Tag Archive for Washington Redskins

If the NFL Playoffs Started Today…..

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We are nearly through the initial 15 week of the 2012 NFL regular season and a lot has been decided. With that in mind, there is still a lot of drama ready to take place in the remaining two weeks of the season heading into the playoffs in January.

I decided that it made sense for us to take a look at the playoff matchups if the second season were to start today. Who would have the upper hand in each game? What the Super Bowl might look like? Of course this can all change within the blink of an eye.

 

NFC Wildcard

 

(5) Seattle Seahawks at (4) Washington Redskins

Russell Wilson taking on Robert Griffin III in an opening round playoff game. The NFL seriously couldn’t draw it up any better if this were to happen. These quarterbacks are playing at the highest levels we have seen for rookies in quite some time, it not ever. They have combined for 48 total touchdowns and just 13 interceptions, while leading their teams to playoff contention.

Washington currently sits in a three-way tie for first in the NFC East and Seattle has the inside shot for the first wildcard spot.

This game comes down to a couple different factors. Despite winning two consecutive road games, Seattle really isn’t that good away from the Pacific Northwest. It will be going into a hostile environment with a rookie quarterback making his first playoff start. That usually spells doom. However, Washington’s defense ranks among the worst in the entire NFL against the pass, which bodes well for Wilson.

In the end, I will take the rookie playing a home over the rookie making his first playoff start on the road in a hostile environment.

 

(6) Minnesota Vikings at (3) Green Bay Packers

On the surface, this game wouldn’t even be close. Aaron Rodgers and the NFC North Champions taking on a struggling Christian Ponder at home in January. There is no way Minnesota would even be able to keep this game close. Well, that’s just on the surface.

The Vikings have someone by the name of Adrian Peterson, who is putting together one of the most impressive seasons for a running back in NFL history. He is currently on pace to surpass the 2,000 yard rushing mark after tearing up his left knee less than a year ago. Just think about that for a second.

I still don’t see Minnesota being able to pull out what would be a surprising playoff win in Lambeau. While the Packers come away with the win, this game would be much closer than originally anticipated.

 

AFC Wildcard 

 

(5) Indianapolis Colts at (4) Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore has not lost three in a row, but was able to sneak into the playoffs after a bunch of other AFC teams laid eggs in Week 15. While the Ravens have yet to clinch the AFC North, it’s looking more and more like they’ll end up with the No. 4 seed.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis is having one of the most surprising seasons in the entire NFL. It is 9-5 through 15 weeks and nearly assured of a playoff spot. What Andrew Luck has done as a rookie is nothing short of amazing.

This is a good matchup for the Colts as well. Baltimore ranks in the bottom 10 of the NFL against the pass, which indicates Luck would have a solid game. While the Colts secondary leaves a lot to be desired, I can easily see Indy pulling off a minor upset here.

 

(6) Cincinnati Bengals at (3) New England Patriots

New England lost a golden opportunity to earn a first-round bye when it fell to the San Francisco 49ers at home on Sunday. It is now probably going to have to take on the final AFC seed at home in the wildcard round.

Don’t fret.

The Patriots will not lose a home wildcard game against a team like Cincinnati. It just isn’t going to happen.

 

NFC Divisional Playoffs

 

(4) Washington Redskins at (1) Atlanta Falcons

Can Atlanta actually win its first playoff game under Matt Ryan? While the Falcons have been the best team (record-wise) in the NFC this season, there is a feeling that they’re vulnerable in the playoffs.

I just don’t envision Robert Griffin III being able to go into the Georgia Dome and coming away with a victory. Washington, no matter how great it has been playing recently, isn’t Super Bowl contenders at this point. Expect Atlanta to take care of business in a relatively easy manner.

 

(3) Green Bay Packers at (2) San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco already defeated Green Bay once this season. It went into Lambeau in the season opener and really dominated what is a great Packers team. The 49ers have an added dimension on the offensive side of the ball in the form of Colin Kaepernick, who was riding the pine behind Alex Smith in September’s game.

I wouldn’t expect this game to be too close. Aaron Rodgers can pick apart a secondary, but he won’t have an opportunity to going up against what is the most dominating front seven in the NFL. San Francisco wins by multiple scores here.

AFC Divisional Playoffs

 

(5) Indianapolis Colts at (1) Houston Texans

The Colts dream season comes crashing down in this one as the franchise realizes it isn’t ready to compete with the big boys on the biggest stage. Arian Foster will be able to exploit a weak Colts front seven and Houston will make it to the AFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history.

 

 

 

 

 

(3) New England Patriots at (1) Denver Broncos 

This would be one hell of a game. Peyton Manning against Tom Brady, part…… Well, you get the point. There is a real chance that Denver will go into this game in the midst of a 11-game winning streak. By no means does that indicate that it will run all over the defending AFC Champions.

While I expect this game to be really close, Manning pulls it out in front of the home crowd in Denver and takes it to the conference championship.

 

NFC Championship Game

 

(2) San Francisco 49ers at (1) Atlanta Falcons

This is a really good matchup for San Francisco. Its defense has the ability to turn Atlanta into a one dimensional offense, which will not work out too well with the type of scheme the 49ers run. While Roddy White and Julio Jones do create a tremendous amount of mismatches at wide receiver, I fully expect Carlos Rogers, Chris Culliver and Tarell Brown to be up to the task.

If this game is left into the right hand of Matt Ryan, Atlanta will be in trouble. We have seen the 49ers defense make elite quarterbacks look average over the course of the last couple seasons. That won’t change it Atlanta is unable to generate a running game with Michael Turner.

On the other side of the ball, Atlanta also matches up well against San Francisco’s offense. John Abraham and the pass rush should be able to put ample pressure on Colin Kaepernick. The one thing that I see San Francisco being able to take advantage of is Kaepernick’s athletic ability and willingness to run the ball on his own. If Atlanta is forced to the box in order to prevent him from running, we could easily see Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis with one on one coverage.

In the end, San Francisco pulls off the mild upset and returns to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1994.

AFC Championship Game

 

(2) Denver Broncos at (1) Houston Texans

While Houston would be considered the “favorite” here, I just don’t see them being able to stop Peyton Manning and the Broncos passing game. The Texans have a wide array of issues in the defensive secondary and will struggle to keep with Demaryius Thomas and Erick Decker down the field.

