Thursday, August 11, 2011

Preseason Game 1 Thoughts

Time to overreact to a single meaningless game where we played 0 offensive starters and 4 defensive starers. WHOO! 

  • We probably have the best backup situation in the NFL. Hoyer looked more than capable of handling the offense and Mallet's got a serious arm. Hopefully though, we never see them play outside of the last five minutes of a game.
  • Dane Fletcher looked like a leader. Even though we have two ILB's that already look great in Spikes and Mayo, I'm sure he'll find a way to stick around. 
  • Stevan Ridley made me eat my words. I hated the pick when we made it since we already took Vereen and have Law Firm and Woody, but he ran hard and didn't give up on plays. I still have no idea how the carries are gonna get split though. 
  • The touchdown review rule is annoying. I hate that it adds time to the game, but it's especially annoying since it makes sense. I've never trusted ref's with always making the right call and I'd hate to see Belichick have to blow a challenge on an iffy TD, but they need to figure out how to streamline it. 
  • Kickoffs from the 35 are annoying too. Once again, especially annoying since the rule makes sense. It'll definitely reduce injuries on kick returns, hard to get hurt when there isn't one. I don't think anyone's returning a kick against the Raiders this year. 
  • Brandon Tate might not make the team. Taylor Price looked like he was a steal last year, great hands and ability after the catch. Edelman's been more reliable than Tate too as a receiver, so if kickoff's are (essentially) eliminated, it could be hard to justify burning a roster spot on him. Hopefully he gets healthy in time to prove his worth. 
Tweet of the Game goes to Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders, with this:
"Usually when you hear 'Brown grad goes both ways,' it's a woman. @MikeReiss Buddy Farnham, a WR turned S, with the Interception."

Jumping In

So I did yesterday's post without looking at schedules... it's gonna be the Jets and not the Ravens. Oh well, the Ravens took a step back so I'll stand by it.

If five teams are out, five teams have to be in. This was actually kinda hard because there's always one surprise team. There's also always one team that goes last to first in their division, but that's somewhat easy this year.

  • Arizona: This is the easy one. Arizona's awful QB situation last year lead to a last place finish, and them trading for Kolb this year. They added the best player in the NFL draft and still have Fitz. I like the Rams more for the long term, but they're probably a year away. The Cowboys have the talent too, but the Eagles added too much talent for me to think they could overtake them. 
  • Dallas: The second wild card team in the NFC. Romo's back and they cut some dead weight (Roy Williams). I don't really have any other reasons, I just like them more than the Bucs, Bears & Seahawks.
  • Houston: I hate doing this. HATE IT. Every single year, everyone hypes up Houston and says it's finally their year, and every single year they're wrong. I love the Jonathan Joseph move and Wade Phillips' hiring, and that in combination with my worries about the Colts means I unfortunately think it's their year. Ugh.
  • San Diego: First in offense, first in defense. If it wasn't for their choking tendencies and horrendous special teams play last year, they would've been in the playoffs for sure. They added a solid linebacker in Takeo Spikes and they'll have a full year with Vincent Jackson. If they don't win the AFC West, I'd be shocked. 
All four of those teams make sense in one way or another. There's logic behind the choices. Every year though, there's that one team that no one expects to make it that does. Meaning analysis, deep (ha!) thought, and me giving my reasons is kinda pointless. So:
  • Tennessee: This means I think the Colts are finishing 3rd in their division. True insanity. They've got a new coach, a new old QB, and their star is holding out. Basically they have zero expectations. 
Am I gonna be wrong on that one? Probably, but what the hell, stranger things have happened. Also, it's really easy to root for Matt Hasselbeck. So go Titans, make me look "smart". 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bounced Out

I was listening to Mike & Mike last week, and they were talking about for the past 10 years, at least five teams that made the playoffs the previous year didn't come back the next year. That got me thinking about this coming year and who's not making it, and I realized that I wanted to start blogging again. It's much easier to get your thoughts straight when you're typing them out. 

I think there are three teams that are easy to "eliminate": 

  • Seattle: The first under .500 playoff team. They're starting Tarvaris Jackson (who I like more than Charlie Whitehurst, but c'mon) and their division rivals got better. I don't think the Rams or Cardinals are ready to contend, but they're probably better than Seattle. I also have zero faith in Pete Carroll as an NFL coach.  
  • Kansas City: I love Matt Cassel from his Pats days, but last year felt really fluky. I don't think Dwayne Bowe or Jamaal Charles can repeat years like they had last season, and I definitely don't think the Chargers are letting them take the division again. 
  • Chicago: Did anyone outside of Chicago have faith in the Bears last year? I sure as hell didn't. They just didn't make an impression on me; there were damn near none where I thought they deserved to win. If the Stafford stays healthy, I think the Lions could jump them for 2nd behind the Packers. 
After those three it gets tough for me. The Packers have a ton of talent coming back from injury and I think they'll be hungry to prove that they can make this team better, so I doubt there'll be any Super Bowl hangover. Then Philly went crazy in free agency and added tons of talent. Unless Vick gets hurt, I'm pretty sure they're in. The Saints had an amazing draft and added a few key free agents too, so I think they'll reclaim that division. Everyone else though, I've got questions about (yes, my Pats too).

With all the defensive linemen we added, will there be enough time for any of them to learn the playbook? Will we finally succumb to the Jets and fall to 2nd in the division? Did the Jets get worse by losing Brad Smith and Braylon Edwards or can their two "new" old receivers fill in? They lost pass rushers too and their defense is aging, can it perform like it did last year? When anyone mentions aging defenses, Baltimore's automatically in the discussion. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are on their way out, can they keep up their success? Will Flacco be able to survive on offense without his two favorite targets gone? We still don't know if Pittsburgh has an offensive line, and they're awful every year after they make a Super Bowl. Peyton's neck is also scary, can they make the playoffs for an insane 10th straight year? Atlanta's the only NFC team I'm unsure about, but that's got nothing to do with them. They changed, but I'm not sure if they improved. If they don't make the playoffs, it'll be because of New Orleans and Tampa Bay more so than themselves. 

There could be a lot of turnover in the AFC. This could be one of those years where only three or four of the previous years playoff teams makes it back. Since there have been at least five though, I'll pick two more:

  • Baltimore: I don't think both the Ravens and the Steelers are making the playoffs again. The reason I'm picking Baltimore to miss out is roster turnover. Flacco relied on Derrick Mason and Todd Heap too much for there to be no impact of them leaving. If he had a full summer with the 2nd year TE's and a veteran receiver (they have to sign one), I might think differently. It's also another year of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed getting older, and I'm not sure if they can still hold up. 
  • Indianapolis: Ten straight years. In NFL terms, that's a ridiculous number that means insane consistency in everything: roster strength, drafting, and quality of play. It didn't matter who the Colts lost, they had a replacement. Running backs, receivers, linemen; it didn't matter who left, the next man always stepped up. After a couple bad drafts and with Peyton's neck injury, I'm not sure if they can stay at that level. The division doesn't scare me at all, but *gasp!* it just might be the Texans' year. 
If it's not the Colts, it's the Jets. I think Sanchez was the luckiest QB in the NFL last year and I think they lost better players than they added. The AFC East's probably the toughest division in the NFL now too. Picking the Colts over them came down to me trusting Rex Ryan more than I trust Jim Caldwell. They could easily be a 6th team that doesn't make it. 

Next up: the five teams that'll make it in place of these five. 

Guess Who's Back

...Face Mob, Mack Mittens & Hov.

Oh yeah, me too.