Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis Colts’

Justin Blackmon - my shock #3 pick by the wideout starved Minnesota Vikings

Anyone who knows the difference between a touchdown and a touchback knows that this year’s NFL Draft already has two players locked in, but from pick 3 onwards there is no doubt in my mind that it will be much more of a roller-coaster than many mock-draft writers have predicted.

Below is my attempt at a top 10 NFL 2012 Mock Draft, including the position, team drafting, player I am predicting will be picked and why…

1) Indianapolis Colts…select Andrew Luck, QB Stanford

2) Washington Redskins…select Robert Griffin III aka RG3, QB, Baylor

These two picks are locked tighter than an upstream-swimming salmon’s sphincter as Luck is rated as the best quarterback prospect in the past 20 years, and the Redskins traded the farm to swap number 1 picks with the St Louis Rams.

Funnily enough the last time we has two such high-profile quarterbacks get selected in the top two draft picks it was the Colts at #1 who selected Peyton Manning, and the San Diego Chargers at #2 who picked a bust bigger than Dolly Parton’s when they nabbed Ryan Leaf.

3) Minnesota Vikings…select Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Yep I’m in a minority here, as most experts have USC offensive tackle (pictured above) being selected by the Purple People Eaters, but I am gambling on the Vikings getting a stud wideout to go with their stud running-back Adrian Peterson and a primary target for second year quarterback Christian Ponder.

4) Cleveland Browns…select Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

A nation championship winning back and the best prospect since the aforementioned Adrian Peterson. Richardson is a thoroughbred who can find the holes, catch the ball and play a full 60 minutes. The Browns made the decision not to go after RG3 so must have some sort of faith in Colt McCoy. They did however let Madden poster-boy Peyton Hillis go, and have the glass-kneed Montario Hardesty as their top back. Richardson will bring back some ruggedness to the Browns, a team who people respected in the 1980s – honest they did. 

5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers…select Morris Clayborne, CB, LSU

Veteran Buccs cornerback Ronde Barber simply cannot go on, despite signing an extension earlier this year. The Buccs have a young team and they need a dominating corner to do what Ronde did for over a decade. Clayborne could possibly go at #3 to the Vikings. Any corner that gets selected this high had better be special, and I’m not talking special-teams special. Patrick Petersen was picked as a corner in the same slot last year and he ended up in the Pro-Bowl. Clayborne I doubt will have the same rookie impact.

6) St Louis Rams…select Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Rams would have had their heart set on Blackmon, but this is my mock draft so they have to fish elsewhere for a big catch. With Cleveland and Tampa addressing need Kalil, the best tackle available, will be the chosen one by the Rams. Yes they got Roger Saffold last year, but with Kalil the Rams will have their best offensive lineman since Orlando Pace. 

7) Jacksonville Jaguars select…Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

This is one team with needs at defensive line, wide receiver and depending on how much optimism you have for 2011 1st Rd pick Blaine Gabbert, a new quarterback. The Jags will have a number of options here but Cox has the best combination of durability, strength and speed. Putting Cox alongside Tyson Alualu will give the Jags a formidable combo for the 2010s. 

8) Miami Dolphins select…Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

The Fins have sucked harder at quarterback than Kojack would at an international lollipop licking contest. Matt Moore is not the answer and neither have been some of the hideous signal callers that have been starting in Miami over the past decade. Tannehill is in a class of his own in this draft. He is a top ten talent, but not a top 5 one. Tannehill has great awareness, but maybe that awareness will trigger his spidey-sense to steer clear from the Dolphins. It’s unlikely  as he will be very likely to be in aqua and white no sooner than you can spot a pair of surgically enhanced breasts on Miami Beach. 

9) Carolina Panthers select…Mark Barron, S, Alabama

A second member of the Crimson Tide to get selected in the top 10, Barron is the number one safety available by a country mile. He comes armed with a national championship ring and some classy leadership skills. The Panthers struck gold in the 2011 draft with Can Newton, Barron is not that sparkly, but he is a solid silver pick and can bring his ball hawking skills to Carolina, with immediate game 1 impact. His 12 picks in college is pretty respectable. 

10) Buffalo Bills select…Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Despite having the drawback of going to Cretin High School (yes it’s true) Floyd is a game-changer, who can catch the small passes and make them into big gains. The Bills have got a respectable defense, bolstered by the big free-agency signing of Mario Williams. They now need a wideout to take the pressure off Steve Johnson. This could in-part help the Bills become legit once again. 

Can’t wait for tomorrow night, not sure I will make it much past Andrew Luck standing there with the ginger prince, but my ipod will be knackered out Friday morning as I read through the selections made as the rain batters the window and my six moth old batters my eardrums. 

Well it’s that time of year, when we get two stunning contests between the cream of the NFL. God I love the conference championship games, and this season we have two intriguing contest between four very different teams.

AP has been quiet in January but next will be his crowning glory against the Saints

The Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints have shone throughout the season and are the #1 seeds respectively, with the Minnesota Vikings looking good all round and the New York Jets acting out a Disney sports movie script.

I have done a TO and got the popcorn ready, as well as some alcoholic ginger beer (lovely) and some chips and dips. Ok I’ll look like death warmed up in the morning but lets hope its gonna be worth it.

My predicting skills have been pretty average in the playoffs as I have got 5 out of 8 correct so far.

