Thursday, August 25, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 6: The Pitiful NFC West + Super Bowl Prediction!

I know, my title is harsh. But there's good reasoning.

1. No team from this division has won a Super Bowl in over a decade.

2. There hasn't been a wild card qualifier from this division since 2004.

3. Last year, the NFC West housed the worst and second worst rushing teams in the entire NFL.

4. The Seahawks won the divisional title last season with a 7-9 record.

5. Can you name more than three players on more than one of these teams? Probably not.

Therefore, my title is justified. Deal with it, west-coasters. And Missourians.

1. St. Louis Rams 8-8

It came down to who has a better defense in determining this division's winner, and the Lou has the advantage. Teams won't be terrified to face them, but the Rams will definitely be able to shut down some of the more average teams this year. That's all QB Sam Bradford will need, depending on whether or not he avoids the sophomore slump. Stephen Jackson defines the word "workhorse" and although he's take a load of hits in his career, he's just too strong to slow down yet. Additionally, Jackson will have the new support of Jerious Norwood and Cadillac Williams to take some of the load off of his shoulders. He's been carrying the team on his back for too long, and its time he gets some help. The receiving corps is still below average, but with the addition of Mike Sims-Walker and signings of rookies Austin Pettis and Greg Salas, St. Louis is taking small steps of improvement. The Rams have the ability to make some noise this season, but we'll see whether or not they can live up to the hype.

Final Prediction: Loss in Wild Card Round

2. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle made some noise last season, and it wasn't just the "12th man". After making the playoffs with an unheard of 7-9 record, the 'Hawks took down the defending champion New Orleans Saints in the wild card round of the playoffs. All eyes are on newly acquired Tavaris Jackson, who never developed to the QB that Minnesota was hoping for. Now he's got a chance to prove himself, and he's got the talent around him to do it. Marshawn Lynch is deadly at running back, and he'll be sharing carries with Leon Washington and possibly Michael Robinson. At receiver, the Seahawks somehow managed to acquire Sidney Rice, which will provide a HUGE lift in the passing game (if Jackson can find him) and push the ball downfield for once. Golden Tate has the athleticism and ability to be an outstanding receiver, we're just waiting on the correct coaching to fully develop him. With Jackson at the helm, this will be a good but not great team, strictly because of the lack of ability in arm accuracy and decision making. Jackson can make some plays with his feet, but Seattle desperately needs success through the air, so unless the former Viking can download information from Michael Vick's brain, I don't see a playoff appearance for the 'Hawks.

Final Prediciton: Miss Playoffs

3. San Francisco 49ers 7-9

Aside from the quarterback position, the 49ers have some legit talent on offense. A machine at running back with Frank Gore, two wide receivers that have gifted abilities with Braylon Edwards and Ted Ginn, Jr. The offensive line is average, so the only thing holding these guys back is quarterback play. Alex Smith has thrown more touchdowns in his career, and hasn't come close to living up to his potential at all. Luckily for him, he's only 27 and has another year or two to step his game up and keep his job as a starter locked up. As for the San Francisco defense, you can't demand too much improvement at the linebacker position with Patrick Willis running the show, but that secondary is extremely weak. If the 9ers can continue stopping the run, and Alex Smith can learn how to play consistently, the Bay could finally reach the playoffs again. Do I think it'll happen...

Final Prediction: No

4. Arizona Cardinals 3-13

Ever since Kurt Warner left, this place has been a disaster. But with the addition of Kevin Kolb, the Cards are hoping to revitalize their glory days. They had a decent draft, acquiring a talented running back in Ryan Williams, plus an intimidating linebacker in Sam Acho, and, oh yeah, the best cornerback in the entire draft-Patrick Peterson. Mix in Peterson with Abdullah, Rhodes, and Wilson, and you've got quite an impressive secondary. But, everything else on the defense is wretched. It's not going to be a pretty year out in the desert, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Cards stole a few upsets against some playoff-caliber teams.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

And that wraps up my NFL Preseason Predictions series! All 32 teams analyzed forward and back, and although I won't be dead-on, at least I gave you all some valuable information about your teams. And now, for the grand finale. . .


I think ultimately, defense wins championships. That's what New York has. A punishing, relentless defense that will ultimately get to Aaron Rodgers and force turnovers. The Jets will run the ball early and often, and by the time the 4th quarter rolls around, the Pack will be exhausted, and that's when the Jets will score the winning touchdown, a pass from Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes. Green Bay may lead early, but the green and gold just aren't tough enough to handle Rex Ryan and his malicious defense.

