NFL picks – week 4

 

11-4!  Unreal, I go 0-5 in my CFB picks, yet I’m 8-2 in my last 2 NFL weeks.  That’s picking against the spread for you.  But how about those refs hey?!  Man alive this league is great to watch with these guys running around pretending to be referees.  It’s pretty cute when you think about it.  But the real refs will be back starting tonight.  Could it be that my great streak was due to these tools embarrassing themselves?  I hope not, but I guess we are about to find out…dun dun duuuuuuuuun!

 

Carolina at Atlanta

Carolina +7

I’m pumped cause I got this at +8.5 for myself, unfortunately you have to take it at +7.  Still a good bet though.  I know, the Falcons have been outstanding in their first 3 games.  And the Panthers looked terrible against the Giants, and seemed to be in a state of flux.  But it’s in division, those games are NEVER easy.  The Panthers will play their best game of the season thus far, and the Falcons will have a bit of a let down after such an easy win in San Diego.  Plus, Carolina will have 10 days off and the Falcons had a late afternoon game followed by flying back across the country.  May not seem like much but it does have an effect on players.  Panthers will keep this one close.

 

San Diego at Kansas City

Kansas City -1

An unreal comeback win for the Chiefs in New Orleans kept their season alive.  This team wasn’t going to be one of those rare teams to make the playoffs after starting 0-3.  They’re on cloud 9 heading into the divisional matchup against the Chargers who are coming off a humiliating loss to the Falcons at home.  Sounds like a good chance at a bounce back game for the Chargers, and they have a big QB advantage in this one.  But I’ve said it before and will say it again, outside of QB the Chiefs have one of the most talented teams in the league.  I like Crennel as a coach better than Turner, I don’t like the Chargers offense right now despite having Phillip Rivers, and I believe Charles could have another big day running the ball.  Take the Chiefs in this spot.

 

San Francisco at NY Jets

San Francisco -4

It’s simple here, no Revis means bad things for the Jets.  That defense isn’t going to be anywhere near as good without him, and the niners offense is good enough to expose the weakness they now have at corner.  Sanchez isn’t a good enough QB to take over against this niners defense either.  I know San Fran looked bad last week and the Jets looked ok, but I believe the niners bounce back despite travelling cross country and being on the road for the 3rd time in 4 weeks.  I expect them to come out with a big effort and the Jets having trouble keeping up with them.

 

New Orleans at Green Bay

New Orleans +7.5

Well this should just be a great game to watch!  The Saints are really desperate at this point, and the Pack are going to have the biggest chip on their shoulders you will ever see.  I will take the Saints.  Short week for the Pack, had to go up to Seattle, Saints are desperate, more than a touchdown is just too many points.  The Packers defense has looked a lot better in the last 2 weeks, but I believe Drew Brees will be able to exploit it.  I think the vast majority of people will take the Packers believing they will be out for blood, and when everyone goes one way it’s best to go the other.

 

NY Giants at Philadelphia

NY Giants +1.5

Why does Vegas LOVE the Eagles so much?!  They’re now 0-3 against the spread this season, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why they are 1.5 point favorites in this game.  Giants had 10 days off, Eagles had a normal weeks rest.  Giants only went to Charlotte, Philly had to go to Glendale for a late afternoon game.  The Giants are the defending champs, the Eagles didn’t make the playoffs last year.  Eli Manning is great, Michael Vick has the most turnovers in the league.  Andy Reid is a great coach but so is Tom Coughlin. I don’t get it.  Look, it COULD be one of those games where the line is bizarre and then it comes and bites you in the ass, I was worried about that 2 weeks ago with the Eagles/Ravens game.  But even though the Eagles won, the Ravens +2 was the winning bet.  Don’t try to get cute here.  If that happens it will suck, but the smart bet is without a doubt the Giants with the points in this game.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

D NFC West

 

I remember WAY back in the day how horrific the NFC West was.  Remember that?  That was back when Eli Manning only had 1 Super Bowl ring, the games in the NHL were being played on the ice not in the media and board room, Tebow was a starting QB and the NFL had actual refs.  Oh yes, those were crazy times…

Now here we are in September 2012 and while defense is basically no exsistent in the NFL, it is alive and well in the NFC West!  Back in the 80’s it was NFC East that had crazy defense.  Dallas had the “Doomsday” defense, then the Giants had their amazing defense led by the best linebacking core in league history (Taylor, Carson and Banks), not far behind them were the Eagles who under Buddy Ryan had some of the best defenses in league history, then the Redskins always had good defenses throughout the decade from 82 on, and I’m sure the Cardinals had a good defense 1 or 2 years in there (well, they probably didn’t, but they were in the NFC East so….good for them!)

Back then nobody ever would have believed that the 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks and Rams would be among the league’s elite in defense.  Hell, 2 years ago nobody would have believed it!  But yet here we are, 3 weeks in and the NFC West is the new black and blue division in the NFL.  Obviously we all knew coming into the season that the 49ers established themselves last season as one of the top defensive units in the league.  Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Carlos Rogers, they don’t have a weakness anywhere on that side of the ball and it won them the large majority of their games and will do so again this season although the really scary thing is that Alex Smith is finally looking like a formidable QB that can lead them to Super Bowl.

Up the coast Pete Carroll was always known as a great defensive coach, so its not a huge shock that he has the Seahawks coached up on D.  But what is impressive is that they’ve become a bit of a gong show of an organization under Carroll.  Yet the D hasn’t been affected by that BS and what they do as good as anyone is get after the QB.  Nobody on that d-line is elite, but everyone is very good.  Their secondary gets a ton of recognition as maybe the best in football, but as they showed last night the d-line is scary good as a unit.

