Tag Archives: Chargers

Chargers Show Up Late in Oakland

(As previously reported on playunderreview.wordpress.com)

 

Knee looks just fine to me Jaws...

Knee looks just fine to me Jaws...

The NFL has a knack of reminding us just how much parity there can be in a league with a firm salary cap in place (yes, I’m talking to you MLB).  Even the biggest underdog can rise up and play inspired football on any given week, and with a few lucky bounces going their way, can triumph over a highly favored team.  Last night’s MNF double-header on ESPN gave us two perfectly scripted dramas filled with suspense, adversity, more suspense, comedy, and full resolution in the form of multiple game winning drives.   In no way did we expect the Bills to hang with the Patriots in a low scoring Game 1, but Tom Brady finally shook off the rust and, with the help of a timely fumble, capitalized twice in the final three minutes to win a nail-biter.

The bigger surprise occurred in Oakland during Game 2, the final game of the opening week of the 2009 NFL season.  Out came the Raiders, playing as if they themselves were the AFC West favorite and Super Bowl contender that had traveled up the coast from San Diego.  Not once during their current 11 game losing streak to the Chargers did the Raiders come out and completely dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball like they did last night.  Heck not once did they dominate ONE side of the line of scrimmage in their 10 previous matchups.  It was as if all the talent accumulated during their stretch of early first round draft picks were living up to their potential all at once, making the Raiders appear to be a legit contender.  The Raider Defense penetrated early and often, frustrating the likes of Charger QB Phillip Rivers into an unsportsmanlike behavior penalty.  At least for the first half, the Raiders actually looked as scary as the fans that root for them!
Picture taken on a Wednesday in April

Picture taken on a Wednesday in April

 
 

And after thoroughly dominating the first half what did the Raiders have to show for it?  A tied ballgame at the half.   It’s fair to say the Chargers played absolutely terrible in that first half, and their saving grace was two forced turnovers by the Raider O and an iffy video review that kept four extra points off the board (the ball did touch the ground as it shifted).  Again, this was a tale of two different halves for the Raiders.  JaMarcus Russell looked unusually comfortable in the pocket and felt little pressure, but when forced to make decisions and accurate throws in the 3rd quarter the story changed significantly.  The Raiders had a much tougher time  more moving the ball on the ground as the Chargers D-line finally started fighting back after getting run over in the first two quarters.  They were still not able to put a lot of pressure on Russell in the passing game, and we have to compliment the play calling that allowed Russell to get rid of the ball quickly in most situations.  Russell’s decision making was limited to half the field most of the time, and he connected very successfully with TE Zack Miller up the middle for 6 catches and 96 yards.

 

Great decision... until he actually throws it

Great decision... until he actually throws it

The real problem occurred on 2nd or 3rd and long, passing situations that left much to be desired from the former #1 overall pick at QB.   Russell looked great in the first half checking down to his running back after his quick reads were unavailable, but when dump-offs weren’t going to cut it the ball started flying all over the field.   And I mean ALL OVER the field including the sidelines.  I saw at least a half dozen passes to receivers in either man coverage or flat out wide-open, especially on the up-and-out routes to the sideline, that not only weren’t catchable but the receivers couldn’t even make an effort because they were so far off.  The passes he did get close seemed to be 50/50 chances for either team, and Charger defenders dropped several passed that should have been turnovers.  In the last minute of the game, Russell’s last bad throw  strung out Johnny Lee Higgins on a pass that left him on the turf for 5 minutes after a jarring, legal hit applied by Chargers safety Eric Weddle.  

 

I believe he's talking smack WHILE he throws!

I believe he's talking smack WHILE he throws!

Upon further review, the Raiders looked to be a real contender through their first two quarters of the season, and at times in the second half as well.  But the Chargers were just too strong, even after losing two starting offense lineman and playing out of a hole the entire game.  Darren Sproles proved his worth as a franchised player with LaDainian Tomlinson never really got it going against a team he usually dominates. Each had a touchdown last night, but it was a stellar 4th quarter performance by Phillip Rivers that sealed the victory for the Chargers.  Rivers also proved his worth with another victory after signing a contract worth up to $93 million contract extension in the off-season.  He’s gonna earn every penny if the Chargers continue to show up late to division games against big-time underdogs.

 

 


Raiders vs. Chargers Live Blog Part II

Raiders Charger Fans getting along

Here comes the second half, and were all tied up at 10. The catch that wasn’t a catch should have us up. 14-10. We haven’t answered all the questions I raised in the first half.

