Monday, August 31, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Carolina Panthers

The overall preview's will be much shorter and I'll be focusing instead on the burnin' questions. There's only a couple of weeks left so I need to take care of the rest of the NFL before the season starts. Only a select few from here on in will get the full preview treatment.

For now, I'll focus on the burnin' questions:

Most Offensive Player: DeAngelo Williams
Most Defensive Player: Julius Peppers
Best New Guy: Corvey Irvin
Coolest Twitter Page: Jon Beason
Team Song: Carolina Blues by Blues Traveler
Coolest Names (Top 3): Captain Munnerlynn, Mackenzie Bernadeau, Dante Rosario
Most Likely to Succeed: Steve Smith
In 2009, the Panthers will go: 11-5

I'll be back on Tuesday with a doubleheader to wrap up the NFC South.

Friday, August 28, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Atlanta Falcons

It's hard to believe that the Falcons have gotten so far from where they were at the end of the 2007 season. The team had to go through the Michael Vick case, which can be tough on anybody. The Falcons also lost Bobby Petrino, when he bolted for Arkansas before the end of the season. It seemed like the team was in disarray going into the next season.

However, things got better for the Falcons. Led by rookie quarterback Matt Ryan and rookie head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons clinched a wild card spot in the playoffs. It was the Falcons first trip to the playoffs since the 2004 season.

Ryan passed for more than 3,000 yards and 16 touchdowns, as he won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Of course, give some credit to the success of Michael Turner. After playing under the shadow of LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego, Turner went out and had a breakout year in 2008. The Northern Illinois product rushed for almost 1,700 yards (1,699 to be exact) and ran the ball in to the endzone 17 times. If it wasn't for Turner, maybe the Falcons are 7-9 or even 6-10.

But don't give all of the credit to Turner. This team looks a lot better than ever before and are among the favorites in an always crazy-competitive NFC South (yes I made that word up off the top of my head).

With the addition of tight end Tony Gonzalez to the mix, Ryan has another weapon to throw to. It helps he has Roddy White back too. Could the man many call "Matty Ice" go out and have another terrific season? It is most certainly possible. I am eager to see what the Falcons do in 2009.

Most Offensive Player: Michael Turner
Most Defensive Player: Mike Peterson
Best New Guy: Peria Jerry
Coolest Twitter Page: Chandler Williams
Team Song: "Hard to Handle"- The Black Crowes
Coolest Names (Top 3): Ovie Mughelli, Brent Grimes, Kroy Biermann
Most Likely to Succeed: Michael Turner
In 2009, the Falcons will go: 11-5

We'll continue to profile the NFC South and should have it wrapped up by early next week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers look to fully begin a new era under new head coach Mike Singletary. While he might be the right guy to motivate this team. However there's a few problems...

Let's consider the situation at quarterback, first. Who would you rather start, Shaun Hill or Alex Smith? I'm pretty sure the 49ers would have gone with Brett Favre at this point (even though that ship has already sailed.)

Smith has turned out to be a bust at the position, after being the top pick in 2005 (little regret over not picking Aaron Rodgers?).

Hill has just been named the starting quarterback for the Niners. Is it a great selection? Well, it's hard to say. Hill showed some promise in 2008, passing for more than 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. It will be interesting to see how he does under center for a full season.

Every quarterback needs a good wide receiver to throw to, right? That problem should have been solved with Michael Crabtree, right? Well, it has not been solved. Crabtree is still in the midst of his holdout. And if things don't change, he won't be playing in the NFL at all this season and could re-enter the draft next season.

Nevermind Crabtree for the moment. And yes, it's not a smart move for him to holdout. The 49ers are without a potentially dominant receiver. I stress the word "potentially" of course. The 49ers do have a good running game and a solid defense. If no Crabtree, then who steps up to make catches for the 49ers this season?

Time for the burnin' questions:

Most Offensive Player (Offense MVP): Frank Gore
Most Defensive Player (Defense MVP): Patrick Willis
Best New Guy: Scott McKillop
Coolest Twitter Page: Takeo Spikes
Team Song: For Whom the Bell Tolls- Metallica
Coolest Names (Top 3): Moran Norris, Parys Haralson, Chilo Rachal
Most Likely to Succeed: Frank Gore
In 2009, the 49ers will go: 9-7

Next up is the NFC South.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Seattle Seahawks

There's a new sheriff in the town of Seattle and his name is Jim Mora, the junior edition. Mora will be taking over for Mike Holmgren, who held down the fort for 10 seasons.

Unfortunately for Holmgren, his final season in Seattle wasn't a magical ending. The Seahawks finished 4-12, their worst mark in the Holmgren era. Despite the 2008 season, Holmgren has won more games than any other coach in Seahawks history. Yes that means more games than Chuck Knox.

Mora has big shoes to fill. Holmgren made Seattle relevant in an often ignored NFC West. He led the team to six playoff berths in 10 seasons and got the Seahawks to a Super Bowl.

Holmgren turned Seattle into a football town. Let's face it, Holmgren made the "12th Man" sexy again, outside the state of Texas.

Mora is taking on a team that has been decimated with injuries, most notably Matt Hasselbeck. The three time Pro Bowler started only seven games last season, due to injury.

If the Seahawks can stay healthy this season, they could potentially be a strong contender out of the NFC West. Let's not forget that Arizona went 9-7 to win the West. So at the very least, you can win nine games and still win the West. The question for Seattle is, can they do it?

Time for those burnin' questions:

Most Offensive Player: Matt Hasselbeck
Most Defensive Player: Lofa Tatupu
Best New Guy: Aaron Curry
Coolest Twitter Page: Nate Burleson
Team Song: MxPx- Top of the Charts
Coolest Names (Top 3): Lofa Tatupu, Grey Ruegamer, Marcus Trufant
Most Likely to Succeed: TJ Houshmandzadeh?
In 2009, the Seahawks will go: 8-8

Tomorrow, we preview the 49ers.

Monday, August 24, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: St. Louis Rams

There's a new sheriff in St. Louis and his name is Steve Spagnuolo. He is the type of defensive presence the Rams need to get out of the cellar.

Spagnulo did wonders for the Giants during his tenure there as defensive coordinator. He indeed was a vital part of the Giants Super Bowl a couple of seasons ago. Spagnuolo turned the Giants into a top 10 defense in just two seasons.

He also played a strong role in Philadelphia under the tutelage of Jim Johnson. His resume is impressive and it's nice to see him get a head coaching job in the NFL.

Spagnuolo definitely is the right man for the job in St. Louis. The Rams have been one of the league's worst on defense in the previous four seasons. In fact, the Rams haven't been a top 10 defense since the 2001 season.

In 2008, the Rams gave up 29 points per game, second worst in the NFL. There weren't many, if any, bright spots on the Rams defense last season. James Hall led the team in sacks with 6.5. O.J Atogwe led the team in interceptions with 5.

Even last year's first round pick Chris Long had a "meh" type of year. Yeah he picked up four sacks, but that was it. He is well overdue for a better season in 2009.

At the very least, Spagnuolo can bring some calm to a ruffled Rams team. The Scott Linehan experiment was not working and nobody bought into him. Nobody expects Spagnuolo to get the Rams to the playoffs. However, if he can get the Rams winning six games, including games against key division opponents, he'll surely be on the right track.

Burnin' questions time:

Most Offensive Player: Steven Jackson
Most Defensive Player: Leonard Little
Best New Guy: James Laurinaitus
Coolest Twitter Page: Steven Jackson
Team Song: Roll Over Beethoven- Chuck Berry
Coolest Names: Sorry, but Spagnuolo wins this one
Most Likely to Succeed: Steven Jackson
In 2009, the Rams will go: 6-10

Tomorrow, we'll profile the Seahawks.

Friday, August 21, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Dallas Cowboys

We wrap up the NFC East with a look at the Dallas Cowboys. Personally, I've been waiting to let my thoughts out on my namesake.

This season is indeed now or never for Tony Romo. Gone are the distractions of Terrell Owens and Pacman Jones. Romo is the star of the show in Dallas.

If he wants to be listed among the great Cowboys quarterbacks like Meredith, Staubach and Aikman, he needs to get to the playoffs and win this season.

Common sense says that Romo should be the leader of this team. However, in some ways, it doesn't feel like Romo is leading this team. The biggest issue last season for the Cowboys was there was nobody stepping up to be the leader of this team.

Leaders make the difference between an adequate team and a playoff winning team. If nobody steps up and takes charge, the Cowboys won't win then. This year we will indeed see who steps up and who doesn't.

Time for those burnin' yearbook style questions:

Most Offensive Player: Marion Barber
Most Defensive Player: DeMarcus Ware
Best New Guy: Jason Williams LB
Coolest Twitter Page: Martellus Bennett
Team Song: Texas Flood- Stevie Ray Vaughn
Coolest Names (Top 3): Flozell Adams, Gerald Sensabaugh, Igor Olshansky
Most Likely to Succeed: DeMarcus Ware
In 2009, the Cowboys will go: 7-9

That's all for this week. Next week, we'll focus on the NFC West.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Washington Redskins

It's another season for Washington. What? That's all I can really say.

It's pretty much the same thing year after year for the Redskins! They underachieve with the talent they have, and either miss out on or get knocked out early in the playoffs. Then in the offseason, they go out and spend large sums of cash on a big name free agent. FYI, this offseason, the Redskins got defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

Over the years, at least in the Daniel Snyder era, the Redskins have added the likes of Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Adam Archuleta, Brandon Lloyd, Clinton Portis, Antwaan Randle-El, Andre Carter, Santana Moss, and so on. Only Portis, Randle-El and Moss have really gone on to have considerable success in D.C.

No doubt, Jim Zorn will be under pressure to get the job done in the Nation's Capitol. The honeymoon is over. It's time for him to win. Only time will tell if he can get the job done.

Time for those burnin' questions as always:

Most Offensive Player: Clinton Portis
Most Defensive Player: Carlos Rogers
Best New Guy: Brian Orakpo
Coolest Twitter Page: Chris Cooley
Team Song: Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing- Marvin Gaye
Most Likely to Succeed: Clinton Portis
In 2009, the Redskins will go: 8-8

Next up are the Cowboys!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: New York Giants

It's still a surprise to me how the Giants, led by Eli Manning won a Super Bowl in the 2007 season. Let me repeat that...Eli Manning won a Super Bowl!

More surprising was the fact that the Giants won the NFC East in 2008. They did more than win it, they dominated!

The Giants finished in the top five in scoring offense and defense. Manning completed 60 percent of his passes and went to his first Pro Bowl year last season. That's how good the Giants were in 2008. Of course, that's how it went in the regular season!.

The Giants were knocked out in the divisional round by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants failed to capitalize on their top seed in the NFC.

It's 2009 now and who knows what to expect from the Giants. The Eagles are considered by some the favorite to win the East. The East has always been competitive. It should be interesting to see how the Giants do in 2009.

Time for the burnin' questions:

Most Offensive Player: Steve Smith
Most Defensive Player: Osi Umenyiora
Best New Guy: Hakeem Nicks
Coolest Twitter Page: Sinorice Moss
Team Song: Never Say Goodbye- Bon Jovi
Coolest Names (Top 3): Chris Snee, Jeff Feagles, Stoney Woodson
Most Likely to Succeed: Brandon Jacobs
In 2009, the Giants will go: 11-5 (Playoffs)

Tomorrow, we'll preview the Redskins.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Oh No Romo Book Club: Exclusive Interview with ANOTHER KSK writer

It's been a while since we did a Book Club edition. It's always fun to interview book writers. Today, we have an exclusive interview with Michael Tunison for his new book, "The Football Fan's Manifesto." You might know Michael better as Christmas Ape at Kissing Suzy Kolber's. We hope you enjoy the interview. Quick point: The book will be released on Tuesday

First there was Drew Magary, now you're writing a book. What's up with the KSK guys writing books all of the sudden?

We're all too ugly, fat or pale for TV, so this is really the only logical step forward for us. Plus writing a book allows me refer to list "author" as my profession around old people, thus avoiding a painfully awkward discussion about how blogs are tearing apart the fabric of America.

Why did you decide to write "The Football Fans Manifesto"?

HarperCollins made that decision fairly easy for me when they approached me and said, "Hey, here's some money. Wanna write a football book for us?" The initial concept they had in mind was a little too gimmicky for my tastes, so luckily I was able to prevail on them to make some significant changes, and that eventually lead to what the book became.

How is writing a book different from writing on a blog?

The two biggest differences are the deadlines and the inability to hyperlink text. I'm accustomed to the immediacy of the Internet, so writing for something that wouldn't see the light of day for a while was a challenge. I wrote the book primarily during the NFL regular season last year. Throughout the process, I had to keep in mind that the book wasn't getting in the hands of readers for almost another full year. That forced me to weigh a lot of jokes and references.

There's a lot that may be fresh and amusing in November 2008 that's incredibly stale in August 2009. Linking is a great conceit in online writing that isn't available to you either. Whereas writing for KSK I could make an esoteric joke or remark about a player and explain it with a link to what I'm talking about, that obviously isn't a tool available to you when writing a book. There was plenty of times where it was frustrating not to be able to structure a passage like I'd be able to on a blog, but I think I found my way around most of those situations.

You mention Football fan's version of the 10 Commandments in the book, What is the purpose of the Commandments?

There isn't really a 10 Commandments in the book, that's just something the publisher wanted me to create for the back cover of the book, though it does distill major themes that run throughout the book, which are that football is the double plus bestest thing ever to grace human civilization, that loyalty to one's team is paramount, that fan customs are important and worthy of respect and preservation and that football fandom is best when we can enjoy it not as adults, but really vulgar, drunken adults.

What are some of the biggest problems you see with pro football? But what makes it so great?

The biggest problem facing the game now is that going to a game is prohibitively expensive and that it's having any semblance of fun sucked out of it, either through vaguely worded and invasive "fan conduct" policies, the curbing of tailgating, or the fact that because of the expensive prices, less knowledgeable fans who happen to have money occupy more seats.

What do you hope readers take from this book?

There are some particulars of fandom that hopefully will be more routinely followed as a result of the book, but for the most part, it's a humor book and I want people to be entertained by it. At best, I hope it helps foster the notion that football fans aren't drooling idiots (at least non-Packer fans), which is kind of the reputation they have in the sporting world, at least when compared to fans of baseball and other "gentlemanly" sports. While the NFL is more brash (and awesome) than these other leagues, it has thoughtful fans as well.

Time for the softball questions:

But I wrote a book about football! MY AGENT DIDN'T CLEAR THIS!

What is your favorite football memory?

As a Steelers fan born after the '70s, it's a tie between Super Bowl XLIII and Super Bowl XL. The favorite game is still the '95 AFC Championship Game, however, though the last Super Bowl may pass that with time. '95 was the first time I ever saw them go to the Bowl (even though they eventually lost in agonizing fashion) following a year when they came within three yards of making it. Also, it's an amazingly competitive game from beginning to the Hail Mary pass at the end was almost caught by Aaron Bailey. I'm pretty sure I evacuated my bowels during that play.

What do you enjoy most about the game?

The intricate strategy, how individual match-ups can sway the entire game, the action, the violence, the boozing, the animosity, the pressure, the hatred, the rituals, the superstitions, fantasy sports, the high stakes of every game, the ability to easily recognize when a team is beaten, the way entire seasons swing in one week, the feeling that you know more than the people running it even though you don't. All of it, really.

Favorite football book? Or any book for that matter?

"A Fan's Notes" is a tremendous, moving book, even if it's only tangentially about being a football fan. When it's not damn depressing, it's very darkly funny. And there are passages in it that really capture the mania of pulling for your favorite team.

How did "Kissing Suzy Kolber" come to be what it is today?

I attribute the blog's success to the downfall of society, mostly.

Favorite Football blog name?

Excluding our own, Tirico Suave (even though it's not exclusively an NFL blog) is a good one. I was a fan of the now-defunct The Internet is for Zorn.

Favorite Media person (television, radio, online/print) currently covering pro football? And who would be your least favorite media type?

There's a lot of great coverage of the league being done in blogs, so I can ignore most of the print guys I dislike without missing anything. That said, I like Mike Silver a lot (even if he didn't blurb my book. Jerk). Adam Schefter and Jay Glazer are good reporters, even Glazer is kind of a meathead. In the booth, I still enjoy Dick Enberg, even if he's getting on in years. I wish Gus Johnson would be utilized better. Mike Tirico has turned into a respectable play-by-play guy.

Media people who drive me insane: Chris Berman, Matt Millen, Peter King, Chris Mortensen, Tony Siragusa, Dan Dierdorf, Phil Simms, Bill Simmons (he can be good with basketball, but he knows dick about the NFL), pretty much everyone on all the pregame shows, Mark Schlereth, and Cris Collinsworth (I never understand the love this guy gets. He's marginally more insightful than some of the dumber announcers, but that comes at the price of unbearable smugness).

You're a Steelers fan. Do people ever give you crap about that?

More than a little. The Steelers are the top dogs at the moment, so the haters swarm around them in legion. Because I was born in Pennsylvania, but not Pittsburgh proper, and grew up outside D.C., fans of other teams have tossed the bandwagon fan label at me in recent years. Funny, that never came up in the '90s. I was just the fan of the team that lost in a lot of big games.

Ravens fans are the worst about this. Since no one outside of a 40 miles radius of Baltimore cares about the Ravens, it's convinced their fanbase that they're somehow more loyal and pure than other fans, which is retarded and untrue. From '96 until their Super Bowl run in 2000, you barely ever saw any purple shit even in Baltimore itself. And when the team's having an off-year, the same thing goes. Baltimore fans are a lot like Philly fans - hateful and bitter - just not quite as loyal or scary.

You're a GM and you have to start up a football team from these quarterbacks (Clint Longley, Ryan Leaf, Todd Marinovich and Moses Moreno), who do you pick and why?

Definitely Longley, because anyone who punches Roger Staubach is okay by me. ALSO, CAREER 2-0 AS A STARTER!

You also have to pick a coach from this list (Rich Kotite, Bruce Coslet and Wayne Fontes), who do you go with and why?

Fontes. He's a longstanding punchline but he had a reasonable amount of success. I mean, he took the Lions to a conference title game. Who the hell else can say that?

If you were a player, would you rather go to the Super Bowl four times and never win it, or never make it to the Super Bowl at all?

So, basically, is it better to be Jim Kelly or Warren Moon? You have to go with Kelly. You'll get laughed at for being being an o-fer in the big game, but getting there that many times is a big accomplishment regardless.

If you could be commissioner for a day, what would you do?

Institute a lifetime ban on Matt Millen, Chris Berman and Dan Snyder, force the Patriots and Cowboys to fold, bring back the force-out rule, eliminate the PAT and make teams always have to go for two, relax rules on celebrations, cut ties with Coors Light and Miller Lite and bring in better beer, then force owners to lower concession prices, eliminate PSLs, allow fans to put any name they want (except their own) on a jersey from NFL Shop, allow blogs and newspaper sites to post clips from games and practices of up to five minutes and then offer my job to Condi Rice for millions and millions of dollars.

Finally, what's the worst question anybody has ever asked you?

Probably the one I've gotten the most: "So what is a blog, exactly? Do you just sit around and write about what you do all day?"

-That's all we have for today. Yes it was a long Q&A session, but I hope you enjoyed it. I'll profile the New York Giants tomorrow

Friday, August 14, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Detroit Lions

So what do you do when you go an entire season without winning? How would you feel about it, knowing that you didn't win a single game? Recently I've started using the saying "it could be worse, I could be a Lions fan." It gets laughs, but I'm serious. There can't be a worse thing in this country than to be a fan of the Lions...okay maybe I'm exaggerating, but give me credit.

The last time the Lions went winless in a season was 1942. Those are the only two times in the team's history. So you know, 26 straight losses is the record. If they go 0-10 to start the season, the Lions will break the record.

The Lions last win came on December 23, 2007. The Lions have gone two Christmas' without a win. In 2008, they gave up 532 points on defense, worst in the NFL. The closest the Lions got to a win in 2008 was when they lost by two points to the Minnesota Vikings.

Changes were made in the offseason. Out went Rod Marinelli and in came Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. I expect a lot of Spaceballs references this season.

Also new for the Lions this season is the quarterback. Top overall pick Matthew Stafford, who is already receiving a big paycheck, despite not taking a snap in the NFL. Stafford will be under a lot of pressure to take Detroit out of the cellar.

The last time the Lions went for a quarterback in the first round, it was Joey Harrington. I'm fairly certain Lions fans don't want to be reminded about how that experiment turned out. (FUN FACT: Joey Harrington is fifth in Lions history in passing touchdowns with 60).

The Lions don't need to do very much to have a better season. They don't need to win the Super Bowl or even make it to the playoffs. They don't need to go 8-8 or 7-9. All the Lions need to really do is win one game. They could go 1-15, but it would still beat going 0-16.

Time for those yearbook style questions:

Most Offensive Player (Offense MVP): Calvin Johnson
Most Defensive Player (Defense MVP): Ernie Sims
Best New Guy (Top Rookie): Brandon Pettigrew (Yep, I am not going with Stafford on this one)
Best Twitter Page: Phillip Buchanon
Team Song: Grand Funk Railroad- Locomotion (I went there! They can get Detroit Rock City next year if they win six games)
Coolest Names (Top 3): Larry Foote, Aveion Cason, Stuart Schweigert
Most Likely to Succeed (Team MVP): Calvin Johnson
In 2009, the Lions will go: 5-11

Next week, we'll focus on the NFC East...Oh and we will have a book club interview.

Enjoy your weekend of playing Madden. I know I will...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Green Bay Packers

Let me make this perfectly clear, I really liked what I saw from Aaron Rodgers last season. He did an excellent job stepping into the role as the Packers starting quarterback.

Rodgers had the unenviable task of playing in Brett Favre's shadow. Even Bubby Brister didn't deal with that when John Elway retired from the Broncos. Rodgers performed very well in his first full season as starting quarterback. He passed for 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Sadly, there was still some who compared Rodgers and Favre. Rodgers can be a great quarterback for the Packers franchise. Hell, he could be one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. The good news is that, with the success Rodgers had last season, the comparisons might be stopping. I wish nothing but the best for Rodgers...until he faces the Bears.

The Packers were a lot better last season than their 6-10 record. In fact they outscored their opponents by 39 points in 2008. They were the only team in the NFL to outscore their opponents, despite a sub-.500 record.

The Packers offense was fifth in the NFL, but the defense was 22nd overall, in the points category. The Packers lost a lot of close games late in the season to Jacksonville, Chicago, Carolina and Houston, all by no more than four points. If just a few of those close games goes the Packers way, maybe they're 8-8, or 9-7.

The Packers plan to implement a 3-4 defense scheme for this season. If it works out, I don't see why the Packers couldn't make the playoffs. If it doesn't, well, who knows!

Time for those burnin' yearbook style questions:

Most Offensive Player (Offense MVP): Greg Jennings
Most Defensive Player (Defense MVP): Aaron Kampmann
Best New Guy (Rookie of the Year): B.J. Raji (if he ends his holdout)
Coolest Twitter Page: Nick Barnett
Team Song: The BoDeans- Closer to Free (NOTE: Also theme song for Party of Five)
Coolest Names (Top 3): Breno Giacomini, Jordy Nelson, Atari Bigby
Most Likely to Succeed (Team MVP): Aaron Rodgers
In 2009, the Packers will go: 10-6 (Make playoffs)

I'll cover the Lions on Friday.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Minnesota Vikings

Since I kicked off Monday with the Bears, I might as well just work on the NFC North. Today, we discuss the defending NFC North champions, the Minnesota Vikings.

Would Brett Favre really have made that much of a difference for the Vikings? Honestly, who gives a crap!? The Vikings have one of the top defenses in the NFL and without a doubt one of the best running backs in the league (Adrian Peterson).

The Vikings do have two quarterbacks (well three) to choose from. They could go with the incumbent of the trio, in Tarvaris Jackson. They have the newcomer, Sage Rosenfels, who came over in the offseason from Houston. They also have the guy who sits on the bench, I mean John David Booty. Jackson, Rosenfels and Booty all have their ups and downs to them, but are all three guys really that appealing?

In short no and to elaborate a little While it seems dumb that the Vikings attempted to "lure" Favre out of retirement, it's still a move the Vikings felt they had to make. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, who is blooming into the position very nicely. And the Bears traded for Pro Bowler Jay Cutler.

Most likely, it will come down to Jackson and Rosenfels. Who will head coach Brad Childress go with though?

No doubt about it, Childress is under pressure to make the right choice. His job could very well be in jeopardy. We'll have to wait and see.

Time for those burnin' yearbook style questions:

Most Offensive Player (Offense MVP): Adrian Peterson
Most Defensive Player (Defense MVP): The Williams'
Best New Guy (Rookie of the Year): Phillip Loadholt (No really!)
Coolest Twitter Page: Visanthe Shiancoe
Team Song: Purple Rain by Prince
Coolest Names (Top 3): Visanthe Shiancoe, Phillip Loadholt and Chris Kluwe
Most Likely to Succeed (Team MVP): Adrian Peterson
In 2009, the Vikings will go: 8-8
Next head coach: Leslie Frazier

Tomorrow, we profile the Green Bay Packers!

Monday, August 10, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Chicago Bears

(Editor's Note: No questions for today. I've been holding out on my thoughts of the Cutler trade for months now. This is my chance to talk about the Cutler trade.)

So the Bears went 9-7 in 2008. It was a much better season than I had anticipated. I give the Bears a lot of credit for hanging in there throughout the year. The Bears made one of the biggest moves of the offseason though. What did they do...?

They traded Kyle Orton to the Denver Broncos for one Jay Cutler. For the first time in a long time, the Bears have a quarterback for fans to be excited about...right...?

I'd be lying if I said I was excited to see what Cutler does. The fact is, I'm skeptical about the new "Cutler Era" in Chi-town. By no means am I doubting the ability of Cutler. Cutler is an excellent young quarterback and definitely has a lot of upside to him.

However, for many years now, the Bears philosophy on offense has been to run the football. Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Bronko Nagurski and Rashaan Salaam (yes I went there), need I really say more. Chicago Bears football is about playing tough defense and running the football on offense. Passing is secondary.

Consider this: the Bears have never had a 4,000 yard passer in the team's history. Let me repeat that again! The Bears have never had a 4,000 yard passer...ever!

In fact, only four quarterbacks have thrown for 3,000 yards in the team's history. Erik Kramer (twice), Rex Grossman, Billy Wade and Jim Harbaugh are the only Bears quarterbacks to throw for 3,000 yards.