If we are talking about the NFC West, we probably should talk about the division leading Cardinals.  That unit has been scary good, especially in their last 2 games.  They completely dominated the Pats in New England and as the Giants have proved in 2 different Super Bowls, when you get to Tom Brady he gets rattled.  And like the Seahawks while they have a great secondary, the key is they get to the QB up front.  Sunday they punished Michael Vick.  Calias Campbell is nearly impossible to block at 6’8, Darnell Dockett has as good of a motor as any d-lineman in the league, and 2010 1st round pick Dan Williams is becoming the NT they were hoping to get after a subpar start to his career.  Ken Wishenhunt comes from the Pittsburgh Steelers and while the team that went to the Super Bowl was a lot of fun to watch, this is more his kind of team.

And finally lets not forget about the kids of this group, the St. Louis Rams.  A good effort yesterday in a losing cause (the offense did them no favors), and I know they gave up 27 to RGIII and the skins, but trust me this D could be elite soon.  I don’t think anyone would disagree that they have the best young d-line in football.  Chris Long and Robert Quinn are beasts, and in the draft they added DT Michael Brockers who has loads of potential.  Scary, scary potential there.  Then while the d-line has scary potential, the secondary is already elite thanks in large part to signing Cortland Finnegan in the offseason.  Finnegan has been picking every ball in sight, and driving the wide out’s he has been matched up with nuts as usual.  In the draft they added Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson who everyone agreed had 1st round talent just had off field issues.  Finnegan is the perfect guy to mentor these 2.  Then you have the linebackers who are the weak link.  Some weak link, one of the best MLB’s in football in James Laurinaitis and now Jo-Lonn Dunbar is emerging as a great WLB.  And if all this wasn’t enough Jeff Fisher has a reputation for getting the most out of his players.

If you love high scoring shootout’s and excitement….then don’t watch these teams!  This all of a sudden has become a TOUGH division seemingly over night.  None of these teams have great offenses, but all of them will be tough to beat and nightmares for teams to play as all of them will leave their opponents worse for wear.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Just get it done

 

I’m the last guy that should be talking politics.  I don’t have the time of day for them, that’s why I’ve looked to avoid talking about the lockout and talking about the arena mess in Edmonton.  Add to that, this is a sports website (although obviously this is a sports issue as well).  But enough is enough and this is more of a one sided rant than an objective look at things.  The city of Edmonton is a complete joke.

Just look at the track record of the city.  It is known for dragging it’s feet with every single matter and what ends up happening in the end?  Either projects never get done and the city looks like more and more of a **** hole, or they eventually get done for a much higher price than originally projected.  This is once again what’s happening with this project.

And people not in the know about either side’s case can cry “Katz should pay for all of it” all they want.  You know why Katz isn’t paying for all of it?  Because most of the time when it’s just one guy making an investment like this they end up losing their shirts.  When Molson originally owned the Canadiens they took a bath when they built what is now the Bell Centre and had to sell.  The Ottawa Senators went bankrupt shortly after Rod Brydon built what was known as the Corel Centre.  The Griffiths in Vancouver paid for what was known as GM Place in 1995, and had to sell everything by 1997.

Is that not enough proof for you that a public/private partnership is vital to this arena getting built?!  Winnipeg did it, Pittsburgh did it, Seattle just announced yesterday that 200 million of public bonds are going towards their new arena.  Katz is essentially putting in nearly half of the money needed to get the new arena built.  The city is only in for 125 million.  I’m not saying that’s nothing, but it certainly doesn’t seem like the Katz group is trying to screw them over when you compare it to how these deals went in other cities.  The CRL is projected to generate 1.2-1.6 billion dollars, yet the city is only taking 40 million out of it in the deal that was agreed to last October.  The money is there, they just don’t want to spend it.  The city should be doing everything they can to get this done, to get something that could be the catalyst to revitalize downtown Edmonton.  But just like this city ALWAYS does, they drag their feet and just dig the hole even deeper.

Now, I do firmly believe this project will get done, they aren’t going anywhere.  But it shouldn’t have even come to the point of Katz and company flying to Seattle for this negotiating ploy.  If the Oilers were to leave Edmonton the city would be devestated and it would be yet ANOTHER black eye on a city that could be great but continually refuses to clean up it’s act and take the steps needed to change that opinion of people from around the world that Edmonton is a terrible place to live and has nothing to offer.

The arena would drastically change things not just for the downtown but the perception of the city.  It will never be San Diego obviously, but Edmonton should be a MUCH better city than it is and this process is just yet another example of why it isn’t.

 

This rant was brought to you by…nobody, but you should follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL picks – week 3

 

This site has basically become soups on betting the last few weeks.  7-3 now on the season through 2 weeks, wish I could quit while I was ahead.  Unfortunately I can’t.  Nope, I have the unbearable task of keeping up my run of amazingness.  Expectations are through the roof, and you all expect this unbelievable high you’re experiencing to last throughout the season.  Now I know how John Anthony felt.  Remember him?  2 for the Money?  Yeah, people depended on him to keep winning, and look what happened.  That one dude had it all and then went broke…and it was all John’s fault!!!  (even though his real name was Brandon, not John….well actually in real life his name is Mathew…)  Here are your winners.

