Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco 49ers’

The most underrated starting players in the Super Bowl

The most underrated starting players in the Super Bowl

The argument is that the quarterback position is the toughest in all of professional football.

You have to know an offense inside out, have to read a defense quicker than a bionic word scanner and spend time avoiding gentlemen bigger, faster (and no disrespect) uglier than you for sixty minutes a game.

Big deal – you get to front the Pepsi adverts, go home every night to a beautiful model and a pile of money higher than a busted meth cook house.

The real men have no necks, no fear and no chance of much glory, but without them their teams are simply not the same.

Ladies and gentlemen introducing Bruce Miller and Terzell Vonta Leach, the two starting fullbacks in Super Bowl XLVII.

In the combined 161 regular season games played by Miller and Leach they have ran the ball 33 times for 96 yards – an average of just under three yards a carry.

No exactly prime time production, but their primary objective is not to partake in the noble art of carrying the pigskin, they are there to clear a path, like a snow-plow lumbering through a 20ft drift.

Let’s look at the stats for the lead tailbacks production with Leach and Miller as the fullback on the field:

Leach

2004 (as a Packer) Ahman Green 1,163 rushing yards 7 touchdowns and a trip the Pro Bowl

2005 (as a Packer) Samkon Gado 582 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns

2006 (as a Packer and Texan) Ron Dayne 612 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns

2007 (as a Texan) Ron Dayne 773 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns

2008  (as a Texan) Steve Slaton 1,282 yards rushing 9 touchdowns

2009 (as a Texan) Steve Slaton 437 yards rushing (no Texan back played all 16 games)

2010 (as a Texan) Arian Foster 1,161 yards rushing 16 tds and a trip to the Pro Bowl and voted an All Pro

2011 (as a Raven) Ray Rice 1,364 yards rushing 12 tds and a trip to the Pro Bowl

2012 (as a Raven) Ray Rice 1.134 yards rushing 9 tds and a trip to the Pro Bowl

Miller

2011 (as a 49er) Frank Gore  1.211 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns and a trip to the Pro Bowl

2012 (as a 49er) Frank Gore  1.214 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns and a trip to the Pro Bowl

That’s 11 seasons sacrificing their bodies for colleagues to go to the Pro Bowl six times. Now Leach has been recognised for the outstanding man-beast that he is, with three consecutive Pro Bowl and All Pro (the real mark of talent) call-ups in the last three seasons.

Miller on the other hand has helped Frank Gore to the Pro Bowl last season and this season, but has not been given any individual recognition by voters.

When you sit down next Sunday to the biggest show on earth (on turf) pay a thought to Miller and Leach. They may not touch the ball once between them, but they will likely lay a hit that will win one of their teams the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Gronk wont be playing in the Super Bowl regardless if the Pats win on Sunday

Gronk wont be playing in the Super Bowl regardless if the Pats win on Sunday

Five Super Bowl performances in the last eleven seasons is pretty remarkable, all led by the same quarterback and head coach combination is mind-bending.

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots franchise stand on the verge of a sixth Super Bowl berth in the last dozen seasons, which if they do succeed means they have represented their conference in 50% of Super Bowls since 2002.

They face a Baltimore Ravens team this weekend in  a rematch of last years AFC Championship, a game the Patriots triumphed 23-20.

The Ravens are now in their third conference championship in five years, hoping that it’s third time lucky.

There are many many storylines and matchups to look out for:

– Can Ray Lewis fire up his team enough or will his final NFL game be a heartbreaking defeat?

– Can the Patriots live without the man-beast Rob Gronkowski?

– Can the Ravens pull-off a third playoff win in a row against a fresher team who will have a huge home field advantage?

– Can the Patriots secondary live with the speed of Torrey Smith – will it be Aqib Talib marking Smith to leave Anquan Boldin to have a big game?

– Will there be a Ravens player do a ‘Lee Evans’ and drop a game winning touchdown?

