Maybe Pete Carroll was right when he said that Mark wasnt ready for the NFL.

Throughout the coarse of an NFL season you will have your major stories that everyone knows about and pays attention to. However, there are many subplots and/or situations that are typically ten time more compelling than the major storylines that the media hype up every week.

These subplots and/or situations are things that affect the NFL season the most, and usually determine who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t.

Here are the top ten most compelling things to watch in the 2010-2011 NFL season .

10. Pete Carroll’s return to the NFL – Pete has been out of the league for over ten years. A lot has changed and the NFL isn’t college. Carroll was smart by surrounding himself with coaches who have impressive resumes and who have been in the league since he has been gone.

But will Carroll’s second tour of duty in the NFL be more successful than his first?

9.Chad Henne – Overall growth and development as a starting QB is what everyone will be looking for when they watch Henne and the Miami Dolphins on Sundays. His growth as a pro is very important to the Dolphins this year and for years to come.

8. Carson Palmer and the Bengals passing game – The Bengals have a nice trio of wide outs with Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens and rookie Jordan Shipley. However, Carson has not looked good throwing the ball going back to the last four games of 09’-10’ season.

If Carson continues to struggle throwing the ball, the Bengals passing game will be just a dismal as it was last year.

7.Brian Cushing four game suspension – The Houston Texans are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history and are faced with the tough task of having to make the playoffs by playing the toughest schedule in the NFL.

Cushing’s four game suspension for PEDs doesn’t help the Texans at all seeing that the Texans face the Colts, Cowboys, Redskins and Raiders during Cushing’s absence. It will be interesting to see just how well the Texans do without Cushing.

6. Alex Smith – Smith is entering his sixth season as a pro and this is going to be a make or break year for him. The former number one overall pick has yet to live up to expectations as an NFL quarterback.

For the first time in his six year career he has more talent around him than he has ever had, and the Forty-Niners are poised to do big things this year.

If he doesn’t play well, you can be assured that he will not be the starter next year and most likely won’t even be on the team.

5. Dallas Cowboys offensive line – The Cowboys are one of the top two most talented teams in the NFL. If they don’t get that offensive line fixed it won’t matter how talented they are because they will be watching the playoffs instead of playing in them.

4. New Orleans Saints – There are a couple of things to watch when it comes to the Saints. One is the dreaded Super Bowl hangover. The other is how will the team handle adversity. Last year they had no major injuries to anyone on the team and they got all of the lucky breaks and bounces in 09’-10’.

In the NFL a team going two straight seasons without any key injuries or always having things go their way is rare.

3. Kevin Kolb – Kolb is without a doubt ready to be the starter in Philly, the question is how he will handle being the man and all of the responsibility that comes with being the starting quarterback.

2. Aaron Rodgers – Everyone seems to love them some Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The kid is talented and so are the Packers. But in order for the Packers to be what the media has been hyping them up to be. (A Super Bowl contender) Aaron will have to learn how to win a big game which he has yet to do, and cut down on his interceptions in road games. Last year he threw 7 picks in games on the road. Championship caliber quarterbacks don’t do that.

1. Mark Sanchez – If the Jets are going to live up to the hype and all of the checks that Rex Ryan is writing with his mouth. Then Mark Sanchez will need to play a lot better than he has during the preseason and better than he did at the beginning of last season.

Physically the kid has all of the tools, unfortunately at this time he just isn’t getting it mentally and its showing on the field in a big way.

The Jets have all of the weapons to make it to the big game in Dallas in early February, but will Sanchez be able to make plays with his arm when he is called upon to do so? If he can’t, then I dont even see the Jets making the playoffs.

* For questions, comments feel free to email me at Also be on the lookout for*

Pierre Thomas out running Vikings defenders

The first game of the NFL season is in the books and I was happy to see real football instead of preseason football. The game somewhat unfolded how I thought it was going to, except I thought the Vikings were going to win the game instead of the Saints, and I didn’t expect the Vikings passing game to be so dismal.

Here are my notes and thoughts on the game.

Brett Favre looked like a 40 year old quarterback who had only two weeks of training camp under his belt and was missing his top wide receiver. It was also obvious that he and his receivers timing was off.

• The Vikings had way too many three and out drives in the game and only ran 51 total plays. The average in the NFL is 62.5 for the number of plays that teams normally run during a game.

Brad Childress did look clueless throughout the entire game. Bad play calling, bad personnel packages and bad game management at times.

• Can someone please tell me why Greg Camarillo wasn’t on the field more? Why did Brad take him out after that big third down conversion where Camarillo caught a pass for 29 yards? The Vikings needed a receiver who could get open and catch on the field during that entire drive.

Percy Harvin isn’t as good as what people make him out to be and this has been a thought that I have had about him for 16 months now. The kid is fast but not that fast, and he is horrible at running routes.

• Minny needs to get their passing game in order in the worse way. They might want to see what it will take to get Vincent Jackson. They already missed a golden opportunity to sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Sydney Rice is scheduled to be active and able to play in six weeks, but there is no guarantee that he will be able to step on the field and be the Sydney of old right away. So getting Jackson may be a great option for them to look into.

• Even though the Vikings passing game was not up to par, Brett Favre and company were able to still put points on the board and really had the Saints on the ropes since behind the running of Adrian Peterson.

• The Saints proved to everyone what I have been saying about them. Their defense isn’t as good as what the media says it is. In 2009-2010 they were ranked 28th overall in total defense but 1st in turnovers.

Basically as I have said before, the Saints offense is their real defense. Their defense can’t stop anyone and if not for turnovers, the Saints most likely wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl. Turnovers are a great elixir for a porous defense.

Leslie Frazier proved once again that he should have gotten a head coaching job long time ago. With three key guys missing from the secondary and the Vikings defensive line being neutralized, what he did by making on the fly adjustments with that Vikings defense against Drew Brees and that high powered offense was amazing to watch.

Sean Payton’s lack of trust and/or faith in Reggie Bush continues. Bush didn’t see the field after the first or second quarter.

• The Saints may have won the game, and yes the Vikings did play much better defense after the Saints opening drive. However, the Saints offense just never really looked right and they are going to face much tougher defenses than what they faced last night.

