Monday, June 13, 2016

2009 NFL Mock Draft: Detroit Lions Should Take QB Matthew Stafford of Georgia

2009 NFL Mock Draft

Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford/QB/Georgia

It is no secret that the Lions had a terrible 2008 season. 0-16 is nothing to party about. However there is plenty of debate as too what path the Lions will take too rebuilding this team. It will take a lot, but it is possible. Some say there defense was worse then there offense, others say they need a better offensive line. I think however, that they will try to rebuild the team around a QB that they have confidence in. Matthew Stafford could be the first step in a very long path. Maybe it will turn into a Matt Ryan and the Flacons situation.

St. Louis Rams- Eugene Monroe/OT/Virginia

About a year ago the Rams were waiting to make their pick in the 2008 NFL draft. It has recently been publicized that the Rams were highly ready to draft Jake Long if he slipped past the Dolphins pick. Now it seems they are still looking to improve that offensive line. It looks like this will come down to Eugene Monroe or Andre Smith.

Kansas City Chiefs– Aaron Curry/OLB/Wake Forest

Down the stretch of the NCAA football 2008 season, Aaron Curry was playing fantastically. It wasn’t to long ago that many people thought the Chiefs would pick up a QB for this draft pick.

Seattle Seahawks- Michael Crabtree/WR/Texas Tech

The Seahawks have a lot of receivers. The problem is, not all of them are that good. I think they will try to change that by drafting this would be senior out of Texas Tech. He is a pretty solid receiver, who in college, could make plays after he caught the ball. That is definitely something the Seahawks would want in a receiver.

Cleveland Browns– Malcolm Jenkins/CB/Ohio St.

In 2007 the Browns had a 10 win season, however they hardly played any teams with winning records. Many people thought they would be good this year, but others noted how they had a weak and inexperienced secondary. I think that was one of the big things that cost them the 2008 season. Now I expect them to draft some secondary player, and Malcolm Jenkins seems like a good candidate for them to rebuild that secondary.

Cincinnati Bengals– Andre Smith/OT/Alabama

Carson Palmer to me is one of the more talented quarterbacks in the league. Unfortunately for him, he now has a weak offensive line, an over-showy receiver, questionable coaching, and more problems. So I think they need to rebuild that offense from where the ball is hiked, that offensive line. I also think Andre Smith would be a great start, if he isn’t drafted by the Rams.

Oakland Raiders– Jeremy Maclin/WR/Missouri

Many people are expecting the Raiders to take DE Everette Brown, or OT Jason Smith, however if there is one thing I know about the Raiders, its surprises and beyond questionable ownership decisions. Remember the Raiders taking a kicker in the first round? Well I expect them to once again try to make an impact on their scoring offense, and once again surprise everyone.

Jacksonville Jaguars- Everette Brown/DE/Florida St.

If Everette Brown surpasses the Raiders draft pick, I think he will end up in Jacksonville. The Jaguars I think should start looking at stopping the run better if they want to get back to the play-offs. Brown should be a good guy to start with.

Green Bay Packers- B.J. Raji/NT/Boston College

The Packers are expected to switch to a main 3-4 defense. It can be hard to be a good 3-4 defense without a strong defensive line. So a nose tackle or defensive end would be a good draft choice for their situation.

San Francisco 49ers- Mark Sanchez/QB/USC

The QB situation of in San Fran has been just about a nightmare. Smith hasn’t turned out to be Singletary’s hopes and dreams, so a QB could really help out this franchise. It would help to have an offense threat besides Frank Gore, so the defense feels a little threatened when the QB drops back for a pass.

Buffalo Bills- Michael Oher/OT/Ole Miss

There were clearly some problems in the offensive line for the Bills. Oher was a great pass blocker in college, but should be able to open holes for the running backs with some proper training.

Denver Broncos- Brian Cushing/OLB/USC

The Broncos could be looking to improve that middle of their defense. Cushing is just one of the many cogs that contributed to the offense stopping machine called the USC defense. I expect Cushing to do well on both run stop and pass protection for the Denver Broncos.

Washington Redskins- Peria Jerry/DT/Ole Miss

Peria Jerry is a great pass rusher, he proved that with his time at Ole Miss. The Red Skins have a lot of play makers on offense. However their defense is not as flashy. A DT like Peria Jerry could do wonders for that defense.

New Orleans Saints- Rey Maualuga/ILB/USC

Rey Maualuga was another great player on the USC defense. The Saints could use a great pick here when you consider what they gave up to keep Jonathan Vilma, like a 2nd and 3rd round pick.

Houston Texans- William Moore/S/Missouri

The Texans secondary has been a hole in their team’s defense for years. Drafting a good safety like William Moore could be a good guy for them to start to build a secondary around. Maybe after that they can start contending to make the play-offs.

San Diego Chargers- Chris Wells/RB/Ohio State

We finally crack into the RB column. A year ago this would surprise many. However now a lot of people know LT has been struggling with the Chargers, and there are rumors he may even get dropped. So it would make sense for them to have a RB they can rely on if that day ever came.

New York Jets- Vontae Davis/CB/Illinois

The Jets are looking like they really need corner help. They have been giving pig passing games to teams that can’t do it elsewhere. They may have made the play-offs last year if they had a better secondary.

Chicago Bears- Michael Johnson

There was a time when the Bears were one of the most feared defenses in the NFL. That time has passed. However there are plenty of people in Chicago who want that to come back, and it will start by upgrading that line, and bringing pressure back to the opposing quarterbacks.

Tamps Bay Buccaneers- Knowshon Moreno/RB/Georgia

To me, the Buccs looks like a team that is a running game short of a play-off appearance. It was not too long ago that the Buccaneers were in the play-offs, however this year, the played golf instead. A solid running back could really help that team out. However I think the O-line needs to improve to before they get to any Super Bowls.