Some blah blah blah on what happened this weekend that we already saw. And now the…

START OF THE 2ND HALF

This is the first time I’ve seen the Raiders hold LT in check. Very rare, but it’s not over, so I’ll shut up! The Chargers are moving the ball a little with a few solid passing plays.

MCeezy: Chargers are starting to look like they’re supposed to.  Tough holding call sets them back a bit. Michael Huff!  The forgotten man!!!

MICHAEL HUFF did something good! Right place at the right time!

MCeezy:Big momentum swing back to Oakland’s side.  Time to pound away on the ground some more.

Ouch, three and out…

MCeezy: Golic’s right.  I do hold my breath every time Russell throws the ball.

Hahaha! ME TOO!

MCeezy:Delay of game…. nice to see a little home field advantage!  Greenie’s asking how much of this is the Chargers playing bad…. what do you think?

Well, I’d like to point out to Greenie that they are coached by Norv Turner, and were only 8-8 last year.

MCeezy:You’re right… SD doesn’t look too bad.  It looks like the Raiders D is just rising to the occasion.  Must be nice to not to be playing from behind.

Yeah, it might have actually been a fun game to go to! I wonder if this game sill get a few fans pumped up enough to sell out some more games?

Nice solid return, they need to get the ground game going again! Ouch another breath holding toss from Jemarcus…

Uh oh, did I awaken LT with my taunting? Wow, we might have gotten a dteal of a deal on Seymour! I love this guy already!

MCeezy: I know the stats back it up, but I don’t the Raiders defense has been that bad over the last few years.  They’re just on the field more because the offense has been so inept.

HAHAHA! Rivers is such a poor sport! I think the crying mentality will wear off on the rest of the team. I hope Dre reads this part in the morning. He will destroy your team!

TEXT FROM FERRARI: RIVERS IS SUCH A BITCH!

MCeezy: Rivers with the taunting penalty.  Guess that backs up our claim that he’s a hot head and prone to blowups.

Boring third quarter…

MCeezy: I hate to say this… but WHO is Chris Johnson???  I’m as big of a Raider fan as you’ll find but I didn’t know much about this guy before tonight.

I’ve heard of him, but we were so bad last year I probably didn’t watch closely enough to see if he was good.

WOW, huge hit by Mcfadden!

Jemarcus looks like a better blocker than Gallery…

MCeezy:OK, Jamarcus just went up a couple notches in my book.  I’ve long questioned his football IQ, but I must say, having a QB who can block downfield like that on an end around is a GREAT asset to have!

Well, atleast they got three before they had time to turn it over. 13-10 Raiders with that Janikowski FG! He must not be drinking tonight he’s 2 for 2.

I forgot to say it’s the 4th quarter! 12:55 after a short Sproles return.

Gates does a nice job of bailing out Rivers. Is it just me or are you more scared of Sproles or Tomlinson these days?

MCeezy: Thomas Howard is extremely underrated.

Yeah he is, he’s even under rated on Madden 2010.

MCeezy: Hahaha, RIGHT on queue!  Thomas Howard with a big stop in the backfield. And yes, Sproles is far more troublesome out of the backfield than LT.
Wow, Vincent Jackson just made Asomugha look bad! Or maybe it was just perfectly under thrown… Well, at least we can count on Jeamarcus for a comeback hahaha! 17-13 Chargers 7:22 4th Quarter.
MCeezy: Man, I don’t know that Rivers “put the ball where only his receiver could catch it,” but it fell in the right spot.  Now the Raiders really have something to prove.  They don’t usually march down the field in these situations, so we’re about to see what the 2009 team is made of.
I won’t lie, my confidence level isn’t through the roof, but they have answered a couple questions so far, hopefully Jemarcus can show some leadership.
Steve Young is having some serious flashbacks! He can barely spit it out as Jemarcus falls under Merriman’s Tequila beating hand. J/K San Diego!For a minute after Jemarcus went down, I wanted to see them just put the wildcat out there…
God, Gradkowski, looks like a punter in there… It’s a very bad sign!
MCeezy:HUGE break.  I thought for sure it was another Raider penalty.
Lucky Bailout call! This is a classic Raiders 2008 drive. Time consuming, but don’t go anywhere on the field…
MCeezy: Well… here we go.  3rd and long for with the game on the line. And Higgins is out.
Good thing he got up. I guess we have to go for it!
HOLY SHIT! They actually went for it all! That one might have come from Al himself!
MCeezy: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