 

Kansas City at New Orleans

Kansas City +9

I know, the Chiefs have been killed in their first 2 games.  And I know know the Saints are 0-2, they’re at home, and really hungry for a win.  They likely will.  But know that the Saints desperately miss Sean Payton.  The offense is a bit of a mess without him, and the defense is terrible.  Matt Cassel flat out sucks, but that offense is good enough to do some damage against the Saints D, and the Chiefs D will get it going sooner or later.  They have too much talent on that side of the ball not to.  Take the Chiefs and the points in this one.

 

St. Louis at Chicago

St. Louis +7.5

I love this bet.  I actually look at the lines Monday morning to see if one jumps out at me, this was the one.  I got it at +8, it went down to 7.5 in a few hours, was at 7, now back to 7.5.  And I’m betting you think I like it because the Bears were such a mess last week.  Sort of…but not really.  Yes, the Bears o-line got massively exposed and the Rams will be able to put as much pressure on Jay Cutler.  But Cutler will play better.  In my season previews I said the Rams DB’s would have a chance to be great and so far this season they have not disappointed.  The Rams can keep up in this game, if not win it outright.

 

Tampa Bay at Dallas

Tampa Bay +8

This one I got at +7 on Monday and now it’s at +8 and I have no clue as to why.  It’s another one of those that scares me because I see zero reason why the Bucs should be this big of an underdog after looking so good in the first 2 weeks and Dallas having their history of inconsistent play.  And as I say with just about every dog I take, Dallas likely wins the game, but Tampa is just way too talented to bet against when they’re getting 8 points.

 

Atlanta at San Diego

Atlanta +3.5

The dogs are 4 fo 4 thus far!  I don’t just picks dogs, but this week seems to be just loaded with dogs that are getting way too many points, and this one seems like a dream!  The Falcons went on the road and put up 40 in KC, then looked impressive at home against the Broncos on Monday night.  I understand it’s a dome team going outside, it’s cross country, and it’s a short week.  But the Falcons are the better team.  The Chargers beat the Raiders who have been terrible, and the Titans who have been worse.  Plus you can’t trust the Chargers early in the season.  They’re 2-0?!  They can’t go 3-0, not with Norv Turner as head coach.  Take the points.

 

Houston at Denver

Houston -1.5

I had to take at least 1 favorite right?!  It does scare me that Manning will be PISSED coming into this game.  All he has heard about by Sunday is how his arm is weak and he can’t make a throw past 15 yards.  I expect him to be much better.  But unfortunately for the Broncos this Texans team is scary good.  The defense is lights out, the running game is the best in the league, and when needed Matt Schaub can team up with Andre Johnson to light up secondaries.  -1.5 is nothing, so I think the Texans are a pretty safe bet.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL picks – week 2

 

Don’t look at my CFL picks, focus on college and NFL….PLEASE!!!  It was a shakey start last week, 0-2 and things didn’t look good.  But like the 95 Mariners my picks came storming back from an 0-2 deficit to come out of the week a 3-2 winner!  Now week 2 and they’re coming at you a little early.  The reason?  The Thursday night game.  I’m honestly stunned that the line is what it is and so I thought I would get a jump on things.  5 games, to quote the Shermanator….”Confidence is high.  Repeat confidence is high”.

 

Chicago at Green Bay

Chicago +6

REALLY?!  +6?!  REAAAAAAALLLY?!?!  I will take that and run!  The Bears looked GOOD against the Colts to open up, and the Pack looked good on offense, but once again their defense looked horrific.  The Bears essentially had a cake walk against the Colts.  Wasn’t a tight game, the Colts aren’t a very physical team, couldn’t have worked out better for the Bears heading into a short week.  The Packers had a slug fest with one of the most physical teams in football.  It was a game where they were battling back in the 4th quarter trying to make a game of it.  Add to this it doesn’t sound like Greg Jennings will play tonight.  Don’t go nuts on it but I love the Bears with the points in this spot.  I think the Bears can win this game outright, but should keep it within 3 or 4.  Also just for kicks, I love the over in this game (51.5).

 

Baltimore at Philadelphia

Baltimore +2

Something doesn’t feel right here.  I must be missing something.  I know it’s in Philly, but I don’t see how after seeing these teams play in week 1 that the Ravens can be an underdog.  Yet they are so I’m taking the points.  But it just feels like one of those games that I’m so sure about that Vegas knows something the rest of us don’t.  With the Pack and Bears I understand the logic of the public thinking the Pack will be ticked off and play their asses off.  With this one I expect the Ravens to put a hurt on Mike Vick and the Ravens offense to do more of the same that they did Monday night.  Maybe the Eagles do win this game and do beat the spread, but the smart bet here is the Ravens and the points.  Sometimes you make the right bet and don’t win, so it could happen here.

 

Tampa Bay at NY Giants

Tampa Bay +7.5

I know what everyone is thinking.  The Giants played bad in the opener and are going to take it out on the Bucs.  Here is the problem….the Bucs are better than people think.  Josh Freeman is a very good QB, Doug Martin looked real good in his first game, and that defense looked real good in shutting down Cam Newton.  Don’t forget, the Giants were 9-7 last year, 6-6, 7-7 late in the year.  I think the Giants will win this one, but the Bucs definitely have the talent to stay in this one, and will have something to prove.  Everyone is going to give the defending champs their best shot, it’s too many points.

 

Dallas at Seattle

Seattle +3

I honestly thought this line would move to -3.5 or 4 by now but it hasn’t moved all week.  I really thought people would go heavy on Dallas after the big week 1 win.  Nope.  They must think the same thing that I do which is that this feels like a trap game for the Cowboys.  +3 is touchy here because if you look at it on paper it’s the vastly improved Dallas defense vs Seattle’s rookie 3rd round QB.  The Cowboys will have had 11 days off, the Seahawks just the normal week.  If Skelton/Kolb can put up 20 points on the Seahawks D, what can Tony Romo do?  I don’t have answers for any of those, I just know that CenturyLink field is a really tough place to play, and the Cowboys could have trouble getting up for a game in Seattle after such a huge win in New York.  Maybe they win but much like the Ravens, the Seahawks getting points is the smart bet here.

