LOS ANGELES — Unless you’re still in the theater watching Transformers 4 because that movie is 1800 hours long, or worse yet got traded by the Red Sox, you’re aware that NFL Training Camps started last weekend across the league in Cortland, New York, Oxnard, California and everywhere in between. Rookies are learning playbooks and carrying pads, while veterans are sharpening skills and honing in on what they hope is an upcoming season filled with good health and victorious Sundays. New coaches are finally realizing their dreams of sleeping less than four hours a night and never seeing their families, and us the fans are beginning the early stages of scouting for our upcoming eight fantasy football leagues. Ah, yes, football is back and not a moment too soon. This Sunday marks the officially opening of the 2014 NFL season with the festivities at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. This year’s class is another star-studded affair with Michael Strahan and Andre Reed highlighting the honorees, and of course, the game between the Giants and Bills Sunday night kicks off football every Sunday from now until February.
So with all that in mind, here’s the latest 8 Things To Look For: NFL Preseason Week 1:
1.) Get Ready For JFFTV — If you’ve noticed a theme in your football programing in the last week, you’re not alone. The Browns haven’t got this much coverage since Jim Brown’s days and why not, between Josh Gordon and Brian Hoyer, they’re actually interesting. Though I’ll be the first to admit, a quarterback battle on a team coming off a 4-12 season isn’t exactly the most appetizing meal, but when one of those quarterbacks is Johnny Manziel all bets are off. Johnny makes headlines whenever he speaks or leaves his house. First it was saying he’s not going to change, then it was his biggest challenge is the playbook, then he threw a couple interceptions in practice, then he got spotted on his off day at a bar. He can’t win. His coach and owner have gone out of their way to praise Brian Hoyer which leads you to believe JFF will start the year holding the clipboard. But why then did the Browns draft him? There was the story about the team being shocked his partying was as ramped up as it was between draft day and camp kickoff. Do none of them have Twitter or Instagram accounts? Look, my position on the kid is well known, but I’ll be excited when actual football is actually being played and we all can judge the kid on what really counts: what goes on between the lines on game day. Until then, hope you got your popcorn ready because we’re going to have a front row seat to EVERYTHING he does for the foreseeable future.
2.) Don’t Listen To Anything Anyone Says — If you’ve heard all the player and coach interviews recently a theme has probably been observed: everyone is awesome, we are going to the Super Bowl. Brandon Marshall told Michael Irvin at Bears camp this week that Jay Cutler could win the 2014 NFL MVP. Now Irvin probably believed this because he was the one who said last year Dez Bryant would be MVP, but that aside, Marshall has seen Jay Cutler play football, right? Cutler is the man who’s thrown at least 14 interceptions in a year five times, including a league-leading 26 in 2009. I know he’s Marshall’s boy but take step back, 15. Do you trust Cutler to win a big game for you? Fourth quarter, two minutes to go, down by six? Didn’t think so. The Bears have seriously high expectations this season predicated on their explosive offense. They are a chic Super Bowl pick. I’ve heard that Las Vegas types are putting serious cashola on them as well. But it all hinges on Cutler. All of it. That should make Bears fans very nervous.
3.) Vampire Injury Biting Back — Sure, “True Blood” is going off the air soon, but vampires are still cool, right? OK, forget it … Regardless, in consecutive days the league lost running backs Vick Ballard (Colts) and Kendall Hunter (49ers) to season-ending Achilles’ and ACL tears, and Giants back David Wilson got concussed again. Texans receiver Andre Johnson strained his hamstring this week and on and on. No quarterbacks have gone down yet, thanks goodness, and while injuries are part of the game, every year a handful of stars go down and the domino effect is palpable. You hate to see anyone go down this time of year, especially, but it makes you appreciate how hard everyone works and just how precious our time in this game is.
4.) Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons — Yearly, it’s the best show on television, and “Hard Knocks” returns next week down in Flowery Branch as the Falcons will be this summer’s featured team. What’s funny is that owner Arthur Blank and head coach Mike Smith volunteered for the gig. Atlanta didn’t fall under the new league-mandated guidelines with having made the playoffs in the last two seasons, but I’m guessing Blank wanted to ramp up the team’s profile and put a little pressure on his talented group of veterans in wake of a disastrous 4-12 2013 campaign. I think this will be a fun season of “Hard Knocks.” There are players we all know and are familiar with in Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Steven Jackson, and inevitably a few with personalities we never knew existed will emerge. That’s the beauty of the show; you go in not caring and come out invested in a whole new group of guys.
5.) How Will Holdout Affect Beast Mode — Marshawn Lynch proved last week he’s not only ’bout that action, boss, but he’s also ’bout that paper, boss. The Seahawks running back phoned into NFL Network to announce his hold out and returned Thursday with little bustle. Michael Silver reported Seattle tacked on a few more Skittles onto his existing contract for this season, $1.5 million to be exact, which is always nice. And while Money Lynch was the biggest name who held out this Training Camp others such as Lions all-world DT Ndamukong Suh and Chiefs QB Alex Smith want a new deals before the season kicks of in early September. Many thought Andre Johnson was going to skip Texans training camp but he showed and promptly injured his hammy. How will surrounding contract issues affect these guys? That’s always the question when it appears their main offseason focus has been their wallet and not their body. I’m guessing it’ll be minimal but you never know.
6.) Who’s Awesome/Who’s Trash — Did you hear the one on Monday where Nick Foles is garbage because he came from a rich family and neighborhood and doesn’t scream at his teammates like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? Look, I like Buzz Bissinger as much as the next “Friday Night Lights” fan but seriously, Buzz, I think your leather pants are too tight on this one. It’s amazing to me a guy coming off one of the greatest statistical seasons in some time (8-2, 2,981 yards, 27 TD, 2 INT) could be criticized for not being a leader or having what it takes to be an elite quarterback in this league, but all it takes is a keyboard to take someone down, and that’s what Buzz did this week. This also plays into a larger preseason theme of declaring a player a superstar or on the cut list when no games have been played.
7.) Revis Island Taking Reservations for Weekend Getaways — The first English settlement of Martha’s Vineyard came in 1642 by Thomas Mayhew and since then the island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts has become a playground for the affluent. This fall, however, a new inhabitant will take over the 87.5 square mile paradise island and plant his flag: Darrelle Revis. By all accounts, the Patriots new defensive back has been terrorizing New England practices this July. He even had the gall to intercept Tom Brady not once but twice! In one day! How dare he?! Revis has proven thus far to be the real deal, which is good news for a Patriots secondary that couldn’t stop me and three friends in recent years. If he is locking down half the field this fall, coupled with a healthy Vince Wilfork and Jarod Mayo, New England will be back to being a force defensively.
8.) I Still Have No Idea Who I’m Keeping In Fantasy — I know my fantasy team is always on your mind, but it’s a serious problem I’m having right now and I know I’m not alone. Surely I can’t be the only one who is pacing like Scrooge McDuck trying to decide on two keepers among six legit possibilities, and then after having done a fantasy mock draft factoring in who I think everyone else in my league is going to keep, pacing even more because I can’t decide if I should take Dez Bryant or Brandon Marshall or Jimmy Graham or Julio Jones with the third overall pick?! Right? Bueller? OK, fine. Screw you guys. Never mind. I got this. (no, I don’t. help.)
LOS ANGELES — It was two weeks later than normal, but the 2014 NFL Draft is finally here, as the first round gets underway shortly from Radio. City. Music. Hall. in New York City. Once again, I’ll be here to document all the action in running diary style. This is probably my favorite column of the year to write and definitely the longest. Things I’m looking forward to seeing tonight: where Johnny Manziel ends up, if someone straight up tackles Roger Goodell after their name gets called, just how bad Jerry Jones screws up the Cowboys pick, how loudly Jets fans boo their own selection and of course, what these soon-to-be millionaires are wearing. Let’s get this thing started.
4:15pmPT — We’re about 45 minutes out from the official start of this show. I’m posting up today at the lovely West Los Angeles abode of Andrew Siciliano, whom you know as the host of DirecTVs Red Zone coverage on Sundays and various programs on NFL Network. Hopefully some others joins us for what should be a fantastic evening of running commentary during this 1st Round.
4:18 — Johnny Manziel with Deion Sanders just said he was “blessed.” Over/under on how many times we’re gonna hear that today? 5,793? Wish Johnny would’ve went clean shaven, but hey, it’s his world and we’re all just living in it. Ha! He tosses it back to Rich. What a natural.
4:22 — What’s up with Jadeveon Clowney signing with Puma? Were Russell Athletic and Hutch not offering enough? Did Fila want none of that?
4:30 — So a list of the guys walk out songs has been released and we’re breaking down the draftees walk out music right now, or what AS is calling it, “draft up” music. Four Drake songs, Teddy Bridgewater coming out to R. Kelly and Cyrus Kouandjio has chosen Imagine Dragons. Sometimes the jokes write themselves. Maybe that’s why Teddy is falling.
4:35 — Draftees being introduced on the stage now. Blake Bortles was just introduced. Do we have an over/under on how many times they show his girlfriend? It’ll have to break the previous record of 8,000 set by Lauren Tannehill in 2012.
4:36 — Ha Ha Clinton Dix taking the early lead for best dressed with an Alabama crimson tuxedo jacket with a bow tie. And what is this music that’s playing? Didn’t know they turned Radio City into a club. Is Manziel’s girlfriend going to be coming out with the bottle service soon? When’s the foam party start?
4:38 — Jimmy Garappolo is dressed like he’s going to be selling insurance in 3 years. Which he very well might be… Marqise Lee looks like he should be parking cars as the valet at Boa tonight. Though he looks fantastic.
4:40 — Manziel, I think, just got booed. Which is awesome. Haters gon’ hate… Jake Matthews comes out and I ask AS who’s the biggest lock in the draft for a 10-year career and without hesitation he says Matthews. Maybe Greg Robinson…. Morgan Moses looks amazing with that beard and bow tie. Rick Ross style. “He looks like he’s actually Moses.”
4:42 — the bow tie revolution is real, people. Drew Christensen, NFLN researcher would be proud his influence has been passed down to this younger generation.
4:49 — We have now been joined by our former NFLN colleague Matt Abrams, so the commentary will be top notch. Also, AS just added a “Manziel” column to TweetDeck and it’s moving so fast you can’t read it. This guy knows how to move the needle.
4:53 – Kevin Sumlin Manziel’s former college coach, is with Deion Sanders about the Texas A&M guys, who could be 3 of the top 15 picks. What a fantastic mini fro he’s rocking right now, too. “Where would you like them to go?” Deion asks “I’d like them to come back.”
4:57 — We’re debating whether or not AS is as tall as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. He said it’s close. Don’t ask how we got there.
5:00 — “this is kinda like the Hunger Games. We’re all gathered in the streets waiting for young men to be told where they will be going to relocated.”
5:01 — OK, let’s do this. Should be an exciting 1st Round. Of course, we’re watching NFL Network’s coverage of the events with Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci, Michael Irvin in a conservative suit again (wack) and Mike Mayock on the main desk. We also have ESPN on a smaller TV juut in case something different happens over there.
5:03 — our first RADIO. CITY. MUSIC. HALL of the night from Eisen. He’s gonna say this about 100 more times tonight so if you’re playing any Draft Drinking Games you’ve been warned. Mayock with the traditional 3-piece gangster suit. So OG.
5:04 — Goodell welcomes us to the Draft and is heavily getting booed, which has turned into a tradition unlike any other. You can have your Masters and Jim Nantz soothing voiceovers, I’ll take insanely drunk New Yorkers booing the commissioner. New York Fans are the best. Like I say every year. The best, Jerry.
5:05 — Manziel sitting at the table and it looks like he has a Rolex on because of course he does. Have a feeling he’s going to be waiting a long time tonight. Not sure why. Just do.
5:09 — Houston has been on the clock for 130 days, how have they not made a pick yet? 5 minutes to go, maybe they’re looking to trade, most likely. At this point I’m rooting for chaos. I want trades. I want missed picks. I want bear hugs and bling and Tupac as a walk out songs.
5:12 — “who cares about Houston, what are the Raiders gonna do? Probably something dumb.”
5:13 — THE PICK IS IN … OK, let’s do this, Houston. Whaddya got? It has to be Clowney. Can’t pass up on this guy. Mayock thinks it’s Clowney even though he loves Khalil Mack.
5:15 — Here’s Goodell. So many boos. Awesome … “the Houston Texans select … Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina” … and Clowney is crying. All of the tears. Love his hair. I’ll never have hair like that. This guy has been the top prospect and pick for the last 12 months. It would’ve been awesome if he didn’t go to college last year, but you know he was coasting just for this moment. Worth it.
5:16 — giant bear hug for Goodell. You don’t realize just how big Clowney is until he’s standing next to Goodell and Roger is a big, big man.
5:18 — We have already moved on to who the Rams are taking at #2 and we think it’s Greg Robinson. Remember Rams GM Les Snead went to Auburn.
5:22 — shot of the Rams party and there’s a guy there in a Colt McCoy Browns jersey. What the hell is going on?! Man, the Rams are set to succeed right now, if they only had a competent QB. I would love them to pick Manziel here or at 13. But it’s not happening.
5:24 — Goodell out for the Rams pick… “Greg Robinson, tackle, Auburn” … safe pick. This dude is literally the size of a brick shithouse and Bradford, if he’s going to be successful for once, needs to block everybody. Robinson hugging his mom in the green room. “I love this part,” Irvin says.
5:27 — “I won’t let you down.” Robinson says right into the camera to Rams fans. Jaguars on clock and what is taking them so long?! Why are they not taking Manziel?! They have to sell tickets!
5:30 — Pick is in for Jacksonville. Look at Shad Khan and that hair and mustache. Don’t be shocked if it’s Bortles, Mayock just said. Holy shit that would be insane… “Blake Bortles” is the pick. WOW!!! Our first stunner of the draft. I’m stunned. Unreal. Look at Manziel. He’s as stunned as we are. Hoping people from Central Florida make the trip up to Jacksonville.
