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Fantasy Football Week 3 Waiver Wire Pickups

September 18, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Matt CasselThere are some intriguing names available on the waiver wire this week. The key word is intriguing because none of these players are going to turn your season around. However, there are some nice grab and stash options that could pay dividends later in the season.

These recommendations are based on non-PPR, 10 team leagues. I tried to stick with the average because you will have different priorities in different scoring systems. Most of these guys will be available in an 8-10 team league while you may have to dig a little deeper in 12-up team fantasy football leagues.

Keep in mind a few things with these waiver wire recommendations. Not all of these guys are players I’d recommend starting in your lineup this week or even next week. Some of these recommendations are based purely on Week 3 matchups. The idea here is to grab a player now in the early weeks of the fantasy season that you can hold on your bench and use when you are starters have bye weeks or when you have injury concerns.

Once again I encourage you to take a wait and see approach this week on the wire. Players in your league will have to drop someone in order to grab one of these flavors of the week. I picked up plenty of great players over the years whose owners gave up on them a week or two too early. You may be surprised at what kind of illogical moves fantasy players who are 0-2 will make in desperate times.

Quarterbacks

Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs – Matt Cassel! You probably think I am kidding you right? Nope! Cassel has had double digit games in the first two weeks and may be the best start of this coming week! Cassel and the Chiefs will get the New Orleans Saints, who may be the worst defense in the NFL. He has quietly put up nice numbers the last two weeks and will likely continue to do so throughout the season. He has some tough games in the upcoming weeks, but that matchup against the Saints is juicy enough for me to grab Cassel if I need to shake things up this week at QB.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals – Andy Dalton is one of those quarterbacks that fantasy players continue to overlook, yet he gets it done. He had a rough week in the opener but he was playing a division game against the Baltimore Ravens. On Sunday he put up more points in standard scoring leagues than Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, and Aaron Rodgers. He plays a Washington defense this week that have allowed over thirty points in each of their first two games. The Redskins are stingy on touchdowns but Dalton will get the yards if you need someone for this week and/or your bye weeks.

Running Backs

Andre Brown, New York Giants – Ahmad Bradshaw went down with his annual injury and it was Andre Brown, not David Wilson who came in and got the carries for the Giants. Brown got 13 carries and managed 71 yards, a touchdown, a two-point conversion, and a couple of receptions. The Giants have a short week and play a Carolina Panthers who gave up over 150 yards on the ground to the Saints on Sunday. My hunch is that Bradshaw doesn’t go on a short week. That makes Brown a fantastic pickup this week and going forward with Bradshaw’s injury history.

Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions – The Detroit running back is off suspension this week and is returning to work. Reports out of Detroit suggest that Leshoure will be the starting back before long in Detroit. The Lions want to establish a running game. So far they haven’t had much luck with Kevin Smith. You could grab the starting running back from one of the most explosive offenses in the league right off waivers this week.

Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams – Was Steven Jackson hurt or benched? According to reports it may be a little bit of both, although Jeff Fisher denies it. Richardson racked up 102 yards on Sunday but really hurt his chances moving forward with a late game fumble. Groin injuries are tough to recover from, especially for a running back. Even if Jackson plays, he is an older and brittle player. Keep in mind that the Rams play the Chicago Bears this week, so this wouldn’t be the week to get cute with your new waiver wire pickup if Richardson does get the start.

Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins - Miller is a grab and stash kind of player to me. Miller had a score and 65 yards last week and looked great with his 10 carries. Reggie Bush is the workhorse here but Bush is a very brittle player. Bush is a free agent next season so the Dolphins will run him until he breaks and chances are pretty good he will break. I know Daniel Thomas is ahead of him on the depth chart, but Miller was drafted by this new regime. He is there guy. If the Dolphins are out of it or Bush gets hurt, Miller could be a sneaky play down the stretch in the playoffs.

Wide Receivers

Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams – Amendola is the man in St. Louis and is probably available on your waiver wire. Amendola got a whopping 16 targets on Sunday and has developed some nice chemistry with Sam Bradford. He is what many are calling a “poor man’s Wes Welker”, although he has greatly out-produced Welker thus far. A lot of teams are going to be sleeping on the Rams and they will be putting up points all season. Keep in mind that the Rams play the Bears this week so you may want to wait a week before you start him. Otherwise, grab him now while you still can!

Donnie Avery, Indianapolis Colts – Savvy fantasy football experts have called Avery a sleeper play over the next two weeks. Avery has now produced in back to back weeks. Granted, this could change when Austin Collie comes back but so far I like what I am seeing. Avery led the team with 11 targets Sunday and has some big potential moving forward with Andrew Luck. He is certainly worth a grab if you have room or need some wide receiver help.

Tight Ends

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings – I am really surprised that Rudolph is still on most waiver wires. He continues to be the leader among targets for Christian Ponder in Minnesota. Rudolph had a TD this past week and will probably have many more in the near future. I certainly wouldn’t play him against San Francisco this week, but he has Detroit and Tennessee the following weeks in games which could bring him back to back scores.

Dennis Pitta,  Baltimore Ravens - Did you know that Dennis Pitta is tied with Jimmy Graham for the most targets among tight ends? Did you know that Joe Flacco is looking at Pitta often in the red zone? Did you know that the 2012 Baltimore Ravens offense has enormous potential? If the Ravens wind up in a shootout with the Patriots in Week 3, you could see Pitta with a lot of targets and points.

Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles - Celek is a fantastic pickup if you are in need at tight end. He and Vick have great chemistry as Vick looks to Celek quite a bit during games. The problem is that if Vick gets hurt, Celek’s value plummets to zero and what are the chances of Vick getting hurt? Right! In the meantime, Celek could be a great replacement for you unlucky Aaron Hernandez owners over the next several weeks.

Dante Rosario, San Diego Chargers –
Dante Rosario was the leading scoring tight end in standard scoring leagues this week. Not Jimmy Graham, Not Rob Gronkowski, but Dante freaking Rosario! Antonio Gates was a surprising scratch and Rosario made the most of his opportunity with three touchdowns. Gates is expected back next week, but for how long? If you have the room, Rosario is a great grab and stash tight end this week on the wire.

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

Madden 13 video game on all consoles

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

Fantasy Football Start Em Sit Em Week 2

September 13, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

cj spillerThe time has come to call out all the big shots who actually get paid to do this stuff! Matthew Berry of ESPN, you think you want some of this? Yahoo Sports guys like Andy Behrens and Brandon Funston, you really think you can handle this? Fantasy Guru’s, RotoWorld, and on and on, you all want a piece of me? I am here to call all of you out.

Yes me, just a lone guy with no errand boys to do my research, no mega-million dollar studio or financial backing, just a man, a computer, and a little football knowledge, especially fantasy football. The Shark should be the buzz right now in the fantasy world and now you all have your chance to jump on the bandwagon!

“Who is this guy?”, “Why is this guy all into himself?”, you may all be asking. Well I will get right down to it. Week 1 of the NFL season saw me go a lusty 4-0 in my fantasy leagues, but not only that, I was the point leader in every league, including our league here at CamelClutchBlog.com. The pre-season promises I made all were falling into place. I told the world that Matt Ryan was going to be amazing, and he was.

I drafted Brandon Marshall in every league, and he was back to form. Reggie Bush? Yep I have lots of Reggie, and despite no TD’s, he was solid. You don’t trust Tony Romo? I sure did! Kevin Smith can’t get the job done? That’s fine I’ll give him a try. Stevan Ridley made an appearance, so did Malcolm Floyd. Ravens defense is too old? All is good, I rolled those dice. Oh everything went right, a sheer perfect week. All that was missing in “fantasy” was Sofia Vergara serving me dinner in a French Maid uniform. (A man can dream). The beauty or beast of it all is that you are only as good as the next week. As much as I’d like to think my bragging and confidence is a good thing, it can easily explode. No problem, it’s a long season.

Week 2 comes at us very fast, as we have a Thursday night game to deal with, so I have to come at you faster and more furious this week with Starts/Sits for your fantasy team. Injuries will have to be watched closer, and moves made faster. My advice to you as they say in the movies is to “stick with me kid”. The Shark is here with his Week 2 advice. Read, enjoy, and good luck in week 2. P.S. I contacted Berry and RotoWorld via Twitter, and have gotten no response on my challenge, no surprise there, I’d be scared of me too! Let’s look at the picks for this week:

Quarterback

Start

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons: Don’t think he’s back? Thomas, Decker and the gang think he is after carving up the rough and tough Steelers defense, plus he gets to play this week in a dome, as he has for years. Also the loss of CB Grimes is huge for the Falcons defense. Manning and Ryan will have a big shootout here, so if you own Manning, you roll with him here.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers: It’s easy to say Aaron Rodgers every week isn’t it? Cutler and his Bears have a huge chance on Thursday night to go up 2 games on the Pack if they can pull off this mild upset. The return of Brandon Marshall mixed with his trust in Earl Bennett has Cutler looking sharp and he could be looking at a great year. If you remember last week, Alex Smith and the 49ers had their way with this defense, so no reason not to trust Cutler for 2-3 TD’s and maybe as much as 300 yards.

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks: Do you believe in paybacks? Karma? Second Chances? If you do then you have to believe in Romo this week. Seattle is after all the scene of the crime where Romo botched that snap on a 19 yard field goal attempt in 2007 that cost Dallas a playoff game. He comes back to town with a loaded group of weapons, and confidence. The Seahawks defense was pegged as a tough defense, but not much of that was there against a pour Arizona team last week. I like Dallas’ pass game much better than its run game, so go with Romo.

Sit

Blane Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars vs Houston Texans: Yep, even I can be wrong, and I trashed Gabbert often, but last week he had good numbers and hung tough in Minnesota. This week he is home which can prove even better, but he will face a much better defense and a better team. Jacksonville will be a better team soon enough, but nothing about this match up looks all that enticing. If you just added him, that’s a fine move, but use it at the proper time.

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers: Another guy that I bashed but yet had a huge week last week. However this is not the Bills defense and he is not at home. The Steelers got roughed up by Peyton Manning last week, and that happens, but no way does Sanchez come back with the same performance. Also on that Jets sideline will be Tim Tebow. Why does that matter? Last time the Steelers saw Tebow, he was knocking them out of the playoffs, once again, paybacks baby!

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins: Serious? Yep! I know the Dolphins don’t have much, but neither does this Raiders offense. This team is only as good as Darren McFadden makes it, and with a bunch of “who’s” at WR and no solid TE’s the Raiders are in total disarray already. Their only TD last week came as time ran out, by an undrafted WR. Oakland used a lot of draft picks on Palmer, he needs to prove to be something and quick!

Running Back

Start

CJ Spiller, Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs: The injury to Fred Jackson opens the door for a guy who has the stuff to be a fantasy stud. 161 yards rushing last week and a TD, mixed in with being one of the best fantasy backs in the last 4 weeks of last season is a lot to get excited about. The Chiefs are banged up on defense as well. Spiller makes the Bills offense better, and it should show this week.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts: Every expert, fantasy owner, heck even his own coach had little faith in Peterson last week, but I am here to tell you, he is the real deal again. 2 big TD’s last week against the Jags and he was able to handle 17 carries. This week he will be indoors, and the Colts run defense is usually nothing special. Peterson is showing that the knee is not about to slow him down, and it should not be a concern for fantasy owners as long as he stays healthy in the weekly injury reports.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins: Not crazy about Oakland’s QB situation, but that has nothing to do with McFadden. He was plenty busy last week, and that should continue to be the case as long as he is healthy. The Dolphins gave up a pair of rushing TD’s last week, and if the Raiders are going to hang in this game DMC will have to front the load. Do it!

Sit

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It may have been the bad weather, or the start of something special as the Bucs defense was brilliant last week against Carolina, especially on the ground. DT Gerald McCoy is suddenly coming into his own and they look tough up front. Bradshaw had a nice week 1 against Dallas, but I feel the passing game will need to do more to get the Giants back on track. Bradshaw may be able to punch one in here, but I don’t expect him to be huge.

Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers: Another guy who had a big week last week, but I have a hard time trusting running backs against the 49ers. The defense in San Fran looked tough last week in Green Bay, and Detroit will have to use the air to come out in this one. I like Smith, and if he is healthy you go with him, with the right match up. This is not that match up!

The San Diego Chargers backfield vs. Tennessee Titans: I know they got ripped up by Stevan Ridley last week, but it is hard to know how to measure what can happen against the Patriots offense. The Chargers have 4 different guys carrying the load, and none look all that special. Until Ryan Matthews comes back and gets into the groove I advise you avoid this mess at all cost. Hey, here is an idea, try playing Chris Johnson, what too soon?

Wide Receiver

Start

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons vs. Denver Broncos: I like the new Broncos defense with Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter, but this week they will have their hands full. The Falcons have the weapons, and Jones is many people’s option to be the next great WR. What better way for him to really come out than on a Monday night? Roddy White still draws the attention, Gonzalez can still get it done, and they are creative in the backfield. It is hard to know who to focus on if you are a defense, so if you give this guy room, he can/will kill you! He had 2 TD’s last week and possibly 2 more this week.

Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills: The Bills secondary was toasted last week by a rookie WR and a “who is that guy” WR led by Mark Sanchez. This week a real big time WR comes to town in Dwayne Bowe, so the young Bills secondary may have its hands full. Matt Cassel is not a top fantasy QB, but even he can find an upside here. Bowe needs to prove his worth with a new contract looming next year.

Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts vs. Minnesota Vikings: New QB same Reggie Wayne it would seem. After a slow start he had a big week last week, and now Wayne and Indy face a Vikings defense who at home last week had a hard time with an average Jags pass offense. Luck will have some growing pains, but he has to get 2 TD’s here I would think, and Wayne is due for one, and some more big yards. Wayne remains a factor as a WR2 or an emergency flex option.

Sit

DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Baltimore Ravens: If you ask me, the Eagles most reliable WR is Jeremy Maclin, and there is a good chance he won’t play this Sunday. I know Jackson is explosive and can do lots of good things, but to have him as the one main guy against a quality defense and CB Webb does not look great on paper. The Ravens will throw everything at Michael Vick, so he will have a hard time making the plays. Jackson is hard to trust right now.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins at St Louis Rams: Alright, it’s hunch time. With Cortland Finnegan being the main CB in St. Louis I think Garcon will have his hands full, not to mention that the Rams for some reason usually play the Redskins tough. RG3 showed he has QB skills, but Garcon did get banged up so he may be slowed, and there is at least a bit of game film now for the Rams to watch. Also the Redskins showed they can run the ball, so and all out air attack may not be needed.

Kevin Ogletree, Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks: I can’t believe I have to write this, but after seeing how many people bought into that week 1 effort I feel it is my duty. This team does still have Miles Austin and Dez Bryant and Jason Witten as well as DeMarco Murray. Ogletree is a nice number 3 WR for the Cowboys, and Romo likes his 3’s, but this guy won’t have 2 TD, 100+ yard games often, so you should not be relying on him as a WR1 or even WR2 in your leagues. If he does it a few more times, well then paint me red!

Tight End

Start

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers: Sound easy? Well it should. Graham may be the best TE in football and is also the busiest target in a very pass happy offense. The Panthers have good linebackers who may slow him down, but you can’t really keep Graham down.

Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions: Still the most talented of the bunch here in San Fran, and he made good things happen last week. The Lions defense is a little tougher than Green Bay’s but Davis is a guy to be dealt with.

Sit

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets: The Jets have good play at linebacker so Miller is not a sure bet even though they like him in close.

Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns: He looked sluggish Monday night after missing most of the preseason. I would like to see him have a big game or 2 before I trust him.

