Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NFL Week 3 Recap

Congratulations to me on my first Fantasy Football win of the season. I'd like to take this opportunity thank a couple of people. First, I'd like to extend my highest praise to Joe Flacco for targeting my WR Anquan Boldin 11 times, and I'd like to thank Boldin for catching 8 of those passes for 142 yards and 3 TD's, that raked me in 32 fantasy points. Second, I'd like to thank Phillip Rivers for having a big statistical game against the Seahawks, he put up 28 points. Last, but definitely not least, Santana Moss was the difference maker for me this week. I decided to sit the struggling Mike Sims-Walker in favor of Moss, and it paid off, to the tune of 16 fantasy points. I beat a dear friend of mine this week, Pat Rammer, by a score of 115-107, but we all know friendships are thrown out the window when it comes to fantasy football.

Last week I went 11-5 with my picks, this week was much less successful. I went 9-7 in week 3 thanks to S.F. laying an egg, and New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley bricking a field goal, again. You'll hear about Hartley later in this post. So my two week running total of picks is now at 20-12, not bad.

Fantasy Adjustments for week 4: I have only one guy on bye week, TE Jason Witten, so I added Oakland TE Zach Miller from waivers. I know the Raiders don't have a great offense, but I think Miller will have a decent game against the lackluster Houston defense. Other than that, I think I'm gonna leave everything the same. I'm tempted to start Shonn Greene against Buffalo because the matchup is so enticing, but, I don't feel like he will get enough touches to warrant a start over Portis or Jones-Drew. Let's now move on to the best and worst from week 3.

Friday, September 24, 2010

NFL Week 3 Picks

Tennessee over NY Giants: 24-17
Pittsburgh over Tampa Bay: 13-6
Cincinnati over Carolina: 27-10
Baltimore over Cleveland: 21-6
Houston over Dallas: 31-24
S.F. over Kansas City: 17-14
Minnesota over Detroit: 24-13
New England over Buffalo: 31-9
New Orleans over Atlanta: 27-20
Washington over St. Louis: 24-10
Philadelphia over Jacksonville: 27-17
Arizona over Oakland: 13-10
San Diego over Seattle: 28-17
Indy over Denver: 24-20
Miami over NY Jets: 20-17
Green Bay over Chicago: 24-17

Upset of the week: Miami over NY Jets
The Jets will be without Darrelle Revis on Sunday in Miami, which puts a lot more pressure on rookie DB Kyle Wilson to try and contain Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall. I think Marshall has a huge game, very reminiscent of his days with Jay Cutler in Denver. Miami's defense will also give the Jets a lot of trouble, we saw their full potential last week in Minnesota, and I see them playing just as well at home this Sunday.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NFL Week 2 Recap

So I did half-way decent on my week 2 picks. The Vikings, Patriots and Titans killed me, but I ended up with a week 2 record of 11-5. My fantasy team lost for the second straight week, Maurice Jones-Drew seems to have forgotten how much success he had last season, or maybe he just forgot how to run. Jones-Drew ran the ball only 12 times for 31 yards, not the kind of production one would expect from a top 3 fantasy back. Shonn Greene was again a huge disappointment in week 2. Greene was a preseason top 5 fantasy back, rated in the top 10 by every single one of the fantasy "experts" that you can find. The LT resurgence in NY has cut into a lot of carries for Greene, and his lack of production shows that maybe he just isn't that good. Greene carried the ball 15 times for a lackluster 52 yards. I need production out of my two big time running backs to climb out of the fantasy hole they have dug for me. Let me give you a breakdown of my fantasy starters, and some bench guys that may end up contributing:
QB: Phillip Rivers, Chargers
RB1: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jags
RB2: Shonn Greene, Jets/Clinton Portis, Redskins
RB/WR: Santana Moss, Redskins/Mike Sims-Walker, Jags
WR: Andre Johnson, Texans
WR: Anquan Boldin, Ravens
TE: Jason Witten, Cowboys
D/ST: Packers
K: Rob Bironas, Titans
On paper, I think this is a really good team, but until guys start producing the numbers that they are capable of, I'm gonna lose.

Best and Worst from week 2:
5. Matt Schaub and Michael Vick - Schaub had a huge game in Texans 30-27 overtime win over the Redskins. He threw for 497 yards and connected on 3 TD's. Mike Vick had a spectacular start in the Eagles 35-32 win over the Lions. Vick threw for 284 yards and 2 TD's and might have caused head coach Andy Reid to rethink his devotion to having Kevin Kolb as his starter.

4. Randy Moss' one handed catch in the end zone was a thing of beauty. He escaped Revis Island with a ridiculous move off the line to get free, and finished in style. Another thing I liked about this play was Moss acted like a professional, no taunting, no celebrating.

3. The Colts Offense - after a disappointing loss in week 1 to Houston, the elder Manning didn't waste anytime in taking control of the Manning bowl. Before the Giants could blink, Peyton had shredded their defense for 24 points in the first half. Joseph Addai and Donald Brown combined for 161 rushing yards and a TD. Indy won the game 38-14.

2. The Miami Dolphin Defense - they held Brett Favre and the Vikings to only 10 points in their 14-10 victory on Sunday. They pressured Favre into making a lot of bad throws resulting in three interceptions, and a fumble recovery in the end zone for a TD. The Dolphins defense also collected three sacks.

1. Steelers Defense - maybe the Steel Curtain is back. I have doubted the ability of this team to recover from the loss of Ben Roethlisberger to suspension, and after Sunday's dominating defensive performance against Chris Johnson and the Titans, Pittsburgh has gotten my attention. The Steelers held Johnson to just 34 yards on 16 carries, picked off three passes, and had 4 sacks in a 19-11 victory to put them at 2-0 to start the season.

5. Vince Young - Young got worked over by the Steelers, and was benched in favor of Kerry Collins. Could this possibly be a repeat of the VY breakdown we saw back in 2007? We will have to wait and see.

4. Brett Favre - not only did he look old in the Vikings loss to the Dolphins on Sunday, but he looked disinterested. Favre threw three picks and had a costly fumble in the end zone that resulted in an easy six for the Dolphins.

3. Chris Johnson - Johnson carried the ball 16 times for just 34 yards against the Steelers. CJ is the offensive catalyst for this Titans squad, and if he's not going, the team doesn't either.

2. Reggie Bush - Bush is on this list not because of his performance, but because of his nasty looking knee injury. The Saints RB was helped off the field with 6:58 left in the game, and has been ruled out of action for at least the next six weeks.