They will also face teams who don’t have issues in their passing game and who can put points up on the board.

Garrett Hartley can’t continue to miss easy kicks like he missed last night.

* For questions, comments feel free to email me at Also be on the lookout for*

Here is the second to last blog in my nine part NFL season preview blog series. Part nine will be my power rankings, and Super Bowl picks.

AFC West

(Note: If you click on the red colored team name, a link will take you to a web page that will show you strength of schedule etc.)

Denver Broncos – People outside of Colorado may not know this, but there is a lot to look forward to from this team in 2010-2011. Since I cover the Broncos for other websites, I have analyzed this team backwards and forwards until I have been blue in the face at times.

Kyle Orton has to continue to grow as a signal caller in Josh's system in order for Denver to be successful in the west

Denver is one of those teams that have the ability to show the world that even though they don’t have any legit superstars at key positions on their team, they can still compete in the AFC West and for a playoff spot. The Broncos are a team in which their whole is greater than the sum of their parts.

On offense the key to the Broncos success is Kyle Orton. He is without a doubt the most important player on this team and if he goes down, the Broncos are in trouble in a big way.

There is a cause for concern for Orton’s health because of the Broncos offensive line. It looks great on paper, but due to injuries it hasn’t looked so good during games. To complicate matters, the Broncos are switching from a zone blocking scheme to a man to man blocking scheme.

With all of the injuries on the offensive line, the Broncos have not had their starting five offensive linemen together at any point during the preseason for them to practice this new blocking system.

An offensive line needs to be able to work together so that they can build the cohesiveness that is necessary for an O-line to have for them to be effective. You can’t just throw a group of guys together and expect them to be able to go out every Sunday and protect the quarterback and open holes for the running backs.

Defensively their secondary is one of the best in the NFL, however their run defense is a “milk carton” defense and they are still wondering how they are going to consistently pressure the quarterback with Elvis Dumervil out for the year.

Robert Ayers has looked good at putting pressure on the quarterback at times during the preseason. However he has been more effective blitzing up the middle instead of coming off the edge from his “Will” linebacker spot like he should which is a cause for concern. Does he not have the speed or pass rushing skills to come off the edge?

Any who, Broncos will finish 9-7 on the high side, or 8-8 with 6-10 being on the low side.

With Rivers and Gates in southern Cali. Things should remain the same in the AFC West

San Diego Chargers – Since 2005 the Chargers have been one of the five most talented and deepest teams in the NFL. They lose people every year and have continued to be a Super Bowl contender year in and year out. That trend won’t change this year even if Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeil don’t rejoin the team.

The Chargers backups may not be as good as some of the people that they have lost during the offseason; however they have top notch talent at key positions that can and have held down the fort until the backups figure things out.

Top notch talent can make average talented player on a football team look good. Look no further than what Brett Favre did with Sydney Rice last year. Favre made Sydney Rice look like a future hall of famer. Rice is by far not overly talented, he is just tall.

On offense the Chargers will be absolutely fine. Malcolm Floyd may not be a household name like Vincent Jackson, nevertheless he has always been a dangerous target for Phillip Rivers to go to. And let’s not forget Rivers’ real favorite target Antonio Gates is still on the team.

San Diego moving up sixteen spots in this year’s NFL draft to pick Ryan Mathews was a great move by the Chargers. In the NFL there are certain players that come along and before they even play one down in the league you know they will be great. Mathews is one of those guys and Norv Turner knows that.

Turner is known as one of the best play callers in the NFL and he is also known for taking a good running back and creating a dominant running game that teams have a hard time containing.

On the other side of the ball, the defense has some questions, mainly their pass rush, but they have looked really good during the preseason. Shawn Merriman doesn’t look the same anymore and has been hampered by injuries.

Hopefully the preseason success that we have seen from San Diego on defense will continue into the regular season. If not, the Chargers will be in a lot of high scoring games this year.

Chargers win the division by going 11-5. 12-4 if the defense continues to look good.

Todd Haley and Matt Cassell

Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs are one of these teams that are kind of hard to read going into this season. The upcoming season is going to be a critical mark as to whether or not they are on the verge of turning things around.

On paper the Chiefs look like they should be more formidable and partially explosive on offense than what they were last year. However they haven’t consistently shown that during the preseason.

I am not overly concerned about the Chiefs offense except for that offensive line. But I am concerned about the defense being able to stop teams from racking up points and yards at will.

They run a 3-4 defense and for about two years now they have yet to be able to find the right defensive linemen that they need to run that defense properly. The defensive line looked better during the preseason but it still doesn’t look right.

To make matters worse, they can’t generate a pass rush to save their lives. That’s not a good thing to not be able to do in the NFL today.

Romeo Crennel who is considered to be one of the best at coaching defense was hired during the offseason to get the defense to a level in which opposing teams actually had to game plan for.

I realize that Romeo can’t make things happen overnight nor perform miracles. But something needs to happen or opposing teams will be breaking offensive records on any given Sunday.

Chiefs go 6-10 or 5-11.

Don't underestimate Jason Campbell and his Raiders teammates in 2010-2011

Oakland Raiders – Oakland is one of two of my surprise teams going into the season. The Raiders will be a good team this year. They won’t be a playoff team this year, nevertheless they are going to be a darn good team who isn’t going to be a gimme win on Sundays.

Oakland’s offseason was one of the five best in the NFL this year. Al Davis either had an epiphany or decided that he needed to change how he did things on draft weekend and during the offseason. Every move that the Raiders have made over the past six months has been darn near flawless.

This year’s draft was not one of those typical Raider drafts where they chose the faster guy over the more talented guy. This year they ignored the guys who were the fastest and picked the players who were the most talented.

I vividly remember the reaction that I and everyone else had on draft weekend with each pick that the Raiders made. It was shocking and impressive to watch unfold over draft weekend.

Oakland has always had talent on their team; they have just had two major issues that has hindered this team from being competing in the NFL for anything, including wins.

One is good consistent quarterback play. When they do get it, they have always been a formidable team. When they don’t get it then they are a horrible team.

Jason Campbell has looked really good in the preseason and in turn the offense has looked great. So the quarterback issue looks to be taken care of.