Detroit Lions- Tyson Jackson/DE/LSU

Some people are expecting the Lions to take an offensive lineman. I don’t. This is their second pick in the first round, and I think they should start to work on that defense.

Philadelphia Eagles- Jason Smith/OT/Baylor

It looks like the Eagles will be losing some offensive lineman to free agency this off-season. Because of this I wouldn’t be surprised to see them draft another line man to try and help protect McNabb.

Minnesota Vikings- Brandon Pettigrew/TE/Oklahoma State

A very good TE probably the best in the draft. Some go as far to say he is one of the most talented offensive prospects in the draft. I think he would really help out the Vikings, he would add to their already impressive pass and run block line. He would also be a good receiver for Jackson to drop it off too if there is no one else open. Maybe later in his career could be a big offensive threat too.

New England Patriots- Aaron Maybin/OLB/Penn State

Maybin is an eligible sophomore which could make this pick a risk. For Penn State however he looked like a great line backer who was very fast and specialized in putting pressure on the QB and getting sacks.

Atlanta Falcons- Alex Mack/C/California

If you saw the Falcons play-off game, you could see one of the big reasons the Falcons lost, was how the Cardinals seem to be able to get too Matt Ryan at will. So drafting a good center to lead the line in tough times could be a good choice as a draft pick for these Atlanta Falcons.

Miami Dolphins- Larry English/OLB/Northern Illinois

The Dolphins could use another line backer to compliment Porter, and maybe put less protection on him which could make the whole defense better. Larry English is a great pass rusher and is a pretty big guy too.

Baltimore Ravens- Percy Harvin/WR/Florida

Joe Flacco looked great as a rookie for the Baltimore Ravens. Could you imagine what he could do with an elite receiver to throw to? That would be one of my thoughts if I were in the Baltimore Ravens organization. Maybe Percy Harvin could one day be that elite receiver, and him a Joe Flacco could get to a super bowl. Its possible.

Indianapolis Colts- LeSean McCoy/RB/Pittsburgh

This is another sophomore in the draft. The Colts could be looking to find a good running back to use after Joseph Addai didn’t exactly pan out last year. He has pretty good cutback ability which could make him a good running back one day.

Philadelphia Eagles- Louis Delmas/FS/Western Michigan

Brian Dawkins is a great safety. He may even get into the NFL Hall-of-Fame. However his career won’t last forever. He turns 36 in October. Delmas has really shined lately and could be a good successor for Dawkins.

New York Giants- Michael Johnson/DE/Georgia Tech

It seems one of the sayings for the New York Giants it “you can never have too many defensive ends.” I don’t think that will change this year and I expect them to go ahead and draft Michael Johnson.

Tennessee Titans- DJ Moore/CB/Vanderbilt

Moore had a little injury troubles in 2008 but is going into the 2009 NFL draft as a junior. The Titans look like they could use a little more of a push on defense. More turnovers for them I think will translate to more wins, so defensive backs who can get interceptions and give the ball back to the Titans could really help Tennessee.

*Arizona Cardinals- Shonn Greene/RB/Iowa

The Cardinals this year have been a highly pass first team. With players like Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin, why wouldn’t you be? However I still think a good running back would benefit their team.

*Pittsburgh Steelers- Duke Robinson/OG/Oklahoma

The Steelers have looked like a team that already has almost everything you could want in a football team. However I expect them to draft Robinson and maybe even start him next year if they need too.

* The Super Bowl was not played when this article was written, so the 31st and 32nd draft pick has not been fully decided yet.

Tags:2009 NFL Mock Draft: Detroit Lions Should Take QB Matthew Stafford of Georgia

2009 NCAA Tournament Preview: Cleveland State Vikings

The Cleveland State Vikings were defeated by Butler twice during the regular season. In both of those games, the Vikings lost by two points. The conference tournament championship game offered Cleveland State a chance to avenge those two losses. They took full advantage of that opportunity.

Cleveland State defeated Butler 57-54 in the Horizon League tournament championship game, earning the Vikings an automatic birth in the 2009 NCAA tournament. The victory was made even sweeter by the fact that Butler beat Cleveland State 50-48 and 58-56 in their two previous meetings during the season. The victory in the tournament title game was an upset but it certainly wasn’t shocking. Cleveland State went 12-6 in conference play and is heading to the NCAA tournament with an overall record of 25-10.

Unlike teams from other smaller conferences, Cleveland State faces a NCAA tournament team twice in conference play. Butler is a top #20 team and will definitely be playing in the Big Dance. The Vikes suffered a 15 point loss to Washington in the second game of the season. Both Kansas State and West Virginia defeated Cleveland State by ten points in the first month of the season. The Vikings have one huge win against a NCAA tournament team, a 72-69 thriller against Syracuse.

Senior forward J’Nathan Bullock leads Cleveland State into the NCAA tournament, averaging 15.3 points and seven rebounds a game. Sophomore guard Norris Cole averages 12.9 points a game and fellow guard Cedric Jackson, a senior, adds 10.5 points and 5.4 assists per contest. Sophomore D’Aundray Brown contributes 7.4 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Vikings.

Cleveland State is a team that isn’t dominant on offense or defense. The Vikings only average 66 points and 34 rebounds a game. As a team, the Vikings shoot 31.7 percent from three point land and 43 percent from the field. An undersized team such as Cleveland State will have to shoot better in order to pull off an upset in the NCAA tournament.

The Vikings are going into the NCAA tournament on somewhat of a run. They have won four straight, including the big win against Butler to end pre-NCAA tournament play. Cleveland State’s longest winning streak of the season is seven, which occurred during Horizon League play.

The Horizon League wasn’t particularly weak in 2008-09. Four teams (Butler, Green Bay, Cleveland State and Wright State) finished the season with 20 or more overall wins. The fact that Cleveland State only lost by ten or more points four times speaks to the tenacity of the Vikings. Nevertheless, their first round opponent will need to have an off night (or day) for Cleveland State to pull off an upset.

