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MLB Postseason Picks

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

The Sports Smithy baseball Jedis submit their MLB Postseason picks.  You’ll notice a trend on who makes the World Series below.   We’ll come back and re-visit our picks after the World Series.

Deacon Blues

ALDS
Texas Rangers over Tampa Bay Rays in 4 games
Detroit Tigers over New York Yankees in 5 games

NLDS
Philadelphia Phillies over St. Louis Cardinals in 3 games
Milwaukee Brewers over Arizona Diamondbacks in 4 games

ALCS
Texas Rangers over Detroit Tigers in 6 games

NLCS
Philadelphia Phillies over Milwaukee Brewers in 5 games

World Series
Philadelphia Phillies over Texas Rangers in 5 games

World Series MVP: Roy Halladay

Aaron Booth

ALDS
Texas Rangers over Tampa Bay Rays in 4 games
New York Yankees over Detroit Tigers in 4 games

NLDS
Philadelphia Phillies over St. Louis Cardinals in 4 games
Milwaukee Brewers over Arizona Diamondbacks in 5 games

ALCS
Texas Rangers over New York Yankees in 6 games

NLCS
Philadelphia Phillies over Milwaukee Brewers in 5 games

World Series
Philadelphia Phillies over Texas Rangers in 5 games

World Series MVP: Raul Ibanez


Nate Douglas

ALDS
Texas Rangers over Tampa Bay Rays in 5 games
Detroit Tigers over New York Yankees in 4 games

NLDS
Philadelphia Phillies over St. Louis Cardinals in 4 games
Milwaukee Brewers over Arizona Diamondbacks in 3 games

ALCS
Texas Rangers over Detroit Tigers in 6 games

NLCS
Philadelphia Phillies over Milwaukee Brewers in 7 games

World Series
Texas Rangers over Philadelphia Phillies in 7 games

World Series MVP: Adrian Beltre

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The Dynasty That Wasn’t

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Nate Douglas

In 2010, the San Francisco Giants cruised to victory in the World Series- it took just five games in what was an amazing yet surprising championship run.  Not much time had elapsed before the local writers started uttering the “d-word”- dynasty.  Not an entirely unreasonable thought.  The Giants had one of the best rotations locked down for the foreseeable future in Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and the promising Madison Bumgarner.  The bullpen was among the best in the majors.  They had young hitters, such as Buster Posey who was destined to be a star. Pablo Sandoval could mash if he could stay away from the buffet line and on the field.  Brandon Belt was raking in the minors and was a top 10 touted prospect going into the 2011 season.  As the season began, ticket and merchandise sales were up.  Showtime aired their “Hard Knocks” version for baseball entitled “The Franchise” featuring the San Francisco Giants.  In all of the promos, they showed a clip of Brian Wilson uttering the words, “Mark it down.  Repeat.”  Everything pointed towards a dynasty.

But as of this writing, the Giants were eliminated from the playoff race despite being in the creampuff division of the NL, and 8 games behind the new darling Diamondbacks.  The “dynasty” is not going to even make the playoffs just a year removed from their title.  What happened?   Did the pixie dust wear off?  Were the Giants so hamstrung by injuries this year that title retention was near impossible?  Was the term “dynasty” used a bit too freely?

 

The 2010 Giants were a team of self-proclaimed misfits.  It made a cute story.  But when general manager Brian Sabean assembled this team of misfits, he could not realistically believe they were a world championship contender, not to mention a dynasty, could he?  Not when his best outfielder was picked up off the waiver wire in August (Cody Ross),his spare part shortstop only played 72 games and hit 3 HR’s (Edgar Renteria), and his third baseman was so overweight that they had to play another spare in his place (Juan Uribe).  Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey were the only decent power hittesr on the team.  Not exactly a lineup that would strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers.  Yet the stars aligned and the Giants handled the Phillies and Rangers with ease.  The misfits won.  But can a dynasty be constructed of misfits?  Dynasties require staying power.