5:33 — “You think Deion has any idea who this guy is?” someone in the room just said. Hilarious. And WHERE IS HIS GIRLFRIEND?!?!?! And they are partying in the streets in Jacksonville. Did Rich just say “rabid Jacksonville fan base”??
5:34 — and we have a trade! Cleveland swaps down with Buffalo… Bills have to take Mack or Watkins, right? Let’s see what Owl, my resident Bills fan and former Draft Diary sidekick, has to say about this … wow, Bills gave up two picks next year to move up. A 1 and 4. Unreal. What a chaotic few minutes.
5:36 — Bills pick is in … here’s Goodell … Sammy Watkins! E.J. Manuel is doing backflips where he is right now. Aside: you think Watkins can pick out Buffalo on a map? Does he own any winter clothing? “I bet the girls in Buffalo are just as hot as South Carolina.. oh wait, yeah, no.” That’s cold, Abrams.
5:38 — we’ve heard from Owl: “cool! bye Stevie!” … and Watkins takes a selfie with Goodell! That’s so awesome. First one of the draft, surely not the last. Look what Ellen started…. “I thought they was messing when they said they were taking me.” Watkins tells Deion. By the way, Watkins’ suit is awesome. Love the Clemson pin.
5:41 — this Draft is already better than last year’s. Wow. so great…. Goodell out for the Raiders … Khalil Mack… what value there. Never thought he’d fall to 5. Raiders defense is going to be legit next year with him, Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley… this guy looks like a freaking man. Dang.
5:43 — “his game tape against Ohio st. is the single greatest game tape against Ohio st. I’ve ever seen.” Does Mayock like hyperbole? … Now the Falcons are up at 6 and can take their tackle, the only question is if it’s Jake Matthews or Taylor Lewan … Faulk just said “now the Raiders have their Von Miller.” High praise (Nic Cage voice)
5:45 — Another shot of Manziel sitting and chilling as we hear Justin Timberlake to break. He’s definitely not going to Atlanta, could Tampa Bay be the landing spot? Who the hell knows at this point.
5:48 — EJ Manuel just tweeted 12 exclamation points and that’s it. He’s going nuts right now. He’s making it rain and drinking all the Hennessey.
5:50 — Before we get to more excitement, here’s Atlanta with some boring pick … Jake Matthews it is … he’s a lock for a 10-year career at least, 4 Pro Bowls. His pedigree is beyond ridiculous, and he looks like he’s 35… Shot of Falcons party and their RISE UP towels. Get excited for an offensive lineman!!
5:52 — Matt Ryan is sleeping a little easier tonight though. He got his ass kicked last year, and look at Matthews next to Goodell. He’s ripping through his suit like the Hulk. He’s gigantic. Matthews will probably play right tackle next year… great shot on ESPN of the Matthews football family tree. All that family does is procreate amazing football players. Much like the Brockmans except not.
5:57 — Bucs on the clock and who knows what they’re doing here. Mike Evans would be great to go along side Vincent Jackson … and ESPN can’t stop talking about Johnny Manziel … also, you want some comedy, do a quick twitter search of Ray Lewis right now.
5:59 — Mike Evans is the pick … so whomever is throwing him the ball should put up some monster numbers… hope Doug Martin is healthy … and we have another trade … Browns going up from 9 to 8 … who are they taking? Manziel?
6:01 — Who are the Browns moving up to take at 8? I want it to be Manziel, but it’s gotta be a corner, right? We are speculating Justin Gilbert? Marshall is standing up when talking about Mike Evans. He’s excited. This guy catches everything. Evans in tears. Love it when this happens. And we have our first Jesus Christ reference. Speaking of, what network do you think JC gets his coverage from: ESPN or NFLN?
6:03 — I just asked Richard Deitsch that on Twitter and he responded, “HBO.” Hilarious … the pick is in for the Browns and Irvin just called Mike Evans Calvin Johnson … who the hell knows what’s coming now with the Browns … could be anybody … Lewan or Gilbert is what AS says … Gilbert it is and such a let down … Yeah, this guy is good, but he’s not Johnny Football.
6:07 — I really like Justin Gilbert’s suit. He looks fantastic. Gilbert said he had a feeling a couple days ago that Cleveland might be a landing spot for him. And his favorite player was Deion growing up. This guy seems really polished.
6:08 — Vikings pick is in and Mayock says it’s either Darqueze Dennard or Anthony Barr, which is a little early for him. I’m thinking Aaron Donald, but no one is mentioning him. Mooch likes CJ Mosley… a “Who Drafts Manziel?” graphic to the right on NFLN and the Cowboys is at 58%. If he’s gonna side, please let him go there.
6:11 — OK, we’re getting backed up as the Lions have already made their pick … Vikings take Anthony Barr, who has tremendous upside and is our first pick who isn’t in New York. He’s at home in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif. That’s the way to do it. Big party at your house. “He has no idea what he’s doing” Mayock says. What does that even mean. That can’t be good, can it? “Exactly what you want from a top 10 pick.” Mayock contradicting himself already.
6:13 — and Barry Sanders is out to announce the Lions pick … the mic is too tall for him. He’s like Michael Dukakis. Move it down, Barry! and he thanks everyone for voting him on the cover of Madden last year. Get on with it… Lions take Eric Ebron tight end from UNC … what a day for him. He proposed to his GF on the top of the Empire State building this morning and now he’s a top 10 pick … Mayock is baffled by that. Is he locked into football or what? Wow, that offense is LOADED next year. Joseph Fauria is not dancing after this pick, either.
6:15 — this is a great spot for Ebron, I think. Big offense, they throw all the time. Lions are the new Patriots when it comes to tight ends. But honestly, what is he doing proposing? You’re about to be rich and you’re in the NFL. Parker Deay is pissed.
6:20 — Titans pick is in at #11 and it has to be a quarterback … I hope it’s Bridgwater to be honest, that would be hilarious … if we’re thinking about this logically, this is going to be Dennard or Taylor Lewan.
6:22 — Goodell’s out and it’s Taylor Lewan, the big ass tackle from Michigan… dang, Mrs. Lewan everybody. That’s some, um, yeah, upper body strength.
6:25 — So who goes to the Giants here? Has to be Zack Martin right now. Eli got sacked 8,000 times last year. They definitely need a receiver, but Odell Beckham is barely tall enough to ride the Superman at Six Flags.
6:29 — Giants take Odell Beckham. Wow! and look at that hair. He’s got the Honey Badger look going. And look at his watch. I hope that’s a rental. Irvin is loving Beckham. Here’s the question: Is Ei going to be upright long enough to throw it deep to him?
6:32 — look at the Rams and Cowboys war room as we bump to break with Manziel still sitting there waiting… and is that his sister sitting next to him? Some good genes in the Manziel family.
6:35 — Pick is in for the Rams at 13… they’ve been sending up this smokescreen that they’ve been interested in Manziel at this slot all week as Daniel Jeremiah throws out the idea of them taking Aaron Donald here, the best defensive lineman in the Draft, from Pittsburgh, which would make the Rams front line absolutely ridiculous.
6:38 — Shon Coleman, a cancer survivor who plays at Auburn out to make the pick and it’s Donald… wow. This line is insane. Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and now Donald. How on earth do you run the football against these guys. And are you passing out of a 1-step drop? I guess if you play in the toughest division in football you need to load up on defense. Have to try and stop the 49ers and Seahawks somehow.
6:39 — shot of the Rams party and the Colt McCoy is still there. “So is Elvis.”
6:43 — Bears up now and here’s Goodell … Kyle Fuller, the Virginia Tech defensive back. Bears are a boring team when Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett or Smokin’ Jay Cutler aren’t involved, so I really don’t have much to say … Steelers on the clock.
6:46 — Pick is already in and Jed York tweets that Twitter might explode … is he just stirring the pot or what? Here’s Goodell … Ryan Shazier, the all-world linebacker from Ohio St. “He looks like Charlie Villanueva” … “he’s one of the fastest linebackers I’ve ever seen come out of college football.” Thanks, Mike.
6:48 — NFLN shows Shazier running his 40 in basically his underwear and Irvin mutters “that’s a big man.” … Cowboys now on the clock at 16 and the Manziel speculation is through the roof on both channels. “I’m sure Tony Romo is loving this.” – AS
6:49 — Seriously, what is going to happen here? Honestly. Aaron Rodgers tweets that this is going to be an interesting 10 minutes. So awesome. Can Jerry Jones contain himself? “does this not prove this is greatest reality show on earth?” – AS
6:51 — Johnny’s phone is not ringing. What the hell is going to happen????
6:52 — this is so excruciatingly awesome. The suspense is killing me. AS is standing and screaming at the TVs. “what are we waitng for?! The picks is in! Ozzie Newsome has made his pick already!” Goodell is smiling as he walks to the podium. He wants it to be Johnny so badly, just like the rest of us.
6:53 — and it’s Zack Martin. What a let down. Twitter is blowing up with tweets of disappointment. Myself included.
6:57 — We still can’t believe Jerry passed on Johnny and now we’re trying to figure out where he’s going. Several teams coming up legitimately need a QB including Arizona, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and maybe Philly because of Chip Kelly, who wanted to coach him at Oregon.
7:00 — C,J. Mosely is the pick for the Ravens. And is that his dad wearing a white fedora? Maybe an uncle. That is fantastic. He’s going to be a good player. Alabama is known for producing good football players, I’ve been told. #RollTide
7:01 — so we just did some research and the only team left with a first round pick that is eligible to appear on Hard Knocks this summer is the Arizona Cardinals. Guessing Johnny goes there. Imagine the show HBO can put on with Johnny?
7:03 — Jets on the clock and the fans are readying their pipes to boo loudly whomever it is.
7:07 — I hope you’re all enjoying these shots of Manziel sitting there waiting because you’re gonna see them for the next decade… and he hasn’t said one word to his sister or his mom.
7:09 — Jets take Calvin Pryor, the safety from Louisville … “this guy is a bigger bob Sanders” says Mayock.. “that means he’s hurt already?” AS on point. This is totally a Rex move here. He’s gonna love this guy.
7:12 — We go to break with another shot of Manziel, who is seen scrolling his phone, no doubt checking Twitter and as his blood slowly boils. Whenever he’s picked he’s going to be salty in the interview. No way he saw this fall coming, even though news of it was breaking all morning. And on queue, text from Owl: “No wonder you love Johnny Football so much. Every time they show him he’s on the phone.” Well played, sir.
7:14 — a giant-headed Dan Marino is fighting the Dolphins mascot. Rich makes sure everyone at home knows it’s not the real Dan Marino. “If that was the real Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason would be right behind him telling he sucks.” I’m not allowed to say who just said that.
7:18 — Dolphins pick is in and it’s Ja’Wuan James, the big tackle from Tennessee and a few “wows” from the set. “The more tape I watch on this kid, the more I like him” says Mayock. Well there you go. We thought it was going to be Cyrus Killamanjaro.
7:19 — and the Saints have moved up into the 20 spot, swapping with Arizona, and this has to be a receiver, right? Marshall suspects that the saints want to get better on defense in the secondary and Dennard is still available.
7:23 — Saints swap picks and throw in a 3rd rounder this year (91st overall). Marshall likes Brandin Cooks here while Mayock thinks it might be Dennard. they need both positions to be honest.
7:25 — Ian Rapoport saying that Jerry Jones didn’t openly campaign to take Manziel but the room did have thoughtful discussion… and the Commish is out to announce the pick … Brandin Cooks it is… Drew Brees is very happy right now. Another weapon. Irivin compares him to Antonio Brown. We speculate that New Orleans must have thought the Eagles were taking him at 22.
7:27 — Packers on the clock and we’re thinking it’s either Ha Ha or Jace Amaro, the big tight end from Texas Tech … ESPN has something called the Bud Light Blue Room, which isn’t a room at all, it’s just Suzy Kolber on the stage and there’s no blue anywhere. Smart.
7:31 — graphic with a tweet from Mark Ingram about Johnny Manziel which is completely pointless. “great tweet Mark, you’re about a good a tweeter as you are a running back.” Also from someone in the room.
7:32 — Packers should probably take Ha Ha Clinton Dix since no one in that division can play any defense and they have to face the Bears and Lions twice who have tons of receivers… shot of the Packers war room and they’re all clapping and af ew fist bumps for Ted Thompson. They are happy. Mayock says Ted is an “old school scout.” … “And by that you mean he’s old and once went to school.” all of the jokes in here.
7:34 — Goodell is out and Dix is the pick. Well done. “He’s gonna sign his contract and then deliver caviar.” Nick Saban right there in the Chris Brockman role as Hat Guy. Seriously, Dix is amazingly dressed. Seriously, top notch. “That’s what swag is called, everybody at home.” Marshall has said swag 5 times in the last 30 seconds.
7:35 — maybe the tweet of the night from Jon Heyman about Dix.
7:37 — quick switch to ESPN and Gruden is going crazy at the thought of Andy Reid taking Johnny Manziel at 23.
7:40 — AND WE HAVE A TRADE!!! The Browns have moved up to 22 and swapped with Eagles here. Room thinks it’s Bridgewater… Mayock thinks it’s Cyrus Killamanjaro (I know that’s not his name, relax)… “the Dawg Pound will be celebrating if it’s Johnny Manziel.” Swapped picks and added a 3rd rounder this year (83rd overall)… this is going to be a boring pick. I just know it.
7:42 — and here we go … JOHNNY CLEVELAND!!!!!!!!!!!
7:43 — Johnny was the 22nd pick. So was Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden and Tim Couch wore #2. I’m not sure what that means but if anyone can break the curse it’s JFF.
7:46 — I’m the biggest Browns fan next season. And Sicliano is going nuts right now. He just pulled out his Tim Couch jersey and I’ve convinced him to put tape over it. “I’m gonna pour my heart out for this team and this organization.” Johnny is going to kill it in Cleveland.
7:48 — “I’m gonna bring excitement wherever I go.” Yeah you are, Johnny. Wow, look at this guy. He’s a freaking Beatle.