The other issue is Al Davis changing the game plan on the Friday before the game on Sunday.

Warren Sapp told a story on the NFL Network a few weeks ago about how when he was in Oakland the coaches would put together a game plan for the upcoming game and have the team practice it Monday through Thursday. Come Friday Al would look at the game plan and would make drastic changes to it.

So the game plan that they had practiced on Monday through Thursday was voided out and a whole new game plan was prepared courtesy of Al Davis for that upcoming game on Sunday. The players wouldn’t have time to practice it or make any adjustments to it. You simply can’t do that in the NFL.

Seeing as to how Al didn’t do what he normally has done in the past on draft weekend, maybe Al will keep his little Crypt Keeper hands and mind out of the weekly game planning this year.

On defense they are loaded in all three areas of the defense. The defensive line is solid and could get even better if they sign former New Orleans Saints Bobby McCray who they brought in for a workout today. The linebackers and secondary on this defense are also impressive.

As mentioned earlier, the offense has looked great with Jason Campbell running the show. Look for Michael Bush and Louis Murphy to have a big year and the Raiders to have a much better year than they did in 2009-2010.

Raiders go 7-9 or 8-8.

Next up; NFL power rankings.

Is it really necessary for me to do a NFL season preview on the NFC West? I mean really folks; this has to be the worst division in the NFL. I am going to need another cup of coffee to get through this one.

NFC West

(Note: If you click on the red colored team name, a link will take you to a web page that will show you strength of schedule etc.)

St. Louis Rams – If you are a Rams fan you are hoping that Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt would come back for one last hurrah. The Rams are no longer the greatest “show” on turf and at times don’t even “show” up.

St. Louis needs to keep this kid upright and off the IR list

Even though the franchise has been down trot ten with subpar play over the past few years. I do see light at the end of the tunnel for this team.

Sam Bradford looks like he is the real deal and is the franchise quarterback that this team has never had. Yes Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger were both good quarterbacks; however you knew that Kurt was only going to be around for a certain length of time, and Bulger was good, but not what you would call a true franchise quarterback.

Offensively the Rams have looked better with Bradford as the starting QB and I would expect them to continue to get better over time. Losing Donnie Avery will hurt, but the acquisition of Mark Clayton is a nice stop gap for the Rams. And of course you can always count on Steven Jackson to do what he does best.

The offensive line is still a work in progress; although it is decent enough to protect Bradford. Just pray for no injuries because they are young and thin on the O-line.

Steve Spagnuolo is known as one of the best defensive minded coaches in the NFL, nevertheless the Rams don’t have all of the pieces on defense that he needs to get that defense to the level that we are used to seeing a Spagnuolo coached team at.

This team is a work in progress and they are making progress. Unfortunately this year won’t be the year for the Rams to make the playoffs or even challenge the Niners or Cardinals for the NFC West title.

4-12 with a possibility of 5-11

Beanie Wells will be the key to the Cardnials offense this year

Arizona Cardinals – Out with the old and in with the new is the theme going on in Arizona these days. Out are Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle and Matt Leinart. In are Derek Anderson, Alan Faneca, Dan Williams, and Joey Porter.

Time will only tell if all of the changes that Arizona made will benefit them or not. As of now this team misses Kurt and Boldin. Offensively the Cardinals look completely out of sync and definitely don’t need to be trying to run the same quick passing offense that they ran with Kurt under center. Arizona doesn’t have a QB on their roster that has Kurt’s quick release.

Many including myself feel that in order for Arizona to be successful this year, they must feature Beanie Wells instead of relying on Derek Anderson’s arm.

On the defensive side of the ball they are a mess, or they have looked like a mess during the preseason. I hope what we have seen from them defensively in the preseason is just an aberration and not what’s going to be the norm during the regular season. If so………it’s going to be a long season.

Look for the Cards to finish 6-10 or maybe 7-9.

Pete and his staff have a lot of work to do before the Seahawks become relevant in the NFC West

Seattle Seahawks – According to Pete Carroll, he didn’t leave USC to become head coach of the Seattle Seahawks because of an ongoing NCAA investigation that had uncovered several rule violations. He supposedly left a college program full of NFL caliber talent to go coach an NFL team that hardly has any NFL talent because he felt that it was a great career move.

Yeah right Pete and those 9 kids by 7 different women that Antonio Cromartie has fathered all were because of manufacture defects in the condoms he used.

Whether Pete is being honest or not, this team’s cupboard is bare of talent. The other day Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network stated that Seattle will have a hard time winning five games this year.

For all of the hype, great draft picks and trades that the Seahawks pulled off on draft weekend and during the off season. They still have many questions on both sides of the ball that need to be answered.

Speaking of lack of talent, can someone please tell me why they released T.J. Houshmanzadeh and kept Deion Branch? Deion hasn’t done anything since he has been in Seattle except become a professional check casher.

Despite having very minimal talent on offense, they have looked very good in the preseason. Although it has been when Charlie Whitehurst is under center and not Matt Hasselbeck. If Matt continues to struggle I see no reason as to why they shouldn’t make Charlie the starter.

On the other side of the ball, defensively they have this year’s first round pick in safety Earl Thomas and last year’s “Will” linebacker Aaron Curry. Curry was very disappointing in 2009-2010 and didn’t look much better during the preseason.

Thomas has looked like the real deal since day one. If they had a player like Earl Thomas at each position on defense then they would be set. Unfortunately that’s not the case and the defense will have a hard time stopping teams this year.

I have to agree with Mr. Lombardi on how many games the Seahawks will win this year. I see 4-12 easily with 5-11 as a possibility.

It's their division to lose

San Francisco Forty-Niners – This team is poised to do big things this year. The only team in the NFC West that can stop them from winning this division are themselves.

Their running game is the bread and butter for their offense, and in my opinion it will be much better with Anthony Dixon backing up Frank Gore instead of Glenn Coffey.

Drafting Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis was a great move by the Niners front office and it helps the running game become even more dominant than it was last year.