IT’S A NEW YEAR!!!
There’s still 2:35 left, but Oakland is up 20-17 on a 4th and 15 from Jemarcus to Murphy!
MCeezy: Even if they don’t end up winning this game, the Raiders showed a lot tonight.  I don’t discount the fact that the Chargers may have regressed, but the Silver & Black have new life this year.
I couldn’t agree more whatever the outcome!
Chargers are driving at their own 28 with 1:58 in the 4th.
MCeezy: Does it get any better than this?  Us Raider fans couldn’t have ask for much more.  They need to stop em here.
It definitely doesn’t! Lets see Seymour get some pressure! Why are we in prevent, this is retarded…
SD is getting yards for free, down the middle and to Gates…
Cmon Golic check our blog, we already said we were more scared of Sproles than LT what more confirmation do you need. Even Norv knows that!
MCeezy: Heartbreaker.
Wow, are these announcers paying attention, that’s why you have Sproles out there to score a TD!24-20 SD :13 seconds left in the 4th.
MCeezy:We still got way more than we could’ve hoped for.  Let’s just hope this doesn’t deflate them for the rest of the year.
I fully agree. I’m satisfied with their effort.
MCeezy: Well they put up a good fight.  Nice blogging with you cousin… It’s possible we’re in for an interesting Raider season.
Yup, good times! Let’s hope we’re on the winning side a few more times than last year!

Raiders Vs. Chargers Live Blog!

Raiders Chargers fans

I have to admit I am expecting the worst tonight for my Raiders, but then again I was expecting the Pats to blow out the Bills, and that definitely didn’t happen! Man, if the Bills only had Marshawn tonight maybe the story would have changed. This game could say a lot about our team this year, and answer a lot of the lingering questions from the off-season. Does Cable have control of a team that he socked one of his coaches in? Is Richard Seymour going to benefit from being in a 4-3 defense? Can Jemarcus give us any hope or is it time to cut ties? I’ve said before that I would be happy with Oakland going 8-8 to at least not have a losing record, but they’ll have to prove it to me for that to happen. If the Chargers happen to lose this game, I think they’ll have more questions than the ones I just asked about the Raiders, starting with; Should we fire Norv?

So, Steve Young, Mike Golic, and Mike Greenburg are calling the game. They just showed them together, and Golic looks like the Jolly Green Giant towering over two midgets.

START OF THE GAME

Raiders get the kick, and are starting at their own 29. Steve Young needs to turn up his mic. Bush just ripped off a nice 17 yarder on the first play. Better start than last year already! Couple good runs by McFadden.

MCeezy: Raiders are moving the ball well early on.  No doubt they’re coming out to establish the run, which is their strong point, if you could say they have one.  Russell, on the other hand is 0-2 to start.  Russell finally completes his first pass to Zach Miller.

I was almost excited, but that then Jemarcus brought me back to earth the same way Kayne took Taylor Swift’s thunder last night.

Three and out for SD. Rivers tossed that third down pass like he was imitating Jemarcus!

One thing I don’t miss about the NFL is all of the TV timeouts, real lame, real lame!

Wow, the Raiders are moving it on the ground. The SD defense looks confused against the Raiders, whaaa!?!

MCeezy: Raiders are playing inspired for a change!  Chargers look conservative on the defensive end.  I’m sure they know it’s a long game and they might be able to just sit back and wait for the Raiders to make more mistakes.

BUSH TD!

Sproles just ripped off a huge return that looks like the Raiders I remember! Followed up by their 1st first down to Vincent Jackson…

MCeezy: Let’s see how the Raiders play with a lead. It’s nice having some established vets on the ends of the D-Line

SEYMOUR!!!!!!

He said he’d “be the guy on top of the quarterback.  He’s not wasting any time!
LT is starting to show his age, and the Raiders catch the first break with his fumble! Maybe Seymour is bringing some intensity to this defense!
MCeezy: WOW. They came to play!  This drive will be huge in terms of seeing if they’re really for real.  Expect a heavy dose of Bush and McFadden. They need to keep Rivers and the SD offense off the field.