 

NY Jets at Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh -5.5

This one may seem real odd considering the Jets looked so good and the Steelers lost a tough one in Denver.  But I’m not a believer in the Jets despite the dominant win.  I watch the Bills a lot, and if there is one thing I know is that when you think the Bills have turned a corner, they fall flat on their faces which is exactly what happened in that game.  Ben Roethlisberger won’t be throwing the ball to every Jet defender he can find.  Fitzpatrick’s turnovers killed the Bills and lifted the Jets.  As for the Steelers, they get Ryan Clark and James Harrison back.  5.5 is a big number but at home, desperate, I believe the Steelers could run away with this one.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL picks – week 1

 

Woooooooooooooooooooooo!!!  It is finally here!!!  Week 1!  Last year when this site was only read by 5 people I had an 0-4 week (I think it was wildcard weekend).  Now that this site is being read by 8 people, I’m feeling a bit of pressure!  And if you’ve learned anything from my other picks, you know that I won’t win you very much money but I WILL convince you that I know it all!  Who can’t love that?!  So with all that being said, and no Ron Barr references….damn I just made one….let’s get to these picks.

 

Atlanta at Kansas City

Kansas City +2.5

I know I picked the Falcons to win the NFC South, but they won’t go 16-0.  And when it comes to the quarterback position there is no contest, Ryan is head and shoulders above Cassel.  But KC is at home, KC has guys that can make big plays on offense, and KC has a very good defense.  I think the Chiefs can limit what the Falcons do on offense, and I don’t think the Falcons can do enough on defense to help out.  I’m not certain the Chiefs win this one outright but at home getting points I feel is a really good bet.

 

Indianapolis at Chicago

Indianapolis +10

I know everyone is going to look at this and say “a rookie QB going into Chicago and facing that Bears D is not going to go well”.  I understand that logic, but Luck isn’t your average rookie QB, this kid is the real deal.  Again, I have the Colts to surprise a lot of people and get to 7-9 or even 8-8.  And while I love the Bears to be an elite team this season, I just don’t think Luck will get blown out in his first game.  Add to this, I believe this Bears offense could take a few weeks to really gel so while I like the Bears offense better than the Colts defense, I don’t think they will light them up.

 

St. Louis at Detroit

St. Louis +8

I managed to bet this game when it was 9.5, but 8 is still a really big number.  The Rams are going to be improved right from the get go this season, and the Lions had so much BS going on off the field this offseason.  Like Indy, I don’t think the Rams will win this game, but I expect them to keep it within 6 or 7 at the least.  Stafford to Megatron is scary, but the Rams defense is going to be very good this season so they should keep the Detroit offense in check.

 

San Francisco at Green Bay

San Francisco +5

What was supposed to be the NFC title game last year, but of course the New York Giants ruined that party.  So we get it week 1, and it might be the best matchup of the week.  I love the Packers to win the NFC this season, and obviously love Rodgers a lot more than Alex Smith.  But we will see just how much the Packers defense has improved, and even if it has I can’t see it being anything elite yet.  There for I believe Smith will be able to throw on them, and the niners defense might be the best in football which could limit what the Packers offense will do.  I really expect this to be a close game, however so does everyone else and that’s always a concern.

 

Pittsburgh at Denver

Denver -2

Welcome back Peyton Manning, you get to face one of the most physical teams in the NFL.  Working in his favor however is that James Harrison is out for this game.  As I’ve stated a ton, I like the Broncos better than most.  Manning has great weapons to work with, and they’re great on the other side of the ball.  The Steelers I think are still going to be a good team (wildcard team), but again they’re aging.  I think this will be a close game, but at home I believe the Broncos will take it by at least a field goal.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL season preview – predictions

 

Obviously I have already done predictions on where I believe teams will finish in their division.  But I have yet to cover wildcard spots, championship games, Super Bowl, MVP, rookies of the year, etc.  So with that being said let’s get at it.

 

AFC wildcard teams

Pittsburgh Steelers – well this shouldn’t come as a big surprise.  No doubt that this team is getting old and one of these seasons it will hit them hard.  But looking at it closely I just don’t see this team losing out on a wildcard spot to a team like KC or Cincy.  As long as Roethlisberger can start 13 games or so, that defense will still be one of the best and that should be enough to get them into the dance for the 3rd year in a row.

 

Buffalo Bills – WOW!  When I did the team by team previews I kind of got after the Bills and picked apart all the holes on the team.  But the more I looked at the AFC, the more I thought that this team SHOULD get a wildcard spot.  If they can stay healthy, they probably have a top 6 team talent wise in the AFC.  I’m not a big Ryan Fitzpatrick guy, but I like him better than Matt Cassel and there for I like the Bills better than the Chiefs to get this spot.  As for the Bengals who I also believe will challenge for it, I just think the division will prove to be too tough.

 

NFC wildcard teams

Chicago BearsI know its a very tough division, but the Bears have good enough talent to overcome that.  This team would win a lot of the other divisions in football, but they just happen to be in the same division as one of the league’s elite.  It wouldn’t shock me if the Bears ended up winning the NFC North.  I don’t think they will, but they have the talent to go 12-4.  You can say this for every team, but they have to stay healthy which they weren’t able to do last season.  If they do, they’re in.