I have to say I love the way the Pats have taken the two tight-end set into a different stratosphere, which is why it’s such a shame that Rob Gronkowski re-broke his arm last weekend and will next suit up in anger in about six-months. I do expect a big game from the ‘other’ tight-end Aaron Hernandez.

Regardless of Hernandez’s stat-line, or the lack of the Gronk, the Patriots are 60 minutes away from their eighth Super Bowl, and for me a seventh time watching those silver helmets take on an NFC opponent.

When you are a supporter of such a dominant team then you are hoping the Super Bowl performances are never-ending, but when you are a fan of one of the other 31 NFL teams you just hope that there are some new teams losing their Super Bowl virginity.

As a neutral it has been a lot of fun seeing the likes of the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals reach (and in the first two cases win) a Super Bowl.

It’s not so much fun watching the same teams keep going back. The irony is not lost that we have the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Championship as I grew up watching Joe Montana and Steve Young win three Super Bowls over a seven year stretch.

I do have very clear memories of the Ravens winning their only previous Super Bowl appearance, and likewise the Falcons somewhat flat performance against the John Elway led Denver Broncos in 1999.

As long as the Patriots are held out of this Super Bowl I really don’t mind who wins out of the 49ers and the Falcons. You have to love the dynamism of Colin Kaepernick and then the emotional high that would be experienced if Tony Gonzales the future Hall of Fame tight-end would get if he could somehow play his last game in the Super Bowl.

Just don’t think I can stomach another two-weeks of hype led by Tom Brady’s face and the grey face of Bill ‘the Emperor’ Belichick.

Come on Ray & Ray you wouldn’t want to let down your international admirers would you?

 

Alex Smith now has a big offseason advantage

 

I have heard of some NFL teams buying themselves success, I should know all about it as a lifelong Redskins fan.

Spending ridiculous amounts on veterans who are past their prime used to be the way owners would try to move from 2-14 to 14-2 in a year.

It seems though that things have drastically changed, and one NFL team has decided that they would acquire some help from above.

The San Francisco 49ers, fresh from removing former Super Bowl winning linebacker turned coach, Mike Singletary, have hired none other than Chryst the Lord.

Yes the five times world champions have gone and scooped the signature of Geep Chryst, as their new quarterbacks coach.

According to the 49ers news release Chryst enters is 19th season in the NFL, having recently served as the tight ends/offensive quality control coach with the Carolina Panthers. That’s the 2-14 Panthers, the only team in the NFL to finish the 2010 regular season having scored UNDER 200 points in 16 games (196).

It doesn’t end there.

I couldn’t make the next fact about Chryst up if I drunk a gallon of Vodka and Red Bull and was asked to write something truly bizarre.  In 1992 Chryst, a former Princetown linebacker,  who hadn’t played a down of football for eight years, made one of the bizarrest cameos in sports history, serving as the long snapper for the former World League of American Football’s Orlando Thunder franchise.

Through Chryst’s  divine intervention (lasting a full 15 days) in 1992 the Thunder reached World Bowl (World Bowl II) that season, losing out to the Sacramento Surge 21-17.

Chryst then retired and was reborn as a coach, and seven years later (in 1999) he was working for the San Diego Chargers, coaching a quarterback by the name of Jim Harbaugh.

Yes that’s the SAME Jim Harbaugh that is now the head coach of the 49ers.

Man it’s a small world – and now Chryst is here to teach QB Alex Smith to walk on water. Let’s hope he does a better job than he did in Carolina, or the fans will dead unhappy and be very cross.

 

The fashion police finally granted Mike Singletary (bottom right) day release to come back to England

 

The last time San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary was at Wembley Stadium was back in the 80s, as Da Bearz faced the the Dallas Cowboys in the American Bowl ’86.

Back then it was cool to rap in full uniform (minus pads and helmets) whilst simultaneously trying to pull off an impression of News at Ten legend Trevor McDonald.

Speaking today after touching down in London, the former middle linebacker and now head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Mike Singletary said all the right things.

