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NFL Rapid Reactions – Week 15

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The teams I picked to win this week were mostly wrong and further established the unpredictable ways of the NFL.  “Any given Sunday” anything can happen and this week was very indicative of that term.  The games I have thoughts on will be similar to last week as the playoff contending games are the only ones I will acknowledge.  Football Sundays during this time of the year is the best television show and it fails to disappoint….. My reactions

 

 

SD 27   DEN 20

 

A game where most thought the Broncos would win by two touchdowns easy didn’t go that way.  The short turnaround in the week didn’t help the Broncos as they looked flat all night.  The Chargers established themselves at the line of scrimmage and pretty much took over this game with great ball control offense.  Ryan Matthews was a catalyst in keeping Peyton on the sidelines with his 5th +100yds rushing game of the year.  By the time the Broncos got rolling offensively there just were not much time left and the Broncos defense could not get off the field on third downs.  The Chargers playoff hopes are still alive with this huge road victory.

 

 

 

CHI 38   CLE 31

 

Jay Cutler was clearly rusty in his first game back, coupled with the fact that he was playing in inclement weather against a feisty Cleveland Browns defense.  However, Jay Cutler having arguably the best receiving duo in the league and an opportunistic defense helps immensely in overcoming obstacles.  The Bears held onto their playoff hopes with this win.

 

 

MIA 24   NE 20

 

The Dolphins are one of the hottest teams in the league right now and ran up against a Gronk(less) Patriots team at home at the right time.  Ryan Tannehill is growing up for the Dolphins right before our eyes and making big time plays in big time moments to validate being a top 10 pick.  Tannehill marched down the field late in the 4th quarter to score a touchdown to take the lead dropping a few dimes on key downs.  Tom Brady was spectacular but the Dolphins made a few more plays than he could and ultimately sealed the victory with an interception in the endzone.  The Dolphins currently hold the final playoff spot in the AFC and look good to hold onto it.

 

 

MIN 48   PHI 30

 

Nobody saw this meltdown by the Philadelphia Eagles coming based on the fact that the Vikings were without their stud running back Adrien Peterson. The Vikings put up 48 points led by Matt Cassell but it was more surprising to see that the Eagles could not keep up.  The NFC East is the worst division in football so the loss isn’t too surprising but considering how well the Eagles have been playing this almost comes as a total shock.  This game is a prime example of NFL football at its finest when pointing towards predictability.

 

 

SEA 23   NYG 0

 

The Seahawks have virtually nailed down the top seed in the NFC but this needed to be pointed out that the Giants scored ZERO points on their home field. Eli Manning threw 5 interceptions and was yanked from the game.   It has gotten that bad and the Giants have hit rock bottom.

 

 

CAR 30   NYJ 20

 

It is worth noting that Cam Newton is having a fantastic year and the Panthers look as if they will make the playoffs.  This was a much needed season for Cam who has somewhat been the forgotten man amongst the “new age” quarterbacks.

 

 

GB 37   DAL 36

 

There is only one team who can be up 26-3 at halftime and manage to lose, that team would be the DALLAS COWBOYS.  They decided it was a great idea to only run the ball 7 times in the 2nd half and right on cue the defense got trampled and put Tony Romo in hero mode once again and of course it all comes down to the inevitable interception.  Teams scoring over 35 in a game this season are a combined 51-2 (guess who represents oner of those two losses).  The most disgusting part of this train wreck referred to as the Cowboys is that they STILL have an opportunity to win the division.  *Barf*

 

 

STL 27   NO 16

 

The Saints don’t want to admit their road woes but these types of losses make it hard to ignore.  Drew Brees was under duress all day and could not get on track offensively.  On the defensive side of the ball they were pushed around and allowed over 140 yards rushing to a team with limited receiving options (so they knew they needed to stop the run).  This loss just makes their showdown with the Panthers even more important towards winning their division and getting a home playoff game.

 

 

ARI 37   TEN 34

 

Bruce Arians continues to impress leading these Cardinals, and they should hopefully make the playoffs as it is well deserved.  This was a gutsy road win but it took overtime to pull it through.  Carson Palmer has been playing well as of late and they have also got some good contribution from running back Rashard Mendenhall who looks more healthy than early in the year.  If this team makes the postseason they will be a tough out based on their scrappy defense and ability to score as they have an underrated core of skill players (outside of the stud Larry Fitzgerald).

