A lot is going wrong in the NFL his year. Depending on what team you root for it’s either a blessing, same old or “we’ll get ‘em next year.” For these teams, there’s something wrong. Yet some of them still have playoff shots at the halfway point of the season.
Dallas Cowboys (1-6)
The pressure started on these guys when Cowboys Stadium was selected to host Super Bowl XLV. Coach Wade Phillips doesn’t have the leadership to mold this team, Tony Romo no longer dates Jessica Simpson (and he got hurt) while receiver Miles Austin no longer dates Kim Kardashian. I’d feel like losing too if I no longer dated those girls.
Washington Redskins (4-4)
New coach Mike Shanahan bullied lineman Albert Haynesworth during training camp, forcing the bruising defender to try to pass a conditioning test (which the massive Haynesworth failed repeatedly) before getting on the field. Haynesworth is an All-Pro player. Why would you do this? The team itself has been mediocre, but the most questionable move came this week when starting quarterback Donovan McNabb was benched for lack of conditioning and his inability to master the two-minute offense.
Guess who worked out for the Redskins this week? Jamarcus Russell, the former Raiders oaf, arguably one of the laziest players to ever put on an NFL uniform. This tub of lard is going to help? The Raiders have average quarterbacks now and technically, they’re in playoff contention.
Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
My friends always give me grief for saying quarterback Matt Leinart could have led this team. Well, he was never given a full season’s chance, outplaying Derek Anderson for the starting job and still getting released. Coach Ken Whisenhunt had his mind made up long before the preseason finished and now he has been rewarded with a season of mediocrity. Anderson, who has been OK his entire career and undrafted rookie Max Hall from BYU lead this team. The Cardinals still have a chance since they play in the awful NFC West, perhaps the worst division in the history of the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers (2-6)
I don’t know how to explain this one. The way the Niners have played the past couple of years this was a gimme. In a division with lowly Seattle, Arizona minus Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin and the always pathetic St. Louis Rams, San Francisco should win this division by default. Yet the team started 0-5. The 49ers can still win the division since the Seahawks are 4-3 and coach Pete Carroll had more talent at USC than Seattle.
Minnesota Vikings (2-5)
Brett Favre came back after holding the team, football fans and ESPN hostage. But receiver Sidney Rice got hurt early on, the Vikings got behind early and then superstar and super diva Randy Moss was brought in. Moss didn’t pan out as he was released this week. He had a bad attitude (what a surprise) and he might be an impact player for another team assuming he doesn’t wear out his welcome after a month. Minnesota’s defense is still good and running back Adrian Peterson is a stud, but losing close games has put the team in a hole. It doesn’t look good the rest of the way. To make the playoffs, the Vikings would have to finish 8-1 or 7-2 and that’s extremely unlikely.
Carolina Panthers (1-6)
Carolina still has a team? Who plays for them? Seriously, I can’t name any impact players for this team. I know they drafted Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame. That’s about it though. When you don’t have any players that the casual fan is aware of, you know the team is in bad shape.
Buffalo Bills (0-7)
The Bills’ major problem is that Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith don’t play for them anymore. The current Bills stink. Like the Panthers, they have no impact players. Nobody has a fantasy team loaded with Buffalo players. Nobody in their right mind would go to Las Vegas and bet that these Buffalo Bills will go to four straight Super Bowls.
Denver Broncos (2-6) John Elway doesn’t play for these guys. Neither does running back Terrell Davis. And Shanahan doesn’t coach here. At least with Shanahan the team had a system in which it could still be successful. Now, the Broncos are so bad they lost to the previously downtrodden Raiders, 59-14. Are you kidding me, 59 points? The NFL record is 62 points. No teams ever score that much. Maybe former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow can play defense. It can’t hurt, right?