On the other hand, Denver should have issues being able to stop both Arian Foster Andre Johnson in this one. Its front seven isn’t the greatest in the world and can be beaten off the line. If the Broncos give Foster any type of holes to run through, he will  eat them apart.

Expect a high-scoring game, but the road-tripping Broncos will take it and return to the Super Bowl for the first time since last millennium.

 

Super Bowl 

 

Denver Broncos vs San Francisco 49ers

John Elway will look to get his revenge against the franchise that embarrassed him in Super Bowl XXIV by the score of 55-10. The good news for Elway is that he won’t have to play against San Francisco’s dominating defense. The better news for Elway and company is that the 49ers don’t have Joe Montana to throw the ball to Jerry Rice in this one.

While many of us are probably pulling for a Patriots-49ers rematch, especially after how Sunday night’s game went, Denver will spoil the part.

Manning should be able to do what no quarterback in the NFL has done against San Francisco this season. That is, of course, being able to stand strong in the pocket and finding his receivers on the outside with a decent lane to throw to. Manning has been sacked the least amount of times in the NFL this season, and don’t expect San Francisco’s front seven to be able to put a whole lot of pressure on him.

On the other hand, Colin Kaepernick matches up well against Denver’s defense. He has the arm strength to get the ball deep against lackluster corners and can easily use his athletic ability to get out of the pocket and make something out of nothing.

This would be a really high-scoring Super Bowl with Denver coming out on top by something to the tune of 38-34.

The 11 Best Players in Today’s NFL Never to Play in a Super Bowl: Part One

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In sports the ultimate individuals collaborate to win the ultimate team prize. In the NFL that prize is the Super Bowl. Careers are made in the contests leading up to the big game, however careers are defined be how players perform in that game.

 

The tragedy of this judgment is some of the game’s greats never reach that platform. This list is dedicated to today’s greats who have not had that opportunity.

 
The NFL is littered with all-time greats who have never played in the greatest of games. Some players such as Warren Moon and Barry Sanders rest in Canton, while others like Randall Cunningham, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Cris Carter are certainly headed there. All share the common bond of not only not having a Super Bowl ring but never have even played in the game. That is the true tragedy.

 
To have never been afforded the opportunity to shine brightly for all the world to see is the ultimate irony for these stars. This current list is a mixture of explosive yet seasoned players, who have quietly built impeccable individual resumes.
Some have tasted brief playoff success only to leave the table before partaking in the main dish. Others have never even won a playoff game or been to the playoffs.

 

In a world where the victorious receive the spoils, it is truly the agony for those who endure defeat.
The list of the game’s most unfulfilled;

 
11. Maurice Jones-Drew, Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If MJD was a Patriot he would be a god whose name would ring from coast to coast. Instead one of the game’s premier offensive threats is regulated to NFL purgatory, also known as Jacksonville. Making matters worse the Jaguars have decided to accompany asinine decision making with incompetent player development and not pay Jones-Drew the money he so richly deserves.

Jones-Drew personifies what a football player, better yet a warrior embodies. The running back is durable, reliable, and relentless. Bigger running backs have failed mightily at displaying the toughness of Jones-Drew, who has managed to play a complete season in four of his six years in the league. The Jaguars’ have decided to ignore his three seasons of ten or more touchdowns and have chosen to scoff at “everyday Im hustling” approach on every single play.

Jones-Drew has survived poor offensive line play, a lack of any consistent threat on the outside, and most of all horrendous coaching, only to have his career unfulfilled. It is one thing to lose, but it is another game entirely to accept losing. It appears the Jaguars have accepted and embrace being a losing organization, while MJD refuses to accept defeat. Few players display such a championship heart only to have first round results.

Here’s hoping the Jags allow MJD to pursue happiness in another uniform. A trade to a team preferable focused on playing championship ball and not cheap hard ball with its players.

10. Nnamdi Asomugha, Cornerback, Philadelphia Eagles 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the last four years Asomugha has been one of the best football players in the National Football League. The cornerback excelled amid constant turmoil in Oakland and was able to cash out and head to greener pastures.

Yet, Nnamdi’s team success has yet to run parallel with his individual success. The cornerback has NEVER played in the playoffs. The defensive back for all his glory has yet to register a postseason pass defense or tackle.

Asomugha choose the Philadelphia Eagles in part because the franchise had a recent history of playoff appearances. Unfortunately the cornerback’s streak of eight straight seasons without making the postseason would hit nine.

The Eagles unexpected year of failure was made possible by an unexpected decline in Asomugha’s play. A new year will hopefully bring new results for the former Golden Bear.  Now resting on the wrong side of 30 the defensive back will not have too many more cracks at snapping his unheralded streak. His team’s failures have become a staple in what would otherwise appear to be an established career.

Right or wrong Asomugha, more than most players, needs a Super Bowl ring.  Simply put a Super Bowl title could place Asomugha in Hall-of-Fame company. However, another season of unfulfilled promise and the cornerback would undoubtedly be just another player who took the money and never delivered on the promise.

 

 
9. Jason Witten, Tight End, Dallas Cowboys 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To some this is an odd choice unless you are a Giants, Redskins, or Eagles fan. To love Jason Witten you must first have to hate the Dallas Cowboys. Its tough to find a more complete football and impossible to find a more complete tight end. Witten has earned the right to play in the big game.

Unlike some on this list the tight end has gotten the most of his talent and has never cheated the game. Witten is a warrior’s warrior and he again unlike most on this list has been let down by his teammates, time and time again. Accept when the playoffs come around then Witten conforms to the company he keeps and vastly under performs.

Five playoff games with no touchdowns or one game over a hundred yards is explainable. Witten is good enough to control a game by himself and is equipped to dominate in the playoffs. The tight end most find a way to produce in the biggest moments the Cowboy will never see the biggest of moments.

 

8. London Fletcher, Linebacker, Washington Redskins 

Imagine working for a company and never missing a day. Imagine receiving rave reviews for the work you have done, but too little consequence. An exercise in futility would best describe the career of London Fletcher.
For 14 years Fletcher has played every game like it was his last. In fact, for 12 of those years the linebacker literally played in every game. Fletcher has played in one, yes a single, playoff game in his entire career. To put that in perspective the linebacker has played in 224 games and only one of those has been for a championship.

