Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Inspiration" Two Men with Heavy Hearts

Before I get back to my power rankings, this week I chose to switch it up and write something about two football players’, two men who rose above tremendous adversity in their lives and were able to come out and put up colossal performances to contribute to their teams’ success. I call this piece “Inspiration” because that it the first word that comes to mind when I think about what these guys were able to accomplish while dealing with personal tragedies. The strength the courage to go out there and get it done showed remarkable heart and character. As you may see some of these words repeated, it is only to emphasize their importance:

Manti Te’o #5 Notre Dame:

All American senior linebacker and team captain Manti Te’o is widely regarded as not only as leader of this Notre Dame squad but one of the best linebackers to play in school history. A Sure first round pick in next years draft Te’o draws comparisons to the late Junior Seau. The Hawaiian native posses heart, passion, focus and execution, all the attributes that you would want in your leader and star linebacker. With his motor and drive never in question Two weeks ago Te’o would take an unforgettable detour in his life as Notre Dame faced then ranked a #10 Mich St. team. Earlier in the week leading up to the game Te’o lost his grandmother and his girlfriend within 48 hours of each other. This obviously taking a huge toll on him but never the less he decided to go out and play. With the emotion all over his face throughout the game Te’o went out there and had 12 tackles holding standout running back Le’Veon Bell and the high powered Spartan ground game scoreless. Manti followed that up with another standout and fired up performance recording 8 tackles and 2 interceptions shutting down Denard Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines. Te’o has lead the Fighting Irish defense to holding opposing offenses to a 4th in the Nation in points against allowing just 9.0 ppg. Notre Dame is 4-0 and currently ranked 10th in the country.

Torrey Smith #82 Baltimore Ravens:

Second year wide out Torrey Smith came on the scene out of the blue as a blessing in disguise for the Ravens offense a season ago, giving them the explosive deep threat that offence has lacked for years. Getting off to a sluggish start this season with just over 100 yards combined in the first two games, Torrey was looking to have a big game on Sunday night against the New England Patriots, the team that served as their road block enroot to the Super Bowl just a year ago. Unfortunately, Smith would be hit with a devastating curveball when he learned just 24 hours before kickoff his 19 year old brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. Barley sleeping the night prior Smith decided to suit up for the game. With visible raw emotion before during and after the game Torrey delivered one of his finest and definitely most memorable game as a Raven posting 6 catches for 127 yards and touchdowns in a game that went all the way down to the final seconds in a thrilling victory for the Ravens. Baltimore is now 2-1 and sit at the top of the AFC North.

These two guys showed that football to them is more then just a game. It’s a family away from their own family. It’s an outlet in which they were and are able to honor their names as well as the ones they lost more significantly. Both of these guys were courageous examples of how to carry yourself with class and dignity when life gets in the way. We all have our daily diatribes and mishaps which seem to get us down or out of character, myself included but we all need to look deep in the mirror as to what’s really important. The message I received by these guys simply going out to play the game of football was not only a testament to their characters but an inspiration to many people and sports fans around the country. We come to learn that life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass but instead bringing out those dancing shoes and doing our own two step in the rain. As the little things may get to us, regardless of your own personal faith, the connection we share with family and loved ones are paramount and we must cherish the time we have with them. So my condolences go out to Manti Te’o and Torrey Smith and their families and I also salute them for going out there and balling out! Not everyone possesses the will power to have gone out there and performed at a high level no matter what your profession. These are two special men and I’m sure we will see continued success.

"Pain has a way of clipping our wings and keeping us from being able to fly ... and if left unresolved for very long, you can almost forget that you were ever created to fly in the first place"
-William P. Young

" Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself."

-Walter Anderson 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What I learned from MNF and AFC WEST PR