The only real question about the Niners offense besides the caliber of their wide outs is Alex Smith. At times Smith will look like he has figured out how to play quarterback in the NFL. But if you watch him closely, you will notice that he settles for short throws way too much, and tends to rush things when he doesn’t need to which causes him to miss big play opportunities. He seems to be expecting to get hit every time he drops back. (David Carr syndrome)

Ironically David Carr is Smith’s backup this year along with newly acquired Troy Smith from Baltimore. Don’t be surprised if Troy gets playing times and does well. Joe Flacco only became the starter in Baltimore because of Troy getting hurt. Not because he out played him. Troy has looked like a real NFL quarterback for the past two years when he has gotten time to play.

On defense the Niners are going to be just as solid as last year. There is still some question about how well their secondary will hold up this year becasue of youth and inexperience.

At the end of the day though, the Niners will finish the year either 11-5 or 10-6 at worse and will become NFC West champs.

Next up; AFC West

Sean Payton and the Saints are looking to add another Lombardi to their trophy case

For those of you who have been following my nine part NFL season preview series, you are well aware that each blog is long and very detailed. Unfortunately due to the fact that I have four more blogs to write to complete this blog series and the start of the season is less than 48 hours away. I am going to keep three of the next four installments short and sweet.

NFC South

(Note: If you click on the red colored team name, a link will take you to a web page that will show you strength of schedule etc.)

Carolina Panthers – The Panthers should be better offensively than what they were last year. With Matt Moore running the show at quarterback instead of Jake Delhomme who is now in Cleveland, their passing game should be more complementary to the running game than it was in 2009-2010.

Steve Smith and the Panthers will be much better on offense this year

Defensively they have many questions in all three areas on the defense. The secondary is okay but not good. At the linebacker position they have some guys who have the potential of being really good players but have yet to do so.

With Julius Peppers gone along with the rest of the big name defensive linemen that Carolina used to have. The Panthers ability to rush the passer and stop the run will be an issue this year unless a couple of the young guys on this D-line step up.

Expect for the Panthers to go 6-10 or maybe 7-9.

Matty Ice needs to improve before the Falcons can go anywhere

Atlanta Falcons – During OTAs Matt Ryan predicted that his Atlanta Falcons would go 13-3. I don’t see how that’s going to happen. Offensively they are a ball control team and in the NFL today, if you can’t move the ball via the passing game when needed. Then you’re going to struggle against most teams in this league.

Matt Ryan is a really good young quarterback; however he needs to improve as a starting quarterback in this league. He had a subpar year in 2009-2010 by quarterbacking standards with a not so impressive completion percentage, and less than two to one in touchdown to interception ratio.

If the Falcons have to rely on Michael Turner to carry them offensively, it will be extremely tough for them compete to in their division and qualify for a playoff spot.

On defense the Falcons are okay but have room for improvement in several areas. They need to find a way to pressure the quarterback on a consistent basis and stop teams from passing on them almost at will.

Dunta Robinson was brought in to help shore up the secondary, nevertheless in the preseason the secondary didn’t look much better than last year’s dirty bird secondary.

Matt Ryan is delusional if he thinks Atlanta will win 13 games. It’s looking more and more like the Falcons will go 8-8, 10-6 if they get a couple of breaks.

Dont underestimate Tampa's young talent

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – These Bucs aren’t the Bucs of the early 2000’s, but they do have the right pieces in place for history to repeat. This team is loaded with lots of young talent on both sides of the ball and the one thing that jumps out at you is the overall team speed. Not just on defense, but on offense too.

Second year quarterback Josh Freeman is still virtually a pup in terms of becoming a legit NFL quarterback, however the Bucs front office increased the offenses’ big play potential by drafting two young, talented, explosive wide outs in Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams to go along with Cadillac Williams and Kellen Winslow. Offensively they shouldn’t be as pedestrian as they were last year.

Not only did they get better on offense, but they also got much better defensively by drafting Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and Dekoda Watson who are all ideal fits for the Bucs Tampa 2 system.

Despite this team’s wealth of young talent on both sides of the ball, they still have a ways to go before they will become a contender in this division. They should be much better than last year, but not good enough to contend for a division title or a playoff spot.

I see 5-11 or 6-10 for the 2010-2011 Bucs.

Breezus as they call him in Nawlins' and the Saints offense will be even better

New Orleans Saints – “Who Dat gonna beat dem Saints?!” Well not many teams in this division or conference. The New Orleans Saints enter the season trying to become only the second team in NFL history to repeat as Super Bowl champions after winning their first title in their franchises history. With 99% of their team and staff from last year’s Super Bowl winning team still intact, they have the pieces to do so.

The offense will be great as usual. The running game seems to be better than it was last year and with the addition of rookie Chris Ivory who is a power back. The Saints now have the ability to line up in a 2/2 set or a goal line package and play power football.

Last year the offense was the team’s real defense. They would get a big lead and teams would panic and scrap their game plan and start throwing on every down. That in turn helped out their defense get turnovers which added more fuel to the fire by allowing the Saints to score again and make things even worse.

When you really dissect the Saints defense, they were one of the worse over all but led the league in turnovers. This year they have more talent on defense and should be better overall defensively.

One thing to keep an eye on is the Darren Sharper situation. He is still recovering from micro fracture surgery and is starting the season on the P.U.P list. Sharper was key to the Saints ability to routinely get turnovers in bunches due to the fact Greg Williams could call exotic blitzes with Sharper at safety.

In the end I see the Saints going 13-3 again or 11-5.

Next up; NFC West. *eye roll*

Many of you guys including myself will be doing your fantasy football drafts sometime this weekend. As promised I am finalizing my 2011 NFL fantasy football blog series with this tips and sleepers blog.

Not too many tips listed, but lots of sleepers listed.

Aaron Rodgers may be more valuable than Chris Johnson in fantasy football


• You may want to seriously think about taking Aaron Rodgers 1st, even before Chris Johnson if you have the chance. The way he has mastered that Green Bay offense and doesn’t commit a lot of turnovers. The ability for him to consistently put up huge fantasy numbers for your team is pretty much a given. The NFL is a passing league now. C.J. may have some 80 yards, 1 touchdown games.

• If you don’t have a shot at getting one of the top five or six running backs, don’t panic. There are plenty of good running backs who will put up good numbers this year considering that the NFL is a two back league these days.

