Tuesday, September 04, 2007

2007 NFL Season Preview

Ahhhh. So now the shoe is on the other foot, isn't it? It's not just thugs from other cities being accused of using roids (HGH, it's all the same to me), it's the home boy, the World Champion, the guy that gives the edge to the vaunted defense. So what happens now? As a proud member of both Red Sox and Patriot Nation, I know the fan base as a whole isn't remotely ready for something like this. We booed Bonds, we booed Merriman, two notorious roid users. So does Roidney get welcomed back with open arms? The facts are this. Harrison admitted to using HGH, and has been implicated in a steroid ring based out of Albany. I don't remember Merriman involved in an illegal drug ring. Simply put, this issue is a chance for New England fans as a whole to really define where they stand on the issue of performance enhancing drugs in sports, and players that cheat the game. Personally, my gut reaction was, the guy's a cheater, and I hope he never plays for the Patriots again. Then, when I gave it some thought, I tried to justify it by looking at guys like Shawne Merriman, that cheated, served their time, and came back to help his team win games. OK, so you do the crime, serve the time, and can come back? Eh, that doesn't really cut it for me. I'm thinkin', if you got caught, it means it wasn't your first time. And if it wasn't your first time, I can't help but think that you're just going to try and find new ways to beat the system. I am a forgive and forget type guy, don't get me wrong, but I know how these guys are wired. They want to win, at any costs. Even the "nice guys," man. I'm not saying every athlete is an asshole, but they got where they are by being fierce competitors at every aspect of their life, and if at any point they think it could get ripped from them, make no mistake they'll do anything to keep that from happening. So, after Rodney has served his 4 games, I will not welcome him back with open arms. I won't boycott the team, but I will be slightly disappointed if they do chose to keep a known cheater on their roster. Basically, you ain't got to go home, but you got to get up out of here. Peace Roidney, and don't let the glare of the next Super Bowl trophy blind you on your way out...

Patriots Update
Overall: 2-2, WON 27-20 last week vs New York Giants
Week 1 @ NY Jets (0-0)
Status: Well, well, well. From the man who brought you the guarantee that JD Drew would suck in Boston, and correctly predicted the match up and outcome of this year's NBA Finals in the pre season, I give you this. On Monday, September 3rd, 2007, the New England Patriots parted ways with wide receiver, RECHE CALDWELL. Boo ya! Boo ya! Boo ya! It feels so good to be so right, so often, baby! I'm sure Reche will catch on somewhere else in the league, mostly because he's a good player, but I just can't help myself in revelling over yet another correct prediction. As for the Pats moving forward in their quest for a 2007-2008 Super Bowl title? Well, it's funny you mention that...

Tackle Box
2007 NFL Predictions
As usual, I went through the entire 2007 NFL schedule, picking a winner and loser for each game. Here were my results, with a little explanation. Not too much explanation, mind you, but just enough to get my point across.

1. New England Patriots (14-2)
2. New York Jets (10-6)
3. Miami Dolphins (6-10)
4. Buffalo Bills (3-13)

*It's pretty clear to me that the Pats are the class of the East, and while the Jets are a quality squad too, I just don't see them keeping pace. The Pats added the two biggest names in the off season in Randy Moss and Adalius Thomas, making an already good team, all the more potent, while the Jets added quality depth along their roster, but still lack the big play makers to do a lot of damage in big games. Besides, aren't we all pretty sure Chad Pennington will be hurt or replaced by week 8? The Dolphins and Bills are both afterthoughts, so for me to even waste my time on them, would be giving them too much mind. No I don't think Marshawn Lynch can step right in, no I don't think Kam Kameron is gonna make big waves right away in Miami, and no, Trent Green is not the answer, nor has he ever been That is unless the question is, "Name 3 people that have made Dick Vermeil cry." OK, so maybe a lot of people fit that criteria, but you get my point...

1. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
2. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-10)
4. Cleveland Browns (2-14)

*Much like the East, the North is a top heavy division, with Baltimore and Cincy holding court on high. I think a healthy McGahee and a great D is what gives the edge to the Ravens, but I wouldn't be surprised if Cincy can finally put it all together. Pittsburgh looks headed for a down year with their new young coach, new offensive coordinator and key departures on defense, and Cleveland looks like the worst team in the league, with possibly the worst front office to boot. Start Brady Quinn or don't start him, I don't care, but to say 2 weeks ago that he has no chance to start the season opener? Not necessary, and just a microcosm of what an awful franchise that's turned into.

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

*I think the added pressure of defending their Super Bowl title is going to wane on the Colts a bit, but they'll still be one of the teams to beat. In Jacksonville, I think the move to David Gerrard at QB was the right one, albeit a little late, and will prove to the be the difference for a team that's seemed to have all the pieces for years. As for Vince Young, I don't see the Madden Jinx as much as I see a plain ole sophomore slump. He's still not great at throwing the ball, and you gotta think that'll catch up with him, and the Titans here in year 2. Rounding up the division is the Texans. I don't see them making huge waves this year, but behind Matt Schaub and a young defense, look for them to be a sleeper pick goin' into '08.

1. San Diego Chargers (14-2)
2. Denver Broncos (12-4)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (5-11)
4. Oakland Raiders (4-12)

*The Chargers and Broncos are clearly the next two best teams in the AFC behind the Pats, and the rest of the West is paying the price. LT and friends are back to run up the score, and if Jay Cutler and Travis Henry can steady the Denver ship on offense, both teams have good enough defenses to go toe to toe with anybody in the league. I'm not buying that Oakland has a good defense and should be better, because their defense was only good, because teams had them beat in the first 5 minutes of the game! And KC has a weak defense, offensive line issues, and no other offensive weapons this side of LJ and Tony Gonzalez. Eight in the box, double team Tony, game over.

AFC Wild Cards: Denver, Jacksonville

AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots 27 San Diego Chargers 20

*No real mystery here. The two best teams, meeting in the conference's biggest game. I give the nod to the Pats in this one on almost all fronts. They have better coaching, are more experienced, and have better skill players at virtually every position on the field except for running back. Let's just hope that this year, it doesn't take a last minute offensive fumble recovery to keep the dream alive.


1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

2. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

3. New York Giants (7-9)
4. Washington Redskins (7-9)

(Yeah, I have no idea why the standings above look the way the do, but I have an email in to Al Gore, and I've been told he's working on the problem as we speak)

*I know it's a big "if", but if Dallas and Philadelphia will find themselves at the top of the NFC East, and towards the top of the NFL. Dallas does it with it's relentless blitzing defense and big play offensive ability, while Philly does it with....well exactly the same thing. Both of those teams should remain strong, all season long, and each could feasibly get a shot at the NFC title. As for the bottom dwellers, it's really a case of opposites. I look for the Skins to be an "improving" 7-9 team, behind a maturing Jason Campbell, while I look for the G-Men to virtually implode, causing the ouster of Tom Coughlin before the year is out. Can you say Bill Cowher to the Giants? I know I can...

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

*Quite frankly, the NFC North is by far the worst division in football. While I respect the Bears defense and running game, I think they're due for a Sexy Rexy explosion, leading to a few lost games along the way. That, and people will have a better grasp for what Lovie Smith and crew bring to the table this year. The rest of the lot is a bunch of garbage. Brett Favre still doesn't have enough weapons, and that defense is too young. You can talk all you want about the Lions offense, but their defense is still suspect, they can never stay healthy, and hey, they're the Detroit freaking Lions! They never win! I'm not so sure about the Vikings, but when it was all said and done, I only had them winning 3 games, so that worries me. They should be able to run the ball, and as long as Tavaris Jackson doesn't make too many mistakes, they might be OK. But that might goes right out the window when Jackson can't handle it, and a key injury pops up. So, more likely 3-13 and a high draft pick, than 8-8 and a shot at a wild card spot.

1. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8)
3. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
4. Atlanta Falcons (2-14)

*Normally, this division is about as dangerous as Jesus at a dog fight, but thanks to some unrest on a few of the teams, it should turn into a one horse race, with New Orleans serving as this year's Secretariat. There are just too many down teams in the South this year, and out of the other 3, the only one I think has any shot of a playoff spot is the Tampa Bay Bucs. Sure they look awful on paper, and nobody really likes Jeff Garcia, but both he and Jon Gurden are proven winners, and that works for me. Add to that a healthy Cadillac Williams, and the Bucs should find themselves with a chance to win virtually every game they play.

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

*A lot of people are going to do a double take when they see all 4 West teams with 10+ wins, but I honestly feel they're all fully capable of reaching that number. The Rams have the best offense in the NFC, the 49ers have an up and coming offense and an emerging defense, the Seahawks are finally healthy again, and the Cardinals might have the most potent passing attack in the league with Leinhart, Fitzgerald and Boldin.

NFC Wild Cards: San Francisco, Dallas

NFC Championship Game: Philadelphia Eagles 31 St. Louis Rams 24

*IF you hadn't figured it out, the Rams are my sleeper pick in the NFC, I just don't have enough faith to boost them all the way to the big game. If Philly can stay healthy, which has been a problem form Westbrook and McNabb in years past, then they should be here, and should give whoever they may face a good run for their money.

Super Bowl XLII

New England Patriots 35 Philadelphia Eagles 13

*A rematch of Super Bowl thirty-nine in 2005, the Patriots will again cement their claim as a modern day dynasty, capturing their 4th world championship in 7 years. Call it being a homer, call it being a front runner, I don't care, it's just the way I see it. Is it my fault that I live 15 minutes from the best team in the NFL?

*Check back this Friday for my NFL picks of the week, and my predictions for this year's MVP, defensive player of the year and coach of the year...

Red Sox Update
Overall: 83-55 1st place in AL East by 7 games
Status: Like I said last week, even a sweep by the Yankees isn't gonna do it. The AL East race is OVA! Just as quickly as the Yanks trimmed the once 8 game lead to 5, it was back up to 7 again, thanks in no small part to a dazzling no-hitter on Saturday night by rookie Clay Buchholz. And what a way to end that thing, huh? What could have been better than Clay dropping in that nasty 12-6 curve, only to have the umpire add a little Hollywood drama to the thing by dragging out the dramatic 3rd strike as long as possible? There are just some moments in time you will never forget, and I'm gonna go ahead and say that was one of them. I'm not expecting Buchholz to be a huge part of this team's success moving forward to the post season, but it's good to know that we've got a guy waiting in the wings that has more than enough stuff to make it in this league as a top notch pitcher. Also, a weird little note. He may not be great in tagging free agents, but this is the second consecutive year that a pitcher drafted by Theo Epstein has thrown a no-hitter in the majors before his 23rd birthday. The other being Anibal Sanchez, who did it last year for the Florida Marlins. Pretty amazing if you ask me...

News and Notes
*How's that tastin' Michigan? I mean did you really just let Division I-AA Appalachian St. (pronounced "apple-atch-in") come into the "Big House" and totally wipe out your National title hopes? Talk about pathetic. It's one thing to lose too, I guess, but for coach Lloyd Carr to say his team wasn't prepared? What the hell is that? Did someone forget to tell Lloyd that he was already on the hot seat or something? How does that guy go into any game, especially this season when the stakes are so high, unprepared? Kudos to Appalachian St. for coming in and taking care of business when nobody thought they could, but this one's on the Wolverines. Say goodbye to your title hopes, say goodbye to your National ranking and say goodbye to Lloyd Carr. Who would of thought that Mike Hart would have had just as good a shot at winning a title had stayed near by and played for the hometown Syracuse Orange?