Here goes with my conference championships predictions;

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP – Vikings @ Saints

This game is not exactly your traditional NFC championship, where defense dominates and the score finishes 13-10.

Minnesota and New Orleans are explosive high-powered offensive led teams with lots of talent across the field.

Both play in a Dome, both rely on young studs with speed, agility and soft hands, and both have quarterbacks that are grizzled veterans who both deserve to be playing in the Superbowl for what they have done this season.

This game has all the makings of a wild west shootout, with Brett Favre looking to take the Vikings to a place they haven’t been since Fran Tarkenen and the Purple People Eaters reached four Superbowls in the 1970s (losing all four).

Favre has shown that he can both play disciplined football and also air it our when he needs to, and he has turned Sidney Rice into a megastar, in a way that I suspect Sage Rosenfels or Tavaris Jackson would not have been able to in 2009.

Adrian Peterson has been strangely quiet in the second half of the season and has quite remarkably gone a little under the radar. This I think will all change in the NFC Championship as Peterson will show some of those jaw dropping skills that made him the most exciting rookie since Barry Sanders.

The Saints will simply be unable to bottle up Peterson for 60 minutes, and that my friends will be the difference in the game.

Defensively the Vikings are a remarkable unit up front, with Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams in the middle and the on-fire Ray Edwards at the other end.  This is a front four that should have helped a team to reach a Superbowl by now, and they will have to be tackling for their lives against the eel like Reggie Bush, and the the powerful and speedy Pierre Thomas.

The Saints D is led by veteran safety Darren Sharper, who has had an Ed Reed type season, picking off passes and being in the right place at the right time far too many times for it just to be luck or coincidence. Former Jet LB Jonathan Vilma is playing the best football of his life, and underrated pro’s such as Will Allen and linebackers Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle deserve to win today for their consistent effort on a team that has not always been this good.

X-Factors = The obvious x-factors in this game are Reggie Bush for the Saints and Percy Harvin the electric rookie WR for the Vikings.

Thing is I don’t like obvious, and I will instead look at some lesser known players that could be the difference between a trip home and a trip to Miami….

Saints TE David Thomas – With Jeremy Shockey not 100% Martin could be asked to catch 5 or more passes, and this could include in the redzone

Vikings RB Chester Taylor – Taylor has been a passenger in the Viking sailboat that has plundered and pillaged the NFL this season, leaving him fresh for this game. He is the best pass catching back on the team and could break a catch in the backfield and turn it into six huge points.

Prediction – Vikings 33-30 Saints – MVP Adrian Peterson 131 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP – Jets @ Colts

Everyone loves an underdog and the New York Jets , who snuck into the playoffs on the back of the Colts decision to rest their starters in Week 17, are going to have a lot of neutral fans rooting for them. Only problem is Rex Ryan and the Jets don’t consider themselves underdogs, and that positive mentality has willed the Big Apple warriors to the AFC Championship game.

The Colts on the other hand are doing what they always do, winning 12 or more regular season games with relative ease, and without a mind-blowing running game. The last time the Colts won a Superbowl they did it with a precision passing game and a combination of Joesph Addai and Dominic Rhodes in the backfield (sometimes both on the field at the same time). Not much has changed, Addai still has a partner, but this time he is the veteran and Donald Brown is the rookie who knows no better.

Peyton Manning does not need much of a description here, just look in a dictionary for the definition of an All Pro QB and Manning’s face will be there.

Marvin Harrison is gone at WR, but in his place are Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, who have both stepped up when needed and have helped catapult the Colts to a championship game.

The Jets have won games the way they used to be won, with a big nasty offensive line and a running game that gives opposition DCs nightmares. The combination of ‘the most underrated RB in NFL history’ Thomas Jones, and rookie rocket pack Shonn Greene, is pretty much perfect, and FB Tony Richardson is one of the best in his position in the past 30 years.

New York will go into this game with a rookie under center, and unfortunately this will be the game that brings Mark Sanchez crashing down to earth. It’s not that Sanchez can’t move the ball or pass accurately, its just that Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney will be more pumped up than the world’d biggest hot air balloon.

We all know that Darelle Revis the Jets CB should have been voted NFL Defensive MVP this season, and we also know that he will do an outstanding job tracking whoever will dare to matchup with him. It’s the rest of the Jets corners that I have bigger issues with.

X-Factors =This comes down to the Jets offense being able to move the ball and the Colts defense showing that their game last week was no fluke.

Colts – Defensive tackles Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir are pretty much unknown outside of Indy, but they hold the key to this game. If they can hold the Jets running game it could be a long night for Sanchez.

Jets – WR Braylon Edwards. Yes Edwards has had a lot of stick recently for dropping passes, but he has the talent, the speed and the desire to show why he was an early first round pick by the Cleveland Browns. Edwards, if he is given the opportunity by the play calling, could surprise all NFL fans with a monster game.

Prediction – Colts 26-16 Jets – MVP Peyton Manning 289 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Like poo on a shoe I have a feeling the Cardinals will not be removed from the playoffs this week as Kurt gets busy through the sky

There’s nothing like starting my divisional playoff predictions with a Kylie Minogue song reference, but ‘I can’t get the Cardinals out of my head’ and as long as Kurt Waner hasn’t been concussed and is lying in a heap on the Superdome floor I smell an upset.

