot of fun with this for the 4th year in a row now. It was low on celebrity but thank goodness the trades were plentiful to keep it interesting. No players from Southern Cal or Miami, 12 players from the SEC and only 1 from the Big Ten selected. Only one quarterback chosen, and not the one we expected, and no running backs for the first time ever. What will come on Days 2 and 3? No one knows, so be sure to check out all the action. I’ll have sporadic commentary on my Twitter feed: @ChrisBrockman.

Booyah.

Final 2012 NFL ‘You’re The Man’ Rankings

LOS ANGELES — The final “You’re The Man” rankings of the 2012 National Football League season comes off one of the best Super Bowls of the last few years. The Ravens and 49ers displayed what we love about the big game; the story lines were thick, there were lots of big and memorable plays, there was a freakin’ blackout, a comeback and a goal line stand to decide the Vince Lombardi Trophy’s owner. In the end, the Ravens proved once again you don’t have to dominate the regular season to be crowned champs in the end; you just have to get hot at the right time. And have a quarterback who thinks he’s elite, God and some steroids on your side (allegedly).

As we head into nearly 7 months without real football games being played – though only 10 days until the Combine and 73 until the Draft – let’s take a look at some question marks teams have heading into the offseason, and stay tuned for hopefully other articles about the NFL and who knows what else (probably the Red Sox, Celtics, movies, life in LA and whatever else I can throw together) here at the site. As always, thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate it.

32.) Jacksonville Jaguars  To pay MJD or not to pay MJD, that is the question. And will they bring in Tim Tebow? Seems like the answer right now to both is “no.”

31.) Kansas City Chiefs  Being a Chiefs fan must be rough these days. How do you think they’re doing talking themselves into Andy Reid right now? At least he trimmed his mustache.

30.) Oakland Raiders  Will they go all-win with Terrell Pryor or bring back Carson Palmer for another go around at nearly 5x as much money?

29.) Philadelphia Eagles  Is Chip Kelly going to stick with Michael Vick to run his hurry-up, college-style offense? Or will he trade up and draft Geno Smith?

28.) Arizona Cardinals  Who’s going to play quarterback? That’s the only discussion Bruce Arians should be having with anyone.

27.) New York Jets  Mark Sanchez started tweeting again, actually he was on a retweeting positive comments binge; just reminding himself people still like him. Will they bring in any offensive weapons for him this offseason, because if they don’t, he might get irrevocably broken next season. (But I tell ya what, JaMarcus Russell rumors don’t appear out of thin air.)

26.) Cleveland Browns  Another team with a new coach. How long will Brandon Weeden be calling the offensive shots? He and Trent Richardson need help.

25.) Tennessee Titans  Is it time for the Titans to cut ties with Chris Johnson?

24.) Detroit Lions  Will this once playoff team find discipline in the offseason? Losing a few knuckleheads is a good start.

23.) Buffalo Bills CJ Spiller is an emerging NFL star but for the Bills to compete in the AFC East they need to be able to stop the Patriots and the emerging Dolphins.

22.) San Diego Chargers  Now that a new head coach and GM have been hired, will the Chargers make The Leap? Not if they can’t beat the Broncos, which they won’t do with zero running game and a shaky secondary.

21.) St. Louis Rams  The Rams need to make a splash, and they need to reap the rewards of that blockbuster trade with Washington last year. They need a big, household name. Clearly, they can play; undefeated against the NFC champs.

20.) Miami Dolphins  It appears Reggie Bush won’t be back, but the biggest question remains who is going to catch the ball from Ryan Tannehill, since it appears he’ll be a halfway decent NFL quarterback.

19.) New Orleans Saints  Now that Sean Payton is back for the entire offseason, the offense should be back to form, but the Saints need all kinds of defensive help. Will they get it?

18.) Dallas Cowboys  Somehow Jason Garrett still has a job, but others do not. Recently, some questioned if the Cowboys are still Americas team based on their decade-plus of mediocrity. How will this offseason go in restoring that once-great moniker?

17.) Carolina Panthers  Face it, Steve Smith might not like Cam Newton but it’s not Cam’s fault Smith is old and can’t play anymore. The Panthers need a young, big-play receiver or 2013 is going to be a 2012 repeat, which means Ron Rivera will be out of work.