San Diego Chargers (3-5)
This is all you need to know about the Chargers’ demise: they are coached by Norv Turner and he is a proven loser. He coached Washington and he coached the Oakland. Both of those teams sucked. San Diego probably would have at least gone to a Super Bowl with former coach Marty Schottenheimer. He was fired after going 14-2 and losing in the AFC divisional playoff game. The geniuses in the San Diego front office replaced him with Turner and the Chargers have underachieved since.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-5)
Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco is a recipe for disaster. Pair these guys up with Moss and you’ll be guaranteed an 0-16 season. The team would probably be so dysfunctional, the Bengals would cease to exist and fans wouldn’t even be given a refund for games they don’t get to attend. On paper, the team looked strong and like Minnesota, has lost close games. But this is the NFL. You win two close ones, you’re in playoff contention. You lose them and you end up on this list. Cleveland Browns (2-5) The Cleveland Browns will suck forever. When are they ever good? Who plays for them? Does Tim Couch still play quarterback? Ever watch “The Drew Carey Show” and just get baffled at the “Cleveland Rocks” song? Who likes the Indians? Browns? Cavaliers? Hell, LeBron James loved the Cavaliers so much he took his talents to South Beach. Cleveland is playing for another top three pick in the draft and judging by its sorriness, will “earn” that pick yet again.
So, last night was my annual fantasy football draft. It is not my favorite night. A friend once asked me to explain the intricacies of the National Football League. I relayed that a douche bag that is infected with entirely too much self worth throws an irritatingly odd shaped ball across the field to an even bigger douche bag with the ego the size of my tummy. He catches this ball and runs past the safety who is just as fast as the douche bag that caught the ball but he doesn’t know how to catch so the coaches put him on defense. So his job is to tackle the the doucher with the ball. They do this all game until the guy who majored in accounting comes and kicks a ball between two sticks. The game ends when one of the players robs someone or shoots themselves in the leg with a concealed pistol. Hall of Famers are allowed to engage in statutory rape where appropriate.
But all this is not my beef with the NFL and fantasy drafting. These are:
1) Forcing a Statistics based game into the NFL format. Granted this works for offense, albeit not very well. But then they throw defense in as one small, general entity of a football game. I think the 2005 Steelers would argue that defense makes up a bigger role than just one of eight specialized fantasy roles.
2) Injuries – The biggest complaint about fantasy baseball is that it takes too long. Well football may be played once a week but everyday one of my players is subjected to turf toe, abdominal strain, or just plain homesickness. Well I am tired of it. Not because I have to put in Pierre Garcon for Hines Ward every other day but because the NFL gives you cute little terms for how hurt a player is. I get IR (injured reserve), NA (not active), O (out) but the rest just frustrate.
Day-to-Day – This means one of two things. Either your featured back is going through an amputation and the team is disguising his horrible injury as a day-to-day phenomena or he is completely fine and they want you to think he is impaled with something painful. It is rarely an actual day-to-day phenomena.
Doubtful – adj. Not known with certainty: As in – Felix Jones was listed as doubtful so I kept him out of my lineup. He then ran for 500 yards and ended world hunger so I lost my weekly match-up to Teabaggers Anonymous.
Probable – adj. Likely to be the case or to happen: As in – Visanthe Shiancoe is listed as probable. I can be 100% sure that he will play which makes the probable label a misnomer and he should be fucking listed as “totes.”
Questionable -adj. inviting inquiry As in: Rex Ryan labeled Mark Sanchez as questionable this week. Rex Ryan is fat and I wish he would be more direct with his status of his players ability to play.
All this means is that you can’t trust if your stud wide out is going to play, play well, or even show up. So you scour new sources every minute to gauge if the injury report is erroneous, fact, or somewhere in between.
3) Crime – This one is bigger than you think. Nowhere else in sports do you have to draft with the assumption that your player may or may not be at some point in the year speeding across state lines with a dead body in the trunk. Please draft players with a little to no predilection to break federal and state crimes between September and January.
4) Kickers – Really. I have to really draft a kicker. These guys are semi-football players at best. You are telling me they hold almost the same weight as defense? I thought it sucked giant donkey nuts drafting three closers in baseball but drafting one kicker in any round just feels like…Well it feels a little like dying. I don’t like that feeling and I don’t like you Akers.