Asked about why he jetted the team to England one day after a tough loss to the Carolina Panthers, Coach Singletary said: ““I always believe that we want to give the guys a chance to get acclimated. If you’re going to come for just a couple of days – we know it’s a business trip and we know that we’re coming here to win a football game, but at the same time, we have a younger football team. I wanted our guys to be able to come and get a taste of the culture, and at the same time, get a feel for the environment. The weather and the whole nine yards, and just be settled by the time the game starts. I think it was a great decision.”

Asked about what this means to the Bears bank balance the steely eyed coach said: “I’m not sure, in terms of the financial gain one way or the other. I think more than anything, it’s the exposure. I think the NFL is a tremendous game. I think having a game here really gives the NFL a lot of exposure. I think it gives the people here – it’s a two-way street, the fans here have a chance to see the game. In what you call ‘futbol,’ I think there are some similarities. The fans could get very excited about it and want more of it. We’re hoping that is the case.”

Asked the inevitable question about the possibility of an NFL franchise permanently moving to London, England, the Super Bowl XX winner said: “It would depend on the team. That would be really interesting. It could be a good thing. It could be dependent on if the team is young. It depends on if it’s a mature team, if it’s a young team. I think if you had a mature team here, it could possibly work, and work to their advantage. I’m not trying to sell you on it, but I do believe it would have to be a veteran team, it couldn’t be a young team.”

So has Coach Mike been told something that everyone else is thinking? Moving an existing franchise from North America to Europe. I find it very interesting Coach Mike talks about a ‘mature team’ moving would be the only way it could work. That kind of says no to the likes of the Jacksonville Jaguars doing a Midnight Mayflower.

As my mind goes in all different directions I just want to say to all the San Francisco 49ers players, coaches and support staff – WELCOME TO ENGLAND. Few tips – stay away from the drink we call bitter, Jellied eels are NOT the English version of gummy bears and make sure if you do have some Fish and Chips you make sure you get cod and not that rubbish pollack.

 

 

Because you're 'Gore'geous - the tickets arrived today !

Phew! They have arrived in our house, two pieces of thin card that bring a huge smile to my chubby face.

Yes my two tickets for the San Francisco 49ers v Denver Broncos are here and on my coffee table.

Despite both teams travelling to a different continent to play their week 8 game, it is billed as a 49ers home game.

With that in mind I was delighted to see 49ers workhorse running-back Frank Gore as the ticket star.

I had a bad feeling that 49ers quarterback, and the man that will cost Mike Singletary his job, Alex Smith would be on the tickets.

Gore is one of the hardest working running backs in the NFL, a player who plays with passion, guts and a nose for the endzone.

The former Miami Hurricane has only managed one season without injury since he was drafted in 2005, but despite that he has amassed 6,032 rushing yards (at an impressive 4.7 yards per run) and 2,115 receiving yards, resulting in 42 touchdowns.

In six games so far this season Gore has only managed three total touchdowns. This is not Frank’s fault, it is Alex ‘millstone’ Smith who has crippled the 49ers offensive production.

With under two weeks until I get to see Gore in the flesh, I only hope the man handing him the ball is not a former #1 pick in the NFL draft (and yes that includes you David Carr!).

 

Its the 49ers v Broncos at Wembley in 2010 - Not exactly my dream matchup

In 2007 we had the New York Giants team that went on to lift the Superbowl, In 2008 we had offensive fireworks as the San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints trading touchdowns like they were right hooks in a ring, and in 2009 we were treated to future Hall of Fame bust owners Tom Brady, Randy Moss and coach Bill Belichick.

In 2010 we have Kyle Orton and Alex Smith and two teams that have combined for JUST 2 playoff wins combined in the last 10 full NFL seasons (a 49ers Wild Card win in 2002 and a Broncos Divisional round win in 2005).

Yes the 49ers have a stud running back in Frank Gore, and a WR with big ‘potential’ in the shape of 2009 1st round draft pick WR Michael Crabtree, but their defense is pretty grotty aside from Patrick Willis.

As for the Broncos they have a Bears reject at quarterback, a Pro Bowl WR who seems to be a petulant liability (Brandon Marshall), a defense that ranked 26th in the league in rush defense.