1. The Dallas Cowboys - Most people's preseason favorite to reach the Superbowl lost to the Bears on Sunday 27-20, which puts them at 0-2 to begin the season. The offense looked terrible, the defense looked worse, and there are rumblings from certain members of the team, saying that the players got caught up in their own hype. This looks like a disaster waiting to happen in Dallas.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

NFL Week 2 Predictions

Tennessee over Pittsburgh: 21-17
Minnesota over Miami: 31-14
Atlanta over Arizona: 21-14
Baltimore over Cincinnati: 17-10
Kansas City over Cleveland: 14-9
Dallas over Chicago: 27-21
Philadelphia over Detroit: 21-7
Tampa Bay over Carolina: 14-7
Green Bay over Buffalo: 28-6
Denver over Seattle: 17-14
Oakland over St. Louis: 13-10
Houston over Washington: 24-17
New England over NY Jets: 28-21
San Diego over Jacksonville: 24-21
Indy over NY Giants: 31-24
New Orleans over SF: 28-17

This will be a new feature of Five Tool Sports, I will pick each game every week (besides week one) and keep track of my wins and losses. Also, I will give you guys an update of how my fantasy team is doing each and every week, besides week one of course, because Mike Sims Walker and Shonn Greene decided not to show up. So, from here on out, expect this on Sundays!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Skateboard Street League

As I was flipping through the channels on my 56" Samsung flat screen last night, I came upon something that I had heard about a few weeks prior, the Skateboard Street League. I remember hearing it once on Rob Dyrdek's MTV show 'Fantasy Factory' and again through email from a friend. I actually attempted to score some press passes to one of the events, but unfortunately, I never heard back. Although I was still a bit perturbed from being snubbed for press passes, I decided to watch; I mean, it was either that, or my sixth repeat of SportsCenter.

So, I was expecting to hear some random, confused announcer, attempting to use skateboarding terminology, but sounding extremely ignorant. To my surprise, Dyrdek himself, along with friend and fellow pro-skater Steve Berra, were each giving play-by-play and color commentary. It seemed as if they were right at home. Both Dyrdek and Berra were giving great explanations of what was taking place, how the scoring worked, why certain tricks were harder than the others and even giving background on each skater. Having the right people conveying information to the audience shows me that Dyrdek put a lot of deep thought and hard work into the Skateboard Street League.

Again, I was expecting the scoring and overall idea to be a little complicated to follow, but once I caught on (took about 2 minutes) it was very easy to follow, and it made a lot of sense. Let me break everything down for you:

Seven of the best skateboarders on Earth:
Nyjah Huston
Torey Pudwill
Paul Rodriguez
Shane O'neill
Sean Malto
Chaz Ortiz
Chris Cole

Four Sections:
1. Creative
2. Line
3. Technical
4. Big

In each section, every skater gets seven runs. Each run is given a score on a 1-10 scale, 10's are very hard to come by, as the highest score I saw from the competition in Phoenix was a seven. Each score is added together and that is the skaters score for that section. The score's from each section are then added together, and a winner is crowned.

Another thing I liked was the scoring bar located on the bottom of the screen, it allows the viewer to see which skater is up, how many points they are behind first place, and the score that they get for each trick. I've been out if the skateboard game since about 8th grade, when I realized that I wasn't any good, so I actually didn't know a few of these skaters (Sean Malto, Chris Cole, Chaz Ortiz). Leave it to Dyrdek to have the perfect solution to my problem. Throughout the competition, there are athlete profiles, where the skater himself gives you some background on where they came from and how they got to where they are today. It's the perfect way to help get a person on the fence to buy into the Skateboard Street League.

This competition is not just for fun either, there is a lot at stake, $150,000 to be exact. The fact that there are pretty hefty cash prizes for first and second place make this competition REAL. You can watch as the competitors strategize before taking their next run. They know their score, they know what they have to get to take the lead, or they know what kind of trick is needed to keep the lead, it's great to watch.

As Dyrdek stresses throughout the competition, the key is consistency. If you land every trick, you win, plain and simple. But it's not so simple, because skateboarding is difficult. I have the highest respect for anyone who can pull of the kind of insane tricks that these seven skaters were doing throughout the competition, it was absolutely amazing. The Skateboard Street League allows these guys a platform to perform their skill for people who may have never seen it live.

The part about this thing that struck me the most is Rob Dyrdek's sheer brilliance. First of all, the idea of having a Skateboard Street League is pure genius, never done before. Second, to have his other brands being advertised during the commercial breaks, DC and his kids toys the Wild Grinders, he's knocking out three birds with one stone. Lastly, Dyrdek is giving back to his true passion in life, skateboarding.

Dyrdek's success is unmatched in the skateboard world, and maybe even the world of entertainment. From DC to Rob and Big, Fantasy Factory, Wild Grinders, and now the Skateboard Street League, it's like everything Dyrdek touches turns to gold. I was intrigued by the idea, and now I am hooked, I think everyone should take time to sit down and watch this event, it's the future of skateboarding.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Best and Worst from Week 1 in the NFL

It was a very interesting opening week in the NFL, to say the least. A lot of good things happened, Arian Foster, the Houston Texans RB had a coming out party at the expense of the Colts. A lot of bad things happened as well, Bob Sanders, the Colts star DB is out indefinitely with a torn biceps muscle. So with no further delay, here are the five best and worst happenings from week 1 in the NFL.


5. Redskins beat the Cowboys in a battle of division rivals on Sunday Night Football.
Washington dominated the game on defense, and had a good controlled flow on offense in Donovan McNabb's Redskins debut.

4. Cheifs beat the Chargers in another battle of division rivals on Monday Night Football.
The Cheifs were counted out by almost everyone in their season previews (including myself). Kansas City gutted out an ugly win over the highly favored Chargers, and gave their rabid fans something to look forward to for the rest of the season.

3. Chris Johnson picks up where he left off.
Johnson showed no signs of slowing down in his first game of 2010. He carried the ball 27 times for 142 yards and 2 TD's in a win over the Raiders.

2. Ray Lewis lays out Dustin Keller.
If any of you watched the Ravens/Jets game on Monday night, you know what I'm talking about. If you didn't, youtube it, now.

1. Arian Foster arrives in a big way.
Arian Foster single handedly downed the Colts with his ridiculous performance on Sunday. Foster carried the ball 33 times for 231 yards and scored 3 TD's.


5. Chargers lose to Cheifs.
San Diego look abysmal in their Monday Night Football loss to the Chiefs. The Chargers offense desperately missed both LaDanian Tomlinson and Vincent Jackson, and their defense looked anemic.

4. Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to division rival Washington, and the guy crowned to replace him looks horrendous. Kevin Kolb only attempted 10 passes, connecting on 5 of them for 24 yards before leaving the game due to a concussion. Another terrible judgement call was allowing LB Stewart Bradley to re-enter the game after suffering a very ugly looking head or neck injury which caused him to have trouble getting off the turf, and led to him stumbling and falling back to the ground.