With that I hope to wake up tomorrow with the Rams defense solidly in tow and my first weekly match up to be against the Walla Walla Up Your Butts. They after all make the Justin Bieber Reduxes look like the Frosted Corn Holes. At least in my league they do.
• Dallas Clark, IND – He is as reliable as they come at the position. Sometimes Peyton Manning will just lock in on him for an entire possession and opponents still can’t stop the duo. He is well worth landing in the #1 spot for tight ends, but just don’t take him before the 5th round. I believe this is a year where you can select a tight end late and have a great season.
• Antonio Gates, SD – If Clark is 1A, then make Gates a close 1B. You really can’t miss with either pick, as they are in a tier of their own for fantasy. Consistent touchdown production from this position throughout the season will always land you somewhere at the top of your league. And Gates is a magnet in the end-zone.
• Vernon Davis, SF – Finally had his breakout season in 2009, leading all tight ends with an incredible thirteen touchdowns. I don’t think he’ll quite hit those numbers again, but another double-digit touchdown campaign is definitely a possibility. I like Alex Smith to have more control of the offense and Davis will produce for the second season in a row.
• Jason Witten, DAL – I expect Witten to return to his old form in 2010. You know you have set the bar high when a 1,000 yard season was considered a down year. But it wasn’t the yards, it was his lack of touchdown, which was a fluke more than anything to me. He only produced two a season prior, but that number will drastically improve this time around. I think he’s good for eight this season.
• Jermichael Finley, GB – There is absolutely nothing not to love about the Packer’s offense. And Finley may be the most dangerous target they have. He is young, fast, and a freak of nature. He’s a star in the making and it won’t be long before he lands at the top of this list.
• Tony Gonzalez, ATL – The most consistent tight end the game has ever seen. Even on a down season, he is still good for six or seven scores. He’ll be as consistent as ever this season. Why? Because he is always targeted in the red-zone.
• Brent Celek, PHI – Celek was an early season pickup for me last fantasy season and was key to me winning my league. The Eagles have a surplus of young talent on the offensive side, but I don’t see Celek putting up as big of numbers as last season.
• Kellen Winslow, TB –A former 1st round draft pick, who came back to life in 2009. Josh Freeman is now in his second year and Winslow is worthy of being a starting tight end on your fantasy team.
• Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN – He doesn’t get many yards, but the last two seasons he’s hauled down eighteen touchdowns. Enough said.
• Greg Olsen, CHI – They say Mike Martz doesn’t produce valuable fantasy tight ends, but I’m not buying it completely. Olsen is too good not to get the ball and will have at least a handful of touchdowns in 2010.
• Zach Miller, OAK – I know it’s tough to draft a player from the Raiders, but he is very talented and will benefit from a better quarterback this season.
• Fred Davis, WAS – Chris Cooley is the current starter, but not worthy of being drafted high. Davis will come at a steep discount, and if Cooley is traded along with his large contract, Davis will shine. He is their future tight end and showed he could play last season.
• Owen Daniels, HOU – It’s hard to call him a sleeper, but coming off of an injury is always a tricky situation. Daniels was one of the best at his position in the first half of 2009 before he blew out his knee. He’s one of those guys that will get drafted super late this season, but could end up being a bomb to left field.
• Andre Johnson, HOU – This guy is a beast! AJ is the best wideout in the NFL right now and the clear-cut #1 fantasy option at the position. He is what Larry Fitzgerald was in last year’s fantasy draft. The Texans love to pass the ball and he has great chemistry with Matt Schaub. I’m thinking at least 12 TD’s in 2010.
• Randy Moss, NE – Always a great addition to a fantasy squad. One of those guys that can be shutdown all game in terms of yards, but will still manage to have that one TD catch. He’s also in a contract year and needs to prove that he is worth one final wad of cash.