I got three out of the four Wild Card games right last week, with my only mistake being predicting an Eagles win against the Cowboys. I have to admit the only reason I went with Philly was because they were my pre-season Superbowl prediction, and I didn’t want to be a hypocrite.

Well now its time to dust down the Mystic Meg costume and sprinkle so prediction powder on the 2009-2010 NFL Divisional Playoff round;

NFC – Cardinals @ Saints

If you thought you saw an unforgettable fireworks display last week in the desert, this could be bigger, better faster and even higher scoring (seriously). Bizarrely this game will not come down to the quality of the QBs or WRs, it will come down to the team that has the most convincing running game. Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush versus Tim Hightower and Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells. Momentum is a funny thing and the Cardinals will have it in bucket loads after their electric game last week, whereas the Saints looked awful after they lost their unbeaten record to the Cowboys (and yes I know the Saints were playing scrubs Week 17). Both teams have dominant All-Pro safeties in the form of Adrian Wilson and Darren Sharper, but both team CBs (as a unit) are not the best in the league. Providing the Cardinals offensive line keeps up the work rate then they have the ability to push Arizona into a 2nd NFC championship in a row.

Prediction – Cardinals 38-33 Saints – Game MVP Kurt Warner 307 yards passing 3 touchdowns.

NFC – Cowboys @ Vikings

I have even having to type the word Favre, seeing as he should have retired in the last decade, but here I am again talking about Mr Wrangler. The Vikings and the Cowboys match up pretty well, and I have to say this is going to be the biggest game of the weekend, with two star studded squads that can boast remarkable offensive lines, excellent quarterbacks, and defensive studs – exemplified by the Cowboys DeMarcus Ware and the Vikings mullet wearing nut job Jared Allen. Both teams have receivers that have had bonanza breakout seasons (Miles Austin and Sidney Rice), and both have some depth and ability to change the gears with their running games. Now the romantics will want Brett to take his weapons to the NFC Championship but I have Dallas showing why they are no longer a team to be laughed at when it comes to the business end of the season. That and the fact Felix Jones is just about the only human being I know that could keep pace with Chris Johnson in a running race. Wait for Felix to do something jaw dropping and then let others know you read it here.

Prediction – Cowboys 27-24 Vikings – Game MVP Tony Romo 311 yards and 2 touchdowns

AFC – Jets @ Chargers

It doesn’t matter what you wear, what you smell like or whether you know your tango from your Foxtrot, providing you have a ticket to the dance you can do whatever you like on the dance floor. Take a bow the Rex Ryan led New York Jets. The Jets have the number one defense and the number one running game, but they now face a team that has the hottest winning streak in the NFL. We all have to admit that Ladanian Tomlinson is no longer the same 20+ touchdown monster that he has been, but he still has a nose for the end zone. The maturation of Vincent Jackson has countered the decline in LT’s skills, and Antonio Gates continues to remain at top three fantasy TE for San Diego. This should be the game that signifies the Philip Rivers era in the AFC, but Jets CB Darrell Revis is that good that he can kill off Jackson and force Rivers to make passes that he might not want to attempt. This game will be the lowest scoring and it could come down to the kicking game (both field goals and field position from punts). It could be a bit of magic from Darren Sproles that blows this game open but I see the Jets leaving California with their Superbowl dream still intact.

Prediction – Jets 19-16 Chargers – Game MVP Thomas Jones 103 yards rushing 1 touchdown

AFC – Ravens @ Colts

The Ravens blew past the Patriots from the first offensive play and then like a skilled surfer dude they rode the wave of momentum to build up a lead that even Tom Brady could not claw back. The Colts will simply not allow this to happen as Peyton Manning will lock and load time after time to help Indy create an early lead. The Ravens running game is pretty special and Ray Rice was rewarded for his show of skills by gaining a 2nd Team All-Pro selection earlier this week. With support from Willis McGahee the Ravens running game has been  up there with the best. This game is in my opinion the Colts to win, with their home fans, home turf and NFL MVP. If the Colts get a 21 point lead this game could get ugly. I would love to see the unfashionable Ravens get the upset and set up a defensive slug fest with the Jets for the rights to go to the Superbowl, but this is Manning’s time. The Colts have no Steelers or Patriots to face and they just have to much speed to be stopped. Reggie Wayne to have a beast of a game and Dallas Clark to cause headaches to the Baltimore D all day long.

Prediction – Colts 30-19 Ravens – Game MVP Reggie Wayne 121 yards and 1 touchdown

Any thoughts???????

13_dan_marino

My god is that Leo Sayer in a Pitt uniform or is it the guy who passed for 5084 yards in 1984? (Pic from SI)

It’s the NFL equivalent of the Holy Grail, it’s a record that has not been touched until last season, and it’s a record owned by a guy who never won a Superbowl.

Yes the annual pilgrimage by 32 NFL quarterbacks to eclipse former Miami Dolphins qb Dan Marino’s single season passing yards record of 5084 (in 1984) has begun in earnest.

The 2009 NFL season has seen passers come out of the blocks faster than Usaine Bolt realising he needs the toilet after some dodgy jerk chicken.

So who are the contenders to Sayers…oops…Marino’s title?

1) Matt Schaub – Houston Texans (9 games played so far, 2653 yards)

Schaub is on pace for 4716 yards, so he is 369 yards of pace to break the record. This means he needs to improve production per game by 52 yards a game.

2) Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts (8 games played so far, 2545 yards)

Manning is on pace for 5090 yards, so he is on pace to beat the record by 6 yards.

3) Tom Brady – New England Patriots (8 games played so far, 2364 yards)

Brady is on pace for 4728 yards, so he is 357 yards of pace to break the record. This means he needs to improve production per game by 45 yards a game.

4) Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints (8 games played so far, 2336 yards)

Brees is on pace for 4672 yards, so he is 412 yards of pace to break the record. This means he needs to improve production by 52 yards a game.

Elsewhere Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo and Kurt Warner are on pace for over 4000 yards but I think they are not going to be able to drastically improve production to get over the 5000 hump.

So coming into Week 10 the only person who is on pace is Colts Superbowl winning qb Peyton Manning. Miracle Manning has thrown for over 300 yards in 7 out of his 8 contests so far, and to top it off he has won every single encounter.

The Colts have a mega tough second half schedule, with games against the Patriots, Baltimore, Denver and the Jets.

Can Manning do it? Ill say yes. I said Brees could get the record last year, and whilst Brees had the bra off and the skirt hitched up, I see Manning breaking the seal on his pack of extra-large Trojans.

Boldin and Fitzgerald will show their class during the crazy Wild Card weekend

Boldin and Fitzgerald will show their class during the crazy Wild Card weekend (Pic Lacy Atkins/The Chronicle)

This is where it all matters, where all the effort means death or glory, over four or maybe even five quarters.

I for one did not expect to see the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins or the Minnesota Vikings in the post season.
As for the Eagles, Colts, Chargers and Ravens – I thought they were capable of making it to part 2. I also had a degree of expectation that the Arizona Cardinals could scrape a wild card, but with such a weak division they surprised many and won a home playoff game.
Here are my predictions for the crazy crazy Wild Card Weekend………..
AFC
Sat., Jan. 3, 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Indianapolis (12-4) @ San Diego (8-8)
Colts to win 31-27 – This will be some revenge for Peyton Manning and his Colts, who were killed off by the Chargers in the playoffs last season. I have a feeling the Colts will jump out to an early 14-0 lead but the Chargers will then dominate right up until the final drive, where Dominic Rhodes punches the winner in from 3 yards away.
Sun., Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Baltimore (11-5) @ Miami (11-5)
Baltimore to win 23-10 – This will unfortunately be a proverbial wicked witch coming down from her broomstick to spoil the fairytale Dolphins season. Not a pretty game to watch the Ravens will rely on their running game with Rice and McClain showing that they have plenty left in the tank. Pennington will again be accurate but he will not have the time to get big 10 play 80 yard drives.
NFC
Sat., Jan. 3, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Atlanta (11-5) @ Arizona (9-7)
Arizona to win 27-24 (OT) – This is my upset special even if the Cardinals are the division winning home team. Atlanta will look to establish the run with Michael Turner and the underrated Jerious Norwood (who I think could start somewhere like Denver). Kurt Warner will be expecting the pass rush from John Abraham, but with 3 1000 yard wideouts in his arsenal this will be the time for Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald to show that they are the top tandem in the NFL.
Sun., Jan 4, 4:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Philadelphia (9-6-1) @ Minnesota (10-6)
Philadelphia to win 29-16 – Brian Westbrook will show the entire NFL world that he is the best all purpose back in the NFL, as he goes for 175 all purpose yards and two touchdowns. Adrian Petersen will show some potential, but the playoff pressure will get to him and he will ultimately be the second best back on the field. One of the no name Eagles wideouts will get a huge td – someone like Hank Baskett or Jason Avant – and that will kill off the Vikings.
Cue the counter arguments……….
Brian Westbrook looks to have a big week 2

Brian Westbrook looks to have a big week 2

I didn’t exactly set the world alight with my week 1 predictions, getting only 7 of 15 right (including two exact team scores) but just like a maligned veteran qb, I’ll just dust myself down, and take another shot at the endzone.

So here we go as NFLFANINENGLAND creator Lawrence Vos once again gazes into the mythical crystal ball that is the NFL for Week 2 predictions ……

Bet you all have opinions – come back on Tuesday to see how I go ! Feel free to add your thoughts……

Chicago at Carolina

Kyle Orton and Matt Forte combined to produce the biggest upset of week 1 with a shock victory over the Indianapolis Colts, so there will be a certain amount of confidence oozing from the pores (paws even) of the Bears. They travel again in week 2 – this time to Carolina, and they have the ability to win, but I think this will be the Delhomme and Mushin Muhammed show, as the Moose scores at least one td to help the Panthers go 2-0.

LV Prediction – Carolina to win 24-20

correct 1-0

Tennessee at Cincinnati

The Bungles may have the NFL’s only Spanish numeric named wideout but if they only get the ball to him 2 times a game then the only significant number they will end up with will be a big fat 0 as in 0 wins. The Titans are defensively a very good team, but they have Kerry Collins at the helm, which could go either way. Ill give the game to Tennessee as their defense is too organised to fail, but it will be closer than many think.