All stats courtesy of ESPN

Tags:2009 NCAA Tournament Preview: Cleveland State Vikings

2009 NBA Playoffs Team Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers were the best team in the NBA’s Eastern Conference this season, and they will be the top seed in the playoffs for the East. The Cavaliers have a dynamic team led by superstar forward LeBron James.

Here is a preview of the team and key contributors for the 2009 NBA Playoffs.

Point Guard: Mo Williams

Williams has been one of the best contributors this season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He averages 17 points per game and six assists per game. He is a dependable player night in and night out, and will need to bring his best game to contribute to the Cleveland Cavaliers playoff success. He is a key component to their team.

Williams has been dealing with a minor wrist injury as of late, that looks as if it is fully healed. It should not impair him in any way for the playoffs.

Shooting Guard: Delonte West

West, a former Boston Celtic, is a scorer for the Cavaliers. Though he does not do much else, he can contribute moderately in the rebounds and assists categories. He plays big time minutes, and if he can improve on his 11 points per game, the Cavaliers will be in great shape.

Small Forward: LeBron James

If you haven’t heard of LeBron James, you need to crawl out from under the rock you’ve been living under. James, who is widely considered to be the best player in the league, averages 27 points, 7-8 rebounds, and 7 assists per game. Needless to say, James will be counted on to lead the Cavaliers if they want to win it all this season.

Power Forward/Center: Anderson Varejao

Varejao, a reliable power forward-center, can be counted on to accumulate around nine points and seven rebounds every single night he hits the floor. He is by no means a flashy player, but he is consistent and should do his part effectively.

Center: Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Ilgauskas, also known as “Big Z,” is a slightly better scorer than Varejao. He averages about 13 points and 7.5 rebounds per game-solid numbers for a center. He is a physically imposing 7’3″-260, which allows him to position himself well in the defensive game. Big Z and Varejao are very similar players, and they form a solid, but not spectacular, inside core for the Cavaliers. As long as both can continue to contribute defensively, the Cavaliers will have little to worry about.

Bench Depth

The Cavaliers have decent bench depth, and fans should keep a close eye out for guard Daniel Gibson and guard Wally Szczerbiak. Both of these players are dynamic guards and scorers off the bench. Rebounding contributions should also be provided through forward Joe Smith and forward Ben Wallace.

All in all, the Cavaliers have to be considered one of the favorites to win it all this year in the 2009 NBA Playoffs. Keep a close eye on this team as they go into the playoffs as a hands-on favorite from the East.

Tags:2009 NBA Playoffs Team Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers

2009 NFL Draft Predictions: Alphonso Smith

At 5’9″, 193, Wake Forest’s Alphonso Smith might be the most underrated cornerback in the NCAA senior class entering the 2009 NFL draft.

Alphonso Smith had a solid senior season at Wake Forest. He finished the year with seven interceptions and broke up 13 passes. Through the first nine games of 2008, Smith was credited with 29 tackles. He garnered All-ACC honors following his junior season and played in the Senior Bowl this past February. At the end of his NCAA career, Smith stood as the ACC career interception leader with 21 picks.

Smith has the speed to cover any receiver in the country and has shown a willingness to jump into any play wherever needed. He is able to quickly locate the ball and enter the mix to stop the play. He has returned interceptions for major yardage. Alphonso Smith excels at reading the quarterback and is fast enough to get in and break up plays. He often tried to strip the ball when part of a gang tackle

No matter his accomplishments, Smith’s draft clout will be held down by his size. He gets cut off by much taller receivers. The combine report states a very simple fact – there aren’t many 5’9″ cornerbacks in the NFL and that could lower his payday.

All things considered, Alphonso Smith is ranked as the number 5 cornerback and 32nd overall. In the mock drafts at, Smith is projected to realistically go late in the first round or early in the second. Tennessee should start training a replacement for Nick Harper and they should use their late pick in order to draft a quality cornerback. A few selections earlier in the first round, Baltimore will be shut out of their needed wide receiver and should take the opportunity to capitalize on Smith’s strengths at cornerback.


Tags:2009 NFL Draft Predictions: Alphonso Smith

2009 NCAA Tournament Brackets Announced on Selection Sunday; Louisville the #1 Seed

The 2009 NCAA tournament brackets were announced on Sunday night, denoting which of the 65 college teams in the nation will make it to the big dance. The selection show started with the Louisville Cardinals receiving the #1 overall seed in the tournament seeding. Coming from the Big East, one of the strongest conferences right now, Louisville won the Big East tournament, and was selected as the #1 overall, and the #1 seed in the Midwest Region. This NCAA tournament bracket is really going to be an interesting one, with several teams not quite making the cut, but a few others ending up very excited.

The second #1 seed is Pittsburgh Panthers, which will be the team in the East, the North Carolina Tar Heels will be the #1 seed in the South, and the fourth #1 seed is the University of Connecticut will be the #1 seed in the West. That makes two of the #1 seeds to come out of the Big East, with Louisville and UConn both taking top seeds in the tournament. It will definitely bring a lot of recognition to that conference, and all four of the teams were very worthy of taking those top seeds in the tourney.

One of the surprises of the bracket as bubble team Arizona sliding in as the 12 seed of the Midwest region, and with Dayton sitting as an 11 seed in that same bracket, they could serve as a surprise team in the end. Memphis had to settle for the #2 seed in the west, making it a really tough conference with regular season Pac-10 champions Washington also in the region as a #4 seed. Selection Sunday was again an exciting day, and the 2009 NCAA tournament brackets look to set up some really intriguing games for this year’s tournament.