• West Coast offense tight ends will consistently put up big numbers or at least decent numbers. The west coast offense utilizes the tight end more than any other offense in the NFL.

Sleeper wide receivers:

1. Pierre Garcon – Hot. (He seems to be Peyton’s new fav target. He is Marvin Harrison like.)
2. Johnny Knox – Hot
3. Jacoby Jones – Hot. (Jacoby is pushing Kevin Walter for the #2 starting wide out spot in Houston. He averaged more yards per catch than Andre Johnson. Big year from Jones.)
4. Javon Walker – (B. Favre’s new target who once played with Favre in Green Bay and had a career year.)
5. Bernard Berrian – Hot. (B.Favre’s new favorite target.)
6. Mohamed Massaquoi
7. Legedu Naanee – Hot. (No Vincent Jackson means more playing time for Naanee who has always played well in the slot.)
8. Eddie Royal
9. Jabar Gaffney
10. Nate Burleson
11. Malcom Floyd – Hot. (This guy has put up big numbers in San Diego and has gone under the radar. With no V.J. in San Diego. That means more touches for him.)
12. Mike Williams (Tampa Bay)
13. Jordan Shipley – Hot. (Besides Terrell Owens, he is the only other wide out on the Bengals who has played well during preseason.)
14. Anthony Gonzalez
15. Golden Tate
16. Julian Edleman
17. Chris Chambers
18. Roy Williams (Cowboys)

Sleeper running backs:

1. Arian Foster – Hot
2. Anthony Dixon – Hot
3. Leon Washington – Hot. (The Jets are going to rue the day they traded this guy.)
4. Beanie Wells – Hot. (Zona’ will be running the ball a lot this year than.)
5. Jahvid Best
6. Thomas Jones
7. Pierre Thomas
8. Michael Bush – Hot. (McFadden can’t stay healthy and Bush fits into what Oakland wants to do on offense.)
9. Larry Johnson
10. LaDainian Tomlinson
11. Laurence Maroney

Sleeper tight ends:

1. Aaron Hernandez – Hot. (Brady seems to like the new kid from the University of Florida. He adds a dimension to New England’s offense that they have never had before.)
2. Joel Dreessen –Hot. (If Joel was the starter in Houston, he would be in the Pro bowl. Or he would put up numbers big enough for people to consider him for the Pro Bowl.)
3. Tony Scheffler
4. John Carlson
5. Ed Dickson

Sleeper defenses:

1. Raiders – Hot. (The Raiders defense is loaded. They have alot of talent on the defensive line, at linebacker, and in the secondary. The Raiders will be a much better team this year. They are my surprise team of 2011.)
2. Dolphins
3. Chargers – Hot
4. Redskins
5. Lions

Sleeper quarterbacks:

1. Kyle Orton – Hot. (I have seen him up close in practice and he has looked like a reincarnated Tom Brady. No surprise that he has looked good in games also.)
2. Matthew Stafford – Hot. (Breakout year for this kid.)
3. Chad Henne
4. Vince Young
5. Jason Campbell – Hot
6. Matt Cassell
7. Alex Smith
8. Matt Moore

This is a blog that I have been looking forward to writing ever since I completed the NFC North blog a few weeks back. But I am dragging today, and not feeling so gun ho about slapping the keys on the keyboard to type this one out. I will make this happen though, I need too.

Do the Texans take down Peyton and the Colts in 2011?

AFC South:

Since its inception, the AFC south has been all about the Indianapolis Colts with the exception of a handful of years when the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars dominated and won division titles. The Houston Texans, who are the new kid on the block in the NFL, have yet to win an AFC south division title and have been the team that everyone loves to pick as the “it” team but always comes up short.

(Note: If you click on the red colored team name, a link will take you to a web page that will show you strength of schedule etc.)

How mediocre or bad will the Jags be this year? Or will they be a surprise team?

Jacksonville Jaguars – What a franchise to start this blog off with right?! The Jaguars are the model franchise of mediocrity. They have had their fair share of good times, but ever since Tom Coughlin left that team. They have had bad draft classes, bad free agency moves and mediocre to bad coaching.

When you look at the roster on this team, the one thing that jumps out at you is the numerous amount of players who are from small schools. Now there isn’t anything wrong with finding hidden gems at small schools or high motor guys. But, when you have a roster that is mostly made up of guys in which you have tried to find the next Jerry Rice or John Randle (small school guys) and those guys don’t pan out.

Then you tend to have what you have in Jacksonville right now. A mediocre team that plays hard and tries to compete, but just doesn’t have what it takes to make it happen on the field every Sunday.

On offense they leave much to be desired, they aren’t very efficient or explosive. They do have a good running game with Maurice Jones–Drew in the backfield. However their passing game is inconsistent with average talent at the skill positions. Mike Sims-Walker is considered to be David Garrard’s main target, but when MSW is the best you have at wide out, then you don’t have much at all.

Defensively they have overhauled their defensive line by getting rid of almost everyone including big John Henderson who is now in Oakland. In order to replace big john, they drafted Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall pick this year which was a reach. He looks like he will be the real deal as everyone including myself thought. But to draft him 10th overall in maybe one of the deepest drafts since the 83’ draft didn’t make sense.

The linebacker corps and secondary is still iffy. I don’t expect much improvement from this team defensively, neither do I expect a good season from this team or a playoff berth with them having the 5th hardest schedule in the NFL this year and little to no talent.

I see 4-12……….with maybe an outside chance of 6-10.

Can Peyton and the Colts repeat as AFC conference champs?

Indianapolis Colts – The runner up in Super bowl XLIV is coming back looking to repeat as AFC south and AFC conference champs. Indy has won more games over the past ten years along with the New England Patriots than any other franchise in the NFL. However, they don’t have the rings to show for it and I think it’s mainly because of two things.

One is that Peyton seems to be a great regular season quarterback but isn’t one in the playoffs. And because talent wise they have never had more talent than the teams that they have competed against in the late rounds of the playoffs except for their Super bowl win a few years ago against the Chicago Bears.