7:51 — Everything after this is the air out of the balloon… as Goodell comes out to announce Dee Ford, who said he was better than Clowney at the Combine, to the Chiefs.
7:57 — Bengals are up at 24 and take Dennard as Abrams punches the couch, hoping he’d be there at 25 for his Chargers. Great value. Didn’t think he’d fall that far.
7:59 — approaching the 3-hour mark of the draft and the Chargers pick is already in … Rapoport and DJ are saying the Browns aren’t done making moves and that they might move back into the first round to take possibly Marqise Lee. Browns aren’t screwing around.
8:02 — getting word of a great Scott Fujita tweet about having a condo to rent or sell Johnny. That’s awesome… and we get out first couch shot of Derek Carr and his girlfriend at home waiting. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
8:03 — Chargers take Jason Verrett who is tiny and dressed like a mortician but he can play and has a ton of hair.
8:05 — Siciliano is on the phone with his dad trying to talk him into the Johnny pick. Words being said over and over again: “gamble” “wow factor” “exciting”… AS might as well be working for the Browns PR department right now.
8:10 — Eagles take Louisville defensive lineman Marcus Smith, and camera cuts to a distraught Eagles fan as Mayock says the fan “has no idea who he is,” while then saying it’s a great pick and addresses a need.
8:12 — Cardinals up now, who traded down … gotta think Bridgewater and Carr are in play right now.
8:14 — cameras following Manziel throughout the Radio City doldrums like it’s Goodfellas at the Copa. Great shot. And he gives Brandin Cooks a hug. That’s awesome. Can the Browns do Hard Knocks next year?
8:16 — Cardinals take Deone Bucannon, which elicits a few groans and is definitely a reach, but that sures up their secondary big time. AFC West loading up on defense. Shot of the Cards party: “all of those fans bought their jerseys this morning.” NFL Media fantasy editor Michael Fabiano has 60k more followers than the official Cards account, by the way.
8:18 — Panthers on the clock and what are they waiting for. Get up there and take Marqise Lee .. ok good, here’s the commish … Kelvin Benjamin! Wow, there you go. I like this guy. He’s enormous. Reminds me of Marques Colston. “now you get a guy who’s area code is the catching range… reminds me a lot of Brandon Marshall.” Well then, high praise: “could be one of the biggest steals in this draft.”
8:20 — Patriots on the clock at 29 and Jace Amaro is available… or will they trade down AGAIN? Need to get somebody for Tom Brady or maybe some defensive line help.
8:25 — the Patriots have kept their pick and I’m shocked … Dominique Easley, defensive end from Florida is the guy. NFLN has a bio board and it’s noted he’s had not one, but two ACL surgeries. Awesome. It’s not enough the Pats have two old guys on the d-line, now they have one with bad knees. Uninspired.
8:29 — 49ers pick is in at 30 … fans are going NUTS at the their draft party …
8:32 — Jimmie Ward is the pick and Mayock immediately says “wow” and thought he was a second or third round pick… they are not surprisingly less NUTS at the 49ers party.
8:37 — Two picks to go and Mayock is praising Cleveland and what they did tonight: “give them credit for moving up and down the board and getting great value.”
8:38 — Broncos take Bradley Roby the defensive back from Ohio St. There’s some jokes here about some off-the-field issues between the front office and the player, but I’m not going to make them.
8:39 — also it’s been more than 3 hours and we still haven’t seen Blake Bortles’ girlfriend. Is she OK? Do I need to fly to NYC and find her? I’m willing to do whatever it takes here.
8:42 — and the Vikings have traded up to 32 and the guys are guessing they’re taking Bridgewater. It’s either him or Carr. Definitely a quarterback here.
8:45 — OK, here we go, Goodell out for the last time tonight … Vikings take Bridgewater … “you don’t have to come back tomorrow, that’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you,” the room says. Good for this kid. Seems like a genuine great kid. Poor pro day made him slip, but still a first rounder… Mayock saying he needs to get stronger but has good intangibles … “loves the game of football.” Me too.
8:46 — this just in: 25% of the first round picks are from Florida. I’ll give you one guess who Tweeted that out … thought Bridgewater would be there for Houston to start the second round, but good job by Minnesota to go up and get a starter… here’s Deion with Teddy: “made my mind up were gonna live in the moment and be anxious for nothing.” well done.
8:48 — OK, that’s gonna do it from here. Very fun start to the 2014 NFL Draft. Definitely a few surprises and of course, we were all captivated by Manziel falling but a lot of good stuff happened tonight. Cleveland made themselves better, for once Jerry Jones did the smart thing and Houston took the best player. Minnesota also helped themselves, as did St. Louis. And I hope you’re ready Rock City, Johnny Football is coming. Once again, no running backs were taken in the first round, and no player from USC or Miami, as their grip on this process loosens slightly. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the weekend brings.
LOS ANGELES — We are a mere hours away from the start of the 2014 NFL Draft, which kicks off Thursday night in primetime from Radio City Music Hall. As customary, rumors are flying across Twittersphere about trades and big names dropping, and teams are sending up smokescreens about who they’re interested in. But here at The Chris Brockman Website we’re not in the deception game, so we’re sticking to our word to complete our Mock Draft picks 32 to 1 as is. In case you need a refresher, here’s who our Draft Guru Shawn Bradley had slated for picks 11-32.
And now, as promised, Shawn’s Top 10.
10.) DETROIT LIONS — ERIC EBRON, TE, North Carolina
The Lions seem hellbent on adding another big-time receiving option to help keep eyes off of Calvin Johnson. Detroit’s new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi comes from New Orleans and is likely anxious to give Matthew Stafford a Jimmy Graham-type target. Like Graham, the 6-foot-4 Ebron is much more receiver than tight end, so expect him to line up all over the field while the re-signed Brandon Pettigrew handles in-line blocking duties.
9.) BUFFALO BILLS — JAKE MATTHEWS, T, Texas A&M
Doug Marrone gambled on E.J. Manuel last year, and for that bet to payoff Buffalo needs to keep it’s young signal caller healthy. After watching Manuel suffer through an injury-plagued rookie season, the Bills should be thrilled if the Draft’s most NFL-ready tackle falls into their laps. Matthews has All-Pro bloodlines and he might force Buffalo to move Cordy Glenn over to the right side immediately.
8.) MINNESOTA VIKINGS — BLAKE BORTLES, QB, Central Florida
Minnesota isn’t bringing in Bortles for a pre-Draft visit and they won’t be working him out privately either – the Vikings doth protest too much, methinks. Through this smokescreen it’s easy to see that the 6-foot-5, 232-pound Bortles is the type of quarterback Norv Turner would love to get his hands on. Like Manziel, expect Mike Zimmer to keep Bortles on the bench behind Matt Cassel until the playoffs become out of reach.
7.) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — JOHNNY MANZIEL, QB, Texas A&M
Lovie Smith is really not a Mike Glennon guy. Josh McCown has already been anointed the starter which will allow Manziel to redshirt for a season. Under minimal pressure to win in his first year with Tampa Bay, Smith appears poised to completely remodel the Buccaneers roster before handing the keys over to Johnny Football in 2015.
6.) ATLANTA FALCONS — GREG ROBINSON, T, Auburn
Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff has let everyone know he’s ready to trade up but landing this mammoth mauler with the sixth selection would be a coup. Robinson will start immediately at right tackle and eventually replace Sam Baker on the blind side. Matt Ryan will be a happy man knowing he has the 6-foot-5, 332-pound brickhouse Robinson protecting him for the foreseeable future.
5.) OAKLAND RAIDERS — TAYLOR LEWAN, T, Michigan
Another year, another wasted top ten pick by the Raiders. The Oakland Tribune recently reported that the team somehow prefers Lewan over Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews. It’s ridiculous to select Lewan this early, so it makes perfect sense for the Raiders to do it.
4.) CLEVELAND BROWNS — MIKE EVANS, WR, Texans A&M
It’s been an ugly offseason for the Browns, and whiffing on a quarterback here could paralyze this already crippled franchise. Evans and Josh Gordon have the potential to quickly become the most intimidating receiving duo in the league, no matter who lines up under center. With Jordan Cameron and Ben Tate in the mix as well, Cleveland would suddenly have the AFC North’s most dangerous collection of offensive weaponry.
3.) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — KHALIL MACK, LB, Buffalo
Mack appears to be the perfect fit for Gus Bradley’s defense and the Jaguars coach has been effusive with his praise of the Buffalo product. Mack should make an immediate impact as a pass rusher for a Jacksonville team that tied for last with just 31 sacks last season. Despite coming from a small school, the 6-foot-3, 251-pound Mack is universally loved by scouts and there doesn’t seem to be much concern about him transitioning smoothly from the small Mid-American Conference to the NFL.
2.) ST. LOUIS RAMS — SAMMY WATKINS, WR, Clemson
Playing in football’s most daunting division means the offensively-challenged Rams must add fire power. Protecting Sam Bradford is a priority for sure, but a quality offensive lineman might be available when St. Louis picks again at 13; a player like Watkins won’t be. Even in this absurdly deep receiver class, Watkins is clearly the most polished pass catcher and his presence should allow Tavon Austin to blossom in his second season.
1.) HOUSTON TEXANS — JADEVEON CLOWNEY, DE, South Carolina
Houston could be dumb enough to trade this pick – and if they do, the Bill O’Brien era will be a short one. The Texans must realize that pairing Clowney with J.J. Watt is the best way to combat Andrew Luck for the next decade. However, if Romeo Crennell foolishly forces Clowney play outside linebacker and drop into coverage then there will be unnecessary rookie struggles.
BALTIMORE — The most exciting day of the year for my college buddies and I isn’t Christmas, any of the eight days of Hanukkah or Thanksgiving. It isn’t a big movie premiere, birthday or even finally getting a date with that girl from the subway; it’s the day in the first week of August when the Retired Orangemen Fantasy Football League Draft Book arrives in the mail. It’s the very best day of the year because it means two things are in our immediate future: the upcoming NFL season, and the annual ROFFL Draft Weekend.
The ROFFL dates back to 2002 and as you guessed, consists of me and my Syracuse University buddies, along with a few stragglers we needed back in the day to fill out the league (Binghamton, Haverford and Oneonta are also represented). But it’s turned into much, much more with a website, weekly articles, a podcast, an entire Draft Weekend, trophies for first and last place, and the aforementioned Draft Book. That first season we picked our players via an autodraft, and ironically, the guy who won has never had a winning season in 12 years.
In 2003 though, it all changed when we decided to have a yearly live draft in Atlantic City. For our 10th anniversary we tore down Las Vegas (what can I say, we like to gamble) and for our 13th year we started a new tradition: holding our draft in the city of the team that wins the Super Bowl. So as it was we all packed up our magazines, ADP lists and team gear for the state where crab cakes and football are emphatically done: Maryland.
Admittedly, Baltimore wasn’t my first choice. Being a West Coast Guy now, I was rooting for San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII, but to say the Charm City was anything but a fantastic host would be a classic Barry Sanders stretch run. For the 12 of us who made the trek – Parker had to phone in from Los Angeles and Jarrett from New Jersey – it was arguably the most fun we’ve had at a Draft Weekend.
It all started with a night at Camden Yards in a suite to watch the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics but not before a few of us hit up Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, which is home to some of the rarest comic books in the world. Jason, Jay and Marc are makeshift nerds and were geeking out upon seeing the first edition Superman and Batman, as well as old action figures, movie posters and the like from pop culture throughout the years. It was a pretty amazing and well curated museum, and the history buff in me enjoyed it immensely. A couple of them even bought Avengers keychains, while I would’ve loved to have taken home an Elvis poster.
But the real reason we were there Friday night was to see some baseball, stuff our face with Boog Powell’s BBQ and announce our keepers for the upcoming season. See, the ROFFL is a 2-player keeper league and you can retain any player for you want for a maximum of three seasons; so there’s definitely some strategy that goes into who you’re keeping on a year-to-year basis. This season was the end of my time with Texans superstar running back Arian Foster, so I was forced to keep Jaguars stud Maurice Jones-Drew and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. I debated keeping Mike Wallace over Ryan since quarterback has some depth this year, and even had a plan hatched earlier in the week to wait and draft Andrew Luck and a Colts receiver, but I chickened out and made the safe play with The Mattural and the high-powered Atlanta offense.
All-in-all, the keepers went pretty much as I predicted in my mock draft, aside from Rob Gronkowski not being kept, one guy keeping Antonio Brown instead of Reggie Wayne and another keeping Ray Rice over Reggie Bush (we’re a PPR league), and so as the Orioles game went on – and they rallied for a 9-7 win thanks to a Brian Roberts’ grand slam – talk in the suite and the bar afterward turned to draft strategy. Back into the mix this season were all-world running backs Adrian Peterson, Foster, LeSean McCoy, and some studs who were not kept, such as Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris, Larry Fitzgerald and Stevan Ridley. As I was picking in the 8 hole, I figured to have my selection of one of the latter four, which I was completely OK with.
Before I get ahead of myself, Saturday kicked off with a trip to the smallest and most-stupidly-staffed Dunkin Donuts in the 410 and a pre-draft tour of M&T Bank Stadium, also known as the Ravens Nest (I don’t know if anyone actually calls it that, but let’s be honest, they should). Originally, I wasn’t too keen on taking a tour of a football stadium, as I’d been in a couple before, and generally speaking, when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
Boy was I wrong.
Some highlites: the stadium is made with 1.5 million bricks, and if you laid them out end-to-end would cover 155 miles to Ocean City, Md.; the new-and-improved concourse wasn’t open to the public for last Thursday’s preseason game, which made us the first civilians to walk through it; our tour guide was this 70-year old named Tom who used to be a roadie for the Allman Brothers Band; a luxury suite can be yours for the cool price of $125,000 a year, which includes 28 tickets and 23/hour a day access throughout the entire year; Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti’s two-story luxury suite has bulletproof glass for when President Obama comes to visit; they have 3 jail cells in the depths and roughly kick out 150 people per game, most of them women; when John Madden used to still broadcast games for Fox and NBC, he’d drink a half case of beer before each contest and Tom said he almost got fired once for knocking a beer all over the broadcast console; our buddy Josh, who set the whole thing up and worked a year for RaveTV, wrote some of the inspirational essays that adorn the Club Level walls, which was pretty neat to see; the Ravens lockeroom is located 30 seconds from the field, whereas the visitors takes a few minutes to access. Tom made sure to let us know that’s a huge advantage come halftime.