Defenses I like:

New England Patriots vs. Arizona Cardinals

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns

Defenses I don’t like:

Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons

Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills

Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts

Waiver Wire:

I have some nice pickups for you this week. Come and get them while they last!

Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: Greg Jennings may be out this week, and Cobb returns kicks and also has improved as a receiver. Cobb could stand to get busier in a high power offense like this.

Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins: Shanahan likes the hot hand, and Morris was very hot last week. He is a talented back, not blessed with speed but has shifty moves, good hands and runs strong. As long as he stays healthy, it is his job to lose.

Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets: I said it back in my NFL Draft Preview, Hill has the skills to be the best rookie in this class and can be a factor in the NFL. He has good size and speed, and he put up 2 TD’s last week. He has plenty of upside so grab him and dump that guy you are clinging to that you grabbed in the 15th round.

Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars: A guy who was always on the brink of big things, Lewis was active last week and looks like a good target for young QB Blaine Gabbert. For TE leagues only, but a nice pick up/

Nate Kaeding, K, San Diego Chargers: Last year’s broken leg on the opening kickoff made many forget, but I am here to tell you to get Kaeding. He had a good game this past week, and is still one of the more accurate kickers in football.

So we are ready for week 2. I hope that my success can continue and I can help you all make your team a little better!

I have now joined Twitter, so if you would like to ask any questions or need any advice feel free to reach out to my personal account, @JPshark71.

Thanks again all for reading and good luck in week 2.

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

Madden 13 video game on all consoles

Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

NFL 2012-13 Week 1 Preview & Picks

September 08, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

aaron rodgers alex smithWell, to paraphrase former WWE Champion the Rock, FINALLY the 2012 NFL Season has begun. As an NFL fan for over 35 years, I always get excited, especially when the first week of the season arrives. I love seeing the pre-game shows, and seeing the “experts” argue over who they think will win. I love see video of fans tailgating, and hearing about injury reports, Super Bowl predictions, scandals, and the whole kit and caboodle. In my opinion, the NFL Season is the best season ever.

Well, since I have starting writing this blog, I have noticed that writers for this, and other blogs have posted their weekly picks for the NFL. Well, last season, I didn’t partake in doing a weekly blog, but I did do picks for the NFL playoffs, and the Super Bowl, and I had a good time doing, so for this season, I decided to take the plunge, and do weekly picks.

Now, so my readers understand, I do NOT go by the spread, or predict the score. I am going to list the teams, the stadiums, etc. I am going to mention any notable injuries, and do a little analysis, and just make my prediction of which team I think will win the game.

Sound Good? Well, here we go:

Before I start with Sunday’s Match ups, let me do a quick post-mortem on the Dallas Cowboys at the defending champion New York Giants that was played on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at Met Life Stadium. At first, it started out like neither team wanted to score, and it was going to be one of those boring defensive games. However, Dallas’ offense somehow got going, and put 24 points on the board, and New York’s Eli Manning could not quite make one of his miraculous fourth quarter comebacks, and was only able to get the Giants 17 points, and Dallas won.

Dallas’ Tony Romo was having a good night despite his offensive line’s inability to stay still as they drew offside penalties like crazy. Surprisingly, Romo’s main target was Kevin Olgletree. Dallas’ defense stifled the Giants’ receivers all night, and their running game. One the other hand, Giants defense started out good, but their secondary was falling apart. On offense, Victor Cruz was dropping balls as if they were hot potatoes.

Game was just OK overall. I didn’t go nuts like everyone does over Dallas. It is only Week 1. Let’s see how these guys are, especially Romo in December.

Now, for Sunday, and Monday Night:

All 1:00 P.M. Games:

Indianapolis Colts AT Chicago Bears
Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill
The main injury concerns for the Colts concern the availability of Austin Collie (WR). At first, he was declared likely, but now he is a game time decision. LB Pat Angerer is out. For the Bears, despite his saying the knee won’t be the same, MLB Brian Urlacher will play.

Final Analysis: This is the official NFL debut for the much touted rookie QB from Stanford, Andrew Luck who is the new Colts QB. He looked very much the part of a professional QB in the preseason, but before we put him in Canton, let’s remember he is a rookie. He will make rookie mistakes, and he is facing a good Bears Defense that will try to confuse him.

On the other side, it will be interesting to see how Bears QB Jay Cutler can rebound after the season ending injury he had last season. Now that he has his favorite target on offense, we will see if that offense improves. The running game should be good as well.

Pick: A lot of people are very high on Luck, and think he can win. With Urlacher not quite up to speed, and the fact that Luck, and his offense are apparently on the same page, I am going to gamble a bit, and go with the rookie. Winner: Indianapolis Colts

Philadelphia Eagles AT Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, OH
The injury report for the Eagles is interesting for the fact that Michael Vick is NOT on it. The Browns’ Trent Richardson is listed as questionable. I am hearing he is supposed to play though. Browns’ Scott Fujita is now available (for now) to the team thanks to the overturning of his Bounty related suspension.

I don’t mean to sound like a smart ass but I don’t really think it matters. I mean, seriously. The Eagles should beat the Browns like a drum. Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

St. Louis Rams AT Detroit Lions
Ford Field in Detroit, MI
The Rams will be without their First Round pick Michael Brockers due to an ankle injury. The Detroit Lions will be banged up in the secondary as CB Chris Houston is doubtful due to an ankle injury, and Safety Louis Delmas listed as doubtful due to a knee injury.

Well, this game does not look all that exciting to me. Rams’ QB Sam Bradford has yet to show me that he is worthy of that #1 overall pick. It is true that he has hardly any receivers. The defense is just alright. The Lions have a fierce front seven with that Suh, Vanden Bosch, etc. Of course, their offense features Matt Stafford, and Megatron. Rams will be eaten by the Lions. Winner: Detroit Lions

Miami Dolphins AT Houston Texans
Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX
The only person that is hurt for the Dolphins is Tony McDaniel. Their opponents, the Texans have of interest, LB Brooks Reed (hip), and star RB Arian Foster (knee) who are both game time decisions. Foster said he expects to play though.

Even though it is great that the Dolphins are coming into Houston healthy, I don’t think they are going to come out of there with a win. Houston is one of the top teams in the AFC, and I just think they are going to just crush Miami. Winner: Houston Texans

Atlanta Falcons AT Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO
The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense has been bombard with injuries, and as many as six could be out for this game. DE Allen Bailey with an ankle injury, Safety Kendrick Lewis with a shoulder injury, DT Anthony Toribio with an ankle injury are all listed as doubtful. LB Jovan Belcher with a groin injury, CB Brandon Flowers with a foot injury, and LB Derrick Johnson with an ankle are listed as questionable.

It looks like Matt Ryan, and his group of receivers, and his Hall of Fame (surely) tight end, Tony Gonzalez may just have a field day at Arrowhead despite that stadium being one of the hardest places to play. I am not sold on Matt Cassel being a good QB, and I just don’t think the Chiefs are up to the task. Winner: Falcons

Jacksonville Jaguars AT Minnesota Vikings
Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota
The main injuries in this game are the Jaguars will be without Daryl Smith, their best LB who will miss the game with a groin injury, and Derek Cox, their top CB with a hamstring injury. Their rookie receiver Justin Blackmon is probable with an ankle injury. For the Vikings, the main injury of note is their top RB Adrian Peterson who is coming back from that ACL tear suffered on Dec 24, 2011. Listed as questionable, there will be a decision Saturday morning whether he plays or not.

Well, people will be watching this game to pretty much see (if he plays) how Peterson does. If he is allowed to play, it will be a great thing to see. As for who wins, with Maurice Jones-Drew just getting back to the team, and getting back into football shape, I am thinking that the Vikings will wind up winning it. It will be ugly though. Winner: Vikings

Washington Redskins AT New Orleans Saints
Super Dome in New Orleans, LA
Well, the news that NFL Commissioner Goodell got repelled (for now) by that three person panel, puts an interesting spin on notable injuries. Jonathan Vilma is now eligible to play, but he has an injury where he won’t be ready (not that he is anyway, football-wise) for a few weeks. Saints could put him on PUP for six weeks. Will Smith could play right away as he is healthy. The Saints, before all this has WR Marques Colston (foot), CB Jabari Greer (groin), LB David Hawthorne (knee), and LB Curtis Lofton (ankle) listed as questionable. All seem likely to be able to play.

Well, we have another rookie QB in the highly touted Robert Griffin III in his debut with the Washington Redskins. I prefer him to Andrew Luck, but in this game sadly, Griffin is making his debut against the wrong team at the wrong time. The Saints are at home with their crowd backing them up, and after the terrible offseason, and now with the latest news, they are going to be mad as hornets. Winner: New Orleans

Buffalo Bills AT New York Jets
Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Buffalo Bills WR Stevie Johnson is listed as questionable with a groin injury, and for the Jets, the significant injury is TE Dustin Keller who is questionable with a hamstring, but both are expected to play. The other injury for the Jets is LB Sione Pouha who’s also questionable with a back injury, but doesn’t look likely to play.

Well, I am going to be “from Missouri” so to speak with these two teams. They are going to have to show me they are worth the hype, especially ESPN’s favorite team, the Jets. The Bills, on paper have improved their defense with the addition of former Texans’ Mario Williams. Let’s see though if QB Fitzpatrick can play well for more than 5 games.

For the Jets, who I feel is the most over hyped team in the NFL, they better live up to the hype. I am reading that Tebow is going to play 10-20 percent of the game. Well, call me old school, but when you have two QBs, you don’t have any. Jets Owner Woody Johnson does not like the team being called a “circus?” Well, maybe his team better stop acting like clowns then.

I think from looking at the Jets’ O line, especially that right side, I think Buffalo could exploit it with their defense. Jets have no pass rush, and a pop gun offense. Winner: Buffalo

New England Patriots AT Tennessee Titans
LP Field in Nashville, TN
The only notable injury for the Patriots is RB Shane Vereen (foot). The injuries of note for the Titans are LB Sen’ Derrick Marks is doubtful with his knee, and CB Jurrell Casey questionable with his elbow.

This should be an interesting game. The Titans are giving the reins to second year QB Jake Locker while former starter Matt Hasselbeck is the backup, and mentor. Locker is going up against one of the most elite QBs in the NFL, and arguably one of the best QBs ever in Tom Brady. I’m looking forward to this game.

It will be interesting to see if the Patriots’ young, and hopefully improved defense can stop the star RB for the Titans in Chris Johnson. Seeing the McCourty twins is going to be really cool. The main question for the Patriots is can the offensive line which is still coming together (no Brian Waters, and Matt Light retired) protect Tom Brady? I think so. Winner: New England Patriots

4:25 pm NFL Games:

Seattle Seahawks AT Arizona Cardinals
University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
Injury of concern for the Cardinals is Beanie Wells who was listed as questionable with a hamstring. For the Seahawks, the injuries are tackle James Carpenter, and WR Golden Tate are out with knee injuries, and RB Marshawn Lynch is questionable with back spasms.

Well, it is obvious to me that despite having a beast of a WR in Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals, outside of Kurt Warner, can not find a QB to throw him the ball. I mean, it is just tragic. Now, I am not as high on Seattle as a lot of people, but let’s see what the rookie QB Russell Wilson can do. Winner: Seattle Seahawks

San Fransisco 49ers AT Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI
The only injury of any importance is Ted Ginn being listed as questionable due to an ankle injury.

This game should be the best game of the week. Great QB match up in the sense that 49ers Alex Smith was the #1 overall pick in the 2005 Draft, and the first QB taken, and he is going up against Aaron Rodgers who sat in that green room for the longest time, before being taken at #25. In most experts’ eyes, this was supposed to be the NFC Championship game last post season, but it didn’t happen. Should be a good one.

For the game, even though the 49ers have an excellent defense, and the Packers defense hopefully have improved some, and I am not sure I have faith in them, I think Rodgers will put on a light show. Winner: Green Bay Packers

Carolina Panthers AT Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL
RB Jonathan Stewart for the Panthers is listed as questionable. He has not practiced all week, so it is not likely he will play. Arrelious Benn, WR for the Bucs is listed as questionable despite practicing all week.

The Bucs were awful last year, and this preseason, they didn’t look all that great. I am a Rutgers graduate, so in that sense I want new Bucs Head Coach Greg Schiano to do well, but it will take awhile to turn this around. The Panthers once again have Ron Rivera as their head coach, and Cam Newton as QB. Will he have the dreaded sophomore slump? Will he be even better? We will see. He should lead the team to a win though. Winner: Carolina Panthers

8:20 pm SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Pittsburgh Steelers AT Denver Broncos
Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, CO
Notable Injuries for the Steelers are Safety Ryan Clark will not be playing due to his sickle cell illness which is aggravated by playing in the high altitude. There are conflicting reports as to whether LB James Harrison (officially listed as questionable) will play or not. RBs are pretty banged up: Rashard Mendendall (knee) listed as doubtful. Issac Redman (ankle) is listed as probable, and Baron Batch is listed as questionable with a groin. The Broncos have no important injuries.

Well, this is a huge game for a one Peyton Manning. It is his first game back after losing a year of his career due to a fourth neck surgery. Most fans know about his parting with the Colts. It will be strange to see him in other than a Colts uniform, but life goes on. It will be interesting to see how healthy, and how back to 100% he REALLY is. He looked pretty decent in preseason.

The Steelers come to town to try to avenge the post season loss to the Broncos. Of course, this time they face a much superior QB. The Steelers come in a bit banged up, and they have Ben, their elite QB learning a new offense, and getting to know new Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley, but I think this game as a whole will be a good game.

Defensive guru Dick LeBeau turns 75 tomorrow, and I think the Steelers will give their Defensive Coordinator a birthday gift. I think it will be close though. Winner: Steelers

9/10/11 MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Game 1 at 7pm: Cincinnati Bengals AT Baltimore Ravens
M &T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland
No notable injuries for either team.

This game shows why, at least in my view, the AFCN is the best division in the NFL. You have four tough, hardnosed teams who are physical not only with opponents outside their division, but with each other. This should be a pretty good game. It will be interesting to see how Terrell Suggs (on PUP due to Achilles ) absence affects the defense, and if Flacco can be the elite QB he claims he is.

The Bengals need to prove they can continue to be a playoff contender, and if this game somehow becomes a scoring fest, QB Andrew Dalton has show he can keep up. Their defense has to get after Flacco, and hold down RB Ray Rice. However, since Flacco has an excellent record at home, I expect him to hold on to that. Winner: Baltimore Ravens

Game #2 at approximately 10:15pm San Diego Chargers AT Oakland Raiders
Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, CA
The only notable injury for both teams is RB Ryan Matthews for the Chargers being out due to the collar bone injury as he had no contact in practice.

Well, I think this year is do or die for both the Chargers, and their coach Norv Turner. If they don’t get in the playoffs, I think their “genius” of a GM has to see that Turner is not the answer. Rivers has to cut down on the turnovers. The entire Chargers team has to cool it with their brashness, and bravado, and not start out so late, and hope to be Silky Sullivan (he was a great racehorse in the ’50s who would start his run about 40 lengths back), and somehow get into the playoffs. They can get off to a great start by destroying the Raiders. The Raiders are what they are. It will take awhile to get that team turned around. Winner: Chargers

Well, those are my picks. Good luck to everyone, and I pray there are no serious injuries in Week 1.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

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Fantasy Football Week 1 Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em

September 04, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Jay Cutler Brandon MarshallFinally, it’s back! The NFL is ready to kick off the 2012 season this Wednesday night when the Dallas Cowboys take on the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. Not a moment too soon too, because I have to say as much as I am a fan of all the major sports, none of them shake me and get me fired up quite like a good football game. Not to mention the fact that with football comes my other favorite past time, fantasy football!