This year the Colts come into the 2011 season with major issues on the offensive line. If they don’t get those issues fixed, they will be in trouble all year long. The key to that team is keeping Peyton Manning upright. If Manning goes, so go the Colts in a major way. With Manning they are a 12 to 13 win team. Without him they struggle to win 4 games.

Indy gets Anthony Gonzalez back this year who is coming off a season ending injury from last year. Having him to go along with Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark will give Peyton multiple weapons to put up huge numbers again. But once again, if Peyton doesn’t have a decent to good offensive line to protect him, it won’t matter who he has to throw to.

Something else that is cause for concern is the lack of a consistent run game. That too could be because of the offensive line. Whatever the cause is for the pedestrian run game, it needs to be fixed. You can’t always win big games by just throwing the ball.

Defensively the Colts will be the same old Colts with a smallish, fast defense that at times can’t consistently stop the run or the pass. They have always had a bend but don’t break defense, that’s just part of a Tampa Two defense.

My question about the defense is can Bob Sanders stay healthy? He has started less games then he has been out for becasue of injury.

I do think that if there was ever a year that Indy was vulnerable in being dethrone in the AFC south, it’s this year. They didn’t really do anything to shore up their defense or offensive line. Their draft class was good by Indy’s standards, but no immediate help was acquired either through the draft or free agency and that’s not good for an aging team such as the Colts.

Look for Peyton and the Colts to have an 11-5 or 12-4 season.

Which VY will we see this year? The 2010 version or the 2008 version?

Tennessee Titans – The former Oilers are a team in flux right now both defensively and offensively. After going 13-3 a couple years ago, everyone expected this team to be a Super bowl contender for years to come. Unfortunately in life and in the NFL life happens and the Titans are not the team they once were two years ago.

Vince Young is now the starter at quarterback and it looks like he has turned that corner that he needed to turn in order to become a true NFL quarterback. With that said, the Titans are giving him the McNabb treatment by not going out and getting him legit wide receivers to throw to. They keep drafting these unknown guys whose skill set isn’t anything great.

Chris Johnson is such a great runner that he does open things up for Young in the passing game. But eventually you need to have talent at the wide out position so that you have guys that can consistently get open, make plays and allow Chris Johnson to not have to face 8 and 9 man fronts.

Speaking of Chris Johnson, that’s all that needs to be said about the Titans running game, why elaborate on the obvious? I do think that there is a possibility that he could have an off year or not as great as last year due to the lack of talent at wide out. Defenses will be able to mostly focus on him and not on the wide outs as I mentioned.

Defensively the Titans have a lot of questions that went unanswered during this offseason. They had no pass rush and virtually no secondary last year. To make matters worse, they lost Kyle Vanden Bosch to the Lions and Keith Bullock to the Giants. Losing those two guys will hurt them, they were the heart and soul of that defense.

Tennessee went out and drafted Derrick Morgan to replace Kyle and a few other no named guys who can contribute on the defensive line and at linebacker, but they didn’t address that secondary that was atrocious last year.

I am expecting the Titans to have a very ineffective defense this year, the NFL is a passing league now and if you can’t put pressure on the quarterback consistently or have a secondary that’s worth a darn. Then you can’t do much on defense at all.

With all of this being said, I think the Titans will go 6-10 or possibly 7-9. It could get bad this year at times with all of the issues that this team has right now.

What does Houston's season have in store for them? Will they be in the playoffs or watching them?

Houston Texans – I saved the best team for last, lmao! Just joking people, you can stop rolling your eyes, lol. For real though, the Texans arguably have more talent than any team in this division and more than a lot of teams in the NFL. They just have to learn how to win close games.

The Texans are like that little kid who is bigger and stronger than all of the other kids their age who routinely gets beat up and picked on because they have yet to learn how to use their size and strength to fight back.

Since late February many people in the national media have called the Texans the New Orleans Saints of last year. Now I don’t think they will go to the Super bowl and win it like the Saints did last year because the AFC is much tougher than the NFC. But I do see the similarities between the Saints and the Texans.

The year before the Saints won the Super bowl, they were a team that had a quarterback that led the league in passing, a number one passing offense with a questionable running game, and a defense with talent that for some odd reason couldn’t play consistently. That accurately describes last year’s Texans team down to the “T.”

Last year the Texans lost more games by five points or less than any other team in the NFL. If the Texans can learn how to close games out, they will be a playoff team that goes deep into the playoffs this year.

Offensively they are fine except that they have to get their running game back on track. Last year it was nonexistent with Steve Slaton not playing like he did in 08’ and no one else to really step in and produce.

Rookie running back Arian Foster started the last two games of the season and played exceptionally well. Some thought his late season production may have been an aberration. Nevertheless, in camp and in preseason, he has looked like the real deal just like he did late last year.

If Arian isn’t the answer at running back, then the Texans will have to rely on Steve who has continued his fumbling ways in preseason. Unfortunately they can’t turn to 2nd round pick Ben Tate, he is out for the year with a broken ankle that he suffered in his 1st NFL game ever.

Tate was the guy that many people thought was going to come in and become the starter and give the Texans the type of running game that Gary Kubiak has been wanting.

On defense Houston has lots of talent, but they have had problems in the past with consistently putting pressure on the quarterback. They will need to do that this year with two young defensive backs (rookie Kareem Jackson and 2nd year player Glover Quinn) starting at corner and with Brian Cushing being out for the first four games of the season.

Houston has the dubious misfortune of having the #1 toughest schedule in the NFL this year. The loss of Cushing makes that schedule look even tougher for the 1st four games.

In a season that’s suppose to be “the season” for the Texans to make the playoffs for the 1st time. I see a 10-6 or 11-5 record. At worst 9-7.

Next up, NFC South

Andre Johnson hauls in a touchdown pass from Matt Schaub

Here is the second to last part of my fantasy football blog series. (Wide receivers) As mentioned yesterday, I will post a wrap up fantasy football blog that will go over sleepers and draft tips.

The top 10 must have wide receivers in fantasy football:

1. Andre Johnson – The best wide out in the game is also the best wide out in fantasy football. He is the only receiver besides Jerry Rice to have back to back seasons with over 1,500 yards receiving.