However, the ultimate highlite of the tour was when Tom let us go on the field to run rampant like those brats in “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” but not before we walked through the Ray Lewis Memorial Look At Me And All My Awesomeness Tunnel. Of course, I had to do the dance. The only thing missing was a giant heap of sod for me to throw off myself and shove down my throat, which Tom assured us Ray would do before each game after posing for a picture with the weekly sod giver contest winner. Once on the field, we went Ray Kinsela after he finally finished the Field of Dreams and stood there and soaked in what he had created. Our jaws were agape and eyes buggin’ at what we were absorbing through our sports fan pours. Now, I’ve covered many football games in my sportswriting days and even stood on the sideline next to the head coach for most of them, but I have to admit, it was pretty awesome being on a NFL field with your 10 buddies and a football. My arm isn’t what it used to be, but I turned back the clock a bit throwing touchdown passes to the guys. Oh, and I even dusted off my shoe and drained a 25-yard field goal (on my 2nd attempt). So if Justin Tucker misses any chip shots in the first couple games, I’M READY!!!!
As for the draft itself, I was more than happy to take Ridley with my first pick. I debated between him and Morris for a couple minutes, but in the end, it’s always fun to have a player on the team you root for (and one who could score 15 touchdowns this season). So instead of Tom Brady touchdown passes, I’ll be hoping receivers get tackled at the 5 and Ridley takes it in from there. The problem with my league is that most of my buddies tend to over-think and over-analyze who’s available and their potential. As has been proven time and time again, fantasy football is 98% luck and 2% setting yourself up to have good luck, so there’s roughly no difference between who you’re taking in the later rounds. Such, our draft runs insanely long, and that’s just what happened last weekend. Thankfully, there was an Orioles game going on we could peek out the windows of the B&O Warehouse behind Camden Yards (oh, did I fail to mention we drafted in the warehouse behind Camden Yards? my bad) and take in while Jason and Nick spent an episode of Ray Donovan debating between Brian Hartline and Toby Gerhart.
In the end, I was very satisfied with my top selections (MJD, Ryan, Ridley, Marques Colston, Tony Gonzalez), my defense (Seahawks) and my backups with starting potential (Roy Helu and Andre Roberts). I took a flyer on a couple sleepers (DeAndre Hopkins and Markus Wheaton) and went back to old reliable with my kicker (Sebastian Janikowski). Is this finally the year the Gregg Moore Trophy takes its rightful home at Brockman Manor? I don’t know, since an injury could squash all title hopes faster than you can pronounce Michael Hoomanawanui. The Colt .45 LA Bandits have been so close before and came up short, but with another season anew I’m hopeful, and that’s no fantasy.
LOS ANGELES — The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs is always the most exciting. The final eight teams. The truly best eight of a long, arduous season left standing. And if you break down who’s remaining as we enter Week 19 there’s no question these are the elite eight: Patriots, Texans, Broncos, Ravens in the AFC, and Falcons, Seahawks, Packers and 49ers in the NFC. My preseason Super Bowl pick is still alive and we’ll see if Green Bay and New England make it through the weekend. I know I’m pretty excited after a lackluster Wild Card Weekend.
With the end of the season comes the end-of-the-year awards. Here are my picks:
MVP — Adrian Peterson: carried Vikings to the playoffs and averaged more yards per carry than Christian Ponder averaged per pass. Oh yeah, he blew out his knee just over a year ago and didn’t miss a single snap due to injury this season.
Comeback Player of the Year — Peyton Manning: missed the entire 2011 season and made most who said he should have retired or wouldn’t be the same eat crow with a remarkable 2012.
Offensive Rookie of the Year — Russell Wilson: didn’t get injured or turn the ball over as much as the other rookie candidates, and led the Seahawks to 11 wins and a playoff triumph. Good enough for me.
Defensive Player of the Year — J. J. Watt: 20.5 sacks and another 15 pass deflections. A must-double team on every play or risk him blowing up your whole offensive game plan.
Coach of the Year — Pete Carroll: with all due respect to Chuck Pagano/Bruce Arians, the Colts got some fortunate in-game luck this season (no pun intended) while Seattle played in a tough division, went with a rookie QB and finished undefeated at home. Always compete.
This will double as my end-of-the-regular season You’re The Man Rankings column as well as recapping my preseason Burning Questions for each of the 32 teams. Check that out here to see how I did.
Been an awesome season and it’s only gonna get better the next 3 weeks. Enjoy and thanks for coming along for the ride with me.
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars (final record: 2-14) (preseason YTM rank: 28) – Back before the season started, one of the cornerstones of my fantasy team was Maurice Jones-Drew and one of my questions was what week do I start him in fantasy after his offseason holdout? Well the answer should’ve been NEVER. Like never start him ever. Or trade him immediately. Or how about this: don’t keep him AT ALL. Don’t even consider keeping him. He ruined my fantasy season. Also, me not executing a trade the same week he got injured forced me into scramble mode the entire second half of the year; 418 yards and a TD from my keeper!!?! Sigh. And as for Justin Blackmon, he thrived with Chad Henne at QB and finished the season strong with 38 grabs and 5 TDs in the last 7 games. Certainly something to build on heading into 2013 and on his way to living up to my Anquan Boldin comparison.
31.) Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) (17) – Clearly, I missed pretty bad on my preseason prognostication of the Chiefs; like 14 spots bad. Though, I wasn’t alone. The Chiefs had all the tools to be a contending team this season and it just never got together. And it started with the quarterback. Matt Cassel was atrocious. Like got-his-coach-fired atrocious. I asked if Cassel was the man like people thought he was, well those who thought that are clearly idiots. He turned the ball over at Sanchezian rates – 12 interceptions and 7 lost fumbles – before he was benched in Week 10 and it appears his career as a starting QB are over. Hope he invested his large signing bonus wisely. I’m not sure where Cassel ends up next season, but wherever it is, it’ll be as a handsome backup.
30.) Oakland Raiders (4-12) (22) – Could the Raiders defense carry its weight; that is what I asked to start the season, guessing the offense would be in good shape. Well, let’s take a look at the numbers, shall we. Oakland finished 18th in total offense (8th in passing yards, 28th in rushing), 26th in points scored and 27th in 1st downs. Defensively, the Raiders were 15th in total yards (13th in passing yards allowed, 15th in rushing) and 28th in points allowed. So, in a way, you could say the the defense out-performed the offense but it just gave up too many points, which translated to only 4 wins. Oh, and Darren McFadden getting hurt AGAIN didn’t help anything. Wait, Carson Palmer just threw another interception.
29.) Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) (16) – Debacle. Disaster. Deserving. An overrated player didn’t use any of these D-words to describe the Eagles but they would’ve fit pretty much from Week 1 through their Week 17. This year didn’t just cost Andy Reid his job but it might’ve cost him his sanity. He had LeSean McCoy but barely used him. He benched Michael Vick for Nick Foles. And he thinks he can coach up the Chiefs into a playoff contender. After what Reid went through in the preseason he probably should’ve sat out this season. Then again, I said Peyton Manning should’ve retired. What do I know?
28.) Arizona Cardinals (5-11) (30) — I nailed this one right on the head this preseason. I wondered if I was up next on the Cardinals QB Carousel and as it turned out, they trotted out four different jamokes. FOUR!!?! Kurt Warner changed his phone number at least that many times this year ducking Ken Whisenhunt’s calls. Poor Wiz got canned, too. That was a theme this offseason.
27.) New York Jets (6-10) (26) – So as it turned out, Tim Tebow got used as much by the Jets as much as I did. I wondered how bad their offense was going to be this year and let’s find out: 30th in total offense; 30th in passing yards per game; 12th in rushing yards per game. Mark Sanchez was 31st in passer rating, ahead of only Matt Cassel, 26th in passing yards, 2nd in interceptions and 1st in turnovers. Yup, that’s pretty terrible.
26.) Cleveland Browns (5-11) (32) — So, the running game ended up being pretty decent in Cleveland, this fall. Trent Richardson ran for 950 yards and the 5th most rushing TDs in the league with 11. I may have cut Greg Little from my fantasy team in Week 4 or 5 (I’ve really tried to forget this season already) but Brandon Weeden (3,385 yds, 14 TD, 17 INT) wasn’t as bad as Mark Sanchez, so that’s a win. Sort of. The Browns were 30th in First Down Percentage, and whatever that means, I’m guessing it’s not good.
25.) Tennessee Titans (6-10) (24) – I figured the Titans would go as far as Chris Johnson took him, what with Jake Locker being the consistent starter for the first time, and I wasn’t exactly wrong. Surely, they expected more than 6 wins, but after a disappointing 2011 campaign, CJ bounced back with 1,243 yards and 6 TDs this season. Locker was again hurt and questions should be asked about his durability.
24.) Detroit Lions (4-12) (11) – Matthew Stafford finished 2nd in the NFL in passing yards this season, which we all kind of figured; he just missed a second straight 5,000-yard season by 33 yards. But 2012’s 4-win effort was definitely a disappointment especially after being a playoff team in 2011. I wondered if the secondary would let them down and it wasn’t terrible. Their unit allowed the 19th most passing yards per game but the 13th most touchdown passes. Still, how do you go from the playoffs to 4 wins in just one year?
23.) Buffalo Bills (6-10) (18) – Mario Williams did his part this year, registering 10.5 sacks and the Bills defense gave up the 23rd most passing yards per game. However, the offense was mediocre at best: 19th in total yards and you could argue C.J. Spiller was underutilized. Either way, it’s now former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone’s problem. Rumored to be replacing Chan Gailey on Sunday, Marrone led my beloved Orange to its second bowl win in 4 years.
22.) San Diego Chargers (7-9) (19) – Again, I nailed this one. There’s no way the Chargers weren’t finishing out of the playoffs and there’s no way Norv Turner and A.J. Smith weren’t getting fired and there’s no way I’m speaking proper English right now. Regardless, the Chargers were a disaster from the second half of the Denver game, on. Why? Who knows. Was Philp Rivers the problem? Beats me. Is Ryan Mathews a bust? I mean, it looks that way. Who’s gonna be the coach? Can they catch the Broncos next season? Should they just wear the powder blues all year? Probably.
21.) St. Louis Rams (7-8-1) (27) – I was really at a loss when it came to words for this Rams team in 2012, but back in the preseason I wondered who would emerge as a legitimate pass-catcher for Sam Bradford. This no-name group of receivers needed someone to emerge and that man appeared to be Danny Amendola, who despite missing 5 games and parts of two others, had 63 receptions. As a team, the Rams had 7 guys catch TD passes so we’ll see if anyone steps up next season. As for Steven Jackson, he did take a pounding this year but managed to gain 1,000 yards for the 8th consecutive season.
20.) Miami Dolphins (7-9) (31) — At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if you thought, watching Hard Knocks, the Dolphins were going to win 7 games, you’re the big winner at the casino tonight, Mikey. I was hoping Mrs. Tannehill would suit up at WR this year, but the Dolphins’ band of no-names led by Brian Hartline wasn’t terrible catching the ball. Sure, Reggie Bush didn’t lead the league in rushing or even 1,000 yards (he was 14 short), but this team was one of the surprises in the league and will contend for a playoff spot next year. Oh, and Mrs. Tannehill will be around A LOT.
19.) New Orleans Saints (7-9) (7) – Turns out the head coach is pretty darn important. Turns out the interim coach is pretty important, too. Turns out you can’t start the first 4 weeks winless and expect to have it be in the Super Bowl game being played in your stadium. The Bounty Gate situation was a black cloud over the team, city and league for what seemed like the entire season. New Orleans would love nothing more than to put 2012 behind it. Sure, Drew Brees signed a bajillion dollar contract, his coach did, too, and he threw for more than 5,000 yards (again), but he surely would’ve given it all up (and those terrible Pepsi commercials) to have made the playoffs. Next year.
18.) Dallas Cowboys (8-8) (21) – One of the big Cowboys stories heading into this season was Jerry Jones giving Dez Bryant his own set of bodyguards. Well those guys did their job as Dez had one of the more memorable receiver seasons by someone not named Calvin or Johnson. All Dez went out and do was haul in 92 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, including 10 scores in the last 8 weeks and doing it with a broken finger. He balled out. No question about it and really answered the bell when many were questioning him throughout the year. He’s an elite receiver. Wish the Patriots had him.
17.) Carolina Panthers (7-9) (15) – If you have a younger sibling, you remember what it was like when they were born and suddenly you weren’t the toast of the town anymore. I get the feeling Cam Newton’s feelings were hurt by all the buzz around Andrew Luck and My Good Friend Robert. Look at the season splits; in the first 10 weeks the Panthers were 2-7 and came had 10 INTs and only 8 TDs. Down the stretch, Cam lit it up as Carolina saved not only its miserable season but Ron Rivera’s job, throwing for 11 TDs and only 2 INTs. Sophomore slump? Sure. But I’d be back on that Camwagon next season, if I was you.
16.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) (13) – I thought this Bucs team was going to make the playoffs; even said so when they started 2-4. I believed. And was looking even better after rattled off 4-straight wins to get to 6-4 and were in the drivers seat for the Wild Card. Josh Freeman was in shape, making plays and Doug Martin was running rampant. Then … yeah, I don’t know. Then the wheels came off and the Bucs lost 5 in a row and Freeman threw 10 picks. It was brutal. 6 and 4 became 7 and 9 with lots of questions heading into the offseason.
15.) Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) (12) – Nailed this one, too, and I don’t feel good about it. Mike Wallace couldn’t have been more terrible; don’t know the exact number but he had to have led the league in drops while killing my fantasy team in the process. Ben Roethlisberger nearly got himself killed by playing with fractured ribs and Rashard Mendenhall probably won’t even be on the team next year. Oh, and Todd Haley is talking to the Cardinals about their coaching vacancy. Yup, a season to forget in Pittsburgh.
