Archive for August, 2011

2011 AFC South

August 31, 2011

(Preface to my annual picks…I don’t add up the exact wins/losses so everything works out perfectly. I am simply predicting rough record estimates for each team.)

  • Houston 10-6
  • Indy 8-8
  • Jax 8-8
  • Tenn 6-10

This division is difficult to predict this year. I had to go through a process of elimination to come up with a winner. With Manning seemingly not 100% (with a scary kind of injury no less – the neck) and the Colts in a general decline it seems like it’s finally a year when another team could win the AFC South. I contemplated taking a flier on Jax but I just don’t think they’ll swing it this year. (Though I must say they are flying way under the radar right now so they won’t be adversely affected by pressure.) And I think some folks may end up thinking Tenn could be good now that they have Hasselbeck – but I think he could make them worse. Also, the Chris Johnson holdout situation is ugly – a hamstring injury a certainty if he does return. That leaves Houston. The Texans better hope Arian Foster overcomes a nagging hamstring injury and they better hope that FB James Casey can fill in at least somewhat for the departed Vonta Leach – who had been a key piece of their running game. But where the Texans may have improved some is on defense – and that’s where they needed to improve. They’ve added Jonathan Joseph and Danieal Manning to a secondary that was in desperate need of upgrade. But most impressive to me is their linebacking group in their new 3-4: Connor Barwin, DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing and Mario Williams. Even if it takes some time for Williams to adapt to playing LB, this is an impressive group.

For you fantasy football folks

August 31, 2011

This year I thought I’d experiment by offering advice on fantasy football matchups. So, feel free to put up a comment with your matchup questions on any post (I see all comments in my personal email) and I’ll try to respond as soon as I can. (And, feel free to put up some questions if you haven’t had your draft yet.)

Just to forewarn you, I sometimes take an unconventional approach to matchups – I’m not afraid to rely on a hunch and less subjective factors. For those worried about this last sentence and the potential for wacky advice, I did win a good league last year so my method has worked at least at times in the past.

NFC North preview from si.com

August 30, 2011

Read here. Not way off, but off. They have Pack going 11-5, Bears 9-7, Detroit 8-8 and Minn 6-10. I agree with the Pack generally (and definitely that the Pack wins the division), and Detroit being around or possibly above .500. But I think the Bears and Vikes need to be flip-flopped. He makes a good point about MN’s beleaguered D-Line and a suspect overall defense, but they will still be tough at home and AP and McNabb will probably end up winning a game or two. (Though I will say a McNabb injury would derail the season quickly – and whatever McNabb’s health, they won’t make the playoffs.) The issues on the Bears line remain. Carimi was a good pick, but for some reason, it sounds like the Bears are moving Carimi to RT and J’Marcus Webb to LT. If I’m not mistaken, I believe both used to play the opposite sides – and I did read that both have had a difficult time adjusting. Doesn’t seem to make sense. I also think they will struggle without Kruetz as center. The Bears will be bad this year.

 

What if Tom Brady were named…

August 29, 2011

Bart Terkelberger? Seriously. His name fits his image – but what if it didn’t?

3 cut

August 29, 2011

Swain, Havner and T Theo Sherman have been cut. None of these cuts are too surprising. It was odd, in the first game, Havner was out there and I was focusing on him in particular when possible because I was curious to see how he would compare with the 5 other legit TEs on the roster. Knowing he is decent on special teams, I figured he’d be all about trying to prove himself. Instead, I saw a guy who saw the writing on the wall – he didn’t seem as intense. Perhaps that’s not fair to label him like this as I’m basing this on one+ games, but he just didn’t seem to have the intensity that I think got him here.

The Swain cut makes sense. He wasn’t a bad player and I know Rodgers will be sad to see his friend go. But the fact is, he doesn’t have nearly the upside the other WRs on the roster have.

Don’t know the first thing about Theo Sherman – so he probably needed to be cut.