The 2009 NCAA Brackets:

Midwest Region

1- Louisville
16- Moorehead State / Alabama State

8- Ohio State
9- Siena

5- Utah

4- Wake Forest
13-Cleveland State

6- West Virginia

3- Kansas
14-North Dakota State

7- Boston College

2-Michigan State
15-Robert Morris

West Region

1- UConn

8- BYU
9- Texas A&M

5- Purdue
12-Northern Iowa

4- Washington
13-Mississippi State

6- Marquette
11-Utah State

3- Missouri

7- California

2- Memphis
15-Cal State Northridge

East Region

16-East Tennessee State

8- Oklahoma State
9- Tennessee

5- Florida State

4- Xavier
13-Portland State


3- Villanova
14-American University

7- Texas

2- Duke

South Region

1-North Carolina

8- LSU
9- Butler

5- Illinois
12-Western Kentucky

4- Gonzaga

6- Arizona State

3- Syracuse
14-Stephen F. Austin

7- Clemson

2- Oklahoma
15- Morgan State

Source: CBS Bracket Pages

Tags:2009 NCAA Tournament Brackets Announced on Selection Sunday; Louisville the #1 Seed

2009 NFL Draft Predictions: Jeremy Maclin

Three years after turning down offers from Oklahoma, Ohio State and Notre Dame to play for Missouri, Jeremy Maclin enters the NFL draft after his sophomore season and a great NCAA resume.

A terrible knee injury just weeks before what was expected to be his true freshman season makes Maclin’s stats more impressive. In two years at Missouri he accumulated over 5600 all-purpose yards. Apparently, that knee injury has healed. During his sophomore season, Macklin accumulated 1,260 yards and 13 touchdowns off of 102 receptions. He added another 1,280 yards and two touchdowns from returns and rushed for 293 yards and two touchdowns.

The combine report gives Jeremy Maclin primarily high marks. He is considered a score threat on every play and his versatility is a strong advantage. Maclin is a natural athlete and his speed contributes to his downfield threat status. He is still learning and has great potential to be a number one NFL wide receiver. Maclin’s size (6’1″, 200) doesn’t express his power. He has proven proficient and punt and kickoff returns, scoring five touchdowns on returns.

On a negative side, even though Maclin performed exceptionally well during his two seasons at Missouri, there is still a concern about his knee. He is still young and, depending upon your point of view, had a very good team to play with. All of my sources downgrade Macklin due to his still-developing route skills. ranks Maclin as the number two wide receiver and 13th overall. projects him to be a mid-first round draft pick, most recently to the New York Jets as the 17th selection. If the Jets pass on a young receiver combined with an inexperienced quarterback, the Chicago Bears are waiting in the wings, desperately needing someone with the ability to catch the ball and score with it.


Tags:2009 NFL Draft Predictions: Jeremy Maclin

2009 NFL Season Preview: NFC North

The NFC North has long been the black and blue division, known for impressive running games and hard hitting defenses. Over the course of this off-season, however, they have managed to turn the focus on the quarterbacks. The Detroit Lions spent the first pick of the NFL draft on Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Chicago Bears traded for talented, but disgruntled Denver quarterback Jay Cutler, the Minnesota Vikings just recently welcomed future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre to their team, and the Green Bay Packers are excited about Aaron Rodgers heading into his second season as the starter. It will be interesting to see which of these quarterbacks has the biggest impact for their team and lead them into the playoffs. Here is a breakdown of each team:

Chicago Bears

2008 Record: 9-7

Strengths: The Bears return a solid core of the team that finished second in the division last year and just missed out on the playoffs. If they manage to remain healthy, the Bears defense could be the strong point of the team. Last year, the defense struggled with injuries and ended up ranked 21st in the league in total defense. They are far more talented than that and should have a bounce back year, led by linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Last year, rookie running back Matt Forte was the only highlight for the Bears offense. He rushed for 1,238 and 8 touchdowns and was also the team’s leading receiver with 63 receptions. Now in his second year, Forte should be even stronger and should be helped out by the presence of a legitimate passing threat at quarterback. That brings us to the Bears’ major addition of the off-season, quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears have struggled through numerous seasons with mediocre quarterbacks and finally decided to get themselves a Pro Bowler at quarterback. Cutler is a huge addition and should be able to stretch defenses and create more room for Forte, as well as, throw the ball deep to his speedy receivers.

Questions: The big question for the Bears this year is who is going to catch Cutler’s passes. They lack any marquee receivers and have to make due with their stable of young, unproven prospects. However, Jay Cutler will undoubtedly make his receivers better. Devin Hester is one of the fastest receivers in the league and with a quarterback who can actually get the ball to him down field; he becomes a serious deep threat. He is also hard to stop when he gets in the open field and always has the potential to take a short pass and make it a big play. Second year receiver Earl Bennett should also see a lot of balls thrown his way. He played with Cutler in college and they have already rekindled their rapport since Cutler joined the Bears. Even with the wide-outs improving, it is likely that the two leading receivers will once again be tight end Greg Olsen and Forte. They are both solid receivers and will provide a safety valve for Cutler when he gets in trouble, but also have the ability to stretch the field and create big plays.

Outlook: Assuming the offense is better this year (its hard to imagine it won’t be) and the defense stays healthy, the Bears should have a good year. Their schedule is pretty favorable and they get their biggest out of division challenges at home. They host both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals, but they do have a late season game at Baltimore, which will be tough. Despite those challenges, the Bears should be able to win 10 to 11 games, compete for the division title, and at least make the playoffs as a Wild Card.

Detroit Lions

2008 Record: 0-16

Strengths: Well, they certainly can’t do any worse than last year. The Detroit Lions failed to win a single game last year and struggled in just about every aspect of the game. It is unlikely that they will see a remarkable turn around and they make the playoffs, but it is equally unlikely that they will go winless again. The best player for the Lions is receiver Calvin Johnson. During the Lions abysmal season, Johnson managed to rack up 1,331 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. He will be the primary target for whoever is the starting quarterback and could have another big year. If Stafford wins the starting job, Johnson will definitely help the adjustment process and alleviate some of the pressure. Running Back Kevin Smith is a solid rusher and could have a big year if the offensive line creates running lanes. He rushed for 976 yards and 8 touchdowns last season and should have even better numbers this year.