Thanks to all of you for your support in this series! It was fun for me, and I hope it was the same for you. And remember, whether you think you can or can't, you're probably right. Until next time!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 6: The NFC South

It's going to be a very, very tight race in the NFC South. You've got three teams that can really play some good football, all with very good offenses and loaded with playmakers. The winner of this division will come down to who can stop the run. All of these teams will throw for over 300 yards a game, but rushing...that's a different story. If one of these teams can maintain a good balance of passing and running plays at a successful rate, they will be the team that comes out of this division alive.

NFC South

1. Atlanta Falcons/New Orleans Saints 12-5

It was very, very difficult deciding who I thought would win this division in 2011. Both the Falcons and the Saints have stellar offenses, with defenses that are good but not great. The winner of this division will come down to who wins between the Falcons and the Saints, and I think Atlanta has the edge with its powerful running game and consistent passing. New Orleans, right now, is too one-dimensional, but I think Mark Ingram has the tools to explode for a huge rookie year. Drew Brees is still the prototype passer and he's got plenty of wideouts to throw to, while Matt Ryan is becoming an elite quarterback with one fantastic receiver and that's about it. Ryan will need Julio Jones to step up and take some of the pressure off of Roddy White, and that's asking a lot out of a rookie receiver. However, I think the Falcons moved up in the draft to get Jones for a reason, and this Alabama product will have a huge impact in the NFL. Atlanta needs consistent production from RB Michael Turner, which shouldn't be a problem. But, with injuries and inconsistent blocking, you just never can tell. While I believe the Saints will have a better offense through the air, I've always been a firm believer that success on the ground means success in the playoffs. Both teams will make the postseason, but I think the Falcons will make it one round further than New Orleans.

Final Predictions: Saints - Loss in Divisional Round
                             Falcons- NFC Championship Appearance

3. Tampa Bay Bucaneers 10-6

Josh Freeman is expected to have a huge season, but let's not get our hopes up too much. After all, his career touchdown-to-interception ration is 1.5:1, which isn't all that impressive. The Bucs saw a breakthrough year for rookie RB LeGarrette Blount last season, but he's going to have to really put in work to avoid the infamous sophomore slump. Tampa's defense isn't anything to write home about, but they have potential to give their offense just enough breathing room to win 10 or so games. This is a talented young group of guys, and I think Josh Freeman will improve this season, but not enough to give the Bucs that deep playoff run.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

4. Carolina Panthers 5-11

This is an interesting group. Offensively, the Panthers have some intriguing talent. This year's first overall draft pick, Cam Newton, is a versatile player with a strong arm, quick legs, and some questionable decision-making. He'll get better with experience, but this will not be a 30 touchdown season for the former Heisman Trophy winner. He'll have some help on offense, with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in the backfield, so that should take some of the workload off of Cam. However, in today's NFL, you need to be able to get the ball downfield and quickly if you want a shot at the title. Defensively, the Panthers will struggle. What a surprise. But there is seriously something wrong with that run defense, and the talent in the secondary is quite underwhelming. I don't think Carolina will be as bad as everyone says, but they definitely have some room for improvement.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

My last predictions, the NFC West, will be out shortly. Thanks for taking the time to read! And remember, whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right. Until next time!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Malcolm Brown: The Revival of the Texas Running Game

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 5: The Terribly Awesome NFC East

Ah, my favorite and least favorite division in the NFL. If you know me, you know I'm a HUGE Giants fan, as well as a HUGE Cowboys skeptic. So, you can understand that it was very tough staying objective on this post, but I was able to persevere. Enjoy!

Philadelphia Eagles 11-5

First of all, let me make this point clear. The Eagles are in NO WAY a "dream team". It's just not true. There are holes in the defense and there are holes in the offensive line. Vick will do some serious damage offensively this season, and you can't doubt the rushing attack with LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown. But the Eagles will struggle to win this division. They have a tough schedule in an already competitive division, so look for somewhere around 10 or 11 wins this season. They will make the playoffs because I don't think the Giants are at their best and the Cowboys always have and always will under perform. Expect a solid year in Philly, but don't start packing for a trip to the Super Bowl.

Final Prediction: Loss NFC Chanpionship

New York Giants 10-6

Mediocrity is the best way I can describe the G-Men this year. Eli Manning will never be his brother, Ahmad Bradshaw will never be Steven Jackson, and Steve Smith, New York's best wide receiver, left the team. That leaves Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham to handle the bulk of the catches, and hopefully it won't be too big of a burden on them. Osi Umenyiora is back, but we don't know how happy he'll be and if he'll give his 100% after his failed attempt at a holdout/trade request. If he plays up to his potential, the Giants defensive line will be just as strong as it normally is. The secondary is solid, of course it will hurt a little at the cornerback position with Prince Amukamara out for the next couple of months. New York will have it's ups and downs this season, but unfortunately I don't see another championship in the making.