 

NY Giants – a lot of teams will challenge for this spot.  Whoever is the 2nd place team in the NFC South (I said the Saints) will be right there.  Another team from the NFC East will challenge for this spot (by my projections thats Philly).  And the Lions will challenge for this spot.  But the G men don’t have the off field distractions the Saints and Lions will have, and I don’t think Michael Vick can stay healthy enough to get the Eagles in.  There will be a Super Bowl hangover, this was a very inconsitent team (7-7 at one point), and they know they don’t have to go 13-3 to win it…they just need to get in.  And just barely I believe they will.

 

AFC title game

Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots

Winner: New England

I like Denver better than most do with the exception of Peter King who has them going to the Super Bowl.  However while I like the Broncos better than most (despite there horrific schedule), I think the Pats will overcome their offensive line woes they’re currently facing and head back to the Super Bowl.  The defense is vastly improved mainly due to getting Jones and Hightower in the 1st round.  Hightower was the bigger name in college, but Jones could emerge as the bigger name in the pro’s…especially this season.

 

NFC title game

Dallas Cowboys vs Green Bay Packers

Winner: Green Bay

Yep!  I not only have the Cowboys to win the NFC East (predicted well before Wednesday night), but to go all the way to the NFC title game!  That team is loaded with talent, they have a chip on their shoulder, their defense will be one of the best in football with the additions of Bruce Carter, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, and Dez Bryant will have a monster season.  But they still won’t get past the Pack.  Green Bay has as much talent as the Cowboys, and they have the experience, and there is no way I would take Tony Romo in a playoff game over Aaron Rodgers.

 

Super Bowl winner

New England Patriots

3rd times a charm for the Pats.  What an amazing Super Bowl this would be.  2 great QB’s, 2 great coaches, 2 good but not great defenses, and potential for a boat load of points and another great ending.  Again with the Pats I just love what they did on defense in the draft and I believe it will have a bigger impact then some are expecting.  Also it would be shocking to me if they got back and Brady’s Super Bowl record fell to 3-3…can’t happen, not to the golden boy.  He finally matches Montana and Bradshaw with 4 Super Bowl wins.

 

Team that could surprise

Oakland Raiders – I’m not going to pick a team that I already said could surprise, I’m picking one that I have ranked low.  I really like Reggie McKenzie, really like Dennis Allen, they do have a lot of talent there, and if Carson Palmer could have one of those big comeback years that he is capable of doing then they could be the surprise team of the league.

 

Team that could disappoint

San Francisco 49ers – again this isn’t what I’m expecting to happen, but there is always at least one team that comes from nowhere to rise up, and one team that massively underachieves.  I’m still not a believer in Alex Smith, they came out of nowhere last season, and teams will be taking them a lot more seriously this season.  Now again, I’m not expecting this to happen but if there is one upper echelon team that could fall off I would say the niners are the top candidate to do so.

 

MVP

Tony Romo

YEP!  I just think he is going to have that focus to do it this season.  He has the talent, always puts up big numbers, and with me predicting a break out year for the Cowboys I just believe that combination will get him serious consideration for the MVP and with voters expecting big things from the likes of Rodgers and Brady, Romo ends up winning the award.

 

Defensive player of the year

Ndamukong Suh

It’s now his 3rd season.  His first season he was a beast.  Last season he was a beast as well…just a little too much of one that got him in trouble more than anything.  While the Lions turmoil isn’t done, he gets a fresh start this season and with the talent he has around him on that d-line I think he will seriously bust out this season.

 

Offensive rookie of the year

Robert Griffin III

Although some know him as “Bob Griffin”, he will earn the RGIII moniker by seasons end.  Andrew Luck is going to be the better QB in my mind, but this season Griffin will have better numbers.  More talent around him and the ability to really run (that I think could hurt him in time) are the big reasons I think that THIS season Griffin will be the top offensive rookie.

 

Defensive rookie of the year

Chandler Jones

Are you sick to death of me pimpin this guy yet?!  He is going to be a nightmare for tackles.  Great talent, great work ethic, and his BROTHER will beat you up!  What more needs to be said?  Chandler Jones, your defensive rookie of the year.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL season preview – NFC West

 

1. San Francisco 49ers

It was great to see the 49ers back on top last season, even though this team was nothing like the Walsh/Montana niners.  This team was all about smash mouth football.  There was nothing finesse about it.  Jim Harbaugh made his mark in a big way and proved he won’t be one of those gimmicky college coaches that fades out after 2 seasons.  He’s here to stay and he’s staying with Alex Smith as his QB.

I’m not in any way an Alex Smith fan.  I wrote about it after last year’s NFC title game, they got that far despite Alex Smith.  I stand by that.  But he will definitely have his chance to prove that wrong this season.  He has a great offensive line to protect him which is always key for a QB to gain confidence.  The WR’s are revamped this year with a rejuvenated Randy Moss returning after a year away from the game.  A.J. Jenkins was a surprise 1st round pick to say the least, but they believe he can become a great weapon.  They also signed Giants Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham who will provide speed on the outside and big play ability.  Michael Crabtree is still around and needs to have a big year otherwise the word “bust” my start being included in his conversations. Vernon Davis was facing that same word until last season when he broke out in a big way!  So Smith has no excuses, he should be able to take more steps this season towards being the QB he was expected to be when picked 1st overall in 2005.  I like the running game, although Frank Gore is getting long in the tooth.  I don’t know how they will use LaMichael James, especially when they have Kendall Hunter, but both are explosive guys in the open field.