So I’m back again, Jeff “The Shark” Porrini here to bring you my little bit of expertise, knowledge and well a tad of the guessing game known as “Start Em/Sit Em”. Sure no one can truly know exactly how great or how bad a player can be on any given day, but it sure helps to have as much input as possible when fielding your team. As this season begins, it is no different from a week 8 game, who is hurt, who is a game-time decision, and what holdouts are having their role reduced. Yes, fantasy becomes a harder and harder game every season, so make sure you are here every week for some insights and advice.

Alright, now that all the love is out of the way, let’s take a look at my week 1 selections:

Quarterback

Start

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions vs.  St. Louis Rams: You have to back the guy delivering the ball to a WR like Calvin Johnson, right? You sure do, especially when he is coming off an excellent season and was able to stay healthy through all 16 games last season. The Lions are looking strong on offense this season and have lots of weapons, not to mention they are hosting a Rams team that has been awful on defense the last few seasons. You will see Staffords name here a lot this year, so bank on him.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears vs. Indianapolis Colts: It’s not the Super Bowl rematch from a few years ago, and the Colts are ready for a new beginning, however that is a new era on offense and not so much on defense. Cutler got what he finally needed in WR Brandon Marshall, who was his prime target his first few years in Denver, and also has Matt Forte back who has a contract and is happy. Cutler has always had the strong arm, can make plays on the move and can really come up huge. We also know that Cutler at times can fall to pieces, but I won’t expect that here. The Colts defense don’t have the talent to keep this Bears team in check.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers: I know many of you out there will feel that Rodgers had an average preseason and that the 49ers have a rough and tough defense, but if you own Rodgers, you never bench Rodgers. Sure this is always an obvious start, and I hate to do obvious, but come on. Rodgers is the best fantasy option at QB, if not the best fantasy choice in all the league. Yes, the 49ers may have the talent to slow him down, but with a weak running game, the Packers will need to throw often, so 3 TDs from Rodgers should be easy.

Sit

John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks:  Skelton may have won the QB battle in Arizona but did he lose the war? Yes the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, more talent at RB this year and rookie Michael Floyd is a nice big target as well, but 2 things I really don’t like: 1. Seattle’s defense is looking very much improved, and 2. Beating out Kevin Kolb is not a great accomplishment, so trusting Skelton will need some proof first. This may not be a solid prediction, but it is a gut feeling that Skelton is not going to light it up here.

Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers: Was I dreaming, or did a team led by Alex Smith go 13-3 last year? This off-season the 49ers added Randy Moss and Mario Manningham at WR, but it is still Smith and the 49ers are a run first team. The Packers do have decent talent in the secondary and should start the season with a big win at home. I have little faith in Smith this week.

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills: I can’t think too highly of the Bills defense yet, but I am slowly losing any trust at all in Sanchez. The Jets have several question marks on offense, and are usually a run first team anyway. Bringing in Tim Tebow will mean more wildcat and trick plays, and that right there will slow down Sanchez’s game. The Jets can be on a decline year, this will be the first test, and not one to rely on.

Running Back

Start

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns: One of the best RBs last season is ready to do big things again in 2012. The Browns defense has never been very good against the run, and Eagles QB Mike Vick had a tough preseason, so the Eagles will most likely try and get the ground game cooking. The Browns have a rookie at QB and at RB so the Eagles defense could very well make it a short field and allow McCoy to control the game and pile up the points.

Arian Foster, Houston Texans vs. Miami Dolphins: Just because? Sure that sounds easy enough, but it is a well known fact that you always start Foster. The Dolphins were decent against the run last year, but slowing down Foster is always a tough task, and QB Matt Schaub still needs to find his game after coming off an injury last year. The Texans are coming in as one of the favorites in the AFC, so it will rely on their workhorse to take them there.

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots: This should be the season where Chris Johnson earns his big contract. The holdouts are over, he had a full camp and even gets more involved in the passing game each season. The Titans have decided to go with Jake Locker at QB and he will need time to grow before the Titans become a pass happy offense. The Patriots will be improved on defense, but this is a tricky start for the run defense here.

Sit

The Washington Redskins backfield at New Orleans Saints: It’s not that I don’t like Evan Royster, Roy Helu and company but it’s the fact that I have a hard time trusting head coach Mike Shanahan with RBs. The Redskins have backs they can go to, and the Saints are not the toughest run defense in the league, but any guy you play here can gain one yard and be gone for the game. This is a RB situation that needs to be watched closely and only a huge game by one of them will guarantee them to at least start the following week.

The Carolina Panthers backfield at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: See above. While Mike Tolberts addition is a big one, and DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are good backs, this situation has no true lead man. Not to mention that QB Cam Newton likes to snake touches by the goal line. The Panthers will also be playing the hot hand game week to week, and it will be tough to trust any one guy here unless others suffer injuries. If you own any Panther back, hold on to them and play only when truly needed.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: A knee injury last season cost Peterson several games last year, and his recovery, while on time has many people in Minnesota playing it cautious. It is just week 1, and the Jags are not much of a threat as well, so this may be a game the Vikings feel they can get by with using backup Toby Gerhart and more of WR Percy Harvin. Peterson will be back soon enough, so there is no need to panic, but also I would not get too excited in using him here.

Wide Receiver

Start

Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears vs. Indianapolis Colts: Finally, Marshall has the talent at QB and the good offense he had longed for. Marshall is one of the best on the league when his head is straight, and he seems to have matured a great deal, and seems satisfied with his new team. The Colts will have a hard time trying to contend with him and he should prove to be back as a top tier fantasy starter.

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos: Although Mike Wallace is back from his holdout, this match up can be a gem for Brown. He came on last season and showed big play ability and great speed. The Broncos still have a good cover corner in Champ Bailey and he should be busy with Wallace. The Steelers are a little shaky in the running game as well, so they will go to the air more, and I think Brown can have a monster game to start the season.

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers: We know Jackson can play the game, and is a big physical WR. Now he has some new wrinkles in his game, a new offense, a long-term contract and he will no doubt be the go to guy. The Buccaneers paid plenty of money to rebuild this team and it should pay off quickly. Jackson can be the guy needed to help QB Josh Freeman find his touch again and the Buccaneer offense can be for real this season.

Sit

Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: Johnson is the Bills best WR for sure, but he is about to take a trip to Revis Island where very few WRs find smooth sailing. Despite all his troubles last year, the Bills have kept their faith in Johnson, and it will probably pay off, just not in week 1. There are too many good options to use in week 1 to rely on this one here.

The San Francisco 49ers WR at Green Bay Packers: I said earlier that I don’t like the QB, but more important I don’t like the doubt of who exactly is the lead option here. It is a decent looking squad with Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree, but no one can predict as of now who will be the most targeted. Just wait and see, but don’t expect much in week 1.

Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals: For years Boldin has been a really good NFL WR, but as times change so do the roles of players. The Ravens have a speedy long ball threat in Torrey Smith now, and much like a baseball team, Boldin may have now become the set up guy for Smith and his big game speed. The Ravens also will be looking to run a lot against the Bengals, so I won’t but too much into Boldin this week.

Tight End

Start

Fred Davis, Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints: Cutting Chris Cooley will open some doors for Davis who had a good season in 2011, and the Skins offense loves to rely on the TE. Here is a chance to get a guy that can sneak up on fantasy opponents

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders: With an offense that is banged up and has no real number 1 WR, it is clear that Gates will be the top option here. He should have himself a nice game against rival Oakland, so start him with confidence.

Sit

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants: Rumors are swirling that the Cowboys are trying to get him on the field for week 1, but it does not look like it can happen. We all know Witten can deliver, but wait until his status is more clear.

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots: The Pats always have a talented group at linebacker and Jake Locker will need time to get comfy in this offense. Expect the Titans to run a lot here and Cook to have an average day at best.

Defenses I like:

Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions vs. St Louis Rams

Houston Texans vs. Miami Dolphins

Defenses I don’t like:

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

Cleveland Browns vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Atlanta Falcons

Waiver Wire

Sure it is week 1, but already there are a few players free who may have suddenly found new roles or are worth a look:

Mikael LeShoure, RB, Detroit Lions: He will be back by week 3, and the Lions can finally get him on the field. Also he is behind only the very fragile Kevin Smith, so grab him now before he gets his chance to prove himself and get gobbled up.

Steve Smith, WR, St Louis Rams: An injury can’t possibly make him this bad now can it? Just a few years ago Smith was a guy going over 100 catches and can still play. Last season with Philadelphia he was not used often or properly which hurt his stats, but this year he will be a starting receiver on a team that needs serious help at the position. He is worth a flyer for sure.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks: Wilson is being added by many in many leagues and for good reason. He has shown a great knack for the pro game this preseason and is a very smart player. He has the job for now, and mixed with a good run game and solid defense he has the team that can win.

So this is it for week one fans. Football is back in full swing and we will be here too at CamelClutchBlog.com

If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

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NFL 2012-13 Season Preview, Predictions, & Super Bowl 47 Pick

September 04, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Arian Foster fantasy footballOn Wednesday, the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Champion New York Giants kick off the 2012/13 Season on Sept. 5, 2012 at the Met Life Stadium against the much hated Dallas Cowboys. After this past off season that came with a lot of drama, the season could not have come any faster. During the off season, NFL fans heard about the woes of the New York Jets where they gave their supposed starting quarterback Mark Sanchez a new contract with more money, and then they went out, and traded for Denver’s Tim Tebow. The news of Mr. Tebow, and the Jets have dominated not only the New York tabloids’ back pages, but ESPN. ESPN Sports center has turned into Jets Center. Silly me, and I thought there were other teams in the NFL.

The NFL off season also gave us the Peyton Manning drama. It was not enough that during the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, where Peyton’s brother Eli was supposed to be having his day in the sun, that the media focused on Peyton vs Colt’s Owner Jim Irsay, even I think both were at fault, but the whole entire feud was brought out in the open with Irsay cleaning house. Anyway, Petyon finally landed with the Broncos. Of course, Peyton has been under a microscope ever since.

Of course, NFL fans had to deal with hearing about the Saints’ bounty Scandal. It is in the courts now. I have written a blog about how I felt. I have done a bit of rethinking, and even though I still stand by my feelings about Gregg Williams (that he should be thrown out of the NFL), and I don’t have a high opinion of the coach either, but I think the players who were nailed got hit way too hard. Vilma especially got harder than I thought. I think too hard.

However, even though some of that will seep into NFL discussions for this upcoming year, this year is pretty much a new year, and as a fan, and a blogger, (but a fan first) I am thrilled. I am going to see if the Giants, or their Super Bowl opponents can return to the Super Bowl. I want to see how Peyton does after four neck surgeries, and a year away. Every year, there is turnover as far as the playoffs where teams who made it last year, don’t make it the following year. Who will they be, and who will be the new shooters? 2012 sounds like a fun season.

Before I go any further, I am going to go on a little mini rant about something that could cast a pall over the NFL season, at least the first few games. As of this writing, the NFL, and the NFLRA (the referee’s union) have NOT reached an agreement. They attempted to do so this past Friday on August 31, 2012, but failed. As many fans know, the preseason games have been officiated by these substitute referees from high school, to the Lingerie Bowl. They have been HORRIBLE. Now, I KNOW the real referees such as Ed Hochuli, and Mike Carey screw up calls. However, at least they are used to the speed of the game, and know the rules, and updated rules. These refs don’t have a clue what they are doing. They don’t even know where to put the ball after a play. They make blatant incorrect calls that the fans know are wrong. I fear that one of these refs are going to screw up a call where someone gets seriously injured, or costs a team a game, and may indeed cost that team a playoff spot. The NFL, and the NFLRA have to keep working to get an agreement, and get the regular refs back on that field.

[ad 2Well, now that I have said my peace about the refs, I am ready to give my predictions and preview for the 2012/2013 Season, and my predictions for the Super Bowl which takes place in New Orleans, LA.

Before I begin, I wish everyone who roots for whatever team, good luck, and I wish all the teams to have healthy players throughout the year. I also wish those who play Fantasy Football, good luck!

NFC

NFC NORTH

GREEN BAY PACKERS: 13-3
DETROIT LIONS: 10-6
CHICAGO BEARS: 9-7
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: 7-9

Aaron Rodgers is fantastic. He will , barring injury, easily lead the Packers to win the division. I am not in love with the Vikings, as I am not sure how Peterson will do coming off the ACL, and the Chicago Bears don’t impress me that much. Lions should do well if Stafford stays healthy.

NFC WEST

SAN FRANSISCO 49ERS: 12-4
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: 9-7
ST. LOUIS RAMS: 7-9
ARIZONA CARDINALS: 5-11

49ers may take a slight step back, but should fairly easily win the division. I am not sure how the Seahawks will do with a rookie QB. Coach Carroll must believe in him though. The Rams got Gregg Williams taken from them due to the suspension, so I don’t know how they will be defensively. QB Stafford hopefully will step up. The Cardinals are a dumpster fire, period.

NFC SOUTH

ATLANTA FALCONS: 11-5
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: 11-5
CAROLINA PANTHERS: 8-8
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: 5-11

To start with the obvious, Tampa Bay is a mess. We will see if the Panthers’ Cam Newton will have the “Sophomore Slump.” I still don’t like their defense. Even without Coach Payton, the Saints should be able to manage 10 games. Whether Brees can break his own passing record, that is another thing. I have the Falcons winning the division by means of splitting their series with the Saints. I think this division will be competitive.

NFC EAST

GIANTS: 12-4
EAGLES: 11-5
COWBOYS: 9-7
REDSKINS: 9-7 (COWBOYS AND SKINS SPLIT)

This is the toughest division to call. All four teams are hated rivals, and all get physical with each other. They’re all tough to play against. I think Giants just get the division, with the Eagles finishing second. Cowboys, and Redskins finish with the same record, but Cowboys end of ahead due to a split.

PLAYOFF DIVISION WINNERS: GIANTS, FALCONS, PACKERS, 49ers
PLAYOFF WILD CARD WINNERS: EAGLES, SAINTS

Now, let’s go to the

AFC

AFC NORTH

PITTSBURGH STEELERS: 12-4
BALTIMORE RAVENS: 10-6
CINCINNATI BENGALS: 9-7
CLEVELAND BROWNS: 3-13

Well, you have a couple of tough teams in this division. You have two teams that just “hate” each other, the Ravens, and the Steelers. They get together late in the year, but that should be good. They won the division last year, by tiebreaker, but with Terrell Suggs, their best pass rusher out (for now) with an Achilles tear, and an aging defense, and a QB who is trying to show the is the “best,” I think they step back a bit. The Steelers have a new offense, and people doubt if Ben can get along with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and learn the offense. I think he can, and fortunately, Mike Wallace, the team’s star wideout came back. I think the Steelers take the division. Bengals will do OK, but miss the playoffs. The Browns are the Browns.