 

Struggling to comprehend how the Giants won the World Series, I didn’t know if I should think of Brian Sabean as the luckiest man on earth or not.  Was he the guy that drafted and developed some talented pitchers?  Or was the real Brian Sabean the one who paid out one of the worst contracts in major league history to Barry Zito?  I believe I must go with the latter, due to his inactivity over the offseason between the 2010-11 seasons.  Sabean, in a move that showed how much confidence he had in Renteria and Uribe (or in a move that demonstrated how lucky he realized he had been), let them go and replaced them with Miguel Tejada (who would later in  the year be cut), and wished upon a star that Kung Fu Pandovol would drop some weight.  The Giants went into the offseason with some needs, and Sabean did not fill them.

 

San Francisco fans might attribute this year’s disappointing performance to injuries.  But championship contending teams with studly GMs can cope with injuries to an extent (not to mention dynasties).  The Texas Rangers this season had lost all-stars Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz for over a month each.  Neftali Feliz, Darren O’Day, Mike Napoli, Scott Feldman, Andres Blanco and Tanner Scheppers were all on the DL at one point.  There was a time where the Rangers led the majors with players on the DL for several weeks.  Despite these circumstances, and being in the toughest pitching division in the majors, the Rangers have survived and are on track to defend their ALCS crown because of their depth.  Depth leads to dynasties.  Top-heavy teams are grasping for wind.  These sorts of teams are easily affected by injuries and should be prepared to face them, because baseball happens.

 

This year, the Giants’ offense was so bad they couldn’t hit the sand if they fell off a camel.  Since June, Tim Lincecum started in 17 games.  The Giants won only 8 of them.  Lincecum had a 1.90 ERA during that stretch.  Some of the hitting woes can be attributed to Buster Posey’s absence, but that can’t be the sole missing piece.  He’s good, and he’s going to be great some day, but he’s not a game changer.  The Giants already had great pitching this year (including the surprisingly solid season from Ryan Vogelsong), and a solid bullpen.  But relying on those solely to carry you to the postseason will result you in missing the boat entirely more often than not.  The Giants need hitting in a really bad way, and could stand to upgrade at 2-3 OF spots, the middle infield and set Brandon Belt free.

 

All of this to say, the 2010 Giants’ story is still an amazing one.  They epitomized everything we love about baseball.  The story of the underdog, the team that came out of nowhere, the misfits, classy players, beautiful ballpark, and the fact that when October rolls around, anyone can win.  But a lot of work needs to be done for them to be considered a dynasty.  Lincecum was asked a couple days ago about their chances of someday returning to the World Series.  He simply replied, “I’m worried about us getting back there.”

 

Nate Douglas lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife and son (whom he is 17-0 against in living-room wrestling…never mind if his son is a toddlerweight).  While his day job is sorting through the dirty legal details of the oil and gas industry, his night job is a sports Jack Bauer.  He has yet to come off his Dallas Mavericks championship-high, and he prays daily for those last couple World Series wins for his beloved Rangers, and that his children will never know a day where they weren’t fans of his favorite teams.  You can follow him on Twitter- @NateDouglas34.  

College Football vs. NFL…Counterpoint

September 24, 2011 2 comments

By: Aaron Booth

A few weeks back Sports Smithy contributor Britton Norris laid out his case for why the NFL is better than NCAA football. Saying the NFL is better is a bit of a stretch. The NFL is not better, nor is it worse. It’s different, but that’s okay.

Norris argued that college football is about big schools beating other big schools, while in the NFL it’s “about the game.” The NFL, he says, is about particular players and matchups. There’s another way to look at this: college football is about the name on the front of the jersey and the NFL is about the name on the back of the jersey. In fairness, the nature of the NFL game is that a fan will get to know players over a longer period of time. I certainly see the appeal of that. NCAA by its very nature is transient. The players come and go. That’s just how it works. If having decade-long attachments to players is important then college football isn’t for you, but complaining about it is like complaining about bicycles because they don’t have enough wheels.

