Posts Tagged ‘Miami Dolphins’

Chad Henne now has a quality target

I had the pleasure of travelling with my wife to Miami in October last year, to see the Dolphins play the Buffalo Bills.

One of the players I was looking forward to seeing live was Dolphins WR Ted Ginn Jr, a guy I drafted in one of my 55 man roster fantasy drafts a few years ago.

Thing is Ginn was awful, finishing with a pathetic 1 catch for 4 yards.

The ‘Fins stomped all over the Bills 38-10 thanks in no part to the former Buckeye.

With that in mind I was happy for both Chad Henne and the Miami fans that they bought in Brandon Marshall WR from the Broncos, and a few days later made sure Ginn Jr made a quick and painless exit to the West Coast.

For all the prima donna attributes displayed by Marshall, he sure knows how to grab a pigskin, and that is nothing but good news for the Tuna and the rest of the Dolphins staff.

As for Ginn Jr – a former 1st round pick, yes 1st round, he today went to the San Francisco 49ers for a 5th round pick. Now there is sometimes a need to swallow your pride, but this must have taken a bigger gulp than a mutant gannet by Ginn to be moved for a pick that is gonna be over 100 pick down the pecking order.

I do hope Mike Singletary can get the most out of Ginn Jr, but aside from a few electric return tds, I doubt even ‘ol steel stare’ himself will get Ted to become a 70 catch 1,000 yard wideout.

My predictions for 2010

Brandon Marshall WR Dolphins – 83 catches 1189 yards 8 touchdowns

Tedd Ginn Jr WR 49ers – 41 catches 637 yards 5 touchdowns and one return touchdown

Am I selling either short or overestimating what these guys can do? Let me know your thoughts…….

Having the opportunity to go to Land Shark Stadium in Miami with my lovely wife to watch football games two days in a row was an unforgettable experience, firstly getting to see the University of Miami Hurricanes play the Oklahoma Sooners before seeing the Dolphins under 24 hours later.

We picked up the Dolphins tickets on the Friday before the game, and when we were there the Oklahoma Sooners truck, with what I imagine was all the players uniforms inside, was just departing the car park outside Land Shark Stadium’s main entrance.

The Sooners truck was dropping off pads and helmets in Miami

The Sooners truck was dropping off pads and helmets in Miami

The main shop at Land Shark Stadium was packed with merchandise for Dolphins and Hurricanes fans alike.
One of the more amusing gifts is below.
 
I swear I took a picture of cuddly Dolphins

I swear I took a picture of cuddly Dolphins

 
The shop was pretty impressive, not so sure about the day-glo chimps.
 
Being at the stadium when it was empty was a slighty weird experience but it was fun.
 
 
I was certainly bitten by the bug of Land Shark Stadium

I was certainly bitten by the bug of Land Shark Stadium

 
Rather oddly in the three visits my wife and I made to the stadium we did not drink a single Land Shark beer.
 
I did have one at a cool pizza place on Collins Avenue though, it was no Red Stripe though.
 
Mine's a Red Stripe please but I'm not in Jamaica

Mine's a Red Stripe please but I'm not in Jamaica

 
 

Having not seen NFL football live since last October (New Orleans Saints v San Diego Chargers at Wembley Stadium) it was with an overwhelming feeling of enthusiasm and anticipation that I (and my lovely wife) settled into our seats in section 107 of the lower tier of Land Shark Stadium to see the Miami Dolphins play the Buffalo Bills.

With the Bills at 1-2 and the Dolphins at 0-3 AND with 2nd year QB Chad Henne making his first start ever in the NFL I did think this could be a rather ugly festival of field goals – ending something to the tune of 9-6.

Well after my wife shelled out for the tickets for my birthday I thought regardless of the score it would be an amazing experience, and after all the sun was shining and I was in Florida in October, not in the wet and cold West Midlands.

Out came the giant inflatable and the smoke - no this was not as seedy as it sounds

Out came the giant inflatable and the smoke - no this was not as seedy as it sounds

The game began with a short  pass from Bills QB Trent Edwards to Terrell ‘TO’ Owens,  one game too late, as he had his huge consecutive catch in a game streak snapped in Week 3.

That pretty much was the highlight of the first quarter, as a side from a Rian Lindell missed field goal it was a battle of field  position, as the two division rivals poked and  prodded each other but no-one managed to throw a proverbial connecting punch.

Rookie CB Vontae Davis scored the first td on an INT return

Rookie CB Vontae Davis scored the first td on an INT return

Thankfully the  second quarter saw some early fireworks, and following  an opening  field goal for the Dolphins Trent Edwards did what he does best and threw an interception.

Rookie Miami CB Vontae Davis took the pick to da house and in the blink of an eye the Dolphins were 10-0 up and the home crowd were rocking.