AFC WEST:

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: 11-5
DENVER BRONCOS: 10-6
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: 8-8
OAKLAND RAIDERS: 7-9

I did a lot of thinking about this division, and I think the Chargers bounce back from a couple of dismal seasons, and go 11-5, and make the playoffs for a change. Maybe it is hopeful thinking, as I do not like this team much, but it is guess on my part.I am taking Peyton Manning’s health, and the fact he has not played in a year into consideration, so that is why I have the Broncos where I have them. I think they make the playoffs if Manning stays healthy. The Chiefs, and the Raiders are just the other two teams. I don’t think they will do much. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON TEXANS: 13-3
TENNESSEE TITANS: 8-8
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: 7-9
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: 5-11

Well, after all these years of hearing how Houston is going to break through, it looks like they finally arrived. Well, sort of. I think this team is going to wind up with an awesome record regardless like they did last year. However, what ruined the whole thing is that like many times before, Matt Schaub, their top QB could not stay healthy. They did beat the Bengals in the playoffs last year with the rookie, and had their special teams been in operating order, I think they would have beaten the Ravens. However, I am sure they will win the division. The Titans could challenge, but we will see what Locker does. I know the experts are in total man love with Andrew Luck, and think he may do something with the Colts ala Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, but the guy’s a rookie, and I will judge for myself on Mr. Luck. Jaguars got their weapon, Maurice Jones Drew back, but I still think the Jaguars are going to be in the cellar.

AFC EAST

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:14-2
BUFFALO BILLS: 8-8
NEW YORK JETS: 7-9
MIAMI DOLPHINS: 6-10

This division was an easy call. The New England Patriots, as long as they got Mr. Thomas Edward Brady under center, and Bill Belichick as head coach, they are going to win a lot of games, and I think they are definitely winning the division. I am not one of the chicken little people worrying about the offensive line, and such. They know what they are doing. I am not buying the Bills. The Bills have improved on their defense, at least on paper. The Dolphins still look like a mess. I can’t even figure the Jets out. Rex Ryan says this is the best team he has had. Rex…..don’t talk……show me. I am going to be “from Missouri” as they say when it come to the Jets. They have to show me.

PLAYOFF DIVISION WINNERS: PATRIOTS, TEXANS, STEELERS, CHARGERS
PLAYOFF WILD CARD WINNERS: BRONCOS, RAVENS

Now, I am not going to go into the entire playoff bit, but I will just give you, my readers my representative for the AFC, and for the NFC, and the winner of the Super Bowl.

For the NFC: SAN FRANCISCO 49ers

For the AFC: TEXANS

WINNER OF SUPER BOWL 47 IS: THE HOUSTON TEXANS

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopointfan

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

Madden 13 video game on all consoles

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

Top 20 Fantasy Football 2012 Quarterback Rankings

August 27, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Drew Brees & Aaron RodgersWelcome back seekers of knowledge and those who are just totally freaking out about who to take when for your upcoming Fantasy draft. I have already brought you the Top 20 Running Backs for 2012, and now we look at a position that gets to be more and more important every year, the quarterback! Yes the NFL has become a pass-happy league, so it has become essential to get a top signal caller early on and not settle for a guy who can get you average numbers.

As I have always said, the league is always changing, and every few years something new comes into the mix. Where teams were using 3 running back systems and going all screen pass happy just a few years ago, now it is all downfield, and teams like the Falcons and 49ers amongst many, are piling up on big receivers, and the need to have a big arm is huge right now. So I am here to help you shed some light on who is your choice at QB. The difference between the guy or guys that will go in rounds 1-4 are more evident this year over the guys that will go after, so think hard and choose wisely. It’s clear to me that a top QB will hold more value than a number 2 RB this season.

With that being said, here is my top 20 players at QB this season. Read,learn and win!

20. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans: It appears that the Jake Locker era is ready to begin for the Titans, and why not? After a rookie season in which he played in 5 games, throwing 4 TDs and 0 INTs, coupled with a nice pre-season it would appear he has earned it. Yes, Locker has looked really good, but as always I hesitate because of the question marks at WR for the Titans. Nate Washington is a decent choice, Kenny Britt is always hurting, and the team will look to run more with star back Chris Johnson. However, 2 games against Indy and Jacksonville will look nice, so if you need a back-up on your bench, maybe think Jake.

19. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: Big Red surprised many of us last year stepping in as a rookie, and helping the Bengals into the playoffs. His numbers were decent, 20 TDs and 13 INTs, so one would think this season he can improve on those numbers. His top target, A.J. Green looks to be emerging as one of the games top WRs, but an injury to TE Jermaine Gresham and the departure of Jerome Simpson means he will have to find new weapons. Dalton will be a nice filler for a week or 2, but a back-up on your fantasy squad at best for now.

18. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Who do we get? Freeman from 2010 would prove to be an excellent pick. However Freeman from 2011 could be a disaster. At 6 foot 6 inches tall, and with mobility I think the 2010 one is more like the Freeman we should see. The Bucs added some key players in free agency this year, including a big target in WR Vincent Jackson. With a good balance of run and pass Freeman can be solid again, maybe even solid enough to be a steal later on in the draft, but if you draft him, wait and see first.

17. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: Here we are again with a decent QB who always has us wanting to think there is more. Yes he has been a consistent 3,600+ yard passer, but last season he threw for just 20 TDs, which was down from 25 in 2010. The Ravens have some decent WRs, but we have to face the fact that with Ray Rice there, it is a run first offense. This could be the last year I have Flacco in my top 20, but the Ravens win often and get to the playoffs with him, but that won’t help in fantasy ball.

16. Robert Griffin 3rd, Washington Redskins: Rookie QBs have taken a big leap forward, thanks mostly to Dalton and Cam Newton last year, so why not try Griffin as at least a fantasy back up? He has shown excellent ability to run the ball, much like Newton, and he does throw a good ball. He seems smart and ready for the pro game and can be a nice sleeper if the offensive line holds up. The Redskin offense is loaded with RBs and decent talent in pass catchers, so yes at 16 I will get risky and say try Griffin.

15. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Much like on draft day in the NFL, draft day of fantasy should have the same results, with Luck going right ahead of RG3. Yes I realize we are watching pre-season games, but Luck looks cool and calm in the pocket and has his timing down nicely. Also waiting for him is some talent at WR in veteran Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie. Rookie TE Coby Fleener, who was Luck’s teammate in college also helps his progress in having a familiar face to throw to should be given a shot as a number 2 QB, he could just surprise us.

14. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans: Remember not too long ago that this was the guy leading the way for every experts Super Bowl sleeper pick? Well Schaub is back from the injury that made many of us forget about him, and he still has guys like Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels to work with, as well as an excellent pass catching RB in Arian Foster. Schaub plays the game smart and has become a good clutch QB. The Texans have sewn up the offensive line as well, so he can find glory again as long as he stays healthy. Remember, when healthy he has been a regular in the 4,000+ yard club and threw for 54 TDs in his last 2 full seasons.

13. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: It may not be the fancy pick for most fantasy owners given the fact that he plays reckless at times and can always be good for a tough injury or 2 each week, but how can you not like Roethlisberger in the Steelers new and improved high flying offense? With plenty of speed at WR in Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace, who is expected back in camp soon, he has lots of talent to play with, and a good enough defense to keep the ball in his hands. They do like to run a lot, but the Steelers bread and butter has become the deep pass play, and Ben is one of the best on the league at throwing that deep ball. He may not be the starter on a fantasy championship team, but he is worth having for sure.

12. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: Fear, lots and lots of fear here. The name alone holds tons of credibility, like a high roller at any casino, even if he has not played in some time. Manning is still plenty smart, and still can throw the ball, but he has to learn a new system with a young group of WRs who still don’t seem “Manning-ready”. Yes Eric Decker is a solid choice, but the others need to learn quicker and we still have to see how long Manning can hold up from previous injury. I would never tell you not to draft Manning. I am however going to tell you not to do it too early. Buyer, beware!

11. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: The numbers rarely lie in fantasy, and usually they speak of the player’s ability perfectly. However, despite 27 TDs last season it seemed as if Rivers was not the guy who owners once leaned on for huge points. Well here we are in 2012, and Rivers will be looking at new options and sort of a fresh start. His running game has been depleted with an injury to star back Ryan Mathews and the departure of Mike Tolbert and he no longer has to play the waiting game on departed WR Vincent Jackson. What he has is a hungry Robert Meacham, Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates and when he gets healthy, Vincent Brown. Rivers shows us he has game, but the turnovers need to stay down. He is a guy that gets owners the juice, but I don’t see him as a guy who should go earlier than round 5 this season.

10. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: I understand this pick may give some of you chills, but this could very well be the year that Cutler finally shows us why he has been seen as a big time talent at QB. Before his injury last year he had the Bears rolling and seemingly on their way to the playoffs. After his injury the offense proved it was hopeless. The Bears went out this offseason and added his former teammate and stat pumper, WR Brandon Marshall as well as rookie Alshon Jeffery who has looked really good so far. The usual suspects return as well in his trustee college mate Earl Bennett, the fleet footed Johnny Knox and Devin Hester as well as 2 good pass catching backs in Matt Forte and Michael Bush. So you see, all the stars are lined up for Cutler to have a huge season, and I say the time is right to roll the dice. No, don’t reach in rounds 1-4, but keep a close eye on Cutler.

9. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: No, being from Philadelphia does not mean I am totally in love with Vick. I realize when healthy he can be a monster using both his feet and his arm to post big numbers. However, that is just the problem he plays reckless and takes too many big hits to be trusted. Vick has missed at least 4 games in each of his last 3 seasons, and that’s tough to swallow in a top 10 QB. On the plus side, in 2010, in just 12 games, he accounted for 30 total TDs and over 3,700 yards of total offense. He is the ultimate high risk/high reward player, so taking him early is a gamble. If you take Vick within the first 4 rounds, use your fifth round pick on another solid QB.

8. Eli Manning, New York Giants: It gets tougher in the top 8 to decide who falls in where. If this was a Super Bowl contest, yes you take Manning, but in fantasy, as good as he can be you always have to keep an eye on who is in front. He has good weapons, and gets the TDs and yards, but tends to turn the ball over more than desired. Losing Mario Manningham won’t prove to be as devistating as many think as he still has Hakeem Nicks, last year’s surprise Victor Cruz and rookie Reuben Randle to work with. The key is the offensive line keeping him upright. Manning has finally become more important than brother Peyton, and he should be an early round consideration for your QB.

7. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: The run of NFC East QBs continues with Romo. Many fear taking this guy because he just has not been the big winner that Dallas has hoped. But friends this is fantasy football, and in his last 2 seasons when healthy he put up TD numbers of 26 and 31, while also going well over 4,000 yards. Now he has solid WR play and guys in the backfield that can catch, so his prospects are looking up. His offensive line is the main concern, but if they hold up, it is possible that Romo can be even better than last year. Heck, like I said I am a Philly guy, and even I think he is an excellent choice for fantasy. Roll with it!

6. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: Here is my dilemma, how do I put a guy that I feel may be the best all around athlete in football at 6? Stats baby, stats! The guys in the top 5 are really good, and Newton could be as good as any of those guys. The worry is that the Panthers have RBs who can/could all steal touches, and the WR corps are not loaded with Pro Bowl players outside of Steve Smith. Newton did post 35 total TDs last year, which is an excellent number, and can get huge rushing yards. This year defenses will be a little better prepared, so we have to see if Newton will fall to the sophomore jinx, or if he will become that much better. Many will take him in the first 2 rounds, and despite me having him at 6, I have no problem with that.

5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: One of the most trusted names at QB over the past few years is back for more action in New Orleans with a brand new contract. Now, can he overcome not having his head coach all year? How will he deal with the loss of Pro Bowl Guard Carl Nicks? Can Darren Sproles really have that good of a year again this season? Alright I can go on and on with questions, but we will just have to wait and see. Brees is a record breaker, a TD maker and a big time gamer at QB. I put him at 5 only out of concern for how he plays without Payton on the sidelines, and that he lost WR Robert Meacham, which means that if/when Marques Colston suffers one of his usual injuries, who will be there to pick up the slack? I still say you take him early, I just happen to like 4 guys more this season.

4. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: How can’t you love the guy who passes to Mega-Tron? Quite frankly, you can’t! Stafford stayed healthy last year, for the first time and for it went over 5,000 yards passing and also had 41 TDs. His top weapon, Calvin Johnson, is easily the best WR in the game, and now he has help in emerging youngsters Titus Young and TE Brandon Pettigrew. Many think the Lions will have to find a running game to help Stafford, but I think he has all that he needs to be huge in 2012. Round 2 pick anyone?

3. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: Do not adjust your screen, this is not a mistake! Folks, you will all thank me later on this one right here. I almost, but guess I couldn’t, put him second, but he can’t surpass a Hall Of Fame guy, at least not yet. Okay, time to get to business. Every season his numbers go up, and he progresses beautifully. Now he has one of the best group of skill players in the league in emerging stud Julio Jones, the always big Roddy White, future Hall Of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez and now even a backfield threat in Jacquizz Rodgers. Also some food for thought, he plays 8 games in a cushy dome, where he always has big days, and also plays in sunny Tampa, domed New Orleans, and Carolina, so it is rare that weather plays a factor. I have been on the Ryan train since camp started, and I have told everyone I know that this guy is going to have a monster year. Some drafts I got him in rounds 6-9, which is almost like finding a solid gold bar in the jewelry section at a dollar store. Put this name on your paper, and take it to the bank, Matty Ice!

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots: Ho-hum, another year and more Tom Brady. I would think that with all his millions, his good looks, his gorgeous wife and his success that this would get boring for him. Not a chance, and for his efforts the team got him a new toy to play with in deep threat, and sticky hand WR Brandon Lloyd. Oh and did I mention all the guys who are still here? Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, Deion Branch, heck its almost like he can call plays from the old school yard days “turn left at the Buick and I’ll hit ya”. Brady is a no-brainer fantasy stud, so if you get him, you’re set at QB.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Is it possible that this guy is the best QB in Packers history? Well maybe not yet, but Rodgers is the guy whose name comes off everyone’s lips when asked “so who do you think is the number 1 fantasy QB?” Not to mention he is a 2-time winner of my personal Sharky Awards as fantasy MVP. I know, you all want numbers, so here they are: 4,900 total yards of offense, 48 total TDs and just 6, yes only 6 INTs. He is beyond smart and beyond sharp on the field, and cool and calm off the field. You are a true contender with this guy leading your team, and after the big 3 RBs are off the board, many will have to consider Rodgers. 1st round pick worthy for sure!

Alright owners, here are your top signal callers. So you may have not seen a name you like, don’t worry, they will be around at the late stages of your draft. So if you are in love with Carson Palmer, grab him, I have no problem with that. However, check my rankings first, just because I say so! Next we will look at WRs, but until then, happy studying students!

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

Madden 13 video game on all consoles

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

NFL 2012-13 AFC Preview and Predictions – Inside The Wheelhouse

August 23, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Peyton ManningIt’s that time of the year again where I flip the script from talking wrestling and starting talking about the greatest American sport known as Football. This will be the first in a 3-part series leading us up to the first week of Football action on Wednesday September 5th at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. We kick things off with the AFC Conference Preview & Predictions blog followed up with the NFC next week and who I think will be crowned Super Bowl Champion in the following week.

Let’s take a look at the AFC by starting things off with the AFC East Division, the home of the reigning AFC Champion New England Patriots.

AFC East:

The AFC East is one of the most competitive divisions in all of Football. To me, being a Baseball fan, I would compare it to the AL East in Major League Baseball. All four of these teams are pretty strong and give division matchups the type of “big game” feel they should have. If you are able to fight your way out of this division as the Champion sets up any team for a strong playoff push come January.

New England Patriots (11-5):

This should come to no surprise that I would have the New England Patriots as the AFC East Division Champions. They are the reigning AFC Champions and enter the 2012-2013 season with a heartbreaking Super Bowl loss that will leave them wanting to fight back to the “big game” in February and win another Championship. New England’s heart and fight will be tested by the leadership of Tom Brady should help them once again be successful in the 2012-2013 season.