 

I do agree that college football is corrupt at many levels. If, however, you are running from the NCAA to escape corruption, the NFL isn’t exactly the place to find sanctuary. The NFL in its professional honesty embraces thugs and criminals, slapping them on the wrist with fines and suspensions when they feel it will help their image, but getting them back on the field as soon as possible because, after all, it’s “about the game.” Again, I totally agree that the NCAA is a mess with corruption, but what we have here is pots and kettles, not sinners and saints.

 

The NFL has playoffs and the NCAA does not. This subject has been hotly debated in print and on the airwaves for a long time. I hope to treat this subject at length another time, but that will have to wait. In staying focused on the arguments in the previous post, I would like to make a few quick points: 1) The NCAA does not employ computers alone to determine their championship game. Computers are a part of it, but they are not all of it. 2) The NCAA, to my knowledge, makes no claims that the bowl system is better than the NFL playoffs or that it is the most ideal system for crowning a champion. They would say that the combination of the rankings and BCS system is the best way to crown a champion in a league with 119 teams that can only play 11-12 games a season. By the way, having 16-game schedules wouldn’t fix this problem. 3) Some universities do “schedule games to win” but this rarely results in a shot at the title. The strength of schedule, or lack thereof, is precisely why Boise State and TCU have not played for the title. LSU has 12 regular season games – seven against ranked opponents, including two in the top 10, and neither of which were or will be played at home. The good conferences make it impossible to simply schedule garbage. A sweeping generalization that all teams fill their schedules with cream puffs simply isn’t true.

 

I would like to offer this defense of the BCS as compared to the NFL playoffs: The team that goes home with the glass football more often than not really is the best team in the league. That claim is a lot harder to make about the Super Bowl. Were the 10-6 Packers really the best NFL team in 2010? Were the Giants really better than the Patriots in 2008? The BCS isn’t perfect, but on the whole, it produces a credible champion. The Super Bowl gives us an entertaining spectacle between two good to pretty good teams that happened to have the right combination of luck and health in January.

 

The NFL compared to other sports leagues is fantastic as an organization. The NFL gives the fan a feeling of consistency and certainty that college football can’t match. College football is too big, with too much history, and too many different authority figures. Short of a complete dismantling of the structure, college football will never rival the NFL in this area. In spite of this, college football gives fans some things that the NFL doesn’t.

 

At the top of college football there is urgency every single week. Every team is not playing a marquis game every week, but some teams are playing marquis games every week. There is the possibility to an upset – even a big upset, but that’s not the most important or dramatic part of it. Because losing even one game in college football can end a team’s shot, every game matters. The great college teams don’t rest starters in the final weeks of the season. They can’t. The games in November are must-win. This isn’t about noble college coaches playing the stars out of a sense of pride while NFL coaches rest their lazy stars; it’s just the nature of the two leagues. The last two games of the season in NCAA are urgent for the top teams while the last two in the NFL aren’t (for the very best). This can be a problem in college football if you are only interested in your own team. Sometimes for that one team the dream ends early (sorry Mississippi State). The story of the NCAA season is far from over, and something that happens in this Saturday’s games could very well shape how it all turns out. In the NFL, provided your team’s star player doesn’t go out for the season, a win or a loss this Sunday means very little for your playoff hopes.

 

Urgency doesn’t make college football better, but it is an element I particularly enjoy and it doesn’t really exist in any sport. There are pockets of urgency in other sports, but no sport delivers urgency from start to finish like college football.

 

Obviously the talent level in the NFL is much higher than NCAA and that produces a certain kind of satisfaction for fans. An NFL play is fast and powerful and precise – no margin for error – very fitting for the highest level of the sport. In contrast college football produces excitement in a way the NFL can’t, and it is because the overall talent pool is lower and the gap between the best and worst players is larger. College football lends itself to a lot more highlight real plays. Trick plays work in college. College teams convert 4th downs. Those things happen in the NFL too, but not often. Women’s tennis is as exciting – maybe even more exciting – than men’s because they are not as fast and strong as the men. In much the same way, the difference in talent between NFL and college creates a different product on the field, and that’s a good thing. The guy that thinks of himself as the high and mighty “true” fan might cringe at this thought, but the wide talent pool in college makes the game a little more cartoonish, and that makes for a satisfying product.