14.) New York Giants (9-7) (1) – Normally it’s the Super Bowl loser who struggles the following season but the Giants gave Tom Coughlin little to smile about this season. I’m not sure if it was the 3-5 collapse after a 6-2 start or if it was watching the hated Redskins win the division for the first time in 13 years or if it was just he constantly has a sour puss look on his face. Actually, his A Football Life was one of the more enjoyable this year and gave some insight as to why Coughlin is who he is. Check it out if you haven’t had the pleasure.
13.) Chicago Bears (10-6) – Brandon Marshall was tied for 2nd in targets (195) with Reggie Wayne and receptions (118) with Wes Welker, trailing only Calvin Johnson in both. Marshall was 3rd in receiving yards (1,508) behind Megatron and Andre Johnson. BM15 also scored 11 touchdowns. So, yeah, I’d say he and Jay Cutler made sweet music this season on the Midway and should be a great combo moving forward. Though we’ll see who the Bears new coach is what he has to say about it.
12.) Minnesota Vikings (10-6) (29) — Remember all those ones I said I nailed earlier? Well I definitely screwed the pooch on this one. Here’s exactly what I said again about Mr. Adrian Peterson before the season: “If I’m Adrian Peterson, for starters I’d probably spend an uncomfortable amount of time staring at myself in the mirror, but I also wouldn’t be in any rush to get back on the field in Minnesota.” Yeesh. So 2,097 yards later, how’s that taste, Brockman? But my real preseason question was about the Vikings defense, so a quick statistical analysis tells me that it was it gave up the 9th most passing yards in the league, and worst in the NFC North.
11.) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) (8) – The 2011 Bengals went 9-7 and were the AFC Wild Card. Andy Dalton threw for 3,398 yards, 20 TD and 13 INT and made the Pro Bowl, while rookie wide receiver A.J. Green caught 65 balls for 1,057 yards and 7 TDs. But they ultimately lost in the opening round of the playoffs to the Texans. The 2012 Bengals went 10-6 and were the AFC Wild Card, Dalton threw for 3,669 yards, 27 TDs and 16 INTs, Green caught 97 passes for 1,350 yards and 11 TDs but lost to the Texans in the AFC Wild Card. So yeah, I’d say they equaled last year.
10.) Washington Redskins (10-6) (20) – What went on in the NFC Wild Card aside, there’s no question that My Good Friend Robert (as he’s been known as this season in this very column) was one of the chief stories of the 2012 NFL Season. What he did to shock to life the football-crazed DC area was nothing short of a miracle and to call him a Cam Newton-lite, like I tried to do in the preseason was a vast understatement. Here’s Cam’s 2011 season numbers: 4,051 passing yards, 21 TDs, 17 INTs, 706 rushing yards, 15 TDs. Here’s Robert’s 2012 season stats: 3,200 passing yards, 20 TDs, 5 INTs, 815 rushing yards, 7 TDs, AND he was 3rd in the league in passer rating behind two guys named Rodgers and Manning. Ho hum. Unreal. And Mike Shanahan went the other direction used just one main running back this year, another rookie, who only rushed for 1,600 yards in Alfred Morris. Football is back in Washington.
9.) Indianapolis Colts (11-5) (25) – What an amazing season in Indianapolis from the play of their rookies, a rejuvenated Reggie Wayne and the story of Chuck Pagano and Bruce Arians, who deserve to share Coach of the Year honors. I had the Colts 25 in the preseason and predicted that would be their lowest ranking of the year. Turns out I was more than correct. I didn’t envision a playoff team, but thanks to Luck’s astounding rookie season (4,374 passing yards, 23 TDs, 17 INTs, 5 rushing TDs) and some timely big plays, the Colts won 11 games and should be again contenders for the next decade or so.
8.) Baltimore Ravens (10-6) (4) – The Ravens began this year with an undrafted, 22-year-old rookie kicker from Texans named Justin Tucker, who replaced Billy Cundiff, who if you remember, missed from 32 yards in last year’s AFC Championship game and cost Baltimore a trip to the Super Bowl. So I wondered if its new kicker could indeed make a 32-yard field goal. And while Tucker had a fine 2012 season in which he only missed 3 field goals the entire year, he did not make one from 32 yards out. He was 8-for-8 on kicks between 30 and 39 yards, including three each from 38 and 39 yards, but not from 32. Tucker was perfect from 50-plus yards, but none from 32. So we’ll see this weekend and beyond if he is called upon can he deliver from that distance.
7.) San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) (5) – Maybe the real question I should’ve asked was whether or not someone OTHER than Alex Smith will make everyone forget Jim Harbaugh tried to woo Peyton Manning last offseason. Man. Poor Alex Smith. Who saw his benching coming? Guy was leading the league in passer rating, got knocked out, and then Wally Pipp’ed. Colin Kaepernick has come in and gone 5-2-1 as a starter and looks explosive and unguardable at times. He has a cannon and runs like a gazelle. He beat the Saints and Patriots on the road and the Bears at home. Battle tested? Not exactly. We’ll find out very, very soon against Green Bay. But remember, Smith got them to within a few minutes of the Super Bowl last year, anything less is a disappointment out of CK1.
6.) Seattle Seahawks (11-5) (23) – This will be my shortest response of the column. I asked if Russell Wilson could make the Seahawks a contender when the games counted for real: YES. YES. YES. I’m a believer. He did it. And he kills it on this week’s Eisen Podcast, listen for yourself and tell me you’re not all-in on this kid.
5.) Houston Texans (12-4) (6) – Arian Foster continues to dominate NFL defenses and the Twitterverse, while the bow is catching on as a favorite end zone celebration. He bowed a total of 17 times this season and led the league with 351 rushing attempts, so clearly Gary Kubiak was a fan of the bow, as well.
4.) Green Bay Packers (11-5) (3) – Well, as it turned out, Cedric Benson wasn’t the answer for the Packers running game, and in reality, there have been a few answers to that question this season. In all, the Packers used 6 different running backs (including fullback John Kuhn) with Benson being the go-to guy before his Week 5 injury. From there, James Starks picked up on his 2011 postseason run, then Alex Green and now DuJuan Harris appears to be the featured back. Still, when you have Aaron Rodgers, you’re offense is in good shape.
3.) New England Patriots (12-4) (2) – Lost in the amazingness that was Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson’s 2012 seasons was the once again masterful season-long campaign of Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. A strong case could be made Brady should win this third MVP award. All he did was lead the Patriots to another ho-hum 12-4 season by throwing for 4,827 yards, 34 TDs and only 8 INTs; his third career season of single-digit interceptions. I wondered preseason if Brady could get better looking and the answer is, duh. Look at him. Whenever I see his Uggs billboards I scream “TOMMY!!” at them. People look at me like I’m nuts. They’re not wrong. I also asked if the dreadful 2011 Patriots defense could be better than 31st and they improved slightly to 25th. Hey, offense (and being attractive) wins games, right? (reminded of Super Bowl 42 and 46) Sigh.
2.) Atlanta Falcons (13-3) (9) – For the first few weeks of the regular season, probably up until he threw 5 picks against the Cardinals, Matt Ryan was a legitimate MVP contender. The Falcons were rolling everyone in their path and while they stumbled going 2-2 the last month of the year, they still finished 13-3 and the top seed in the NFC. Ryan, my fantasy QB I might add, accumulated 4,719 passing yards, 32 TDs and 14 INTs; all career highs. Still, if they don’t beat the Seahawks this weekend it’ll be considered an unmitigated disaster year and both Mike Smith and Ryan will take an enormous amount of offseason heat for failing, once again, to win a playoff game. Not to mention, Tony Gonzalez will retire winless in the playoffs.
1.) Denver Broncos (13-3) (14) – In a way, it’s fitting that my biggest whiff of the preseason predictions would go on to become the top team the NFL as we enter the Divisional Playoff Round. Peyton Manning had a throwback season for the ages after missing 2011 in its entirety following four neck surgeries, and most think he’s at least a 50/50 shot at winning his record 5th MVP. Hard to say he transformed the Broncos since they were a playoff team (and winner) a year ago, but he gave them a true identity and a definitely attitude and swagger they haven’t had since John Elway roamed the backfield. Riding an 11-game winning streak, I wouldn’t want to come anywhere near them in the playoffs. That’s good enough to earn you billing as The Man.
Stay tuned for my final 2012 NFL Season You’re The Man rankings which will come after the Super Bowl, where I’ll focus on the one thing each team has to look forward to or be concerned with heading into the 2013 offseason.
LOS ANGELES — Can’t believe it’s Week 13 already. Seems like Hard Knocks just ended and we were getting ready for Dallas and New York to kickoff on the Wednesday Night opener. Nope. Twelve weeks down. Only 10 remain. Who’s the Super Bowl favorite? Beats me. Who’s MVP? Your guess is as good as mine. Coach of the Year, who’s getting fired, your fantasy football league champ? Color me clueless.
One thing is known, though, who’s the Man. Let’s find out.
32.) Kansas City Chiefs (record: 1-10) (last week: 32) — So who’s going to be coaching the Chiefs next year? Chip Kelly? Bill O’Brien? Bill Cowher? And who’s going to be the quarterback? Now that Matt Barkley’s stock has fallen, is it Tyler Wilson from Arkansas? Alex Smith? Blaine Gabbert? Tim Tebow? Kevin Kolb? Michael Vick?
31.) Arizona Cardinals (4-7) (26) — Losers of 7 straight don’t get mentions in this column.
30.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-8) (28) — See #31.
29.) New York Jets (4-7) (27) — The biggest news to come out of Jets camp this week: Tim Tebow jersey sales down! Oh no!
28.) Oakland Raiders (3-8) (23) — When the Raiders play the Browns this week, do you think Carson Palmer and Brandon Weeden have a side bet of who’s going to throw the first Pick 6? Because they should.
27.) Cleveland Browns (3-8) (30) — See #28.
26.) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) (31) — Chris Law is jealous of Chad Henne’s Mo-vember ‘stache. And that’s saying something.
25.) Carolina Panthers (3-8) (29) –– Hey, Cam Newton, you actually won a game, so doing your whole Superman TD celebration actually made sense for once! Congrats!
24.) Tennessee Titans (4-7) (20) — Nate Washington has been in my fantasy starting lineup for a majority of the season. That should tell you all you need to know about the Titans and the Colt .45 Hollywood Bandits.
23.) Buffalo Bills (4-7) (24) — Did you catch the Amish Rifle on “The League” a couple weeks ago? That was far and away his best performance of the season. Oof.
22.) San Diego Chargers (4-7) (19) — There are several famous sport plays where things have yet to be finalized: Albert Pujols’ ball he hit off Brad Lidge still hasn’t landed, Matt Holiday still hasn’t touched home plate, Bo Jackson still hasn’t stopped running and Ray Rice still hasn’t crossed the 34-yard line. Still, they should show that 4th and 29 play to high schools across the country and how NOT to tackle someone.
21.) St. Louis Rams (4-6-1) (22) — Alert to all fantasy football owners: Steven Jackson had 100 yards! Steven Jackson had 100 yards! Only the 2nd time all season.
20.) Miami Dolphins (5-6) (25) — When you watched Hard Knocks at the end of the summer, was there any shot you thought you’d be watching a 5-win, on-the-verge-of-the-playoffs team? Didn’t think so.
19.) Detroit Lions (4-7) (18) — Yes, the Lions got semi-hosed on Thanksgiving. Yes, Jim Schwartz should know the rules. Yes, Ndamukong Suh is driving his way out of the league.
18.) Dallas Cowboys (5-6) (16) — I can’t wait until these guys are sinking and the national media can stop talking about them. However, with a matchup with the hapless Eagles in Week 13, which will get Dallas to .500, we’re not out of the woods just yet. Sigh.
17.) Minnesota Vikings (6-5) (15) — Hey, Jimmy, how you feelin’ about your boys now: “You know it’s a bad day when the punt holder scores on you … I think we have 13 total yards this half … My team is so bad today that Fox switched games at the half … I can wait another year for a Super Bowl appearance.”
16.) Cincinnati Bengals (6-5) (17) — This is a team I’d be afraid to play down the stretch, along with the Bucs. Andy Dalton is quietly having himself another Pro Bowl season.
15.) New Orleans Saints (5-6) (12) — Losing last weekend really hurts the Saints playoff chances, but a win against Atlanta would certainly keep them in the mix. But they don’t play any defense, which is kind of a problem in the NFL, unless you’re the Patriots. And how Marques Colston got up after getting upended like he did, I’ll never know.
14.) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) (10) — It baffles me that Pittsburgh didn’t call or David Garrard or Donovan McNabb to fill in at quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger is out. Maybe they did, and we don’t know it, but I feel like that report would’ve gotten out. You can’t roll with Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch. You can’t. Not when you still have a shot to win the Super Bowl
13.) Seattle Seahawks (6-5) (11) — Let’s see how good that Seahawks defense is when it has to go on the road (Chicago) and defend a red hot Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall without their two best defensive backs. Guessing Seattle falls by the wayside.
12.) Washington Redskins (5-6) (21) — I mean seriously, Robert Griffin The Third, if ya need him. So all My Good Friend Robert did on Thursday was annihilate the Cowboys, at JonesMahal, on Thanksgiving, in front of America. AND he did it by becoming the first rookie quarterback EVER to throw 4 TDs in consecutive games. NBD. I said it before and I’ll say it again, you are NOT changing the channel when the Redskins have the ball. EVER. I love caps lock.
11.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) (9) — Are the Bucs the best of the 6-5 and 5-6 group? I’d say so, though if you can’t defend the home turf against a division rival, maybe you don’t deserve to make the playoffs. That was a tough one to lose, especially when you’re looking up at the Falcons. But two of these teams are going to be playing in January. My hunch is Tampa is there.
