Archive | August 2014

NFL Playoff Predictions 2014

Here’s what I think will happen this 2014 NFL postseason, based on my previews for the NFC and AFC from this past week.

 

National Football Conference

phil eagles

NFC East: Eagles

NFC South: Saints

NFC North: Packers

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks*

  • Wild-cards: Redskins, Falcons

*I originally had the St. Louis Rams, but with Sam Bradford down with another ACL tear and backup (and former Maryland Terps QB) Shaun Hill manning the QB spot, I doubt they’ll make the playoffs this year.

 

American Football Conference

tom brady

AFC East: Patriots

AFC South: Texans

AFC North: Bengals

AFC West: Broncos

  • Wild-cards: Chiefs, Colts

 

NFC Conference Championship: Eagles-Saints

AFC Conference Championship: Patriots-Broncos

 

Super Bowl match-up: Broncos-Eagles

Super Bowl Champion: Broncos

Nick Foles and the high-flying Eagles offense will compete and it’ll be a great game, but NFL legend Peyton Manning will be dancing to Rocky Top and raising the Lombardi Trophy this February!

Now let’s wait and see how this 2014 season plays out. Any comments on my picks? Please let me know in the comment section.

NFL AFC Preview for 2014

Going off of our NFL NFC preview, let’s take on the AFC for this upcoming season!

patriots alternate

AFC East:

1. New England Patriots, or just the Bill Brady’s or Tom Belichicks: They’re just too good, do I have to elaborate why? Plus, it’s Tom Brady’s second year with his newer WR corps and Darrelle Revis is on the other side of the ball. Cash money, hello playoffs.

2-4 Who Cares (but it’ll be New York Jets cuz of Michael Vick’s offense, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills)

AFC North:

andy dalton

1. Cincinnati “We Have a Ginger as our QB” Bengals: The Bengals are poised to make the playoffs for a second straight season, and although they got a lot of flack for re-signing QB Andy Dalton (who disappears in the playoffs) they will beat their division opponents enough to make the playoffs as the division’s top dog.

2. Pittsburgh “In Mike Tomlin and Big Ben We Trust, Really?” Steelers: Big Ben isn’t the same and neither is the team. It’s not a rebuilding project, but could be a couple injuries away from that. Troy Polamalu’s best years are behind him, the defense is trying to get younger, but it’s not enough in this division.

3. The Fighting Joe Flaccos (just kidding, the Baltimore Ravens): Flacco’s awful year last season, where he threw TWENTY-TWO picks, has to be put behind him. With Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta as his primary targets, Flacco shouldn’t repeat last year. But, his fat contract wasn’t worth it. The defense is so-so and they lost Ray Rice to a two-game suspension due to domestic violence, so they’ll be in the bottom half this year.

4. Last and always least, the Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel may start by midseason, but they lost top receiver Josh Gordon to marijuana use and failing a drug test for the umpteenth time. Nothing to see here, it’s Cleveland.

AFC South:

jj watt

1. The J.J. Watts, Jadeveon Clowney and Houston Texans: I think they’ll be like the 2007 New York Giants, whose pass russ led them to a title. It’s a scary defensive line and I know Colts QB Andrew Luck will be having nightmares. Plus, they somehow got Andre Johnson to stay this year. They’ll fight their way out of the AFC South.

2. Indianapolis “Cue the LUCK-Y Headlines” Colts: I like Andrew Luck, don’t get me wrong. But, I don’t know if he’s consistent enough to lead them to the playoffs. Last year’s up-and-down season got me thinking twice before anointing him as the Second Coming of Peyton Manning.

3. Tennessee “Anything But” Titans: An inconsistent Jake Locker at QB and an older RB in Chris Johnson? I’m not impressed by this team on paper and no one will be impressed on the field either.

4. Jacksonville “Let’s Air Red Zone Games on the Big Screen During Our Home Games” Jaguars: Yes, they’re actually doing that during their home games. But, they have a great prospect in Blake Bortles as their QB of the future and have Chad Henne to keep the team together in the meantime. A rebuilding project, for sure.

AFC West:

peyton manning

1. Denver “Let’s Win Peyton Another Title” Broncos: No need to say anything more, right? Peyton Manning at QB with Demaryius Thomas out wide? DeMarcus Ware coming over in the offseason with Elvis Dumervil also on the defensive side? They’ll have their top corner Chris Harris back, who missed the title game and it showed.