Packer, NFC North thoughts

August 29, 2011
  • Watched parts of the preseason game Fri night. The Packers looked OK, not great. They did stage a tremendous comeback though and even though they were relatively flat for much of the game – a finish like that HAD to pump up even the starters. Just an awesome way to finish.
  • Graham Harrell is the real deal. I know it’s preseason and he’s playing against disorganized 3rd string defenses, but he has looked good each week. He knows the system and makes the throws. I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams come after him.
  • Rodgers continues to be awesome.
  • Our running game either has just not been given a chance to take off yet – or it will be nonexistent this year.
  • I did like Starks role catching passes out of the backfield.
  • Tim Masthay is incredible.
  • We might find out later this season why that Mason Crosby game-winner was such a big deal to him. He hasn’t done that as often as he needs to throughout his career – I think this will be a big mental boost for him.
  • Brad Jones is likely on his way out.
  • Continue to have issues with the O-Line. I’m hoping it’s just a matter of time before they get it together in pass protection – but keeping Rodgers healthy will be a key to the season.
  • I like that Vic So’oto guy, despite the challenge involved in spelling his name. Several of you have commented on him in recent weeks and his sack and forced fumble on Fri night were impressive. He is active and appears to be a playmaker.
  • It was nice to see Finley get involved there. And it’s evident Rodgers (in his interview) was pleased that Finley is back out there. Another key to the season is whether or not McCarthy/Rodgers can work Finley into the passing game without leaving behind our WRs (kind of like what happened at the beginning of last year).
  • I watched parts of the Vikings game and parts of the Lions game. I’ll come out with my season predictions soon, but suffice it to say, both of these teams could be better than people think. In fact, there is something fitting about McNabb in a Vikings uniform (probably has to do with the fact that I can’t stand either of them). I think they will be much better than folks think  – weak defense and all.
  • The Lions also looked impressive. If Stafford stays healthy, he could go from a guy with potential, to a top 5 QB this year – I’m not kidding. He threw 2 longer touch passes in that game Saturday that could have been thrown by maybe 3-4 other QBs and that’s it. Just tremendous touch. If the Lions’ running game can get going, they could be more than just a nuisance. My initial thought on the Lions this year is that they will be awfully difficult to beat at home and that they make steal a game or two on the road.

Great thoughts on Chicago/Wisconsin rivalry

August 23, 2011

Read here from Foxsports. Great article. He’s right and it feels good.

 

Zombo out – broken scapula

August 22, 2011

Ouch. That sounds bad. Read here from PFT.Sounds like he’ll be out for a while too (which I take to mean well into the season).

This could be trouble. Not because Zombo is a critical piece to the defense, but because he’s a decent guy to have available in case of injuries. Apparently Brad Jones is out as well with a knee sprain. Jones has not looked good to me at all so far  – but again, depth issues.

I think the Pack ought to consider trying DJ Smith at OLB. As I wrote during the preseason game last Fri night, I think Smith has instincts that could help him become Bishop-like out there. I believe Smith is an ILB, so OLB would be a bit different – but he’s young and instinctive and I’ll bet he could do it (despite being a bit short for OLB). In fact, I remember going through a similar line of reasoning 3-4 years ago when Bishop was sitting on the bench and McCarthy and co were insisting on starting Poppinga at OLB  – they should have tried Bishop there. Anyway, we may need to get creative here now – though I suppose it’s also possible TT goes shopping at the grocery, finds a particularly strong bagger, turns him over to Capers/Greene and Capers/Greene turn him into a All-Pro.

Harrell, Gurley looked good tonight

August 19, 2011

Nance also ran well, Ryan Taylor blocked well and DJ Smith looks intriguing. I see Desmond Bishop in the guy – instinctive but a bit raw at the moment. He’s had 2-3 nice penetration plays only to miss the tackle. He also had a few nice tackles. But I like his recklessness.

The tension is gone

August 19, 2011

You know, one thing I’ve noticed especially tonight, but a bit in the first game too, is that the team is not playing with the tension that it has in the past few years. The guys are playing with intensity, but just not with tension. You can see it in their faces and in their collective demeanor. I know it’s just preseason but they appear loose – a healthy kind of loose. So often in the last few years, the players and coaches seemed insecure – like they were playing a bit concerned about getting ripped in the press afterwards. In the march to the Super Bowl, I noticed that this tension seemed to fade some – again the intensity was there but the tension had diminished.

Winning a Super Bowl does that. Perhaps that’s obvious. But it just makes the tension melt away and lets players play freely. A lot of it is confidence to be sure. The coaches and players have all received a jolt of confidence after taking down some seriously good teams last year en route to the Super Bowl. They trust each other and perhaps most importantly, they trust themselves. This is going to help this team execute in tight situations.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.