The Dolphins exuded confidence in the second quarter

The Dolphins exuded confidence in the second quarter

It sure was fun seeing the 2008 overall #1 pick in the draft Jake Long #77 (far left of my picture above).

I always take time to follow individual players in games as well as following the ball. Seeing some of the key matchups in the flesh is terrific fun, and watching Jake block anyone who gets near him proves that not every team’s superstar is a QB or a gobby WR.

Ronnie Brown scores his first TD of the day ........just !

Ronnie Brown scores his first TD of the day ........just !

The Bills did pull back with a fg in the second but the Dolphins running game was beginning to dominate and Ronnie Brown went in from a yard out to establish a 14 point lead.Miami again had the lions share of possession with over ten minutes of ball control in the second quarter.

Halftime – Dolphins 17-03 Bills. 

During week 4 players and coaches wore pink items to promote breast cancer awareness  the NFL supported  a campaign to  get women to have breast cancer screenings.

If you look closely at my pictures you will see the players gloves, shoes and sweat bands feature the colour pink.In this world of commercial greed this was one advertising campaign that had universal approval.

The cheerleaders also wore pink to raise awareness of the  screening programme, and the giant HD screens promoted the initiative too.The screens also had some fun videos from the likes of Fegie from the Black Eyed Peas telling the fans to ‘Fin up’ and give it some boom boom pow.

With Fred Jackson continuing to get most of the snaps at running back in the second half the Bills tried to claw back some of the deficit but Trent Edwards continued to stink as he threw three interceptions in the game and was sacked more than cheetos on a Walmart.

Not that I was lookingat them but the cheerleaders wore pink too

Not that I was looking at them but the cheerleaders wore pink too.

The stadium was not quite full but considering the two teams had combined for one win between them in three weeks it was still a very good crowd of over 65,000.

 

Ronnie Brown scored late to seal the win

Ronnie Brown scored late to seal the win

This game was fun to watch and is the highest amount of points I have seen scored in an NFL game in USA that I have had the honour of attending.

The Dolphins looked far far better than their 1-3 record.
Final score Miami Dolphins 38-10  Buffalo Bills.

Having recovered from seeing J-Lo outside Landshark Stadium the Miami road trip finally reached the pinnacle of the week with a real live NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and the travelling TO show – the Buffalo Bills.

With temperatures in excess of 90 degrees I made sure I had a bucket of still lemonade with half a real lemon inside, along with backup bottles of water and even a diet Mountain Dew.

My wife loves the sun but even she had to wait inside the stadium prior to kickoff as I melted taking pictures of the Bills (who were warming up nearest to where I was seated). Below are some warm up pictures…….

My pic of TO warming up at Landshark Stadium - Copyright Lawrence Vos

My pic of TO warming up at Landshark Stadium - Copyright Lawrence Vos

 

2008 4th rd draft pick TE Derek Fine looked fine to me

2008 4th rd draft pick TE Derek Fine looked fine to me

Chad Henne warns up for his first ever Dolphins start

Chad Henne warns up for his first ever Dolphins start

 

Marshawn Lynch was back after his 2009 3 game suspension

Marshawn Lynch was back after his 2009 3 game suspension

My news pal J-Lo and majority Dolphins owner Stephen Ross

My news pal J-Lo and majority Dolphins owner Stephen Ross

There my wife and I were, enjoying an ironic Bud Light outside Landshark Stadium in Miami, chilling out before the NFL game Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills game (October 4 2009).

I spotted an orange carpet area leading into Landshark Stadium and whilst it was only populated by burly security guards and wimpy looking photographers I had a feeling that someone famous would walk down the day-glo carpet on their way to the big game.

My wife said that maybe some old players would go by, but none of the A-list people who are associated with the new ‘all-star’ Dolphins ownership.

Rather optimistically I stood near to the door, leaning on the metal barrier, for about 20 minutes. I just had a feeling I guess. I asked other fans who were loitering if they were expecting anyone, and no-one actually knew why they were there either.

Then suddenly like an orange hurricane the hand held mics began to crackle into action, the snappers started adjusting their lenses, and a swarm of people appeared around both sides of the barrier.

Being 6 ft 3 I had a great view, and there she was, yes I was standing about 2 metres away from Jenny from the Block, the Maid from Manhattan, none other than Jennifer Lopez or as the paparazzi call her J-Lo.

Wearing a flowing orange dress (maybe Dolphin orange) J-Lo strolled down the carpet with her weasel like husband Mark Anthony (who looked ill). J-Lo was joined by the Dolphins billionaire majority owner Stephen Ross to do an interview with some make-up caked airhead.