2. Randy Moss – This is possibly Moss’s last year in New England with him being in the final year of his current contract. And like all players in the last year of their deal, Randy will be motivated and have a huge year. We all know that when Moss is motivated, he is unstoppable.

3. Miles Austin – I know that I am probably the only person who has Miles this high. But when you look at the fact that he started in only 9 games in 2010, and he still put up monster numbers.( 81 rec. 1,320 yards. 11TDs) He is easily a top three wide out in fantasy football this year because he should produce the same numbers if not more this year. Plus he is the big play guy and Romo’s first option.

4. Larry Fitzgerald – I don’t care how many balls Larry can catch by hanging upside down as he showed us last night on the Sports Science feature at half time of Monday Night Football. Arizona’s passing game will not be the same this year with Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin gone. Also something to take into account is that Ken Wizenhunt is looking to run the ball more this year.

5. Reggie Wayne – Believe it or not, Wayne has lost a step. Nevertheless with that said, playing alongside Peyton Manning makes him a good top 5 fantasy football wide out.

6. Wes Welker – Wes is another player that I have ranked higher than most people. I think most people thought that with him coming off injury that he would be “iffy.” But from what I have seen from him in preseason, he looks like the same Welker.

7. Calvin Johnson – Calvin will have a break out year in 2011. Detroit looks really good.

8. Anquan Boldin – The Ravens traded for Anquan to be Joe Flacco’s go to guy. Look for Boldin to put up huge numbers like he used to in Arizona before Fitzgerald got there.

9. Brandon Marshall – Some of you are probably thinking why don’t I have Brandon at number six, seven or eight. Truth be told, I don’t expect great things from Brandon in Miami this year, and some other people don’t either. I think that he will have a good year. However, I have said several times that with Miami’s offense and Chad Henne still learning how to play quarterback, things aren’t going to be an instant success with Marshall.

10. DeSean Jackson – Jackson is a threat to score anytime he has the ball in his hands. Whether it’s on offense or special teams, he is always racking up fantasy points.

Aaron Rodgers go to wide out Greg Jennings could have a huge year in 2011

If you cant get your hands on one of the guys in the top 10. You wont be dissapointed with these guys:

11. Greg Jennings
12. Roddy White
13. Marques Colston
14. Steve Smith (Carolina)
15. Steve Smith (NY Giants)
16. Hines Ward
17. Terrell Owens
18. Dwayne Bowe
19. Chad Ocho Cinco
20. Donald Driver

Dez Bryant could end up being the best out of the mid level fantasy wide out group

Mid level receivers:

21. Derrick Mason
22. Percy Harvin
23. Mike Wallace
24. Michael Crabtree
25. Mike Sims – Walker
26. Hakeem Nicks
27. Santana Moss
28. Robert Meacham
29. T.J. Houshmanzadeh
30. Pierre Garcon
31. Malcom Floyd
32. Jerricho Cotchery
33. Jeremy Maclin
34. Bernard Berrian
35. Santonio Holmes
36. Mario Manningham
37. Steve Breaston
38. Lee Evans
39. Braylon Edwards
40. Kenny Britt
41. Dez Bryant
42. Devin Hester
43. Nate Burleson
44. Kevin Walter
45. Vincent Jackson
46. Devery Henderson
47. Jabar Gaffney

Jacoby Jones is poised to have a breakout year in 2011

Last resort wide outs to draft. Some Sleepers in this group though:

48. Johnny Knox
49. Legedu Naanee
50. Jacoby Jones
51. Devin Aromashodu
52. Chris Chambers
53. Roy Williams
54. Austin Collie
55. Eddie Royal
56. Donnie Avery
57. Sidney Rice
58. Davone Bess
59. Julian Edleman
60. Mohammed Massaquoi
61. Mike Williams
62. Demaryius Thomas
63. Nate Washington
64. Darrius Heyward – Bey
65. Anthony Gonzalez
66. Josh Cribbs
67. Jordan Shipley
68. Dexter McCluster
69. Antonio Bryant
70. Deion Branch
71. Louis Murphy
72. Carlton Mitchell
73. Malcom Kelly
74. Golden Tate
75. Brian Hartline
76. Javon Walker
77. Eric Decker
78. Arrelious Benn
79. Antwaan Randle El
80. Dante Stallworth
81. Jason Avant
82. Roscoe Parrish
83. Mike Thomas
84. Justin Cage
85. Riley Cooper

Next up, fantasy football wrap up

The best tight end in football is the best tight end to have in fantasy football

I have been slacking on my blogs lately. I am going to try, key word in this sentence is “TRY,” to finish up my fantasy football blog series today with this post covering the tight ends, and with one later today on wide outs.

I will post a final fantasy football blog on Friday which will give draft tips and information on sleeper picks for all positions.

Tight ends:

1. Antonio Gates – I have Phillip Rivers ranked number one (this was pre McNeil and Jackson acting a fool) in my fantasy football quarterback blog and with the possibility of the Chargers not having Vincent Jackson this year, Gates will be Rivers main target which makes him the number one tight end on my list. To be honest though, I think I would have had him at number one no matter what.

2. Dallas Clark – Clark had his best year ever last year with over a 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. I don’t see him dropping off from last year at all.

3. Jason Witten – Witten has always been Tony Romo’s bff off the field and his security blanket on the field. With the addition of Dez Bryant who will get plenty of attention from defenses. Witten’s numbers should be solid this year and could be better.

4. Tony Gonzalez – I can’t believe that I put him at number four, but he still puts up big numbers after all of these years. Gonzalez is either Matt Ryan’s first or second read on every play.

5. Vernon Davis Alex Smith may be a quarterback who is still trying to prove himself, but one thing that Smith has proven to everyone is that he knows how to get the ball to Vernon on a regular basis. Plus who else can Alex really trust?

6. Brent Celek – I could have Celek in the top 5 in lieu of Tony Gonzalez. However, with Kevin Kolb going into his first year as the full time starter, I see Celek’s numbers taking a slight dip. Nothing major but a slight dip.

Kolb has yet to show that he has a favorite target and with him being a young QB, there will be growing pains.

7. Kellen Winslow – Last year was Kellen’s first year in Tampa and despite the inconsistent quarterback play and no real talent at other skill positions to take some of the pressure off of him, he still put up huge numbers. I don’t know how he did it, but he did. So I see history repeating itself.