Bottom line this is my least favourite matchup of teams that will make the pilgrimage to London, England.

When I say least favourite I mean in a 2010 exciting and meaningful game context.

I do appreciate the history of both teams, having grown up watching Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Tom Rathman, Roger Craig, John Elway, Steve Atwater, et al.

I just have to say I am not exactly blown away by a Kyle Orton short passing game versus a similar activity delivered on the sacred Wembley turf.

I have to admit I will pay extra attention to the free agency moves of the Mile High crew and the Goldrush fanatics, and their subsequent draft picks.

I just have a feeling that unless both teams do some significant off-season roster pimping then we could be in for a rather dull 16-10 sort of game where it becomes a festival of field goals.

Using an analogy from the wrong sport I do wonder if the NFL has scored an own goal with these two definitions of mediocrity.

I wonder if you think like me and would have rather seen someone like the Indianapolis Colts up against the Green Bay Packers? This from a Redskins fan!

The NFL Tailgate party at Wembley yesterday included some incredible prize draws to win a plethora of 2009 NFL gear, from signed shirts and signed helmets to signed balls.

Here is a selection of some of the signed helmets that you could have won. You just wrote your name, email address and phone number on a scrap of paper and put it in a post box below each piece of merchandise. Most NFL teams donated a signed object, and I have to admit I did enter about 10 different draws. Fingers crossed I get one of these…

Former #1 overall pick Carson Palmer the Bengals QB signed this helmet

Former #1 overall pick Carson Palmer the Bengals QB signed this helmet

 

The entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers team signed this helmet

The entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers team signed this helmet

 

5,000 yard passer Drew Brees from the New Orleans Saints signed this one

5,000 yard passer Drew Brees from the New Orleans Saints signed this one

 

This signed Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers helmet looked particularly impressive

This signed Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers helmet looked particularly impressive

 

Not sure who signed this Carolina Panthers helmet

Not sure who signed this Carolina Panthers helmet

 

The lone bright spot on the St Louis Rams roster RB Steven Jackson signed this mini-helmet

The lone bright spot on the St Louis Rams roster RB Steven Jackson signed this mini-helmet

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……

Chambers wearing an NFL europa Hamburg Blue Devils kit (Pic courtesy of BBC)

If you live in the USA I’m pretty confident that Dwain Chambers, the disgraced English sprinter will not have even registered on your sporting shame radar. However if you live in England or any part of Great Britain for that matter then today’s news will be dominated by the High Court decision to say if Chambers can compete for team GB in the 100m (and possibly 4x100m relay – which Team GB currently hold the GOLD medal in !!!) in the Beijing Olympics.

Why am I rattling on about Chambers you may ask in an NFL blog? Well it is a little know fact that Chambers had a failed tryout for the San Francisco 49ers in 2004 – this after being given a two year global ban from competing in any athletics (track and field to you guys over the pond) meets.

Chambers also suited up in NFL Europa for the Hamburg Blue Devils – but unfortunately this did not turn out to be a Kurt Warner moment, and he did not get the call to the NFL.

I’m not sure what the likes of Champ Bailey or Charles Woodson would have made of Dwain hugging the sideline of an NFL field, guess we will never know.

One thing for sure Chambers is THE #1 ranked GB 100m sprinter after coming first in the GB Olympic trials last week, and I have a sneaky feeling that he will win his court battle and get to take on the likes of Tyson Gay and the Jamaican speed demons in a month or so.

Chambers wearing an NFL Europa Hamburg Blue Devils kit (Pic courtesy of BBC)

It’s an intersting prospect to think that we could have seen Terrell Owens, Jerry Rice and Dwain Chambers on an NFL field together – quite bizarre if you sit down and picture it in your minds eye.

I for one think Chambers should compete in the Olympics for team GB, he has served his time for taking illegal substances, and represents a chance (not a big one mind you) at a medal.

After all if he doesn’t make it the UK media will be full of news about completely useless toffee nosed sports such as showjumping and yachting – who needs that ?