3. 49ers get pummeled by Seahawks.
Maybe all the preseason love given to the Niners went to their head. San Francisco got shellacked by the Seahawks 31-6 on Sunday. Quarterback Alex Smith looked terrible, as did RB Frank Gore. The Niners defense couldn't stop a lackluster Seattle offense led by over the hill QB Matt Hasselbeck.

2. Tony Romo and Tashard Choice to end the first half.
Either take a knee or throw a hail Mary. No, Romo decided to throw a shovel pass to Tashard Choice, and Choice actually thought he could make a play out of it! Well, he got stripped of the ball by DeAngelo Hall and gave the Redskins six points, wonder how much the 'skins paid him for it.

1. Shonn Greene.
The Jets allowed RB Thomas Jones to walk after the most productive season of his career in favor of Greene, and how did he repay them? Five carries for 18 yards and 1 catch for 9 yards, oh yea, he fumbled twice and lost one of them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

NFC East Preview and Predictions

1. Dallas Cowboys - 11-5
I really like the Cowboys offense, but their schedule is extremely difficult. We all know that QB Tony Romo can produce at a very high level, but his problem is performing under pressure. The past few seasons, Romo has choked on the biggest of stages. That being said, numbers don't lie, since becoming a starter in 2006, Romo has thrown for over 4,000 yards twice and 107 total TD's. I look for Romo to have another huge regular season in 2010. The running game in Dallas is definitely a strength, they have a nice combo of backs with Felix Jones and Marion Barber. Barber brings the traditional smash mouth running style, while Jones changes the pace and likes to break to the outside with his quickness. Miles Austin has emerged as a fantastic receiver that Romo loves to target, in 2009, Austin broke onto the scene with 1,320 receiving yards and 11 TD's. His counterpart, Roy Williams, hasn't lived up to the expectations he set for himself in Dallas, in fact, Williams has created nothing but problems since coming over from Detroit. I expect rookie receiver Dez Bryant to fill in where Williams doesn't, and have a nice year. Tight End Jason Witten is one of the best at the position, and every football fan knows he and Tony Romo have a great relationship.
The Cowboys have a really good front three with Igor Olshansky, Jay Ratliff, and Marcus Spears. Ratliff will be the anchor on the D-Line, he had a nice season last year with 6 sacks. Their linebacking core is very talented, and it consists of DeMarcus Ware, Bradie James, Keith Brooking and Anthony Spencer. DeMarcus Ware leads this defense, since coming into the league in 2005, Ware has accumulated 64.5 sacks. Don't sleep on then other three guys, though, because they are all savvy veterans and solid defensive players. The Cowboys secondary is led by CB Terrance Newman, but safeties Gerald Sensabaugh and Alan Ball can cause serious problems for opposing offenses. Third year CB Mike Jenkins had five interceptions last season, I'm looking for him to build on that performance.

2. Washington Redskins - 10-6
Not only have the Redskins bulked up on the field, they bolstered their coaching staff as well. They acquired veteran QB Donovan McNabb from division rival Philadelphia, and they signed veteran WR Joey Galloway to take some of the pressure off of fellow WR Santana Moss. Everyone knows the type of impact that McNabb can have on the field, but the impact off the field could be more important. McNabb brings the stability at the most important offensive position that the 'skins haven't had in quite some time. Maybe the most important signing the Redskins made in the off season was head coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan is best known from his very successful tenure in Denver, and a lot of people are excited about what he can bring to Washington. Clinton Portis is the starting RB in Washington, and if he can stay healthy, we can all expect big things. If Portis does lose time due to injury, backup RB Larry Johnson will step in and see if he can recapture the success he had with Kansas City. McNabb will have three solid receivers to use at will, Santana Moss is a guy who can beat you both short and deep, Joey Galloway always has very productive seasons, and Chris Cooley is as sure handed as they come.
The front three may be the only question on this Redskins defense. We've all heard about the problems between Shanahan and Albert Haynesworth throughout the preseason, and if they can work through the disagreements, the 'skins defensive unit will be complete. I love the linebacking unit that Washington has put together, London Fletcher, Andre Carter, and Rocky McIntosh are all veterans who can teach rookie LB Brian Orakpo how to be a successful NFL linebacker. I think the biggest strength on this Washington defense is their secondary, LaRon Landry, DeAngelo Hall, Phillip Buchannon, and Carlos Rogers are all experienced veterans who can make big plays when needed.

3. NY Giants - 9-7
Eli Manning is back, and so are his extremely awkward interviews. Manning, since becoming a starter in 2005, has thrown for at least 21 TD's and 3,200 yards in each season, including his first 4,000 yard performance in 2009. Although Manning is a different cast of receivers this year, I don't expect any drop in his performance. The Giants receivers are an interesting cast of characters, someone has to step up to be the number one guy, and all the talk is about Steve Smith. Smith emerged as Eli Manning's favorite target in 2009, he caught 107 passes for 1,220 yards and 7 TD's, all being career highs. Smith may be the decided number one receiver, but WR Hakeem Nicks, a second year guy out of North Carolina, has the size and skill to be a great NFL wideout. Brandon Jacobs will again be the mainstay in the back field for the Giants. Last season, Jacobs production fell dramatically compared to the 2007 and 2008 seasons due in part to injury. As I watched Jacobs throughout the 2009 season, it doesn't look like he is running as hard as he did in the past. I doubt that Jacobs will have another 1,000 yard season in 2010. Look for Ahmad Bradshaw to have a much more productive season than Jacobs.
When healthy, the Giants defense is one of the best in the league. The front four of Justin Tuck, Barry Cofield, Chris Canty and Osi Umenyiora are very versatile and can cause huge problems to any offensive line. The linebacking group is young, Michael Boley is the only starter who has more than five years under his belt at the NFL level. The Giants signed veteran linebacker Keith Bulluck in the off season, look for him to steal some time from the youngsters. I really like the Giants secondary, CB's Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas combined for six interceptions in 2009. The Giants signed made a huge upgrade to their secondary by signing safety Antrel Rolle in the off season, look for Rolle to have a huge 2010 season.