With Favre back in Minny, Shiancoe is a fantasy stud

8. Visanthe Shiancoe – His yardage numbers from last year aren’t that impressive, but his touchdown numbers are. Brett Favre has always loved to throw to the tight end especially in the red zone.

Also, tight ends that play in a west coast offense always put up big numbers and catch a lot of touchdown passes. In fact, for the exception of Kellen Winslow at number seven, tight ends six through eleven are west coast offense tight ends.

9. Jermichael Finley – Another west coast offense tight end who has quickly emerged as one of Green Bay’s most dangerous weapons for Aaron Rodgers.

10. Chris Cooley – Cooley has always been a good fantasy football tight end except for last year. With Mike and Kyle Shanahan in Washington running Mike’s version of the west coast offense that features the tight end, and with the Redskins not having any legit wide outs. Look for Chris to have a really good year.

11. Owen Daniels – I would have had Owen at number five or six if not for his major knee surgery that he is coming off of. He is arguably one of the top 5 or maybe 6 tight ends in the game. If not for his injury last year, he would have produced Antonio Gates type numbers if not better.

He put up over 500 yards and caught 5 touchdown passes in just 8 games. If he is healthy, he will be a beast. Although, Owen at 50% is better than any tight end from this spot on down.

12. Heath Miller – Miller put up some really good numbers last year and with Santonio Holmes now in New York, and Limas Sweed out for the year due to injury. I expect Heath to put up big numbers again.

13. Jeremy Shockey – Shockey is on my most overrated player list, but unlike Chad Johnson who is also on that list. Shockey has a higher fantasy rating and value than “the ultimate catch” Mr. Ocho cinco.

Shockey won’t put up huge numbers in terms of yardage, but he could have double digit touchdowns playing in that offense if he can stay healthy. He is a threat in the red zone.

Dont sleep on Zach Miller or the Raiders this year

The best of the rest:

14. Zach Miller
15. Todd Heap
16. Greg Olsen
17. Kevin Boss
18. John Carlson
19. Joel Dreessen
20. Tony Scheffler
21. Alge Crumpler
22. Dustin Keller
23. Brandon Pettigrew
24. Desmond Clark

If no one in the top 24 is left…….

25. Aaron Hernandez
26. Jermaine Gresham
27. Anthony Fasano
28. Martellus Bennett
29. Ed Dickson
30. Fred Davis
31. Bo Scaife
32. Marcedes Lewis
33. Daniel Graham
34. Dante Rosario
35. Benjamin Watson

Next up: Wide outs

The relationship between Brad and Brett has been nothing less than comical

Another day, another dollar, and another Brett Favre blog that is or will be posted on the internet once I finish. I am not going to touch on a subject that erupted on twitter yesterday morning between me and several people on the top 5 greatest quarterbacks of all-time and the fact that a couple of people put Brett Favre in their top 5.

All I am going to say about that little topic of conversation is that you guys need to be committed or pull up game film of every game that Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, John Elway, Tom Brady, Dan Marino, Otto Graham, Roger Staubach, or Peyton Manning ever played and logically tell me who Favre is better than out of that eight.

You won’t be able to, those are elite quarterbacks. Favre is great not elite. He is not in the same class as those I just mentioned.

If you mention the fact that he has played in 285 consecutive games and broken records that Marino and/or other quarterbacks set playing in less time than Favre did. Then all you are doing is supporting my theory that he is the Nolan Ryan of the NFL. A great player who has tremendous athletic gifts, and is considered one of the greats at his position, but due to his longevity has broken league records and accumulated gaudy stats.

Like Favre, Nolan Ryan is considered to be one of the greatest players at his position of all time, however, he isn’t considered to be one of the top 5 greatest players at his position of all time.

Looks like I did what I said I wasnt going to do. Oh well.

Instead of continuing to beat on that dead horse, I want to beat on another dead horse concerning the recent news about Favre and his return to the NFL. According to Yahoo sports, an unnamed player on the Vikings roster said that Favre and other Viking players don’t trust Brad Childress. Favre feels that Brad has “no clue” about offense, and it was the main reason as to why he didn’t want to return this year not his ankle.

Chilly needs Brett more than Brett needs Chilly and Brett knows that

Didn’t we hear a similar version of this story last year after the loss to the Bears on Monday Night Football?

We all remember the heated exchange of words on the sideline between Brett and Brad during the Carolina game on Sunday Night football in which they loss.

Some of us may remember when Brett completely ignored every play that Childress called on two consecutive drives during the Bears game on Monday Night Football back in December.

I vividly remember during that Bears game when Childress sent in players for a jumbo set formation and Favre told them to get off the field.

Rumors confirmed?

It’s been a widespread rumor that Childress doesn’t have respect from the Viking players and this report strengthens that rumor. This has been a rumor going back two or three years.

Some say that the lack of respect for Brad dwindled even less after the way he has handled the Favre situation over the past two years in terms of Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.

Rumor also has it that the reason why longtime center Matt Birk left the Vikings and signed with Ravens was simply because of Brad Childress, who released a very tacky press release about Birk once he left.

If this is really the case, that explains why three Viking players flew down to Mississippi to hang out with Brett to convince him to come back for one more year, and why Brett reportedly received more money.

It also explains why when after Brad visited with Brett twice down in Mississippi, there were reports of him texting players saying that he was going to retire. It seems that Brad did more harm than good by going down to Brett’s house since he was the problem not Brett’s ankle.

If everything that I have just connected the dots on and what Yahoo sports is reporting is true, then Brad Childress better hope that the Vikings win the super bowl. Chilly was already on the hot seat going into last season which is why he went and got Brett off his tractor in Mississippi to come play for the Vikings in 2009.

A super bowl win would make the Vikings front office forget that they had to entice Favre to come back by giving him more money and having three Vikings players take time out of training camp to go down south to woo Brett to return for his 20th season just because Brad and Favre didn’t get along.

In the end, it may not even matter if the Vikings win the super bowl or not. Brad still may get fired after the 2010-2011 season. When you have an entire team that has no respect for the head coach as rumored, then all is pretty much lost.