Final Prediction: Loss in Divisional Round

Dallas Cowboys 8-8

It's the SAME thing EVERY year with Dallas. Loads of talent, no results. It's like Jerry Jones just sits there and says, " many Pro Bowlers can I fit on one team without making the playoffs?" Well, Jerry, if it makes you happy, that's cool, but there's a huge metropolitan area that desperately want to duplicate its success in the '90s. I don't think it'll happen as long as Tony Romo is quarterback. He is hands down the most overrated in the league. Backup QB Steven McGee has more upside. It won't be a season to remember in Dallas.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

Washington Redskins 4-12

Final Prediction : Miss Playoffs

Just kidding.

But seriously, they aren't very good. No McNabb, no Haynesworth, no running backs, no receivers other than the ancient Santana Moss and underachieving Donte Stallworth. Ad please don't make me go into what they lack on defense. They have a couple solid starters, and I'm very excited to see how they can implement rookie RB Roy Helu, but this is not a playoff roster.

Final Prediction: ....Still Miss the Playoffs

NFC West, coming up next! Thanks for reading everyone! Don't forget, whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you're usually right. Until next time!

Monday, August 15, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 4: The Red-Hot NFC North

I don't normally associate the NFC North with anything warm, but these four teams have some serious momentum going for them. If you missed the AFC predictions, you can check them out here for the AFC East, here for the AFC West, and here for the North and South divisions.

1. Green Bay Packers 12-4

The Pack is back, this time with more options at running back. The Green and Gold have Ryan Grant, James Starks, and a guy I think has the tools to develop into a Michael Turner in a short amount of time - 3rd round pick Alex Green. Green is a big back with explosive speed, weighing in at 6'0 225 lbs and recording a 4.45 second 40 yard dash. If the Packers can get him involved early, they'll add yet another weapon to their deadly offensive arselnal. Jermichael Finley is back from injury, Greg Jennings remains a top-tier receiver, and Aaron Rodgers is the prototype NFL quarterback. Look for the Pack to establish a running game this season, but don't be surprised if Aaron throws for 4,000 yards again. Defensively, Green Bay looks to be very sharp this year. A solid but not amazing defensive line, very good linebackers led by Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk, and an outstanding secondary which includes Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Sam Shields and Tramon Williams. This makes for a very impressive season for Green Bay.

Final Prediction: Super Bowl Appearance

2. Chicago Bears 11-5

"Da Bears" added a much needed offensive lineman with Gabe Carimi in the draft, which will help protect Jay Cutler and open up so more lanes for Matt Forte. The Bears have a very easy schedule laid out, so a playoff appearance looks probably for Chi-town. The Bears defense is a good as ever, so it's all in the hands (or arm) of Cutler not to screw up this sesaon.

Final Prediction: Loss in Divisional Round

3. Detroit Lions 8-8

Um, the Lion's defense is border-line stacked. Yeah, I said it. Just hear me out. You have quite possibly the best defensive line in the NFL with Suh, Fairley (whom Mel Kiper had as the #1 draft prospect for quite some time), Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and Corey Williams. The "Silver Crush" will be joined by Justin Durant, Chris Houston, and other young talents looking to prove themselves in a very intimidating defensive lineup. Matt Stafford is an elite QB in the making, and the Detroit running game is improving with Jahvid Best gaining more experience. Calvin Johnson leads the way for the wideouts, but look for recently-signed Maurice Stovall to put in work. If the Bears didn't have such a cake-walk schedule, I think the Lions would contend for a Wild Card spot.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs (But Improve Drastically)

4. Minnesota Vikings 6-10

We don't know what's going on in Minnesota. Is McNabb too old to start or is Christian Ponder too inexperienced to produce? Is Percy Harvin able to stay healthy? The only thing holding this Viking offense together is Adrian Peterson, and every opposing defense knows it. He'll still get his numbers but, this will not be a great year for the Vikes. At least Minnesota's defense functions properly. Maybe we'll see a heroic effort from Donvan McNabb and a trip to the Super Bowl, and maybe they won't even come close to making the playoffs.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

More NFC predictions coming your way soon! Thanks for reading! And remember, whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right. Until next time!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 3: The Monotonous AFC West

They're not that good...but they're also not that bad. Meet the 2011 AFC West Division.