 

I personally enjoy college more than NFL, but I really like both. I don’t necessarily believe one is better than the other. I believe they are different – preferring one or the other isn’t a matter of which is better. It’s burgers one day and pizza the next – everybody wins.

Aaron Booth lives in Monroe, LA with his wife a five children. He makes his living in the real estate world, which gives him the opportunity to listen to a lot of audio, including a fair amount of sports radio and podcasts. Aaron loves his i-devices and 24-hour sports media, but also fondly remembers the days when he calculated his fantasy standings from the newspaper. You can follow him on twitter @da_booth.

College Football vs. NFL

September 4, 2011 3 comments

By: Britton Norris

It’s finally here: the football season of 2011.  What a great time of year for sports.  Not only do we get the National Football League back in action, we have college football to sprinkle in as a treat.  And here’s where some may take sides.

Which is greater, college football or the National Football League?

Let me preface everything with the fact that I enjoy college football.  Well, I enjoy good college football.  Sometimes “good” is few and far between, but a classic fall matchup like this year’s Alabama at Auburn showdown in November or the Red River shootout between Texas and Oklahoma are competitive sports at their finest.  A fresh cool front in October on a Saturday is quite the atmosphere for football and the melodies of the Notre Dame Victory March are enough to get any red blooded sports fan wound up.  College football has an uncanny ability to gather the hard core stats fan and the grandma and have them both cheering equally as passionately for their team.  It’s tradition.  Who cares why Ohio State hates Michigan, but they are the bad guys and they’re going down!  College football is fun.  And when your team is ranked in a desirable spot in the top 25 and there’s a competitive game on the television, things are peachy.

Here’s where I want to make a point.  The NFL is better.  A lot better and here’s why I think so.

The NFL is about the game of football.  Contrary to what you’d think, college football is much more about big schools beating other big schools than about the actual game and individual contests.  Everyone talks about the rivalries; they talk about why Oregon’s athletic program is better than USC.  In the NFL, it’s about the game.  People care immensely how Drew Brees is going to fare against the Packers defense opening night.  Will Josh Freeman’s offensive line get bulldozed by Ndamukong Suh and the Lions? All I hear about on the college side of things is if LSU can hold on to their top 5 ranking and thoughts about Texas A&M moving to the SEC.  College football can’t see the trees for the forest.  The big picture is so important, the end goal so vivid that we lose the journey along the way.  To me, a true fan of football wants to study the individual players and compare the strengths and weaknesses of matchups.  The X’s and O’s of football are one of the main reasons it’s so delicious.  Listen, I know there’s some of this in college football.  I know some of you know exactly who’s lining up out there at left tackle and what he has to do to beat his opposition’s bull rush.  But that’s not the focus of college football.  A great example of this is how quickly fans move on.  A new freshman running back is tearing it up and last year’s Heisman trophy winner is old news.  It doesn’t matter the face or the name on the back of the jersey, the Sooners are going to win!  Sure, there’s loyalty in the NFL, loyalty at its finest, but when Steve Young retired, 49ers fans took a long introspective look at their fandom.  I’m not suggesting that fans would turn their backs on their teams just because certain players aren’t there any more, but it does make one pause in a moment of nostalgia.  After all, they’ve been watching these guys play for years.  In college, good players might have 2 or 3 years and they’re gone.  You just can’t get attached to guys in that short time frame.