The other games while relevant allowed him to play for another day.
At the end of the day Fletcher gave everything he had to the game of football and exceeded perceived limitations that others had bestowed upon him. The community to which he serves will always hold him in the highest of regards, even if the history of the league will not.
 


7. Ed Reed, Safety, Baltimore Ravens

To some Ed Reed is one of the best safeties to ever play the game, while too others he is nothing more than a riverboat gambler. Either way for a decade now Reed has excelled. The Baltimore Ravens have been a perennial playoff contender for the last four seasons and most recently reached the AFC title game, where the lost by three points to the New England Patriots.

 
One more play and Reed is not on this list, but he is and essentially because of that one play. The Ravens have needed Reed to make that one magical play he has become accustomed to making. The safety has played in two AFC title games and has not registered one interception, or even a tackle for that matter.

 
Reed’s penchant for interceptions seems to wane the deeper the Ravens get into the playoffs. In fact, of the safeties eight postseason interceptions seven came in the wildcard games. Its tough to imagine such a prolific player not being able to shine in their biggest moments, and deliver his team a victory.

 

 
6. Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings 

Three playoff games is unacceptable for such a talent, insert excuses here. Peterson has been one of the game’s most productive and explosive players, and his talent alone should be good enough for at least one playoff win. Yet, here he sits on the brink of being a “whats his name” player on a forgotten franchise.
Although Peterson has not quite underachieved in his limited playoff appearances it is hard to forget his 72 fumbles in the 2010 NFC Championship game. It is hard to fathom a player that good could possibly never get a chance to play for the ultimate prize.

 
A torn ACL and MCL will definitely rob Peterson of his some of the explosiveness that we have come accustomed to seeing.

In addition, the Minnesota Vikings are a mess this year and it doesn’t look like anyone is coming to clean. So another season and thus another year will be taken away from Peterson without an opportunity to shine on the NFL’s biggest stage.

 

Part Two to be released Next Week

2012 NFL Power Rankings: Version 1.0

Pro Football Nuts

 

It might be too early to take a look at where most teams stand in the National Football League. After all, we are just coming off of one week of preseason football. Talk about jumping the gun.

With that it mind, I am fully prepared to run towards the cliff with a blow-horn and blurt out random names to see if they stick come January. These power rankings will be updated every week.

 

32. Cleveland Browns (AFC Rank: 16)

The Browns ineptitude on the offensive side of the ball is going to be their undoing. Brandon Weeden is nowhere near being a starter caliber quarterback in the NFL and they don’t have the weapons on the outside to succeed.

31. Minnesota Vikings (NFC Rank: 16)

They looked really bad Friday night against the San Francisco 49ers. I understand it was just the first preseason game, but this team is lacking talent across the board on both sides of the ball.

30. St. Louis Rams (NFC Rank: 15)

That was an embarrassing way to start the Jeff Fisher era in St. Louis. While it is hard to take stock of a team after one preseason game, the Rams have a great deal of work to do in order to compete on a consistent basis on Sunday’s.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC Rank: 15)

Even with Maurice Jones-Drew in the fold, this team wasn’t going to win more than five games. Take him out of the mix and you have the second worst offense in the NFL behind Cleveland. Wont win you many games.

28. Indianapolis Colts (AFC Rank: 14)

Andrew Luck and Co. where might impressive on Sunday against the Rams. Though this should be taken with a grain of salt, you have to be happy about the way this young team looked with the rookie quarterback leading the charge.

27. Arizona Cardinals (NFC Rank: 14)

Kevin Kolb or John Skelton, does it really matter? The Cardinals are so inept at the quarterback position that it makes them look like a Pop Warner team at times. Arizona’s two top quarterbacks have combined for a 19.2 quarterback rating in two preseason games.

26. Miami Dolphins (AFC Rank: 13)

Ryan Tannehill was might impressive, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. He has a tremendous amount of work to do. Miami’s best shot at contention is with either David Garrard or Matt Moore under center. Either way, the lack of talent at wide receiver is going to hurt.

25. Oakland Raiders (AFC Rank: 12)

Even by preseason standards, the Raiders loss to Dallas on Monday night was horrendous. This team couldn’t do anything right, struggling in nearly every aspect of the game. I guess their defense looked good, holding the Cowboys to three points. Something to take out of the performance. It’s going to take some time for this team to gel.

24. New York Jets (AFC Rank: 11)

This team is lacking chemistry and talent across the board, none more than at the quarterback position. Neither Mark Sanchez nor Tim Tebow appear to be the answer. They don’t have the receivers to make plays and lack young talent on defense. Get primed for a down season in New York with the Jets.

23. Washington Redskins (NFC Rank: 13)

Robert Griffin III definitely impressed in his preseason debut and I would love to put the Skin’s higher, but I just don’t see it. They’re schedule is going to be brutal in 2012, which indicates another losing season in the capital. For Washington, it is all about progression from the youngsters, RGIII included.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC Rank: 12)

It does seem that Greg Schiano is planning on running an offense that fits their talents much better than what we saw last season. The additions of Carl Nicks, Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin will help on the offensive side of the ball. The division they play in coupled with a bad defense leads me to believe this team finishes in the cellar once again.

21. Carolina Panthers (NFC Rank: 11)

Can Cam Newton take the next step? If he does, will the Panthers make the postseason? While I am happy with what Carolina did in the draft and to an extent in free agency, they seem to be a year or so away from contention.

20. Dallas Cowboys (NFC Rank: 10)

Let’s not read too much into the Cowboys lack of offensive performance Monday night against the Oakland Raiders. They didn’t have a couple healthy bodies on the offensive line and it just didn’t seem like the team was connecting. That being said, Dallas needs to get it together relatively quickly.

19. Tennessee Titans (AFC Rank: 10)

Jake Locker appears to be the favorite to win Tennessee’s starting quarterback job. It really doesn’t matter, both will be able to lead the Titans to postseason contention. It is all about moving forward with the young quarterback at the helm.

18. San Diego Chargers (AFC Rank: 9)

One of the most disappointing teams in recent NFL history, the pressure is definitely on Norv Turner and Co. this season. They need to win double-digit games and make a postseason run. If history serves as an indicator, fans in Southern California will be disappointed once again.