1. Kansas City Chiefs 10-6

Just look at their options in the running game. Jamaal Charles, a speedy back who can score at any point in time, Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster, and recently added power back Le'Ron McClain. That's ridiculous. Matt Cassel has a few more options at receiver other than Dwyane Bowe, with the talented Steve Breaston and rookie Jonathan Baldwin. Eric Berry, Javier Arenas, and Brandon Flowers lead the young but gifted secondary, which should show an improvement with some more experience under its belt. Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson will provide the pressure up front, and the linebacking core, while below average, has some potential as well. A much better team all around, which could mean a big year in KC.

Final Prediction: Loss in Divisional Round

2. San Diego Chargers 6-10

Now that Darren Sproles is gone, it's completely up to Ryan Matthews to keep the running game alive. This is finally a chance for Matthews to live up to his hype and produce some offense for the Chargers on the ground. Phillip Rivers will continue to play well with Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, and Antonio Gates catching the ball. The Bolts defense aren't as good talent-wise as they normally are, so don't expect many forced turnovers or sacks this year. Overall, San Diego is solid team with a lot of work left to do. We'll see what Norv Turner can put together this year but I think it'll be a tough road to the playoffs.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

3. Denver Broncos 6-10

There are so many different scenarios that could happen in Denver, I just don't know where to start. The Broncos' identity rests with its quarterback, who's yet to be named. Kyle Orton is the front runner for now, but Tim Tebow is quickly gaining attention from both the media and the fans. He's got the intangibles to be an elite quarterback, but the arm accuracy and decision making needs work. With experience, he'll acquire both. Orton, on the other hand, will give Denver a better chance to make the playoffs this year as a guy who's started plenty of games and possesses the skills (just barely) to take the Broncos to the postseason. He's not a playmaker, he's not a home-run threat, and he's not going to sell stadium tickets, but he can get the job done. Tebow's upside far outweighs Orton's, but if John Fox is looking for consistency, he'll take Orton as the starter. Whoever does get the job will have plenty of targets to throw to with Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal, plus a solid backfield with Knowshon Moreno, Willis McGahee, and LenDale White. The Broncos took a big step forward at the linebacker position when they drafted Von Miller with the second overall pick, and he'll work well alongside Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey as the leaders of this defense. It won't be an amazing year for the Broncos, but you may see flashes of brilliance periodically.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

4. Oakland Raiders 4-12

Jason Campbell at QB. Eh. Darren McFadden at RB. Okay. Darius Heyward-Bey at receiver. Blah. Another poor year is in the mix for Oakland, who made zero good picks in the draft and didn't do much in free agency. Every team's success starts with solid ownership and management, two things the poor Raiders lack. The defense has some young talent, but it won't be able to handle the Patriots, Packers, or Jets this season. Until Oakland makes some changes at corporate, they won't see any changes on the field.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

Alas, we are DONE with the AFC. Next up, the notorious NFC, which consists of the reigning Super Bowl Champions, what some have been calling a "dream team", and rising clubs determined to make names of themselves.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to vote on the poll!

Friday, August 12, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 2: The Intense AFC East

I was going to include the AFC West in this analysis, but I really wanted to focus on the Jets-Patriots rivalry because this will be a huge year for both teams.

1. New England Patriots 13-3

They're looking good. Very good. Tom Brady is showing no signs of slowing down, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is making a name for himself, and the Pats made a good acquisition with the signing of Chad Ochocinco. Ochocinco, with always good Wes Welker, and young talent with Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman will really open up the pass game for New England this year. Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes combine for some of the best two young linebackers in the league, and adding Albert Haynesworth at DT will compliment Vince Wilfork very well. Once Shaun Ellis is nursed back to health, this defensive line will have the potential to be the best in the NFL. While the Jets will be competitive, this division is New England's to lose.

Final Result: AFC Championship appearance

2. New York Jets 12-4

The Jets don't have as much talent as the Patriots, but every single player performs to their absolute maximum ability under the motivational techniques implored by Rex Ryan. He can make Miley Cyrus think she's a 6'4, 350 lb Pro Bowl defensive end. That's why the Jets will make a Super Bowl appearance this year. Mark Sanchez took a while to develop, but this is going to be his breakout hear. He's got Super Bowl champion Plaxico Burress, Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, and Baltimore Ravens all-time leading receiver Derrick Mason to throw to. He'll be protected by one of the best lines in the league, and backed up by one of the most intimidating defenses in the league, led by Bart Scott. The Jets secondary will be outstanding this year, with the best cornerback in the NFL Darelle Revis, Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie, former Boise State standout Kyle Wilson, and an underrate safety in Jim Leonhard. The Patriots will win the division, but the raw determination the Jets possess will eventually outlast New England when it counts - the playoffs.