The NFL is competitive.  The University of Texas is hosting Rice Saturday night and they are going to mop the field with those poor Rice athletes’ bodies.  We could see 72-7, folks!  You college football purists will be quick to suggest the argument of a great upset.  “It’s so exciting to think of a no name team beating a top 10 ranked powerhouse!”  No its not.  99% of the time the game is unwatchable and when the upset does happen, a perfectly good top-ranked college team has its season go down the tube because of a fluky early September loss.  I’ll tell you what’s exciting, the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Baltimore Ravens on a Sunday night; the Houston Texans taking on Peyton Manning and the Colts, trying to make claim to the division.  If one loses, it’ll just make the storyline more intriguing when they face each other again in the latter part of the season. There will be some lopsided games in the NFL, but every single player on each team is collecting a salary.  Every single General Manager had drafts picks in April’s NFL draft.  Every single team has an equal salary cap.  This isn’t so in college football.  When Alabama plays Georgia Southern they’ll be playing a team that isn’t even in the same NCAA division level.  Is this a joke?  Is the NCAA really trying to sell me this crap?  Am I supposed to enjoy this competition?  Please give me the fall classic Dallas Cowboys vs. the Washington Redskins.

College football is corrupt.  I could write for hours on this, but I just want to hit a few main points.  I hear people tell me all the time, “The NFL is just a bunch of greedy owners and athletes, please give me amateur college football where everyone just loves the game”.  This is the biggest load of bologna I’ve ever heard.  The NFL is a professional game and admits as such.  Every single players salary is available to the public.  College football on the other hand hides behind amateurism while grabbing at cash behind everyone’s back.  The University of Miami has recently come under heavy fire about student athletes receiving money and benefits illegally.  Do you remember why they took Reggie Bush’s Heisman trophy?  And this is just the illegal part.  All of these college players are playing to be seen by NFL scouts and get drafted so they can have a pay day.  Is this intrinsically wrong? Of course not.  But don’t kid yourself, these aren’t sweet little football purists playing for your university.  You’ve all heard how the conference commissioners pull and position the schools in ways to funnel money into their own pockets.  Schools take BCS bids because of obligation even when they are losing money.   I’m sorry, I’ll take the NFL.

The NFL has playoffs and a glorious championship called the Super bowl.  College football has the BCS bowl games and a national championship.  It’s really as dumb as it sounds.  Computer’s rank the teams and choose the “best” two to play for a championship.  Others get to play in “important” bowl games for, well, I don’t know, nothing.  And somehow the BCS has convinced us this is great and for some of you better than the NFL.  You’re delusional.   I’ve heard the arguments, “every game in a college regular season is a must win game!”  No it’s not.  If you lose your first two games, everything else is meaningless.  We don’t really crown a champion every year.  We crown a bogus team that has a good record.  The computers calculate who gets to play for a championship.  So, what do the universities do?  They schedule games to win.  These super powerhouse teams love scheduling cream puffs.  They guarantee a win and give their team a much greater chance of an undefeated season.  It’s ridiculous and it should bring out wrath from all sports fans who respect competition and fairness.  I’ll take a 16 game schedule where the teams who are the best get to play each other in a playoff and the last team standing wins the championship.  The NFL does this the right way and keep the integrity of the sport intact.

So, as we welcome glorious football back to our lives here in the fall of 2011, let’s have a little treat on a Saturday afternoon, but the big boys meat and potatoes aren’t coming till Sunday.

Britton Norris is a loyal Texan. He and his wife live in Fort Worth, TX and enjoy traveling anywhere in the world. He’s a proud Dallas Baptist University alum and works as an oil and gas landman. It’s on his to-do list to observe a frigid Packers game at Lambeau Field and see a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium. During Dallas Cowboys games you’ll likely find him with a mug of strong cold beer and his serious football game face on. You’re welcome to follow him on twitter, although he does more reading of tweets than tweeting – @brittonnorris

Back On Top…

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Sports Smithy Staff 2011-12 NFL Season Picks

 

Aaron Booth:

MVP – Aaron Rodgers, QB Packers

ROY – Mark Ingram, RB Saints

 

Team predictions

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots
  2. New York Jets
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Buffalo Bills