17. Buffalo Bills (AFC Rank: 8)

The Bills will be right in the mix for a postseason spot when all is said and done. Despite a rough preseason debut, this is a team that has talent clear across the board. The additions of Mario Williams and Stephon Gilmore were huge. There success will depend a great deal on the play of Ryan Fitzpatrick.

16. Detroit Lions (NFC Rank: 9)

I will probably receive some flack for having the Lions so low on this list, but let me explain. They’re going to find it difficult to win on a consistent basis without a ground game on offense and lackluster play in the secondary. Couple that with playing in a tough division and this could be a disappointing season in the Motor City.

15. Seattle Seahawks (NFC Rank: 8)

Yet another team that should be in the race for the duration of the 2012 season. Seattle looked mighty impressive in their preseason opener as it seems their quarterback competition has been dwindled down to Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson. Solid play at this position could get Seattle into the second season.

14. Denver Broncos (AFC Rank: 7)

I am not going to buy into the Peyton Manning hype until the future Hall of Fame quarterback proves he can stay healthy during the regular season. If this happens, Denver might end up favorites in the AFC West.

13. New Orleans Saints (NFC Rank: 7)

Again, I will probably get some flack for having the Saints so low. It really is hard to underscore just how much the loss of head coach Sean Payton will hurt New Orleans. You need solid coaching to win consistently in the NFL and without him the Saints just don’t have that.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC Rank: 6)

Pittsburgh has a few different issues to address if they’re going to return to the postseason in 2012. David DeCastro and Mike Adams, both rookies, are going to have to step up along the o-line to keep Big Ben upright. They are also going to have to find someone to be a consistent threat on the ground in the running game.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (AFC Rank: 5)

You can definitely expect Cincinnati to take a step forward in 2012. Both Andy Dalton and A.J. Green has a year of seasoning under their belt. This is going to make a huge difference. Additionally, Cincinnati addressed defensive concerns along the defensive line and in the secondary. Definitely a team on the upswing.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (AFC Rank: 4)

Tell me that the Baltimore Ravens would have succeeded last season if they were without Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Ed Reed for a majority of the season. This is the situation that Kansas City found themselves in last year. With a fully healthy roster, they are the clear cut favorites to win what promises to be a competitive division.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (NFC Rank: 6)

Again, I am not going to buy into the hype here. Though Philadelphia has one of the most talented rosters in the league, they need to start putting it together on the football field. Additionally, Michael Vick is going to have to show he can stay healthy for an entire season if the Eagles are going to win the NFC East.

8. Chicago Bears (NFC Rank: 5)

One major concern as it relates to the Bears is pass protection. They didn’t do much to address this issue in the offseason and saw their quarterbacks sacked six times in the preseason opener. The weapons are there on the offensive side of the ball with Michael Bush, Brandon Marshal and Alshon Jeffery. It is all about putting it together and keeping Jay Cutler upright.

7. Baltimore Ravens (AFC Rank: 3)

The loss of Terrell Suggs for what promises to be the majority of the 2012 season is going to hurt a great deal. You don’t lose the reigning Defensive Player of the Year without taking somewhat of a step back. Baltimore needs Joe Flacco to step his game up if they’re going to be serious contenders for the conference championship.

6. Atlanta Falcons (NFC Rank: 4)

Boy, the Falcons first-team was impressive in their preseason opener against the aforementioned Ravens. No, this isn’t the reason why I have Atlanta rated higher. Instead, it seems they are going to have one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL this season. Couple that with an improved defense and you have the makings for a possible Super Bowl run. It is all about winning in January, something Matt Ryan has been unable to do.

5. Houston Texans (AFC Rank: 2)

Houston didn’t really have a great offseason. The losses of Eric Winston, Mike Brisiel and Mario Williams is definitely going to hurt. That being said, this team has the talent on both sides of the ball to compete for the AFC Championship. Again, we are looking at injuries. They need Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson to play the duration of the season for this to become a reality.

4. Green Bay Packers (NFC Rank: 3)

How can a team that won 15 regular season games the year before not be in the top three? Well, if that team is the Packers extended expectations are not needed. Green Bay laid an egg in their first postseason game and finished as one of the two worst defensive teams in the league. We all know about Aaron Rodgers and Co. on offense, but youngsters need to step up on the other side of the ball is this team is going to win the NFC.

3. New England Patriots (AFC Rank: 1)

They did a great job adding players at need positions on both sides of the ball. Brandon Lloyd is going to play the part of a serious receiving threat on the outside. He teams up with Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch to form an elite passing game for Tom Brady. Chandler Jones, who was impressive in his NFL debut against the New Orleans Saints last week, should help the defensive out a great deal. Definitely the frontrunners for another trip to the Super Bowl out of the AFC.

2. San Francisco 49ers (NFC Rank: 2)

This team is absolutely stacked. Trent Baalke and Co. did an amazing job adding talent where it needed to be added in the offseason. Their offense promises to be vastly improved from a pedestrian 2011 campaign, while Alex Smith seems like he is ready to take that next step. San Francisco also returns all 11 starters from one of the most dominating defenses in the league. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 49ers brought home their sixth Super Bowl Championship in New Orleans in February. In fact, they should be considered favorites to do so.

1. New York Giants (NFC Rank: 1)

Do I believe the Giants are the best team in the NFL? No. In fact, I think it is going to be hard for them to even make the postseason in the tough NFC. That being said, the defending Super Bowl Champions need to be ranked No. 1 until they lose a football game. This is my philosophy and I will NEVER change it.

2012 NFL Predictions: Top Contenders for Offensive Rookie of the Year

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Here we are, less than six weeks before the start of the 2012 NFL preseason. No matter how meaningless those games are, it is still FOOTBALL. Yes, real football. Not the Arena League, or Terrell Owens playing in some Texas semi-pro league. Real football.

At this point in the offseason it has become pretty clear what rookies are going to make an impact and what rookies are going to be held further down on the depth chart heading into the 2012 season.

This article is going to focus on contenders for Offensive Rookie of the Year and give you a final prediction as to who is going to win the “coveted” award.