• Larry Fitzgerald, ARI – If I wasn’t iffy about Matt Leinart, he’d definitely be my #2, if not my #1 still. But I AM iffy about Matt Leinart: hell, who isn’t? He hasn’t exactly proved that he is up to the job quite yet, if at all. On top of that, Larry sprained that same knee in his first preseason game that bothered him last season. He could definitely have another big year, which is why he remains this high, but it’s less likely this time around.
• Calvin Johnson, DET – Too high? Maybe. I love him in this position. He battled a ton of injuries last season and will come back with a bang this year. Matthew Stafford is in his second season, Jahvid Best has to be respected in the backfield, and Nate Burleson is the best WR to line up opposite CJ in a few seasons. He’s going to have a very big season!
• Miles Austin, DAL – It somewhat pains me to put him this high, especially after saying I would never draft him as a top five WR. But after seeing him in the first preseason game, he really is a top-tier guy. He is the Cowboys #1 weapon on offense and Tony Romo is a very good quarterback. He’ll put up similar stats to 2009’s.
• Greg Jennings, GB – He didn’t live up to expectations for most fantasy owners last season, but this year he will. What’s not to love about the Packer’s passing attack? It’s flat-out nasty! He always seems to have one huge play in him a game. He’ll enter the land of double-digit TD receivers this year.
• Brandon Marshall, MIA – Marshall is back in Florida, close to where he played college ball. A change of scenery is exactly what he needed. The only scare here is that he is Miami’s only real pass-threat. But with his size and ability, he’s too good to pass up. Plus, he has his money now, so it’s time to zip it and play ball, which he will.
• Roddy White, ATL – A very solid #1 wideout fantasy option. In 2010, he returns to the big-play, deep-threat guy we all know him to be.
• Reggie Wayne, IND – Too low? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m not too big on Mr. Wayne this season, clearly. He had a great first half in ’09, followed by a very mediocre at best performance in the final six games of the season. Manning has an abundance of players to throw the ball to: Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and Anthony Gonzalez. The Colts are just as successful when they get everyone involved, leaving Wayne to fall slightly in this year’s rankings.
• Steve Smith, CAR – He seemed to enjoy a chemistry with starting QB Matt Moore. The Panthers love to run the ball, but Smith is always a major threat downfield, so I like him returning to his old ways this season.
• Marques Colston, NO – As a fantasy owner, you want a scoring threat, and Colston is Drew Brees’ guy in the red-zone. He will put up about 10 TD’s, but will never have over 1,500 yards because of the stacked Saint’s offense.
• Desean Jackson, PHI – Probably the best deep-threat in the NFL. Won’t ever have a ton of receptions, but is good for several long TD catches each year, which is worth being drafted this high.
• Chad Johnson, CIN – Everyone says that the Bengals are a run-first offense now. Ya, ya, ya… I like Johnson to return to double digits in TD catches this year with the addition of T.O and Antonio Bryant as distractions. And I refuse to call him Ochocinco.
• Anquan Boldin, BAL – A great addition to a well-balanced offense and he finally has his money. Boldin makes for a very solid #2 fantasy receiver.
• Steve Smith, NYG – He may be a reception machine, but not a TD machine. Another solid #2 fantasy receiver. He would be higher, but I think Hakeem Nicks will make his presence felt more this year.
• Michael Crabtree, SF – Despite missing games due to his holdout, he proved he is a star in the making.
• Dwayne Bowe, KC – Is he a gamble? Yes. But is he worth it at this position? Absolutely. Cassel is healthier this year and the offense is now in the hands of Charlie Weis. I think you could hit a homerun with this pick.
• Donald Driver, GB – He’ll gain right around 1,000 yards this season to go with 5-8 TDs. If you want a safe, value-pick, look no further.
• Mike Sims-Walker, JAX – He’s a big body and will be healthier this season.
• Percy Harvin, MIN – With Sidney Rice out half the season with a hip injury, Harvin will see even more looks from #4. He has migraine issues, but that won’t stop him from catching balls all over the place this year.