10.) Indianapolis Colts (7-4) (13) — Who’s making whom better this season: Andrew Luck or Reggie Wayne? Little of each, right? And to think, we all laughed at Reggie when he announced he was re-upping with the Colts for two more years. Insane! We all said. Who’s laughing now. Colts, back in the playoffs (almost). Crazy. And if they play Denver? Twitter might break.
9.) Green Bay Packers (7-4) (2) — “Paging someone who can block for Aaron Rodgers. Anyone out there who can block for Aaron Rodgers. Please report to Green Bay, Wisconsin immediately. We have a jersey waiting for you.”
8.) New York Giants (7-4) (14) — Man, where has THAT Giants team been all season?! That sure was something on Sunday night. Guess Eli really needed that bye week to rest his dead arm, and the defensive line needed some time off to hone their hunting skills. Sure, the Packers offensive line is about as good as a group of 7th graders, but Green Bay had been rolling lately and New York made it look like chumps. I may have to amend my Super Bowl pick.
7.) Baltimore Ravens (9-2) (7) — Nothing about this Ravens team inspires me. They are ripe for a Divisional Round upset to the Colts.
6.) Chicago Bears (8-3) (8) — Should Jay Cutler be in the MVP discussion? The stats are telling.: 1-6 without him in the last two years, 15-5 with him. Despite his hideous mustache, bro balled out this past weekend and has put himself in the Top 5.
5.) Denver Broncos (8-3) (6) — Is Denver the best team in the NFL? Not yet. But they are playing like it. Pretty unconvincing win against the hapless Chiefs for the best team in the league. That game should’ve been a boat race, but it wasn’t. Still, Peyton Manning is the MVP until someone rips it from him. Arian Foster has a chance. Outside chance.
4.) San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1) (5) — It’s hilarious to me that every former coach-turned-analyst on television right now is saying that Jim Harbaugh is doing the right thing by sticking with Colin Kaepernick, while every player is saying that Alex Smith is getting a raw deal and should get his job back. I’m not saying Smith isn’t a good player, but hell, what CK is doing can’t be duplicated.
3.) Atlanta Falcons (10-1) (4) — There’s a lot of people talking trash about the Falcons; calling them the worst one-loss team this late in the season in quite some time. Well, they’ve won 10 of their 11 games. Whether it was by one point, or 100 points, they’ve done it. Matt Ryan throws 5 picks? No worries, they still win. No running game? They still win. Still, people won’t be satisfied until Ryan and Mike Smith win a playoff game.
2.) New England Patriots (8-3) (3) — Can’t tell you how enjoyable that Thanksgiving Day game was to watch. When this Patriots team has it cookin’ on all cylinders they are a fun group to watch. And say what you want, but if you don’t want Tom Brady out there up 30 points throwing darts downfield, stop him. Just really hope they don’t look past Miami this week toward that Monday Night showdown with the Texans in Week 14.
1.) Houston Texans (10-1) (1) — To play 10 quarters of football in roughly 4-and-a-half days, wow, and to win both games (albeit a tad controversially), hell, that’s enough to make you The Man.
LOS ANGELES — The halfway point of the regular season is a time for all the pundits to adjust their preseason predictions. Here at The Chris Brockman Website, we make statements and stick by them, which is why we’re standing behind our prognostications 100%! Back in August, I went on record and chose Lovie Smith as my Coach of the Year, Matthew Stafford as my passing champ, Darren McFadden as my rushing champ and Tom Brady my MVP. Also, I predicted the Patriots and Packers to reach the Super Bowl (the same pick I said in 2011 (I was half right)) and I have no reason to move off that.
New England is 5-3 and Green Bay is 6-3 and each are improving by the week. The Packers have been bitten the injury bug this year, especially at receiver with Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson but have still made plays and put up numbers. Tom Brady is still doing his thing and the young defense seems to be improving, though time will tell with the secondary. So, I’m standing by my NFC playoff teams: 49ers, Packers, Bears, Giants, Bucs and Falcons. In the AFC, honestly, I don’t recall exactly what I said since I don’t think I wrote it down, but I’m calling Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Broncos, Texans and Colts.
What say you? Send me your pics here at the halfway point. While you mull it over, let’s find out Who’s The Man.
32.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) (32) — If you’re in the market for some large, luxury-style homes with lots of bathrooms, probably theaters and pool tables in the greater Kansas City area, you’re in luck! There should be at least three such available in less than two months after Romeo Crennell, Scott Pioli and Matt Cassel all get axed.
31.) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) (31) — I’ve run out of things to say about the Jaguars, so here’s a quickie Extra Butter about the movie I saw over the weekend, “Sinister,” which was as frightening Jacksonville’s play this season… Without giving anything away, here’s a quick plot outline: Ethan Hawke is a true crime novelist looking for one more big hit. He stumbles across what he realizes is a series of murders he thinks are connected. Only he and his family end up becoming part of the story. It’s very good. Some jumpy parts. Moves quickly. If you’re into this genre, you’ll enjoy it. Brockman Stamp of Approval: 3.5 out of 5 boxes of home movies.
30.) Cleveland Browns (2-7) (29) lost — OK, so maybe my Browns honking was a bit premature last week. Someone has to stump for them, though, right? I mean, no one’s watching their games now that the NBA has started and Kyrie Irving and Dion Waters are manning the Cavs backcourt. Those two could have a great decade run if Dan Gilbert doesn’t run them out of town with Comic Sans emails.
29.) Buffalo Bills (3-5) (28) — I blame last week’s loss to Texans on the fact that the Amish Rifle shaved his beard into a goatee. You don’t mess with beard karma, as I’ve learned after trimming mine into a hideous mustache for No Shave November. OK, I guess the Texans are pretty freakin’ good.
28.) Carolina Panthers (2-6) (30) — Here’s the good news for all you Mitt Romney supporters: in 17-of-the-last-19 presidential elections, if the Redskins win their last home game before Election Day the incumbent party retains the White House. The Panthers defeated the Redskins in Landover, Md. on Sunday. Will the GOP be celebrating Tuesday night? (update: nope, they sure weren’t.)
27.) Arizona Cardinals (4-5) (27) — If you saw this game or any of the highlites or saw Larry Fitzgerald’s touchdown reception on Red Zone Channel, did you notice how hard he had to work on that thing? How many jukes and moves and broken tackles he had to withstand just to find the end zone? It should not be that difficult for one of the top, if not the top, receivers in the game to score. It just shouldn’t. At this point, I’m sure Fitz wouldn’t mind if Michael Vick were his quarterback. Ya know, assuming Vick is out of a job in about 8 weeks. #FreeFitz
26.) Tennessee Titans (3-6) (25) — I’ll let Titans owner Bud Adams bring this one home: “In my 50 years of owning an NFL franchise, I am at a loss to recall a regular season home game that was such a disappointment for myself, and fans of the Titans,” Adams told The Tennessean. “We were grossly outcoached and outplayed from start to finish today… At this time, all aspects of the organization will be closely evaluated, including front office, coaches and players over the next seven games. If performance and competitiveness does not improve, I will look at all alternatives to get back to having the Titans become a playoff and championship football team.”
25.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) (23) — Ooooooooh Philadelphia. What a week this is going to be there. But before Jeff Lurie does anything, I hope he checks in with Marcus Vick; he seems to have a lot to say.
24.) Oakland Raiders (3-5) (26) — I attended the UCLA/Arizona game this past weekend at the Rose Bowl, my first trip to the famous Pasadena stadium. Loved the experience, and even though the game was an absolute boat race, there were some heavily intoxicated females sitting in front of us who happen to be talking about fantasy football. I leered close enough to get myself into the conversation. One of them said she had to start Carson Palmer this week with Tom Brady on a bye, but she didn’t feel good about because she “hated” the Raiders and didn’t like Palmer “because he’s a Trojan.” I told her to stick with Palmer, that he would undoubtedly have a big game, which he did: 39-of-61, 414 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs and a 2pt conversion. In my league, good enough for 40.3 points. You’re welcome, drunk broad.
23.) St. Louis Rams (3-5) (24) — I feel like I’ve been doing my Rams fans readers (I’m guessing there has to be at least one of you out there) a disservice all season long because I just can’t find anything to say about this team. It’d be one thing if it was good and flew under the radar and was sniffing the playoffs, but I don’t see that happening. Danny Amendola should be back this week. That’s good, right?
22.) New York Jets (3-5) (22) — My editor on Sunday nights, Jantzen, the die-hard Steelers fan who feared for his life at a Raiders game earlier this year, had a great comment about the Jets at halftime of the Giants/Steelers game when it looked like the fix was in for the G-Men. It’s kinda moot since the Steelers ended up winning the game, but check it out anyway. I hate the Jets.
21.) Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) (21) — Of all the teams in the league who think they’re good but really aren’t even close to being there, the Bengals might be the best of them. Did you follow that? I’m not even sure I did, but Cincy is approaching St. Louis territory where I’m just running out of things to say about them since I don’t a) have anyone on my fantasy team on them and b) they’re just not that interesting. I mean, their quarterback is a ginger for crying out loud!
20.) Washington Redskins (3-6) (14) — Correct me if I’m wrong, but it can’t be good if your head coach says after a loss that he’s at the point in the season where he’s evaluating players as to who will be on the team next season, can it?
19.) Dallas Cowboys (3-5) (20) — Jerry Jones is pretty fascinating. He seems to “get it” in every part of his life EXCEPT when it comes to running his football team. Think about it. This guy is a billionaire. He makes TV cameos and is funny, quick and basically a better actor than 75% of those who do it professionally. He built a stadium that is a modern marvel of modern technology. He was ahead of the plastic surgery craze. But for some reason he can’t put the pieces together to field a winning football team. He really should be running the Jets.
18.) San Diego Chargers (4-4) (19) — Nobody wins in November like Norv Turner, and they did it again last Thursday. Sure, the Chargers did get a gift in terms of the hapless Chiefs, but Philip Rivers and Co. still had to go out and make plays, and they did. Now the Norv gets at least a one-week reprieve from the axe.
17.) Detroit Lions (4-4) (18) — Matthew Stafford came on the Rich Eisen Podcast this week and basically said it’s Calvin Johnson’s fault for not scoring more TDs this season. He noted at least 5 times that Megatron has gotten tackled inside the 2-yard line this season. Stafford also noted he’s been taking a lot of heat from fantasy owners. I’m in a 2-QB league and drafted Johnson with my first overall pick (yeah, I’m in last place) and traded him this week for Doug Martin. Yup. I’m a winner.
16.) Miami Dolphins (4-4) (12) — Despite last week’s loss, which featured both the Colts and Dolphins with winning records (raise your hand if you thought that would happen this year; I shouldn’t be seeing any hands), I still like this Dolphins team. Reggie Bush runs hard, Lauren Tannehill’s husband has been very solid.
15.) Minnesota Vikings (5-4) (15) — My Maine buddy Jimmy is losing faith in his Vikings. As I wrote him at one point, the ship be sinking: “Your stud RB runs for 182 yards, 2 TD’s, and your team loses by double digits. This may not be our year.”
14.) New Orleans Saints (3-5) (16) — I don’t know if the Saints still have a shot at the playoffs or not. I tend to think the Bucs are going to be a wild card team and most likely the Packers. However, if this team makes the playoffs, Look. The. Eff. Out. Yes, they can’t stop Narbonne High School, but do you want to face Drew Brees with a chance to shut everyone up about how their season would be lost without Sean Payton? And speaking of Payton, is there any way he’s not coaching the Cowboys next year? You don’t think Jerry Jones is gonna pay him $10M a year and give him a jet or an island or Paulie’s talking robot from Rocky IV or something to seal the deal?
13.) Indianapolis Colts (5-3) (17) — After 8 games, Andrew Luck has 2,404 yards passing. That ranks tied for 4th in the NFL. You know with whom? Peyton Manning, maybe you’ve heard of him.
12.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4) (13) — So Doug Martin has had two really amazing games, huh? But here’s my stance on him not liking his nickname “Muscle Hamster.” Tough. Get over it. You think there are kids out there who don’t love their nicknames? You think Chunk from “Goonies” or a giant fat guy named “Tiny” like those?
11.) Seattle Seahawks (5-4) (11) — I don’t think this team is going to make the playoffs, but Russell Wilson is proving a dangerous playmaker. You wouldn’t take him over My Good Friend Robert, I understand, but he’s not a bad alternative. Look at their numbers: 62 comp %, 1,639 yards, 13 TDs, 8 INTs and 65.6 comp %, 1,993 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs. Who would you take?
10.) Baltimore Ravens (6-2) (9) — What the hell is going on with that Ravens offense? No, seriously, this is a legitimate question. They have weapons coming out of the nest and barely beat the Chiefs and Browns. This is troubling, and a major reason why they’ve slipped in rankings. YOU HAVE RAY RICE, JUST GIVE HIM THE BALL. OK, I’m done.
9.) New York Giants (6-3) (3) — Now it’s Eli Manning’s fault? That sounds about right. Sure, Eli is slumping, only throwing 2 TDs in his late 4 games and under 200 yards in 3 of those, but they still should take control of the NFC East. After 2 Super Bowls, I’m not ruling the Giants out of anything until the playoffs start and they’re not in them.
8.) Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3) (10) — Wait, so these ARE your daddy’s Steelers? In the last few years, Pittsburgh has transformed itself into a new-age Black & Gold, with Ben Roethlisberger winging it all over the yard. But as the offensive line has gone down with some injuries this season, Pittsburgh has gone back to its old school roots, pounding the rock with whomever they line up at tail back. Lately, it’s been Jonathan Dwyer and Issac Redman, who’ve combined for nearly 400 yards in the last three games.
7,) Denver Broncos (5-4) (8) — As long as Peyton Manning keeps ballin’ out of control, his teammates will rally and play up to his level and the Broncos will be a threat down the stretch. I’m not sure how good their defense is, but any time you have Von Miller rushing the quarterback, sacking him and doing a silly dance, you got a shot.