The defense is among the league’s elite, and Patrick Willis might be the best ILB in football.  Aldon Smith was picked 7th overall in the 2011 draft and had an amazing rookie season.  Carlos Rogers much like Vernon Davis and Alex Smith was back from the dead last season with an incredible season at corner.  Quite frankly I just don’t know what else I can say about this defense other than it’s one of the best and because of it the niners have a shot to win every game they play.

A lot went right for the niners last season, and I don’t expect 13 wins again this season.  But the division is still weak and there for 10 or 11 should get the job done and get them home field.

 

2. St. Louis Rams

The Rams were a lot of people’s sexy pick last season to win this division and start making some real noise.  Injuries didn’t help, but more than that this team just wasn’t that good and people expected Sam Bradford to just make this jump to elite QB with a bad offensive line and a bad group of receivers.

Bradford is talented but has a long ways to go before he can be considered elite.  Getting new head coach Jeff Fisher will help.  Fisher is one of the best coaches in football and while he is by no means known as a QB guru, they will always be a team that is great in the trenches.  Despite the o-line still being below average, they will be better under this coaching staff.  Steven Jackson is still playing good despite a poor o-line to run behind and despite pushing 30.  They drafted Isaiah Pead to give them a good inside/outside run game.  They some what addressed the talent at WR in the draft by getting Brian Quick with the first pick in the 2nd round, but the word is they were devastated when Jacksonville traded up to snag Justin Blackmon.  Quick will help, but they will need others to step up big.

The big area where this coaching staff could make their mark is on defense.  It’s led by James Laurinaitis who is a stud at MLB.  Their 1st round pick was Michael Brockers who most considered the best DT in the draft.  This d-line has big talent with Brockers flanked by Chris Long and Robert Quinn, they have a chance to be one of the best lines in football.  The secondary got a big overhaul in the offseason.  They brought over one of Fishers favorites Courtland Finnegan in free agency, and in the draft they picked up Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson.  Both Jenkins and Johnson are guys with big time talent but have big time off field issues.  If Fisher can somehow keep both these guys in check they will be total steals.

The Rams will make a big jump one of these years, and I’m saying it will be this year.  Not a jump like the niners made last season, but I don’t think 8-8 or 9-7 is out of the question in this division.

 

3. Seattle Seahawks

Year 3 of the Pete Carroll regime and thus far all he has to show are two 7-9 seasons.  Granted 1 of those seasons they won the division and won a playoff game, but let’s be realistic here he has taken the Seahawks nowhere so far, and it seems like it gets to be more and more of a mess as the days go by.

Now he is turning to the rookie out of Wisconsin Russell Wilson.  Undersized, very mobile, great arm, Wilson looked amazing in the preseason.  But it’s the preseason.  I remain skeptical of how good Wilson can be.  Even when you face the first team defense in preseason, it’s still preseason.  They brought in Matt Flynn for pretty big money and he was expected to be the starter.  I can’t imagine Flynn who could have got a starting gig in Miami, Arizona and other places is anything happy about this situation.  Then you have a lot of question marks at wide out with Sidney Rice (injuries), Braylon Edwards (inconsistency), Doug Baldwin (undersized) and Golden Tate (untalented).  Then at TE they made a big splash last season going out and signing the Raiders Zach Miller, only to replace him this season by trading for Kellen Winslow Jr, who they then cut at the end of camp!  This is a recipe for disaster.  Add to this, Marshawn Lynch has finally found his game in Seattlebut he is a guy that can’t keep his head off the field.

They drafted Bruce Irvin (a drastic reach) with the 15th pick in the draft and he is a guy that has big time off the field issues.  However I do like their D, and Pete Carroll is a defensive guy.  Bobby Wagner in the 2nd round looks like a good pick, the secondary is led by former Longhorn Earl Thomas, and so if you’re looking for a bright spot with this team it is on defense.

But it is just incredible how toxic this team is right now.  They got talent, I won’t deny that.  But they have a lot of guys with huge question marks and I just can’t see it going well.  No matter who is at QB, Wilson or Flynn, it’s going to be tough task with such drama going on around this team.  Yet they aren’t bad enough to bottom out and get the top pick.  BAD situation if you’re a Seahawks fan.

 

4. Arizona Cardinals

It’s got to be tough to be a Cards fan.  You FINALLY get a QB who takes you to a Super Bowl, 2 division titles and 4 playoff wins in 2 seasons…and then he retires and you immediately become the same old Cardinals.  And unfortunately for Cards fans I don’t see the solution coming this season.

As much as I just ripped apart the Seahawks and like the Cards coaches, WR’s, RB’s, better and think there defense is solid…John Skelton won’t have anyone excited in the desert.  He is better than Kolb (I can’t believe how bad Kolb is!) but he in no way is a franchise QB.  It’s not like he will lack weapons.  Larry Fitzgerald is obviously still a top 3 WR in this league, and 1st round pick Michael Floyd has the talent to be a number 1 wide out in the league some day.  The running game will be great provided both Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams can stay healthy.  Williams going into last season was a guy some thought could steal the number 1 gig from Wells until he got hurt in the pre season and was done for the year.  However things will be tough on both those guys if the offensive line doesn’t overachieve this season.  This group doesn’t win many battles in the trenches and make things difficult on both the pass and run games.