 

 

PIT 30   CIN 20

 

It was disappointing to see the Bengals look so flat and unable to take advantage of an old and tired Pittsburgh team.  The Bengals are too talented to get beat in the fashion they did on Sunday night.  The leader of the Bengals which is quarterback Andy Dalton just isn’t the guy to lead them to the promise land as he threw errant passes and made bad decisions for the majority of the night.  The defense has been ripped apart by injuries but there is still plenty of firepower to get things done but this game is an example of why the Bengals are going nowhere.

 

 

BAL 18   DET 16

 

This is a game I thought had the makings to be somewhat of a shootout, but then also could be low scoring based on the erratic play of both quarterbacks.  The potential of both of these defenses was on full display, but the inconsistencies of both quarterbacks were visible as well.  I have referred to the Lions as the “Cowboys of the NFC North” and they didn’t disappoint.  Matt Stafford threw a couple awful and untimely picks that cost them the game and Calvin Johnson had some inexplicably key drops that killed momentum.  The Ravens continue to look primed for a playoff run and the Lions look like they will fall short of expectations once again.

 

 

We are gearing up for a great playoff push and I can’t to see it all unfold.  Coaches and players are playing to keep jobs and the pressure to perform is evident.  Thanks for reading you guys and I will see you next week!  Happy Holidays!

 

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NFL Rapid Reactions - Week 6

NFL Rapid Reactions – Week 6

NFL Rapid Reactions - Week 6

 

CHI 27   NYG 21

 

The Giants put up a great fight but it won’t matter how hard they fight until the turnovers are cut down.  Eli had 3 interceptions and 1 taken back for a pick 6 which made the ability to win much more difficult to win.  On the flip side, Jay Cutler who is widely known for throwing picks was great again as he controlled the game and threw 2 tds with no turnovers.  That was the biggest difference in this game.

 

 

GB 19   BAL 17

 

A tough game that was played rather sloppy between two former Super Bowl QB’s came down to making one more play.  Aaron Rodgers found Jordy Nelson down field for a 60 yard touchdown and that sealed the game.  The Packers offense sputtered almost instantly as James Jones went down for injury followed by losing Randall Cobb.  Rookie runningback Eddie Lacy helped out by rushing for over 100 yards which is starting to become a regular for the Packers.

 

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CIN 27   BUF 24

 

IT’S ABOUT TIME ANDY DALTON!!!  Andy Dalton threw 3 touchdowns and over 300 yards which will be needed much more often if the Bengals have Super Bowl aspirations.  However the Bengals seemingly took the Buffalo offense for granted as newly called up Thad Lewis was effective and held Buffalo in a game that should have been a 14+ point win for Cincy.  The Bengals secondary needs to get healthy ASAP.

 

 

STL 38   HOU 13

 

This game was more about the Houston Texans than it was about the Rams.  The Texans seem to have self- imploded and headed nowhere fast.  Matt Schaub goes down and TJ Yates spells him only to keep the pick 6 streak alive.  This team is 2-4 and looking for answers but this season could be over if they don’t find answers fast.

 

 

DET 31   CLE 17

 

The better quarterback got it done in this game as Matt Stafford threw 4 touchdowns and over 300 yards which got it done in a tough road game against a tough defense like the Browns.  Brandon Weeden is single-handedly going to get Cleveland a top 3 pick in the 2014 draft.

 

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KC 24   OAK 7

 

Kansas City defense dominated a below average Raiders team that barely has any offensive line which the Chiefs feasted on all day.  The Raider gave up 10 sacks along with many hurries and disruptions which overwhelmed T.Pryor and that offensive unit.

 

 

CAR 35   MIN 10

 

I can’t tell if Cam Newton played really well or if the Vikings are just really bad.  Both of these teams have struggled most of the early part of the season but somebody had to win today.  It makes sense that the better quarterback made the plays necessary to win as Cam Newton was responsible for 4 out of 5 touchdowns.  Matt Cassel was very ineffective against that stout Carolina front 7.

 

 

PIT 19   NYJ 6

 

The Steelers finally won a game but it came at the expense of playing against a rookie qb and a offensive unit with no real weapons.  Big Ben made just enough plays in the passing game to get a win because they were virtually non-existent in the run game.  The problems the Steelers have are still evident but playing against an inferior opponent camouflages those things.

 

 

PHI 31   TB 20

 

The Bucs are a disaster and coach Schiano needs to step down.  The single thing that sticks out most to me is the fact that the Bucs are using the best cover cornerback in the NFL as a guy in a cover 2 zone.  There is no reason to have a guy of his ability if you are going to stick him in zone coverage which makes plenty sense why DeSean Jackson had a fantastic day and scored 2 touchdowns.  The Eagles went to Tampa Bay and played a sound football game.