4. Philadelphia Eagles - 6-10
The Eagles traded former franchise QB Donovan McNabb to division rival Washington, thus ushering in the Kevin Kolb era. The people in Philadelphia must know something about Kolb that we don't. I've watched Kolb throughout the preseason, but I have seen nothing to justify shipping out McNabb in favor of him. It should be very interesting watching how Kolb develops throughout the season. If I were Andy Reid, I'd take a long look at making Michael Vick the starting QB. The running back position is another question mark on the Eagles offense, second year guy LeSean McCoy will take the reign from Brian Westbrook who departed for San Francisco. In 2009, McCoy rushed the ball 155 times, for 637 yards and 4 TD's. I like the Eagles receivers, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek should all help make Kolb's transition to starting NFL QB much easier.
The Eagles defense is not as feared as it has been in the past. Trent Cole will lead the front four, while rookie Brandon Graham is looking to make a huge impact in his first NFL season. LInebacker Stewart Bradley will lead this unit, he had a big year in 2009 with 108 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception. The secondary is the bright spot of this defense, Asante Samuels, Ellis Hobbs, Quintin Mikell and Nate Allen are all very experienced, and very good defensive players. This may be sort of a " rebuilding" year for the Eagles.

Friday, September 10, 2010

NFC North Preview and Predictions

1. Green Bay Packers - 12-4
I really like the Packers team as a whole this year, and we'll start with the offense. Aaron Rodgers has grown and developed into one of the best QB's in the league. In 2009 he set career highs in passing yards (4,434), completions (350), and TD's (30). Rodgers also has some decent legs on him, he had five rushing touchdowns in 2009. Green Bay has kept all the weapons that Rodgers used to have such a productive 2009 campaign, I only see him getting better. Running Back Ryan Grant is coming into his third full season as the starter, and in each of the past two seasons, Grant has broken the 1,000 yard mark on the ground. Last season he set career highs with 1,253 rushing yards and 11 TD's. With another year of experience under his belt, I expect more production out of Grant in 2010. The Packers receivers are a mix of old reliable (Donald Driver), the young dynamic guy (Greg Jennings), and the quick slot receiver (Jordy Nelson). Jennings has emerged as not only the Packers number one option, but he's also a top 5 receiver in the NFL. Jennings has had back to back seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving.
Green Bay lost Aaron Kampman in the off season, but their defense still has the chance to be extremely dangerous. The Defensive Line Is led by Cullen Jenkins, but look for second year Nose Tackle B.J. Raji to have a huge year in his first as a starter. The core of Linebackers is the biggest strength of this defensive unit. A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews, Nick Barnett and Brad Jones form one of the most feared LB units in the NFL. In 2009, Matthews has 10 sacks on his own (a Packers rookie record) and the LB unit as a whole had 19 sacks. Green Bay's secondary is led by six time Pro-Bowl CB Charles Woodson. In 2009, Woodson had 9 interceptions and 2 sacks, and was nearly matched by FS Nick Collins who had 6 interceptions and 1 sack.

2. Minnesota Vikings - 11-5
Favre is back, but Sidney Rice is out. Favre's favorite target from a year ago is out indefinitely after having hip surgery. Favre will be Favre, there is no need to go through stats, because we already know how good Brett can be. Running Back Adrian Peterson also needs no introduction, he alongside RB Chris Johnson, are fighting for the title of best back in the league. Second year receiver Percy Harvin and deep threat Bernard Berrian are gonna have to step up in Rice's absence, but the migranes Harvin battled all through training camp have to be a cause for concern in Minnesota. Favre always seems to have a good relationship with his Tight End's, so look for him to be targeting TE Visanthe Shiancoe a lot more often.
The Vikings also have a very good defense. The front four of Jared Allen, Ray Edwards, and Pat and Kevin Williams has to be considered one of the best in the NFL. The Linebackers are also solid, Chad Greenway, Ben Leber and E.J. Henderson can all produce at high levels. The secondary is lead by veteran CB Antoine Winfield, but second year CB out of Georgia Asher Allen is primed for a great season in 2010.

Chicago Bears - 6-10
Quarterback Jay Cutler struggled in his first season with the Bears, but Cutler can stil throw the ball with the best of 'em. Cutler has one of the biggest arms in the NFL and I look for him to have a better season in 2010. Unfortunately for Cutler, the Bears haven't put together a dangerous core of receivers. Both of his top pass catchers, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, are Kick Returners turned into Wide Receivers, which doesn't really make sense to me. I am very surprised the Bears didn't make a deal for WR Brandon Marshall, given all the success he and Cutler had during their time in Denver. Running Back Matt Forte is an all-purpose back, he can run the ball like a traditional one, but he is also a very good receiver out of the back field. Forte had a down year in 2009, but I expect good things out of him in 2010. Also, look for WR Devin Aromashodu to emerge as Cutler's favorite target.
On paper, the Bears defense looks just plain scary. Tommie Harris and Julius Peppers are leading the front front four, and those two guys combined in 2009 had 13 sacks. The Linebackers are led by Chicago Linebacking staple Brian Urlacher, whose season was cut short in 2009 due to injury. Urlacher, along with Pisa Tinoisamoa and Lance Briggs create a very formidable group of LB's that should have great success in 2010. The secondary is a combo of really good players. Third year CB Zachary Bowman had six interceptions in 2009, and veterans Danieal Manning and Charles Tillman are always very dangerous.

4. Detroit Lions - 2-14
Quarterback Matthew Stafford is coming into his second year in the NFL, and this one won't get any better than the first one. Stafford had a pretty decent year in 2009, considering the lack of talent the Lions front office put around him. In ten games, Stafford threw for 2,267 yards, 13 TD's and 20 interceptions. I think Stafford himself will have a better year, but the Lions schedule is very difficult and it will be tough to come across wins. Detroit used a first round pick on RB out of Cal Jahvid Best, and by the looks of it, Best will be the starting back in week one. It is very important for a QB to feel comfortable with his RB, and hopefully Stafford can feel comfortable with a rookie in his back field. The Lions receivers are actually pretty good, fourth year man Calvin Johnson has proven to be a legit number one receiver, and Nate Burleson is a nice compliment on the other side.
The guy to watch on defense will be rookie DT Ndamukong Suh. The Lions used the second overall pick in 2010 on Suh and are expecting a lot of good things. Veteran DE Kyle Vanden Bosch enters his first season with the Lions and Detroit will be counting on him to be a defensive leader. Linebacker Julian Peterson will anchor the linebacking unit, he brings a lot of experience and stability. The secondary is a cause for concern, CB's Chris Houston and Johnathon Wade are both entering 2010 as first time starters. Safety C.C. Brown has some experience, but hasn't been a starter in two years, and second year Safety Louis Delmas has unlimited talent and athleticism, but he does tend to make a lot of questionable decisions.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