 

Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

It goes without saying that the No. 1 overall pick that just so happens to be a quarterback would be on this list. Just take a look at what Cam Newton did last year for the Carolina Panthers.

That being said, Andrew Luck is going into a much different situation with the Indianapolis Colts heading into the 2012 season. His new team added two dynamic play-makers early in the draft in the form of Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. These two tight ends are going to do wonders for Luck. They will act as safety valves between the hashes and help take pressure off the talented young signal-caller.

T.Y. Hilton from Florida International late in the third round was also an amazing pick. He can stretch the field and should work well with the strong arm that Luck possesses.

Indianapolis also has veteran receiver and future Hall of Fame inductee Reggie Wayne returning to the fold. There really isn’t a great reason to believe that Luck will struggle out of the gate. Rather, you can expect him to throw for over 3,500 yards and accumulate more touchdowns than interceptions.

 

Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor

Courtesy of the Washington Redskins

This is another extremely interesting situation. The Redskins were able to add a couple nice pieces to their passing game before the drafted the reigning Heisman Trophy Award Winner. Despite over-paying for Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, these two should give him consistent weapons in the passing game. Morgan will especially come in handy as the slot guy, a position that seems to fit him extremely well.

Don’t sleep on Fred Davis either. The talented young tight end can be the best friend of RGIII during the ladders initial NFL campaign.

In reality, it does seem that RGIII is in a better situation to succeed than Luck. He has a much more experiences and talented offensive line working the trenches. You really cannot discount the importance of that.

 

Trent Richardson, Running Back, Cleveland Browns

Courtesy of Bleacher Report

I am not ready to denote the former Alabama standout as the odds-on favorite to win Rookie of the Year. In fact, he has a long road ahead of himself as a rookie in 2012. This has absolutely nothing to do with the talent that Richardson possesses. Rather, it is all about the situation that he is heading into as a rookie for the Cleveland Browns. Their offense literally has no consistent receiving weapons on the outside and will be throwing out a rookie quarterback to the proverbial wolves.

This all adds up to about eight defenders being thrown into the box against the run. Even the best running backs in the National Football League would have a hard time succeeding in this situation.

Once the Browns are able to find some resemblance is a consistent passing game you can expect Richardson to contend for the rushing title. Until that happens, he is going to struggle.

 

Doug Martin, Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Here is a running back that should be able to make a strong impact rather early in his career. The Buccaneers traded up for Martin towards the back end of the first round and received great value. I had the Boise State product as the second best running back in the draft class behind the aforementioned Trent Richardson.

That being said, Martin finds himself in a much better situation. Tampa Bay has a much more talented and seasoned quarterback in the form of Josh Freeman, they possess sold receiving options on the outside and have one of the most talented run-blocking offensive lines in the National Football League.

I can easily envision a scenario where Martin rushes for over 1,300 yards and catches about 50 passes.

 

Brian Quick, Wide Receiver, St. Louis Rams

Courtesy of SB Nation

Many people concluded that I was purely insane by predicting that Brian Quick would and should get some first-round play. Once it became clear that the Rams were going to select Quick with the initial pick of the second round, these predictions seemed pretty good.

The former Appalachian State product has the build and physical ability to be a truly dominating No. 1 wide receiver in the National Football League. Despite playing against less than stellar competition and running a limited route-tree in college, Quick should make an immediate impact. This is only magnified by the fact that St. Louis is in dire need of a receiver stepping up and being a consistent target for Sam Bradford. A total of 1,000 yards isn’t out of the realm of possibility for Quick as a rookie in 2012.

 

LaMichael James, Running Back, San Francisco 49ers

This might be a surprising addition to the list simply because the 49ers appeared to be stacked at the running back position. That is just on the surface. San Francisco didn’t select James to be an every-down ‘back in the National Football League. Instead, he was brought in to play a Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush type role. This means that James will be playing in obvious passing situations, will have an impact as a returner on special teams and will catch a nice amount of passes.

The Oregon product was one of the most dynamic and electrifying running backs in the modern history of college football. Despite rumors to the contrary, he has no issue going up the middle and taking on tacklers between the hashes. Moreover, James seems to relish red-zone opportunities.

If James is able to accumulate 2,500 yards all-purpose yards in 2012, there is a chance that he may upset the award shows in this category. The primary issue is actually being able to get him on the field with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs haring backfield duties in San Francisco.

 

Prediction: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Washington Redskins

I seriously contemplated going with Doug Martin here because the situation that the young running back finds himself in with Tampa Bay. That being said, I just couldn’t pass up on one of the two top quarterbacks in the draft.

Simply put, RGIII is in a better situation to succeed as a rookie than Andrew Luck. He has a much more consistent running game, strong forces in the receiving game and above-average protection along the offensive line.

By no means does this mean that RGIII will end up being the better long-term quarterback of the two. In fact, I am working under the theory that Luck is going to be a Super Bowl winning Pro Bowl quarterback.

It is all about logistics and talent at this point and RGIII has more of that with the Redskins than Luck has with the Colts.

 

 

PFN Friday Afternoon NFL Links and Chatter

10112-the-chatter

There are literally only six weekends remaining in the NFL offseason before the New Orleans Saints take on the Arizona Cardinals in the 2012 Hall of Fame Game.

That is something to look forward to. From now up until then there is going to be some pretty big news around the National Football League. In short, the “slow time” of the year is over. Holdouts, player being released, training camp battles….are all going to take center stage.

So, let’s take a look at some the biggest news around the league.

Adam Schefter is reporting that David Garrard is ahead of both Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill in the competition for the Miami Dolphins’ starting quarterback job. The NFL insider had the following to say about this situation.

The more you hear, the more it sounds like David Garrard has really taken this opportunity to emerge as the favorite to be the starting quarterback down in Miami,” said Schefter. “Very impressive, adept, good footwork. Matt Moore’s been good, Ryan Tannehill’s been good, but David Garrard has looked the most comfortable of any of the quarterbacks.

The bigger news here is that Garrard hasn’t taking over the lead by default. It does seem that all three quarterbacks have been pretty impressive in camp with the rookie Tannehill making tremendous strides for rookie minicamp in the Spring.