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans
  2. Indianapolis Colts y
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars
  4. Tennessee Titans

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Baltimore Ravens  y
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Cincinnati Bengals

AFC West

  1. San Diego Chargers
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Denver Broncos
  4. Oakland Raiders

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Dallas Cowboys y
  3. New York Giants
  4. Washington Redskins

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons
  2. New Orleans Saints
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Carolina Panthers

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Chicago Bears
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Minnesota Vikings

NFC West

  1. Arizona Cardinals
  2. St. Louis Rams
  3. San Francisco 49ers
  4. Seattle Seahawks

(y – wildcard playoff spot)

Playoff prediction

Byes – Packers, Eagles, Patriots, Steelers

Round 1 – Cowboys over Falcons, Saints over Cardinals, Colts over Chargers, Texans over Ravens

Round 2 – Cowboys over Eagles, Packers over Saints, Patriots over Colts, Steelers over Texans

Round 3 – Packers over Cowboys, Patriots over Steelers

Superbowl Prediction

Final:     Patriots over Packers

 

 

Aaron Watson:

MVP – Tom Brady, QB Patriots

Last years unanimous winner dominated teams with weapons like Deon Branch, Danny Woodhead and two rookie tight ends. This year the team adds Ochocinco, the rookies are a year older and more experienced and Danny Woodhead is back and raring to go. Oh, they also win a ton of games every year and look much improved on defense.

Runner up – Aaron Rodgers, QB Packers

OPOY – Darren McFadden, RB Raiders

The often injured burner finally showed what he is capable of last year, averaging 5.2 ypc and leading the league in rushes of forty yards or more. If he stays healthy (obviously a huge if), he could be primed for a monster season. He is explosive both between the tackles, on the perimeter and in the passing game.

Runner up – Arian Foster, RB Texans

DPOY – DeMarcus Ware, OLB Cowboys

The league is obsessed with sack totals, and Ware is one of the premier players at getting to the quarterback. Rob Ryan will move him all over the field to get him good matchups, so expect his numbers to be fantastic for a team that should be better on defense.

Runner up – Ndamukong Suh, DT Lions

OROY – Mark Ingram, RB Saints

High profile player on a high profile team, he will split carries but will look good doing so. He also will rack up great TD totals as he acts as the goal line back. His ability as a receiver and blocker will help him see the field than a lot of other rookies might.

Runner up – Cam Newton, QB Panthers

DROY – Von Miller, OLB Broncos

I know being the highest defensive player drafted almost assures he will not win this award (although Suh did it last year), I still think he has the talent to be a difference maker in his first season. Early reports have him dominating in practice and he appears to have a great feel for rushing the passer as well as dropping into coverage, especially for such a young player.

Runner up – Jimmy Smith, CB Ravens

Team predictions

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots – 13-3
  2. New York Jets – 10-6 y
  3. Buffalo Bills – 6-10
  4. Miami Dolphins – 3-13

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans – 10-6
  2. Indianapolis Colts – 9-7
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars – 6-10
  4. Tennessee Titans – 5-11

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers – 12-4
  2. Baltimore Ravens – 11-5 y
  3. Cleveland Browns – 7-9
  4. Cincinnati Bengals – 2-14

AFC West

  1. San Diego Chargers – 12-4
  2. Oakland Raiders – 9-7
  3. Kansas City Chiefs – 8-8
  4. Denver Broncos – 4-12

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys – 10-6
  2. Philadelphia Eagles – 10-6 y
  3. New York Giants – 8-8
  4. Washington Redskins – 5-11

NFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints – 11-5
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 10-6 y
  3. Atlanta Falcons – 10-6
  4. Carolina Panthers – 4-12

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers – 12-4
  2. Detroit Lions – 9-7
  3. Chicago Bears –  7-9
  4. Minnesota Vikings – 6-10

NFC West

  1. St. Louis Rams – 9-7
  2. Arizona Cardinals – 7-9
  3. San Francisco 49ers – 6-10
  4. Seattle Seahawks – 5-11

(y – wildcard playoff spot)

Playoff prediction

Byes – Chargers, Patriots, Saints, Packers

Round 1 – Bucs over Cowboys, Eagles over Rams, Jets over Texans, Ravens over Steelers

Round 2 – Packers over Bucs, Eagles over Saints, Patriots over Ravens, Chargers over Jets

Round 3 – Patriots over Chargers, Packers over Eagles

Superbowl Prediction

After defeating the Chargers in the Championship round, the Patriots will play the defending Champion Green Bay Packers in the Superbowl.