• Johnny Knox, CHI – He is my biggest guy to have a breakout year this season. He’s the Bears fastest receiver and Mike Martz loves speed. He’s going to go over 1,000 yards with 7-9 scores, with the possibility of having the year Miles Austin had last season. He is my ultimate homerun sleeper this season at the wide receiver postion. That’s right, I said it.
• Hakeem Nicks, NYG – Another speed guy. He will eventually supplant Steve Smith as the Giant’s #1 WR.
• Kenny Britt, TEN –Vince Young will continue to get better and Britt will be his favorite target. Britt has the potential to be a top-tier NFL receiver someday.
• Aaron Rodgers, GB – Hands down my #1 overall fantasy QB. Not just because he singlehandedly won me my fantasy league in ’09, but because he is the “real deal”. He threw 33 touchdowns a year prior, and I expect that number to be similar, if not a little higher. Green Bay offense is also loaded with offensive firepower. The sleeper of it all though for Rodgers is the fact he can run and will create at least 3 touchdowns on the ground this season. Should be off the board by no later than early 2nd round.
• Peyton Manning, IND – You may be thinking, “Where’s Drew Brees?” But if you want a safe, consistent pick year-in and year-out, Manning is the choice here. Manning is more experienced and has a plethora of wide receivers to throw to. Match that with his chemistry to Dallas Clark and you really can’t miss on this draft pick. Plus, he’s had seven months to think about that Super Bowl loss. I would not be surprised to see him throw 40 TD’s this year.
• Drew Brees, NO – Here he is. Depending on what research you trust, you will find these top 3 QB’s arranged in many different orders. ESPN has him as the only fantasy signal-caller worth taking in the first round. I completely disagree, but that’s what’s great about fantasy, we all have our own opinions. Brees is certainly worth drafting in the 1st round, but so are Rodgers and Manning. He will always have great numbers with the system Sean Payton runs in the French Quarter, but this is where I’d take him. My theory: I don’t like guys coming off of Super Bowl wins.
• Tony Romo, DAL – 2010 is the year the Dallas Cowboy offense will explode. Romo quietly had a great season last year, and 2010 is going to be his best yet as a Cowboy. Miles Austin is his new #1 receiver. Rookie Dez Bryant adds big-play ability. Witten will rebound from this 2-TD performance in ’09. And you can’t discount Roy Williams yet, he will surprise some this year. Plus, Romo’s a year removed from Jessica Simpson, so his head is clearer than ever.
• Tom Brady, NE – I really like Brady this season. Of course he’ll never come close to his incredible 50-TD season back in ’07 again, but that’s understandable. Wes Welker’s injury isn’t too scary because I think he’ll come back strong, and if not, second year man Julian Edelman has shown he can play. Moss is always good for a 10-TD campaign and the Pats have some young tight ends for Brady to hook up with. Match all of this with Belichick’s tendency to throw the ball, up three scores, with under two minutes to go, and Brady is a solid fantasy QB.
• Matt Schaub, HOU – He led the league in passing yards last season with over 4,700 and he has the NFL’s most dominant WR in Andre Johnson. A very nice combination.
• Philip Rivers, SD – He’ll be without Vincent Jackson for at least the first three games and some pretty inexperienced receivers will fill in. However, these WR’s will fit the bill. Antonio Gates will probably get more looks than ever, which is good as a fantasy owner. He’ll throw 25-TDs, but don’t be surprised to see his INTs go up.
• Joe Flacco, BAL – Player on the rise. Now in his 3rd season in the NFL, Joe will be better than ever. The Ravens also brought in Anquan Boldin, which may be the piece they’ve been missing for years. This season is his opportunity to make a statement that he will be good in this league for years to come.
• Brett Favre, MIN – No one wants to hear anything more about #4, so I’ll leave it at that.
• Eli Manning, NYG – Had his most TDs thrown last season and the Giants have some young WR’s for him to play with.
• Carson Palmer, CIN – He is too talented and has too many weapons now not to land this high.
• Jay Cutler, CHI – Mike Martz has to help, right? Not unless he improves his decision making.
• Donovan McNabb, WSH – New system, but same success.