One thing that has turned around from the Kurt Warner days is the defense.  They have drafted extremely well on that side of the ball.  Calias Campbell has a great last name and is very difficult to block at 6’8 and 300 pounds.  Darryl Washington out of TCU was a great find in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft, and has established himself as one of the best ILB in football in just 2 seasons.  Then of course you have 2011 1st round pick Patrick Peterson.  He had an ok season at corner for the Cards, but it won’t be long until he is an elite corner.  Meanwhile his ability as a return man has already been on display.  5 PR’s in his rookie season, he was incredible.  He won’t get as many chances to return this season, but when he does look out!

Unfortunately for the Cards his talents don’t include running the offense and that could mean another long season in Arizona.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

NFL season preview – AFC West

 

1. Denver Broncos

Exit Tebowmania, enter an actual QB.  One of the best QB’s of all time actually.  As fun as Tebowmania may have been for a lot of you, the fact of the matter is that Broncos got to the playoffs because of the talent he had around him.  I will admit, he may have been THAT good of a leader to elevate that talent to the level it played at, but it wasn’t because of his quarterbacking.  Now they have a guy that is not only a great leader but an amazing QB as well. 

I don’t have any questions about Manning honestly and think while he might be a bit rusty in the first month of the season, he will be elite.  They have 2 very good and young WR’s in Thomas and Decker, and both are entering their 3rd season which for a WR is usually the time they bust out.  It remains to be seen if Willis McGahee can repeat his 2011 campaign.  Knoshown Moreno is still on the roster but at this point he’s considered a total bust.  As for the concern of keeping Peyton standing, well it’s one of the top offensive lines in the game in front of him led by LT Ryan Clady, so when you combine that with how quickly he gets rid of the ball he should be just fine. 

On the other side of the ball, the orange crush was back in full force in 2011.  Von Miller adjusted to playing in a 4-3 better than ok.  When a guy starts getting Lawrence Taylor comparisons and it’s NOT for what he does off the field…he’s doing something very right!  Dummervil is a beast on the d-line, D.J. Williams is still a very productive MLB, Champ Bailey is STILL one of the best corners in the game.  Not what he used to be, but still better than most. 

This team is loaded and I don’t think pundits are giving enough credit to how far Manning can elevate this team.  The Colts were humiliating without him, and the Broncos made the divisional playoffs without anyone close to him at QB.  This team is a Super Bowl contender.

 

2. Kansas City Chiefs

This may surprise a lot of people to have the Chiefs ahead of the Chargers but for me this is a no brainer.  Don’t forget the Chiefs won the AFC West in 2010 and last year were decimated by injuries yet still finished 7-9.  They are loaded just about everywhere, they just don’t have a great QB. 

But Matt Cassel is good enough to have this team at least in contention for a wild card spot if not challenge the Broncos for the division title.  The running game is going to be where this offense lives.  Jamaal Charles is back and if he is 100% he is one the top backs in the NFL.  Peyton Hillis was added in free agency and the beauty of Hillis is that he is a FB, not a RB so the Chiefs can have them on the field at the same time and should give defenses fits.  As if having 2 proven backs wasn’t enough, this o-line is one of the leagues best now that they’ve added RT Eric Winston.  Wide out is tricky for the Chiefs.  They have talent with Bowe and Baldwin, but Bowe held out and Baldwinapparently had a great offseason but has big time character issues.  If they use him right, Dexter McCluster is a great weapon to have as he can line up in the slot or at RB. 

The one thing to know with new head coach Romeo Crennel is that he will get the best out of his defense, and this team is talented on D.  Getting Eric Berry back this season is huge.  This kid is going to be a superstar as long as the injury doesn’t linger (tore his ACL last season).  And it’s kind of ironic that their d-line has some guys that have underachieved yet they still have enough to give them one of the best 3-4 lines in the league.  They added Dontari Poe in the 1st round, who was one of the higher risks of the 1st round.  A combine guy, Poe only had 1 sack last season and playing in Conference USA…not exactly the SEC!  But he is 346 pounds and have a nose tackle that big to go with Glen Dorsey and Tyson Jackson is really intriguing for the Chiefs.  Then at LB they have Tamba Hali who has become one of the top OLB’s in football, and Derrick Johnson who has become one of the top ILB’s in football.  Losing Brandon Carr hurts, but they still have the talent to be a top 3 defense in the AFC. 

Picking the Chiefs ahead of the Chargers may be a shock to some, and obviously Rivers is much better than Cassel at QB.  But the Chiefs have big time talent everywhere else and combine that with how the Chargers keep declining and it leaves me to believe the Chiefs finish 2nd in the division and challenge for a wild card spot.

 

3. San Diego Chargers

If you have been paying attention to this team under Norv Turner then predicting them to continue to fall should be no surprise.  Everyone in football with the exception of Chargers GM A.J. Smith knows that Turner simply isn’t a good head coach.  He should have been fired after they only went 8-8 in 08 and needed Denverto lose their final 4 games to sneak into the playoffs.  That team drastically underachieved.  He should have been fired in 2010 when they missed the playoffs.  And he should have been fired after last season when they not only missed the playoffs but failed to get over the .500 mark after a 4-1 start.  8-8 won the division, this wasn’t a difficult task for a team this talented yet they STILL failed.  Smith has a great eye for talent, but he has no clue what he’s doing when it comes to head coaches. 

Now coming into this season Phillip Rivers might have to do it all on his own.  No more Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates has trouble staying healthy and is entering his 10th season, and Ryan Mathews got hurt on the 1st play of the preseason and like Gates has trouble staying on the field.  This team is weak at WR.  Vincent Brown was a guy that was expected to step in and be a playmaker, but he broke his ankle in the 2nd preseason game and is now out for 8 weeks.  After Brown and Malcom Floyd (who are just ok to begin with), they don’t have much.  Eddie Royal had a good rookie season but has been declining ever since.  Robert Meachem has a lot of speed but his hands are suspect.  The o-line is suspect to say the least.  Rivers has his work cut out for him. 