Remember, Garrard is just a couple seasons removed from a Pro Bowl appearance with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Matt Maiocco over at Comcast Sports Net Bay Area that Aldon Smith, who is set to take over the San Francisco 49ers’ starting right outside linebacker position, won’t see his roles change a great deal. According to the 49ers’ insider “don’t expect to see Smith in coverage.” This makes a great deal of sense considering that the young pass-rusher was among the league’s best in that category last year. He should play more of a DeMarcus Ware role, as indicated by ESPN.

Despite stellar play from Roy Helu Jr as a rookie last season for the Washington Redskins, it appears that their starting running back job is going to go to veteran Tim Hightower.

While I do understand the thinking of Mike Shanahan by inserting a seasoned player in the backfield with Robert Griffin III, Helu is going to be incredibly difficult to keep off the field. He is a duel threat running back, as is Hightower, which means catching the ball out of the backfield figures prominently into his game. Either way, the Skins’ running back situation could be pretty solid in 2012. This would help out the young quarterback a great deal while he gains experience and continues to improve throughout the season.

Veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb has “three teams on his radar.” ESPN is reporting that those teams could be the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. It remains to be seen if any of those teams are interested in the “old” quarterback. I would hedge my bets against any interest to be honest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vincent’s Take on the Happenings Around the National Football League

Harvin

As I mentioned in a previous article, it is being reported that Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has requested a trade. While there is some speculation that it could have more to do with the direction of the franchise than it has to do with his contract, that is hard to believe at this point.

Don’t expect the Vikings to seriously entertain offers. They have Harvin under contract for the next two seasons and he would be throwing away millions by holding out.

Former high school standout Brian Banks, who was exonerated of rape, left the San Francisco 49ers rookie minicamp without a contract on Tuesday. While it remains to be seen how he looks, this should actually be good news for the former top recruit of USC. This article tells you why.

Plaxico Burress, who has yet to draw interest around the National Football League, indicated his desire to play for the Carolina Panthers in a radio interview earlier this week. Burress, who scored eight touchdowns for the New York Jets last season after a two-year hiatus, would seem to be a logical fit in Carolina.

He would help out Cam Newton a great deal in the red zone and could make a difference ahead of the Panthers’ unproven group of receivers outside of Steve Smith. Let’s see if Carolina bites.

It looks like the Seattle Seahawks “three headed” quarterback competition is going to draw out towards camp in late July. There is no clear-cut winner between the trio of Matt Flynn, Russell Wilson and incumbent Tarvaris Jackson. The simple fact that Wilson isn’t out of the race might speak volumes in regards to the ability of the two vets to separate themselves.

If Seattle is looking to contend in 2012, which there is no reason why they wouldn’t be, it makes sense for them to go with either veteran here. My money is on Flynn.

The NFL has set up an anonymous tip line in regards to BountyGate, expecting some players to blow the whistle on the New Orleans Saints organization. I guess the league doesn’t realize that there is a strong fraternity in the players association among its members. Don’t expect a parking lot meeting between the NFL’s version of “deep throat” and Goodell. It isn’t happening.

Dashon Goldson and the San Francisco 49ers remain deadlocked in long-term contract negotiations. The 2011 Pro Bowl safety didn’t attend mandatory camp last week and is said to be looking for a “Eric Weddle” type contract. Adding more fuel to the fire is the contract extension that Michael Griffin signed with the Tennessee Titans earlier in the week (5Y-35MM).

Matt Maiocco over at Comcast Sports Net had the following to say about how Griffin’s recent extension might effect the 49ers and Goldson.

Those numbers are almost identical to the figure I’ve heard from league sources in connection with a possible multi-year deal for Goldson. The sides continue to be in contact about working out a long-term contract.

Former Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams safety O.J. Atogwe signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday. The talented safety has struggled with injuries and staying inconsistent following a breakout season for the Rams in 2007. It is still another extremely strong addition for the Eagles, who could use some help in the back end of their defense.

When with Nate Allen entrenched in as the Eagles’ starting free safety Atogwe could play the nickel safety spot or even challenge Kurt Coleman as the starter on the strong side. Good depth signing.

An Extremely Tough Road Back to the Super Bowl for the New York Giants

New York Giants Super Bowl

The New York Giants may have won the Super Bowl last season, but you have to remember that this was a 9-7 football team that lost four consecutive games at one point during 2011.

This is a team that gave up more first-downs on defense than they recorded on offense. They lost to the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks, both of whom had down 2012 seasons. Five of the Giants nine wins came by a combined 17 points as they relied on opponent’ mistakes towards the end to win.

Their road to the Super Bowl wasn’t much more than a fluke. The Green Bay Packers played their worst game in over two years in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, while Kyle Williams basically handed the Giants the Conference Championship by fumbling twice late in the NFC Title game for the San Francisco 49ers.

New York also lost two of their offensive mainstays to the aforementioned 49ers in the form of Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham. Say what you want about those two players, they still did combine for nearly 1,300 yards.  unproven draft picks David Wilson and Rueben Randle will be tasked with picking up the slack.

It is hard to imagine both being able to duplicate the production that the Giants saw from the departed vets over the course of the last three seasons.

Then you have the ultra competitive NFC. The top teams in that conference are by far better than the AFC and each has gotten better.

The 49ers are going to be one of the best teams in the league following an entire offseason regiment under Jim Harbaugh as well as a ton of additions on the offensive side of the ball in the form of Jacobs, Manningham, Randy Moss, LaMichael James and A.J. Jenkins. Oh, they also return all 11 starters from one of the best defenses in the NFL.

The Packers might have fallen flat on their face in the postseason, but this is a team that won 15 games during the regular season in 2011 and improved a poor defensive with a relatively solid draft on that side of the ball. You can expect them to be in the thick of things this season.

The Chicago Bears have struggled a great deal in the passing game due to a lack of consistent threats on the outside. Phil Emery and Co. addressed that big time in the form of a trade with the Miami Dolphins for Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall. They also traded up for Alshon Jeffery in the second round. If Jay Cutler is able to get some protection the Bears are going to be extremely dangerous.

It is hard to acquire an understanding of just how the New Orleans Saints are going to perform in 2012. Not only is this team dealing with the whole “BountyGate” scandal, Drew Brees is officially a holdout after refusing to sign his franchise tender.

One would have to believe that Brees will be ready to go in September, which would make the Saints a dangerous team heading into 2012.