LV Prediction – Tennessee to win 21-17

correct  2-0

Green Bay at Detroit

Judging by week 1 when the Falcons Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood just went crazy running all over the Lions, it could be a monster week for Packers RB Ryan Grant. Lets not forget Aaron Rodgers though as he has taken the pressure if the Wisconsin faithful on his shoulders and helped his team to victory. The Lions have the ability to put up 300 passing yards every game, but the Packers veteran cbs Woodson and Harris will prove their ProBowl status in this contest and the Pack go 2-0 without that old qb – what was his name ???

LV Prediction – Green Bay to win 33-16

correct 3-0

Buffalo at Jacksonville

This is the acid test for the Bills as they can show if they are a legitimate playoff contender. Jacksonville will be mad after the loss to Tennessee last week, and will be determined to show that their running game is their strength. Buffalo have shown they can play well in all three phases of play, and Trent Edwards is the cemented starter. I just have a feeling that the Jags will be out to show to their home fans that the 2008 season is not over before it starts.

LV Prediction – Jacksonville to win 28-19

wrong 3-1

Oakland at Kansas City

Oakland are in a bad place at the moment, and I’m not talking about the black hole. This battle between two 0-1 teams will mean that there will be some scrappy play and plenty of trash talking. Damon Huard steps back in as the KC qb and his veteran composure will shine through against a Raiders team that is determined to self destruct. JaMarcus Russell and Darren Mc Fadden will try but this could be another ugly season for the Black n Silver.

LV Prediction – Kansas City to win 27-20

wrong 3-2

Indianapolis at Minnesota

Wow – one of thee teams will go 0-2 – not what anyone expected. On the surface it looks to be an explosive game which could go either way, but when you realise the Colts are in a dome, and Marvin, Reggie and Anthony are gonna be on the field then it is a case of sticking a fork in the Vikings. AP will run hard but I am still not convinced by Tavaris Jackson, hell give John David Booty a go behind center !!!!

LV Prediction – Indianapolis to win 35-13

correct 4-2

New York Giants at St Louis

Not a lot of predicting needed here – the Giants are just too well polished to fall to a painfully poor Rams team. Brandon Jacobs is a real wrecking ball of a back and Plaxico is looking to get a Pro Bowl berth as well as a second consecutive appearance at the big dance. Steven Jackson has been promised more carries, but the Rams may be abandoning the run early again.

LV Prediction – NY Giants to win 31-10

correct 5-2

New Orleans at Washington

The Saints are riding high after a significant win against the Buccs in week 1. The Redskins looked bloody awful against the Giants and one more nightmare from Jason Campbell and we could see the calls for backup Todd Collins to take the helm. The Saints will miss Marques Colston as the number one target, but I have a feeling David Patten will come back to haunt the team that let him rot, with 80-100 yards and a score.

LV Prediction – New Orleans to win 23-14

wrong 5-3

San Francisco at Seattle

San Francisco will not want another 0-2 start to a season and nor will Seattle. This is an opportunity for Frank Gore to show he is a top 10 back in the NFL, but the stage will belong to Matt Hasselbeck who will bounce back from a horror show in week 1. Plus with Seattle at home even Frasier Crane will be waving his Seahawks pennant after the final whistle blows.

LV Prediction – Seattle to win 26-21

wrong 5-4

Atlanta at Tampa Bay

Tampa will be bringing their A game as the Falcons come to the Florida sunshine in an attempt to go 2-0. Only problem is the Buccs D is a whole lot better than the Lions D and this time Matt Ryan will not simply spend the game handing off to Michael Turner or Jerious Norwood. My prediction for some scorers – howabout Earnest Graham on the ground and Antonio Bryant catching his first td of the season from Garcia.

LV Prediction – Tampa Bay to win 23-13

correct 6-4

Miami at Arizona

As I said last week Chad Pennington is going to help the Fins, but they still need to establish the running game – something that Ricky Williams failed to do against the J-E-T-S. Kurt Warner is rolling back the years and will again go over 250 yards, and throw a minimum if two touchdowns. Cardinals always flatter to decieve but they can make a real impact this season if Kurt keeps hold of the pigskin.

LV Prediction – Arizona to win 29-13

correct 7-4

San Diego at Denver

The Chargers will be seething after their opening day loss (on the last play of the game) and despite Jay Cutler and the rookie of the week performance of Broncos wideout Eddie Royal, San Diego will come out on top. The Broncos are going to be contenders this season, but a big ol dose of LT will be just about enough for the Chargers to get back on track.

LV Prediction – San Diego to win 24-23

wrong 7-5

New England at New York Jets

So we are now going to welcome in the Matt Cassell era ! Lets be honest you dont go 16-0 without the WHOLE team being excellent. Lawrence Maroneys is still running, Moss and Welker are still catching and the offensive line is still intact. The Jets will be many people’s favourites with ol greybeard steering the Big Apple boat, but I’ll say it here the Pats will remain ruthlessly efficient and win this game with a healthy margin of victory.

LV Prediction – New England to win 30-20

correct 8-5

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

The Steelers look good already, and Willie Parker is on fire. Look for this to continue against the Browns who are gonna play hard but are gonna fall. Braylon Edwards needs to have a big game and the running game needs to get going. The Steelers will be led by Big Ben who will look to target Santonio Holmes, seeing as Hines Ward will be double teamed.