2ND QUARTER Oak 7, SD 0
Raiders started with a few running plays. Followed by a bailout call, and two third down conversions. Something we never did last year. Showing signs of life in the offense I could get used to this.
Uh oh spoke too soon, the third turnover of the game already with a McFadden fumble…
MCeezy: Raiders are doing a phenomenal job of game and clock management.  If they can get another stop here, they can really take control of the game…. for now
The Chargers get their second first down. The Raiders are laying out some hits now!
MCeezy:WOW, amazing pursuit by Tyvon Branch.Rivers just hung Sproles out to dry.
The Chargers finally started to look like themselves and got a TD off the turnover Oakland 7, San Diego 7.
MCeezy:Despite the TD to tie it up, the momentum is still on the Raiders side.  They need to answer back here…
Greenie brings up a good point…. Russell never finds his receivers.  It’s either the tight end or RBs out of the backfield.  Why even have WRs?  You and I could run around and be decoys, because that’s all they’re really doing.  and where’s Javon Walker?
That’s why… (Heyward Bey drops a pass) I still am surprised how easily they’re pushing around the SD D-Line! Our receivers suck, maybe Jemarcus doesn’t deserve all the blame.
MCeezy: Special teams is the only area where the Raiders aren’t absolutely despicable.  Good to see exceptional coverage on another stellar Shane Lechler punt.
I think I expect the worst nowadays!
MCeezy:Asomghua making some noise!  He had a feature on him on espn.com earlier.  I was curious to see how he’d respond, and even though he doesn’t get the ball thrown his way, he still finds a way to make plays.
Another solid defensive stand for the Raiders! One thing about them is their defense has looked good the past few seasons, they’re just on the field way too much. Maybe they can change that this year, and keep them fresh!
MCeezy:Wow. I feel like I’ve said that many times tonight, but what would you expect.  The Chargers were expected to win in a route…
Seriously! I picked SD in my Doin Lines Week 1 giving 91/2 points!
MCeezy: The first catch by a WR!  Louis Murphy was a steal in the second round.  He may not see many passes thrown his way in this system, but if he can get open, the offense will be okay.
After two terrible throws, he made one good one. He needs to change that MO…
MCeezy:For the first time in his career, I can honestly say Jamarcus Russell looks like a legitimate QB.
It’s funny I wrote in my Raiders preview, that this pre-season was the first time he actually looked like he knew what he was doing…
MCeezy: Caught a break there, as Russell threw it RIGHT to the defense.  Lady Luck just might be on the Raiders’ side for a change.Think the Raiders would be happy with a 10-7 lead at the half?
I’d almost say no, the way they’ve dominated this game… Seeing how they’ve been the last few years, I’d say yes! Murphy your boy! I think you might be right, maybe I’ll add him to my fantasy team…
MCeezy:Russell to Murphy!!!!  Just when I thought Jamarcus was settling back into his old ways, he finds the rookie in the end zone!GREAT double move.

I think the TD stands
I think it does too. When is Norv going to get fired? Haha, I love how he lead a talented SD team to an 8-8 record last season!
Lady luck my ass! How was that not a TD! God I hate refs! It was Ed Hochuli bad! FG good. 10-7 Oakland
MCeezy:BULLSHIT!
I love how the announcers agree that it was bullshit.
Sproles just ripped off a long return, I’m officially worried about a TD here…
SD gets into FG range with a couple of plays the Oakland defense really didn’t care to stop… Seymour getting on top of Rivers again!
Kaeding FG. Tied at 10 for the half.
Immediately kicked to Swami talking about the non-tuck rule hahaha!
MCeezy:Gotta be happy with a tie at the half…. Should be 14-10 but calls going against the Raiders is nothing new.  Overall, they look a lot better than any of us could have expected.  Let’s hope they can keep it up in the second half.

The NFL Really Cares… About Making Money!

Oakland Coliseum Raiders

It’s looking like the NFL is about to see some hard times of their own due to the economy. Everybody knew it was coming, and we are seeing the first signs of it as there are 10 to 12 teams that may not sell out every game. This would mean mass local blackouts on TV broadcasts for many supportive fans.NFL blackout games Last season there were only three teams that didn’t sell out games and not surprisingly the list was Oakland, Detroit, and St. Louis. They combined for a total of nine blacked out games last season. I can’t blame any of the fans for not going to those games though, especially since I’m a Raiders fan and value paying to see them as much as going to see “Thunder from Down Under” for a bachelor party in Vegas. Despite the fact that there are about one third of teams finding it difficult to sell out, the blackout rule will stay in effect for it’s 37th straight year. The Jaguars have stated that they may not even sell out one home game all season. Sorry Jacksonville fans, you have to sign up for Direct TV and pay an extra $200 just to watch your local team for those eight games.