New York Jets (10-6):

This is a make-or-break season for the New York Jets after a disappointing 2011-2012 campaign. Rex Ryan is the biggest name on the NFL coaching hot seat this season and needs his team to rally behind Mark Sanchez to get them back to the playoff promise land. I honestly don’t believe Tim Tebow starts this season at quarterback (unless Sanchez goes down with injury at any point) but will prove to be a very big red-zone threat for a newly developed offense that could prove to potentially be revolutionary in the NFL.

Buffalo Bills (7-9):

I really enjoyed the Buffalo Bills story in the first part of last season. They were a fun team to watch after starting 5-0 and got an exciting win over the Patriots at home. People even believed that this was the beginning of the Bills return to the playoffs but it just wasn’t meant to be yet. I still think Buffalo is on the cusp of something good right now but this isn’t there season, especially in the tough AFC East. This is a team that can continue building and be poised for a potential playoff return in the 2013-2014 season.

Miami Dolphins (4-12):

This is a franchise that still is lacking an identity. They don’t know who their starting quarterback is, they don’t know who their starting running back is and they are still in that “rebuilding mode” as they play for the future. There is nothing wrong in that logic but it’s not a team that we should be looking at as making a comeback this year. Miami could be on the right pace but it’s going to take some more rough roads before they figure out what direction the Fins’ want to move towards.

AFC North:

Another AFC division that is pretty strong and last season gave us three of the six AFC playoff teams. Not bad for an entire division as it shows how strong they truly are. I don’t see that situation repeating this year and actually see the division start to lay-out back to “normal” where they may have two teams (at best) make the playoffs.

Baltimore Ravens (13-3):

I have been harping on this team being successful for the last couple of seasons and they finally looked like an “AFC Elite” team last season despite the heartbreaking loss in the AFC Championship Game. If you remember correctly, this was a team that was given very little chance to beat New England at home in the AFC Championship Game and nearly pulled it off. If that type of loss isn’t enough motivation for this team to come back with a fire and passion this year then I don’t know what else is.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6):

Most people are in fear that this team will struggle due to the “sophomore slump” that most rookies go through (and they have two big ones in Andy Dalton & AJ Green) but I believe is a team that will put that folklore to rest. Cincy has something real good going right now with the Dalton/Green combination and could be a force to be reckoned with if they continue to grow at the pace they are destined to be. I like the Bengals chances this season as they continue to build off this youth movement that is currently in place.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8):

The Steelers are getting older by the day, literally and their franchise is being affected by it. For year their defense was the foundation of their success and they are looking like the most affected by “age.” Don’t believe me? Re-watch the defense getting burned in that playoff game in Denver. I believe this team continues to slip until they start instilling some youth in their system, like the New England Patriots have done very well.

Cleveland Browns (3-13):

What is there to say about this franchise? They play in Cleveland, they continue to struggle and there is no light at the end of this deep & dark tunnel currently. Things don’t look good in Cleveland now (other then the potential Trent Richardson could display) and they don’t look good in the future. They may have a shocking win here or there but don’t consider them a team to fear on the schedule.

AFC South:

This is one of the weakest divisions in the entire NFL. If you win this division not only do you get granted a playoff spot but you may also be granted a first round bye due to how week it is. Six division matchups could give one team a free pass into the divisional round and an easier route to the Super Bowl 47 this February.

Houston Texans (13-3):

If injuries didn’t plague them throughout the season I believe this Texans team was a “shoe in” for the AFC Championship Game last season. They played in the weakest division in the NFL and were a pretty dominating team because of such. They portrayed the moniker “defense wins championships” and clearly could’ve been an NFL elite team at the end of the season had they not lost Matt Schaub or Andre Johnson. This is a team that very well could be Super Bowl 47 bound this season.

Tennessee Titans (7-9):

I honestly believe that the only way Tennessee becomes successful again is if they: 1.) Let Jake Locker become the starting quarterback and 2.) Have the Chris Johnson “of old” on the field. This is a frustrating team to watch because they very well could be one or two moves away from making the playoffs again. It’s a been a disappointing franchise for quite sometime now due to player moves they gone through and the very talented Kenny Britt not being able to stay out of trouble continues to hurt this squad. If they got it together they could be playing in January but not this season.

Indianapolis Colts (4-12):

Some may have said that the “post-Peyton Manning era” began last season despite him actually being on the roster but it officially begins this season as Andrew Luck will line-up on under center for the Colts this season and beyond. I like the moves the Colts made for the future during the off-season and in the draft so they are thinking ahead rather then right now. They will get there wins and Luck will show signs of being a franchise quarterback but they will still have more bumps in the road then success stories. Look for Indy to make their return to January Football in about two more seasons.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14):

Jacksonville only mirrors the Browns when it comes to franchises that have nothing going for them in the right direction. People have been calling for the decline of MJD (me included) the last couple of seasons but he has shown that he can still be dominant. Well I’m calling for the decline yet again and won’t be surprised if he has another typical MJD season either. Blaine Gabbart isn’t the guy for the Jaguars and never really performed very well in his rookie season. This is a franchise that is begging for both a move to Los Angeles and the #1 overall draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

AFC West:

The AFC West could be the surprise division for this season as the most exciting division in all of football. They clearly have four teams that very well could be representing their division in January Football and that should make for exciting football every Sunday when it comes to the AFC West. Out of all the divisions in the AFC this one was the hardest when coming up with who would win the division this year.

Denver Broncos (11-5)

This was one of the hardest calls to make when it came to pick any AFC division winner but I cannot bet against Peyton Manning. I don’t care about the neck surgeries/procedures he has gone through or being away from the NFL for an entire year. You cannot bet against the former 4-time NFL MVP unless he has given you a reason to do so and he hasn’t on the playing field. Denver is going to be a strong team this season with Peyton behind center and with that very good lockdown defense that is in place at Mile High Stadium.

San Diego Chargers (10-6)

San Diego is poised for a comeback season from last year’s struggling season. They never looked to be in-sync at all as Phillip Rivers played with no heart and it appeared to be a foregone conclusion that Norv Turner would be fired. That didn’t happen this past season but it could be if they have a duplicate season from last year. I don’t see that coming and actually am considering Phillip Rivers as a sleeper pick for the NFL MVP award this season.

Kansas City Chiefs (8-8)

The Chiefs had an encouraging season after Romeo Crennel took over from Todd Haley and looked to actually be inspired by their new interim coach (at the time). Kansas City will be a tough team this season, especially with the combo of Peyton Hillis and a hopefully healthy Jamaal Charles in the backfield. They will be good but not playoff bound just yet, I still think Matt Cassell as their starting quarterback holds them back from breaking through just yet.

Oakland Raiders (7-9)

Somehow the Raiders have had decent back-to-back seasons despite being a franchise that was considered to be left for dead. Oakland will be competitive once again this season but won’t be a playoff contending team when it comes down to crunch time at the end of the year. I like what’s going on in Oakland but like Kansas City I don’t think Carson Palmer is the answer to their needs. Plus they need a healthy Darren McFadden to help them be successful and that is something that has been quite the struggle since he entered the NFL.

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Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

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Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

Fantasy Football 2012 Sleepers: The Comeback

August 21, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

reggie wayne fantasy footballThe 2012 fantasy football is full of former early-round busts. Yet many of these busts are poised for big comebacks. Here are just a few former fantasy boom to bust sleepers that have the potential to bring you back major value in your fantasy football season.

Everyone loves a good comeback right? The NFL is full of comeback players and these comeback players generally turn into fantasy football sleepers in the preseason. For one reason or another, these are players that are coming off of highly disappointing seasons. Tarnished as frauds, these players didn’t just lose their talent overnight. You need to look hard at their situation last season and evaluate all circumstances surrounding the poor production. That time spent analyzing last year’s busts could bring you the highest rewards this season.

I have done a few drafts and the ADP (Average Draft Position) according to ESPN.com of some of these players astounded me. These are players you can probably wait long and hard on, take later, and insert into your starting lineup in week 1. Here are just a few former studs that I feel are ready for a comeback in 2012 that you need to target in the mid-late rounds of your fantasy draft.

Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts – I can’t find anyone as bullish on Wayne as I am and I love it that way. Wayne was once the number-one rated receiver going into drafts. Unfortunately for those who kept him, his production drastically dropped off in recent years. Of course last year he was missing Peyton Manning and counting on Curtis Painter to help put up those numbers. This year he is playing with Andrew Luck and that is a mega upgrade over last season. I absolutely love the Luck-Wayne combo. The Colts defense is still a major issue and their running game is suspect. They are going to need to throw every week to stay in games. I expect major numbers from Luck and that can only mean great things for his number one receiver. Wayne’s ADP according to ESPN.com today is 103.2! That means you can have the number one target on a throwing team in the 9th or 10th round! He is a steal and I would not be surprised if he ended the season among the top 10 wide receivers in fantasy football.

DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles – Philadelphia Eagles fans like me know that DeSean Jackson can be a very frustrating player. After tearing through defenses in 2010 and giving NFL and fantasy fans some of the most memorable plays in NFL history, Jackson was an all out bust in 2011. Jackson has since revealed that he played it safe in 2011 while negotiating a contract. Jackson is now fully healthy and paid! I predict a huge bounce back for a guy who flew off draft boards the last few years. He is getting picked around the late fifth, early sixth round right now which makes him a phenomenal pick for your WR 3 and gives you great options at the position. He is an absolute must pick if he is still around for your sixth pick!

Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs – From waiver wire darling to fantasy bust, Peyton Hillis is back for another season! Fortunately for you things are different as Hillis is reunited with his old coach on a new team with a running offense. Hillis has looked like more than just a Jamaal Charles-handcuff this preseason, rushing for 52 yards on nine carries and a score. Hillis is taking over Thomas Jones’ role and Jones was given plenty of production over the last couple of seasons in Kansas City. Even better, Hillis’ new offensive coordinator is Brian Daboll who called plays on the sixth-most rushing attempted team of the season last year in Miami. At an ADP of 112, Hillis is a freaking steal at that spot of the draft! Hillis’ talent just didn’t go away in one season. Hillis will be back and he could be a phenomenal asset had for a bargain basement price in your fantasy draft.

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders – I just recently had a heated exchange on Twitter with another fantasy player over the prospects of Palmer having a great season. After laying out my statistical evidence, the truth came out and this Palmer naysayer was just an old anti-USC fan. Palmer was a top-10 QB in passing attempts last season when he played and he was number one in pass plays over 25 yards. Anyone remember that Oakland-Detroit game? Palmer only got better as the season progressed and now has a full offseason under his belt in Oakland and will be playing with some of the most dynamic offensive weapons in football. I have taken him very late in two drafts, passing up on “sexy” sleeper options like Robert Griffin III and Ryan Fitzpatrick. This former early round pick has an ADP of 134.3 which means you can take your starters and several backups before you even need to worry about targeting him. For a guy that has the potential to wind up as a top-five (Yes I said top-five) fantasy QB this season, that is pretty damned good!

Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I’ll be honest, I am not nearly as bullish on Williams as I am most of this list. I also don’t even know if he necessarily meets the criteria to be here because nobody was taking Williams in the first-round last season, although he was taken in the second or third rounds. I don’t think Josh Freeman is that bad and that makes all of the difference in the world. Additionally, the team has added Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark. Instead of defenses keying in on Williams as the number-one offensive threat, teams will be scheming for Jackson, Clark, and the running backs. That should give Williams some fantastic opportunities in the red zone. With an ADP of 139.5, he is an absolute must grab at that spot in your draft.

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers – I play in one league where Gates was not only a first-round pick for several years, he was a keeper! Not anymore. Everyone is talking about Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski while Gates is just quietly coming back to form this preseason in San Diego. Gates is thinner, healthier, and with Vincent Brown out, one of the few options left for Philip Rivers this season. Gates has already scored in the preseason and I think he does plenty more in the regular season. For me, I’d rather wait and grab Gates later than waste a first round pick on Graham or Gronk. At an ADP of 47.1 he is a bargain as compared to recent years. He probably shouldn’t be on this list because his ADP is still relatively high, but it is much lower than in recent years. Owen Daniels at 130.1 is another tight end sleeper to look out for if you miss out on Gates.

Cedric Benson, Green Bay Packers – Okay I am reaching here but I had to find a running back and Benson looks best to me to make a comeback. Benson has gone from boom to bust to boom to bust several times in his career and is coming off a nice, but relatively disappointing season in Cincinnati. I know that everyone is in love with James Starks but the Packers signed Benson for a reason. If the Packers were that enamored with Starks, Benson would be playing somewhere else. What most analysts are missing here is that the Packers offensive coordinator is gone, and chances are good that they will try and establish a running game. In December when you need a guy you can count on and the Packers are playing a cold, windy game at Lambeau Field, Benson could be the man that clinches your playoff spot. At an ADP of 107 and bigger question marks behind him, he is certainly worth the roll of the dice. I could easily see a situation where Benson winds up as a top-10 RB in touchdowns, used primarily as a goal-line back. I kind of think he’ll get a lot of opportunities for that with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball.

Fantasy Football Almanac 2012: The Essential Fantasy Football Reference Guide

Madden 13 video game on all consoles

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft

Top 20 NFL Fantasy Football Running Backs: Preseason Edition

August 14, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Arian Foster fantasy footballWelcome back friends and family and advice seekers, another season of Fantasy Football is upon us. The last hot days of August are where we are torn between trips to the shore and watching preseason games and doing football homework. We stop at the store not only just for milk and bread, but also for that magazine full of player stats and information that will help put us over the top this year. Last year is far behind, the past is the past, and it is redemption time!

I am proud to be back here again this season at CamelClutchBlog.com as a fantasy writer, bringing my savvy and smarts to all of our followers. I play this game like it is my life sometimes, and I have good results and some trophies and rewards to show for the hard work. It’s a thrill, a joy and an all-out way of living for me from August until January. I watch NFL drafts, preseason games, do several mock drafts and it’s never enough.

I will let you in on this secret though: No one can predict injury, demotion, fumbles etc., so remember we are all only as smart as the end result. I bring you my best possible predictions, but nothing is concrete. So go in with your mind wide open, and leave your heart at the door. Hometown love gets you very little, and hate for a division rival of your team does not help much either. Dog eat dog is the theme, and to be the man, you have to beat the man! In other words here is my first pre-draft piece, the Top 20 NFL Running Backs, Enjoy!

20. Roy Helu, Washington Redskins: In a busy backfield this guy is my favorite, and an excellent all-around back. Last season, in limited action he went over 1,000 total yards and caught 49 passes. A 4.2 yards per carry doesn’t hurt matters either. The knock from his coach is that he is not a great pass blocker, but we don’t get points for that here. He will go later in most drafts only because of his spot on the Redskin depth chart, but as a whole, he may be one of the best options to have. Having a rookie at QB can mean more passes as a safety valve, and Helu makes the most out of his touches. If you wait and miss him, you will be tortured by him, I promise!

19. Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants: In August of 2011 Bradshaw was one of the hottest names in the NFL after a terrific 2010 season. Then it all came crashing down. Injuries, a rebirth for Brandon Jacobs, and a loss for the holes had Bradshaw owners in tears. 2012 is here and he may be down on some peoples list but he still will be the main carrier here. If he can find his way back to 2010 when he rushed for over 1,200 yards and 47 receptions he will be a steal this late. Brandon Jacobs is gone and there is a rookie as his back up. It is clearly his job to lose, and worth the gamble here.

18. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons: He may not be “The Burner” as much now, but every year Turner brings the heat. He has had back-to-back 1,300+ yard seasons, double-digit TD’s, and yes even finding himself more involved in the passing game each year. The fear is all the hype surrounding teammate Jacquizz Rodgers and how he will steal touches. Rodgers is a Darren Sproles-type player with speed and skills, but Turner is the veteran and the leader here. Yes, he comes in at number 18 here, but you would be lucky to get him this late if he can continue his regular production.

17. Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins: At one point early in his career he was the guy we loved to hate. Come on let’s face it, big money contract, dating Kim Kardashian, waving his finger at Brian Urlacher in the playoffs, who liked Reggie Bush outside of New Orleans? Now we fast forward: No longer lost in the shuffle in New Orleans, and now a bigger, stronger lead back in Miami, and it paid off for owners last year. Very few backs were as good as Bush near the end of the season, and over the last 4 games he averaged 130 rush yards, including over 200 in week 11, 8 catches and 2 TD’s. If Bush stays healthy he can easily do this again as Miami looks to rebuild its offense. He will need to earn touches, but if he does them like this, he will be just fine.

16. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints: Who kicked themselves more in 2011? The San Diego Chargers or fantasy owners who passed on Sproles? Clearly a tie, am I right? Yes, he was a share-time player and was on the filed less than a lot of players, but he so paid off. Over 1,300 yards of offense, a whopping 86 catches, 6.9 yards per carry, and 9 TD’s are amazing numbers, so you can imagine how big he can be if he plays more! The Saints are probably well aware of what they have here, and despite having a lot of weapons to use, he will be the busiest again this year.

15. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys: Bursting on to the scene in 2011, Murray proved valuable when he was healthy. 5.5 yards per carry is nothing to sneeze at, and he also hauled in 26 catches, so we know he has the hands. The big drawback was his lack of TD’s. The fear is that Felix Jones is still in Dallas, and was a guy handpicked by owner Jerry Jones, also they have a lot of guys who deserve touches all over the field. I find Murray to be the most talented RB in Dallas, but we have to wait and see how that plays on the field. If you take Murray, you may also have to try and grab Jones.

14. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: His name is never the sexiest pick, and you rarely hear owners moaning and groaning when someone slaps Gore’s name up on the draft board. Truth be told though, Gore can handle his own, as in 2011 when he gained over 1,200 rush yards, and scored 8 TD’s. People question his health, yet he played all 16 games last season. The one problem, his catches went down drastically to just 17 in 2011. The 49ers loaded up with WR’s this off-season, but that could make things more open on the ground for Gore. You can’t beat the possible outlook at getting him in the 4th round based on history, can you?

13. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns: As long as his knee is healthy, he will be the load-carrying back for the Browns. It seems like Cleveland is doing all they can to make him comfortable too, as they put the second best back, Chris Ogbonnaya, at number 4 on the depth chart. Richardson can follow up from what Ogbonnaya did last year, 4.6 yards per carry and 23 catches in limited play, which a guy like Richardson should be able to top. Yes, the usual fears apply: He is a rookie, he comes in banged up, has a rookie QB, and is a Brown. However if you remember, when Peyton Hillis had his huge break out year he was also a Brown, also dealing with a young QB and had a history of being banged up. Someone will take him early, now what can he do?

12. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams: What is it that owners dislike about Jackson? Why would they dislike his multiple 1,000+ yard seasons? His 40+ catches every year? Perhaps it is his improved 4.4 yards per carry in 2011? Every year Jackson gets less and less respect, but he always finds his way to get good numbers. More TD’s would be nice, and as the Rams offense improves, so should Jackson’s already good numbers. He is the king of the second-tier backs, but we all need them too don’t we? For a fantasy team that will pile up WR’s early, he is a prime top back.

11. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs: K.C. seems to do all it can to make us afraid of this guy. The Thomas Jones thing, the 3 back committee, and now Peyton Hillis is in the fold. Charles of course needs to prove he is back from his 2011 knee injury, and if he can you can’t bet against his numbers. 6 yards per carry, 8 TD’s per season, and a career high 1,467 rushing yards in 2010 are awesome stats. They like to imply a hammer and nails type running attack in K.C. The big back hammers the defense then the speed back nails it shut. Charles is that ultimate speed back and has great hands. If he is healthy he can easily return to Top 5 status!

10. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers: Before his clavicle snapped, Mathews was considered a Top 5 pick by any draft “expert” you would ask. The Chargers ditched Mike Tolbert, and added some veterans to fill that spot, but none are a big threat to Mathews. Head coach Norv Turner said he will touch the ball even more than last year, when he rushed for close to 1,100 yards at 4.9 per carry and caught 50 passes. He will heal and is expected back close to the beginning of the year, so while you can no longer take him in round 1, he will be gone by round 3 by a patient owner with a good bench. Be that owner!

9. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks: Raise your hand if you had “Skittles” as a top 10 back last year. Okay liars, but your hands down and listen up. Lynch found his game again last year with over 1,200 yards rushing, 12 TD’s, 28 receptions and at 4.2 yards per carry average. He showed big play skills, power running, and a team attitude that made him a model player for the Seahawks. Now he has to clean up his act off the field so he can be fully trusted. He is probably the only certain thing going into this season for Seattle, and if he can follow 2011’s performance up, will be a Top 5 player!

8. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: The nickname “All Day” has become more and more fitting for Peterson, because all day, every day I wonder about him and his value. Yes, the man runs like a bull, and has done little to make us believe he is not an excellent back. Now though in 2012 he needs to come back from a big injury, a rumored police incident, and a bad offense. I would be lying if I said I don’t trust him, come on the guy had 12 TD’s last year despite missing time, but also got less catches. Peterson is an enigma, and he needs to be solved. However if he solves himself like usual, he will post numbers that can lead a team a long way, um a fantasy team that is!

7. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: The make or break season for McFadden is here, and at just 25 years old. You can’t argue his talent, 5.4 yards per carry, 3 catches per game and 5 TD’s in just 7 games last year, but it is his injuries that make owners suffer. Last season he missed 9 games, 3 the year before, and 2 the year before that. His main backup, Michael Bush is now in Chicago, which means more action for “Run DMC”, and if he can prove he can carry that load he may be the best fantasy back in the league. However another DMC year injury wise like last year, and people will quit on him quickly. I for one love this guy, but even the best of love comes with the highest of caution.

6. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars: Production of the highest caliper is what you get from MJD. 1,600 yards last year, 11 TD’s and 4.7 yards per carry in 2011 is just another year in the life for Drew, but he has issues this year that scare some. He did not get his new contract he wanted, and contracts hurt players ( see Chris Johnson ), and has a young and uncertain QB to deal with this year. It is easy to love MJD, his power running style, his great hands and his nose for the end zone, but it is also easy to fall into the trap of fear that is the Jags mess. You still can’t pass him up in the late first round or early second, and why should you?

5. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears: I chuckle at everyone who knocks him. I chuckle at the Bears for trying to take touches from him, and I will laugh at owners who pass him by at the appropriate time. Before his injury last year, Forte was piling up the fantasy points with his usual style of catches and yards, 4.9 per carry to be exact. And as always, expect over 50 catches. He is an open-field nightmare for defenses, and makes the most out of his plays. Yeah, we all know Michael Bush can play, and may hurt his TD’s, but heck he has never been a huge TD guy and still gets the digits. Some players play better with something to prove, Forte did it last year when wanting a contract, and will give it his best this season to prove that he belongs well ahead of Bush. I for one like Forte.

4. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans: On a hunch, I am getting myself back in the CJ2K business. In 2009, Johnson was being dubbed “The next L.T.” and was seen by many as the best player in the NFL. A contract holdout, new QB’s, and a lack of training camps and dedication led to a tough last few years for Johnson. The fact is he can still run like the wind, he catches 50+ balls every year, and despite his slow start in 2011, still found his way over 1,000 yards. Taking him this early is a risk, no doubt, but I love the way he plays, and he is back to his comfort zone. The Titans are the prime example of the run setting up the pass, so they will need him, they will trust him, and he very well should produce. He has proven he can go over 2,000 rush yards, not many backs can say that, and now lots of owners want to say that again.

3. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles: Much like the man he replaced, Brian Westbrook, McCoy snuck up on the fantasy world and has become a superstar. 20 total TD’s last year along with over 1,300 rushing yards at a 4.8 per carry clip are excellent stats, now imagine if he goes back to the guy who caught 78 passes in 2010 over the 48 in 2011. McCoy is high on everyone’s charts, and he should be, as the Eagles will need to run the ball to help protect QB Mike Vick. The scary thing is, McCoy can only get better, and this season he may be the best. Take that chance, even possibly as early as first overall.

2. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens: His off year of 2010 was a distant memory in 2011 when Rice hammered defenses for over 2,000 total yards, also catching 76 passes and scoring 12 TD’s. The Ravens rewarded him with a new contract and the assurance that he is the leader of that offense. Where he differs from McCoy is that around the goal line he is the main choice, and does not have a running QB that may look to create more. Rice runs with the power of a big back, the speed of a fleet back and the smarts of a hall of fame back. If not for the talent of the only guy ahead of him, Rice would be number 1, and in some people’s eyes, he is!

1. Arian Foster, Houston Texans: Numbers, they rarely lie. Over 3,000 rushing yards, 30 TD’s and 119 catches over the last 2 years by a guy who was an undrafted free agent has to sell everyone on the fact that Foster is the fantasy leader at RB. Yes, he missed a few games last year, and shared carries with Ben Tate, but yet still was a top 5 producer, and helped Houston become a serious contender in the league. He now has his starting QB back, a good offensive line, and the out and out will to be a winner. He is number 1, maybe not as clear as last year, but this guy is still number 1. This is our new L.T., so use it as a measuring stick, get that top pick, and make it Foster.

So here are my top fantasy football RB’s going into 2012. There are many familiar names, but all the guys who should be counted on to put up the numbers. We will look at QB’s and WR’s coming up in the near future, until then sit down and do your homework!

If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]

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The NFL & The City Of Angels: The Battle For Los Angeles

July 03, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Roger GoodellAppropriately, the city with the recycled-plastic conveyor belt that pumps out our movies and television shows would be the second largest television market in America. With 5.7 million households wired for everything from local news to late-night “As Seen on TV” infomercial murk, Los Angeles, California accounts for five percent of America’s home media spectatorship.

Only New York has a larger piece of the ‘idiot box’ pie (6.5%); only seven other metro areas can claim more than two percent each (Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, California’s Bay Area, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, DC).

Those nine cities are represented by ten different NFL franchises, and yet one city listed has no team to call their own.

By now, you’ve heard that particular song, as well as its hook-wielding chorus. Since 1995, when Los Angeles lost both its NFL franchises, the Raiders and the Rams, many have wondered when La-La Land would be gifted with another 53 man squad. After all, for America’s Game to be blacked out in America’s number two city is akin to the NHL abandoning all of its Canadian franchises.

Wait, that might become a reality under Gary Bettman. Alright, bad example.

On Friday, Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to all thirty-two NFL teams that reads like a cautiously optimistic travel brochure. In light of the prospects of stadium development being “better than they have been in many years” in Los Angeles, Goodell offers a timetable and checklist of guidelines to owners who wish to follow Horace Greeley’s sage urging of “go west, young man.”

One guideline entails filing an application to move by mid-February 2013. Not hidden in that bullet point is the implication that a club who meets that criteria could begin the 2013 season as the Los Angeles ________ (Chargers? Raiders? Jaguars?)

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk claims that the San Diego Chargers are the only real candidate that can pull off the move to Los Angeles for the 2013 season, due to stadium and ownership circumstances surrounding other likely suitors. San Diego can opt out of their stadium deal with Qualcomm within the same time frame that they would have to apply for use of Goodell’s U-HAUL trucks (or Mayflower Transit trucks, for you hard-bitten Colts fans). That is, assuming they want to play in LA in 2013.

It’s just incredible how badly Goodell wants to bring football back to Hollywood and Vine, when his predecessor allowed Los Angeles’ two franchises to exit stage left.

Despite making the playoffs eight times in the 1980s, the Los Angeles Rams had become in the early 1990s what the Jacksonville Jaguars are today: a team that couldn’t sell out home games. From 1990 to 1994, the Rams never posted a record better than 6-10. They finished dead last in the NFC West in four of those five seasons.

Owner Georgia Frontiere watched her franchise, inherited from late husband Carroll Rosenbloom, tailspin into blackout hell. Home games were played at Anaheim Stadium, which could hold 69,000 strong. Limping into the 1990’s, attendance had dropped to an average of 45,000, well below the necessary threshold for local TV airing. The blackouts offered little encouragement to a dwindling fanbase.

After the 1994 season, when Frontiere couldn’t convince anyone that building a new stadium was the keystone to turning it all around, she made the decision to move the Rams. After a failed attempt to relocate to Baltimore (pre-Ravens, remember), “Madame Ram” decided on her hometown of St. Louis, which had been spurned by the Cardinals, who left for Phoenix after 1987.

The other owners opposed Frontiere’s eastward jaunt. As the Bidwills and the Maras and the Cookes of the football world blamed Frontiere for the financial woes of her team, she went ahead and threatened legal action. Then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue relented, and allowed the move.

What Roger Goodell would do for a DeLorean right now.

Nearly fifty years of history and tradition in Los Angeles were wiped out after mismanagement, increasing fan apathy, and forceful acts from a divisive owner.

And speaking of divisive owners, this leads us to Act Two.

For a thirteen year run, NFL’s poster boys of anti-heroism were uprooted from Oakland and had their roots firmly planted in the Los Angeles Coliseum. In the early 1980s, Raiders owner Al Davis was unable to get the renovations he wanted for the Oakland Coliseum, leading to him to sign a memorandum that would move the club. After the other owners voted nearly unanimously to block it, Davis and the LA Coliseum filed an antitrust lawsuit.

In May 1982, a jury sided with Davis, and the Raiders moved 370 miles southeast to Los Angeles.

In their crowning moment in Los Angeles, the Raiders won the Super Bowl handily in the 1983 season over the Redskins. That would be their last taste of glory (for Oakland as well; the Raiders haven’t won it since), before tapering off by the end of the decade. By 1988, with the team now perennially .500-or-worse, there were rumors then that Davis would bolt back to Oakland.

Selling out the 90,000+ seat Coliseum was too daunting a task.

Even as the Raiders made playoff runs in the early 1990s under coach Art Shell, the Los Angeles honeymoon was declared over. Davis announced in March 1991 that the team would be headed home. This announcement came on the heels of two years of negotiations between Davis and Oakland.

In June 1995, more than six years after the first step toward going home, Davis signed the letter of intent to bring the Raiders back to Oakland, which the NFL all too happily signed off on. Less than three months later, the Raiders defeated the Chargers at the old Oakland Coliseum on opening day.

Since then, Los Angeles has been a ghost town to NFL football, with rumors surrounding every low-attendance team concerning a football Manifest Destiny. Except now the NFL is handing out a detailed blueprint on how to populate the City of Angels with excited fans in team colors.

After the ignominious exits of the last two Los Angeles teams, let’s hope whoever winds up in TV land can actually get their games on television.

Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for Wrestlechat.net and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.

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Now That LeBron Won, Who’s Now Under Pressure To Win A Ring?

July 02, 2012 By: Category: NBA, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

LeBron-James“Under pressure. pushing down on me. pressing down on you. no man ask for.”