NFC South Preview and Predictions

1. New Orleans Sants - 13-3
The Super Bowl XLIV champs return their basically their entire offense in 2010. Drew Brees is one of the best QB's in the league, if not the best. Last season, Brees threw for nearly 4,400 yards and connected on 34 TD's, I don't doubt that Brees can best that performance in 2009. Running Back Pierre Thomas provides the tough, hit you in the mouth running style, while RB Reggie Bush brings dynamic play making ability both in the running and passing game. The Saints have four solid Wide Receivers in Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore. All four of those guys have the ability to produce at very high levels. Tight End Jeremey Shockey also gives Brees a huge target when all else fails. Drew Brees has unlimited options on offense, and they will be one of the top 3 offenses in the NFL.
The defense took a tough hit when Free Safety Darren Sharper was place on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which will cause him to miss the first six weeks of the 2010 season. The Saints do have a very good defense, despite the loss of Sharper. Linebackers Johnathon Vilma and Scott Shanle combined for 5 interceptions in 2009, they also signed veteran LB Danny Clark in the off season. New Orleans' secondary will be able to hold their own while Sharper is out, CB's Randall Gay and Jabari Greer both have the ability to be lockdown defenders, and fifth year safety Roman Harper has broke onto the scene as one of the best in the league. Defensive End Will Smith had 13 sacks last season, so look for him to have another huge year in 2010.

2. Atlanta Falcons - 10-6
The Falcons have three very good pieces to make their offense a very productive one. Quarterback Matt Ryan has developed into a solid NFL player, in 14 games last season, Ryan threw for 2,916 yards and connected on 22 TD's. I expect Ryan's numbers to be much better this season, as RB Michael Turner and WR Roddy White are healthy coming into 2010. Michael Turner is one of the most explosive backs in the NFL. His 2009 season was dampened with injuries, so I fully expect him to return to 2008 form when he rushed for 1,700 yards and 17 TD's. Like Turner, WR Roddy White battled injuries all through 2010. Despite all the nagging injuries, White started all 16 games and put up good numbers, 1,153 receiving yards and 11 TD's. I expect White to have many more receiving yards this season and about the same amount of TD's. Look for Ryan to take comfort in having TE Tony Gonzalez as someone he knows he can count on to get first downs.
For all the good players on offense, the Falcons defense cannot be talked about in the same light. John Abraham will lead the Defensive Line, and LB Curtis Lofton will try and teach rookie LB Sean Weatherspoon how to be an effective NFL defender. Atlanta gave a big free agent contract to CB Dunta Robinson in the off season, they're hoping he can provide another defensive stopper on the opposite side of Brent Grimes who had 6 interceptions in 2009.

3. Carolina Panthers - 5-11
The Panthers have good pieces on offense, but QB Matt Moore is gonna have to lead this team, and I don't know if he can. Moore is coming into his first year as a full time starter, and the Panthers haven't shown the utmost confidence in him; they used two 2010 draft picks on young QB's Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike. Wide Receiver Steve Smith is coming into 2010 healthy and is looking to have another season like the one he had in 2005 in which he had 1,563 receiving yards and 12 TD's. The Panthers have one of the best back field's in the NFL with the combination of DeAngelo Williams and Johnathon Stewart. Williams and Stewart combined for 2,250 rushing yards and 17 TD's in 2009.
The Panthers lost DE Julius Peppers in the off season, and it will be difficult to replace him. Defensive End's Tyler Brayton and Charles Johnson will help make the loss of Peppers sting a little less. Linebacker Jon Beason will be the only guy who was a full time starter at the position in 2009. Cornerbacks Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall are both very good players and combined for 8 interceptions last season. Safeties Sherrod Martin and Charles Godfrey are young, energetic players who definitely have playmaking ability.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 3-13
The Bucs easily have the best team website I have come across through this process, but they don't have a good team, and that is what matters. Second year QB Josh Freeman will be the starter, and I don't have much confidence in him, especially with the lack of weapons around him. Running Back Carnell "Cadillac" Willams has been broken down like the three Caddies my next door neighbor has rotting in her backyard. The number one Wide Receiver listed on the depth chart is rookie Mike Williams out of Syracuse, the Bucs are hoping he doesn't turn out like Pete Carroll's first reunion piece in Seattle. Tight End Kellen Winslow is an accident waiting to happen.
Tampa Bay's defense used to strike fear in the heart's of opponents, but not so much anymore. Some of the players from those great defensive teams still remain, Ronde Barber and Barrett Ruud, but defensive leader Derrick Brooks opted to retire. The Bucs used a first round pick on Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy out of Oklahoma, so look for him to get a lot of run. The Bucs secondary is quite dangerous with Aqib Talib, Ronde Barber and Tanard Jackson patrolling the area. Defense is not the problem in Tampa, the offense is.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

NFC West Preview and Predictions

1. San Francisco 49ers - 10-6
Former top overall pick, Quarterback Alex Smith played his way into another shot to the the starter in San Francisco. In his first few seasons, Smith could not live up to the expectations of being a franchise QB. In his first three seasons as a starter, Smith threw 19 TD's and 31 interceptions, that's not the output a team wants from a player they build their franchise around. Midway through the 2007 season, Smith was benched, and he didn't play at all in 2008. Last season, however, Smith got a second chance, and he took advantage of it. In 10 starts in 2009, Smith threw for 18 TD's, 12 interceptions and 2,350 yards. That career best 10 game stretch that Smith put together solidified him as the starting QB in the 2010 season. The 49ers have quietly put together a good offense around Smith. Frank Gore is one of the best RB's in the NFL and TE Vernon Davis has tremendous speed and skill at his position. The only question mark I see with this offense is at the Wide Receiver position. Michael Crabtree has yet to prove himself as a NFL wide out, but he does have the ability. Ted Ginn Jr. came over from Miami in the offseason, and he fits in as a slot receiver that Smith can count on to make sure handed catches. Overall, if Alex Smith can keep it together for an entire season, I like the 49ers offense.
The defense in San Francisco is nothing to sleep on. They have one of the NFL's best group of Linebackers with Patrick Willis, Takeo Spikes, Parys Haralson and Manny Lawson. In 2009, those four guys combined for 19.5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. The Niners also have a lockdown Cornerback in Nate Clements, and another Cornerback who is primed for a huge year in Shawntae Spencer. San Francisco is gonna benefit greatly from the departure Kurt Warner.