 

Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

DEN 35   JAC 19

 

Well the Broncos did not quite cover the spread and Peyton was a little perturbed that his team seemed to have taken the Jaguars lightly.  At one point in this game the Jags were only down 21-19 and Peyton had even thrown a pick 6.  The winner was never in doubt but the Broncos inability to cover Justin Blackmon following the thrashing Romo put on them the week prior is a bit alarming.  This team will score all year but they have to find some continuity on defense if they want to run the table in the playoffs.

 

 

SEA 20   TEN 13

 

It is very obvious the thin offensive line and the absence of Percy Harvin are causing the Seahawks to struggle.  They have to get healthy on offense so that the defense can truly dominate.  A win is a win and the Seahawks don’t lose home games but it is clear they need some offensive firepower as the receivers are struggling to get separation in coverage and Russell Wilson not having enough time to throw.  Greg Williams defense for the Titans is highly underrated as they have caused problems for offenses all year.

 

 

NO 27   NE 30

 

The legend of Tom Brady grows as he marched his team down the field with less than 2minutes and no timeouts for the game-winning pass to win the game with 3 seconds left on the clock.  It was a back and forth contest all day as the depleted Patriots did just enough to keep it close for Brady to pull one last trick out his hat in the end.  The game had a moderately high score but it wasn’t necessarily an aerial show as both team used the running game heavily.

 

 

SF 32   ARI 20

 

The Cardinals aren’t a bad team but until they can get some better blocking and a solidified running game this team will be below average.  The defense is a strong unit but Kaepernick took advantage of some of the inexperience in the Cardinals secondary as Vernon Davis had a career type day (180yds/3tds).  The 49ers are slowly finding their groove as they re-establish the run game.  This was a tough division game but there wasn’t much doubt who was going to win.

 

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DAL 31   WAS 16

 

This was about as well rounded a win as you will see from the Cowboys.  There was a special team’s touchdown to go along with just enough offensive production to pair with disruptive defense on RG3 all night.  Brandon Carr took away RG3’s number 1 option in the passing game and Jason Hatcher seemed to be constantly harassing RG3.  If the Cowboys can continue to get this type of production from all three phases of the game they will be dangerous but that is a BIG IF.

 

 

SD 19   IND 9

 

Andrew Luck barely needed to shower after this game as he was on the sideline most of the night.  Phillip Rivers played ball control all night instead of putting the ball in the air and turning this into a shootout.  Most of the ball control offense can be attributed to how thin the Chargers were on defense for this game and didn’t want to be exposed.  However Colts OC Pep Hamilton has to get away from the power run game because they are not equipped upfront for that style.  Open up the offense and let Andrew Luck operate.  The current offense is too stagnant and held the Colts back in the limited time they did have on the field.

 

Well that is mostly what I seen this week so hopefully you all enjoyed it.  See you next week as this season starts to really heat up and much more is at stake!

 

 

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The "Dez Bryant" Project: Just Who is the Cowboys Talented Young Star

The “Dez Bryant” Project: Just Who is the Cowboys Talented Young Star

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There has been much said about Dez Bryant during his tumultuous career as the young star receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. Whether the opinions and views were good or bad, there have been strong thoughts both ways. 

 

His career started off with a bang stemming back to his refusal in carrying Roy Williams pads, then immaturity issues and infamous route running miscues, ending with the odd incident with his mother in an argument.  Even Deion Sanders had to cut his ties with the seemingly wild natured guy who is Dez Bryant, because of the young receiver’s immature ways.  Viewing from a distance it would be easy to turn a cold shoulder to Dez but first consider his very rough and volatile background.

 

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Dez Bryant was born in 1988 to Angela Bryant who was only 15 years old at the time. By Angela’s 18th birthday she had birthed three kids.  This already makes things extremely difficult for Dez, yet alone anyone.  She admittedly was so poor and incapable of providing a healthy living for her children that she resorted to selling drugs.  While his mother was in prison Dez lived with his father, but as soon as she was released he went right back to stay with her. Dez’s mother was a very young kid/ mother still trying to figure out the game of life, while balancing the ability to be a positive mother to her kids.  These dynamics created the extremely unstable environment and hard times for the Bryant family. These details of Dez’s background have all been well chronicled for anyone who has followed his career.  One may ask “what does all this have to do with Dez Bryant the football player?”