LV Prediction – Pittsburgh to win 19-14

correct 9-5

Philadelphia at Dallas

Its only week 2 but this is a very important game as Romo and McNabb duel to show who has the best sword skills. It looks to be the game of the week, with two highly skilled offensive teams matching up to go at each other all game long. I’ll tip the Eagles to get an upset victory with Philly looking to get to TO and his Channel Tunnel like gob. Westbrook to get two more touchdowns – including the winner on a short catch.

LV Prediction – Philadelphia to win 20-19

wrong 9-6

Baltimore at Houston – Game postponed until November

Have fun this weekend with week 2 !

**** 9-6 this week – I’m getting better but still no cigar. Stay tuned. ****

Run Reggie Run and maybe catch a few passes too - Photo by J Robbins

Run Reggie Run and maybe catch a few passes too - Photo by J Robbins

Someone posting on my blog this week made the remark that the New Orleans Saints had an impressive outing running the ball in Week 1 after I put in a post that two backs that both got around 5o yards on the ground each was not exactly setting the world alight.

I stick by that, but I did say at the time that Reggie Bush could legitimately catch 150 passes in a season. Bush is creating a position that is almost unique, a dumpoff back that is gameplanned to be dumped off to as a first resort by Drew Brees, not a last resort after seeing a primary and secondary target man marked.

I call him the best wide-back in the NFL !

It got me thinking who is the best catching running back in NFL history (past and present combined) ?

Well here are the top running back/full backs listed by the amount of regular season receptions they have made Up to end of 2007, and the team they had the most impact on and then average catches per year (in brackets)

TOP 5 all time – all retired

Larry Centers – 827 catches – Arizona Cardinals – Full Back – 1990-2003 (64 catches a year)

Marshall Faulk – 767 catches – St Louis Rams – Running back – 1994 – 2005 (70 catches a year)

Keith Byars – 610 catches – Philadelphia Eagles – Fullback – 1986-1998 (51 catches a year)

Marcus Allen – 587 catches – Los Angeles Raiders – Running back 1982-1997 (39 catches a year)

Tiki Barber – 586 catches – New York Giants – Running back  1997-2006 (65 catches a year)

Top 5 – active all playing in 2008 in NFL

Warwick Dunn – 463 catches –  Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1997 – now (46 catches a season)

LaDanian Tomlinson – 458 catches – San Diego Chargers  – 2001 – now (76 catches a season)

Edgerrin James – 418 catches – Indianapolis Colts – 1999 – now (52 catches a season)

Michael Pittman – 415 catches – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1998 – now (46 catches a year)

Ahman Green – 364 catches – Green Bay Packers – 1998 – now (40 catches a season)

Where does Reggie Bush fit in ?

Reggie Bush – 161 catches – New Orleans Saints – 2006 – now (81 catches a season)

Other current contender in the NFL

Brian Westbrook – 347 catches – Philadelphia Eagles – 2002 – now (69 catches a season)

So what do the numbers tell us ? Well if we extrapolate Reggie Bush’s season average over a 10 year period then you have Bush at 810 catches and he becomes the all time greatest catching running back in NFL history.

Both the Chargers LT and the Eagles Brian Westbrook have proved over a longer period that they are true dual talents both running and receiving – Westbrook has two 1,200+ rushing seasons to add to his catches and LT has a mind blowing 7 1,200 yard + ground yard seasons.

Reggie Bush is in my opinion not a #1 running back but he is an All Pro wide-back – maybe I have given Reggie a title that matches his talents ! He is not a 1,500 yard running back but he is a 1,500 yard a season gainer (not even including his punt returns). 

Who do you think the best wide back is in NFL history ?

Chris Cooley will need more than 1 catch a game to lift the Redskins - picture by Lawrence Vos

Chris Cooley will need more than 1 catch a game to lift the Redskins - picture by Lawrence Vos

Ok I missed my prediction on the Giants v Redskins game, but I did stay up until 4.00am in England to watch the game, and then leave for work 4 hours later.

I noticed quite disturbingly that the Giants managed 0 receptions to their tight end Kevin Boss, and apart from one endzonelook in the 1st quarter Boss managed to do a big fat not a lot. Redskins TE Chris Cooley was right up there with Boss in terms of a non-descript game, with just one catch.

Someone needs to get that ‘rabbit in front of the headlights on a freeway’ look shaken from Jason Campbell’s face, and until that happens I think that the Redskins are pretty much doomed to mediocrity for the 17th consecutive season.

Anyway………on to my NFL 2008 Season Week 1 Predictions and thoughts

Seattle at Buffalo

The Bills are best described by many as a dark horse for a wild-card spot, but I don’t think that will be the case, I would more likely describe them as a grey donkey, nice to pat on the head but seriously lacking the ability to run with the thoroughbreds like New England and San Diego. Seattle are missing Previous Superbowl MVP Deion Branch and wily veteran Bobby Engram, instead relying on young wideouts.

Prediction – Seattle to win 27-17

LV – wrong 0-1

Detroit at Atlanta

U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi you ugly – not exactly a showcase for the NFL’s finest here in Georgia. Rookie 1st round pick Matt Ryan makes his Falcon debut, handing off to new Atlanta tailback (and lifetime backup) Michael Turner. The Lions will be licking their lips with DeAngelo Hall gone and Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams revving up for a spectacular season. Kevin Smith the new Lions RB will be one to watch and he may break 100 on the ground in his debut.