Standing so close to J-Lo is kinda weird, and whilst I had no plans to try and cause any trouble I found it remarkable how easy it would have been for a crazed person to attack J-Lo and her stoat faced hubby.

Now I have seen some pretty famous people in my time, and even interviewed some NFL players past and present, but seeing J-Lo is quite a memorable moment.

Still wont want me to buy any of her films or listen to any of her tunes.

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. ****

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……

My banner went to Wembley Stadium in 2007 and Raymond James Stadium in 2007

My banner went to Wembley Stadium in 2007 and Raymond James Stadium in 2007

FLASHBACK – Feb 2 2008 – After the agony of seeing Art Monk, the former Washington Redskins (OK and Jets and Eagles) wide receiver fail to secure a place in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame seven consecutive times, it was with slightly frosty baited breath that I sat watching a live broadcast on www.nfl.com earlier this year as the Class of 2008 was announced.

It didn’t help that my streaming video quality was about the same quality as a portable television in a Swiss Alpine goat herders hut.

My wife gave me that familiar ‘don’t worry there’s always next year’ look and our two friends who were round for the evening wondered why the hell there was so much tension in the air.

When Art Monk’s name was announced through the crackly, stammering signal, I wasn’t initially sure if his name was being cited in vain or in celebration. My eyes bulged and I tapped the side of the laptop for a better signal, again nothing – a frozen screen.

Then finally (well in reality 10 seconds later) there it was on a graphic at the bottom of the video stream – ART MONK HOF CLASS OF 2008.

Hall of Fame Class of 2008

Hall of Fame Class of 2008

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, instead I launched myself out of my front door and stood under a street light, pointed to the heavens and screamed at the top of my lungs yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees, yeeeeeeeeeeeeees. I then ran into the back of the house to grab my signed art lithograph of Art Monk and proceeded to dance with it – again much to the bemusement of our guests and my relieved wife.

I do feel that I can take a minuscule slice of the credit for the former Syracuse wideout’s deserved place amongst the good and the great of the NFL at Canton.

My banner (pictured above) went to the first ever regular season NFL game played in Europe – when the New York Giants beat the Miami Dolphins 13-10 at Wembley Stadium in London. After some furious banner waving I even managed to get it filmed on the JumboTron in the 4th quarter – 80,000 fans saw my banner !!!!!

The banner then went on a USA vacation as the Redskins played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Florida. Everyone cheered my banner, and one particularly keen American even stopped me so he could take a a picture. Suffice to say the Redskins lost (it was actually the weekend that Sean Tayor went back to Miami after his injury) but it was great to see even the Buccs fans agree that Art Monk deserved his own bronze bust in a certain building in Ohio.

I know for sure that on Saturday (August 2 2008) its going to be emotional.

Art Monk deserved his place in the Hall of Fame many years ago – just look at his stats .

Mr Monk I salute you.

My own pic of the 40ft Jason Taylor outside Wembley Stadium in 2007

My own pic of the 40ft Jason Taylor outside Wembley Stadium in 2007

It was a bizarre enough experience being faced with a 40ft tall Jason Taylor (see the real people standing under umbrellas) when I went to Wembley last year for the first ever NFL regular season game to be played in England.

To find out that Jason Taylor will now be suiting up in the burgundy and gold of the Washington Redskins is possibly even more bizarre.

This means that somewhere someone is in possession of a giant #99 Dolphins shirt that is now as useful as as a marshmallow knife set.

I had a few thoughts………….

1) Maybe the shirt can be unstitched, layed out flat the Fins can reuse the material to make shirts for the 08 season?

2) Maybe the shirt can be be used as a sail on a boat, I know the GB team are good at yachting Olympic style, but do the NFL want to diversify into boat sponsorship ?

3) Get JT to sign the thing and put it on eBay, but dont tell anyone the size, just sell it with normal size shirts, and then sting the winning bidder at the end with the postage cost !

4) Get Mtv to pimp the shirt and get Xzibit (US version) and Tim Westwood (UK version) to fight over who actually gets to do the business (btw Tim Westwood to all you USA based readers is the white son of a vicar who thinks he is a gangsta and runs a nationally syndicated hip hop radio show). 

5) Cut the shirt up and sell it to Topps who can do a Game-Used NFL Jason Taylor card – only problem is the limited edition bit would be a bit lacking as you would likely have over 1,000,000 swatches of shirt.

I’m sure the NFL blogging world will be buzzing with all the cliches about Dan Snyder buying a team, the second coming of the Over the Hill Gang, and the fact both the Skins and the Fins get good deals, but I bet a whole king-size PayDay that no-one has considered the consequence of a 20 ft tall Jason Taylor shirt !!!!!!!

PS – Get well soon Philip Daniels.