 

That is a great question that can be analyzed based on his upbringing and being able to partially relate. For instance, one thing that stands out about Dez Bryant as a football player is his intense passion for the game.  He battles for every inch on every play and when he gets the ball it takes multiple bodies to bring him down. That type of monstrous rage comes from his youth days of seeing struggle, pain, and always wanting to succeed. Coming from a rough background and neighborhood the one thing you must have is pride and heart otherwise you won’t make it out alive. 

 

 

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In high school Dez stayed in the principal’s office for his frequent angry outbursts in class.  He lashed out often which led to him needing a counselor his freshman year. He had to learn to channel that anger for the betterment of himself which took time but eventually worked.  When you configure his childhood ways with how he plays football as a pro, you can see the same progressions.

 

As a rookie, watching Dez Bryant with the ball was electric, but very violent.  When he caught the ball he fought off countless defenders but exposed himself to injury.  Those small nagging injuries were similar to a counselor because it showed him the value of preservation.  Living to see the next play is just as important as gaining the extra yard which D.Bryant learned through experience.

 

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Then there are the constant miscues and errors on the field with route running and reading defensive coverage.  There have been various reports saying that “Dez has a limited route tree” “Dez is a bad route runner.” 

 

Observing the Dallas Cowboys play and in particular Dez Bryant it seems as if there has been some truth to those reports. However, the Cowboys coaching staff and Tony Romo have done a great job of trying to bring him along and focus on his strengths. As a teenager in highschool many don’t realize that Dez Bryant took special education classes, which can give an indication to his learning curve. The Cowboys have been patient with him just as his support group in highschool that got him from special education classes and into Oklahoma State University. There are times you can see the Cowboys’ coaches and Romo are mildly frustrated with Dez Bryant but they understand he is making strides. 

 

The patience in this unique player really showed up last season especially after week 8 of the season. In the first 8 weeks he was fairly quiet with 502 yards and 2 tds.  After the midseason swing, Dez Bryant exploded for over 800 yards and 8 touchdowns. The patience that has been exhibited for such a troubled young man has not gone unwarranted.

 

When you measure his physical tools, natural ability, and passion for the game there is no question this player just needed time. Dez Bryant has a good heart and has merely been a victim of circumstance which is why so many are willing to help. The light bulb has come on for Dez on the field as well as off the field. His ceiling is scary and refreshing at the same time because it’s clear he wants to be a better player….and person.

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Lawrence's Top 10 Watch List for Fantasy Football 2013

Lawrence’s Top 10 Watch List for Fantasy Football 2013

Lawrence's Top 10 Watch List for Fantasy Football 2013

 

Lawrence’s Top 10 Watch List for Fantasy Football 2013

 

Sleepers in fantasy football are becoming more and more non-existent as the game advances, GM’s get savvier with news sources, and the abundance of media outlets to leak stories chronicling the entire offseason.  So I created a “watch list” which gives you an idea into players that can provide you great value based on opportunity and potential draft position.  We all want to catch a few diamonds in the mid to late rounds, but it also feels good to see your later round picks outperform an opponent’s early rounder.  Here are some guys to watch out for that may fit that bill.

 

10) TE Dustin Keller:

 

Keller may have landed in the perfect situation to flourish based on his skill set.  The Dolphins have two legit outside threats in Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline.  These two guys will demand attention while the middle of the field will belong to Keller.  He is a quick, athletic tight end with good hands, and could cause matchup problems.  Their main slot guy Devon Bess is no longer with the team so he left a void Keller can fill nicely.  He had an injury plagued 2012, but he led the Jets in receiving in 2011 with 65 catches for 815yds/5tds.  He is very capable of being Tannehill’s midfield target.  This is a potential late round gem as a tight end which is rare.

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9) WR Kenny Britt:

 

Many have probably lost faith in Kenny Britt (rightfully so) but I think this may be the year to have him.  Britt has never had more than 775yds in a season but he is also going into only his 5th year in which the last two have been bogged down with injuries to his knees.  Last year he was healthy enough to play but struggled to regain his form (had a tough time getting separation from corners). Britt had a stretch in which he caught 12tds in a span of 11 games before the injuries started to mount.  The word out of Titans camp is that he looks explosive again which is a great early sign for the talented receiver.  It’s also worth noting they drafted a potential replacement this year in the 2nd round, plus it is also the ever so mythical “contract year” so the motivation factor will be at an all-time high.  Late….Round…..Steal!