2. Arizona Cardinals - 6-10
I think the Cards will quickly get over the break up with Matt Leinart, but with Kurt Warner gone, the starting QB job has been handed over to Derek Anderson. Some of you may remember the one taste of success that Anderson had with the Browns back in 2007 when he threw for 29 TD's and nearly 3,800 yards, the Cardinals hope that Anderson can come up with another season just like that in 2010. There are plenty of guys on the Cardinals offense that can help Anderson achieve success in 2010, WR Larry Fitzgerald is easily a top five wide out in the league, Steve Breaston is a good slot receiver, and the combo of Tim Hightower and Chris " Beanie" Wells in the back field can be very effective. It's up to Anderson to keep the offense on track.
Arizona's defense took a huge blow when LB Karlos Dansby left for Miami, but the Cards defense should still be feared a bit. Defensive Tackles Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell each had 7 sacks in 2009, and the Linebacking core led by veterans Joey Porter and Clark Haggans has the chance to be very dangerous. Arizona's secondary is also very dangerous, starting with CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who had 6 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles in 2009. Safeties Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson combined for 8 interceptions last season.

3. Seattle Seahawks - 4-12
First year Coach Pete Carroll has his work cut out for him. Many were surprised that he left his lofty position as Head Coach at USC, but soon realized that Carroll was escaping NCAA sanctions for recruiting violations. Carroll inherits a Seahawks team that is not exactly a well rounded team, especially on offense. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is still a serviceable player, when he is healthy, and staying healthy has been his biggest problem over the last few seasons. Seattle will start third year RB Justin Forsett who had a very productive 2009 season despite limited action. Forsett ran the ball only. 114 times but gained 619 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and scored 4 TD's. Carroll surprisingly cut WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who was the Seahawks best receiver only a year ago. What was even more shocking was that Carroll cut him in favor of former USC WR and draft bust Mike Williams. Williams was drafted 10th overall in 2005 by the Detroit Lions, but never lived up to the high expectations. Carroll must be trying to get back the USC glory days.
The weakness of the Seahawks defense is their Defensive Line, their front four only combined for 4.5 sacks in 2009. The Linebackers are led by sixth year man Lofa Tatupu, but second year LB Aaron Curry will be the anchor of this defensive unit. Seattle's secondary is mixed with experience, Marcus Trufant and Lawyer Milloy, and inexperience with rookie DB out of Texas, Earl Thomas. Thomas will learn a lot from Trufant and Milloy this season, let's just hope he's listening.

4. St. Louis Rams - 3-13
The Rams are in rebuilding mode, and Sam Bradford is not a bad way to start the process. I can't give many stats on Bradford because college football doesn't come close to the NFL, but the Rams didn't make him the first overall pick in 2010 for no reason. Like any rookie, Bradford will have some major growing pains. I think he has the skill and maturity to handle the rough times with an open mind and work through them properly. Bradford will eventually be a good QB in the NFL, but 2010 will be a true test of will. Running Back Steven Jackson will provide Bradford with someone who can bail him out. Not only is Jackson a fantastic runner, but in my view, he is the best receiving RB in the NFL. Bradford can find a lot of peace in handing or throwing the ball to the ultra talented Steven Jackson. The Rams receivers will not provide Bradford with the same sense of peace, however, their inexperience may be detrimental to the development of the highly touted QB. Their number one WR Laurent Robinson's highest catch total in a season is only 37, I am extremely surprised that the Rams front office didn't make a move for a veteran receiver who could give Sam Bradford some stability.
The Rams defense has a couple of nice pieces with third year DE Chris Long, veteran LB Na'il Diggs, rookie LB James LaurinaitIs and Free Safety OshIomogho Atogwe. The good players this defense possesses will not make up for how many holes opposing offenses will be able to expose.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

AFC East Preview and Predictions

1. NY Jets - 12-4

Second year QB Mark Sanchez showed flashes of both brilliance, and stupidity last year in his first NFL season, finishing it off with 12 TD's and 20 interceptions and nearly 2,500 passing yards. The experience as a full time NFL starter in his rookie season will prove to be invaluble. I have a feeling that "Sanchize" will cut down on the interceptions and have more confidence in himself going into the 2010 season. With the departure of RB Thomas Jones, second year man Shonn Greene out of Iowa will get the nod as the Jets starting RB. Greene saw limited time last season behind Jones, but when he got the ball, he did good things with it. In 14 games, Greene rushed the ball 108 times for 540 yards (5.0 yards per carry), and scored 2 touchdowns. The Jets brass is expecting big things out of Greene, as am I. Sanchez needs one of his recievers to step up and take the role of the go-to-guy, and that could be newly acquired Santonio Holmes. Holmes was acquired in the offseason from Pittsburgh after the Steelers heard of his four game suspension for violating the leagues' substance abuse policy. When Holmes is eligible to play, look for Sanchez to take comfort in having him on the field.

The Jets defense is extremely talented. Yesterday, the Green and White finally came to a contract agreement with All-Pro DB Darrell Revis after a long hold out. The defensive line is led by Shaun Ellis and Kris Jenkins, who cause a lot of trouble for opposing offensive lineman. Linebacker Bart Scott is a do everything guy, and brings the intensity and toughness he learned from Ray Lewis in Baltimore. The real strength on this defensive unit are the defensive backs, Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Jim Leonhard, Brodney Pool and rookie out of Boise State, Kyle Wilson are all lockdown defenders at their position. The Jets defense will be one of the top three defenses in the league, and will be the sole reason for at least three wins in 2010.

2. New England Patriots - 11-5

When healthy, Tom Brady is a top three QB in the NFL, and guess what, he's healthy. Brady has nearly the same exact offense from 2007 when he threw for almost 5,000 yards and connected on 50 touchdowns. I am expecting another Bradyesque season in 2010. I like the combo of Fred Taylor and Laurence Maroney in the back field. Taylor is a wiley veteran who still has a ton of ability, while Maroney has shown flashes of greatness in the past, but seems a bit disinterested at times. I think the Patriots front office brought in Taylor to teach Maroney what it takes to be a good player and teammate. From the moment Moss arrived on scene in New England, he and Brady were an unstoppable force. In 2007, Brady and Moss connected on 23 TD's (an NFL record) and we can expect these two to connect on 13 or more TD's this season. Wes Welker is one of the best slot/possession receivers in the league. In 2007, Welker had 112 receptions, tied with T.J. Houshmandzadeh for most in the NFL. The Patriots offense is very potent, and should emerge as one of the best in 2010.

The big question mark for the New England is their defense. They have a few bright spots with Vince Wilfork up front, Jerod Mayo leading the Linebackers, and Brandon Meriweather breaking through as a young, dynamic DB. As of now, rookie DB Devin McCourty out of Rutgers is listed as the starting right Cornerback, if he is high on Belichick's list, then he must be good. Much like the 2009 season, the Patriots secondary is very questionable and will be tested eary and often.

3. Miami Dolphins - 7-9

The Dolphins have made huge strides over the last couple of seasons. They now have a Quarterback who I like to describe as cool, calm and collected in Chad Henne. Henne didn't have a huge season in 2009, his first as an NFL starter, but he played better than most expected. Now, with one of the best receivers in the NFL on his side in Brandon Marshall, I expect Henne to nearly double his TD total from 2009. Speaking of Marshall, he gives the Dolphins the big time receiver that every NFL team covets. Miami also has a nice one-two punch in the back field with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Both of these guys, at one time, were successful full-time backs, but injuries and personal issues have resulted in a steady decline in ability. Look for the Dolphins offense to have a solid 2010 season, also look for LeBron James to be roaming the sidelines wearing Dallas Cowboy gear.
The Dolphins defense, like a lot of others in the league, has some bright spots, but more holes. They start two rookies at key positions, Jared Odrick at Defensive End and Koa Misi at Linebacker. Miami does have a couple of supremely talented veterans to show Misi the ropes at the position, Channing Crowder and Karlos Dansby. The Dolphins secondary has two very good players in second year Cornerback Vontae Davis and veteran Strong Safety Yeremiah Bell who spend a lot of their time making up for other peoples missed assignments. Miami may nit be a playoff team this year, but watch out for them a couple years down the road.

4. Buffalo Bills - 3-13
The Bills, like the Browns and the Raiders, are a complete mess. They attempted the T.O. experiment in 2009 to no avail, now they are left with only one wideout who has proven he can produce, Lee Evans. Quarterback Trent Edwards was ready for a breakout 2009 season, but injuries last year prevented him from getting comfortable with new Head Coach Chan Gailey and getting in rhythm with WR Terrell Owens. The Bills used the 9th overall pick in the 2010 draft on an explosive RB out of Clemson, C.J. Spiller. In drafting Spiller, however, it creates a logjam at the Running Back position, with Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson also vying for carries. Look for the Bills to try and trade one of their three backs for another threat in the passing game.
Buffalo's defense is in shambles. They have a bunch of mismatched parts thrown onto the field together. I'm hoping they give rookie Linebacker Aaron Maybin out of Penn State a lot of run this season. Bills Defensive Coordinator George Edwards has his work cut out for him this season.

Monday, September 6, 2010

AFC North Preview and Predictions

1. Baltimore Ravens - 11-5
In the past, the Ravens have been feared for only their defense, now, their offense has joined the party. Third year QB Joe Flacco has blossomed at the position, and is primed for a huge season. Dynamic second year RB Ray Rice reminds me a lot of Maurice Jones-Drew down in Jacksonville, and will now be the featured back in a very potent offense, look for Rice to have a huge season. The acquisition of Anquan Boldin in the offseason gives Flacco another threat alongside veteran WR Derrick Mason. Also, look for WR Donte Stallworth to spread the field with a lot of targets deep down field.
The Ravens defense is still one of the most feared in the league, thanks to veteran LB's Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. Although CB Dominique Foxworth is out with an injury, the Ravens core of DB's can still be considered one of the best in the league. Guys like All-Pro Safety Ed Reed, CB Fabian Washington, CB Chris Carr, and Strong Safety Dawan Landry make it very tough on opposing teams ariel attacks.

2. Cincinnati Bengals - 9-7
I'm banking on Ochocinco and T.O. NOT turning this team into a reality show, but I can't guarantee it. If "Team Obliterator" (compliments of ESPN First Take analyst Skip Bayless) can keep quiet for an entire season, the Bengals have a chance to be very dangerous. Not only do they have a couple of top notch receivers, they have a good QB in Carson Palmer and a resurgent RB in Cedric Benson at their disposal. Benson had a breakout season in 2009, setting career highs in carries (301), rushing yards (1,251), and TD's (6), now with more attention being paid to Ochocinco and T.O., look for Benson to build on those numbers.
Cincinnati has put together a very nice defensive unit. When looked at one by one, it is very tough to find a glaring weakness. The real strength is their Linebacking core of Rey Maluga, Keith Rivers and Dhani Jones. Look for Right Defensive End Antwan Odom to have a massive season in 2010; in 2009, Odom was on a record setting sack pace with 8 through the first six games, unfortunately, his season was derailed by a ruptured achilles.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers - 8-8
With two-time Super Bowl winning QB Ben Roethlisberger suspended for the first four games of the season, the Steelers will find themselves in a deep hole by the time he comes back in week 6 against the Browns. It has not been decided who will start the season at QB in the Steel City, but it's between former Oregon star Dennis Dixon and veteran Charlie Batch. As of today, on the official website of the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is no QB listed on their depth chart. One positive to start the season is the emergence of third year RB Rashard Mendenhall as a full-time back. Mendenhall was one of many RB's to have a breakout 2009 season, setting career highs in carries (242), rushing yards (1,108) and TD's (7). With Roethlisberger sidelined for the first four games, Mendenhall should see a ton of carries.
The Steelers field one of the best and most intimidating defense in the league along with the Ravens. Nose Tackle Casey Hampton Is a force on the Defensive Line, and it allows the Linebacking core of LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior to blitz and attack at will. Strong Safety Troy Polamalu is coming of a disappointing, injury plagued 2009 season, so look for him to make up for lost time.

4. Cleveland Browns - 2-14
The Browns are a mess. I think the front office of the Browns are still mourning the loss of LeBron James, and forgot that they have an NFL team to run. They traded QB Brady Quinn to the Broncons, and chose QB Jake Delhomme, a guy who is far past his prime, to lead this "offense". Not only did they sign a QB who has thrown 30 interceptions in the last two seasons, they gave him no one to throw to. The one bright spot could be RB Jerome Harisson who should see a ton of carries this season.
The Browns don't even have a defensive depth chart to refer to. That must mean that they don't plan on playing defense this year, not a surprise to me.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

AFC South Preview and Predictions

1. Indianapolis Colts - 13-3
You can always count on the Colts to have one of the best offenses in the league, and they may have the best in 2010. Peyton Manning is getting better with age, and he has a full stable of thoroughbred receives to throw to: Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez will all get a ton of targets this season. If there is any question mark in the Colts offense, it lies upon the shoulders of RB Joseph Addai. Addai made a splash in his first two years as a Colt, rushing for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. In his third and fourth seasons, however, Addai has failed to break 1,000 yards, mostly due to a reduction in the amount of carries he was given.
The Colts defense is good, but it's never at full strength. Defensive Back Bob Sanders is usually the one who is injured, but if it's not him, it's Dwight Freeny or Robert Mathis. The Colts defense comes in at full strength to start the 2010 season, and if they can remain injury free, look for them to be one of the best defenses in the NFL.