6.) New England Patriots (5-3) (7) — The man with my favorite name in sports, Aqib Talib, was acquired by the Patriots during their bye week from Tampa Bay in a move that surprised many given Talib’s fondness with breaking the law. He doesn’t exactly fit the demographic of what a Patriots player looks like, then again, Bill Belichick has taken chances on players with sketchy backgrounds in the past. The key always being, if you perform on the field, I don’t care what you did before you got here. And New England needs secondary help. Currently, it’s 28th against the pass (281.1 ypg) and have given up the 3rd most passing TDs (17).
5.) San Francisco 49ers (6-2) (6) — The 49ers still have to play the Bears, Saints, Patriots and Seahawks in the second half of the season. To quote Cris Collinsworth: I’m not so sure San Francisco doesn’t have a tough road to the #1 seed in the NFC.
4.) Green Bay Packers (6-3) (4) — Before the season started I was out with my friend Justine, and she was texting with her friend Randall Cobb. She said he was telling her how the Packers were planning to use him this season, and they were expecting big things. It was then I decided I want to get Cobb on my fantasy team. Ultimately, I waited too long to pick him up, but I’m very glad to see him ballin’ out like he has. No way anyone envisioned 45 rec, 500 yards and 6 TDs including another 667 return yards and a punt return TD. And he’s only 22 years old.
3.) Houston Texans (7-1) (5) — How many times are the Texans going to run that play-action bootleg and then throw it deep to the tight end for a touchdown this season before teams start preparing for it? The tight end is always WIDE OPEN. They did it again against Buffalo this past Sunday. Oh, and Arian Foster has now scored a touchdown in 12 straight games. Me likey that very much.
2.) Chicago Bears (7-1) (2) — Holy smokes, Charles Tillman just ran into my apartment, punched my laptop out of my hand and Brian Urlacher raced by, scooped it up and ran to the The Grove’s Apple Store for a touchdown rebate!!?! What in the hell just happened?!
1.) Atlanta Falcons (8-0) (1) — Seeing a lot of articles this week comparing the Falcons to other 8-0 teams in history and coming to the conclusion that this team doesn’t stack up. I often like to quote Bill Parcells: you are what your record is. And this Falcons team is 8-0, and of the 14 teams in NFL history to reach that mark, 9 of them (64.3%) have reached the Super Bowl. And as Herm Edwards says:
… and right now, the Falcons are winning. And that’s all that matters.
LOS ANGELES — The real refs returned in time for last Thursday night’s game in Baltimore and you can guess how long the love affair lasted. Right, about a quarter. Ask Green Bay if they like the replacements or the regular refs better? If New Orleans can have an interim to the interim head coach, maybe we can get some replacements for the replacement refs just for Packers games. Good thing Rodgers’ Ruffryders came through this week (thanks to a Garrett Hartley missed field goal, to boot) or we might have a Mike McCarthy-led mutiny on our hands. But it was good to see ‘ole Ed Hochuli and his guns out there again. Apparently Sports Illustrated thought so, too. Speaking of, does it look like a lot more of these officials are yoked up these days? Did the new deal involve free Bowflex’s and GNC Gold Card memberships? This is making me feel like a weakling.
OK, I’m gonna mix in some push-ups here while you read who’s the man. Let’s get it.
32.) Cleveland Browns (0-4) (32) — Does anyone on the Browns have a hot wife I can post pictures of to make the bottom of this poll more entertaining and attractive? Someone has to, right? Quick, lemme Google Brandon Weeden’s wife real quick … OK, so this ain’t so bad. I mean, that’s a great view, right? AmIright? [crickets…]
31.) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) (28) — I never thought it would ever come to this, but I actually considered trading MJD from my fantasy team this week. That’s how bad it’s gotten in Jacksonville.
30.) Tennessee Titans (1-3) (27) — OK, Chris Johnson fantasy owners, you can all calm down now. CJ ran for 141 yards this week and while he didn’t score, you have to be encouraged that he did SOMETHING, right? And while you never want to see anyone get hurt, I am glad that my brother Matt Hasselbeck is going to get some burn here for the next couple weeks. Go easy on the Pick 6s, though. #BaldIsBeautiful
29.) Oakland Raiders (1-3) (29) — Richard Seymour, I love ya, buddy. You were a Patriot for years. Won some Super Bowls. But you can’t honestly think your defense is “close” like you said this week, can you? Close to what? Last place in my poll? Yes, you’re close to that. Again. Peyton Manning just threw another touchdown pass.
28.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) (23) — Did I read that right? Matt Cassel has 10 turnovers in four games? Wow. That’s impressive even for me, someone who’s been known to sling it all over the yard in my day. At least that’s what the Biddeford head coach told me when I returned to the area as a reporter. Seriously, first time I interviewed him, he said: “yeah, I remember you. You used to sling it all over the yard at TA, right?” I thought that was pretty cool. And yes, against the Tigers, I threw three interceptions and we lost 42-7. That was 12 years ago. Remember it like it was yesterday.
27.) New Orleans Saints (0-4) (26) — Poor Aaron Kromer. The aforementioned interim to the interim head coach just wants to not go winless in his short coaching stint. Well, he’s got two more games to get one and it doesn’t get any easier this weekend with the Chargers coming to the Dome. The Saints played their best game of the season in Green Bay, got a gift from the real refs and still lost. Sometimes it’s just not your year.
26.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) (18) — This team and the Rams I really don’t get. I thought the Bucs were a lock to make the playoffs, then the Falcons have gone out and been the best team in the league and the Saints have been the worst. But Josh Freeman hasn’t improved. Doug Martin hasn’t been the dynamite back we all thought and people seem to think Greg Schiano is an a-hole. Might be a long year in Tampa. And it’s hot there, which sucks.
25. Detroit Lions (1-3) (22) — Remember when I said the Lions were frauds and that I was rolling with the Vikings? Yup, they went out and proved that this week by losing to Minnesota. At home. Detroit’s special teams is atrocious and that vaunted run defense gave up 100+ to a one-legged Adrian Peterson. I hope Jim Schwartz rented his home.
24.) Carolina Panthers (1-3) (24) — I really wish you could have seen what I saw from a certain player in the locker room after the game. It was priceless and tells you all you need to know about the Panthers. They are a mess. But I did like the effort this past week against Atlanta. They can win some games, but they’re definitely not celebrating the win afterwards together, despite what Ryan Kalil has printed on a t-shirt.
23.) Miami Dolphins (1-3) (31) — I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this is the last time the Dolphins are behind the Jets in this poll. Mr. Lauren Tannehill really showed me something. Sure, his stats (26-of-41, 431 yards, TD, 2 INT) were helped by a couple of great catch-and-runs by Brian Hartline, but still, someone has to throw him the ball and that someone was Lauren Tannehill’s husband. Also, if you haven’t watched a Joe Philbin presser, check it out. Underrated funny.
22.) New York Jets (2-2) (19) — I tell ya what, that was some Rex Ryan post game press conference after Sunday’s spanking by the 49ers. Is it what the Jets needed? Will it work? Who the hell knows. Personally, I think Rex is seriously on the hot seat. This could end badly. Like worse than his lapband surgery. In a way, I kinda miss the fat Rex. He was much more fun and prone to say real stupid junk. How bad is Houston gonna blank them this week on Monday Night Football? 45-0? That’d be great.
21.) Indianapolis Colts (1-2) (25) — Don’t play and move up 4 spots. Why not? But seriously, this Chuck Pagano thing is downright terrible. When I was in elementary school, one of our classmates had Leukemia and I remember our teacher would have a few of us write her letters every couple days. I wasn’t close with her, in fact, her name escapes me at this moment, but I wrote her the best letter I could. And I’m sure that reading them, even from someone like me whom she barely knew, made her feel well and alive. I’m wishing Chuck Pagano my best.
20.) St. Louis Rams (2-2) (30) — I’m excited to get my first real look at this Rams team on Thursday night on NFL Network against the Cardinals. Pretty much if Sam Bradford stays healthy then they’re fine. Danny Amendola is turning into the poor man’s Wes Welker and Steven Jackson is still a beast. I don’t know much else, but beating the Seahawks is good enough for me.
19.) Buffalo Bills (2-2) (21) — Realizing where I just ranked the Bills, I said to myself: “The Bills got shellacked and moved up? That can’t be right.” Well, it is. There are a lot of bad teams right now in the NFL and while I don’t think Buffalo is good by any stretch, they did have the Patriots on the serious ropes for a half. If Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t turn the ball over, the Bills seriously could have won. But where was that defense everyone talked so much about this offseason? I mean, 243 rushing yards to Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden? Jeez, Louise.
18.) Seattle Seahawks (2-2) (14) — Is our love affair with Russell Wilson over yet? Brandon Weeden didn’t play terribly against the Ravens and with Ryan Tannehill throwing up 431 yards, that would push Wilson into the 5-hole among the rookie QBs, right? Seattle’s defense is going to carry this team for a bit until Wilson either flames out or Matt Flynn is healthy enough to assume the starting job.
17.) Dallas Cowboys (2-2) (13) — Where to begin with last night’s Cowboys/Bears game? My friend dubbed this the Douchebag QB Bowl but that’s not really right. I don’t think Tony Romo is a d-bag but he certainly played like one last night. Sure, two of the picks were deflected but the other 3 were terrible. Not even I threw them that egregiously. All that was missing last night was T.O.
16.) Washington Redskins (2-2) (16) — Blow a huge lead and then come back to win it. Well damn, that’s some moxie. Even if it shouldn’t have been that close. Billy, Billy, Billy. What are we going to do with Billy Cundiff? Misses what, three field goals that would’ve put this game out of reach well before Tampa’s comeback and then hits the game-winner? Oh, and tell my good friend Robert it’s OK to SLIDE every once in a while.
15.) New York Giants (2-2) (4) — Maybe this is too far of a drop, but seriously, where in the hell was Eli throwing that ball on the end zone interception? Where? And to whom? Because all I saw were three Eagles there waiting for it. I told you it was going to be one of these seasons. No rhyme or reason. And you’re the NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS, gotta have more than 57 yards rushing. Gotta.
14.) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) (10) — You know what I love? Stats like Mike Tomlin is 4-1 coming off a Bye Week. I love that shhh. Totally meaningless, but yet it completely makes sense. Random story about Mike Tomlin. He was at the Senior Bowl earlier this year in Mobile, Ala., as was I. And he wore the same exact outfit two consecutive days, which made me wonder what he was doing the night before. In Mobile. Now I’m not saying I’ve never done it, but I’m also not a Super Bowl-winning head coach who makes millions of dollars a year. But he did have on the tightest Air Force 1s. Dude has serious swag.
13.) Minnesota Vikings (3-1) (20) — Let’s check in with my Vikings fan buddy Jimmy: “D looks like the purple people eaters of old” … “We’re for real Just gotta believe. Remember how everyone laughed when they drafted Ponder? He’s gonna be ok” … “The glory days are back baby.” Yeah, he’s feeling good and those good feelings should remain after they roll through the Titans on Sunday.
12.) San Diego Chargers (3-1) (17) — Probably not a good sign when you bench your 1st Round running back from a couple years ago because he can’t hold onto the football. I’m not expert, but that’s an important skill to have. I wonder if Norv has Ryan Mathews walking around the facility like Omar Epps in “The Program?” Talk about an underrated movie. That one should get remade in a few years, I’m guessing. I’d be down for that. Maybe I could get a part as an assistant coach in charge of HGH administration.
11.) Denver Broncos (2-2) (9) — Quick look at Peyton Manning’s line from Sunday: 30-of-38, 338 yards, 3 TDs. I’d say he’s back. Funny, listening to Bill Belichick talk about Manning (it’s Patriots v. Broncos in Week 5) and he said No. 18 looks like his old self and the Broncos are running 95% of the Colts old offense; really interesting. Let’s hope the results follow history’s path. Brady is 8-4 against Manning all-time.
10.) Chicago Bears (3-1) (12) — That’s what everyone envisioned what Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall would look like when the Bears traded for the enigmatic receiver. He sure torched the Cowboys, didn’t he? Look, I hate Cutler just as much as the next guy, but I love how every move he makes on the sideline now is scrutinized like the Zapruder Film. In his defense, though, I wouldn’t want to stand next to Mike Tice for that long, either. Oh, and Chicago’s defense sure looks pretty good, huh? Though, Tony Romo made it pretty easy for them.
9.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) (15) — Well, that was an impressive win against the Giants, Sunday night. I still don’t think Michael Vick is going to remain upright for the entire season. However, if Andy Reid wants to keep winning, he’ll keep feeding LeSean McCoy (123 yards vs. Giants). There isn’t another back in the league who makes open-field moves like Shady. He should get 30 touches a game.
8.) New England Patriots (2-2) (8) — The first half of last weeks’ game illustrated the Patriots’ deficiencies; the second half showed how explosive this offense can be and why some said it could be better than 2007. Tom Brady was Tom Brady, but who knew the running game could be that dynamic? Stevan Ridley? Brandon Bolden? I went and picked up Bolden when he was around the 70-yard mark, who knew he still had 70 more to go?
7.) Arizona Cardinals (4-0) (11) — I’m not quite a believer in the Cardinals, but I’m getting there. But, I did like this stat: they’ve won 11-of-their-last-13 games dating back to last year. That has to count for something, right? And by a show of hands, how many of you immediately picked up or put in a waiver claim for Andre Roberts as soon as Kevin Kolb’s ball hit his hands for a touchdown on that last drive?
6.) Green Bay Packers (2-2) (6) — The highest ranked of the .500 teams, the Packers finally played a complete game and it almost still wasn’t enough. But it was good to see Aaron Rodgers go off (319 yards, 4 TDs) for fantasy owners and I’ve decided there’s not a cooler sack celebration than Clay Matthews’ beast. Jared Allen’s calf rope had been my No. 1 but I’m down with Matthews now. Plus, I’m still diggin’ those State Farm commercials: “Show me, show me what ya got, Raji”.
5.) Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) (7) — The Ginger Rocket is no joke (5th in Passer Rating and 4th in TDs). And I have to hear every Sunday night how awesome A.J. Green is because he went to Georgia from Jantzen, but don’t you get the feeling that at some point Marvin Lewis is going to remember he’s Marvin Lewis and FUBAR this whole operation up? Until then, the Bengals are going to Who Dey all over everyone to more wins.