 

8) WR Hakeem Nicks:

 

Nicks has proven constantly that when healthy he can produce, but that is the key word “when” healthy.  In back to back years of ‘10/’11 he was a locked in over 1,000yd receiver. In 2012 he rushed back from a broken foot and was never the same which caused more injuries.  Nicks is the #1 receiver on a team with an elite passing game.  He is also the top redzone target where he excels tremendously and that boosts his value.  It has been reported he didn’t show up for OTA’s but he already said he will be there.  I think he will be healthy and focused for 2013 which could put most fantasy owners in position to get a #1 receiver in the middle of the draft. Also worth noting V.Cruz may hold out which puts more onus on Nicks to perform.  Keep an eye on Nicks leading into training camp.

 

7) RB Shane Vereen:

 

Danny Woodhead’s departure to San Diego puts Vereen squarely on radar for a guy who holds value.  His value is based mainly on his uptick in playing time which he deserves.  Vereen and Woodhead had a combined 186 touches last year, so that can be a small indication as to what type of action Vereen has in store.  Vereen played 12% of the snaps last year, while Woodhead played 34% and those percentages can be rounded into assumption that Vereen will at least play 35 to 40% of snaps based on those measures.  The Patriots ran the most plays in the NFL last year so that opportunity to be produce will be there.  When taken into account that Vereen is a more physically gifted athlete than Woodhead he could have a great season if given the chance.  Only question is how much Brandon Bolden factors into Belichick’s game plans.  However, my last bit of “stat vomit” for you is if you combine Vereen and Woodhead’s numbers, you are looking at a guy who could give you a bit over 600yds rushing/600yds receiving and 11td’s.  Not bad for a potential #2Rb in the late rounds.

 

6) WR Josh Gordon:   

 

Josh Gordon was impressive as a rookie as he led the Browns in receiving with 50 catches for over 800yds and 5tds.  We should also point out that he had 96 targets as well which is awesome for any receiver yet alone a rookie, because that illustrates the opportunities are there.  Now when you fast forward to this season, the Cleveland Browns are implementing an aggressive downfield attack. This surely bodes well for the big 6’3 225lb receiver out of Baylor who has said “for wide receivers this is the best offense you can play for.”  Don’t be surprised if Gordon is a 1,000yd receiver who hits pay dirt around 8-10 times this season.

 

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5) RB Lamar Miller:

 

All indications are that 2nd year RB Lamar Miller will be the starter this season with Reggie Bush no longer in town.  His only competition at this point is Daniel Thomas who hasn’t quite proved he should be the starter.  The coaching staff has seen tremendous growth in Miller with pass protection which was his only setback to being considered a starter.  He is a homerun hitter with good size at 5’10 215lbs.  Starter….homerun hitter…..good pass catcher….solid line….. Yea we can all use a guy like this.

 

4) RB David Wilson:

 

Wilson is an explosive runner who will possibly be the lead back in an explosive offense.  He showed flashes of his outstanding blend of speed and power during last season, but was often in Coughlin’s doghouse because of ball security.  Andre Brown has durability issues but is looking like the goal-line short yardage guy.  That could diminish Wilson’s value slightly, but shouldn’t discourage your confidence in drafting him.  He is also a good pass catcher with the ability to make defenders miss.  Wilson has a bit of “Spiller type” potential when you watch him tote the rock and he could have a similar breakout season as well.  He should be on your radar.

 

3) RB Reggie Bush:

 

Bush has proven to be a solid runner, and will now be in an offense that is high powered reminiscent to his Saints days.  Megatron playing outside will allow Bush the chance to make plays constantly in the run and pass game.  Bush tallied 986yds rushing/292yds receiving with 8 td’s last year (with a rookie Qb).  The Lions lead the league in passes to runningbacks, which is one of Bush’s best attributes.  His injury concerns are always looming but assuming Leshoure does some of the heavy banging inside for short yards Bush should be fine.  This Lamborghini type offense is tailor made for a speedy back like Bush to flourish.  He should be viewed as a high rb #2 this year.

 

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2) QB Colin Kaepernick:

 

 

Kaepernick started 7 games last year, but if we were to prorate that over a full season he would have totaled 3,675 yards passing/544yds rushing.  He also would have had thrown 23tds/5 rushing tds which would have made Kaepernick the 9th ranked Qb in fantasy football.  The loss of M.Crabtree will hurt because it was his main target, but the 49ers have a plethora of guys who can get the job done.  The worst case scenario is that he runs more which is something he does exceptionally well.  This guy is poised for a breakout year regardless and could come at good value in the mid rounds.