2. Kansas City “Our Coach Looks Like the Kool-Aid Guy” Chiefs: RB Jamaal Charles is back, so is the steady QB Alex Smith, but I have doubts about their receiver Dwayne Bowe. Still, their return game is lethal with former Oregon Duck De’Anthony Thomas. I mean, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This kid ran a so-so 40-time and busts this out?! Wow.

3. San Diego “We’re Stuck in Third Place, Again” Chargers: Philip Rivers made a great comeback statistically last year, but they just don’t have as many weapons on offense or stalwarts on defense to stop the Broncos or Chiefs. Sorry Chargers fans.

4. Oakland “The Black Hole Describes This Franchise” Raiders: A gutted team, who let several good players walk and got some so-so ones in return? Never a good sign in the stacked AFC West. Plus, they got the washed up QB Matt Schaub…not good at all.

Yes. I’d take Tim Tebow over Brady Quinn any day, everyday

tim tebow

With ESPN’s new SEC Network launching today (where Tebow is an analyst), I want to address the ESPN-hyped topic of Tim Tebow, who should be a backup QB in the NFL over the likes of Brady Quinn and Rex Grossman. Heck, he’s lots better than Bruce Gradkowski. Who? Yeah, I knew it.

So there I said it. Tim Tebow would be my backup quarterback in the NFL if I were a NFL GM. Granted, I would probably get fired, but Tim Tebow is far better than Brady Quinn. Quinn, the Notre Dame star who is just another NFL journeyman QB, just got signed by the Miami Dolphins (who were rumored to sign him when he got drafted in 2007).

You ask, why Tim Tebow over Brady Quinn? The numbers don’t lie.

Here’s what one blogger found when you compared QB’s in their first 15 games

tebow-stats-graphic

Not bad, Tim Tebow. His career stats? Almost as good. Plus he got the Denver Broncos into the second round of the 2012 playoffs with his odd delivery. He was a proven winner. His stats at NFL.com:

tim tebow stats

He threw for over 1,700 yards in his second year in Denver, but he fumbled the ball 13 times in his last year in Denver. Somehow, he threw for 17 TD’s and only 9 picks. His yard-per-throw was over 6 yards a throw, quite impressive for a limited passing QB.

He was unceremoniously traded to the New York Jets and his career pretty much died, even after he tried to latch on with the New England Patriots. Tebow’s commitment to team-first football sticks with me to this day, especially when he said he’ll play punt protection with the Jets and would think of switching positions if needed. But, he never got his chance and is working for ESPN’s new SEC Network launching this fall. He’s still working out for a shot at a NFL gig, but it’s a long shot even with his stats included.

I mean, look at his workout!

Brady Quinn? Not impressive. He’s been on 5 different teams since being drafted by the Cleveland Browns and couldn’t even throw more yards than Tebow did in his first season. Quinn couldn’t beat Tebow out for a starting gig, and Tebow even out-threw him stats-wise with Quinn throwing for 1,339 yards in 2009 while Tebow threw for 1,729 in 2011. Brady Quinn has thrown more interceptions in his career (17) than touchdown passes (12). His stats, according to NFL.com:

brady quinn stats

Granted, Tebow’s accuracy was atrocious, but he may have needed time to fix his quarterbacking accuracy issues. He somehow still won games. Who can forget Tebow-to-Demaryius Thomas for the game-winning touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Verdict? Tebow over Quinn, any day.

NFL NFC Preview for 2014

The Seattle Seahawks will embark on their title defense, but the road will get tougher with the NFL’s parity scheduling tactic (where bad teams get favorable schedules and good teams get tougher ones). Let’s take a look at the NFC!

NFC East:

phil eagles

1. Philadelphia “Barnstorming Chip Kelly Offense” Eagles: Nick Foles returning in the so-fast Chip Kelly offense, jettisoning the head case DeSean Jackson and keeping your team intact…it’ll be too much for the NFC East. Although teams have game tape on the Eagles, they’ll still be very potent.

2. Washington “We Don’t Care About the Media-Created Nickname Controversy” Redskins: The nickname “controversy” aside, RGIII is finally looking sharper and his receiving corps (and running backs) look rejuvenated this upcoming year. With the easygoing Jay Gruden as his new football coach, look for RGIII to have a bounceback year. The looming question is whether the defense can stop anyone because they didn’t do that last year, even with additions like safety Ryan Clark and bringing back pass-rusher Brian Orakpo. Jury is still out on Jason Hatcher, former Cowboys defensive lineman who has been hurt since the start of training camp.