Tim Keown explored the reasons why the blackouts are out dated, and only hurt the league. I fully agree, as it deters possible fans that would have to watch the locally televised games. Many times a casual fan that lives in the area is exposed to the local team to the point where they start to follow them. I’ve had that transformation since my move to Southern California about three years ago. I used to root mildly for the Giants as a Northern California resident, but without being able to watch them, I now root for the Dodgers since I see them on TV nearly every day. I definitely never thought that I’d say four years ago when I was living in Northern California surrounded by that media market.thesilverblackouts Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fair weather fan, I’ll always be a fan of the A’s, Raiders, and Warriors which sholuld say enough looking at their track records this past decade. I’ll root for all the Oakland teams no matter where I live, but every sports fan has “other teams” or man crushes on a certain players so we follow them. If they’re in the local media market, they are certainly going to be watched. That won’t happen if eight of a teams games are being blacked out. How can anyone get attached to a player or team that isn’t shoved down your throat? It won’t happen, and that’s why this rule that’s older than Al Davis needs to be changed.

Sometimes we’ve been saved from these blackouts by local companies that will buy up the rest of the tickets, so that the game can be televised. In these uncertain economic times it’s much less likely that companies are going to open up their wallets to get a game televised. Teams that have had no problem selling out all their tickets in the past like the Cheifs, Dolphins, and Jets are struggling to sell tickets, and have noticeably ramped up the promotions to get people out to the games. San Diego, Miami, and Minnesota are on the list of teams that might not sell out all their tickets, and they were all playoff teams last season. If I was jobless, and couldn’t watch my team play on their way to a playoff run I’d be mad. The NFL is still in great shape either way financially, so why not give the fans a break. It’s bad enough that the fans are asked to spend taxpayer money on the ridiculously large stadiums, and they expect people to be okay with them not being on their local programming!

Goodell is too smooth of a talker to be able to trust!

Goodell is too smooth of a talker to be able to trust!

This quote pretty much sums up how much Goodell and the NFL care about the fans that support the game and teams of their home towns.

Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports and CBS News, said last week that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told him that “he is not going to make any major adjustment to a rule that has lasted a long time just because of a short-term economic problem.”

When asked if CBS had concerns about blacked-out games, McManus said, “I don’t think there is any way they are going to change it, so it is pointless to talk to them about it.”


NFL Over/Under Wins Predictions… Doin Work Edition

We’ve taken the Vegas win total over/unders for each and gave them the ol’ Doin Work twist. ….

 

Arizona 8 ½ Wins
Brian: Under. I don’t see Warner having as good a year as he had last year. He has amazing receivers, but losing Boldin isn’t going to help them.

Matt: Under. The much-maligned running game won’t get any better in Beanie Wells’ first year.

 Andre : Over.   Let’s see here… SF, SEA, and STL are a given 6 wins this year, if they lose 1 of those I’ll be really surprised.  Cardinals will come back strong, I’m  actually very intrigued to see what Beanie/Hightower combo can do in year 1.

Atlanta 8 Wins
Brian: Over. They look like a team on the rise, and are banking on Ryan to get better in his second year of action.

Matt: Over.  Matt Ryan and Michael Turner should be a postseason staple for years to come.

 Andre : Over.  The Falcons brilliant recovery from disaster in 2008 was story book really, and they only got stronger this offseason.   I think they can get to 10 wins in the NFC South, with the addition of a HoF security blanket at TE and The Burner and Roddy White entering their primes.
Baltimore 8 ½ Wins
Brian: Under. This is a tough one, but I thought they overachieved a little last year.

Matt: Under.  Gone are Steve McNair and Derrick Mason. Terrell Suggs’ 6-year deal has trouble written all over it.

 Andre : Under.  Not enough at WR to work with, lack of #1 RB at this point, and an aging CB corp and MLB (sorry Ray) will slow the D and keep that O off the field to begin with. 
Buffalo 7 ½ Wins
Brian: Under. I’m not sold that Trent Edwards can have a healthy season, and any team with two trouble makers TO and Marshawn is bound for disaster.

Matt: Over. I think they’ll be the same old Buffalo team, finishing 8-8 on the outside looking in.

 Andre : Over.  I’m gonna gamble and say the addition of TO pays off for Lee Evans and opens up the passing game, and once Marshawn comes back from his suspension he’ll be fresh and ready to go for the heart of the schedule.
Carolina 8 ½ Wins
Brian: Over. With the running game they have, they can control the clock every game, which goes a long way in winning games.

Matt: Under. Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith aren’t getting any younger.  

 Andre : Over.  Love that running game, they will definitely shorten the game and keep their O on the field.  And that D is nasty at times but needs to show up every week.  Re-signing Peppers needs to be a priority, but for now he’s playing for a contract so that means big year ahead.
Chicago 8 ½ Wins
Brian: Over. We’ll see what Mr. Insulin is made of now that he’ll have a defense. Problem is he doesn’t really have anyone except a former returner to throw to.

