Monday, September 21, 2009
Yesterday was an interesting day around the NFL. The AFC in particular had an interesting day. The four teams that were expected to win their divisions (New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, and the San Diego Chargers) all lost yesterday. The Patriots and Chargers, who barely escaped upsets last Monday night, weren't so lucky in week 2 with the short week of rest. Both teams entered this season as division favorites and contenders for the Super Bowl, but through two games they have had to play catch up against "inferior" opponents. The Steelers also fell to 1-1 after losing to the Chicago Bears on a last minute field goal, one week after winning with a field goal in overtime. The vaunted Steelers defense was ineffective against the Bears, and couldn't make the big stops when needed. The Titans fell to 0-2 after losing to their division rival Houston Texans 34-31. The Titans were up 21-7 early in the 2nd quarter, and got over 280 yards of total offense from running back Chris Johnson, bu the Texans passing attack was too much for them to handle. Now a team that started this season with their eyes on the Super Bowl, now are just looking for a win.
What's even more surprising than who lost was who actually won yesterday. After two weeks only three AFC teams will start off the season 2-0 (the Colts will be the fourth if they win tonight). This is a bit surprising considering the AFC is considered the stronger overall conference (the NFC has five teams that are 2-0). What's even more surprising is who the three teams are with a spotless record in the AFC, the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens. Now the Ravens aren't too surprising, they were a playoff team last year, and while they had some losses on defense their offense looked pretty strong entering the year. The Jets and the Broncos on the other hand are a bit more shocking. Both teams experienced a lot of turnover in the offseason. Each team bringing in among others, a new head coach and starting quarterback. The Broncos early success should be taken with a bit of a grain of salt. They have faced the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns, two teams that aren't exactly expected to be in the playoff hunt this season. The Broncos also would have lost to the Bengals if not for a fluke last second 87 yard touchdown. While its easy to question the staying power of the Broncos they are the division leader, and two wins are more than most teams have right now. The Jets on the other hand seem a bit more for real, and what's scary for the rest of the AFC East is they should only get better. The Jets decisively beat the Texans in Houston in week 1, a team that figured to be a playoff contender. New York followed that up knocking off the New England Patriots in week 2, and holding the Patriots high-powered offense to just 9 points. The Jets defense which hasn't allowed a touchdown in two weeks, should get better with a fully healthy DE Shaun Ellis, and the return of LB Calvin Pace after his four week suspension. On offense the Jets dual running attack has moved the ball effectively in both weeks. Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has made major strides, and has put the Jets in a position to win both games. He hasn't dominated the competition by any means, but he has shown plenty of poise and the ability to make plays when needed. If he continues to mature throughout the season, the Jets could make a deep run into the playoffs.
While nothing can really be determined after two weeks, the AFC balance for power is not shaping up how anyone expected. Some of the conference's top contenders, are looking more and more like pretenders. While some of the teams that were overlooked going into the season, are looking like teams that need to be taken seriously for the remaining 14 weeks.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
With both teams ranked in the top 25 and the higher seed (according to the AP poll, they are flipped in the USA Today poll) at home it would seem like the smart pick would be the Boise State Broncos, but I think the Cinderella team is going to have their hands full tonight. As much as I love the Broncos I can't pick them over the Ducks tonight. It boils down to one
major 'BIG' reason, 6'2" 240 lbs. senior running back LeGarrette Blount. Despite sharing time with Jeremiah Johnson last year, Blount still managed to rush for over 1,000 yards and lead the team with 17 touchdowns. Blount's size makes him a power back, but before you label him a "three yards and a cloud of dust" running back, remember he averaged 7.3 yards per carry last season. Joining Blount on offense is the dual threat junior quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Masoli proved last year that he could handle the Oregon offense and really sparked the Ducks success. The Ducks weakness on offense is their receivers, but Masoli finds a way to make big plays regardless of who he's throwing the ball to.
The Broncos aren't without hope though. They return one of the most intriguing college quarterbacks in redshirted sophomore Kellen Moore. Moore last season took the college world by storm, by throwing for almost 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. He was extremely efficient with a completion percentage of 69.4 that led to a 157.11 QB rating (which ranked 11th in the nation). They also have a pair of quick running backs that could give the Ducks some problems on the perimeter in juniors James Avery and D.J. Harper. The Boise State defense has some weaknesses in the front 7, but their strong secondary should give Masoli fits.
Overall I think Oregon's ground game will be too much for the Broncos to handle. I don't think they have the speed to contain Masoli, or the talent up front to stop Blount. While Moore and company should keep Boise State in the game, I think Oregon's talented line backing corps will stifle the Broncos' ground game. Also I think the Ducks should be able to get solid pressure on Moore that should keep him from being the winning quarterback. I think it will be a close high scoring game overall, with the Ducks coming out ahead 38-31.
With College Football season upon us, we will be previewing the 6 BCS conferences as well as Notre Dame. We will rank each conference on how we see it finishing up, and give a little preview of why the top teams can compete for their conference title. First up we will look at Notre Dame, obviously their isn’t a conference title at stake here, but they are a top 25 team with some serious bowl aspirations. Then I’ll give my top 25 as season begins.
Notre Dame Fighing Irish
Why They Will Contend: The Irish return a very upperclassmen laden team. The Golden Domers have a top notch offensive line led by Sr tackle Sam Young. They will be blocking for 3rd year quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who looks to build upon his 3,000 yard season. Clausen will need to cut down on the interceptions, but when he does find a Notre Dame wideout he has some play makers to work with. Junior Golden Tate and sophomore Michael Floyd are two excellent receivers, and one of the best tandems in the nation. Both guys are threats to always get in the end zone any time they have the ball. On defense the Irish return six starters including three in the defensive backfield. The safety tandem of junior FS Harrison Smith and senior SS Kyle McCarthy should be the Irish’s backbone this year. Junior OLB Brian Smith is the team leader and a force from the outside.
Why They Won’t Contend: Clausen is a nice QB prospect, but he’s been a nice prospect for three years now. With the targets that he has he should be among the top 5-15 quarterbacks in the nation, but he hasn’t been anywhere close to that. His interceptions were back-breakers last season, and he will need to get them under control to take the Irish to the next level. Another issue for Notre Dame is their running game. Even though they return their top 3 rushers and have a good offensive line they averaged just over 3 yards a carry last season. On defense the Irish are solid across the board and have a lot of potential, but they will need some guys to step up. Right now they have too many athletes and not enough players, especially in the front 7.
Offensive Player to Watch: WR Michael Floyd. This could have just as easily been Golden Tate as both are incredible play makers. I think Floyd with his combination of size and speed is going to be a breakout candidate this year.
Defensive Player to Watch: OLB Brian Smith. Smith is a play maker that always is around the ball. He can play inside and outside, but looks to be a full time starter on the outside now. Smith should cause a lot of problems in the backfield for opposing teams.
- Ohio State
- Virginia Tech
- Boise State
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
- Georgia Tech
- Florida State
- Notre Dame
- North Carolina
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
"We believe Michael Vick has served his time, paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance and the animal rights groups want to hold him hostage for the rest of his life," J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, said Wednesday. "We think that's patently unfair. It denies Michael Vick's basic civil rights, denies him his ability to make a living."