2. Tennessee Titans - 12-4
The Vince Young resurgence will be tested for a full season in 2010, luckily, he has the best running back in the league to help him. Chris Johnson had a monster 2009 campaign, which led to a contract dispute at the beginning of training camp. The Titans brass worked out a new deal with Johnson, and he is set to try and build upon the greatness he achieved last season. The wide receivers are a big problem for the Titans, Nate Washington, Justin Gage, and Kenny Britt have never been go to receivers, and one of them is gonna have to step and take that role.
I like the Titans defense a lot, Middle Linebacker Stephen Tulloch is primed for another huge season, and veteran Linebacker Will Witherspoon was signed in the offseason to bring some stability and leadership on defense. The biggest strength for the Titans defense is their Defensjve Backs, Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin and Chris Hope combined for 9 interceptions last season, and Jason McCourty will play his first full season as a starting Cornerback.
The key to the Titans success will be Vince Young. Can he keep it together for an entire season and lead the Titans deep into the playoffs? It should be fun to watch

3. Houston Texans - 8-8
There is no question about how good the Texans offense is, Matt Schaub is now an elite NFL Quarterback, Andre Johnson is arguably the best Wide Recievers in the league. After a lackluster 2009 season from Steve Slaton, Houston has turned over the starting RB job to second year man out of The University of Tennessee, Arian Foster. Foster is a big, bruising back who has underrated speed and agility, Foster is also a good receiver out of the back field. Matt Schaub needs a secondary option to throw to, and that will be deep threat WR Kevin Walter. Walter was injured for most of last season, and didn't get to make much of an impact, but look for him to get a lot of deep targets this season.
The Texans have some good pieces on defense, but it's not one that will outright win you games. Mario Williams, Brian Cushing, DeMeco Ryans, and Kareem Jackson are all elite NFL defenders at their positions, but there are too many holes to consider Houston's defensive squad an elite one.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars - 5-11
Maurice Jones-Drew is easily considered as one of the top three RB's in the NFL, and rightfully so. In 2009, MJD rushed for nearly 1,400 yards and reached pay dirt 15 times. Look for MJD to build on those stats in 2010. Quarterback David Garrard is one of the most accurate passers in the league, but he is not one that can beat you with his arm. The receiving core is lead by 2009 breakout Mike Sims-Walker. Last season, MSW lead the Jags in receptions (63), receiving yards (869), and receiving TD's (7) on limited time. Jacksonville doesn't have much to offer for Garrard at the WR position past Mike Sims-Walker, so look for them to try and address that with some sort of trade this season.
The Jags defense is definitely not going to help win games. It's sort of a rag tag bunch of guys, but they made some progress by signing Defensive End Aaron Kampman away from Green Bay and Linebacker Kirk Morrisson away from Oakland.

Friday, September 3, 2010

AFC West Preview and Predictions

Five Tool Sports would like to take this opportunity to gladly welcome the start of the 2010 NFL season. Many sports fans have been struggling mightily with boring, pointless baseball in between the end of the NBA Finals and the much anticipated start of the new NFL season. FTS is going to give you a fresh, straight forward look into each division, starting with the AFC West:

Predicted Standings:

1. San Diego Chargers - 10-6
The Chargers come into 2010 sporting a new look, LT is 3,000 miles away in New York with the Jets and Vincent Jackson, who led the Bolts last season in receiving yards and receiving TD's, is in the middle of a contract holdout with no solution in sight. The Chargers will be able to play through the aforementioned situations, relying heavily on the arm of Phillip Rivers. Rivers finished last season throwing for over 4,000 yards, and connecting on 28 TD's while throwing only 9 interceptions. Look for Rivers to connect a lot with TE Antonio Gates, Gates is one of the most sure-handed receivers in the NFL. LT's replacement is rookie RB Ryan Matthews out of Fresno State. There are huge expectations for this guy, and if he can live up to them, look for the Chargers to make some noise in the playoffs.

2. Denver Broncos - 7-9
The Broncos benefit from having the Raiders and Chiefs in their division, but it still wont help them reach the playoffs this year. The departue of All-World receiver Brandon Marshall to Miami leaves a huge void for WR's Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal to fill. I like Kyle Orton, but not as a franchise Quarterback. Orton can definitely throw the football, but I think he needs a top tier receiver in order to be fully effective. If Orton struggles, Head Coach Josh McDaniels has a big decision on his hands, play Brady Quinn or the much scrutinized Tim Tebow. I hope, for the sake of the Broncos and all of Denver, Kyle Orton has a successful 2010 campaign. It seems that the Broncos always have a 1,000 yard rusher no matter who is in the back field, and this year it should be Knowshon Moreno's turn. Last season, Moreno carried the ball 247 times for 947 yards and 7 TD's. I'd like to see Moreno carry the ball almost 300 times this year to help open up the passing game. Denver's defense is always solid, but they took a huge hit when LInebacker Elvis Dumervil went down with a torn pectoral muscle. Sources say that there is a possibility Dumervil could miss the entire season.

3. Kansas City Cheifs - 4-12
After a disappointing 2009 season, QB Matt Cassel is coming into this season with something to prove. In his first year as a starting QB, Cassel was less than spectacular, throwing for less than 3,000 yards, while connecting for 16 TD's and throwing 16 interceptions. I'll give Cassel a break, however, because the offense was developing under first year head coach Todd Haley. The Chiefs made a lot of good moves with their coaching staff, bringing on Charlie Weiss to run the offense, and naming former NFL head coach Romeo Crennel as their defensive coordinator. I also like the Chiefs back field, Jamaal Charles was one of the top rushers in the second half last season, and the acquisition of Thomas Jones brings a hard-nosed running style that is perfect for goal line situations. Wide Receiver Dwayne Bowe has the skill to be one of the best in the game, the problem is getting him to stay healthy. The Chiefs defense is very suspect, but look for rookie DB Eric Berry to have an immediate impact, also, all-purpose rookie Dexter McCluster can make some noise on the offensive side of the ball.

4. Oakland Raiders - 3-13
Al Davis has some big expectations for his team, but I'm going to have to disagree. The Raiders definitely upgraded at the QB position with Jason Campbell, but anyone would be an upgrade from Jamarcus Russell. Campbell, like Kyle Orton, is a nice player, but not someone who is going to lead a team like the Raiders to the playoffs. Oakland's receiving core will lead the league in longest names with Johnnie Lee Higgins and Darrius Heyward-Bey, but that's about the only crown they will hold. The silver and black will feature two guys in the back field with Michael Bush and Darren McFadden. I'm not a fan of the "running back by committee" approach, there should be a feature back, and a goal line back, but neither Bush or McFadden can handle the feature back duties. The Raiders defense will be responsible for any wins that this team may get this season. With Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Rolando McClain and Nnamdi Asomugha lurking on defense, some good things are bound to happen.