While the Atlanta Falcons have struggled a great deal in the postseason, they are a threat with the talent that the team possesses. a core of Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White and Julio Jones makes that offense extremely dangerous. Atlanta also added Asante Samuel in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles in order to bolster an already solid secondary.

You also have to look at teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, all of whom has the talent to win the NFC in 2012.

While I am not going to make any predictions in this article, it does make sense to look at the Giants and believe that they shouldn’t be favorites to return to the Super Bowl in 2012. This is a team that still has a great deal of holes on the offensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary.

Eli Manning will have to continue his elite play if the Giants will have an opportunity to repeat in New Orleans next February.

It is all on him at this point.

 

 

Why the Philadelphia Eagles Will Win the NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles

Prematurely dubbed the “Dream Team,” the Philadelphia Eagles failed mightily in fulfilling that lofty moniker in 2011.

In free agency, the Eagles landed arguably the most coveted free agent in Nnamdi Asomugha, in addition to netting Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, Ronnie Brown, Vince Young and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (via Kevin Kolb trade). They already featured an offense stacked with playmakers. Now they had fortified the secondary and defensive line.

Oh, how that potential went ever so unrealized.

Despite winning the last four games of the season to finish 8-8 after a dismal 1-4 start, this was a season rife with questionable coaching, defensive breakdowns, contract disputes and a glaring lack of cohesion.

And to think, the NFC East was so ripe for the taking as the Giants won the division at just 9-7, one game ahead in the standings.

As it currently stands, the Eagles have seemed to ameliorate their burdensome situation with an immensely successful draft and by locking up key players.

More to the point, they have put themselves in position to win the NFC East in a football savvy and fiscally responsible manner (i.e. an intelligent draft strategy).

They alleviated their greatest deficiency at middle linebacker by selecting Mychal Kendricks in the second round of the NFL Draft. Incumbent Jamar Chaney was awful and ranked near the bottom of all MLBs according to ProFootballFocus (and any observer with a working pair of eyes for that matter).

Kendricks is an exceptionally underrated athlete who excels against both the run and pass. He brings max effort, sure tackling, and disciplined play to Philadelphia’s linebacker corps that was often deficient in those qualities last season.

Selecting Fletcher Cox, the top-rated defensive tackle coming out of the NCAA ranks, and Marshall’s Vinny Curry fortifies an already stout, NFL sack-leading defensive line featuring Babin, Trent Cole and Cullen Jenkins.

Fourth-round pick Brandon Boykin provides them with a fantastic slot cornerback and dynamic weapon in the return game. Marvin McNutt (Round 6) provides playmaking ability and insurance for the oft-injured Jeremy Maclin at the wide receiver position, while Brandon Washington was a huge steal near the end of draft as an addition to the offensive line.

Equally, if not more significant, was rewarding the veterans on the team with renewed contracts. They took care of LeSean McCoy (RB), Evan Mathis (G), Trent Cole, DeSean Jackson (WR) and Todd Herremans (T) with long-term deals. Unlike last year where the newcomers received all the love—at least in the eyes of some of the returning players—important longstanding teammates now feel that they have the support of the organization as well.

The readily apparent resentment and lack of chemistry in 2011 due to contractual issues should no longer resurface in 2012.

Now that the team itself has improved in most of all necessary areas, how does it stack up against divisional foes?

The Redskins, despite drafting a franchise QB in RGIII and surrounding him with quality wideouts, will still finish last in the division. Their defense is nothing to scoff at (see: Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo and London Fletcher), but will experience too many growing pains on offense in an incredibly challenging and competitive division.

The defending Super Bowl champion Giants should be just as formidable in 2012. They replaced the departed Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham with Virginia Tech’s David Wilson and LSU’s Rueben Randle in the draft. Re-signing Terrell Thomas will improve the secondary behind New York’s ferocious D-line. While strong in many areas, the G-Men will experience a SB hangover with the help of a much stronger and now unified Philadelphia squad.

Finally, the greatest challenge presents itself in the form of the Dallas Cowboys. They assuaged their most notable deficiency by signing/drafting lock-down corners in former Chief Brandon Carr and LSU’s Morris Claiborne to team up with Mike Jenkins. Boise State’s Tyrone Crawford brings a presence to the 3-4 DE position in front of All-World DeMarcus Ware and the up-and-coming Sean Lee. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan seems to have the personnel to run his complex schemes. The offense should also continue to thrive behind Tony Romo, Miles Austin, DeMarco Murray, a more developed Dez Bryant and healthy Felix Jones.

However, barring injury, the Michael Vick-led Eagles will once again soar to the top of the division (corny pun intended). The Cowboys aren’t quite there on defense and Romo still does not deserve our full trust that he can lead his team to the postseason. New York will not repeat their magical late-season run, while the Redskins will occupy the fourth slot in the division behind a rookie, albeit awesome, rookie quarterback.

The Eagles have made all the requisite additions and will capitalize on a normal offseason and continuity with the coaching staff to capture the NFC East . The defense made great strides under coordinator Juan Castillo late in the season, allowing just 11.5 points per game during a four game winning streak to close things out. Their draft selections will only help advance that defensive success heading into 2012.

And with all due respect to you, Mr. Young, but the 2012 version of your old squad might actually be more of the “Dream Team.”

Just don’t expect your former teammates to say that out loud.

Ranking the Best Young Quarterbacks in the NFL

Matthew-Stafford

Over the course of the next couple of months I am going to take a look at the best players at each position age 25 and under.

These are the players that are going to define and represent the National Football League moving forward. Their importance to the league as a whole and their respective teams cannot be overstated.

So, let’s take a look at the quarterback position to start.

Note: Rookies will not be included in on the list.

 

1. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

2011 Statistics: 63.5 completion %, 5,038 yards, 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions

Stafford led one of the most potent passing attacks in the National Football League last season. He also broke a league record for the most pass attempts in a single year. For a quarterback that didn’t have much help in the run game, Stafford definitely limited his mistakes.

Once the Lions are able to get more of a balanced attack on offense look for Stafford to take that next step towards elite status, especially with Calvin Johnson as his primary go to guy.