Here's another fun fact, no Bears quarterback has ever passed for 30 touchdowns in a season. Erik Kramer holds the single season record with 29 touchdown passes.

It's hard not to be skeptical about Cutler when the Bears have had 24 different starting quarterbacks since 1991.

I'm withholding all of my judgment on Cutler until I see him take snaps at center for the Bears. But that won't stop me from being skeptical.

Friday, August 7, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Baltimore Ravens

Our final conference championship team is being profiled today.

The 2008 season had plenty of surprises to go around. Indeed, one of the bigger surprises in the AFC was the resurgence of the Ravens, led by rookie quarterback Joe Flacco and rookie head coach John Harbaugh.

The coach and quarterback led the Ravens to an 11-5 record and a AFC Wild Card spot. The offense finished just outside of the top 10 in scoring. Flacco fell 29 yards shy of a 3,000 yard passing season. While Flacco might have thrown 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, he did a good job managing the offense (by that I mean not letting crap fall apart).

Of course, it helps when you have a good running game. The tandem of LaRon McClain, Willis McGahee and Ron Rice ran for a combined 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns (zero TD's for Rice).

Another good ingredient for the Ravens season, the defense. Let's face it, it's not the Ravens unless they have a good defense. Once again, they were a top 10 defense, in 2008. Since 2003, the Ravens have been a top 10 defense five times (out of six). When you go back to 1999, they've only finished outside the top 10 in defense twice (once in 2007 and once in 2002).

Keep this in mind, 2008 was a first for the Ravens under Harbaugh, who in fact is a disciple of recently deceased Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson. Harbaugh might have a good defensive mind, but he'll have to go into the 2009 season without defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. Ryan left to coach the New York Jets. Consider this, the Ravens have had Ryan, Mike Nolan and Marvin Lewis as defensive coordinators. New coordinator Greg Mattison has quite a bit to live up to.

If the Ravens want to re-live their success of the 2008 season, they'll have to follow through on their commitment to defense and running the football...and Flacco needs to throw some touchdown passes.

Now it is time for those burnin' yearbook style questions:

Most Offensive Player (Offensive MVP): Ummmmm...Get back to me later.
Most Defensive Player (Defensive MVP): All of them?
Best New Guy (Rookie of the Year): Michael Oher
Coolest Twitter Page: Fabian Washington
Coolest Names (Top 3): Ernie Wheelwright, Haruki Nakamura, Oniel Cousins
Most Likely to Succeed (Team MVP): Snoop Dog?
In 2009, the Ravens will go: 10-6

That's all I have for today. I'll be back Monday with a look at the Bears.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Philadelphia Eagles

NOTE: I'd like to send my condolences to the family of Jim Johnson during this rough time. He will be missed.

It was certainly surprising to see the Eagles run the gauntlet in the NFC playoffs. It was even more surprising to see them play in a strong effort in the NFC Title game. The Eagles should be good to go for the 2009 season...right?

If you buy into the belief that Jeremy Maclin is the missing puzzle piece for Donovan McNabb and the Eagles offense, then you believe the Eagles can make it to the Super Bowl. Maclin on one side and DeSean Jackson on the other should make the Eagles offense an explosive one...right?

It's possible. Last year, Jackson led the Eagles in receiving, just missing out on a 1,000 yard season. Jackson does need to grow a bit, as will Maclin. Outside of Kevin Curtis, there aren't many strong receivers on this team. Hank Baskett has 71 career receptions in three seasons and Jason Avant has five touchdown receptions in three as well.

That's not to say either Baskett or Avant couldn't have a breakout year, though. However, unless Harold Carmichael or Cris Carter walk through the doors at the Linc, don't be surprised if there's no 1,000 yard Eagles receivers for the 2009 season.

The big question will be, will Brian Westbrook stay healthy for the season? With the offseason surgery, who knows. However, if Westbrook is still hurt going into the season, rookie LeSean McCoy will indeed be picking up the class. The pressure will be on McCoy if it arrives to that scenario. FUN FACT: Westbrook needs only 818 yards to become the Eagles all-time rushing leader.

The Eagles of the Andy Reid era are known for their defense, engineered by their late defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson. In 2008, the Eagles finished in the top 10 for defense. This was for a second straight season. Without Jim Johnson at the helm, who knows how this defense will be in 2009. They won't have Brian Dawkins in the safety spot, that's for sure.

This team indeed does have the potential to make a Super Bowl run. But potential doesn't bring a Lombardi Trophy to the City of Brotherly Love.

Now time for those yearbook style questions you've all been hankering for.