Matt: Under.  The addition of Jay Cutler should give fans reason for optimism, but I don’t see the Bears hanging with Minnesota and Green Bay

 Andre : Under.  The Bears have no leader on Offense.  Haven’t had a leader on offense for a long time, and didn’t acquire one in any big trades this offseason (I’m looking at you Jay, can you handle that??).  Guessing the Bears look much like the Broncos did last year, big arm and nothing else, doing just enough to fall short
Cincinnati 6 Wins
Brian: Under. Ask a Cincinnati fan why you should bet on the under, oh wait, never mind, there aren’t any…

Matt: Over.  This is a crapshoot, but I’m banking on an up year for Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson.  Do they have any running backs yet?

 Andre : Over.  But not by much.  I’d be willing to bet they have the strongest D in many years, but in the AFC North that’s just not good enough.  Palmer and *% should come back strong, but Benson at RB?  Really??  Are there any lakes to party on in Ohio?  Just curious…  
Cleveland 7 Wins
Brian: Under. Braylon leads the league in drops over the last two years, which exemplifies their lack of discipline.

Matt: Over. If anyone’s due for a playoff appearance it’s the Browns.  Hopefully they can decide on a QB and trade the other for some help in other areas.

Andre : Under.  Just a no go all around.  They need to pick one of their young strong arm QBs and go with him, for good.  Use the bargaining chip while he’s still young with little wear and tear, then go pick up a vet to back-up.  After that they can start working on revamping the D, as that side was fairly miserable last year and not getting any better.
Dallas 9 Wins
Brian: Under. With TO and Jessica out of Romo’s life, the love fest between him and Witten will reign supreme in Dallas, but not in a good way.

Matt: Over. Dallas isn’t as good as the teams they’ve fielded in recent years, but the new digs oughta boost them to a solid finish.

 Andre : How can you go wrong here?  Talent everywhere, especially at RB with two great back-ups with game changing speed in Jones and Choice.  The D comes back strong, and most likely less drama for yo baby’s mamma.  Ok, no more TO.
Denver 7 ½ Wins
Brian: Under. They may get first in the AFC West with under 8 wins! Their defense was a disaster, Brandon Marshall is complaining, and they lost Cutler.

Matt: Under. I have high hopes for Knowshon Moreno, but I don’t see a Kyle Orton-led offense winning the AFC West.

 Andre : Under.  Way too easy here.  Question marks at QB, RB, WR (is Marshall going to play??), the Defense was atrocious last year.  They might not get to 6 wins.
Detroit 5 Wins
Brian: Under. I’m more sure on this bet than any of my others so far!

Matt: Under. The Lions did a major overhaul on their roster – er, no they didn’t.  Stafford isn’t going to be working any miracles.

 Andre : Under.  Do we even know if Stafford will play this year?  Are they really rolling out Culpepper?? Could be another scary year in Motown, and look forward to seeing them at the top of the draft again next year.
Green Bay 9 Wins
Brian: Over. They need a better year from Ryan Grant, and their secondary is getting older. We’ll see I’m wishy washy on this one.

Matt: Over. The Packers, with their core of Rodgers, Grant, Jennings, and Barnett, might be the class of the NFC this year.

 Andre : Under.  I truly believe Minny has the inside track in the North, QB or no QB.  GB might challenge to make it a 2 team race, the definitely Bears won’t and the Lions who?  I think Rodgers will have a hard time if Ryan Grant can’t come back stronger than he did last year, even with strong weapons at receiver. I think 8-8 might be a good season this year for the Pack.
Houston 8 Wins
Brian: Over. I like the core they have on offense and defense. I think they are going to be playoff bound this year.

Matt: Push. The Texans seemed destined for another 8-8 season. Their division schedule is a killer.

 Andre – Under.  The Texans are doing good things, and Schaub to A Johnson will be a great combo all season.  RBs are small and might not be able to gain the physical yards, while the D is not quite a strong as it needs to be against the run to be successful.
Indianapolis 10 Wins
Brian: Over. They’ve won at least 12 games every year since 2003, so I see them finding some way to make it over 10.

Matt: Over. The Colts have found a way to get it done in the regular season this whole decade. Shouldn’t be any different this year.

 Andre : Under.  I was very close to a push, but settled back to 9 wins.  Will Addai come back strong?  We know Wayne will get his, but then what? Clark is injury prone, Gonzales still making his name.  The defense really gelled at the end of the regular season, but fell apart in the playoffs.
Jacksonville 8 Wins
Brian: Under. I really have no idea what to expect from this team. It’s a surprise every week seeing what team will show up.