 

2. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

2011 statistics: 60.0 completion %, 4,051 passing yards, 35 total touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 706 rush yards

It is really hard to put in context what Newton did as a rookie in 2011. He broke the rookie passing and rushing record for quarterbacks and consistently showed up to lead the Panthers to a respectable record.

In fact, Newton was the sole reason why Carolina stayed in games against the best teams in the entire league. Look for him to cut down on mistakes and take a huge step forward in 2012, anything less would be incredibly disappointing.

 

3. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

2011 Statistics: 58.1 completion %, 3,398 yards, 20 touchdowns, 13 interceptions

No one, and I mean no one, could have possibly predicted the success that Cincinnati had last season with Dalton at the helm. While he did struggle to an extent in the postseason, the former second-round pick was solid all season long.

Look for Dalton to start making better decisions on the football field, cut down on mistakes and hone those mechanics. If that happens he could be a top 10 quarterback in the league.

 

4. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

2011 Statistics: 53.5 completion %, 2,164 yards, six touchdowns, six interceptions

You really cannot place most of the blame of the Rams struggles last season on Sam Bradford. He had absolutely no help at the wide receiver position and the offensive line was horrendous in pass-protection.

With that said, he seemed to get happy feet in the backfield and didn’t seem to be reading the field too well. Many Rams fans expected a major improvement from 2010 to 2011, but saw the reverse.

It is now time for Bradford to step up and prove that he can be the franchise guy for St. Louis moving forward. Time will tell whether or not that is going to be the case.

 

5. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2011 Statistics: 62.8 completion %, 3,592 yards, 16 touchdowns, 22 interceptions

Freeman seemed to take a major step back in his third-year last season. The former first-round pick struggled a great deal with mistakes, consistently throwing into coverage.

It has to be noted that a lot of the skill position players on the offensive side of the ball struggled a great deal as well. The additions of both Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson should really help his cause this year.

There aren’t anymore excuses. It is time for Freeman to put up or shut up.

 

Just Missed the Cut

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings

I fully expect Ponder to take the next step in 2012. He seems to have all the necessary skills to be an outstanding starting quarterback in the NFL.

Tim Tebow, New York Jets

It isn’t going to help Tebow’s progression to sit on the sideline until he eventually replaces Mark Sanchez as the Jets starting quarterback. Made major strides in terms of mechanics last season, needs to actually see the field.

 

 

 

 

 

2012 NFL Power Rankings: The Bottom Half, Post-Draft Edition

Pete Carroll

This is going to be your generic NFL power rankings for the 2012 NFL season over four months before it even begins.

Despite the fact that most top-tier free agents have signed and the draft has concluded, take this with a grain of salt. After all, a lot of things can change over the course of the next few months.

This article is going to focus on 32-17, with the top half of the ranking included in another piece during the weekend.

 

32. Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck is going to lead this franchise back to the top of the NFL. It just isn’t going to happen overnight. They have so many other issues on the 53-man roster that it is nearly impossible to push them any higher on the list.

 

31. Cleveland Browns

It doesn’t matter what mediocre quarterback is throwing the ball if you have no weapons at the wide receiver position. The Cleveland Browns have pretty much ignored this weakness throughout the offseason. Additionally, an offense with a rookie quarterback and running back doesn’t usually equal first-year success.

 

30. St. Louis Rams

This is a team that has improved a great deal since a 2-14 2011 season. The Rams have upgraded at both corner positions, while giving Sam Bradford more weapons on offense. However, there are still way too many holes for them to fill here.

 

29. Minnesota Vikings

Matt Kalil is going to help out a great deal on the offensive side of the ball. His mere presence is going to be a calming mechanism for Christian Ponder. Minnesota also added a few wide receivers to the mix. This is still a team in transition.

 

28. Miami Dolphins

Until the Dolphins get that one franchise signal caller they are going to be mired in mediocrity. There is no telling if Ryan Tannehill is that guy, but I can guarantee it wont be in 2012.

 

27. Washington Redskins

The Redskins should be really excited about their future. After all, Robert Griffin III is the first “franchise” quarterback that they have had in over two decades. It is going to take time for this team and their prized new quarterback to gel.

 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

Although I wasn’t too high on the Jaguars trading up for Justin Blackmon, I understand what they were attempting to do there. With Maurice Jones-Drew, Blackmon, Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans they now have some serious skill position threats for Blaine Gabbert. However, the million dollar question here is how the young quarterback is going to perform.

 

25. Oakland Raiders

Oakland would have been much higher on this list if they actually had an opportunity to do something this offseason. That wasn’t the case and new general manager Reggie McKenzie was handcuffed a great deal. However, they do have talent to surprise in the AFC West.

 

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There is no question that the Buccaneers have a great deal of young talent. They added to that base with both Mark Barron and Doug Martin. Now it is all about putting that talent together and living up to what might be some lofty expectations in Greg Shiano’s first year.

 

23. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are going to live and die at the quarterback position, which really should give fans much confidence in them. Matt Cassel has been mediocre at best since coming over from the Patriots. There still is enough talent for this team to contend for the AFC West Championship.

 

22. Arizona Cardinals

Other than Michael Floyd, the Cardinals really haven’t added much talent to the roster this offseason. Additionally, they really haven’t upgraded along an offensive line that gave up 54 sacks in 2011. That is going to be their downfall this year.

 

21. New York Jets

Unless Tim Tebow can part the Red Sea this is going to be a down year for the New York Jets. They don’t have the talent at quarterback, struggled in pass protection, lack play makers on the outside and are getting old on defense.

 

20. Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton is going to have a full offseason of workouts, which is going to be huge for his development. The Panthers also hope to return numerous key defenders who missed most of the 2011 season. They really could surprise in 2012.

 

19. San Diego Chargers

The Chargers will always sit in the middle of my power rankings until they can actually live up to the expectations that their roster suggests. This is a team that could easily contend for a conference crown, but continue to under perform.

 

18. Buffalo Bills

I absolutely love what the Bills have done this offseason and they are now firmly entrenched in as the second-best team in the AFC East. The additions of Mario Williams, Mark Anderson and Stephon Gilmore should help that defense out a great deal.

 

17. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks have built a tremendous amount of talent on the defensive side of the ball and should contend for a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive NFC.  Whether or not Matt Flynn has success is going to dictate their chances of actually making the postseason.

 

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