• Matt Ryan, ATL – Rebound season.
• Kevin Kolb, PHI – Good enough to land in the top 15, but will have some growing pains inheriting the Philly offense.
• Matthew Stafford, DET – Last year’s #1 overall pick could turn some heads this year with a pass-first offense and the additions of RB Jahvid Best and WR Nate Burleson.
• Jason Campbell, OAK – Not a fantasy starter, but a solid backup with tremendous upside. New scenery is always good.
• Alex Smith, SF – A team on the rise and Smith’s final chance to prove he can play in this league. Combine that with Crabtree, Davis, Gore, and Westbrook. He has the talent. This is the year he puts it all together.
NFL season kickoff is now less than a month away, which can only mean one thing: Fantasy Football. That’s right; it’s time to do your research for the 2010 NFL season. Get your league together, buy your magazines, make your rankings, and do some mock drafts. As you know, every fantasy season brings an abundance of new players to the top of draft boards. So starting here, every few days SRG Fantasy Football analyst Thomas Gerard will do his positional rankings. Let’s get started!
• Adrian Peterson, MIN – He is only 25 years old and a beast of an athlete. Coming off a year in which he had 18 touchdowns, he is a fantasy football machine. Brett Favre is back and Chester Taylor is gone, which is an even better situation for prospective fantasy owners. Look for AP to be in on more 3rd down plays this year and to hold on to the ball better. Combine all of that with probably 15 TDs and AP is a great start to your team.
• Chris Johnson, TEN — Most projections have him ranked #1 overall, but for me he had almost “too good” of a year last year. I’m not a huge fan of guys coming off of “monster” years. He has the ability to break for a TD at any moment and is faster than anyone in the NFL. However, he is a smaller player and touched the ball a lot of times last year, so that lands him in the second spot. He will have a big year again, just nothing in comparison to what he put up last season.
• Ray Rice, BAL – Rice straight up stole the RB job in Baltimore last year away from Willis McGahee. He will get even more carries this year than he did a season prior. Combine that with the fact that even when he is not carrying the ball, he has a great chance of catching the ball out of the backfield. The one downside is that McGahee is a highly-paid man who will steal some goal-line opportunities. That doesn’t worry me much though. I think Ray has the possibility of putting up a year such as CJ did last season. He may not rush for 2,000 yards, but he will get around 1,750 and 500 receiving.
• Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX – This guy always figures a way to get into the end zone. Another tiny guy, but get’s a ton of carries inside the 20-yard line. A solid pick. Look for a similar year to the one he put up last season.
• Steven Jackson, STL – Many rankings have Jackson a lot lower than this, but I like him this year for a number of reasons. First, the Rams are terrible and will run the ball a shit load. Two, the Rams have a rookie QB. Three, the Rams have a better offensive line. Four, he has no backup and could carry the ball 375 times this season. Fifth, he is an awesome pass-catching RB. Finally, he is coming off of a 4 touchdown season, which will only go up. Side note: I’m a Rams fan.
• Frank Gore, SF – Frank missed two games last year and still put up good fantasy numbers for an entire season. The 49ers are better offensively and will probably pass more than in previous years. Look for similar stats to ’09.
• Rashard Mendenhall, PIT – I really like him this year, especially with Big Ben’s suspension. He is young, quick, and plays for a good team. Look for him to have his best year yet and carry the Steelers while their QB is out.
• Deangelo Williams/Jonathon Stewart, CAR – I’m sorry, but at this point, I see them as virtually the same RB. They split the carries almost evenly and had virtually the same numbers a year ago. I know Stewart is coming off an injury, but he always is and has done just fine. There’s no need to separate them. A good strategy would be to wait until the 4th-5th round and grab Stewart, meanwhile picking up talent at other positions.
• Michael Turner, ATL – His 370 carry season made him vulnerable to injury last year, after a breakout season with the Falcons. I’m hesitant about putting a guy coming off of an injury too high on this list, especially with Jason Snelling emerging as a solid backup. Even with his injuries and lack of receptions, he is still a top 10 RB. However, this is a very hit or miss spot.