Questions: There are several questions that need to be answered for the Detroit Lions. The biggest one is at quarterback. Veteran Daunte Culpepper will likely begin the season as the starting quarterback, but he will have the Lions number one overall pick, Matthew Stafford, pressuring him for playing time. You have to wonder how long the Lions will stick with Culpepper if he struggles. Also, if the Lions have another rough season, they may just put Stafford in there to get experience, since he is without a doubt their quarterback of the future. Really the question that is more important than who will play quarterback, is will they be able to block for him? Last year, the Lions gave up 52 sacks, second most in the league. If their line does not improve markedly, it will be a long season for whoever is at quarterback. The other big question is whether or not the defense will be able to stop anyone. The Lions surrendered 32.3 points per game last year, the worst in the league, by far. The Lions are hoping that the defense has improved enough to at least keep the team in games and give the offense a chance.

Outlook: The Lions will most likely see another couple of rough years, before they really compete for the NFC North or threaten to make the playoffs. The 2009 season for the Lions will show some promise though. They are bound to be better than last year and will most likely win at least 3 or 4 games. They should have several highlights this year, hopefully including overall improved team play. Matthew Stafford may also get a chance to show his skills and prove that he will be the quarterback the Lions hoped he would be when they drafted him.

Green Bay Packers

2008 Record: 6-10

Strengths: Aaron Rodgers had a solid season for the Packers last year. He threw for 4,038 yards and 28 touchdowns. The Packers hope that he has an even better year in his second season as the starter. He should be more comfortable in the offense and put up similar or better numbers. It also helps that he has two solid receivers returning, who both had over 1,000 yards receiving last year. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are two talented receivers and should provide plenty of opportunity for Rodgers to have another big season. Running back Ryan Grant is the other aspect of the offense that makes them dangerous. He rushed for 1,203 yards last year, but only found the end zone four times. He figures to have more touchdowns this year and is poised for a big year. The Packers have all the talent in place to have a high powered offense that gives opposing defenses trouble.

Questions: The big question for the Packers is their defense. Last year, the Packers ranked 20th in the league in total defense, while allowing 23.8 points per game. They expect big things out of their fourth year linebacker A.J. Hawk. He is the leader of the defense and will have to carry them. It will also be interesting to see if their first round pick B.J. Raji, out of Boston College, can come in and contribute. He held out of most of camp with a contract dispute, but has the talent to make a difference right away. The other question is whether or not the Packers will be able to hold it all together for the entire season. The Packers were in good shape last year, before suffering through a five game losing streak late in the season. They need to avoid the same kind of let down this season.

Outlook: The Packers figure to be right in the thick of NFC North race. It will likely be a three team race and the Packers certainly have the talent to win the North and make the playoffs. As long as they can avoid another late season collapse, they can easily win ten games and be in contention. Green Bay will certainly have November 1st circled on the calendar. That is when their beloved Brett Favre returns to Lambeau Field, as a member of the hated Vikings.

Minnesota Vikings

2008 Record: 10-6, Lost in Wild Card Round of Playoffs

Strengths: The strength of the Minnesota Vikings is running back Adrian Peterson. He rushed for 1,760 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He carried the Vikings last year as they won the NFC North and made the playoffs. He will likely have to do it again, if the Vikings want to repeat as champions of the division. The offense should also get a boost by the additions of Brett Favre and explosive first round pick Percy Harvin. The defense is another strong point for the Vikings. Last season, they finished ranked sixth in total defense and first in rushing defense. They return the core of that defense and should have another strong year if everyone stays healthy.

Questions: The big question for the Vikings is Brett Favre. Which Brett Favre will the Vikings have leading their offense when the season starts? Will he be the Hall of Fame quarterback that won two Super Bowls with the Green Bay Packers or the aging Brett Favre that struggled with the New York Jets? Favre is coming off of a season in which he threw as many interceptions (22) as touchdowns. He will also turn forty during the season and elected not to have his shoulder surgically repaired during the off-season. Favre has always been a risk taker and gun slinger, but last season his arm proved to be too old for many of the risks he was taking. With the talent around him, if he limits the risks he takes and plays smart, he could have a big year. However, there is already dissension in the locker room and if Favre struggles, it could get ugly.

Outlook: There are some experts who are picking the Vikings to make the Super Bowl. I’m not sold that Favre is the savior they are looking for at quarterback and I don’t see them getting that far. However, with Adrian Peterson healthy and their scary defense in tact, they certainly have what it takes to win the NFC North again and make some noise in the playoffs.

SOURCES: NFL Player Statistics –

NFL Team Statistics-

Tags:2009 NFL Season Preview: NFC North

2009 NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

The playoff race is heating up and it’s time for another edition of my NFL power rankings. These power rankings are for week 14 of the 2009 NFL regular season.

The Colts and Saints just can’t agree on which team should be at the top of these NFL power rankings. I predict that they will continue to switch spots on a weekly basis until one loses. Which one will be the first to fall (if either does)?

At least we know the Cleveland Browns are still horrible. Don’t let the final five minutes of Sunday’s game fool you. Nobody on San Diego cared at that point of the game. The New York Giants, on the other hand, saved their season with a huge win. Where does that divisional victory put them in my NFL power rankings?

Without further ado, here is the week 14 edition of the most controversial NFL power rankings on Associated Content.

32. Cleveland (1-11): Once San Diego actually cared about this game (it only lasted about six minutes), the Chargers showed why the 2009 Cleveland Browns remain in the basement of these NFL power rankings.

31. St. Louis (1-11): The Rams couldn’t pick Jay Cutler off once. That puts them at 31 in my NFL power rankings.

30. Tampa Bay (1-11): The Bucs kept things but couldn’t get that elusive second victory, keeping the race for the number one pick in the 2010 NFL Draft a tight one.