 Matt: Under. Brian’s right.  The Jaguars really do have a lot of question marks.

 Andre : Under.  I’m not sure MJD can carry a full load, and the WR corp was thin to begin with.  Last season was a big step back, and I believe we could see more of the same this year.  The defense has been overhauled in the last two years, not quite a scary as it used to be.
Kansas City 6 Wins
Brian: Over. This is a toss up, the race to six or seven wins may win the AFC West!

Matt: Under. KC has put all their proverbial eggs in one basket with Matt Cassel.  I still think they’re another year or two away.

 Andre : Push.  Six wins sounds just about right for a team gambling on a brand new QB with 1 year under his belt.  First year growing pains will be rough while he builds a relationship with his WRs, and the loss of Tony Gonzalez doesn’t make it any easier, as well as a question mark at RB.  The defense is a work in progress, but looked to be advancing.
Miami 7 Wins
Brian: Over. They need to try and sign Vick! I could only imagine the damage he could do in that Wildcat offense!

Matt: Over. Barely. If they can build on last year’s success, they should challenge Buffalo for 2nd in the AFC East.

 Andre : Under.  Sorry Miami, I haven’t seen enough improvement to warrant a 7 win season.  No receivers, half a QB, and a great running game means all kinds of blitzes and run stopping schemes.  Good luck with that.  Defensively they might be ok, but they’ll be on the field way too much.
Minnesota 9 Wins
Brian: Under. All Day can only carry them so far. I don’t see their defense leading the league in turnovers again.

Matt: Under.  They’re still a franchise QB away from contending. But, if they bring in Favre? Nah, still a .500 team at best.

 Andre : Over.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m high on Minny winning that ugly North division.  Minny was a great all-around team without a true QB last year, so whether they go with Favre or someone else I don’t think it matters too much.  Great running game, the D is fast and physical, special teams are strong.  AP better step it up and his 3rd year as a true leader of that franchise..
New England 11 ½ Wins
Brian: Over. I’ve bet against Brady too many times in spite. I guess I’ll try to jinx the Pats by putting them in the playoffs.

Matt: Under. I don’t think they’ll reach 12 wins, but 11-5 or 10-6 will be enough to win the division.

 Andre : Under.  Actually, UNDER.  As in Under .500.  I think this is the year the Pats just don’t get the bounces and calls going their way, all good things must come to an end.  This team’s core is only getting older, and unlike a nice bottle of wine it’s not tasting any better.  Last year Cassel stepped in admirably, but again with no running game and an aging D there will be a lot of pressure on Brady’s pretty little shoulders.
New Orleans 8 ½ Wins
Brian: Over. Their defense has to stop the other team a few times this year, right!?! Well in either case, I think Brees can orchestrate 9 wins.

Matt: Over. I’m torn, but I think a healthy Colston and Bush can put this team over the .500 mark.

 Andre : Under.  We’re all in love with Brees and Bush and Colston (or am I the only one?), but this team will once again need to prove they can win high-scoring shootouts with their less than mediocre D.  The NFS South will be very competitive this year, and I can see all 4 teams finishing between 9-7 and 7-9.  Unfortunately, I see the NO as the 7-9 team.
NY Giants 10 Wins
Brian: Under. Do they have any receivers yet?

Matt: Under. The NFC East is going to be a killer this year, and Manning to Steve Smith doesn’t seem that potent.

 Andre : Under.  With no passing game and defenses only getting stronger in their Division (aka Albert Haynesworth), they won’t be able to rely on their horse Jacobs quite as much.  Where will they go for 3 and long?? Who knows, but Manning could look more like the Eli of his first 2 years rather than the last 3.
NY Jets 7 Wins
Brian: Under. Too tough of a division, and the Dolphins pushed them down even further.

Matt: Under. A rookie QB and an aging, though effective, running back won’t be enough to contend with the Pats, Dolphins, and Bills.

 Andre : Over.  With the Pats slowing down, and the Dolphins making no big moves, I think the Jets are primed to take advantage even with a rookie QB if Sanchez does start.  They are loaded in the running game with Jones, Washington and Greene to help ease the load, and their D is set to be a top ranked unit next year.  9-7 is definitely not a stretch.
Oakland 5 ½ Wins
Brian: Under. I can’t jinx them yet, but I’d gladly lose this bet. 8-8 would feel like a championship these days.

Matt: Over. This is ridiculous, I know. But I see Jeff Garcia winning the starting spot, and they have plenty of weapons on both sides of the ball.