*And while we're on the subject of Division 1 football powers looking foolish on opening weekend, I have to mention the pathetic performance put forth by Charlie Weis and the Notre Dame "Fighting" Irish. After telling anyone that would listen that this was not a rebuilding year in South Bend, Charlie and friends promptly went out and used as many QB's as they did score points at home against Georgia Tech, dropping the game 33-3. In a word, embarrassing. Actually, it's exactly the type of embarrassing loss that cost Tyrone Willingham his job with the Irish. So what's to come of Charlie Weis? Well, he's taken the first step in the right direction by naming super frosh, Jimmy Clausen, as his starting QB for week 2, but could it already be too little too late? I know he's got the 10 year contract extension, but I thought Chuck was brought here to avoid these embarrassing losses and bring the program back to prominence? So far, all he's done, is improve with a group of Willingham's maturing players like Brady Quinn, Jeff Smardzjia and Maurice Stovall. Now, he's 3 years in, has his own blue chippers in there, yet still can't seem to get the program headed in the right direction. Now, I don't wanna play the race card here, but you tell me, would Tyrone Willingham still have his job after a 30 point beat down on opening weekend? I'm leanin towards, hell to the no!

*Finally, for my last note of the week, I'd be remiss if I didn't touch on the golf tournament that was played about 5 minutes from my house, the Deutsche Bank Championship. First and foremost, I'd like to congratulate Phat Mickelson for a well fought and gutsy win on the final day. I know I rip the hefty lefty a lot, but for once he actually proved his mettle as a top contender and rival to one Elderick "Tiger" Woods. With Tiger breathing down his neck on the back 9, Phil not only kept pace, but answered all the shots Woods could muster, even hitting it inside the world's #1 after Tiger had hit an apporach within 10 feet on 16. Now that's impressive. The only thing putting a damper on the event, was when Phil basically came out and ripped PGA Tour commish, Tim Finchem, saying that he would "try" and make the rest of the FedEx Cup events, but hadn't been able to work out a compromise with other events he has planned over the next few weeks. Nothing like capping a career defining victory with a little smack talk, huh Philly? I'm sure he's just worried that when he does come back for the final two events of the playoff, that Tiger will just smack him in the mouth, and take the title that is rightfully his. After all, he is the best, and the fact that Phil finally stepped up to the plate and beat him in crunch time, doesn't change that one bit. It may give some teeth to their rivalry, but if he can't correct the inconsistency and failure in the clutch that has plagued him his whole career, then this win will probably serve as an acception, and not a sign that he's finally ready to go head to head with the champ on a weekly basis.

Fantasy Update
Last Week: LOST 6-12-6 vs I'm Better Than You
Overall: 261-216-51 (.543), 4th place 18 games back

Rd 1 of Playoffs vs Backside Hitters

*The good news is, I managed to avoid Frosco in the first round. The bad news is, not only did I get smacked in the mouth by the #1 team last week (who I will have to play again in rd 2 if I win....sweet), but in the first round, I face a team that beat me twice in the regular season. Add to that, Roger Clemens gave me a disastrous pitching performance to start the week, and my ace, Roy Halladay, faces off against none other than the BoSox in his sole start of the week. Come on boys! We came all this way, we can scrap it out! You want that tiny trophy, you need that tiny trophy, and there's nothing that you can let stand in your way! Be the trophy, become one with it's tinyness, and bring it on home!

This Week: Make it Reign! (0-0) vs Rock of Love(0-0)

*Let the real fantasy season begin! Woooooooo! I made a trade in the last week to help stabilize my QB situation, trading Rex Grossman for Jason Campbell, but otherwise all has been fairly quiet. It's time to see how my boys do on the field, and pray that they can bring home the much desired title, and cash, that I crave. Let the games begin!

REMINDER. Make sure to check in on Friday, as I will be starting my annual quest to beat the odds makers in Vegas, with my 5 weekly NFL picks. Last year, I compiled a record of 52-38-7, and I plan on making many of you a bunch of money this year as well. So make sure to check that out, this Friday and every Friday, right here...


Neal D said...

You're not exactly a soothsayer because you predicted Reche would get cut, Rooch.

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