Prediction – Detroit to win 31-14

LV wrong 0-2

Cincinnati at Baltimore

Its Ocho Cinco time baby ! Despite looking like he went 12 rounds with that mutant 7ft Russian heavyweight boxer Bengals QB Carson Palmer should find himself with an opportunity for an upset. With the Ravens going to another rookie QB Joe Flacco to start the season I have a feeling Baltimore will come out of the gate a little slowly. Willis McGahee is banged up and the Ravens D may have lost that mystique by the end of this one.

Prediction – Cincinnati to win 21-20

LV wrong 0-3

St. Louis at Philadelphia

All signs point to Rocky town for this one, with Donovan McNabb once again able to find his TE LJ Smith in the red-zone. Brian Westbrook if he stays healthy should be in line for an NFL MVP award, and rookie DeSean Jackson the former Cal wideout should provide a spark. The Rams have Steven Jackson back in uniform and Marc Bulgerback at QB but the Rams D will still be vulnerable, even with #2 pick Chris Long at DE.

Prediction – Philadelphia to win 38-9

LV correct – 1-3 – Note got Philly score exactly right !

Houston at Pittsburgh

Houston showed signs of becoming respectable in 07, and with the welcome return of Andre Johnson at WR it could be the Texans first winning season. Pittsburgh added another talented running back in the draft – Rashard Mendenhall as a rocket propelled backup, but there are offensive line question marks. This will be a chance for Big Ben Roethlisberger to show why he gets paid the big bucks, Texans will make it a fight though.

Prediction – Pittsburgh to win 19-17

LV correct 2-3

Jacksonville at Tennessee

Both teams will see anything but an AFC Championship appearance a failure, and both will be looking to establish the run before launching any rockets in the sky. Vince Young the Titans QB is only a few steps away from being a top 10 performer. David Garrard needs to prove he can go 16 games and keep his INTs low for a second season. Jacksonville’s running game to settle this one in an old fashioned slugfest.

Prediction – Jacksonville to win 20-17

LV wrong 2-4

Tampa Bay at New Orleans

The evergreen Jeff Garcia comes to Louisiana with a chip on his shoulder after a first round playoff exit earlier in the year. The Buccs will unfortunately be the ones on the tailgate bbq after they get grilled by Drew Brees and the Saints who will unleash Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister and a big ol dollop of Marques Colston along with relishing the thought of seeing Jeremy Shockey in Black and Gold.

Prediction – New Orleans to win 24-17

LV correct 3-4 – Note got New Orleans score exactly right!

Kansas City at New England

Hmmmm lets spare the analysis on this one. Bill Bellicheck will have the Pats so hungry they may end up spying on the hot dog and candy floss stalls in the pre game warm ups. Look for KC to give a bit more fight than many experts say but for the Pats to win in style. Even Sammy Morris should get 50 yards and a score.

Prediction – New England to win 24-14

LV correct 4-4

N.Y. Jets at Miami

Can anyone get through an opening week blog without mentioning the F word ? and I’m not talking Gordon Ramsay swearing in the kitchens of Florida. Look for Chad Pennington to get the headlines in this encounter, and he gets the Dolphins back to basics, ball control, accurate passing and some leadership at the QB position. The Jets will have the attention of the world at the kickoff, but the respect for Pennington will be the abiding memory at the end.

Prediction – Miami to win 17-13

LV wrong 4-5 – Note Pennington did earn some respect in the game

Arizona at San Francisco

Looks like Matt Leinhart is not the saviour after all as Kurt Warner gets the start and the Cardinals again look to have a good season and a playoff place. Look for Arizona rookie RB Tim Hightower to get on the scoresheet and for the 49ers to look bloody awful. Face it if any of the other 31 NFL teams announced that JT OSullivan was their starting quarterback the first thing you would do is laugh. JT has done an amazing job to get the gig in Frisco, but any sensible coach will get Frank Gore 25-30 touches as a priority.

Prediction – Arizona to win 33-13

LV correct 5-5 Note I did predict Tim Hightower to score !

Carolina at San Diego

Carolina welcome back Jake Delhomme from an injury lost 2007, and despite Steve Smith missing out the Panthersshould be able to compete wih a solid running game. The win however belongs to the San Diego Chargers who will want to be all business in the first half of the season. Rivers will throw no more than about 20 passes as the Chargers look to chew up the clock with LT, Sproles and even Jacob Hester getting some carries.

Prediction – San Diego to win 23-20

LV wrong 5-6

Dallas at Cleveland

The Cleveland Browns bandwagon is still pretty full after Derek Anderson inspired his team to prominence. The 2008 season will not have the fairytale ending to it in my estimation though, as Dallas will pour vodka in the punch and drop dog food in the trifle and escape from Ohio with a big W. Everyone is talking about the strength of Marion Barber, but the Cowboys masterstroke is the drafting of RB Felix Jones who has more speed than Keaunu Reeves holding a bag of bowling balls after falling out of an aeroplane.

Prediction – Dallas to win 24-19 

LV correct 6-6

Chicago at Indianapolis

The only positive the Chicago Bears can get from this game is to reminisce that the last time they met was in the Superbowl. Indy will dominate this game from their first possession, which I will bet will result in a touchdown. Marvin Harrison will be wanting to show there is life in the old dog still, and Dominic Rhodes will be back in his favourite colours of blue and white. If Chicago muster 21 points ill call that an upset by itself.