 Andre : Under.  Can you have negative wins in a season?  Just curious.  And who is faster in a foot race, Garcia or Russell?  Only because that’s how they make all of their other personnel decisions.  This might be McFadden’s time to shine if he can stay healthy, cause they will be behind a lot and just wanting to hold onto the ball.
Philadelphia 9 ½ Wins
Brian: Under. Westbrook turns the dreaded 30 for a running back. McNabb will probably miss a few games now that he signed his extension.

Matt: Under. The Eagles are giving the impression that they won’t persevere through the loss of the heart and soul of the team, Brian Dawkins.

 Andre : Under.  I wish I could say push, since they did have a tie last year and finish with 9 wins and that tie.  Anyways, all told I think the Eagles will be the Eagles and finish just above 500 and either sneak in or somehow miss by a hair.  Seems like the same story every year recently.  And don’t count on seeing Kolb start for this team any time soon.
San Diego 9 ½ wins
Brian: Under. I foresee another 8-8 year, but then again they do get to play a bunch of games against their weak division.

Matt: Over. The Chargers have been inconsistent of late, but anything less than a 5-1 division record would be a surprise.

 Andre : Over.  With a healthy LT, Merriman and Cromartie, this team will be back to ‘07 form.  Franchising Sproles made great sense as insurance, all Philip Rivers does is win (and through injuries), and the Chargers are guaranteed several wins in their own division this year as usual.  After several years of difficult and grueling schedules, this year’s softer line-up bodes well.
San Francisco 7 Wins
Brian: Over. I think Singletary will put the 49ers back to respectability mark.

Matt: Over.  The Cardinals should regress a bit, and the Rams and Seahawks haven’t gotten any better.

 Andre : Under.  Unlike the Vikings, having no QB in this situation really does matter.  In no way is this 9er team talented enough all around to carry the team past their ongoing search for a passer.  Gore will wear the brunt, and it will wear on him.  No thanks in part to a terrible Oline.  The defense is iffy at best, but could be strengthened if Singletary dresses on Sundays.

 

 Seattle 7 ½ Wins
Brian: Over. They can’t have as many injuries as last year. A healthy Hasselbeck will make them competitive again.

Matt: Under. But not by much. TJ should prove to be a great addition to the offense.

 Andre : Under.  With the exception of AZ, the NFC West looks like it might be a vacation for opponents this year.  Hass is coming back from an injury, and Seattle decided not to draft a youthful replacement for down the road.  No WR help, no RBs at this point, and a porous D will be very hard to overcome this year.
St. Louis 5 ½ Wins
Brian: Under. I didn’t think they were going to win one game for awhile there last year, and this year their roster looks even worse this year.

Matt: Under. The Rams should challenge the Lions for the bottom spot in the NFC this year.

 Andre : Under.  Who farted? Oh, that’s just the stench coming out of STL.  Could have addressed the QB issue, didn’t.  Could have gotten WR help, didn’t.  Did help the Dline, but didn’t address LBs.  This could be brutal, they should start clearing cap space for signing top 3 picks over the next few years.
Tampa Bay 6 ½ Wins
Brian: Under. Too much turnover in the organization to be competitive this year.

Matt: Over. No matter what happens, the Bucs usually find a way to contend.  They won’t make the playoffs, but they’ll finish better than 6-10

 Andre : Over.  I see TB getting to at least .500 this year, if not a game better.  They seem to  have made the right moves based on necessity that many teams did not this year.  If Cadillac can rebound from a slow year coming back from injury, the running game should be their strength along with Winslow as a solid addition and safety net at TE.
Tennessee 9 Wins
Brian: Over. They showed they have a lot of good pieces on defense and in the running game.

Matt: Over. The Titans might’ve been the best team in the NFL for a majority of the year last season.  Lendale White has decided to show up this year.

 Andre : Push.  I see the Titans fighting for 9 wins and a playoff berth with the Colts, as it appears there will be only one team coming out of this division.  The running game will remain a strength with LenDale coming in 20 pounds lighter, but the loss of Haynesworth in the middle of the Dline will leave them scrambling.  A 4 man rotation will be nowhere near as effective.
Washington 8 Wins
Brian: Under. Lots of talent, but they like to give away games.

Matt: Under. If Clinton Portis holds up this year, they’ll be alright, but the QB situation may hold them back.

 Andre : Over.  The NFC East will be a two horse race between the Cowboys and Indians, sorry, Redskins.  The offense should continue to improve with Campbell at the helm and Portis back at full strength.  The biggest off-season move by any team, the signing of Haynesworth to clog the Dline, will pay off huge dividends quickly.  This WILL be the top D in the league this year.