Final Prediction: Super Bowl Appearance

3. Miami Dolphins 7-9

Reggie Bush, it's your time to shine. You haven't done much to prove yourself yet, but now you have your opportunity. Chad Henne should show some improvement this year, with Brandon Marshall in his prime and some young talent surrounding him. The rest of the Miami lineup is as average as it gets, with no real playmakers or defensive enforcers. Until the Phins can get some Pro Bowl talent at more than one or two positions, they will continue to be a slightly below average team.

Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs

4. Buffalo Bills 5-11

You know, the Bill have some talent this year. It's in random areas, but there are signs of talent. They've had some nice acquisitions with home-run threat Brad Smith, hard hitting Shawn Merriman, and third overall draft pick Marcell Dareus. Buffalo's depth at receiver has increased drastically, and the Bills have high hopes for the speedy running back CJ Spiller. This won't be a big year for the Bills, but expect slow steps of progression.

Final Prediction: Better, but Miss Playoffs

AFC West Predictions coming very soon. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 1: AFC North & South

It's that time of year for season predictions! The lockout is finished, the season is starting, and all sports writers now have something to do. With that, I give you part one of my four-part series of my predictions, the AFC North and South.


1. Baltimore Ravens 13-3

They're a solid team with an easy schedule. A playoff lock with Flacco behind center, Ray Rice at tailback, and the most intimidating defense in the league led by the great Ray Lewis. It didn't hurt to sign former Heisman trophy winnner Ricky Williams, and Anquan Boldin will carry the load at the receiver position. Derrick Mason will be missed, but the Ravens offense will work just fine with that talented o-line. As always, Baltimore's defense is stacked at nearly every position, so expect a deep run into the playoffs.

Final Estimate: Loss in Divisional Round

2. Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5

A couple of tough games including trips out to Indy, Kansas City and Baltimore, plus a home game against New England's finest. Big Ben will need to bring his A game this season and not any distractions. Pitt's defense looks as strong as ever after resigning Ike Taylor and drafting some solid prospects in Cam Heyward and Curtis Brown. Rashard Mendenhall is a rising star, the offensive line is strong, and defensivvely the Steelers have some of the best talent.

Final Estimate: Loss in Divisional Round

3. Cincinnati Bengals 5-11

Drafting AJ Green and Andy Dalton was just enough to keep this team from being the bottom of the barrel in the AFC. Dalton got the nod to start at QB in the preseason, and Green can make an impact immediately on any offense. Jordan Shipley will give Dalton another reliable target, but other than that, expect your typical below average football out in Cincy.

Final Estimate: Miss Playoffs

4. Cleveland Browns 4-12

Colt McCoy's intangibles are no joke, but his lack of elite arm strength has fans in Cleveland questioning his ability to throw the ball downfield. He's only got eight starts under his belt, but this should be a season for him to grow. The Browns didn't have an amazing draft, so expect a last place finish in the AFC north for Cleveland.

Final Estimate: Miss Playoffs

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts 11-5

The Colts are still looking for a reliable run game, and Peyton Manning isn't getting any younger. However, the Colts are still the Colts; Manning is a born winner, and the blue and white will clinch a playoff berth early with its below average competition.

Final Estimate: Loss in Wild Card Round

2. Texans 9-7

With Schaub, Foster, and Johnson leading the offensive attack, the Texans finally seem to have a system working that will generate points on the board. However, Houston's defense needs a lot of work and we all know offense doesn't win championships. They've got a good shot at the postseason this year, but they're not quite there yet.

Final Estimate: Loss in Wild Card Round

3. Jacksonville Jaguars 7-9

They had one of the worst pass offenses in the league last season, and it doesn't look any better with Mike Sims-Walker off of the roster. MJD can only do so much work when all opposing defenses know he's the only legitimate threat to score. Oh, and Blaine Gabbert does not want to play a Jim Sorgi role, so look for him to get some action at the first sight of a Garrard slip-up. The Jags have enough talent to compete for a wild card spot, but I don't think this will be a very successful year out in Jacksonville.

Final Estimate: Miss Playoffs

4. Tennessee Titans 5-11

Well, Vince Young is gone. Kerry Collins is gone. That leaves who, Matt Hasselbeck? Brett Ratliff? Rusty Smith? Jake Locker? The Titans pass game looks as appealing as a buffet the day after Thanksgiving. Yuck. Tennessee will pick up a few wins behind the legs of Chris Johnson, but other than that it'll be a sloppy year for the Titans. No playoff appearance and a last place finish in the division.

Final Estimate: Miss Playoffs

Thanks for reading. Part 2 tomorrow!