A couple nights ago on Monday night football we all were eyewitnesses to my main man Peyton Manning and the Bronco offense struggle in a loss to the Falcons. After an impressive week 1 victory against the Steelers, without a doubt I was pumped to see Peyton back on the field first and foremost and the ability to early success with the victory. We saw vintage Manning, we saw the pre-snap adjustments dissecting the chess match with Polamalu and the Steeler D, we saw a team that looked like a force to be reckoned with in the AFC.  On the other hand their were a couple of caution signs that came up in my mind before I was to caught up in the moment and join the consensus that HE’s BACK. As a Colt fan since grade school I spent many years praising and in awe of #18 but now it’s time for me to be analytical and tad bit little critical, here’s why; before the game Jon Gruden continued to remind us that during his conversations Peyton himself said his health as well as the cohesion with the offense was still a work in progress. We must remember this is a new system for him under Mike McCoy which he is still learning as well as implementing a lot of things we are accustom to seeing from his days as a Colt. With that being said 100% of the fault does not fall on #18’s shoulders, this guy is a football genius as we all should know and the offensive line, backs and receivers have a lot to take in to be on the same page with Peyton.  Also, referring back to that week 1 win, I didn’t see too many big plays down the field which lets me know he’s still building the strength to have the mustard needed to “consistently” throw the ball down field. Now getting to the MNF game against the Falcons, they were playing on the road vs. a fast and hot Falcons team and defense in particular that walked through the Kansas City Chiefs a week prior in impressive fashion. Early we saw the defensive backs from ATL disguising coverage’s and flying around the field making plays all game but mainly in that first quarter where they picked off Manning 3 times. I saw a couple of passes float in the air which needed to be on “a rope” to his receivers eluting back to the arm strength or lack there of. On the positive side, I also saw Peyton lead that team to within a touchdown from coming back to win that game. His arm strength improved as the game went for example  on a deep post he threw to Eric Decker which was dropped late in the game. So my level of concern for this team is at about 4 out of 10. This is the rust he needs to get out of his system. The more games Peyton gets under his belt, the more throws, the more in sync we will see that offense and as a result, this will be more like that dangerous team we saw week one with the big splash plays down field in addition. After coming off 4 neck surgeries I’d say he’s pretty darn close to being at the MVP caliber level we are used to seeing. As many have broken down and dissected this week 2 loss, no one is more critical of his game then Peyton himself, so I know for a fact he is in the film room correcting those mistakes and continuing to rehab as we speak. No need to panic Bronco fans. P.S you guys have my quarterback so I am definitely on the bandwagon.

Here are my Power Rankings for the AFC West:

  1. Denver Broncos Last Season (8-8)

Key Losses: DT Brodrick Bunkley, WR Eddie Royal, QB Tim Tebow

Key Additions: QB Peyton Manning, TE Jacob Tamme, WR Andre Caldwell, CB Tracy Porter

Exit Tim Tebow, enter Peyton Manning the 2012 Broncos have a HOF quarterback now under center. I’ve already broken down my thoughts on the early 1-1 start to the season and I still have them at the top of the division. This is a team that will only get better from week to week. The balance of run and pass is present as RB McGahee continues to prove he still has some juice left in the tank. On the other side of the ball you still have pro-bowlers Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller leading the defense that is getting stops when needed. It’s early to say how good this team could or will be and I'll try to keep my bias out the equation by saying we will have to wait and see, but as for now they are the team to beat in the AFC West. 

  1. San Diego Chargers Last Season (8-8)

Key Losses: WR Vincent Jackson, RB Mike Tolbert.

Key Additions: OLB Jarret Johnson, OLB Melvin Ingram, WR Robert Meachem, WR Eddie Royal, FB LeRon McClain

Year in and out we don’t know what to expect from this Chargers squad..... well, aside from the fact that head coach Norv Turner will be on the hot seat. They have their all pro quarterback in Philip Rivers. They had a defense which ranked middle of the pack last season but is more then capable of being a top 5 defense which it has done by getting off on the right track this season. Despite the usual slow start they’re 2-0, but wins over the Raiders and Titans don’t necessarily put them at the top of the division just yet. With injuries to key players TE Antonio Gates and RB Ryan Mathews as well as hits to the offense and defensive line it’s yet to be seen what they will look like once they are tested by a formidable opponent. As well as how soon or long it will take for these players to return to the lineup. Also it has yet to be seen who will step up and fill the shoes of Vincent Jackson who is now with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Meachum and Royal only have a combined 6 catches between them after the first two games of the season. Others have stepped up though prime example backup tight end Dante Rosario who caught three touchdown passes last week vs the Titans. All in all, the Chargers have found away to get it done thus far, lets see if the trend continues.

¾. Kasas City Chiefs Last Season (7-9)

Key Losses: CB Brandon Carr

Key Additions: RB Peyton Hillis, CB Stanford Routt, RT Eric Winston

Before I get into the expectations for the Chiefs I ranked them as interchangeable between the 3 and the 4 spot with the Raiders because it’s a toss up as to who has had a worse start as both look to try and avoid going 0-3. I give the Chiefs a slight nudge over the Raiders because they seem to have more pieces but back to what I just said "slight nudge". There is still a questions mark after Matt Cassels' name as if he is the quarterback to lead this team. There is also a questions mark after Romeo Crennels’ name because they are not sold  if he is the head coach for the job to lead this team back to the playoffs. They still have weapons at the skill positions with Jamall Charles and Peyton Hillis putting up 151 yards pg. on the ground thus far. Dwayne Bowe continues to be Cassels’ security blanket but there hasn’t been a solid second option to step up. Defensively this team is lacking the ability to have what it takes to get opposing offenses off the field or even provide some type of speed bump. And After loss to the Buffalo Bills it doesn't seem as if things will get any better. This team seems to lack a leader on the field and until some type of unity is formed or some one steps up I believe they will continue to struggle. As they face off against another 0-2 opponent against the Saints this Sunday we will see how desperate they are for a win.

¾ Oakland Raiders Last Season (8-8)

Key Losses: DE Kamerion Wimbley, CB Stanford Routt, RB Michael Bush

Key Additions: OG Mike Brisiel, OG Tony Bergstrom, RB Mike Goodson, CB Ronald Bartell, WR Juron Criner

This team has one of the most explosive backs in the league in Darren McFadden but you can’t run the ball if people don’t respect the pass or even have the ability to open up holes. They sit dead last in the league in the run category. As they recently switched to a zone blocking scheme in the off season, it has yet to pan out for a team that relies so much on their ground game. Carson Palmer hasn’t looked all that impressive as well as he has vowed before the season to shrug the doubters that say is no longer an elite quarterback. On the other side of the ball they have been struggling heavily with stopping the run ranking 29th in the league in that category. Rolando McClain has not stepped up thus far ranking 7th on the team in total tackles as their feature middle linebacker. After an embarrassing season opener against the Chargers where they had trouble between the punter and long snapper exchange to last week getting ran all over by Reggie Bush and the Miami Dolphins. I believe it once again come down to leadership, who will step up for this team and say enough is enough? This is definitely not the start the Raiders hoped to get off to and it’s not going to get any easier as they face the Steelers this week.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

NFC North

Week 2 continues tonight with two franchises that have the longest history as rivals dating back to November 27, 1921 which the Bears won 20-0. It’s Bears versus the Packers, its Thursday night football. Let me take a few line and go back in time on the history of this rivalry, a history of hard nose, cold, bloody smash mouth football. A history that has produced 5 Super Bowls combined as well as 48 members of the Hall of fame. Names like Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, George Blanda, Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, Mike Singletary, Richard Dent, Earl L. Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Jim Ringo, Reggie White. Some of the most iconic names to ever grace a football field were products of this rivalry and still remain today ( The Lombardi trophy, Lambeau field), and that’s no disrespect to the few that I left out  ThisA historic rivalry also handed out the NFL’s first official ejection because the Bears Frank Hanny and Packer Walter Voss were in heated exchange of words which lead to hay makers being thrown. That’s what happens when these teams get together a fight to the end even if it has been one sided in the score board at times. These two teams have met 184 times with the Bears having a slight advantage in wins with 92 to the Packers 86 and 6 ties between the two. Let’s fast forward to tonight and recent history. The Packers have had Chicago’s number in recent history Winning 6 of the last 7 meetings dating back to 2009 including the last 4 straight. With that being said on the flip side Cutler has not faired well against these Packers throwing more interceptions then touchdowns with a 1-5 record since putting on a Bears uniform. None the less, these are two teams striving to Super Bowl stature and both knowing they must go through each other in order to accomplish that. It’s only week 2 but the intensity will be high at Lambeau Field, lets sit back and enjoy this one, its Thursday night football! 
Haha, funny pic but all jokes aside theres nothing funny about the way Clay Mathews plays the game of football, here are my power rankings for the NFC North.

  1. Greenbay Packers (Last Season 15-1)

Key Losses: LT Chad Clifton, S Nick Collins, RB Ryan Grant, QB Matt Flynn

Key Additions: OLB Nick Perry, C Jeff Saturday

Blazing through the regular season everyone outside of New York and maybe San Fran respectively believed the Packers were on their way to their second strait title or at least Super Bow appearance. Lead by NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers who led the NFL in passing with a 122.5 rating, posting 45 touchdown passes to only six interceptions and a 68.3 completion percentage and 85.2 QBR which also lead the league. Was it there 32nd ranking in total defense that finally showed it’s true colors? Soar and sensitive subject but was it the mourning of their former coach Joe Philbins son which took away from the focus needed to play? That would be understandable of course, but the Packers sure didn’t seem to give the Giants much credit after that game saying that “they beat themselves” on that day. What ever the reason was the fact is they lost in their playoff opener and were eliminated last season. Now this year they start the season with a loss to the 49ers in a game where San Fran controlled the game from beginning to end. Defensively the Packers looked confused on plays, hinting to Randy Moss’s wide open touchdown, Frank Gore was Frank Gore and Alex Smith looked like a pro bowl quarterback. Defensively the still have issues outside from the talent they perceive to have on paper and although on he other end they still posses that explosive passing attack they have yet to establish a running game. It’s def a cause for concern but a time to hit the panic button, at least not yet. Tonight will be another early test.
Chicago Bears (Last Season 8-8)

Key Losses: Johnny Knox (spinal injury P.U.P List)

Key Additions: WR Brandon Marshall, DE Shea McLellin, WR Alshon Jeffery, RB Michael Bush, QB Jason Cambell

There’s a reason why I ranked the Bears higher then the Lions in this division and it’s not because opened the season although impressively it was against a rookie quarterback, but I will get into that when I discuss them. At 7-3 the Bears looked as if they were destined for a playoff birth before Jay Cutler went down for the season. Caleb simply could not shoulder the load as the Bears went on to lose 5 of the last 6 missing the playoffs not to mention leading rusher Matt Forte going down with a knee injury in the process. With no stats or numbers needed to be provided it has been well known that the Bears have been known for their defense over the years with an offense that has been below average to put it nicely. Their last 1,000 yard receiver was in Marty Booker in 2002 and their leading receivers for the passed 4 seasons have been Devin Hester and Johnny Knox both explosive players but not receivers that should be relied upon as primary options. Well Bear fans, I believe that is all about to change due to the acquisition of Pro Bowler Brandon Mashall and rookie Alshon Jeffery. And we all know about the previous history between Cutler and Marshall back in Denver who seemed to pick up right where they left off as Marshall went over 100 yards with a touchdown. Also adding power back Michael Bush whether Forte like it or not will take away touches but will also take away hits from their star running back and provide a down hill goal line option. Maybe for once we will be talking about the Bears offense instead of the defense? Its premature to say for certain but as long as health is not an issue I think this Chicago Bears squad is for real.

3. Detroit Lions (Last Season 10-6)

Key Losses: CB Eric Wright

Key Additions: OT Riley Reiff, WR Ryan Broyles, CB Dwight Bentley

Ok now to attempt to dissect the highly talented Detroit Lions who made the playoffs a year ago. Why do I have them ranked behind the Bars you ask? Well….its the “Madden curse” of course for Calvin Johnson. Alright, alright jokes aside from Megatron and Stafford passing for over 5,000 yards in only his third year, this team simple has not shown the maturity to be consistent. Lions already cut CB Eric Berry for off the field issues, defensive tackle Nick Fairley and running back Mikel Leshoure who are both supposed to be major contributors both remain suspended for the field issues. Ndamukong Suh has been on good behavior since his infamous stomping against the Packers last season but who knows if an issue will resurface, I would hope not. Don’t get me wrong this team still has the pieces to compete with each team in this division but I believe a key factor will be will they grow up as a unit and reach that potential that is right around the corner for them. Because just as many steps as they took forward last season a few more of these issues could put them right back out of the playoffs. All though it came down to a last second drive, they are off to the right start and in the win column after week 1.

4. Minnesota Vikings (Last Season 3-13)

Key Losses: None

Key Additions: LT Matt Kalil, WR Jerome Simpson, WR Greg Childs, WR Jarius Wright

Good news: Vikings are 1-0 and Adrian Peterson is healthy scoring two touchdowns in the process Bad New: They beat the Jacksonville Jaguars who were just as bad as they were a year ago, but I guess u start somewhere. Ranking 18th in total offense a year ago and 21st in total defense major improvements are needed on both sides of the ball if this team has hopes to return to playoff contention. It seems like just the other day Brett Favre lead this team to the NFC championship game, boy how times have changed in Minnesota. And I believe the jury is still out on second year quarterback Chris Ponder who took over the starting job in relief of the failures of veteran quarterback Donovan Mcnabb. With limited weapons I continue for it to be a growing process for him as they look to build for the future. But with AP on your roaster how long before he starts getting ancy for a championship caliber team which I am positive he craves. As it stands now this a team which still has some talent with the back flips from Jerome Simpson, the runs from AP and the big play ability of Percy Harvin to make Sports Center top 10 highlights. Sorry to sayt, this is not a playoff team and remains a work in progress.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots (Last season 13-3)

Key Losses: DE Andre Carter, DE Shaun Ellis, DE Mark Anderson, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB Kevin Faulk

Key Additions: WR Brandon Lloyd, WR Jabar Gaffney, DE Chandler Jones, LB Dont’a Hightower, DE Jonathan Fanene, S Steve Gregory, CB Alfonzo Dennard, Jeff Demps RB

The Patriots remain the class of the AFC east, after a super bowl loss to the Giants it’s back to the drawing board for them. Although I wish I could there is not much I can say to dispute the fact that this is one of the best teams in the AFC let alone the AFC East. But if there is anything I could nit pick, we did see first hand the blueprint for success against the Pats is to get constant pressure on Tom Brady, hence the fact that they need better cohesion out of their offensive line group. This is definitely a focus coming into the 2012 season as well as making major improvements in a 31stranking in total defense from a year ago. They have addressed some of these areas through the draft as well as reloaded on the offensive side in free-agency acquiring Brandon Lloyd and Olympian track runner Jeff Demps for example . The 2012 Pats will be ready for another long run into the playoffs, as long as #12 stays upright and healthy and they have Bill Belichick at the head of their franchise.

  1. New York Jets (Last Season 8-8)

Key Losses: LaDainian Tomlinson (retired), Plaxico Burres (free agent)

Key Additions:  DE Quiton Coples, WR Stephen Hill, S LaRon Landry, Tim Tebow.

A disappointing season for Rex Ryans’ Jets last season after failing to make the playoffs. A change is necessary and Ryan has vowed to tone down the predictions and simply get back to coaching his guys up, not to mention loosing an impressive 100 lbs himself. But Ryan isn’t the only one coming into the season with a new look, the Jets found a way to be the talk of the city once again by trading for QB Tebow to stir up a necessary fire inside starting quarterback Mark Sanchez who’s numbers dropped last season. How will a two quarterback system work? The addition of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is the answer to this question. Taking the league by storm in 2008 while running the “wildcat” offense in Miami, Sparano will look to implement Tim Tebow in that role to add to a vanilla Jets offense which struggled mainly in the red-zone last season. At first it seemed as is this was a failed experiment not scoring an offensive touchdown until the final game of the pre-season.. But suprise! suprise!the Jets explosion of 48 points against the Buffalo Bills, I guess they had us all fooled all along. And we must not forget the Jets still have a top 5 ranking defense with Derelle Revis and company did not fail to impress. If the Jets continue to put touchdowns on the board in the red-zone and play with early leads their defense should and is more then capable of holding up their end, which as a result I believe would make them a dangerous squad and a playoff contender once again.

  1. Buffalo Bills ( Last Season 6-10)

Key Losses: LT Demetress Bell

Key Additions : DE Mario Williams, CB Stephon Gilmore, DE Mark Anderson, OT Cordy Glenn

Coming off a week 1 loss where they let up 48 points in a loss to the Jets I was tempted to place the Bills 4th in the division.  This is a two faced Bills team which is hard to understand. Stemming back to last season, they start off 5-2 with Fitzpatrick posting a passer rating of 97.8 and the team looks a if they are playoff bound. Only to go 1-8 in the final 9 games of the season to finish 6-10. With the big free agent splash signing of Mario Williams , selecting Gilmore in the draft and Mark Anderson from the Patriots this was supposed to be the makings of a new and improved defense which ranked 26th in total defense a year ago. But after a sub par week 1 performance Bills fans are left with a bad taste in their mouth of "these are the same old Bills" once again. Offensively this season starting off with Fred Jackson going down seemed to be salt in the wound, as well as getting down  on the scoreboard early forced them to play right into the Jets pass defense. Just maybe we can chalk that one up as a bad game. This team still posses some explosive weapons on offense with Stevie Johnson who is still returning to top form coming off of off season groin surgery and the emergence of CJ Spiller. A sigh of relief with Fred Jackson returns from what seemed to be a season ending injury they should have a foritable dynamic duo in the back field. I believe the Buffalo Bills will be more competitive then they showed week 1 but unfortunately will be on the outside looking in when it comes playoff time. Lets just hope we see some consistency out of these Bills.

  1. Miami Dolphins Last Season (4-9)

Key Losses: Chad Johnson/ Ochocinco whaterver you want to call him, Vontae Davis (traded to the Colts)

Key Additions : QB Ryan Tannehill, RT Jonathan Martin, CB Richard Marshall

Dolphins finished 4th in the division last season so why should Dolphins keep their heads up you ask? Ryan Tannehill is my answer, in a quarterback driven league I believe the Dolphins made the right choice in selecting this young man and promoting him to their starting quarterback. One immediate issue that comes to mind are his passes that are batted down at the line of scrimmage which was an issue stemming from college and were on display week 1 vs the Texans. At 6’5 220lbs this guy is the prototypical quarterback and can make all the throws so this is an area though where he should be able to improve, especially with more experience and eventually when they get more pieces around him. On a side not, I lost interest in the HBO series “HardKnocks once Ochocinco was released by the team, needless to be said his personality/antics  made the show. In addition to releasing Ocho the Dolphins also traded their #1 corner Vontae Davis to the Colts for draft picks. Looking back on the aftermath on the surface this decisions may seem detrimental to the overall talent of the team but  it is clear cut the that their is a new sheriff in town, and his name is Joe Philbin On this guys watch, he will get the players he wants to represent the Dolphins and re-transform them into a high class organization, which I assume he took a page from his time with the Green Bay Packers. It may not show in the wins and losses this season but the Dolphins are building a franchise from the ground up. Speaking of ground, Tannehill's best bet this season may be to rely on Reggie Bush and the young backs to take on much of the load. But as I alluded to earlier Dolphins fans, this will take time and patience.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

NFC East Breakdown

With the new NFL season kicking off tonight fans across the nation are in excitement because FOOTBALL IS BACK. Could this be the year beloved team finally takes the next step? A fresh start for every organization, and as we have seen year in and out anything is possible. Certain teams may have better odds then others due to their passed production and off season acquisitions but I dare try your luck Vegas if you believe it’s as simple as that. Just last year saw a team that went 15-1, dominating the regular season, only to be upset and eliminated in their first playoff game. On the other side the squad that beat they went 9-7 in the regular season taking them having to win the final game of just to win their division and squeak into the playoffs, and this same team goes on to win the Super Bowl? This type of story line would be hard to believe if it were in the movies but the reality is it actually happened, surprising or not and that’s why we love this game or at least why I do. Of course as fans the icing on the cake or for me the ketchup on the side is to see you favorite hoist the Lombardi trophy. But lets not get ahead of ourselves, this is the opening week of the NFL season; Super Bowl talks are months away, but the journey begins now. I’m pumped as we all should be because the day we’ve all been waiting for is here. As I scroll down my Twitter feed I sense the excitement is through the roof. With soaring expectations we’re entering a new age in today’s pass happy league, but the formula of a strong defense to compliment that high powered offense is still the recipe for championships. In 2012 we have five rookie QB’s set to make their first start in the league and more then half of the leagues field generals are under the age of 25. Fair or not, with Cam Newton having a Lebron James like rookie campaign in record breaking fashion it will indisputably be a tough act to follow for these young QB’s. Growing pains are to be expected and loyalty will be tested in the fan bases of all these franchises around the league. One thing for sure is no one knows who will be that team that will emerge out of nowhere like that pimple on your forehead and eventually burst into championship form. Ok, I realize that was a gross and visual comparison but here is my point, the process of becoming a champion is not always a cake walk, sometimes it’s flat out ugly, but all worth it in the end, for the winner of course .The New York Football Giants proved that during both of their super bowl runs, but guess what they got the job done and you can’t take anything from them. Haters will hate but all you do is show them that shiny ring or point to the banners hanging in the stadium. So as it’s the hours away from opening kickoff, it’s time to bring out those jerseys again because NFL kickoff is here! So in the spirit of talking about the Super Bowl champs why don’t I start off in the division that has produced these champions two out of the passed five seasons. Here are my power rankings for the NFC East from top to bottom starting off the year: (These rankings are based on how last season ended, we all know anything can happen in this league let alone the NFC East.)

  1. New York Giants: Last Season (9-7)

Key losses/Injuries: Mario Manningham, Brandom Jacobs, Prince Amukamara

Key Additions: David Wilson, Reuben Randel, WLB Keith Rivers, TE Martellus Bennett.

I’m ranking the Giants number 1 in the NFC East due to the obvious fact that they won the super bowl last season and you carry that title until someone dethrones you. Although there are some concerns I see as teams will be ready to challenge the champs: We know about the emergence of Victor Cruz and Hakim Nicks, but there is a void for a proven 3rd receiver, the defense continues to have health issue’s in the secondary which ranked 27th in total defense last season and lastly the health and consistency of the offensive line that held up its own when it counted produced a last place rushing attack last season. But as we all saw the Giants proved they can get it done despite these deficiencies, they still have the best defensive line in the league and Eli aka “Elite” Manning at QB. We will see who steps up and if the G-Men can defend their crown.

  Philadelphia Eagles: Last Season (8-8)

Key losses/ Injuries: Asante Samuel, OT Jason Peters(ruptured Achilles)

Key Additions: LB Demeco Ryans, QB Nick Foles, DT Fletcher Cox

The Dream Team? Not so fast, the Philadelphia Eagles flat out did not live up to the expectations/hype they mainly placed on themselves last season. That’s not to say there were not bright spots and that’s not to say this team is not still loaded with talent. That’s why I have them ranked second coming into the season, to make it short and simple leading the league in turnovers won’t cut it and Vick not being healthy won’t cut it. But the fact that this team went 5-1 in the division last seasons leaves me wondering, what if they get it together? Giving Desean Jackson his deserving contract and bringing in a veteran former pro bowler at MLB in Demeco Ryans as well a few more active bodies to the defensive line Philly once again has a great team…on paper.

  1. Dallas Cowboys : Last Season (8-8)

Key Losses/ Injury: ILB Bradie James, CB Terrence Newman, WR Laurent Robinson. Jason Witten(Injury)

Key Additions: Safety Tyrone Crawford, CB Brandon Carr, CB Morris Claiborne, ILB Dan Connor, Lawrence Vickers FB

Where Do I begin with “Americas Team” ? A team that’s had 6 different head coaches and one playoff victory in the passed 15 seasons. One constant has been GM Jerry Jones who continues to try and make improvements to his teams’ roaster as well as purchasing a brand new multi billion dollar stadium. And with each season as all the expectations build in Dallas, their loyal fans have been left like an ice cube sitting in a sauna. But maybe this is the season, if they could finally get healthy and have solid production out of the offensive line. With the hire of highly respected offensive line coach Bill Callahan will change this unites identity. It would be silly to assume that this Dallas squad definitely has the potential to get it done. But previous history is not on their side, Tony Romo has to eventually win if he wants to be remembered as one of the great Cowboy qb’s, point blank. They have tightened up that secondary which has been huge problem for them in years passed and its now time for defensive mastermind Rob Ryan to work his magic. On the negative side it seems the injury bug has already come into play with Jason Witten so others will have to step up in a hurry, we’ll find out soon enough about these 2012 Cowboys.

4. Washington Redskins : Last Season (5-11)

Key Losses: LaRon Landry, Jabar Gaffney

Key Additions: Robert Griffin III, Pierre Garçon, Joshua Morgan

Josh Morgan told On Tap, via The Washington Post:
“He’s as fast as Michael Vick but he can make all the throws that Peyton Manning can make and he can make all the reads Tom Brady can make” Maybe this was a tad overstated for a quarterback who hasn’t played a single game in the NFL but make no mistake about it the Redskins have found their quarterback for the future in RGIII. So what is there to expect from the 2012 Skins? They recently cut veteran tight end Chis Cooley and RB Tim Hightower. However with new additions to the receiving core and the emergence of Fred Davis at TE and RB Roy Helu and second year back Evan Royster the Skins definitely have pieces to be a potent offense. Also we tend to forget this team beat the super bowl champs not once but TWICE last season. With a much underrated defense as well as a explosive special team unit with return man Brandon Banks the Redskins can only get better from here on out. Skins fans all know Mike Shanahan is on the hot seat as this may be the last straw for him to turn things around down in D.C. He has some promising pieces to work with, now let’s see what happens.

In My best Bart Scott voice, CANT WAIT for tonight!