16.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers  The Bucs gave away their best defensive back and then missed the playoffs. I’d say they’d want to get better at stopping people, what with them being in arguably the most talented QB division in football.

15.) Pittsburgh Steelers  Injuries derailed the Steelers this season but finding a running game and some youth on defense are paramount for the black and gold.

14.) New York Giants  It appears the Giants want to be cheaper and younger across the board, let’s see how long that lasts this offseason. Can you buy discounted consistency, too?

13.) Chicago Bears  The defense isn’t getting any younger, it’ll be curious to see how they go about replacing Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and the rest.

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12.) Minnesota Vikings  Is Christian Ponder the answer at QB? I’m still not sure. But someone has to be able to catch the ball other than Kyle Rudolph. You gotta give defenses another look besides Adrian Peterson running the ball 30 times a game. Not that you can stop him, but still.

11.) Cincinnati Bengals  Think the Bengals want to go back and change their game plan against the Texans in the Divisional Round to include getting the ball to AJ Green? I’d say so. Still, they need to get better on defense. Especially with the supernova Ravens now kinds of the NFL and AFC North.

10.) Washington Redskins  Clearly, the most important thing facing the Redskins this offseason is the healthy of My Good Friend Robert. All other questions will be deferred until RG runs in a zig-zag line without teetering over like a drunken sorority girl.

9.) Indianapolis Colts  The Colts need some big-time playmakers on defense, because I’m guessing Andrew Luck doesn’t want to come from behind and pull a win out of his ass in 2013 as often as he did this season.

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8.) Houston Texans  Matt Schaub finally won a playoff game but having some secondary help might have got him a second.

7.) Green Bay Packers  The Packers were badly exposed by the 49ers in the Divisional Round, which means getting younger and faster on defense should be at the top of Ted Thompson’s offseason priority list.

6.) Denver Broncos  I completely whiffed on the Peyton Manning thing, but the more I think about it, I get the feeling Peyton’s gonna pull a Vikings-era Brett Favre. Remember how great Favre was in 2009? Then remember how terrible he was in 2010? Feel me?

5.) Seattle Seahawks  Top-to-bottom, the Seahawks might be the most complete team in the NFL. Russell Wilson proved he can be a big-time quarterback and their defense is as stingy as summer horse flies. Can’t hurt bolstering the offensive/defensive lines.

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4.) New England Patriots  For the second year in a row Tom Brady was outplayed by Joe Flacco in the AFC Championship game. The Patriots made strange clock management blunders to end the first half and again Wes Welker had a key drop in a situation that could’ve helped put the game out of reach. Is this the end of their decade-long reign or can they fill in the missing pieces – big play receiver, shut down corner, rush edge – to stay at the top?

3.) Atlanta Falcons  The Falcons were 5 yards away from reaching the Super Bowl but their issue isn’t on offense. In the second half against San Francisco they gave up 14 unanswered and couldn’t stop Colin Kaepernick if they were the ones controlling his joystick. How will Atlanta improve on defense this offseason? Being so close to the big game you’d expect them to make a move.

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2.) San Francisco 49ers  This is a team than can win the Super Bowl as it is: top-flight defense, an explosive offense and a fiery head coach. While Jim Harbaugh was out-coached Super Sunday by his brother, what the 49ers were missing against Baltimore was a deep threat. It’s clear they missed Mario Manningham, as Randy Moss didn’t give them that stretch of the defense they were expecting. Colin Kaepernick also show signs of what he could be become with a full season under his belt, but why not let him run it down by the goal line? Regardless, he vowed to start preparing for next season immediately, so it appears as if he’s on a mission. San Fran is the class of the NFC, along with Seattle and Atlanta.

1.) Baltimore Ravens  Finally, we’ve found out who’s The Man of this 2012 NFL season. It look 22 weeks but the Ravens emerged from beneath the rubble. Heading into this offseason their biggest question marks are on the defensive side of the ball. Clearly, Baltimore’s offense behind Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta and company are an absolute force. But defensively, it will be a different-looking Ravens squad in 2013 with the retirement of Ray Lewis (perhaps you’ve heard) and the likelihood of Ed Reed playing elsewhere, not to mention Terrell Suggs is older and banged up. We’ll see if they make moves to sure up that side of the ball in the coming months and in the Draft.

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