• Ryan Grant, GB – The Packers have an awesome passing game and love to throw the ball. But Grant still had 280 carries last year, to go along with 11 TDs. I think he’ll be slightly less productive as last year, but is still worth of landing in the top 10.
• Jamaal Charles, KC – Would be higher if not for the arrival of Thomas Jones and McCluster.
• Beanie Wells, ARI – With Warner gone, I think the Cardinals establish a little bit more of a run game.
• Shonn Greene, NYJ – Injury prone, but the 2010 playoffs proved he can flat out play. Don’t draft too early.
• Cedric Benson, CIN – His 2009 season came out of nowhere. Will get his fair share of yards, but uncertain about the end zone.
• Knowshon Moreno, DEN – Would also be higher if not for pass-happy Josh McDaniels.
• Ryan Matthews, SD – Prove me something first.
• Lesean McCoy, PHI – The new Brian Westbrook, but has Mike Bell as backup.
• Justin Forsett, SEA – Breakout alert!
• Matt Forte, CHI – Could be a steal at a great price.
• Pierre Thomas, NO – You won’t see me drafting a New Orleans RB.
• C.J. Spiller, BUF – He hasn’t played a down in the NFL yet. But with the injuries to Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, he could take over the reins from Day 1. Future Chris Johnson.
• Felix Jones, DAL – He will slowly get more carries from Marion Barber as the team’s future and feature back. Plus Jerry Jones always favors an Arkansas boy.
• Steve Slaton, HOU – He’s battling Arian Foster for the #1 job and most likely will split carries at best. But with his speed and game-breaking ability, an injury to Foster or a breakout game by Slaton, could make for an MVP-like late-round fantasy pickup.
As crazy as it may seem, both Tom Brady and Payton Manning are still waiting to get their new contracts… contract that will likely make the duo the highest paid quarterbacks ever in the NFL. It seems like both camps are playing a game of chicken, waiting for one side to sign so they can use that as leverage in their own negotiations. Either way, should be interesting to see how much they make.
Multiple sources are reporting today that Brett Favre has officially called it a career. Uh huh…
See, the thing is, he’s done this at least twice before. Now I know his ankle is probably still bothering him, but I just can’t imagine Favre staying on the sidelines when the season starts in September.
What would have happened had the Lakers not won two home games in a row? Defending champs, favored to do it again, and what’s best, they were playing the Boston Celtics. Revenge time, it all comes full circle, not only is there redemption for what happened in 2008 …
It almost blew up.
See, in 2008 when the Lakers lost I wasn’t devastated. Sure it was sad. It was even worse that the clincher, game six in Boston, was a serious stomping. But it was fine, the Lakers shouldn’t have been there. They were just another NBA team that got Pau Gasol donated and all of a sudden they get to the championship.
Just happy to be there.
But they rallied the next year. This one had potential for major hurt because the Lakers were the better team. And when the better team loses it’s heartbreaking.
I have had a few bouts with my favorite teams losing when they were the better team. Some I have recovered from, others haunt me to this day. Luckily, I don’t have to recover from a 2010 Lakers collapse.
Oakland Raiders vs. New England Patriots, 2001 AFC semifinals
Although I’m not from Oakland, as a kid the Raiders played in Los Angeles. They were my pro team. So when they moved to Oakland I still followed them.
This was a solid team that seemed like they had made a big defensive stand by stripping the ball from Tom Brady. They were on the verge of securing a win in snowy New England.
Then the inexplicable tuck rule was called. That must be the most replayed play in NFL history. Brady clearly wasn’t throwing the ball. So it’s a fumble, right? To this day that’s one of the strangest calls in sports history.
The Patriots went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI.
Oakland Raiders vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Super Bowl XXXVII
The Raiders with their wealth of veteran talent went to the Super Bowl and were favored against the Buccaneers. Oakland had more talent and was led by NFL MVP Rich Gannon.