29. Detroit (2-10): It’s very likely the Lions won’t win another game this season and yet still remain 29 in NFL power rankings.

28. Washington (3-9): Why are the Redskins so low in my NFL power rankings? They missed a chip shot field goal, threw an interception and then lost a fumble all in the final moments of regulation/overtime to lose to the undefeated Saints. It takes quite a bit of talent to lose in that manner.

27. Kansas City (3-9): The Chiefs may have given second life to the Denver Broncos. OK, Kansas City and the Giants.

26. Buffalo (4-8): The Thursday night game against the Jets reminded me how this team lost to the Cleveland Browns.

25. Oakland (4-8): Way to break free from the Chiefs in my NFL power rankings, Oakland!

24. Chicago (5-7): Beating the lowly Rams by eight will put the Bears at 24 in this week’s NFL power rankings.

23. San Francisco (5-7): Even my appreciation for Mike Singletary can’t get the 49ers any higher in my NFL power rankings.

22. Carolina (5-7): The Panthers aren’t good enough to crush the Bucs and thus don’t go higher in my NFL power rankings.

21. Houston (5-7): I was right about Houston all along, NFL fans. This was never a playoff football team.

20. Tennessee (5-7): I’m no longer sayin’. Will Tennessee go any higher in my NFL power rankings?

19. Seattle (5-7): Oh, the high hopes I had for the Seahawks way back when. Can Seattle get to .500 this season and back in the top 20 of my NFL power rankings?

18. Atlanta (6-6): The Falcons are far from that playoff team everybody believed them to be two months ago.

17. Pittsburgh (6-6): How far will the defending Super Bowl champs fall in NFL power rankings? Is a loss to the Browns really that out of the question at this point?

16. New York Jets (6-6): Make me a believer, New York Jets. Playing against the Bucs and fallen Falcons could put the Jets back up in my NFL power rankings and give them a real shot at making the playoffs.

15. Baltimore (6-6): The Ravens are a lot like the Steelers, except Baltimore shows up in the second half of football games. Not good enough to stay above .500 or go higher in my NFL power rankings.

14. Miami (6-6): The AFC East hasn’t been decided yet. Can the Dolphins really do what many would say is the impossible?

13. Jacksonville (7-5): Say what you want about the Jags. Right now, as I type this, Jacksonville is an above .500 football team.

12. New York Giants (7-5): Yes, the Giants move up in my NFL power rankings. Are they really “back” or were they just fortunate to be playing a Tony Romo-led Dallas Cowboys team in December?

11. New England (7-5): The Patriots just don’t want to be an elite team in 2009.

10. Dallas (8-4): It’s December, Cowboys fans. Uh oh.

9. Denver (8-4): If Denver can pull off the upset this week, they’ll do more than move up in the top ten of these NFL power rankings.

8. Green Bay (8-4): Despite their best effort, the Packers moved to 8-4 and the eight spot in my NFL power rankings.

7. Philadelphia (8-4): The Eagles beat up on Atlanta in December of 2009. Big deal. They dominate the Giants again and we’ll talk.

6. Arizona (8-4): The roller coaster Cards do it again (Told ya!). They deserve to be six in these NFL power rankings as they are a dangerous football team…sometimes.

5. Cincinnati (9-3): The Bengals continue to just win football games. The AFC North is theirs to lose.

4. San Diego (9-3): Beating up the Browns won’t put the Chargers ahead of the Vikes in these NFL power rankings.

3. Minnesota (10-2): No shame in losing to the Cards in Arizona. Will the Vikes fall in NFL power rankings next week, however, after facing the Bengals?

2. New Orleans (12-0): Saints had no business winning that game on Sunday. Any half decent team puts them away.

1. Indianapolis (12-0): Stopping the hot Titans puts the undefeated Colts atop these NFL power rankings. That could easily change next week.

For more: Read last week’s NFL power rankings

Tags:2009 NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

2009 NFL Season: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Preview

Jake Delhomme will start his second game of the season. Perhaps favored by the inury suffered by backup Josh McCown, perhaps fueled by a recently signed $30 million contract. For whatever reason it is, one thing is certain, he better snap out of his current bad streak. His four interceptions and a fumble added to last season’s NFC Championship game stats, add up to a less than impresive 9 total turnovers.

The Panthers, who were punished by the Eagles, showed no signs of being even close to the level they had last year. Carolina held a 7-3 lead entering the second quarter, but after a series of plays, including a fumble by Delhomme which was returned for a tocuhdown, a DeSean Jackson punt return for another touchdown, and a TD pass by McNabb to Celek, the Panthers found themselves down 17 points and unable to effectively establish any kind of running game. Carolina depends, offensively speaking, entirely on their ability to give DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart a chance to make something happen.

For their road game against the Falcons, Carolina will have to establish their running game as soon as possible. The Falcons, who took care of the Dolphins, will play in front of their home crowd again. Atlanta’s defense, which was a question mark entering this season after loosing five starters looked solid. In fact, defense might have won the game. Mike Peterson, Falcons’ biggest defensive signing, forced a fumble and intercepted a pass. One more turnover was forced by Atlanta’s defense; the offense did not give any balls away. Tony Gonzalez led the team with 73 receiving yards, Matt Ryan surpassed the 200 passing yards mark, and Michael Tuner could not get his running game going.

If Atlanta’s defense shows up the same way they did against Miami, Atlanta should not have difficulties handing their division rivals their second defeat of the season. A game that features a team that turned the ball over seven times facing a team that forced three turnovers can only have one expected outcome. But! beware of Carolina actually establishing the run this time around. In Williams and/or Stewart are able to penetrate Atlanta’s defense, the story will be totally different.