Prediction – Indianapolis to win 28-13

LV wrong – 6-7

Minnesota at Green Bay

Two quarterbacks with big question marks over their heads – Aaron Rodgers in his first start and Tavaris Jackson looking to show that he truly belongs in this league after an up and down 2007. Can either live up to their expectations ? I don’t think either will be the biggest factor of the game as it will be up to Ryan Grant and Adrian Peterson to show who is the top young running back. AP to win this particular battle.

Prediction – Minnesota to win 16-10

LV wrong 6-8

Denver at Oakland

The Raiders are trying to build a team of young and spirited world beaters, but I can’t see them winning against a Broncos team that  every year show they know how to do the most important thing – run the football. With Brandon Marshall out week 1 that will give the Raiders some relief, but the Broncos have the offensive line intelligence and the shutdown cornerbacks to leave California with a victory.

Prediction – Denver to win 29-23

LV right 7-8 (Overall score 7 right 8 wrong)

Bet you all have opinions – come back on Tuesday to see how I go ! Feel free to add your thoughts……

Chris Horton (right) had an impressive NFL debut - photo by Greg Burmann

Chris Horton (right) had an impressive NFL debut - photo by Greg Burmann

OK its only the pre-season, with the likelihood of Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison or Dwight Freeney even suiting up for the Hall of Fame Game the same as Elvis Presley doing the half-time show at the next Superbowl.

It doesn’t matter however as we have seen our first collective glimpse of the 2008 season, albeit an artificial one, with undrafted free agents, obscure rookies and third string quarterbacks steering their ships. 

I for one will eat my own Art Monk Hall of Fame commemorative hat (ordered directly from Canton) if Jared Lorenzen gets as many regular season snaps as an Indianapolis Colt as he did on Sunday.  

It may surprise all you non UK based blog readers that in England (and Scotland) we actually get to see about 7 or 8 NFL pre-season games live over here on satellite television (Sky Sports). Its only the second year that Sky Sports have shown these games, but to all UK fans it is a big bonus getting to see the rookies that were drafted in April try to prove themselves in what are essentially games that you want to get through without injury more than you actually want to win.

So what were my impressions of the Hall of Fame game between the Washington Redskins and the Indianapolis Colts….

1) Redskins rookie free safety Chris Horton managed to recover a fumbled onside kick, get two sacks on Jared ‘the human barrell’ Lorenzen and even register 5 tackles. The 23 year old from UCLA is fighting for a roster spot and in my eyes played his heart out. With Stuart Schweigert cut from the team today and Reed Doughty just not good enough to become a pro-bowler it is up to Horton to prove that this game was no fluke.

2) Redskins quarterbacks only managed two incompletions in the game, up until they bought on 4th stringer Derek Devine, who went 0-1. Skins head coach Jim Zorn must like Devine as he was a Seahawk in 2007, but with Jason Campbell looking confident tossing an early to to Antuwan Randl El, Todd Collins looking like a prototypical veteran backup and Colt Brennan and his bizarre side slinging action looking mightily impressive against the Colts backup db’s Devine may not be seeing a lot of action very soon.

3) The Colts are true poker players, like most of the NFL teams in the early pre-season they will not reveal their hand at such an early point in August. It was good to see Dominic Rhodes back in the blue and white uniform of Indy, and judging by his cameo appearance he will play an important role in 2008. As for any real analysis it’s bloody hard as 8 different Colts ran the ball and 13 Colts caught passes.

Above all we have NFL football back on our tv screens in England and America, and aside from the Brett Favre nonsense, I’m enjoying every minute of NFL pre-season action, even though it does not in any way reflect the potential of any of the 32 NFL teams.

Coach Zorn knows that this game means nothing, but he will have a small smile on his face this week knowing that the season is a month away and his team are already clicking.

Big Ol Jamal (Getty Images)

Big Ol Jamal (Getty Images)

After just a few days of posting my desperate need for a quality defensive tackle, the bait of Plaxico Burress was just too tempting for my esteemed BBFL league owner Mark Christy and his black hole residing Oakland Raiders.

New York Giant Superbowl winning wideout Plaxico Burress and 2007 Indianapolis Colts rookie DT Ed Johnson are heading to the silver and black area of California, in return for……drum roll…… Jamal Williams the awesome San Diego Charger DT and Pittsburgh Steelers backup wideout Nate Washington.

On the face of it it was a DT and a WR for a DT and a WR, but in reality it gives my Redskins team 13 out of 16 regular season games (don’t forget we play 55 man teams using real NFL stats from 2007) a hard nosed, space eating monster, who according to the Action PC gods is rated a 9 against the run (out of 10).

Yes Jamal will miss 3 games (at an undetermined time in the 16 game season) but he is an immediate and HUGE upgrade.

Getting Nate Washington is a bonus as I lose 70 catches with the loss of Burress, but I get 29 catches for 450 yards and a very respectable 15.5 yards a catch. I remember watching Washington last season and he looked like he could be a keeper.

I will ceratinly miss Ed Johnson, but as he never played a down for my Skins team its a case of what could have been, not what was.

Above all I think it was a fair trade with all parties very happy. Mark – I hope you add a comment – and any other blog readers please give me your thoughts – who got the best deal ????????