4.) San Francisco 49ers (3-1) (5) — That’s more like it from the 49ers; a spanking of an overmatched opponent. Before the season, I was talking to some people about fantasy running backs and wondered why no one had Frank Gore near the top. Got a lot of, “he’s too old” comments. How about the 1,300-yard pace he’s on now? That OK for everyone? Thought so. Would like to see more from their WRs though. Mario Manningham can’t be your No. 1. He just can’t.
3.) Baltimore Ravens (3-1) (3) — As is the case with all the Thursday night teams, I have basically forgotten what you did to make you so impressive, but I know you didn’t do anything to drop. So here are the Ravens. Torrey Smith is ballin’ right now. And in my fantasy league, my buddy still has Joe Flacco on his bench, which just seems silly at this point, even if he is starting Cam Newton.
2.) Houston Texans (4-0) (2) — Number one in total defense. Second against the pass. Fifth in sacks. Yes, the Texans opponents have a combined 6-10 but you can only play who’s in front of you and they’ve dominated all comers to this point. Arian Foster is on a 412-carry pace, which concerns me and Andre Johnson has been real quiet so far. More offensive balance would be nice but with that division, expect Gary Kubiak’s mug to be near the top all season.
1.) Atlanta Falcons (4-0) (1) — How ’bout the onions on Matt Ryan on that throw on 1st and 10 from the 1-foot line late in the Panthers game last weekend? That would make me react like this, too. In fact, that last time I saw someone literally just drop back and throw the ball as far as they could, well, it was me. Senior year at Syracuse, first game of the flag football season. For some reason, our game against these freshman came down to the wire and on the last play of the game I reared back and let it fly 60 yards to the right corner of the end zone, where it landed in the hands of my buddy James for a touchdown. My now buddy, Sean McBride, was defending and will tell you exactly how it went down. Oh, right, the Falcons are good.
LOS ANGELES — I wasn’t paying attention this weekend, did anything controversial happen?? What in Hank Stram’s jet black toupee went on in Week 3!!?! Was there something in the sideline Gatorade? Did these replacement refs have a bad shift at the toll booth before their games? Seriously. Between Pole Gate and Golden Gate the only thing I really have to say is:
Before this post gets flagged for pass interference, let’s find out who’s the man.
32.) Cleveland Browns (record: 0-3) (last week: 28) — I actually don’t think the Browns are all that bad, but Brandon Weeden is killing them after three games. He’s tied for the lead league in interceptions (6) and is 30th in Passer Rating (60.7). The defense has been formidable but you get the feeling it’s going to take something flukey or a big special teams play to turn the tide and get in the W column.
31.) Miami Dolphins (1-2) (29) — Yes, the Dolphins should’ve beat the Jets last weekend. No, they did not. Yes, I’m jealous of Dan Carpenter’s luscious flowing locks. No, I’m not jealous of his kicking abilities in pressure situations. Crazy to think if Miami had pulled that out, it’d be in first place in the AFC East. It’s going to be one of those years.
30.) St. Louis Rams (1-2) (23) — I don’t know what to make of this Rams team, gotta be honest. Kinda goes with how the NFC West is shaking out this year, don’t ya think?
29.) Oakland Raiders (1-2) (32) — Our buddy Jantzen, a life-long, rabid Steelers fan, went up to the Black Hole last weekend for the Pittsburgh/Oakland game and texted these nuggets about the ambiance: “I’ve gotten a lot of ‘Fuck the steelers’ chants in our direction. It seriously is scary.” And then there was this one: “the Raiders fans just booed the Steve sabol tribute cause it ends with the immaculate reception.” Stay classy, Oakland.
28.) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) (31) — Has anyone seen Justin Blackmon? Is he all right? Did he get another DUI and no one bailed him out of jail yet? I know it’s extremely early to throw around bust talk, but when you draft a receiver 5th overall you expect him to have more than 4 catches for 31 yards. I know Blaine Gabbert is throwing him the ball, but how many weeks can that be an excuse?
27.) Tennessee Titans (1-2) (30) — That was some wild game but Jake Locker suddenly doesn’t look terrible (this week). But seriously, Chris Johnson, what gives? It wasn’t cool when you blamed the offensive line for not creating holes and this 1.4 yards per carry thing isn’t gonna fly since it’s doubtful you’ll get 1,200 carries this season. But ah, nice hair?
26.) New Orleans Saints (0-3) (17) — Panic Button, meet the Saints. Or at least their fans. Yeah, I’d say it’s nearly time to think about 2013 and with the Packers up next 0-4 is a real strong possibility. I love these research nuggets: since 1990 exactly ONE TEAM has made the playoffs after starting 0-4, that highly memorable 1992 San Diego Chargers, led by the late great Junior Seau and the Stan Humphries/Marion Butts offensive combo.
25.) Colts (1-2) (25) — Andrew Luck threw for 313 yards but the Colts rushing attack is only 23rd in the league (90.3 ypg). He’s gotta get some help and the defense needs to not have brain farts that lead to 80-yard touchdown passes to the Jaguars if Jim Irsay’s playtoy wants to have a successful season. Oh, and how about the Reggie Wayne resurgence. He leads the league in targets (40) and is 4th in receptions (23).
24.) Carolina Panthers (1-2) (16) — So it appears the Cam Newton backlash has started and is quite real, as evidenced by this Hello Kitty mock cartoon. Look, I didn’t like the Superman TD celebration down 23-0 either and Cam does seem to have a sulking problem, but he’ll be fine. I was more concerned with the whole getting straight up punked on national TV at home.
23.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) (27) — Because #KickersArePeopleToo, has there been a better Mr. Irrelevant than Ryan Succop? He’s made all six of his field goals this season, including the game-winner in overtime to beat the Saints last week. Oh, and Jamaal Charles appears to be back. Man, did he ever look fast on that 91-yard touchdown run.
22.) Detroit Lions (1-2) (18) — Defense struggled. Offense kept them in the game. Calvin Johnson leads the league in 20+ yard plays. That all sounds about right for the Lions. But I’m rolling with the Vikings in the NFC North for now.
21.) Buffalo Bills (2-1) (24) — If the Bills really want to prove they belong in the playoff discussion they best show up and play like they mean it this week at home against the semi-reeling Patriots. Poor C.J. Spiller had one week as the best player in the NFL before injuring his shoulder, though Fred Jackson somehow thinks he’s going to play this weekend (poorer guy). That leaves Tashard Choice has the Amish Rifle’s offensive cohort. Yikes.
20.) Minnesota Vikings (2-1) (26) — Just before the game my buddy Jimmy the Vikings fan texted me: “how bad are the Vikings gonna get a– raped today,” so confidence was high going in. After Minny got ahead by two scores he chimed in: “quick stop the game. Isn’t there a tornado or something in the area.” It’s gonna be one of those seasons in the Homerdome. In other news, I picked up Christian Ponder to be my backup in fantasy. So he’s now on two first place teams.
19.) New York Jets (2-1) (22) — I have no idea what’s going on with the Jets and don’t really want to try and figure it out. Darrelle Revis is out for the year with an ACL tear, which obviously hurts their heavily-relied upon defense. And what are they doing with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow? I know what they’re NOT doing: completing passes.
18.) Tampa Bay Bucs (1-2) (13) — I get the feeling this Bucs team is going to do well at home and struggle on the road. Though, I did confidently prognosticate they’d make the playoffs a week ago, so START PLAYING WELL ON THE ROAD!!
17.) San Diego Chargers (2-1) (12) — Perhaps this speaks more to how good the Falcons are than how bad the Chargers really are, but seriously. You had Atlanta coming cross country on a short week and you STILL got blown out. That’s just embarrassing.
16.) Washington Redskins (1-2) (11) — Did I see that the Redskins signed running back Ryan Grant this week? Really, Mike Shanahan? ANOTHER running back? Patriots:Tight Ends = Redskins:Running Backs. Yeah, I just went SAT on your ass.
15.) Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) (10) — When you stop and realize the Eagles are a dropped INT in the end zone and a bogus replacement ref P.I. call away from being 0-3, you come to the wonder just a.) how bad are they, really? and b.) should Andy Reid be on the hot seat? Hell, here’s a c.) is Michael Vick gonna get benched or carted off the field first?
14.) Seattle Seahawks (2-1) (21) — The good thing about this Seahawks roller coaster is you don’t have to wait in line for 90 minutes to ride it. And it lasts 3 hours instead of 5 minutes. OK, look, we all know (except Golden Tate, Pete Carroll and the NFL apparently) that it was an interception on Monday, so really, Seattle should be lower. But like Mr. Parcells says, you are what your record is and Carroll’s crew is 2-1. Don’t forget to fasten your seatbelt.
13.) Dallas Cowboys (2-1) (15) — Funny how with all that’s going with the replacement refs, Belichick, Rodgers, the crappy Saints, Cardinals shocking everyone, Eagles, that the Cowboys are seemingly flying under the radar. Who thought we’d ever say that?
12.) Chicago Bears (2-1) (14) — The defense won this game for Chicago last week, we can all agree on that. I’m not saying its carrying Jay Cutler’s dopey ass so far this season but Mr. Cavallari is tied for the lead league in INTs (6), 4th in times sacked (11) and 2nd to last in passer rating (58.6). But he currently is in 1st in Picking On Guys On Your Team Twice Your Size. So good job!
11.) Arizona Cardinals (3-0) (20) — Overreaction jump in the rankings! Kevin Kolb! Defense! Loud Noises!
10.) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) (8) — More from diehard Steelers fan Jantzen: “There was a woman behind me that said ‘I’m gonna beat the shit out of a steeler fan tonight’ after DHB got knocked the fuck out. When Antonio Brown fumbled, that same woman jumped on the back of my seat, put her arms around me and started shaking me. The closest steeler fans were 10 rows away from us. I thought I was gonna get shanked. Lucikly she left me alone. Part of me is glad we lost.” Raiders fans, everybody!
9.) Denver Broncos (1-2) (9) — Some of the tweets during the Texans/Broncos game this week were interesting. A lot of “Peyton Manning can’t throw anymore” floating around out there. Look, Peyton’s never thrown the prettiest ball but it always got there and in a HURRY. Through 3 weeks it’s clear we’re not seeing that just yet. Now, will it come back? Or is this the Peyton 2.0. But it was kinda cool seeing him get back the Broncos back in the game they had no business being in.
8.) New England Patriots (1-2) (6) — You’ve all seen the stat by now: the Patriots haven’t been under .500 since Week 1, 2003 when they got routed by the Bills. Now, New England went on to win the Super Bowl that year so maybe that’s a good sign for this year, but so far the offense is out of sync (except when they go no-huddle) and the defense can’t make a big stop. What do you think of the 50 large Bill dropped for “getting the referee’s attention?” Worth it? I saw an interesting tweet that said it was basically like us regular folk being fined $400. I don’t know if anything is worth 4 bones. Wait, I’ve lost more than that in one night at the craps table. Nevermind.
7.) Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) (19) — This Bengals team is that girl who works at the coffee shop you see on Tuesday mornings for 5 minutes and you can’t decide if she’s cute or not. Some days she is and you talk yourself into her, and other days you hide your face behind the paper so she doesn’t make small talk at the counter. So, yeah, Cincy gave up a big lead to the Redskins, but still, did you see it build a huge lead on the road against a team most thought was pretty good? It was impressive. The Ginger Rifle was throwing darts and there’s big play guys all over the field. Then again, Marvin Lewis is the coach, so we’ll see how long this lasts. But two games in a row is pretty good.
6.) Green Bay Packers (1-2) (5) — The Mike Silver Revolution is nearly complete with this latest WTFJH craze. So besides that, here’s the Top 5 Things to Result From Golden Gate: 5- “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”; 4- Aaron Rodgers apologizing on behalf of the entire NFL; 3- Pete Carroll doing anything; 2- Free Ed Hochuli movements; 1- T.J. Lang’s Twitter account.
5.) San Francisco 49ers (2-1) (1) — Is it possible the 49ers just had a bad week in Minnesota? Sure. If it happens again this week in New Jersey, then maybe it’s time to re-think the Harbaugh genius.
4.) New York Giants (2-1) (7) — My favorite items from the Tom Coughlin “A Football Life” in no particular order: he went to Syracuse and all the shots of the Hill, Coughlin created chaos during the family moves, Coughlin telling the guy to put on longer pants and stop wearing “bermuda shorts,” Fred Taylor saying he got injured “once,” the “N-O” button on his desk, his wife saying “I don’t want him around full time,” John Madden’s phone message after Week 17 in 2007 and the emotion in his voice, taking 3 shots to make can in trash: “ugh, basketball,” Floyd Little, “is the Gatorade bath really sticky?” question from the kid and Frierson coming in and saying “it looks like Philip Rivers!” at his college photo.
3.) Baltimore Ravens (2-1) (4) — Joe Flacco. I know the Ravens have Ray Rice and he’s a top 4 back in the league, but seriously, this team will come and go as far as #5. And Justin Tucker, you get one free pass in this league; Sunday night was your pass. Next time, don’t make it that close. It was a 27-yard field goal. Seriously, bro. High School girls can make that kick with ease.
2.) Houston Texans (3-0) (3) — One of the final three unbeatens, the Texans looked like a true contender last week until the final 5 minutes when they let Peyton back in the game. But let’s get to the real issue: did you see Matt Schaub get decapitated?! He ended up losing a piece of his ear on the hit! Watching live, I thought he was dead. Or at least KTFO. But yeah, the Texans are good.
1.) Atlanta Falcons (3-0) (2) — A couple weeks ago I said that Ed Reed is an ageless wonder, well double that for Tony Gonzalez. He’s got 3 TDs in the first three games and is 7th in the league in receptions (21). He said before the season he was 99% decided this was his last year, well if he keeps playing like this, he may reconsider. And hands down, Matty Ice is the MVP of the first three weeks of the NFL. I’m riding him to the ROFFL Title this year. Bank it.