On defense they have a lot of talent but they continually underachieve.  Melvin Ingram was a steal at the 17th pick in the draft, the kid was incredible in college.  2011 1st round pick Corey Liuget should be a lot better in his 2nd season as it takes d-linemen a few years to get a feel for the league.  Solid group of LB’s led by Shaun Phillips, Donald Butler and as mentioned Ingram.  You never know what you might get out of this secondary, although Eric Weddle is one of the top safeties in football. 

The talent is here, but not near as much as there has been in the past.  So if those teams underachieved under Norv Turner then I can’t imagine this team will do anything different.

 

4. Oakland Raiders 

Sad year for Raider nation last year.  Al Davis passed away in October, they gave up too much to land Carson Palmer at the trade deadline but were desperate with Jason Campbell injured, and then the AFC West was wide open for them to win and they couldn’t seal the deal.  Now everything has been overhauled.  New GM Reggie McKenzie brought in Dennis Allen as the teams 96th head coach in the last 3 years.  Ok, you caught me, it’s not the 96th in that span it just feels that way.  You really know how to sniff those out don’t you?  Anyways it’s a new era for the Raiders and they have a long climb back. 

I don’t think Carson Palmer is as bad as some people think.  Some think he is a shell of his former self.  He needed out of Cincinnati for a long time and last season he was rushed into action and never had a chance to learn the offense.  It’s a fresh start for him and while he won’t ever be elite again, he is a very capable starter who still has 4 or 5 good years left.  The biggest key on offense is Darren McFadden staying healthy.  If he does, he’s the best RB in football.  They likely have the fastest group of wide outs in football with Darius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, and 2011 5th round steal Denarius Moore.  They’ll need to be damn good because they don’t have much else in the passing game. 

The defense isn’t going to strike fear into their opponents, but it should be able to hold their own.  They’re d-line is very solid with Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly plugging up the middle.  It still as of this time remains to be seen if MLB Rolando McClain will face a suspension, but if he skates on that it will be huge for the Raiders.  This is a big year for the 3rd year man out of Alabama.  More was expected from him entering the league and he could benefit the most from having a defensive guru like Dennis Allen around.  The secondary is led by Tyvon Branch, but they’re awfully thin at corner. 

The big reason it will take McKenzie and Allen to turn this franchise around isn’t because of lack of talent on the roster, but the fact that they hardly had any draft picks this season.  When you don’t pick until the 3rd round of the draft and have cap issues to deal with makes it pretty difficult for you to put your mark on a team.  McKenzie came over from the Packers though, so if he learned anything from Ted Thompson he should get them turned around.  

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Pitches and O’s

 

Ok, so I 100% stole this title from Tim and Sid.  But if they get pissed about that…I’m pumped cause it will mean they’ve heard of me!  And really it is pretty ridiculous to use this title cause it has nothing to do with what I’m talking about, it’s just awesome!

But what a story the Baltimore Orioles have become!  Sure they lost dropped back to a game out of 1st in the AL East last night, but they are still tied with Oakland at the top of the wild card standings, and get the Yanks at home starting tonight for a HUGE 4 game series.

It is simply unbelieveable that they’re in this position.  A team that a lot of people picked to finish 7th in a 5 team division.  You looked at this roster and said “they have Adam Jones and nothing else”.  If they had anyone else that could break out you would have thought at that time it would be Matt Weiters and while 18 bombs and 67 RBI’s is a good production from a catcher, he has yet to really live up to expectations.

Then at midseason the pitching staff imploded.  Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter all completely went in the tank around the All-Star break.  They all have ERA’s well over 5.00, are a combined 15 games below .500, and subsequently got sent down (although Matusz and Hunter are back up with the expanded rosters).  The teams best pitcher was Jason Hammel who went down on July 13th after he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

This is the worst fielding team in the AL.  They have the 2nd most DL stints in the AL.  Their run differential is -21, compared to the Yanks who are +85, the Rays are +79, and the A’s are +68!  It is amazing that this team is in the spot they are, but once again a Buck Showalter team is finding a way to get it done.  His Yankees were like this, his D-backs were like this, even his Rangers were like this.  Well, actually that’s not quite true.  None of them were like THIS!

The key for this team is that they’ve got it done when they’ve needed to.  They’re 24-7 in 1 run games this season.  Far and away the best winning percentage in 1 run games in the majors this season.  That could be huge coming down the stretch and possibly into the playoffs as they will have a lot of confidence in those tight games.

The key is this weekend though.  And just in time for the Yankees series Jason Hammel will return to start the opener tonight.  Taking 3 of 4 in this series would put the O’s in the drivers seat for the AL East title for the first time since 1997.

And how could you not pull for them?  15 years since not only winning the division but being in the playoffs.  And really, this team hasn’t even been close to the playoffs in that time.  The 98 massively underachieved, and the only other time they even looked promising was 2005 when they started hot but were already well out of it by the time the All-Star break rolled around.  It’s been ROUGH for O’s fans, a franchise that through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s wasn’t used to losing.

MLB needs more traditional powers like the O’s to come back from the dead and be powers once again.  It’s been a good year for that with the Reds leading the NL Central, the Pirates being in the race in the Central and more so the NL wild card, and the Dodgers making all the big moves they’ve been making.  They’re young, talented and exciting so hopefully the O’s can get in and when they do they just might find a way to do some damage.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups