Sunday, August 31, 2008

Opening Day Thoughts

The first Saturday of College Football has come upon us, here's some thoughts on the day that was...

LSU too domintant
LSU showed the difference between Top 10 FBS and Top 10 FCS teams. App St. could be a middle tier FBS team, but LSU's speed and dominance up front was just too much for the Mountaineers. In the trenches is where it all starts, LSU's D-Line was dominant and too demanding; and their offensive line was all over App St.'s D-Line. LSU's speed was also a big factor, ASU just couldn't keep up. Speed kills...

Fast Florida
Florida is arguably the fastest team in the nation. They stomped all over the Rainbow Warriors 56-10. Their speed truly showed. Brandon James returned a punt for a TD. Major Wright intercepted one to the house, along with Ahmad Black, Chris Rainey had a 33 yard TD run... it was all the speedsters. And Percy Harvin didn't even play! Florida's speed will be evident even more this season.

Pitt is overrated
Why did I give into the hype? I picked Pitt to finish 3rd in the Big East. They got whacked around pretty good by Bowling Green 27-17. BG is a decent team but still, Pitt's defense was supposed to be pretty good this season and they looked horrible and tired.

Not impressed with Clem
Clemson was less than stellar Saturday night. Alabama stomped all over them. Just as I assumed, Clemson's line struggled. They were horrible last season, not protecting Harper, and they had to replace 4 starters. Alabama's defense held Clemson to zero rushing yards. When you have a RB tandem of CJ Spiller and James Davis, you know it's not the RB that are doing bad...

My Top 5:
After watching some of the top teams today, here is my current top 5.

1. Ohio St.-The offense was right on target, just dominant. Chris Wells may be injured but he should be back for USC. The OSU defense just dismantled Youngstown.

2. USC- I questioned their offense with a new QB and lack of starters and experience back; I was proven wrong. Mark Sanchez looked calm and cool in an easy victory over Virginia. USC's defense was just too demanding for a well-coached Cavs team. The USC defense looks like an NFL defense out there.

3. Florida- The Gators speed is just phenomenal. Tebow looked good, but not great. The offense got going from the get-go and the defense looked poised. The special teams truly were "special". That unit will help them go a long way this season.

4. Georgia- Wasn't overly impressed with the Dawgs. They did give up 21 points to Georgia Southern. The Dawgs did play well but they weren't dominant like they should have been.

5. Oklahoma- Just killed Chattanooga. Defense, offense was stellar.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

College Football 2008 Conference Preview: Big 12

Look for the Big 12 to be one of the top conferences in the nation.

Predicted Order of Finish:

1. Missouri
The Tigers are loaded with 16 returning starters. Heisman candidate Chase Daniel is back at QB along with WR Jeremy Maclin, and TE Chase Coffman on offense. The defense should be superb and dominant as 10 starters return. Look for the secondary to be wheeling and dealing lead by ball-hawk DB Will Moore.

2. Kansas
KU surprised everybody after a big Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech. QB Todd Reesing is back after proving the doubters wrong about his size. With 16 starters back there's no reason not to believe the Jayhawks won't compete for another national title. The WR unit will be strong with both of their leading WRs back. The defense should be stellar as both the D-Line and LB units are strong, they just need to improve the secondary after losing CB Aquib Talib.

3. Nebraska
I think the Huskers will be a little improved with new head coach Bo Pelini. Joe Ganz is a capable QB to help get the Huskers back on their feet. Marlon Lucky returns as RB and is one of the top RB in the Big 12. Four linemen return up-front. The defense should be interesting this season. The defensive front returns it's top 8, but they are very inexperienced at LB and in the secondary.

4. Colorado
Cody Hawkins put up some pretty good numbers last season but must decrease his INTs. Look for frosh RB Darrell Scott to carry the load. The Buffs have plenty of WRs, which are a vital part of their offense. The D-Line will be solid with both George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas back.

5. Kansas State
KSU has been mediocre at best ever since winning the Big XII Championship back in 2003. QB Josh Freeman set a school record with 3,353 passing yards last season. He completed 63.3 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns. The rest of the offense may struggle with inexperience and lack of depth at RB and WR, plus mediocre play at O-Line.

6. Iowa St.
ISU was horrendous last season and I doubt they will be much better. QB is a big question mark. RB Alex Robinson may be the lone bright spot on O. The defense lacked production in '07, expect the same in '08.

1. Oklahoma
OU is no doubt one of the best teams in the country, but they do have a few question marks. After an amazing freshman season, QB Sam Bradford is back and looking for more. DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown are a phenomenal RB duo. The Sooners do not have a clear go-to WR but Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson should step up. The O & D Lines are both arguably the best in the country, this is what separates OU from a lot of teams. They may lack depth at LB and experience in the secondary, but up-front is what is going to get it done for OU.

2. Texas Tech
If Tech doesn't live up to it's 2008 hype, they may never win the Big 12 or make a BCS Bowl. This could be their year to wreck havoc in the Big 12. The Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree connection might be the best in the country. Crabtree is easily the best WR out there. There's no doubt the offense can put up points and win them games, but they need the defense to step up and get them over the top. They have the experience, but it's just a matter of execution. I think they'll be fine.

3. Texas
Will this be a rebuilding year for Mack Brown and Co.? Or will they reload and use some of their young talent to their advantage? QB Colt McCoy is a good start after losing 5 key starters on offense. The O-Line could be a big key as well, lead by OT Cedric Dockery, a future NFL star. The defense may slow down the Horns after losing 7 starters though.

4. Oklahoma St.
The Offense should put up some points with it's spread attack. QB Zac Robinson established the single-season school record for total offense. The Cowboys have 3 veteran backs which should help after losing starter Dantell Savage. Soph. Dez Bryant is a stud at WR and could be All-Big 12 this season. The 'Boys' might have the best offensive line behind Oklahoma and Texas. They are pretty deep there which is another reason they could be a dangerous team. The front 7 need to find some replacements on D, but look for the secondary to be pretty good with 3 returners there.

5. Texas A&M
The offense has the potential to be very good, as long as they all stay healthy. This includes QB Stephen McGee and RBs Javorskie Lane and Mike Goodson. If the offensive line can produce, the Aggies could go a long way. The defense is average at best but they do have some depth to help fill some holes.

6. Baylor
Not much at QB with no depth and plenty of problems. The only positive on offense is 7 returning starters. Expect the defense to be pretty bad again with not much play makers around. Baylor will continue to be just a baseball school.

Big 12 Championship:
Missouri over Oklahoma

Offensive Player of the Year:
Chase Daniel, QB- Missouri

Defensive Player of the Year:
Will Moore, FS- Missouri

Freshman of the Year:
Darrell Scott, RB- Colorado

Coach of the Year:
Mike Leach- Texas Tech

Top 3 Games:
Texas at Oklahoma- Oct. 11

Texas at Texas Tech- Nov. 1

Texas Tech at Oklahoma- Nov. 22

2008 NFL Preview - NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers (13-3 in 2007)
Ok, so what everybody wants to know is will the Favre-less Packers be able to hold off the Vikings. I've been called a homer before but my true and honest opinion is yes. But the playingfield has certainly been evened dramatically.
Although replacing Favre with Aaron Rodgers causes the Packers to take a slight step back, if the young quarterback stays healthy he can complete a high percentage of his passes, and coolly handle the immense pressure he’ll be under from the very beginning of the season to the very end. He's really impressed me with how he's handled everything throughout the offseason and at this point I'm not so worried about his performance as I am his health. With Rodgers bringing those three factors to the table, a strong Packers squad that epitomizes the word “team” repeats as division champions. Favre alone didn't make this team 13-3 last season. The receiving corps is great, they have Grant and Jackson at RB and a quite above average D. I think they can edge the Vikes again. Schedules not too hard and they can beat up on divisional foes Chicago and Detroit.

Key Additions: LB Brandon Chillar, WR Jordy Nelson, QB Brian Brohm, TE Jermichael Finley

Key Losses: QB Brett Favre, TE Bubba Franks, DT Corey Williams

Prediction: 10-6 win tiebreaker over MN

2. Minnesota Vikings (8-8 in 2007)
Much like the Packers' season hinging on Rodgers, the Vikings season really hangs on Jackson. We all know what AP and Taylor can do, but if the Vikings are going to be relevant they have to be balanced. Jackson has made strides in my opinion. People just don't understand how bad he was last year. He had 12 picks, only 9 TDs while completing just 58% of passes when most everyone had the box stacked with 8 or 9 guys! He's better but I feel like he's just not quite there, and the injury bug worries me. Well, it actually excites me because I hate the Vikings but TJack is already running into knee problems and that's a red flag in my book.

Obviously the D is gunna be great and that will keep them in a lot of games. Had this team gotten Favre like so many Vikings fan's shasterbated about, I believe they would be a lock for the playoffs and compete for home-field advantage with the Cowboys. But, to this point they're short a QB and a WR to be great. Lucky for them they have an amazing D and Adrian Peterson to win games for them.

Key Additions: DE Jared Allen, S Madieu Williams, WR Bernard Berrian

Key Losses: FB Tony Richardson, S Dwight Smith

Prediction: 10-6 wildcard bid.

3. Detroit Lions (7-9 in 2008)
Jon Kitna ain’t getting any younger — he’ll be turning 36 in September — but the erratic veteran quarterback is still able to take complete advantage of the deadly receiving tandem of Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. Rookie running back Kevin Smith makes an immediate impact and, along with Tatum Bell, to help balance the offensive attack. The Defense isn't very good however and that will stop this team from coming close to Minnesota or Green Bay.

Don't get me wrong, this team will be bad. They just won't be as bad as the Bears!

Key Additions: S Dwight Smith, CB Leigh Bodden, CB Brian Kelly, OT Gosder Cherilus

Key Losses: DT Shaun Rogers, RB Kevin Jones, LB Boss Bailey, DE Kalimba Edwards

Prediction: 6-10

4. Chicago Bears (7-9 in 2007)
The losses of Berrian and Muhammad prove to be a setback for the passing game, and both Orton and Grossman fail to solidify his status as the starting quarterback. The defense is forced to completely carry the team, and although it performs better than it did last season, a one-dimensional Bears squad is too inept to climb out of the cellar.

I mean for real, I consider the Bears to possibly be the least talented at the "talent" positions in the entire NFL. Think about it. At QB they have Grossman and Orton. At RB they have Forte, Peterson, and Kevin Jones. At WR they have Devin Hester & Brandon Lloyd(YAY!), Rashied Davis, Mike Hass, and Brandon Rideu. This team is BAD! Orton throws for 200 yds. +/- 5 times this year. Lemme know with a comment.

Key Additions: WR Marty Booker, WR Brandon Lloyd

Key Losses: WR Bernard Berrian, WR Mushin Muhammad, QB Brian Griese, RB Cedric Benson

Predictions: 5-11

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

College Football 2008 Conference Preview: ACC

This may be a big down year for the ACC, the ACC Championship is wide open too.

Predicted Order of Finish:
1. Clemson
The Tigers return a plethora of starters, 14 in all. The backfield should be incredible, QB Cullen Harper returns, along with one of the best RB tandems in the nation in James Davis and CJ Spiller. The offensive line could keep them from competing for a national title spot. They struggled a lot last season with not protecting Harper and they need to replace virtually that whole line. The defense should be solid as most of the key starters are in-tact.

2. Wake Forest
Wake struggled last season because of Riley Skinner's shoulder injury, but as long as he stays healthy, Wake should be a contender in the ACC. Josh Adams is a speedy runner at tailback, the WR department will have some unknowns as the returners only caught 47 passes total last season. The defensive front seven will be loaded led by DTs Boo Robinson and John Russell and LBs Aaron Curry and Stanley Arnoux. The secondary will be decent with 3 starters back, which includes All-ACC Alphonso Smith.

3. Florida St.
This could be Bobby Bowden's last season and he wants to end on a high note. QB Drew Weatherford returns after improving upon his turnovers from 2006. FSU will be pretty deep at RB with Antone Smith back, plus JC transfer Tavares Pressley and true frosh Jermaine Thomas. Off-season problems will hurt WR, top wide-out Preston Parker is out for the first two games. Sr. Greg Carr is back though. FSU will need their defense to step up if they want to rise back to the top of the ACC, they have plenty of holes which should keep them from playing in a New Years Day bowl game.

4. Maryland
Chris Turner will be the likely starter after starting in the final 6 games last season and defeated BC and Rutgers. Josh Portis, a transfer from Florida, should see some time as well. Da'Rel Scott and Morgan Green are capable backs but they need more depth. The WRs should be among the best in the ACC, led by Derrius Heyward-Bey. If the defense can find some depth up-front and in the secondary they can compete for reasonable bowl bid.

5. Boston College
BC does lose Matt Ryan, which could be a problem during the beginning of the season. RB James McCluskey is back as BC's leading rusher. The WR crew returns some decent pass catchers which should help the new QB. BJ Raji is the lone returning bright spot on the D-Line. The LB corps was struck hard with graduation after having a strong unit last season. Expect this to be more of a rebuilding season after losing in the ACC Championship.

6. NC State
The QB position is a huge question mark. RB could be the lone positive area of the team with some talent and depth there, led by Toney Baker and Andre Brown. The WR and O-Line need some players to step up. Look for the defense to struggle, especially early as they look for some play makers to step up and replace some loses.

1. Virginia Tech
V-Tech won't be as deep or talented as in recent years but they still have plenty of play makers and Frank Beamer and Bud Foster are terrific coaches. The QB position is deep, Sr. Sean Glennon recently won the starting job. Tyrod Taylor is a great back-up. The Hokies were hit hard after Branden Ore was kicked off the team. The Hokies need some WRs to step up as they lose their top 4 WRs, all seniors. The O-Line is a plus with it's experience. The defense will be down after big losses in Chris Ellis at DE, Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi at LB, and Brandon Flowers at CB; but there won't be a huge drop-off. There may not be much experience back, but look for DE Orion Martin and DB Victor (Macho) Harris to be some of the best in the ACC.

2. North Carolina
UNC returns 43 letter winners in all and is looking to improve and compete for an ACC Title. QB TJ Yates returns, so does RB Greg Little and top WR Hakeem Hicks. The O-Line has developed some depth. The defense should be better; the DT is loaded with talent and depth but they need someone to step up at end. The LB unit just needs more experience and the secondary returns all 4 starters, who look very promising.

3. Miami
Miami is well positioned for a bright future with plenty of young talent and good recruiting classes. But this year? Not so much. QB is deep but young. Robert Marve should be the opening day starter and he has loads of talent. Javarris James and Graig Cooper are a tremendous RB duo. Aldarius Johnson looks to lead a young WR unit. The D-Line could be one of the worst in the conference and that's saying a lot. LB has been hit with injuries and the secondary looks promising, they just need someone to replace Kenny Phillips.

4. Virginia
The Cavs do lose DE Chris Long, other key defensive players, important O-Linemen, and QB Jameel Sewell, but they should dwell on a surprising 2007 season that ended up in the Gator Bowl.

5. Georgia Tech
Look for Tech to underachieve again with plenty of question marks all over the field.

6. Duke
QB Thad Lewis is the lone bright spot for one of the worst FBS teams out there.

ACC Championship:
Clemson over Virginia Tech

Offensive Player of the Year:
James Davis, RB- Clemson

Defensive Player of the Year:
Michael Johnson, DE- Georgia Tech

Freshman of the Year:
Arthur Brown, LB- Miami

Coach of the Year:
Butch Davis- UNC

Top 3 Games:
Virginia Tech at North Carolina- Sept. 20

Clemson at Wake Forest- Oct. 9

Clemson at Florida St.- Nov. 8

Monday, August 25, 2008

2008 NFL Preview - NFC West

1. Seattle Seahawks (10-6 in 2007)
The team does not miss a beat from the 2007 season, and Julius Jones becomes the featured back that replaces Shaun Alexander. They don't lose too much there. The wide receivers display consistency, and the defense continues to be really underrated and one of the league’s best. This team will be good but not great. Good enough to win the division yet again however.

Key Additions: RB Julius Jones, RB TJ Duckett, G Mike Wahle, K Olindo Mare, DT Larry Tripplett, TE Jeb Putzier

Key Losses: RB Shaun Alexander, K Josh Brown, WR DJ Hackett, DT Chuck Darby, T Tom Ashworth

Prediction: 9-7, 1st place; loses in wild card round of playoffs again

2. Arizona Cardinals (8-8 in 2007)
Kurt Warner leads the aerial attack for the Cardinals who balance it out with an ok running game. Rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie makes an instant impact on an improving defense. However, the running game still struggles to pose a significant threat in my opinion and the offensive line fails to protect the quarterback. And in Anquan Boldin can't stay happy you can expect it to be a big distraction.

Key Additions: CB Michael Adams, LB Clark Haggans, DE Travis LaBoy, DL Bryan Robinson, QB Brian St. Pierre, LB Matt Stewart, TE Jerame Tuman

Key Losses: DL Rodney Bailey, P Mitch Berger, LB Darryl Blackstock, DT Chris Cooper, S Terrence Holt, LB Brandon Johnson, WR Bryant Johnson, LB Calvin Pace, QB Tim Rattay, OT Oliver Ross, G Keydrick Vincent

Prediction: 8-8, same crap, different year

3. San Francisco 49ers (5-22 in 2007)
Quite simply put, it doesn’t matter who is the quarterback — as long as he can lead the offense. The offense will show significant improvement under Mike Martz and the defense will be pretty good. I personally think that if Alex Smith starts this team cannot do any better than 3rd in the West. J.T. O'Sullivan has played real well this preseason and I think if he is the starter he can help the 9ers flirt with 2nd place in the West. The 9ers need another year or two.

Key Additions: DE Justin Smith, WR Bryant Johnson, WR Isaac Bruce, LB Takeo Spikes, QB J.T. O’Sullivan, RB DeShaun Foster, KR Allen Rossum, LB Dontarrious Thomas

Key Losses: DT Bryant Young, G Larry Allen, G Justin Smiley, LB Derek Smith, T Kwame Harris, QB Trent Dilfer, DE Marques Douglas, RB Maurice Hicks, WR Darrell Jackson

Prediction: 6-10

4. St. Louis Rams (3-13 in 2007)
Marc Bulger is going to continue to get majorly pressured. And who really knows is Stephen Jackson is going to step up and earn the big bucks so the run game may never reallydevelop. The defensive line cannot apply enough pressure to opponents, and the Rams give up numerous big plays. They just won't be good.

Key Additions: K Josh Brown, G Jacob Bell, TE Anthony Becht, QB Trent Green, QB Bruce Gradkowski, WR Reche Caldwell

Key Losses: K Jeff Wilkins, WR Isaac Bruce, LB Brandon Chillar

Prediction: 4-12

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thoughts and Headlines 8/22

There's been a lot going on in the sports world lately so here's a few quick thoughts on what's going on.

One More
The USA Mens BBall team is one win away from a gold. The 3 year commitment to the Olympics is one game away from showing it truly payed off. They will take on a Spain team that will be hungry to win gold. In the last Olympics the Spaniards finished undefeated in group play and didn't come away with a medal. Don't expect a big blowout over Spain like the USA did before. This Espana team is hungry and look for them to give the USA a run for their money. I expect them to pack it inside, try to get Dwight Howard into foul trouble early and make Team USA beat them from the outside. Michael Redd could be the X-Factor in this game.

Track and Field
Usain Bolt is just insane. Becoming the first person ever to break both 100 and 200m world records in the same Olympics. His 40 yard dash time translates to 3.53, that is just utter ridiculousness! Put this guy in an Eagles jersey and make him return kickoffs and punts. As long as he can catch, I want to see this guy in the NFL! But anyways, Bolt is just a phenomenal runner, just think he could have shaved .10 seconds off of his 100m time had he not show boated. I guess he doesn't care anyways.

USA Soccer
We know that the Olympic Soccer team was eliminated early, but that wasn't their best team. They were gearing up for a 2010 World Cup Qualifier against Guatemala. They won for the first time in Guatemala since 1988. This USA team just seems like a completely different team outside of it's own borders. The game had some iffy calls both ways and I think Guatemala got robbed on a few plays, but so did the Americans. I was very impressed by USA goalkeeper Tim Howard, he made some spectacular saves and really was a key to their 1-0 win.

MLB approves Instant Replay
The Umpires and league has agreed for instant replay. It will be limited to boundary calls, such as determining whether fly balls were fair or foul, or whether they were Home Runs. I definitely agree with the implementation of instant replay, but it needs to be kept pretty limited. The umps should only refer to replay, unless a manager uses their one challenge (that's if they let them have one challenge), only if they are absolutely unsure of a call. If they believe 100% a HR was a HR, then call it. But if they are unsure then they should go ahead and use it. But the game is already long as it is and replay will definitely prolong it. But as long as it is used minimally, I will be fine with it. But just because we will have instant replay now, doesn't mean we will still get the correct calls 100% of the time.

2008 NFL Preview - NFC East

1. Dallas Cowboys (13-3 in 2007)
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn’t rest on his laurels after a 13-3 season. Unexpected playoff losses cause that. Jones added speed to his offensive backfield with Felix Jones and moxie to his defense with Zach Thomas. Adam Jones and Mike Jenkins round off what is the best defensive backfield and have skills for man-to-man. Marion Barber and Felix Jones don't miss a beat from the old Jones-Barber combo. They'll probably be even better. Tony Romo holds his performance in the passing game, and the pass defense gets better. I don't see how this team doesn't repeat as division champs.

Key Additions: LB Zach Thomas, CB Adam Jones, RB Felix Jones Jr., CB Mike Jenkins. OL Flozell Adams signed to six year contract extension.

Key Losses: RB Julius Jones, WR Terry Glenn

Prediction: 12-4

2. New York Giants (10-6 in 2007)
Granted the defense lost a few key players but rookie Kenny Phillips has Giants fans excited. He reminds them of other Miami Hurricanes safeties: Ed Reed and Sean Taylor. Eli Manning enters his peak years as a NFL Quarterback and I must say that the season really rests on his shoulders, or arm. He won't really miss Shockey too much as I think Kevin Boss will be a more than adequate replacement and young WR Domenik Hixon has been mighty impressive thus far. The Giants defense held the potent Patriots offense to 14 points in the Super Bowl. Perform at that level and another playoff run is certain, but probably only as a wild card.

Key Additions: Extended head coach Tom Coughlin’s contract. S Sammy Knight, S Kenny Phillips, CB Terrell Thomas

Key Losses: DE Michael Strahan, TE Jeremy Shockey, LB Kawika Mitchell, LB Reggie Torbor, S Gibril Wilson, P Sean Landeta (1985-’93) retired as a New York Giant.

Predicted Finish: 10-6 again

3. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8 in 2007)
DeSean Jackson “the perfect slot guy” who will take defensive pressure off of RB Brian Westbrook. QB Donovan McNabb lamented the team’s lack of a playmaker and Jackson may be that guy, though he shows as a return man on the depth chart. This could be McNabb’s last year with Philly and he goes out with a flourish. Eagles secondary features Asante Samuel, Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard. Whoa! But I still feel like this team is too dependent upon Mr. Westbrook and one injury could possibly give this team a bellow .500 record! Andy Reid once dominated this division. The Eagles are not any worse. The problem is that everyone else is better.
Key Additions: CB Asante Samuel, WR DeSean Jackson

Key Losses: LB Takeo Spikes, DE Jevon Kearse, FB Thomas Tapeh

Prediction: 9-7 contend for wildcard

4. Washington Redskins (9-7 in 2007)
Transitioning to the West Coast for a rookie coach is no easy task. It doesn’t help that rookie receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly missed significant training camp time and will be minor contributors in the front half of the season.Redskins will likely be 4-5 at the week 10 bye. They have to run the table against the Cowboys, Seahawks (in Seattle), Giants and Eagles for a shot at post-season play. They’ve done that sort of thing before, but it’s a bigger challenge with a rookie coach and the East is just so tough this year I don't see it happening for them.

Key Additions: Head coach Jim Zorn, DE Jason Taylor, WR Devin Thomas, WR Malcolm Kelly, TE Fred Davis. LB Rocky McIntosh and CB Carlos Rogers return from IR.

Key Losses: S Sean Taylor

Prediction: 7-9

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

College Football 2008 Conference Preview: Pac 10

It's our turn to break-down the Pac 10.

Predicted Order of Finish:
1. USC
When was the last time USC was not the favorite to win the Pac 10? For the first time it seems like the Trojans will have a more dominant defense than offense. 11 starters return in all, 7 on defense on and 4 on offense. QB John David Booty is gone and now it is Mark Sanchez's turn to take over. The stable of running backs is still very deep and they have 6 capable backs who can play at any time; Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight are the two leading candidates there. Sanchez should have a superb group of wide-outs to throw to in Vidal Hazelton, Patrick Turner, and Arkansas transfer Damian Williams. Expect this group to be much improved from last season. The defense is arguably the best in the nation. The LB corps is loaded with Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing. The defensive line will be excellent with Everson Griffen leading the way. The secondary returns all 4 starters and it will be hard to pass on this bunch.

2. Arizona St.
ASU will once again have a lot of pressure on them to perform from the loyal fan base and program. This year could be their year as they return a solid offense. QB Rudy Carpenter is a great player but he needs his line to protect him, as they gave up 55 sacks last season; but they've been working hard with their OL all of spring and summer. The RB core is nice with some beefy runners and the WRs will be stellar with Mike Jones (Who?) and Chris McGaha back. The defense looks to be improved with many starters in-tact on this side of the ball as well. This side of the ball returns 7 starters.

3. Oregon
5th year senior Justin Roper looks to be the QB to take the helms of Dennis Dixon after throwing for 4 TD in last seasons Sun Bowl. 12 starters are back in all including 5 on the offensive side. If Roper can put up some consistent numbers that come somewhat close to what Dixon put up, the Ducks could be a big threat in the Pac 10. Jermiah Johnson is an underrated RB and could be one of the best backs in the conference. They have some capable pass-catchers but they need someone to step up as a clear No. 1. The O-Line should be a strong suit. The defense should be pretty good with a solid LB corps and one of the best secondaries in the nation.

4. Oregon St.
The Beavers return 10 starters but there's no reason to believe they cannot finish in the top 4 of the league. QB Lyle Moevao was 4-0 as a starter last season and should excel as a full-time starter this season. The Beavers have always relied on a premier RB but this year there are some unknowns, look for Ryan McCants to carry the load. The WR Department has amazing depth and the O-Line has some promising bigs'. The defense should be the bread and butter of the team. The D-Line returns some key contributors who put a lot of pressure on opposing QBs. Looks for some transfers to step up as well. The LB group could experience some growing pains trying to replace all 3 starters. The secondary is loaded as all 4 starters have combined for 98 starts among them.

5. California
Cal looked like a Rose Bowl and even a BCS Championship contender in the first half of 2007. But in the 2nd half they struggled mightily and QB Nate Longshore looked very inconsistent. Longshore is back and wants to continue the success he had back in 2006. The offense seems pretty stagnant as no starting position players return. The offensive line is inexperienced but has some depth to spare. The defense will be a little more experienced than the offense. The LB department is solid with all 3 starters back plus some quality back-ups. The D-Line was mediocre last season and needs to pick up the slack, but the secondary has plenty of talent, which includes safeties Bernard Hicks and Marcus Ezeff.

The Bruins have some QB problems as of right now. Patrick Cowan suffered a season-ending ACL injury back in spring practice and now Ben Olsen broke his right foot earlier this month. SDSU transfer Kevin Craft is expected to get the nod for the season opener vs. Tennessee in two weeks. There is no clear set RB right now as both leading candidates are coming off knee injuries. Marcus Everett returns for a fifth season at WR, there should be a mix of experienced receivers and freshmen getting playing time. They have one of the best DT tandems in the nation in Brigham Harwell and Brian Price.

7. Arizona
QB Willie Tuitama is one of the best QBs in the conference and may be one of the most under-appreciated in the country. This could be a do or die season for head coach Mike Stoops as he looks for his first winning season and bowl trip at Zona. Nic Grigsby is a capable RB and 6 WR return which should give them tremendous depth. The season will highly depend on the defense as they look to break-in 7 new starters.

8. Washington
The Huskies should benefit quite a bit from a tough schedule last season and they should again with another tough one this season. QB Jake Locker could be a Heisman candidate someday. Brandon Johnson looks to break-in at RB with his speed. No returning wide-outs return which will be a problem. The offensive line should help with 3 full-time starters back and some quality back-ups. The defense is very suspect with a very inexperienced front and secondary.

9. Stanford
The Card can build off an historic upset over USC last season. The program may be on the uprising after that huge win when it comes to the fan base and recruiting. QB Tavita Prichard is back after his stunning TD throw to trounce the Trojans. The backfield is pretty thin but if Anthony Kimble stays healthy, he'll be the main man. The WR core is inexperienced and needs Richard Sherman to step up. They are lucky to have an experienced O-Line back. The defense has some bright spots but they need some play makers to step up to help the veterans. Look for the Line backing corps to head the defense.

10. Washington St.
2008 will be a transition year for the team. They are breaking in a new spread option offense with a new QB. That QB looks to be 5th year senior Gary Rogers. The backfield has some capable backs with returning starter Dwight Tardy and a solid back-up in Chris Ivory. All-American candidate Brandon Gibson is back at WR. 4 starters do return on the O-Line, but the new offense will provide some bumps for them. The defense looks to improve after having one of the worst in the Pac 10 last season. The D-Line and secondary need some play makers to step up.

Offensive Player of the Year:
Rudy Carpenter, QB- Arizona St.

Defensive Player of the Year:
Rey Maualuga, LB- USC

Freshman of the Year:
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB- Oregon St.

Coach of the Year:
Dennis Erickson- Arizona St.

Top 3 Games:
Arizona St. at USC- Oct. 11

Oregon at Oregon St.- Nov. 29

USC at UCLA- Dec. 6

Monday, August 18, 2008

College Football 2008 Conference Preview: Big Ten

The Big Ten looks to rebound after a few down seasons.

Predicted Order of Finish:
1. Ohio St.
The Buckeyes are eager to finally win a nation title. 18 starters return in all and they may be the most experienced top team in the nation. They return 9 starters from a defense that was one of the best. A boatload of talent returns on the offensive side with QB Todd Boeckman, RB Chris (Beanie) Wells, WRs Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline, and a loaded offensive line. The defense should be stellar as LB James Laurinaitis and CB Malcolm Jenkins return. The defensive line should be quick and deep with 5 veterans back. Look for the secondary to be solid again with all 4 starters back there.

2. Wisconsin
Experience is plenty at most units for the Badgers. The offense should be solid with many weapons all over the field. They do need to break-in a new QB for the second consecutive season. Kansas St. transfer Allan Evridge looks to be the starter there. The ground game should be solid, PJ Hill should continue to be one of the best backs in the country as long as he stays healthy; He's rushed for 2,805 yards and 29 touchdowns in his first two seasons. The receiving corps is lead by TE Travis Beckum as he looks to be the top in the nation. Kyle Jefferson was a capable WR last season as a frosh. The offensive line should only make things better with 3 starters and plenty of size back there. The defense returns 8 starters lead by DE Matt Shaughnessy and LBs Luis Casillas and DeAndre Levy. The secondary will need to find some depth and athletes after losing CB Jack Ikegwuonu to the draft.Wisconsin

3. Illinois
Ron Zook continues to bring in some good recruiting classes. The Illini do lose quite a bit of starters. They still have plenty of talent and some experience back that got trounced in the Rose Bowl by USC. QB Juice Williams returns and he was a big reason as to why they made the Rose Bowl. Losing RB Rashard Mendenhall was a big blow, but they still have some depth there. The WRs will be young but Arrelious Benn is one of the best young wide outs in the nation. There's plenty of talent and depth on the D-line, starting with All-Big Ten End Will Davis. The LB corps will be young as well as they look to freshman to help with depth. Martez Wilson should lead the group with his experience. Vontae Davis should be a top DB.

4. Penn St.
A lot of people are writing off the Nittany Lions this season but some forget they have plenty of talent returning and 9 defensive starters back. They do lose QB Anthony Morrelli but senior Daryll Clark, who is compared to Michael Robinson, looks to take over. Evan Royster should be the starting RB after an impressive Alamo Bowl. The WRs should be some of the best in the nation with Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood. All 5 starters return on the O-Line, so that's a plus. The defense should be very improved. The defensive line is outstanding, esp. at end with Josh Gaines and Maurice Evans. The LB crew is short on experience. 4 starters are back in the secondary as hard-hitting A.J. Wallace returns.

5. Purdue
The Boilermakers have some bright spots, but also some dark spots as well. QB Curtis Painter is the best QB in the Big Ten. Jaycen Taylor and Kory Sheets are a nice RB combo. Greg Orton is the only starting WR back, so they have some question marks there. They need to adjust to some new starting O-Linemen. The D-Line will be very good with 4 solid tackles and some quick ends. Looks for the front to be one of the deepest and best in the nation. The LB unit is young with not many standouts there but look for the young defensive backfield to make some strides as the season goes on.

6. Michigan St.
QB Brian Hoyer is back after an honorable mention All-Big Ten conference season. The running game looks solid as Javon Ringer is back and is arguably the best RB in the nation. The Spartans have 2 capable pass catchers in Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham to go along with 3 starting linemen. The defensive line should be steady as Cincy transfer Trevor Anderson steps in. Greg Jones was moved to MLB this spring and should bring some speed to the middle. There's a lot of potential at the safety spot; the CBs will solid all-around with 5 capable starters battling for the two spots. Look for the MSU Defense to have some swagger this season.

7. Michigan
2008 should be a rebuilding year for the Wolverines as new head coach Rich Rodriguez looks to implement his spread offense. QB could be a problem as 4 year starter Chad Henne graduated and freshman Ryan Mallett transfered to Arkansas. Frosh Steve Threet looks to have the nod over soph. Nick Sheridan. There's still plenty of talent at RB even though Mike Hart is gone. Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown are both capable backs. The WR department was hit hard as well with early departures but there's still some capable talent there. The O-Line loses 3 starters. Look for the defensive to be better than the offense. The D-Line has all 4 starters back but are switching to a 3 man front. The LB unit will miss Shawn Crable dearly and are looking for some young talent to step up. Look for the secondary to be average at best but they are experienced, Brandon Harrison looks to lead that unit.

8. Iowa
Iowa has been in a traumatic downfall the past few seasons. QB Jake Christianson is back but still hasn't lived up to any of the hype. RB is a major concern after losing two solid backs. They only have one primary back on scholarship right now in Nate Guillory. The WR unit is up in the air. The offensive line could be the lone bright spot on offense as they return plenty of experience and depth, lead by 3 year starter Seth Olsen. The D-Line has some up and coming talent and is headed by All Big-Ten DT Mitch King. There are some causes for concern at LB with no proven play makers there. The secondary has 3 part-time starters back and one full-time starter in Harold Dalton.

9. Northwestern
QB CJ Bacher needs to be more consistent if Northwestern wants to make it to a bowl game this season. RB Tyrell Sutton is a two-time 1,000 yard rusher and looks to be one of the best in the nation. 5 of the top 6 pass-catchers are back, which should only help with Bacher. The O-Line will need to be rebuilt with 3 starters and some key back-ups gone. 4 capable D-Linemen are back but underperformed last season. They have a nice stable of LBs to help compliment the experienced front. They have a big battle in the secondary as 3 players will be competing for the free safety job and 4 will be vying for one of the CB spots.

10. Indiana
Kellen Lewis returns at QB and is one of the best in the Big Ten. Marcus Thigpen has a lot of potential with his 4.3 speed at RB. WR should be steady with 3 capable players ready to fill in. 3 starters are back on the line, which could be a problem but the last two recruiting classes has helped generate some depth and could push a few of the starters. Greg Middleton lead the nation with 16 sacks last season and should only help an already talented line. 2 of 3 starters return at LB and both safeties return, but there are some major concerns at the corner spots.

11. Minnesota
Tim Brewster continues to show he is a great recruiter as he developed a top 25 recruiting class this season. But can he transition that talent into success on the field? Only time will tell... QB Adam Weber (did I ever tell you I played against him in baseball when I was 15, yes it is true.) Anyways, he set school records in passing yards, TD passes, completions, and total offense behind a suspect line. The RB position is extremely thin. Jay Thomas and Duane Bennett are the lone returning backs but Thomas is coming off his 2nd ACL surgery and Bennett struggled at times last season. The WR unit is all but stellar, Eric Decker is the only notable WR back. The D-Line struggled severely last season with no push or pressure. LB looks like a liability with some unknowns and Deon Hightower was injured in the spring. There could be 4 new starters in the secondary after some inconsistent play in 2007 and the loss of Dominique Barber.

Offensive Player of the Year:
Curtis Painter, QB- Purdue

Defensive Player of the Year:
James Laurinaitis, LB- Ohio St.

Freshman of the Year:
Terrelle Pryor, QB- Ohio St.

Coach of the Year:
Mark Dantonio- Michigan St.

Top 3 Games:
Ohio St. at Wisconsin- Oct. 4

Illinois at Wisconsin- Oct. 25

Ohio St. at Illinois- Nov. 15

Saturday, August 16, 2008

2008 NFL Preview - AFC North

1. Cleveland Browns (10-6 in 2007)
The Browns have more talent on both sides of the ball than any other team in the division, and a dominant offensive line - maybe the best in all of football. This will help Anderson (add Quinn in case he gets hurt) and running back Jamal Lewis replicate their 2007 success. They are explosive all the way around on offense and their defense has continued to improve. This put them just about on par with the Steelers talent-wise.

That - and the slightly easier schedule than Pittsburgh’s - will be enough to get Cleveland over the hump in ‘08. Although the Browns and Steelers have identical schedules, the x-factor will be their two games against the AFC East and West - Pittsburgh hosts San Diego and goes to New England while the Browns host Denver and travel to Buffalo. That’s a huge difference, and after a season where they got shut out of the postseason despite a 10-6 record, Cleveland might be able to ride that past the Steelers and to the AFC North title.

Key Additions: DT Shaun Rogers (trade, Detroit), DE Corey Williams (trade, Green Bay), WR Donte Stallworth (free agency, New England)

Key Losses: CB Leigh Bodden (trade, Detroit)

Predicted Finish: 10-6

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6 in 2007)
I feel like Mike Tomlin is going to have this squad just good enough to lose this tossup division. The Steelers will have a great 2back system with Mendenhall and Parker. Also Hines Ward will be good, but he'll be 32 years old this year! I'm not too worried because I think Limas Sweed and Santonio Holmes will be a great young tandem for years to come. Plus throw in Heath Miller at TE...this team will have the ability to outscore anyone in a shootout! That is if Big Ben survives. The offensive line is the biggest question mark for this team and if anything costs them talent-wise it will be the O-Line for sure. The D will be just a hair below what many would consider your standard Steelers D. Overall I think they have better all-around talent than the Browns. However their O-Line and schedule will be the reason why the Browns win the division.
Whatever struggles they have this year will have a lot more to do with their brutal schedule than the talent in Pittsburgh. Winning more than 9 games in a schedule that includes New England, San Diego, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Dallas, the Giants, and Philadelphia - as well as each division team twice - is asking way too much.

Key Additions: RB Rashard Mendenhall (first round pick, Illinois), WR Limas Sweed (second round pick, Texas)

Key Losses: OG Alan Faneca (free agency, New York Jets), DB Al Rossum (released, San Francisco), FB Dan Kreider (free agency, St. Louis), LB Clark Haggans (free agency, Arizona)

Predicted Finish: 9-7 wildcard playoff birth

3. Cincinatti Bengals (7-9 in 2007)
The Bengals have replaced the Ravens as the league’s biggest outlaws, and the number of legal issues facing this team has overshadowed on-field expectations. On top of that, the defense - even under defensive mastermind Marvin Lewis - is still subpar and not equipped to handle the better offenses in the league. The Bengals may have the offensive weapons to trump the Steelers and Browns, but can their own defense stop Cleveland’s offensive fireworks on the other side of the ball? As of now, the answer is no, and that could spell a long, frustrating season in Cincinnati.

Their D looks vulnerable to me (horrible tackling against GB in their 1st preseason game) and Rudi Gay is unable to carry the load anymore (although I think Chris Perry will come in and do a good job). The Chad Johnson thing is also pure chaos. Does he want to play on this team, or doesn't he? Seems like a locker room mess and major distraction. I mean come on! This guy asked his QB for help out of Cinci!

You know what they say about talent: “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” Cincinnati has Pro Bowl talent at a lot of key positions, but they’ve had that same talent the last several years. It hasn’t won them anything. I think they are an improved team by getting rid of the troublemakers. I also think that Ben Utech will make a huge difference for Palmer and their offense. I just don't think they can win. This really looks to be Cleveland's and/or Pittsburgh's year.

Key Additions: LB Keith Rivers (first round pick, USC), WR Jerome Simpson (second round pick, Coastal Carolina), DE Antwan Odom (free agency, Tennessee)

Key Losses: Madieu Williams (free agency, Minnesota), DE Justin Smith (free agency, San Francisco), LB Landon Johnson (free agency, Carolina), LB/DE David Pollack (paralysis injury, retired), WR Chris Henry (legal problems, released), LB Odell Thurman (violation of league substance abuse policy)

Predicted Finish: 7-9

4. Baltimore Ravens (5-11 in 2007)
The Ravens have history of sneaking up on the league and being competitive when nobody expects them to. They did it in 2002 after a salary cap purge decimated the core from their 2000 Super Bowl run, and that’s the only way they can do it in 2008.

The parade of Pro Bowlers this team enjoyed in the early part of this decade are either retired, in other uniforms, or on the downside of their careers. Ray Lewis is no longer the most feared defender in football, Jamal Lewis isn’t running for 2,000 yards, Jonathan Ogden isn’t manning the blind side for his quarterback, and Peter Boulware isn’t racking up sacks anymore. On top of that, the Ravens have never had stability at the most important position in football: The quarterback position. Banking on Flacco to bring that stability is reminiscent of when Kyle Boller was supposed to do the same, and we all know how that turned out.

Now, Troy Smith has been starting for them in the preseason to this point so maybe they'll try to start the year off with him and fall to Flacco when he struggles. Who knows really. Either way though I think this isn't going to work out for them this year. This team will be near the bottom in the NFL again giving GM Ozzie Newsome more to work with. This is a new coaching staff and young team that will have to start off by taking their lumps early and often.

Key Additions: Head coach John Harbaugh (DB coach, Philadelphia), QB Joe Flacco (first round pick, Delaware), RB Ray Rice (second round pick, Rutgers)

Key Losses: OL Jonathan Ogden (retirement), QB Steve McNair (retirement), C Mike Flynn (released)

Predicted Finish: 4-12

Thursday, August 14, 2008

College Football 2008 Conference Preview: Big East

We finally begin our College Football Conference Preview, starting with the Big East.

Predicted Order of Finish
1. West Virginia
The Mountaineers return an electrifying and fast offense. They may have lost starting RB Steve Slaton but they return one of the most explosive players in the nation in Noel Devine. Heisman Candidate Pat White is back for one last time. They lose their top WR but they return some capable ones in Alric Arnett, Wes Lyons, and Tito Gonzales. The offensive line should be solid as 4 starters return there and plenty of depth as well. The defense is the big question mark for this team and they need them to step up if they want to return to a BCS Bowl. Only 4 starters return overall. Only one starter is back on the line and they need to find some guys to step up, that could be a problem. The LB unit looks to be the strongest on the defensive side as 2 starters return there. There's plenty of problems in the secondary as Charles Pugh was kicked off the team and the rest have limited experience.

2. South Florida
The Bulls started off strong last season but drastically struggled near the end. You would have to think it was because of lack of experience and depth; but the Bulls return plenty of talent and players. QB Matt Grothe is back along with 2 very good RBs in sophomore Mike Ford and senior Ben Williams. Plenty of WRs return but none are specifically outstanding, but they do have some depth there. Taurus Jackson should emerge as Grothe's go-to receiver. 4 lineman return which should help bolster the already solid running game. The defense was pretty inconsistent last year but they have more experience and depth than ever. George Selvie leads a fast defensive line as he was a first-team All-American. They only have 1 starter back at LB but they're fast and deep there. They will need to find 2 CBs to step up as they lost arguably the best DB tandem in Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams.

3. Pittsburgh
Pitt returns 15 starters from a team that blossomed late in the 2007 season. There's a lot of potential and they could give West Virginia a run for their money. Billy Stull will be the QB under center. He is a very capable QB but was injured last season. Their RB tandem is one of the best in the Big East, which includes LeSean McCoy and Conredge Collins. McCoy rushed for 1,328 yards last season. The WR unit has Derek Kinder back after missing all of last season. He should be one of the top WRs out there. The offensive line loses 3 starters so it's tough to tell how they will pan out there. The defensive line ranked 5th nationally last season which returns nearly everybody, plus plenty of depth. All 3 LBs return and if they can play like they did vs. WVA last season, they should be stellar. The secondary ranked 5th in the nation in pass defense. With continued pressure from the defensive front look for the secondary to be very efficient again.

4. Cincinnati
Cincy surprised me last season after making a bowl game. They need to break-in another QB which could be a problem. They must improve the running game as they have minimal depth there. They do return a few linemen but they need to find some depth because of the lack of experience. The top 3 pass catchers return which should only help the new QB. Look for the defense to make some plays again and help put up some points. 2nd team All-American DT Terrill Byrd returns along with DT Adam Hoppel. The LB unit return 2 starters but they must find some depth. Look for the secondary to be one of the best in the country as All-Big East selections Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith are back at CB.

5. Rutgers
QB Mike Teel returns as he looks to become Rutgers' career passing leader. They do lose one of the most productive RBs in Ray Rice but they do have a few capable backs to step up. With 4 good pass catchers back look for the Knights to have one of the most prolific pass offenses in the nation. They only have a handle full of experienced OL back but they have plenty of size and the last 2 recruiting classes have accumulated some depth. The defensive front is very experienced and deep. The LB unit needs some guys to step up but they do have Ryan D'Imperio. The secondary will be strong with Courtney Greene, Jason and Devin McCourty.

6. UConn
QB Tyler Lorenzen is back and should be one of the best in the conference. Donald Brown and Andre Dixon are 2 emerging RBs. WR is an area for concern as they lose their top wideout and 2 returners are injured. The offensive line is deep as they have all 5 starters back, but 2 of them will be back-ups this year. The defensive front returns 3 starters, and the LB unit and secondary return 2 apiece. The defense looks to be a little improved but also a little untested in some areas.

7. Louisville
The Cards have dropped to nearly the cellar after high expectations last season. Hunter Cantwell takes over for Brian Brohm. Cantwell is a veteran and his big arm could help a struggling offense. Their looking for someone to step up at RB. They have some speed back at WR but not much experience or superior talent. Two solid linemen return but they do not have much after that; The stable is pretty thin there. They do have 3 experienced d-linemen back but they struggled to stop the run last season as they gave up 4.4 ypc. The LB unit will be one of the worst units in the nation. They do not return anybody of significance there. This unit struggled drastically last year. Play makers are bare in the secondary.

8. Syracuse
The offense couldn't get anything going last season and the defense was one of the worst. They've been working on the running game all off-season as they try to improve there. But don't expect the Cuse to any better after a dreadful 2007 season.

2008 NFL Preview - AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts (13-3 in 2007)
They are famous for drafting well and developing from within, they had no first round pick this year and took a guard from the Pac-10 in the 2nd. They re-signed Dominic Rhodes. Basically, they did nothing but lose Rob Morris and Rocky Boiman. Marvin become a gangster at age 35. The secondary is brutal (especially if Bob Sanders has injury problems) and if Freeney can't stay healthy, the may give up points in bunches. Of course they have the "other" Manning, he's still pretty good.

As if the Colts’ offense isn’t already potent enough, they can be even better if Marvin Harrison returns to form after missing nine games last year and if Anthony Gonzalez makes the expected improvement from his rookie campaign to his sophomore season. Getting Dominic Rhodes back is gravy because you can expect Addai to be great. Indy once again has a good chance of playing in late January and beyond. Look for them to go 5-1 in the South. I also see them losing @Minny, @Pitt, New England, @ SD, and maybe @Clev.

Key Additions: Mike Pollak (draft), RB Dominic Rhodes (Oak), LB Phillip Wheeler (draft)

Key Losses: G Jake Scott (Ten), TE Ben Utecht (Cin)
Predicted Finish: 11-5

2. Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5 in 2007)
Contrary to popular opinion the Jags DO NOT have a great D. People run their mouths and have no idea what they are talking about. Teams ran all over them last year to the tune of 4.1 ypc, and 4 of their games were against the Colts and Texans, not exactly running juggernauts. Now Stroud has left for Buffalo. I loved Drayton Florence in San Diego, but playing corner on that D may have made him appear better than he is.

Garrard played well, you have to be impressed by the 18/3 ratio. However his receivers are dog shit, so he never threw the ball more than 20 yards. The ratio is nice but Garrard is gunna hafta throw more than 18 this year for the Jags to be relevant. Fred Taylor is getting old but that other guy with all the names is pretty damn good. Big problems at WR in my opinion. Porter and Williamson were their big pick-ups and they both have as many 1000-yard seasons as I do! Also Matt Jones' cocaine thing is a problem. Overall though, even if the new guys don't work out this is a good ball club.

Key Additions: CB Drayton Florence (SD), DE Quentin Groves (draft), DE Derrick Harvey (draft), DT Jimmy Kennedy (Chi), WR Jerry Porter (Oak), DC Gregg Williams (Was), WR Troy Williamson (Min)

Key Losses: CB Terry Cousin (Cle), CB Aaron Glenn (NO), S Sammy Knight (NYG), DE Bobby McCray (NO), G Chris Naeole (released), DT Marcus Stroud (Buf)

Predicted Finish: 10-6 with a wildcard appearance

3. Houston Texans (8-8 in 2007)
Are they the Tampa Bay Rays of football in 2008? Perennial doormats to division winners? No. But they will continue to improve and the d-line is sick. They have very good receivers and and when Schaub is upright he can deliver. The o-line has improved from the days they used to let Carr get pounded. The defensive backfield is the worst this side of Indy. Slow and lacking play makers, they do not get enough turnovers to win tight games. I think if the O-Line can get it's act together, Andre Johnson plays the entire year healthy, and Slaton comes up big in the running game they will be able to contend for the wildcard for most of the season.

Key Additions: T Duane Brown (draft), C Chris Myers (Den), CB Jacques Reeves (Dal), RB Steve Slaton (draft)

Key Losses: C Mike Flanagan (released), CB Von Hutchins (Atl), C Steve McKinney (Mia)
Predicted Finish: 9-7

4. Tennesse Titans (10-6 in 2007)
Vince Young is not good. But he wins. I get that. I like that. But in the NFL one trick ponies get figured out and then beaten. Fisher is very good coach, but the lack of talent will catch up with him this year. The D-line is very good, we all know that, but that's it. The rest of the league will dink and dunk them to death. All you need to do is score 17 and you have a good shot at beating them (unless Bironas' bionic leg can kick 6 field goals a game!). The secondary is pretty good, but is an injury or two away from being exposed. The new kid Chris Johnson is supposed to be a big play maker on a team that lacks them. We shall see. The schedule is tough, and I just don't see them having a good year.

Key Additions: TE Alge Crumpler (Atl), OC Mike Heimerdinger (Den), RB Chris Johnson (draft), DE Jevon Kearse (Phi), WR Justin McCareins (NYJ), G Jake Scott (Ind)
Key Losses: G Jacob Bell (StL), CB Adam Jones (Dal), DE Travis LaBoy (Ari), DE Antwan Odom (Cin), G Benji Olson (retired)
Predicted Finish: 7-9

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Update 8/13

Michael Phelps is a Freak
Michael Phelps cannot be human. Phelps won his 5th gold so far and it is looking like he will indeed break Mark Spitz's record of 7. I truly think he will go 8 for 8 but his biggest challenge could be the 4x100 free relay. The relay is obviously only 25% in Phelps's hands. Phelps isn't as dominant in a 100 free style. A lot of pressure will not only be on Phelps, but his 3 other teammates as well.

Greece awaits the 'Redeem Team'
Remember '06? I am sure most of us do. Greece will give Team USA their biggest test yet. If the US plays like they did against Angola they could easily get knocked off like they did back in 2006 vs. the Greeks. They need Kobe to step up his shooting and their overall outside shooting. The defense is there but they also need to utilize the inside more where Dwight Howard can dominate and give the defense some different looks.

USA Soccer eliminated
The US Soccer team was ousted after losing 2-1 to Nigeria. They played a man down from the 3rd minute on after Michael Orozco was ejected. They did not have had their best team but I was really expecting a better result and effort from the American footballers. I guess I can only hope for a better result in their next big event, the 2010 World Cup.

Spain's Photo
The Spain's Mens BBall team shot a photo with them all using their hands to squint their eyes. Even though they said they didn't mean to offend anyone, I don't get why they did it in the first place? If the Olympics weren't being held in China would they have done it? I doubt it. So I don't really get what the point of the photo was and why would they do it anyways? There has to be something they're not telling us and this happened a day after a heated battle with the Chinese BBall team. Yao Ming and Pau Gasol were going at it all night.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Team USA vs. China Thoughts

The United States cruised over China in it's first Olympic game early Sunday morning.

The USA somewhat got off to a sluggish start, but I guess you could say China got off to a rather 'hot' start. China was making nearly every outside shot in the first half despite Team USA winning 101-70.

The USA's defense looked very good the whole game, pressuring China's guards and making Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian earn their buckets. But as the game wore on that ball pressure got to China and they started making some costly turnovers and mistakes.

The USA finally pulled away in the early going of the second half. They were about average on shooting from the outside but in the second half they were nearly perfect it seemed. Dwayne Wade didn't miss a shot as he was 7-7 from the field and was 5-5 on free-throws.

Lebron lead the way with 18 points and dominated China with his sheer athleticism. His strength was too much for the Chinese to handle.

The USA looked great in the second half. Their defense picked up the intensity even more and that created some ease on the offensive end and got them some easy transition baskets.

They made their outside shots which will be vital if they want to come away with a gold medal.

I really think they need to utilize their inside presence a little more. With teams that play a zone on them they need to work inside out instead of outside in. I think Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh will be able to manhandle just about any other big man out there with their strength and pure talent.

But overall, this was a good test and good warm up game for when they have to face Spain, Greece, and Lithuania. They still get one more game against Angola to help them work some kinks out and get some jitters out of the way.


Come back for our first College Football Conference preview later in the day.

2008 NFL Preview - AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers (11-5 in 2007)
The last we left the Norv Turner led San Diego Chargers, they were flailing away haplessly against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. The game was best remembered for the heroic actions of QB Phillip Rivers playing on one leg and Superstar RB LaDanian Tomlinson on the bench and not heroically playing on one leg.
A look at this year's team shows very little has changed from last year. They are still a strong contender with a douchey QB and a bad coach. A lot of this teams success depends on the health of their stars. Everything I've read says Rivers is doing well but I have my doubts that he'll be able to be as effective as he was at the end of last season. LDT also has questions hanging over his head. How is his knee with all the mileage he put on it and is he tough enough to carry the load when it counts? Maybe trading Turner was a bad idea! Antonio Gates foot issues were also a big loss for them at the end of last season. If he is healthy, he changes the dynamic of the offense. If he is hurt forget it. A full season with Chris Chambers along with a healthy Gates give the Chargers a legit passing game. With all that said this team is head and shoulders above the rest of the division and possibly the most all-around talented team in the NFL....the 2nd easiest schedule in the league doesn't hurt either!

They started 1-3 last year and still managed to win the division by 4 games. In any other division I'd have more concerns but I think the Bolts are fine in the AFC West this year.

Predicted Finish: 12-4

2. Denver Broncos (7-9 in 2007)
The Bronco's were retooling last year and have a good young nucleus back for this season. Cutler knows that he's diabetic now, and knows how to deal with it. You would think he would have a better year. Psychotic WR Brandon Marshall is suspended 3 games but I think should still put up good numbers this season, but obviously the team would fair better with him for the whole year. The problem is that the run defense collapsed overnight. Denver went from 12th against the run in 2006 to 30th in 2007. The Broncos really haven’t done anything to fix that problem. In a division with Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, and Darren McFadden, that is a risky proposition. All the teams in this division would love nothing more than to stay committed to the running game.

I think the Broncos will compete with the Browns and Titans for the final playoff spot. I think Cutler, Marshall, and Young will all have nice years. I also think the Broncos have too many issues with their running game. I look for the Broncos to better their 2007 record, but miss the playoffs by a game to the Browns. The Browns’ defense is nothing to write home about, but their offense is a lot more explosive.

Predicted Finish: 8-8

3. Oakland Raiders (4-12 in 2007)
Things are getting better for Oakland. They are getting a young nucleus of players on offense and are starting to bring some talent in on defense. The Raiders and Jets were the most active teams in free agency and fans are going to be excited that a winning season is near.
They still have a few problems. San Diego has a young nucleus in place and is not ready to surrender the division to Oakland. Denver also has a young nucleus on offense and while they have their own troubles on defense, they have better receivers, offensive line, and secondary. It is going to be hard for the Raiders to break through that in 2008.

The Raiders have a few pieces to the puzzle on both offense and defense and I think you can expect to see it take shape a little more. The hardest thing to find is the quarterback. The Chiefs don’t look like they have found their quarterback, which is worse than the Raiders who are still determining if they have found theirs. As it stands right now, though, they will play teams competitively, probably win some games against the likes of Baltimore, Kansas City, Miami, NY Jets, Buffalo, Atlanta. They're on the upswing!

Predicted Finish: 6-10

4. Kansas City Chiefs (4-12 in 2007)
I thought the Chiefs had a great draft. In my opinion, it was the best in the NFL. That said, I also maintain the Colts and Patriots could have had the best draft in the NFL had they traded Brady or Manning. The only reason the Chiefs had the best draft is they traded their best player in Jared Allen. While that may turn out to be a great move for the future, it doesn’t necessarily translate into winning a lot of games the following year.

The Chiefs just don’t have a lot of good things going for them now. They used to have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. They don’t anymore! Johnson used to be the second best back in football. He is barely a top 10 back right now. Croyle and Huard are below average quarterbacks. The defense is rebuilding. This is a team in transition.

I look for Gonzalez and Bowe to have good seasons. I think Johnson will have a rebound year (1,000 to 1,100 yards and 7-9 touchdowns). However, what gains they make on offense are going to be offset by a rebuilding defense that lost its best player. This is a 3-win team in my opinion. However, the lack of strength in their division and their relatively easy schedule should get them to five wins.

Predicted Finish: 5-11

Saturday, August 9, 2008

2008 NFL Preview - AFC East

1. New England Patriots (16-0 in 2007)
Sadly, the miracle of last year will be nearly impossible to replicate. But with the easiest schedule on paper, it may not be as tough as some might think. This division should be locked up by Nov. 13th, when the Pats finish their 4th home game in 5 weeks. Two losses come from (one of) either Indy or Pitt, and one lost-focus/rest week after home field is decided. We can only hope that Favre can help the Jets make a run at the division. I'm hoping, but I'm not counting on it.

Key Aquisitions: Jerod Mayo, Lamont Jordan
Key Departures: Asante Samuel
2008 Predicted Finish: 14-2

2. Buffalo Bills (7-9 in 2007)
Lynch is an absolute beast. Edwards is settling in. I think it's going to be really interesting to see how the Bills do with both these two getting all the snaps. If a few things bounced their way in 2007 (and they ditched the Losman experiment earlier), the Bills might've had 9 or 10 wins and a wildcard spot. Playing the AFC/NFC Westies will give the bills 6 wins in 8 tries, the Jets and Miami will contribute the other 4. The bills will lose to the Chargers, Rams, Jacksonville, Cleveland and New England x2.

Key Aquisitions: McKelvin (CB), Hardy (WR)
Key Departures: none
2008 Predicted Finish: 9-7

3. New York Jets (4-12 in 2007)
Favre changes the dynamic of this team. For the good? We'll see. Clemens is the new Rodgers, and can't possibly be happy about it. But even a crusty Favre is a better option than these Clemens and will give them an extra couple wins. AFC Westies will smack around this team, as will New England, and Buffalo for sure. Also look for a possible surprise loss (Maybe Dolphins at home but probably not).

Key Aquisitions: Brett Favre, Vernon Gholston
Key Departures: Chad Pennington.
2008 Predicted Finish: 8-8

4. Miami Dolphins (1-15 in 2007)
They should be able to secure a high pick in the 2009 draft fairly quickly. They are the sacrificial lamb this season (again). With Pennington at quarterback and no defense, they'll be competitive in each game for about a half. Signing Pennington will not increase their 2008 win total, unless he hands them the entire Jets offensive playbook. I think that they can grab 2-3 cheap wins, but I can't find a team that I can honestly say they can beat. With a gun to my head, I'll take the Fins over the Ravens. They'll carry a 10 game losing streak into 2009.

Key Aquisitions: Jake Long, Bill Parcells
Key Departures: Jason Taylor
2008 Predicted Finish: 2-14

Friday, August 8, 2008

Olympic Men's Basketball Predictions

With the Olympics officially starting today I thought it would be proper to do a post on something about it.

Predicted Order of Finish
Group A
1. Argentina
2. Lithuania
3. Australia
4. Russia
5. Croatia
6. Iran

Argentina is just too much to handle with 4 NBA stars in Manu Ginobli, Luis Scola, Fabricio Oberto, and Andres Nocionoi. The Argentines have the size and shooting ability to beat anybody. I think they have too much firepower to be beaten in group play. Lithuania and Australia could both give them a run for their money though, but both should be vying for second place.

Group B
1, United States
2. Spain
3. Greece
4. Germany
5. China
6. Angola

The USA will come out of Group B undefeated. This is their year, they finally have the chemistry, better overall talent, and shooting to get it done. Spain could give them fits with their zone defense and size but I think USA will come out on top with their athleticism and skill. Greece could also pull off some upsets after stunning the USA in 2004.

Spain over Australia
Argentina over Germany
Lithuania over Greece
United States over Russia

Spain over Argentina
United States over Lithuania

Gold: United States over Spain
Bronze: Argentina over Lithuania

In the end I really do think the United States will get it done. This is their year to bring gold back to the states. The tandem of Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard will not be stopped. U.S. Basketball is starting to look like its old self again. Mike Krzyzewski has put together a team that knows how to play true fundamental basketball. They finally have the talent, firepower, team play, defense, and shooting to get it done. The talent is there and now they finally have all the keys. The USA team will bring gold back to America for the first time since 2000.

Pennington Best in Purple

Well upon being waived after the Jets picked up Favre Chad Pennington is now the most coveted veteran QB on the market. Unlike Favre, he was released and can go really anywhere he wants. Where should he go? Well he's going to have a lot of options. Here's my answer.

Chad Pennington should go to the Minnesota Vikings. I think it's the perfect place for him. Pennington simply isn't an outdoor QB. He is a very smart QB who can sit back and pick you apart with little 15 yd. outs. Well Brad Childress doesn't like any passing plays beyond 15 yards anyways so why not!?

But seriously, Pennington is great in domes (12-1 career I do believe) so why don't the Vikes bring him in? You don't have to start him right away either. Even just so that you have him to put a little pressure on Tarvaris. Then when Tarvaris Jackson doesn't elevate his play and totally sucks anyways you have a veteran guy who can take you into the playoffs.

With Pennington at the Helm to manage the game and hand off the ball to AP I think the Vikings can go deep into the playoffs. Pennington in Purple just makes the most sense for both Chad and the Vikings. As a Packers fan, I hope it doesn't happen though!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Brett Favre is a New York Jet


Well it looks like this could all finally be done. Upon finalization by the league tomorrow Brett Favre will be a New York Jet.

I know that Brett has been all the buzz and as a big Brett fan and Packer fan myself I've fallen victim to this all the media attention with extra Brett posts lately. So, barring this trade becoming official this is my last post on the matter. I was going to start NFL divisional previews tonight but I think that TSF can put this one to rest for now.

As a Packer fan this is a hard pill to swallow. But as a Favre fan I'm ok with it. He just wants to play so I think he should be able to. As a Packer fan the Jets are a good place for him because we don't have to worry about him coming back to hurt us really. And as a Favre fan too I think it's going to be very different but kind of fun. I'll be rooting for Favre to do well as a Jet and for the Jets to keep winning so the Packers can get a 1st round draft pick!

By getting Favre the Jets become instantly, infinitely, better. With Favre the Jets can win a wildcard birth. I don't think they can overcome the Patriots (if they do i'll be ecstatic) but I think they can make the playoffs. The Jets did a lot in the offseason to get better and I think Brett will benefit from that.

Well I don't want to make this too long because I know we're all sick of the Favre talk. So I'm finally ready to move on with the Jets as my 2nd favorite team. I hope Brett is happy and I also hope he does well. However, doing well is going to mean avoiding the MADDEN CURSE! Is it too late to change the jersey on the cover?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

1. Randy Moss
With the display Moss put on last season it's hard not to have him in the number one slot. We all know Moss is a tremendous player with skill and talent and as long as he has a good QB he will put up great numbers. Moss should be the first WR pick of every draft.

2. Reggie Wayne
Wayne is somewhat young. He had his best season yet in 2007. With Peyton Manning throwing to him and the Colts' high-powered offense look for Wayne to put great stats again.

3. Terrell Owens
You know Owens is going to get thrown to quite often. He'll have his games where he catches everything and just puts up a boatload of numbers. As long as Tony Romo is himself Owens should be above most.

4. Braylon Edwards
Edwards had a breakout year last season. The Browns are on the rise and with Kellen Winslow a big target and Dontae Stallworth in town, teams won't be keying too much on just him. He may not put up 16 TD again but he is still a top 5 WR.

5. Larry Fitzgerald
Fitz is a two time pro bowler and had another impressive season even after a couple of games with struggling QB Matt Leinart. The Cards have a very explosive offense with many weapons, as long as their QB is producing you know Fitzgerald will too.

6. Andre Johnson
Johnson had an impressive start last year until he suffered a knee injury. The Texans were 2-5 without him and 6-3 with him. Expect Johnson to be a top fantasy WR as long as he stays healthy.

7. Marques Colston
Colston may not have done as well last year than he did in 2006, but you know what they say about 3rd year receivers right? If I were you I would listen to the trend as the 3rd year is a break out year for most WRs. Expect Colston, Drew Brees and the Saints to have a huge year.

8. TJ Houshmandzadeh
TJ "Whosyomomma" was the main target of Carson Palmer after a down year for Chad Johnson. He is coming off his best year yet in which he caught 112 passes for 1143 yards and twelve touchdowns.

9. Anquan Boldin
Another Cards WR who could have either an outstanding season or just an okay one depending on the QB play. Boldin has tremendous talent and you know he will thrive in an offense such as Arizona's.

10. Chad Johnson
Johnson may have struggled last season but we do know what he's capable of. I am expecting him to get back up to par and have another typical "Chad" season. Look for the Bengals to be improved even with all of the off and on field distractions.

11. Plaxico Burress

12. Roy Williams

13. Steve Smith

14. Santonio Holmes

15. Torry Holt

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs

As TSF starts a new Fantasy Football edition to it's blog, here's our rankings on running backs. Our first projections were on the quarterbacks.

1. LaDainian Tomlinson
LT led the league in rushing yards once again. He should be an even bigger part of the offense as Norv Turner has indicated. He's a threat everywhere, he'll run all over you and catch on you too. LT should be the top pick in every league, he'll rack up the points.

2. Adrian Peterson
After a phenomenal rookie season expect even better numbers from AP. He has a great blocking line in front of him and as the season goes along he will get more and more carries as Chester Taylor's dwindles. He might be the best "runner" of all the running backs out there and he'll be the focal point of a team with a mediocre QB.

3. Brian Westbrook
Westbrook is probably the most complete back out there. He rushed for 1333 yards and 7 TD and caught 90 passes for 771 yards with 5 TD. He's the most consistent back as well as he rushed for over 100 yards 6 times last season.

4. Joseph Addai
Addai comes into the 2008 season as the clear number one back in Indianapolis. With a high-powered offense of the Colts, he will rack up the yards and TDs.

5. Steven Jackson
Jackson had a bit of a down year last season after a torn groin and injured back sidelined him for 4 games. His numbers should improve quite a bit as the Rams offensive line is healthy. As long as he stays healthy himself he should stay atop the fantasy charts.

6. Clinton Portis
The Redskins are an up-start team right now and I expect them to be improved again. Portis is the clear-cut RB in the Skins' offense and he'll get the goal line touches as well. He'll continue to be one of the highest in attempts and touches as Washington looks to boost it's running game even more.

7. Frank Gore
With Mike Martz in for the Niners, look for Gore's numbers to rise. As long as the offense can generate Gore should put up some fantastic numbers.

8. Marion Barber
With Julius Jones out Barber is now the main man in Dallas. Barber is so consistent and he'll get you those extra yards with his strength. Expect Barber's touches to go up even more, which should mean even more scores.

9. Marshawn Lynch
Lynch was a surprise out of Buffalo last season. I took a chance at him and it helped me quite a bit. He's Buffalo's every down back now and with Trent Edwards as the QB expect more of a focus on Lynch.

10. Willis McGahee
Even though he struggled in the beginning of last season he still ended as a top 10 back. Last season he made his first career pro bowl and he caught a career high 43 passes. With his consistency the last 7 games of 2007, Willis looks very promising for this season.

11. Larry Johnson

12. Ryan Grant

13. Jamal Lewis

14. Maurice Jones-Drew

15. Brandon Jacobs