Final:     Green Bay – 24                  New England – 31

 

 

Britton Norris:

MVP – Tony Romo, QB Dallas

He’s in the prime of his prime.  He was an MVP candidate in 2009, but Peyton Manning was carrying the Colts on his shoulders.  Romo has matured.  Last year was a disaster and his season was cut far too short when Giants linebacker Michael Boley came charging through the line unblocked.  This year, Romo has the benefit of a head coach that has been his offensive coordinator the past four seasons.  While the concern will be the Dallas O-line and their inexperience, Tony Romo will have a field day throwing downfield to targets like Witten, Bryant, Austin and Murray.

Runner up – Drew Brees, QB New Orleans

OPOY – Andre Johnson, WR Houston

Johnson has a classy persona, but he’ll never back down from a fight – check out his beat-down of Cortland Finnegan a year ago if you want to see NFL attitude at its best. Johnson puts on a clinic every year.  He’s a big powerful receiver that wants to win.  In fact, he’s on record this year declaring that he’s tired of watching the NFL playoffs from his sofa and is determined to get the Texans into the postseason for the first time in franchise history.  A fantasy superstar every year, expect Andre Johnson to make a bid for OPOY.

Runner up – Ray Rice, RB Baltimore

DPOY – Ndamukong Suh, DT Detroit

This guy is a stud.  If I’m lining up as an offensive center or guard I’m shaking in my boots.  “There are two types of intimidation,” Suh said. “There is dirty intimidation, which people have accused me of. And there is the intimidation of always being in somebody’s face, doing the right thing, causing them problems, not allowing them to run their offense. I think that’s what I have consistently done. That’s what my job is. That’s what I want to do. We do that as a front four. Quarterbacks are aware at every single point, that all four or eight of us can come in and cause you a problem.”  Enough said Mr. Suh.

Runner up – Brian Orakpo, OLB Washington

OROY – Mark Ingram, RB Saints

The Saints already have an offensive machine and rookie running backs are notorious for picking up an NFL offense fast due to the position’s reliance on instincts.  This is one of those picks that seem to be pretty popular.  In Head Coach Sean Peyton’s mind, Ingram will be everything Reggie Bush wasn’t.  He has hefty expectations, but I can see him excelling in this offense.

Runner up – Julio Jones, WR Atlanta

DROY – J. J. Watt, DE Houston

This is a shot in the dark.  I do think that Houston will have a much improved defense with new coordinator Wade Phillips.  This defense has several high profile draft picks and just hasn’t gotten it done year after year.  The buzz about Watt is strong and he’s won the starting job… who knows.

Runner up – Patrick Peterson, CB Arizona

Team predictions

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots – 11-5
  2. New York Jets – 9-7
  3. Miami Dolphins – 6-10
  4. Buffalo Bills – 3-13

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans – 11-5
  2. Indianapolis Colts – 6-10
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars – 6-10
  4. Tennessee Titans – 4-12

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens – 13-3
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers – 10-6 y
  3. Cleveland Browns – 5-11
  4. Cincinnati Bengals – 1-15

AFC West

  1. San Diego Chargers – 12-4
  2. Kansas City Chiefs – 9-7 y
  3. Denver Broncos – 7-9
  4. Oakland Raiders – 4-12

NFC East

  1. Dallas Cowboys – 11-5
  2. Philadelphia Eagles – 9-7
  3. New York Giants – 7-9
  4. Washington Redskins – 4-12

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons – 12-4
  2. New Orleans Saints – 11-5 y
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8-8
  4. Carolina Panthers – 4-12