For those of you who are fans of rock music, or specifically the legendary band QUEEN, the above quote is from their song, “Under Pressure,” which features the great David Bowie. The song is from the band’s “Hot Space” album. The lyric definitely applied to a one 3 time MVP LeBron James of the Miami Heat, the superstar NBA player who finally got his first NBA Championship ring after 9 years in the league. Throughout his career, he’s had to live up to very high expectations, and has been lauded as the “Chosen One,” and has been highly praised, since being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In 2010, when he was a free agent, he was the talk of that year’s off season. ESPN went overboard with the story of where he would go. On July 8,2010, LeBron James finally made up his mind, and on a now infamous special called “The Decision,” he announced he would “take his talents to South Beach.” He would join former Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh (also a free agent), and Miami Heat member Dwayne Wade as a member of the Miami Heat. With permission of the NBA, as both Bosh and James were not signed yet, the Heat had a celebration for the fans where LeBron said the infamous words, “Not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7…” That year, the team made it to the NBA Finals, but despite leading 2 games to 1 over the Dallas Mavericks, they eventually loss, to the delight of many, as the “Big Three,” became the target of hate, particularly LeBron.

This year, despite the season being shortened due to the NBA lockout, the Heat broke through, and won the second Title for the team. It was Chris Bosh’s first, and Dwayne Wade’s second. The team had to deal with Bosh’s abdominal injury, which caused him to miss several playoff games, and a hobbled Dwayne Wade, but LeBron James did step up in the playoffs, and won his first ring, despite what ESPN “First Take’s” Skip Bayless says. James became the MVP of the Finals as well.

As far as the hate, I think now that James has won, people need to lay off, even though I know there are people who never will. That is their issue. Did James handle leaving Cleveland right? No. He admits that. He even admits it was immature to have the celebration, and brag about how many titles he was going to win. It is called growing up. He has won his ring. Time to let the hate go.

Now that LeBron James has won HIS ring, I would like to examine some individuals in the sports world who are as QUEEN and David Bowie would say, “under pressure” to win THEIR first ring.

So, here we go.

Dallas Cowboy QB Tony Romo

Tony Romo is one of the most controversial QBs in the NFL. I say that because when the discussion of elite QBs come up, the experts get into a real debate when Romo’s name comes up. There are some that really love Romo, and others that are not that sold on him. NFL fans are very divided on him as well. Of course, you have former Cowboys such as Roger Staubach, and Troy Aikman singing his praises. Former QB Brett Farve said recently that “Romo is a lot like me.” So, there are those who like the guy.

Romo can put up great statistics. He has a career passer rating of 95.6 which is second of all time in NFL history. He has a good team under him. Romo can move in the pocket, and make some moves out of the pocket. He is not as mobile as Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger, but he has some mobility. My problem with him is he is 1-3 in the playoffs. The Dallas Cowboys have not even SEEN a Super Bowl since February, 1996. Romo also has to eliminate the one thing, at least in my mind, that keeps him out of being an elite QB. There have been plenty of games where the Cowboys appear to have the game in hand, and Romo will, at the most inopportune time, throw the dumb interception. Cowboy fans reading this must know what I mean. Get a tape of that Lions game of 2011, if you know what I mean. He also will fumble the ball too. He has to eliminate that garbage. He has to be more of a leader, especially down the stretch in late December if he wants to lead the team deep into the playoffs.

The San Diego Chargers

Yes, I know the Chargers have been to the Super Bowl, but that was in late January of 1995, and they got demolished by the San Fransisco 49ers. All I have heard on ESPN for years was how “classy” San Diego was, and how they were the “class” of the league. At that point, they became a very good team when they got Marty Schottenheimer as head coach, and the now retired Ladanian Tomlinson, and the brash, but good Philip Rivers at QB. They had Vincent Jackson at that point, who is now a Buccaneer. They still have Antonio Gates, who is battered, and bruised due to foot issues, but he is still good when healthy.

After a 14-2 season, in 2006, and a bye, they lost to the Patriots, Schottenheimer got fired thanks to GM A.J Smith. Smith hired Norv Turner. Well, in recent years, the Chargers have missed the playoffs twice, and have gotten knocked out of the playoffs. They only reached the AFC Championship game once in the 2007/08 season against the Patriots. Rivers played valiantly with a torn ACL, while “Mr. Classy” Ladanian Tomlinson who attempted to play with an injured MCL, played maybe one series, and sat on the sidelines with his helmet on, looking like Darth Vader.

Well, the Chargers are really under the gun. For years, all we hear is how talented they are. I have heard Rivers run his mouth. As ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption’s” Mike Wilbon had once said of the Chargers, “So much talent. Too much mouth.” I think the window may be closing on this team, and since a good portion of them like to run their mouths, it is time to put up, or shut up.

Eagles Coach Andy Reid

If ANY head coach is under pressure to win a Super Bowl ring, I can’t think of any other except Andy Reid. The Philadelphia Eagles fanbase has called for his head for years when he finishes the season without the Lombardi Trophy, even when he has a good season. From watching the way he coaches, and from watching the decisions he makes on the field, I can understand why the Eagle fanbase gets upset. He calls conservative plays when he should go for it, and things like that.

The strange thing about Andy Reid is that he seems to survive everything. Even seasons where other coaches would have been fired, he somehow hangs on to his job. Anyway, his record as head coach is 126-81-1 W-L, and 10-9 W-L in playoffs, but the big albatross on him is zero Super Bowl titles. Last year, he had to juggle a whole bunch of new players that former backup QB Vince Young called, “The Dream Team,” and now that there is a full off season, there will be pressure to bring home that Lombardi, or he will be on the hot seat again.

Source: “Under Pressure” by Queen, featuring David Bowie. From the Album “Hot Space.”

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead

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NFL 2012-13 Pre-Training Camp Power Rankings

July 02, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Tom Brady puntAlright, so we’re not even in training camp yet. So what? You’re like me: so happy to see something debatable and NFL-related, you’ll gobble it up like a street urchin on table scraps. Debate and speculation for a forthcoming NFL season are always fun, and consider this a handy primer on certain off-season moves that you may have missed. As always, this is one man’s opinion, and one man’s opinion alone.

1. New England Patriots (2011 record: 13-3)

Las Vegas projected wins: 12

Biggest free agent move: While Brandon Lloyd and Joseph Addai are attractive additions to a highly-efficient offense, the signing of defense end Jonathan Fanene from the Bengals may be even more potent. The Patriots let 33-year old Andre Carter walk, despite having ten sacks and a Pro Bowl selection. Fanene, through an injury-plagued career, gutted out 6.5 sacks for an improved Bengals squad in 2011, despite playing mostly as a back-up on nickel downs. He is expected to start for New England.

2012 outlook: Other than Carter, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Gary Guyton all exiting, it’s essentially the core group from a year ago that, had Rob Gronkowski had snared that Hail Mary pass, would be defending champions. With this nucleus in place, and barring a surprise team uprising in the AFC East, there’s no reason the Patriots won’t be back in the thick of things in 2012.

2. Green Bay Packers (2011 record: 15-1)

Las Vegas projected wins: 12

Biggest free agent move: Despite having only one loss, Green Bay’s total defense was a wash. Dom Capers’ militia was nineteenth in total D, and worst in the league in pass defense. Near the bottom of the league in sacks, with 29 for the team, the Packers placed much of their off-season emphasis on adding linemen, and the most noteworthy is end Anthony Hargrove. Hargrove was part of a much-improved Seahawks defense in 2011, but may only get eight games to show his stuff in 2012, thanks to his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.

2012 outlook: As Aaron Rodgers goes, the franchise goes. His record setting season in 2011, complete with a 122.5 passer rating, met a bittersweet end in the postseason at the hands of the New York Giants. But if the defense is shored up, Rodgers won’t need to assume the role of Superman in getting Green Bay back to the promised land. Balance on both sides of the ball will be the key.

3. New York Giants (2011 record: 9-7)

Las Vegas projected wins: 9.5

Biggest free agent move: After Jake Ballard went down with a torn ACL in the Super Bowl (which led to an unlikely squabble between the Giants and Patriots over him), the Giants made sure to re-sign Bear Pascoe in the offseason. Needing more than that, New York also added Martellus Bennett from Dallas; a big bodied tight end (6’7”, 248 lbs) that has had to play second fiddle to Jason Witten more often than not.

2012 outlook: It was an unlikely jaunt for that fourth Super Bowl title, and New York may not have made the postseason had they stumbled against the Jets on Christmas Eve. Even the oddsmakers aren’t giving them more than a puncher’s chance. But the Giants are a team that wins in tough situations, and Eli Manning, when he gets on a roll, is capable of making a run toward his third ring.

4. San Francisco 49ers (2011 record: 13-3)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: Missing out on the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes, and falling just short of a Super Bowl chance, Jim Harbaugh broke the DiBartolo bank this offseason in adding proven offensive stars. While the Randy Moss signing gets the attention, the focus should be on Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham. Moss will draw tight coverage, allowing Manningham to help out Alex Smith with great catches in the third banana role.

2012 outlook: Shawntae Spencer is the only notable defensive player that left the 49ers this offseason, and he did nothing last year as a benchwarmer. Beyond that, it’s the same run-stopping, claustrophobia-inducing defense that came oh-so-close to a trip to Indianapolis. Even as the offense finds its identity, marking the 49ers down as NFC West champions today isn’t unrealistic.

5. Baltimore Ravens (2011 record: 12-4)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: Baltimore focused more on re-signing its current players rather than shop for big-ticket talents from other teams, but one loss forced them to scour the NFL “personal ads” this spring. After losing Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs to New Orleans, the Ravens signed 35-year-old Bobbie Williams from the rival Bengals. In eight years in Cincinnati, Williams has played six entire seasons at starter for Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton.

2012 outlook: A botched field goal attempt by Billy Cundiff kept Baltimore from forcing overtime in the AFC Championship Game. Since then, the Ravens have had setbacks with the Grubbs loss, as well as Terrell Suggs’ off-field injury, which is jeopardizing his season. If rookie Courtney Upshaw does a decent Suggs impression, then Baltimore should remain in the championship hunt.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (2011 record: 12-4)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: The Steelers’ biggest addition this offseason may have been to the sidelines, as opposed to on the field. After winding up twenty-second in the NFL in total offense, the Steelers chose not to re-sign five-year offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, and instead acquired the services of former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, who is known for his combativeness and risk-taking. 2011’s eleventh worst team in scoring could use the jump-start.

2012 outlook: The Steelers are a curious study: their defense never seems to slow down, even as many of their veterans push or exceed the NFL life expectancy. Tim Tebow’s unusual playing style, and ability to connect on long passes, was probably an aberration in that Wild Card game. Until Pittsburgh puts forth more weak performances like that this year, no need to hit the panic button.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: This was actually a trade, and it ranks as a steal for Philadelphia. In March, the birds picked up linebacker DeMeco Ryans, after not having a quality LB since Jeremiah Trotter’s second run through the city. Since Brian Dawkins left town, the defense has lacked a vocal, do-as-I-do leader, and Ryans’ aggressive attack and confident swagger can rub off on linebackers and safeties that functioned without a rudder a year ago.

2012 outlook: Sloppy losses early in the year doomed the “Dream Team”, and many of the new puzzle pieces (Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith) were all jettisoned accordingly. For the Eagles to get back to form, Michael Vick has to be on point after being erratic last season. Better play from the linebackers and safeties (including recent signing OJ Atogwe) may steer the Eagles right.

8. Houston Texans (2011 record: 10-6)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: Losing Mario Williams to Buffalo, and voluntarily trading DeMeco Ryans to Philadelphia, indicates confidence in what Wade Phillips has otherwise in his revamped 3-4 scheme. Even then, Phillips I’m sure was the driving force in bringing in one of his heavies from Dallas, linebacker Bradie James. Coming off a lousy 2011, in which he posted but 29 tackles and a fumble recovery, James reunites with the coach with whom he had his most successful years in Big D.

2012 outlook: Houston has itself a ‘grace period’ after their maiden playoff run, and that’ll be fortified with another division title, since the AFC South is still relatively weak. The long-term health of Andre Johnson, with his many foot and ankle injuries, will be a concern, but there are many positives otherwise. A healthy Matt Schaub and a crushing defense will tell the story in 2012.

9. Detroit Lions (2011 record: 10-6)

Las Vegas projected wins: 9.5

Biggest free agent move: Curiously, defensive-minded Jim Schwartz waited until the later rounds of the draft to add linebacking and secondary help for his disappointing D. In free agency, however, Schwartz picked up the young and capable Jacob Lacey from Indianapolis. The Colts didn’t have much to celebrate last year, but Lacey managed to shine with a pick six and his expected handful of pass deflections in his eleven starts. Lacey will try to replace Eric Wright, who signed with Tampa Bay.

2012 outlook: Plain and simple, that playoff berth would not have happened if Matthew Stafford had gone down with injury for the third straight season. The Lions had zero running game (due to injuries), and a defense that regressed heavily from 2010. Given the benefit of the doubt, and with Jahvid Best healthy, the Lions have as good a chance as any of polishing those shortcomings to a shine.

10. New Orleans Saints (2011 record: 13-3)

Las Vegas projected wins: 10

Biggest free agent move: Losing Carl Nicks to division rival Tampa Bay certainly stings a team left reeling from a tumultuous offseason. Of course, if you read the Ravens entry already, you know that New Orleans’ counterpunch was to bring on Ben Grubbs to fill his spot at guard. There aren’t many guards in the NFL that you could call “interchangeable” with Nicks, but Grubbs, a Pro Bowler in 2011 just as Nicks was, was a Godsend in the free agency pool.

2012 outlook: The bounty scandal casts a dark shadow over the organization, with Jonathan Vilma likely done for the season, and defensive end Will Smith guaranteed to miss time. Drew Brees’ contract situation is just as sticky, but the franchise’s leader has indicated that he’ll play in 2012, grievances or not. With distractions all around, the Saints may be ripe for the picking.

11. Denver Broncos (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 9.5

Biggest free agent move: Here I was going to wax poetic on Tracy Porter or Andre Caldwell, but somebody just told me that Denver went out and got future first-ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning to be their franchise quarterback. If this is true, then that would certainly explain the trade of miracle man Tim Tebow to New York, wouldn’t it? Denver’s putting a lot of faith in Manning’s surgically-repaired neck, as well as his age (36), in their attempt at reclaiming championship glory.

2012 outlook: This one’s a coin flip. If Peyton is the Peyton that wrecked defenses with his dial-an-audible play calling, and he’s able to gel with a new cast (which includes familiar target, Jacob Tamme, at tight end), then Denver should take the West. Any setbacks due to his injuries, or from Denver having a tough schedule (as last year’s division champ) and the hype could be for naught.

12. Cincinnati Bengals (2011 record: 9-7)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7.5

Biggest free agent move: Andy Dalton and AJ Green’s dual rookie season provided a surprise spark to a Bengals team that bid farewell to vets Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens, and Chad Ocho Cinco. With Cincinnati’s running game a colossal failure in 2011, the team is also breaking up with Cedric Benson, who hasn’t regained his 2009 form. The solution looks to be BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who was camouflaged in New England, but brings less baggage to Cincinnati.

2012 outlook: The knock on Cincinnati in 2011, despite sneaking into the postseason, was that they had an easy schedule, and didn’t beat anyone good. Pittsburgh and Baltimore each swept them, and Houston chopped them up in round one. The schedule is more imposing for the forthcoming season, so the Bengals had better hold their own against the Steelers and Ravens for starters.

13. Tennessee Titans (2011 record: 9-7)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7

Biggest free agent move: Tennessee just missed the postseason in 2011, and their calling card was a defense that did a solid job keeping opponents out of the end zone. To make their reserve even stronger, the Titans have enlisted Kamerion Wimbley from Oakland. A hybrid defensive end/linebacker, the 28-year-old has racked up sixteen sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble over the last two seasons, playing for non-contenders.