 

1) RB Steven Jackson:

 

FINALLY!  Steven Jackson gets a chance to play in a legit offense with the chance to win!  Sadly it took so long for him to get this opportunity as he is approaching 30 years old, but S.Jax still has fuel left in his tank.  This is a very popular pick for the “sleeper” label I admit but it doesn’t mean it can’t be mentioned.  Jackson is a hard nose runner with breakaway ability in both the passing and running game.  He has an excellent feel for the endzone and brings a dynamic dimension to the Falcons offense that they have never possessed.  Mark this guy down for 1200+ yards/400+ receiving and around 12+ tds.  He will probably be hovering around being a top 10 rb in fantasy this season.

 

 

*Honorable Mention

 

TE Cody Fleener                      QB Carson Palmer

WR Emmanuel Sanders

RB Danny Woodhead

 

 

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Spring Time NFL Power Rankings

Spring Time NFL Power Rankings

Spring Time NFL Power Rankings

 

As the offseason drama in the NFL has simmered down we are now in the quiet period.  No more significant player movements, or draft work, just rookie minicamps and training.  So as it really isn’t “Pre” season, I like to refer to these rankings as “Spring Time” NFL Power Rankings.

 

#1 San Francisco 49ers

A full year of Kaepernick to go along with a few additions, but NO significant subtractions for a team that is fresh off a Super Bowl appearance.

 

#2 New England Patriots

They have a few question marks regarding their outside receivers and with their pass rush, but their aren’t any questions about Belichick and Brady. Pencil them in for about 12 wins and a deep playoff run barring injury.

 

#3 Seattle Seahawks

Big acquisition of Percy Harvin, another full year for budding star Russell Wilson, and a tenacious defense, but this team will have to win on the road to take the next step.

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#4 Atlanta Falcons

This team is battle tested and was one game form the Super Bowl.  Many would like to see more “convincing” victories which may happen this year adding Steven Jackson to the well oiled machine they have offensively.

 

#5 Denver Broncos

Adding Wes Welker to an already potent offense will make them unbelievable on 3rd down and in the redzone.  This team won 12 games Peyton’s first year and more comfort means more Peyton, more problems.

 

#6 Baltimore Ravens

The losses of E.Reed, A.Boldin and R.Lewis will hurt, but Ozzie Newsome has quietly put together a bunch that can still compete at a high level.  They still have a championship caliber roster for a team that just won a Super Bowl.

 

#7 Houston Texans

Injuries on defense seemingly took the steam out of this team’s success down the stretch last season.  Foster had somewhat of a down year but Matt Schaub has to play bigger.  Talented team that now seems more ready to compete after a year in which they were “on the map”

 

#8 Green Bay Packers

After a season in which Aaron Rodgers was on the ground a lot, and had no running game, I assume he wants revenge.  Also that defense had many injuries and got ran over by San Francisco in the playoffs.  The Packers will be on a mission this year.

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#9 Cincinnati Bengals

This roster is loaded top to bottom with talent, but they will have to get past that “losing mystique” of the franchise.  Even more so, Andy Dalton will need to prove he can be the captain of this ship for Cincy to really contend.

 

#10 Chicago Bears

I honestly feel as if injuries mid-season prevented this team from achieving much more. Marc Trestman is the new coach in town but he inherits a strong minded, tough bunch. If everyone can stay healthy the Bears will prove worthy of this ranking.

 

#11 Indianapolis Colts

Not sure if last season was any bit of a fluke, but if not then this team is certainly on the rise going into Luck’s 2nd season.  The Colts got Luck some much needed offensive line help and Bjeorn Werner will have big shoes to fill with the departure of Dwight Freeney.

 

#12 New Orleans

In addition to the upgrades on defense this offseason through the draft and free agency, Drew Brees and Sean Payton will be eager to get back to work after a disastrous 2012 campaign.  Rob Ryan will be ready to prove his worth as a defensive coordinator as well. Saints will march on in 2013.

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#13 Pittsburgh Steelers

I’m positive the Steelers will bounce back in 2013.  Big Ben being healthy is a big plus and nothing gets a team motivated more than missing the playoffs.  Will be interesting to see how the offense adapts without the explosive wideout Mike Wallace.