Most Offensive Player (Offense MVP): DeSean Jackson
Most Defensive Player (Defense MVP): Asante Samuel
Coolest Twitter Page: Macho Harris
Best New Guy (Team Rookie of the Year): LeSean McCoy
The Linc or the Vet: The Linc by 200,000 miles
Coolest Names (Top 3 and not including Macho Harris): Chris Gocong, Jack Ikegwuono, Leonard Weaver
Most Likely To Succeed (Team MVP): Donovan McNabb
In 2009, the Eagles will go: 10-6

We'll close out the week on Friday by previewing the Baltimore Ravens. Next week will be a bit more random in terms of team previews.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Arizona Cardinals

To say that I was only a little surprised to see the Cardinals make it to a Super Bowl, is truly the understatement of the year. I was stunned, shocked, stupefied, aghast (and anything else I could find in the thesaurus).

The Cardinals indeed showed that on "any given Sunday," a team has an opportunity to win. They certainly proved so in the Super Bowl game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Had it not been for a Santonio Holmes touchdown catch with less than a minute left, we might have called the Cardinals Super Bowl champions. This situation can be described as the following:
  • Hell freezing over
  • Pigs flying
  • Ross really ending up with Rachel
  • Susan Lucci winning an Emmy
  • Paris Hilton winning an Oscar
  • Me winning Powerball
  • Me dating a Supermodel
I think you get the point though.

The Cardinals have one issue working against them. In the past 10 seasons, only the 2006 Seattle Seahawks have made the playoffs the season after losing in the Super Bowl. However, the Cardinals do have a shot of making the playoffs again, given how weak the NFC West is.

First and foremost, they still have Kurt Warner, even though he's 38. Warner threw for more than 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns last season, his highest total since the 2001 season. If Warner struggles, the Leinart pressure could be on him.

However, if Warner has another 4,000 yard passing season, he could be the first player in NFL history to pass for back-to-back 4,000 yard seasons after the age of 36. (Note: Jon Kitna and Warren Moon had back-t0-back 4,000 yard passing seasons when they were 34 and 35).

The Cardinals also have Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin (despite the contract issues). Fitzgerald is coming off back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. Fitzgerald is indeed coming into his own as one of the top receivers in the NFL. This season should be another good one for the young receiver.

Now it's time for those yearbook questions (Predictions):

Most Defensive Guy (Defense MVP): Karlos Dansby
Most Offensive Guy (Offense MVP): Larry Fitzgerald
Best New Guy (Rookie of the Year): Beanie Wells
Favorite Coach: Not Todd Haley
Coolest Twitter Page: Darnell Dockett
Most Team Spirit: Any regular Cardinals fans?
Coolest Names (Top 3): Early Doucet, Wilrey Fontenot, Deuce Lutui
Most Likely To Succeed (Team MVP): Larry Fitzgerald
Record for 2009: 8-8

Tomorrow, I'll cover the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

NFL Preview Show Extravaganza: Pittsburgh Steelers

It seems only fitting that we start out our third season of this wonderful preview with the defending Super Bowl champions. The Steelers had a pretty good season in 2008 (Duh!). They finished the regular season 12-4 and won six of their final seven games. During that stretch, they defeated the Patriots, Chargers, Cowboys and a close one against the Ravens. Their only loss during the stretch came against the Titans.

In the playoffs, the Steelers utilized their second seed in the AFC very well, defeating both the Chargers and the Ravens to advance to their second Super Bowl in three seasons.

The Steelers and the Cardinals dueled in the 43rd edition of the Super Bowl. The game saw such classic moments as the 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by James Harrison before the end of the first half, as well as the game winning touchdown reception by Santonio Holmes. In the end, it was another title for Steel Town.

But 2008 is gone, like Pontiac. It is now time for the 2009 season. The big question will be, can the Steelers repeat? I can't make that prediction and will not make any attempt to. I also won't make any type of analysis into the Ben Roethlisberger allegations. I'm not a legal expert in that category, so I won't delve into something that is completely out of my league.

Now it is time for the burnin' questions. Yes, of course it is yearbook style questions!

Most defensive guy (Best Defensive Player): Lawrence Timmons
Most offensive guy (Best Offensive Player): Santonio Holmes
Best hair: Troy Polamalu (Default decision)
Best facial hair: Steely McBeam
Favorite coach: Tie between Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau
Most team spirit: James Harrison
Coolest name (Top 3): Sean McHugh, Kraig Urbik, Charlie Batch (I know controversial pick for #3)
Most likely to succeed (Team MVP): Hines Ward (1,200 yards, 14 touchdowns)
Record for 2009: 12-4

Tomorrow, I'll focus on the NFC champions.