It is obvious who has the advantage at the quarterback position. Steve Smith (and his acrobatic catches) got Jake Delhomme a brand new contract; a contract that the 34 year old will have a hard time living up to. Matt Ryan, on the other hand, is the real deal (in case someone doubted it). The addition of Tony Gonzalez just gives him more to work with. When a third down brings doubt upon the young quarterback’s mind….he’ll just look for number 88. Simple as that. And the offense can continue its march.

A vital game for Delhomme, and John Fox too. A game that Atlanta wants to put in their pockets, especially before a road trip to Foxborough and New Orleans playing at Philadelphia. Who said week 2 didn’t have drama?

Tags:2009 NFL Season: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Preview

2009 NFL Mock Draft: The Top Ten Picks

NFL mock draft watching has become almost a national past-time in America around the time the football season lets up for a week leading up to Super Bowl XLIII.

Here are the picks I project to happen in the top ten of this year’s draft:

2009 NFL Mock Draft: The Top Ten Picks

1. Detroit Lions- Andre Smith

The big left tackle from Alabama might not quite be as good of a pass blocker as his rival tackles, but it’s a pretty close competition. Throw in the fact that Smith is an absolute mauler in the run game the Lions have their man at the top spot in the 2009 NFL Draft.

2. St. Louis Rams- Eugene Monroe

The Virginia offensive lineman is another premium tackle prospect and Orlando Pace is getting up there in age making this a smart pick.

3. Kansas City Chiefs- Mark Sanchez

Matthew Stafford is another possible choice but Sanchez has the arm strength and size to wow scouts at the combine in Indianapolis and move ahead on draft boards.

4. Seattle Seahawks- Michael Crabtree

A physical, polished receiver with great hands goes to a team that badly needs targets with the fourth pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

5. Cleveland Browns- Aaron Curry

The Wake Forest linebacker is athletic and versatile, two traits that new coach Eric Mangini loves in a defender.

6. Cincinnati Bengals- Michael Oher

The first round NFL Draft run of offensive tackles continue as the Bengals try and rebuild a shattered roster from the inside-out with Oher in round one.

7. Oakland Raiders- Everette Brown

Once NFL teams get a look at how athletic and potentially dominant Brown can be as an edge rusher, he will shoot up draft boards.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars- Brian Orakpo

The Texas DE is a solid option for a team that needs better pass-rushing prowess. The 2009 NFL Draft has some good options but Orakpo is NFL ready.

9. Green Bay Packers- Jason Smith

The Baylor OT will be a good upgrade to the Packers’ o-line.

10. San Francisco 49ers- Matthew Stafford

The Georgia QB is desperately needed for a team that has a serious dearth of QB talent on the roster despite the past top pick of Alex Smith.

Tags:2009 NFL Mock Draft: The Top Ten Picks

2009 NFL Draft Profile: Chris Wells (RB), Ohio State

In Junior running back Chris Wells, the Ohio State Buckeyes might have a Heisman candidate who can take his place along side Howard Cassidy, Archie Griffin and Eddie George as winners of the prestigious college award. That is if he lives to be true to his word and not turn pro after this, his Junior year. That may be a big “if,” and it might be contingent upon a few things like where he would go in the 2009 draft now that he has missed three games this season due to yet another injury.

At 6-1, 235 lbs, Wells is a big bruising runner who has both the instincts and great balance shared by the elites of his position. He also comes equipped with 4.5 speed in the 40, which means he can just as easily go around the ends as he can through would be tacklers. Least he be typecast as just a power back with speed, Wells comes with the added dimension of being an outstanding pass catcher coming out of the backfield.

During his Sophomore season, Wells gained over 1,600 yards and scored 16 touchdowns, while earning All-Big Ten honors. Those outstanding numbers where punctuated by a 222 yard performance against hated rival Michigan. It was a game in which Wells showcased his endurance by carrying the ball 39 times, scoring twice in the process. Even more impressive is the fact that Wells was never 100% during the season suffering both an injury to his ankle, as well as a broken wrist which required surgery during the off-season.

Injury concerns have also come into play this season, with Wells being carted off the field with an injury during Ohio State’s 2008 season opener. Though the star running back carried the ball for over 100 yards in the game, Wells went down in agony when he heard a pop in his right foot in the 3rd quarter of the game. After sitting out the next three games, the Ohio State star came back to rush for over 100 yards against Minnesota, showing enough athletic ability to hurdle a would be tackler on a 28 yard run.

It is still too early to tell what kind of effect the injuries will have on his 2009 Draft stock, but without such concerns, Wells would be slated as a can’t miss top 10 pick. Still, this potential first round draft choice has indicated that he has no desire to turn pro after the 2008 season. Yet like UCF’s Kevin Smith did last year, many a Junior running back can change his mind about entering the NFL draft. If he declares for the draft this year, look for the injuries to cause enough concerns to knock Wells down into the late first round or the early second round.

Tags:2009 NFL Draft Profile: Chris Wells (RB), Ohio State

2009 NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

Week 5 of the 2009 NFL regular season has come to a close which means it’s time for another installment of my power rankings. These power rankings are for week 6 of the football season.

As has quickly become the tradition in my NFL power rankings, it’s once again time for the “I told you so” segment of the article. Since week 1, I’ve been chastised by numerous NFL “experts” for ranking the Denver Broncos too, too high. How could I possibly rank the Broncos ahead of the beloved New England Patriots? The dominant San Francisco 49ers? The phenomenal Atlanta Falcons? The awesome Philadelphia Eagles?

Wait. The Denver Broncos are now 5-0? Well look at that…

Last week, somebody told me “When we get halfway through the season your list will be completely different.” Well, duh. This is the NFL, friends. One thing that makes the league so great is that power rankings change on a weekly basis.

By the way, if you don’t have the Denver Broncos in the top five of your NFL power rankings going into week 6, they’re automatically flawed. Just sayin’.