2012 outlook: Jacksonville and Indianapolis are still cobbling together their identities, leaving Tennessee as the only real threat to shove Houston off their perch. Chris Johnson’s disappointing season has been highlighted as part of their downfall a year ago, same with Kenny Britt’s injury. But it’s a new year, and Tennessee might stun those that think Houston has a cakewalk into the postseason.

14. Chicago Bears (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 8.5

Biggest free agent move: Brandon Marshall was a trade, and I’d still be inclined to put him here, but let’s shine a light on a player you never hear about. With Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, you wouldn’t think signing a linebacker would be important. But as the Bears total defense slipped in 2011, Chicago went out and signed Tampa Bay’s Geno Hayes, who is seven years younger than Briggs. Hayes is a reliable tackler who can play the run, as well as rush the quarterback efficiently.

2012 outlook: Jay Cutler’s broken thumb doomed the club last season, and Mike Martz’s playcalling didn’t jive with what the rest of the team wanted. Now Martz is retired, Cutler’s healthy, and he’s reunited with Denver teammate Brandon Marshall. But Matt Forte’s holding out for a new deal, and a team that is seemingly never all on the same page still has issues to iron out.

15. Carolina Panthers (2011 record: 6-10)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7.5

Biggest free agent move: If you’re facing Carolina, the last thing you want Cam Newton to have is effective weapons at his disposal. He’s already got a potent running attack, Steve Smith, and his own freakish abilities. Now he’s got fullback Mike Tolbert from San Diego, who is a nightmare out in the flat for short passes and dump offs. Plus with his pass-blocking capabilities, he gives Newton more time to make reads, and can spring him on design sneaks. Yikes.

2012 outlook: Is this the new “Greatest Show on Turf”? Carolina’s ten losses a year ago featured five by a touchdown or less, and you can tie that to Newton’s growing pains, in spite of his flashes of brilliance. But it’s the defense that needs the kickstart, and Carolina’s hoping some of their younger players on that side of the ball (especially rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly) light that fuse.

16. Atlanta Falcons (2011 record: 10-6)

Las Vegas projected wins: 9

Biggest free agent move: After their pass defense proved below-average a year ago, they let their run defense erode. Curtis Lofton flew the coop to New Orleans, after being the team’s leading tackler, and the best they could replace him with is Lofa Tatupu, an aging ex-Pro Bowler who didn’t even play in 2011. Tatupu and youngster Akeem Dent will compete for the job. If you’re talking good moves, the three year deal that kept John Abraham as starting defensive end is as good as it gets.

2012 outlook: Atlanta was unable to draft high after trading picks in 2011, and their run in free agency wasn’t exactly stellar. The 2-point playoff loss to the Giants could be the harbinger of a tough run, especially as Carolina and Tampa Bay went to greater lengths to improve themselves this offseason. Something tells me the Falcons could be in for a down year.

17. New York Jets (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 8.5

Biggest free agent move: Rex Ryan knows his defense, and he’s ready and willing to compensate for weakness at a moment’s notice. Strong safety Brodney Pool jumped to Dallas, and perennial starter Jim Leonhard remains a free agent. Remedy: first sign LaRon Landry, who is still not 100% from an Achillies injury, then sign reliable veteran Yeremiah Bell from the Dolphins. Like a true Ryan with any kind of vested authority, Rex won’t let his defense slip even half a step.

2012 outlook: The image of the Jets locker room during 2011’s waning stages was that of lawless chaos, and zero accountability. LaDainian Tomlinson will one day pen an autobiography, and I’m sure that chapter will be quite juicy. Now with Tim Tebow standing just beyond Mark Sanchez’ shadow, maintaining focus and poise in 2012 is a daunting task for the Jets.

18. Kansas City Chiefs (2011 record: 7-9)

Las Vegas projected wins: 8

Biggest free agent move: One team’s salary cap casualty is another team’s treasure. On the eve of free agency, Houston axed offensive tackle Eric Winston, rather than working with him to restructure his deal. Winston, who’s started every game for the Texans in five straight seasons, landed with the Chiefs days later. The Chiefs gave up 34 total sacks last season, and Winston will certainly help Matt Cassel, who injured his hand last year, stay upright.

2012 outlook: Lemony Snicket didn’t have as many unfortunate events as Kansas City did in 2011. The season-ending injuries to Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, and Tony Moeaki, plus the ousting of coach Todd Haley, put an ax through the Chiefs’ Western title defense. Romeo Crennel, as head coach, has the defensive personnel to turn it around, and Kansas City may be this season’s comeback team.

19. Dallas Cowboys (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 8.5

Biggest free agent move: The once-great Terrence Newman had become a liability at cornerback; so much so that Dallas didn’t hesitate to release him before free agency started. His heir could come in the form of speedy Brandon Carr, who signed with the Cowboys for $50 million over five years. Dallas plummeted in pass defense, allowing a shade under 4000 yards over the course of the season (about 244 per game). Out with the old, in with the new.

2012 outlook: Dallas may be hobbled by some interesting losses, including starting offensive linemen Kyle Kosier and Montrae Holland. Laurent Robinson was the surprise star of the receiving corps, but he wound up signing in Jacksonville. Dallas is a team that tends to “yo-yo” from year to year, and if Tony Romo doesn’t match his great 2011 numbers, things may go south in 2012.

20. Oakland Raiders (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7

Biggest free agent move: Oakland’s defense sank like the Lusitania a year ago, and the response was to pore through the free agent landscape in search of the equivalent of leak putty. The most intriguing signing is Rams cornerback Ron Bartell, who sustained a neck injury in week one against Philadelphia, and missed the rest of the year. Prior to that, Bartell was a consistent tackler and swift in coverage, particularly in pass deflection. He’s not Nnamdi Asomugha, but he’s something.

2012 outlook: It’s the first full season without the curmudgeon and short-sightedness of Al Davis, but it feels like his ghost lingers. Despite a .500 season, Oakland still dropped head coach Hue Jackson in favor of defensive whiz kid Dennis Allen. Allen may promote a turnover-heavy defense, but Oakland needs continuity and identity before all else, and it just feels like square one again.

21. San Diego Chargers (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 9

Biggest free agent move: After losing Vincent Jackson to Tampa Bay, the Chargers have spared no expense in bringing in potential replacements at the wide receiver position. While Eddie Royal, Roscoe Parrish, and Michael Spurlock are solid situational pick-ups, the crown jewel is clearly Robert Meachem, a deep-ball threat who stood out at times in Drew Brees’ “everyone gets involved” offense, but will now be tasked as the ace of Philip Rivers’ downfield army.

2012 outlook: Hate to say it, but as long as Norv Turner is still the head coach, he tends to stunt the growth of a team that often shows promise. During the team’s six game losing streak in October and November last year, opponents never scored less than 16 points on them. Playing the AFC North and NFC South, the Chargers may yet struggle again this year.

22. Arizona Cardinals (2011 record: 8-8)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7

Biggest free agent move: Keeping Kevin Kolb and/or John Skelton upright has been a tall order, as has been the need to pick up rushing yards. In fact, the Cardinals only went over 100 yards as a team five times in 2011. Playing San Francisco twice a year made Arizona familiar with veteran guard Adam Snyder, who was the 49ers primary starting right guard last season. It’s not a signing meant to dazzle, but offensive line continuity makes all the difference.

2012 outlook: There’s cause for excitement among Cardinals fans on the offensive side of the ball. Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts are already a force of nature at wide receiver, but rookie Michael Floyd adds an exciting checkdown option. Coupled with running back Ryan Williams being healthy after missing all of last season, and Arizona could be onto something.

23. Seattle Seahawks (2011 record: 7-9)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7

Biggest free agent move: Seattle was unable to retain the services of their reliable linebacker David Hawthorne, who went to the Saints to try and fit into Jonathan Vilma’s vacated cleats. Since the signing was in April, this left Seattle few options to replace him with. In an attempt to fill that void, the Seahawks added the once highly-regarded Barrett Ruud. Ruud was a sure tackler in Tampa Bay before injuries limited him to nine games for Tennessee a season ago.

2012 outlook: Seattle may as well air a local game show entitled “Quarterback Idol” with Pete Carroll in his gaudiest Steven Tyler duds. Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn, and rookie Russell Wilson all seem to have an opportunity to earn the starter’s role. Generally speaking, open competition for the starting job doesn’t indicate a contender, but Carroll’s surprised us before.

24. Miami Dolphins (2011 record: 6-10)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7.5

Biggest free agent move: This is the part where I’m supposed to pay lip service to Chad Ocho Cinco and his borderline disturbing acts of attention whoring, but I’ll focus more on David Garrard. After sitting out 2011 to repair a herniated disc, the 34-year-old former Jaguar brings a consistent and solid resume to the Dolphins. Joe Philbin has been working Garrard out with the starting unit, which is surprising considering how well Matt Moore played last season.

2012 outlook: From 2004 onward, the Dolphins have managed only two winning seasons; one of which came in 2008 when the AFC East was in disarray. The need to bring in proven offensive studs comes as Reggie Bush solidifies himself as an every down back, so Philbin’s looking to put it together early. In a hard-to-navigate AFC East, I’m just not sure it’s possible.

25. Buffalo Bills (2011 record: 6-10)

Las Vegas projected wins: 7

Biggest free agent move: Having the third worst total defense in the league, attributed mostly to an awful run defense, necessitated a swift remedy. To that end, Buffalo threw $100 million over six years to Houston’s Mario Williams, with $50 million guaranteed (the most lucrative contract ever for a defensive player). Williams played only five games in 2011 due to a torn pectoral, yet still managed to earn five sacks. Buffalo’s gambling on him to stay healthy and be the difference maker.

2012 outlook: Here’s 2011 in a nutshell for Buffalo: go 4-2, give Ryan Fitzpatrick a six year, $59 million deal, and then go 2-8 the rest of the way. Granted, the defense was a huge part of those losses, giving up no less than 23 points in all eight defeats. But by adding Williams and rookie corner Stephon Gilmore, the Bills are at least making solid moves to fix glaring holes.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2011 record: 4-12)

Las Vegas projected wins: 6

Biggest free agent move: In most other years, the addition of tight end Dallas Clark would be heralded as a game-changer for any franchise. But Tampa Bay did better for themselves, not only landing Carl Nicks to improve the offensive line, but Vincent Jackson as lead receiver. Indeed, the team with the sixth worst offense in 2011 underwent an extreme makeover, stockpiling blockers and playmakers to make up for Josh Freeman’s regressive season, and to give him more advantages.

2012 outlook: If ever a team in the bottom quarter of this list had room for, as Heath Ledger would say, ‘aggressive expansion’, it’s Tampa Bay. Good choices in the draft on the defensive side (Mark Barron, Lavonte David) will help fix the league’s worst run defense of a year ago. If the new-look offense clicks, the Buccaneers have a chance to stun some doubters.

27. Washington Redskins (2011 record: 5-11)

Las Vegas projected wins: 6.5

Biggest free agent move: You won’t believe this, but Washington opened up their checkbook this offseason and signed many a player. Wide receivers Jabar Gaffney and Santana Moss are getting older (Moss was limited to 584 yards in 2011), so a youth infusion became necessary. Enter Pierre Garcon from Indianapolis, who managed 947 yards and six touchdowns for an anemic, Peyton-less Colts team last year. With $20.5 million guaranteed, Garcon is surely the ace at wideout.

2012 outlook: Is Robert Griffin III this year’s Cam Newton? The hype machine and Redskin fan expectations are spinning on the gusts of that notion, surely. From year to year, particularly in the Daniel Snyder era, the Redskins have had trouble maintaining continuity, and building on small successes. If the Skins are going to make it, Griffin had better be that savior.

28. Minnesota Vikings (2011 record: 3-13)

Las Vegas projected wins: 6

Biggest free agent move: Minnesota wasn’t particularly aggressive this offseason in trying to rebuild their rock bottom defense, save for signing veteran corner Chris Carr. On offense, with the need to give Christian Ponder more reliable targets (especially with Percy Harvin’s disgruntled mindset), the Vikings added athletic Jerome Simpson from Cincinnati. Before Simpson can bring his gymnastics to the Vikings, he has to serve a three game suspension for drug-related offenses.

2012 outlook: It’s a long way to the top in the NFC North. Green Bay remains a challenge to unseat, while Detroit and Chicago are at least in position to try and do something about it. Minnesota needs more than Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson to get back to form, and this is a case where Rome isn’t going to be built in a day, let alone a season.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2011 record: 5-11)

Las Vegas projected wins: 5.5

Biggest free agent move: Marcedes Lewis led the team in receiving yards with 460 last season, and that won’t get it done. Complimented by the drafting of Justin Blackmon, wide receiver Laurent Robinson comes off a career year in Dallas, where he had 858 yards and 11 touchdowns, outclassing Miles Austin, and topping Dez Bryant in touchdowns. Dangerous off the bench, Robinson will now lead a corps of Blackmon, Mike Thomas, and veteran Lee Evans for the Jags.

2012 outlook: Maurice Jones-Drew had years taken off his career carrying Jacksonville on his back, all while running to daylight for the rushing title. The additions at wide receiver, and competition between Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne for the quarterback spot, are steps in the right direction. The defense did their part in 2011; now the offense has to put it together.

30. Cleveland Browns (2011 record: 4-12)

Las Vegas projected wins: 5.5

Biggest free agent move: Much of Cleveland’s offseason focus centered on the draft, where the Browns picked up the seeds and sod that will, presumably, grow their offense into a bountiful harvest. On the free agency front, Cleveland acquired veteran defensive end Juqua Parker, who despite seeing less playing time in Philadelphia in 2011, still scored two defensive touchdowns last season. The Browns’ defense held up well last year, but had only 32 sacks, which Parker can aid with.

2012 outlook: Drafting a running back and quarterback in the first round of any draft is akin to hanging an “UNDER CONSTRUCTION” sign on your operation. Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden are likely to start opening day, so it’s forgivable if there are bumps in the road for Cleveland. Mike Holmgren’s not rushing into anything, so Browns fans, as usual, just be patient.

31. St. Louis Rams (2011 record: 2-14)

Las Vegas projected wins: 6

Biggest free agent move: Jeff Fisher wasted no time in giving his new team the brashness and shameless grit that his old Titans had. By transplanting the obnoxious Cortland Finnegan into his secondary, on $27 million guaranteed, Fisher hopes to seal off the 25.4 points per game that the Rams gave up a year ago. In addition, the Rams only had 12 interceptions as a team, 9 among the secondary, and Finnegan’s aggressive coverage can open opportunities for his teammates to feed on.

2012 outlook: Fisher’s defenses have been traditionally hard to navigate, and he used the draft to add Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins within the first two rounds. The real challenge is going to be getting Sam Bradford right again. Coming off a limited season where he personally went 1-9, Bradford gains rookie Brian Quick, but has lost Brandon Lloyd. And so it continues.

32. Indianapolis Colts (2011 record: 2-14)

Las Vegas projected wins: 5.5

Biggest free agent move: With Andrew Luck as the opening day starter, it’s imperative to protect the investment with as much of a buffer as possible. This is where Samson Satele comes in. A proven starter at center for the Dolphins and Raiders, Satele replaces the aging Jeff Saturday, who departed for Green Bay. Luck may not have a whole lot around him to begin his career, but a center that’s started 74 games since 2007 will provide structure and reliability for him early on.

2012 outlook: The Colts ended up at the butt-end of the league a year ago, and this is where they begin the 2012 campaign. Reggie Wayne is one of the lone star holdovers from the Colts’ glory runs of the last few years, and coach Chuck Pagano has to rebuild the empire with a highly-touted would-be franchise quarterback. Unless Luck is a beast out of the chute, it’s going to be baby steps.

Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for Wrestlechat.net and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.

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