 

#14 Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings offseason has been fantastic and losing Percy Harvin doesn’t hurt as much when you can pick up Greg Jennings.  Shariff Floyd will add to a defense that is already stout, but also get their ace corner back from injury in Chris Cook.  Oh yea and they have that Adrian Peterson guy…

 

#15 New York Giants

The Giants have hardly ever been a bad team in consecutive years so I believe with Eli Manning at the helm this team is ready to right some wrongs of last year.

 

#16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This team is loaded with playmakers at all the key positions.  Josh Freeman has to quiet the critics and if so then this team will be formidable.  Revis Island now resides in Tampa Bay.

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#17 Dallas Cowboys

As talented as they may appear, this team always gets in it’s own way.  Romo, injuries, and stability is the biggest concern for this team.  But maybe being tired of mediocrity will help them move forward because the pieces seem to be in place.

 

#18 Washington Redskins

The health of RGIII is the big story of course, but the bigger concern is will this team improve defensively? Surely their best defender Brian Orakpo went down, but Washington made the playoffs simply off the implosion of both the Cowboys and the Giants.  That won’t likely be the case this season and this team will have to improve to compete.

 

#19 St.Louis Rams

Jeff Fisher quickly established the Rams as a team on the rise in his first season with St.Louis.  The plethora of picks they received in the RGIII deal has paid off tremendously.  Growth from within is the key for this team and Bradford has a few new weapons including the explosive “do-everything” Tavon Austin.

 

#20 Detroit Lions

If only this team could put it all together.  No arrests, more discipline, Matt Stafford has to get more accurate, find a #2 Wide Receiver, and address the needs in the secondary.  With that being said there is plenty of talent on this roster to do some damage and they have a few draft picks (DE Ezekiel Ansah/CB Darius Slay) that could help immediately.

 

#21 Miami Dolphins

This has been one of the most aggressive teams in the league the entire offseason.  They clearly are sending the message that they want to win right now.  Tannehill showed promise as a rookie and this year could show even more with the additions of Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller.  They have also gotten faster and more athletic defensively headlined by the LB D.Ellerbe/Wheeler acquisitions, so this will be an interesting team to see this upcoming season.

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#22 Philadelphia Eagles

The talent of this team is undeniable, but it remains to be seen can Chip Kelly’s system translate to the NFL and can Vick stay healthy for a full season.  Philly has made some good moves this offseason but only time will tell in regards to what direction this franchise is headed.

 

#23 Kansas City Chiefs

This is one of the most underrated rosters in the NFL.  Many often overlook the fact that they were one of the league leading teams in terms of Pro Bowlers (doesn’t mean much) but it is a testament to how talented this team was last year.  Unfortunately it didn’t equate to wins.  Andy Reid might be the guy to turn that around and this team may be dangerous.

 

#24 San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are a shell of their old self.  Long gone are the days of having Vincent Jackson streaming down the sidelines, Sproles causing havok, a healthy and dominant Antonio Gates.  So now it is all up to Phillip Rivers to make it happen, but last year was a train wreck for him.  He needs to bounce back if they have any shot at being relevant.

 

#25 Carolina Panthers

It would have been nice to see this team address the #2 wide receiver position, but they have had even bigger concerns defensively which they addressed.  Cam Newton is poised for a breakout year after a miserable sophmore slump.  However they still have enough weapons to score points but now it seems defensive help is there. LB Luke Kuechly is a rising star back for his 2nd season as well.

 

#26 Tennesse Titans

Jake Locker, Chris Johnson, and Kenny Britt….if the Titans are to make any strides this season these guys will and have to be the reasons why.  The Titans had a good draft which brought in offensive line help (especially #10 pick Chance Warmack) and a possible steal in WR Justin Hunter.  Jake Locker has to prove he belongs point.. blank.. period.

 

#27 Cleveland Browns

The Browns are headed in the right direction and have a solid nucleus in the trenches to compete with most teams.  Cleveland’s skill positions offensively still pose a question (besides Trent Richardson) and need some development.  Therefore this team will still struggle somewhat to put up points and comepete throughout a full game/season.

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#28 Buffalo Bills

The Bills have taken a step back because of their QB position which is now being held by a rookie.  EJ Manuel has potential but it might not show right away.  Besides him this offense has plenty of playmakers and added even more this offseason with drafting USC’s prolific WR Robert Woods and Texas speedster Marquis Goodwin.  Unfortunately all success this season will be contigent upon the development of Qb EJ Manuel (who could be a project).

 

#29 Arizona Cardinals

This team got an upgrade at the QB position in Carson Palmer, but it remains to be seen if they will be able to block for him.  They did take G Jonathan Cooper with their first draft pick but they definitely still have needs on the O-Line.  Bruce Arians knows how to score but being in the “bully” league of the NFC West will make this season a tough climb without much protection to pass or run effectively.

 

#30 Jacksonville Jaguars

Blaine Gabbert has stalled the progress of this team, along with some bad reaches in the first round of drafts in recent years.  Gus Bradley is going to need a few season to right this ship.  Getting MJD back will help but Justin Blackmon missing the first month does not.

 

#31 New York Jets 

The offensive side of the ball will have to be better if this team has any shot at being better.  Rex is a defensive whiz, but the addition of Marty Mornhinweg should help bring along and utilize some of the weapons at their disposal.

 

#32 Oakland Raiders

This team needs help everywhere, and GM Reggie McKenzie fully understands that as he continues to clean house on the Raiders roster.  Smart move to dial it back this upcoming season into the Power Run Game offensively in which RB D.McFadden thrived in.  Hopefully he can stay healthy but that hasn’t been the case for him.

  

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Jeff Ireland Wants His Miami Dolphins To Swim

Jeff Ireland Wants His Miami Dolphins To Swim

Jeff Ireland Wants His Miami Dolphins To Swim

 

Many observers believe the Miami Dolphins and front office (most notably Jeff Ireland) are making the wrong move by pouring out so much cash to acquire free agents.  The Dolphins are clearly trying to win sooner rather han later nd their current off-season moves prove that point.  Most people in the Dolphins organization believe their 2nd year quarterback Ryan Tannehill is a budding star and want to push the envelope to take full advantage of is talents. 

 

Knowing that the Dolphins had deep pockets coming into this off-season, there was widespread speculation that they would be aggerssive in accumulating talent on both sides of the ball. 

 

158261153_crop_exactStarting with trying to acquire the services of speedster Mike Wallace.  Miami’s front office felt as if Mike Wallace is exactly what they needed to help stretch the field and take advantage of Ryan Tannehill’s big arm and mobility. There have been countless complaints that the Dolphins severely over paid for Mike Wallace, who is predominantly a deep threat receiver who is also questionably a bad fit for coach Joe Philbin’s offense. Mike Wallace’s notorious reputation as a deep threat leads most to believe he is a below average route runner. This isn’t entirely incorrect BUT what he brings to the table in terms of his skill set can benefit the Miami Dolphins offense big time.  Certainly his 65 million dollar contract (30 million guaranteed) is pricey for a guy of his caliber but the pure threat to score on any play, along with the fact that he will open up the field for everyone else his very beneficial for the big picture of the offense.

 

This is especially true for the likes of slot receiver Devon Bess, newly acquired Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller (from the rival New York Jets). 

 

Meanwhile all the attention towards Mike Wallace will also allow Ryan Tannehill’s go-to receiver from last season Brain Hartline to take full advantage of #2 cornerbacks all season which should be fun to watch.  General Manager Jeff Ireland’s decision to go with a youth movement could pay off in a huge way. 

 

The Dolphins also decided to release linebackers K.Dansby/Burnett for the likes of former Raven linebacker D. Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler which are two guys who are younger and faster. Ellerbe was arguably the Ravens best defensive player throughout their playoff run. These are all significant pieces for this upcoming season and came at a costly rate, but with the lack of powerhouses in the AFC East this could potentially put the Dolphins in line to at least be the 2nd best team in their division next year (if not challenging the Patriots for the division title). 

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In total the Dolphins will take a little bit more than a 10 million dollar hit this offseason (based on the signings of Wallace, Keller, Ellerbe, Wheeler), but will inflate to over 37 million for 2014. Due to all the creative ways to bend and restructure deals pertaining to salary caps the Dolphins aren’t entirely strapped in forever. Which is why I believe Jeff Ireland deserves credit for taking the financial chances of making the Dolphins competitive. These offseason moves could potentially come back to haunt this team but the damage will not be as bad as plenty of conservative minds may think.  The NFL is a win NOW league and with the Dolphins having the money to be as aggressive as they have been allowed so far, I think should be giving credit for, and not ridiculed. Each big time free agent the Dolphins brought in would have gotten paid elsewhere and would have been slightly overpaid based on the market. As a result, the Dolphins took the necessary moves to get better in a highly competitive atmosphere called the NFL.

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