Unfortunately for them, their former coach, Jon Gruden left to lead Tampa Bay. When these teams met, it wasn’t even close. Gruden knew exactly what his former team was going to run. Raiders coach Bill Callahan changed nothing.
What should have been a sweet taste of the Vince Lombardi trophy for the Raiders turned into gut-punching defeat. How could a team with Gannon, future Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Rod Woodson, Bill Romanowski and other Pro Bowl caliber players lose so badly?
In NFL films footage Buccaneers safety John Lynch tells his teammates during the game what plays are about to happen. In some instances Callahan didn’t even change the audibles for the Raiders.
With that inside knowledge Tampa Bay won, 48-21. Thanks for nothing, Bill Callahan.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Detroit Pistons, 2004 NBA Finals
This was the one that had the potential of being the most devastating run in sports history. Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and coach Phil Jackson … This was too good to be true.
Like Persephone in “The Matrix Reloaded” noted, “Such a thing was not meant to last.” It’s easier to hear when Monica Bellucci in a sexy dress says it. The Lakers were making their fourth trip to the finals in five years.
They had dominated the league during Jackson’s reign. The Lakers were so fearsome when they returned to the finals in 2004, forward Rick Fox said the previous year’s misstep was a “pause.” People had said Shaq and Kobe were so good, it was like Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain were on the same team.
Who could stop these guys? NBA Commissioner David Stern once noted the best finals matchup would be the Lakers vs. the Lakers. And that’s what happened.
The Detroit Pistons happened to be there. Kobe vs. Shaq, Big Chief Triangle vs. the organization, Gary Payton vs. the team, Karl Malone’s injury. NBA analyst Tom Tolbert said if the Lakers lost the championship the whole season would be a disappointment.
He was right. The franchise was dismantled after the loss. Shaq was traded for far below value, Malone retired, Payton and Fox were traded, and Derek Fisher signed elsewhere. But Kobe re-signed. These guys had limitless potential.
Shaq still plays and had he been teamed with Kobe, along with other prime free agents, the Lakers could have won more than five titles in 11 years. Those were sad years after Shaq left.
USC Trojans vs. Texas Longhorns, 2006 college football national championship
Texas was a great team. I think USC was a bit better. Unlike a seven-game series, however, the better team doesn’t always win in football.
This one really crushed me. USC had won two straight national championships and were in line for a third. This was and still is unprecedented in the modern era. And don’t think for a second that Reggie Bush’s parents living in some house had something to do with success on the field.
Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart came close to capping off a career with three national titles and one loss. These numbers would have put Leinart up there with one of the best, if not the best college quarterbacks of all time. But Vince Young of the Longhorns had a monstrous game passing for 267 yards and rushing for 200.
Surprisingly, Young’s effort gave him so much notoriety, ESPN named him one of the 25 greatest players in college football history and not Leinart. So Leinart wins more national titles than Young, wins a Heisman Trophy, puts up better numbers and wins more games and Young gets named to this list?
USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins, college football, 2006 regular season finale
In a rebuilding year USC needed to win one game to advance to the Bowl Championship Series title game. UCLA was an average team, but had some strong players on defense.
It was a game Bruins fans will remember forever. And Trojans want to forget it. I was at that game, sitting on the UCLA side, my friend and I the only ones wearing cardinal USC shirts.
The Bruins put together one of the most stellar defensive efforts ever, holding the Trojans, an offensive powerhouse, to just nine points.
What hurt most about this loss was the potential opponent for USC in the title game: Ohio State, the whipping dog of championship foes for years. Florida whipped the Buckeyes for the national championship. That could have been USC.
Kurt Warner retired last winter, vacating his position as the reigning Captain of the God Squad in the NFL. But fear not, for the Denver Broncos selected Tim Tebow with the 25th pick over all, thereby filling the post. The Legend of Tebow is great, but so too is the Legend of Elway. Those are some big shoes to fill, and no one has been able to fill them since Elway retired.
Can Tim Tebow be the guy? Only time will tell. But if the kid cn practically walk on water, why wouldnt he be able to win games in the NFL?