There are also still plenty of readers complaining about my ranking NFL teams via rankings. Again, this is not the BCS. In the NFL, a team’s overall record matters. It matters quite a bit. If it didn’t, the New York Giants wouldn’t be in your top five. They’ve defeated the Redskins, Cowboys, Bucs, Chiefs and Raiders. Not impressive one bit.

How can I anger readers with my week 6 NFL power rankings? By giving the Cincinnati Bengals the love they truly deserve.

32. St. Louis (0-5): Would you pay to watch the Rams if Rush Limbaugh owned the team? They get the Lions on November 1. Might be a win for St. Louis. Maybe.

31. Tampa Bay (0-5): I can’t be the only fan waiting for the Josh Freeman era. Yeah, that’s gonna bring the Bucs surging up these NFL power rankings.

30. Kansas City (0-5): Boy, did the Chiefs let me down by not knocking off the Cowboys in Kansas City this past Sunday. Since Kansas City almost won, I came close to ranking them at 29 in this week’s NFL power rankings but I just couldn’t pull the trigger.

29. Tennessee (0-5): How bad did things get for the Titans on Sunday night? Vince Young played. Yes, that’s right. The Hall of Fame bound Vince Young.

T 28. Buffalo/Cleveland (1-4): Sure, the Oakland Raiders may very well be worse than either of these teams. The Bills and Browns earned the 28 spot in my NFL power rankings this week, however, by playing quite possibly the worst NFL game I’ve ever watched. The Browns even won the game and I’m still mad about what I saw. Neither team deserved a victory on Sunday. The UFL debut was far better than this garbage.

26. Oakland (1-4): I get the Raiders were facing off against the Giants. This is still a God awful football team. I kid you not when I say I’d start Charlie Frye over JaMarcus Russell. All seriousness.

25. Carolina (1-3): The Panthers beat the Redskins. In Carolina. Big deal. 86 yards on 32 carries is embarrassing.

24. Detroit (1-4): Keeping things close in Pittsburgh does not get the Lions a better spot in these NFL power rankings. Besides, it was more a case of the Steelers sleeping on the job. Like that hasn’t happened before this football season.

23. Washington (2-3): The Redskins are the same team we saw last NFL season. A poor/average one at best. Don’t expect Washington to climb too high in these NFL power rankings anytime soon.

22. Houston (2-2): I get it. I’m still in the minority. I’m just not a believer in the Houston Texans, yet. They prove me wrong and I’ll move them up in my NFL power rankings.

21. Jacksonville (2-3): 41-0. Proof at how much NFL power rankings truly are a week-by-week phenomenon.

20. Arizona (2-2): Escaping with a win against a team I don’t believe in at home won’t get you much respect in my NFL power rankings.

19. Green Bay (2-2): Much needed week off after the rough loss in Minnesota. They’ll be fine, Packers fans.

18. Seattle (2-3): Will Matt Hasselbeck be injured by the time I’ve finished typing this sentence? 41 points with Hasselbeck taking the snaps.

17. Miami (2-3): Is Chad Henne the real deal? They tore up an impressive defense in prime time on national television. That’s good enough to get them the 17 spot in these NFL power rankings.

16. San Diego (2-2): The Chargers have a huge chance to move up in these NFL power rankings if they defeat the undefeated Denver Broncos this coming Monday night.

15. Dallas (3-2): The worst three-win team in the NFL. Will the Cowboys get back into the top ten of these NFL power rankings again this season?

14. Pittsburgh (3-2): How are the Steelers 14 in my NFL power rankings? By not playing four full quarters in two straight weeks and losing to the Bears earlier in the season, that’s how.

13. San Francisco (3-2): Sorry, 49ers fans, but your team has had two chances to make it much higher in my NFL power rankings. They’ve gone 0-2 in both games.

12. Chicago (3-1): How seriously do you take the Bears? That question may be asked when they take on the Falcons this week.

11. Philadelphia (3-1): The Eagles beat up the Panthers, Chiefs and Bucs and they were crushed by their defense gave up 48 points against the Saints in Philadelphia. Why do people have this team so high in their NFL power rankings right now?

10. Baltimore (3-2): Good NFL teams have to go at least 1-1 against other good teams in remain higher up in these NFL power rankings.

9. New England (3-2): How are the Patriots beneath a team in these NFL power rankings that they defeated? Simple. Both Atlanta and New England faced off against a division leader. The Patriots didn’t win their game.

8. New York Jets (3-2): Starting to believe my doubts about the Jets. Don’t think they’ll get back into the top three of these NFL power rankings again.

7. Atlanta (3-1): An early bye may have caused you to forget about the Falcons. That 45-point performance against San Francisco was a quick reminder.

6. Cincinnati (4-1): One tipped pass away from being 5-0 and in the top five of my NFL power rankings. Much like the Broncos, yes, the Bengals are for real. At least they are right now.

5. Denver (5-0): Get comfortable in the top five of these NFL power rankings, Denver Broncos. You’ll be there a week from today (spoiler alert).

4. Minnesota (5-0): The Vikings won’t be in the top five of my NFL power rankings next week as the Ravens will break their two-game skid by defeating Hollywood Brett Favre and the Vikings.

3. Indianapolis (5-0): I can see why people have the Colts as number one in their NFL power rankings. I just don’t see it as much of an insult placing the Colts beneath the Giants and Saints. They have a bye this week so Indy will be ahead one of those teams a week from today.

2. New York Giants (5-0): I can’t place the Giants ahead of the Saints for beating the crap out of the Raiders. Being second in any NFL power rankings is nothing to be ashamed about.

1. New Orleans (4-0): The Saints had a bye. They don’t lose the top spot in my NFL power rankings simply for being idle. The number one spot in next week’s NFL power rankings will be determined by what could be an epic Giants-Saints contest this coming Sunday.

Be sure to check out my NFL power rankings for the previous week to see where your team shifted. As I’ve said numerous times before, there could be massive movement within one week.

Tags:2009 NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

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