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers – 12-4
  2. Detroit Lions – 10-6 y
  3. Chicago Bears –  5-11
  4. Minnesota Vikings – 5-11

NFC West

  1. Arizona Cardinals – 9-7
  2. St. Louis Rams – 8-8
  3. San Francisco 49ers – 4-12
  4. Seattle Seahawks – 3-13

(y – wildcard playoff spot)

Playoff prediction

Byes – Baltimore, San Diego, Green Bay, Atlanta

Round 1 – Dallas over Detroit, New Orleans over Arizona, Houston over Kansas City, Steelers over Patriots

Round 2 – Atlanta over New Orleans, Green Bay over Dallas, Baltimore over Pittsburgh, Houston over San Diego

Round 3 – Atlanta over Green Bay, Houston over Baltimore

Superbowl Prediction

Final:    Atlanta – 30          Houston – 28

 

 

By: Nate Douglas

MVP – Tom Brady, QB Patriots

I must concur with my colleague, Mr. Watson.  Brady made a gourmet meal of steak, potatoes, asparagus and a good cabernet out of a McDonald’s happy meal last year, and it’ll only get better this year.

Runner up – Aaron Rodgers, QB Packers

OPOY – Jamaal Charles, RB Chiefs

Last year’s leader in yards per carry will finally get the touches he deserves, and will run away with this award.

Runner up – Roddy White, WR Falcons

DPOY – Ndamukong Suh, DT Lions

Adding Nick Fairley to the mix will give opposing o-lines fits, and Suh will get even more opportunities this year to eat QB’s.

Runner up – Eric Berry, CB Chiefs

OROY – Julio Jones, WR Falcons

Julio will be targeted frequently, has good hands and great speed.  He will make an immediate impact at the WR position as Roddy White draws the tougher assignments.

Runner up – Mark Ingram, RB Saints

DROY – Patrick Peterson, CB Arizona

If you’re considered a part of the Heisman conversation as a cornerback, you’re good.   Peterson will rack up interceptions, many returned for TDs for the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Runner up – Von Miller, LB Broncos

Team predictions

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots – 12-4
  2. New York Jets – 10-6 y
  3. Buffalo Bills – 4-12
  4. Miami Dolphins – 3-13

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans – 11-5
  2. Indianapolis Colts – 10-6 y
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars – 6-10
  4. Tennessee Titans – 5-11

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens – 12-4
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers– 9-7
  3. Cleveland Browns – 7-9
  4. Cincinnati Bengals – 3-13

AFC West

  1. San Diego Chargers – 10-6
  2. Oakland Raiders – 9-7
  3. Kansas City Chiefs – 9-7
  4. Denver Broncos – 5-11

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles – 11-5
  2. New York Giants – 9-7
  3. Dallas Cowboys – 8-8
  4. Washington Redskins – 4-12

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons – 11-5
  2. New Orlenas Saints  – 10-6 y
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8-8
  4. Carolina Panthers – 4-12

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers – 13-3
  2. Detroit Lions – 9-7 y
  3. Chicago Bears –  6-10
  4. Minnesota Vikings – 4-12

NFC West

  1. St. Louis Rams – 9-7
  2. Arizona Cardinals –8-8
  3. San Francisco 49ers – 5-11
  4. Seattle Seahawks – 3-13

(y – wildcard playoff spot)

Playoff prediction

Byes – Patriots, Ravens, Falcons, Packers

Round 1 – Texans over Jets, Colts over Chargers, Eagles over Rams, Lions over Saints

Round 2 – Patriots over Texans, Ravens over Colts, Falcons over Eagles, Packers over Lions

Round 3 – Patriots over Ravens, Packers over Falcons

Superbowl Prediction

Final:     Green Bay – 35                  New England -21