3. New York “Where is our Super Bowl-winning Quarterback?” Giants: Eli Manning isn’t elite and the Giants don’t have a monster pass rush as they used to during their two Super Bowl runs. With their first-round running back David Wilson, a former Virginia Tech standout, leaving the NFL for health reasons (neck injuries ended his career), the running back position is thin with Rashard Jennings and Peyton Hillis. I think this could be Tom Coughlin’s last year in the Big Apple (or Jersey, wherever their stadium is).

4. Dallas “Jerry Jones Screws Us Over Every Year” Cowboys: They lost Sean Lee, their middle linebacker and heart of the defense, to another devastating injury. Although they have Tony Romo (who is criticized far too much and puts up great numbers nonetheless) and Dez Bryant, their defense will do them in this season. They could make a run for the money as the worst NFL defense since last year’s Washington Redskins. And seriously, Jerry Jones makes Dan Snyder, the Redskins owner, look like a saint. As a Redskins fan, I pity my friends who are Cowboys fans.

NFC North:

aaron rodgers

1. Green Bay “It’s Freaking Cold and We’ll Beat You Anyway” Packers: Green Bay has Chicago’s number as of late, as well as Jay Cutler’s number. Aaron Rodgers will be great as usual, and with Jordy Nelson re-signed, this offensive attack will be hard to stop. Their bend-but-not-break defense could improve this year, after keeping ballhawk corner Sam Shields, but the jury is still out on Dom Capers’ defensive strategy.

2. Chicago “Bears Got A Quarterback Named…Jay Cutler…[CURSES]” Bears: The glory days aren’t coming back. Jay Cutler is still a good QB, but even with his offensive weapons, will the defense hold up? Matt Forte is still an elite running back, and Cutler has the tall Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall to throw to, but it depends on if the defense can hold a lead late in a game. See Exhibit A versus the Packers last year with the division title on the line:

What a gem of a radio call. “HE’S GOT COBB…YES!”

3. Detroit “Turnover is My Middle Name” Lions: Matthew Stafford throws too many picks, the defense isn’t good enough to beat the Packers or Bears, but they have Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and Reggie Bush. They’ll put up points, but they won’t make the top two in the division this year.

4. Minnesota “Our QB’s Wife is an ESPN Reporter” Vikings: Christian Ponder’s wife, Sam Ponder, is the only good thing going for the Vikings (other than All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson). Ponder’s career is on the ropes with Teddy Bridgewater coming in as the future QB and heir apparent.

NFC South:

drew brees

1. New Orleans “WHO DAT DREW BREES” Saints: Drew Brees will continue his insane pace of throwing for over 5,000 yards and at least 30-odd TD passes. Him and coach Sean Payton have a great thing going on down in the Big Easy, and it looks like their defense can hold their own. Mark Ingram, their RB of the future and now, looks great running between the tackles in preseason. Plus, Jimmy Graham, their All-Pro tight end, will do WORK this year with a new contract in hand of 4 years, $40 million.

2. Atlanta “Matty Ice Means Only One Playoff Win” Falcons: An awful offensive line and injuries to key players like Julio Jones ended their title hopes last year. This year? They could keep pace with the Saints with change-of-pace player Jaquizz Rodgers. QB Matt Ryan will be a good regular season QB, but can he get past the first round of the playoffs for the second time in his career?

3. Carolina “Who We Got at WR?” Panthers: Although they drafted Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin, who is a great receiver, QB Cam Newton has almost no experience among his wide receivers. His defense is stalwart, but can it keep pace in the pass-happy NFL and especially within his division? I don’t think they can score enough points to be in contention, plus they have an albatross of a contract with DeAngelo Williams at RB. No “Superman” poses for Cam anytime soon, unless it’s during a losing effort (as he did versus the Giants and got many upset).

4. Tampa Bay “Pulling a perennial Tampa Bay Rebuilding Project” Buccaneers: The Greg Schiano drama era is over, which was improving by the end of the season, and it means that life will be stable for once. Darrell Revis went from underutilized in Tampa over to New England and the Bucs let Josh Freeman walk after being far-too inconsistent at QB. They do have the “Muscle Hamster” in Doug Martin at RB, but this roster is unimpressive at best.

NFC West:

st louis rams retro

1. St. Louis “D-Line Apocalypse” Rams: They have a monster defensive line, but their big question mark is at quarterback with Sam Bradford. As Grantland outlined HERE, Bradford struggles to throw deep. However, that can be blamed on his lackluster WR corps during his young career. Still, as we saw with the Giants two runs to the Super Bowl in recent years, a great defensive line can make up for an average quarterback.

2. Seattle “We Grab You and Will Get Flagged for It” Seahawks: I know picking them as the second team in this division sounds crazy, but it’s been rare that a team goes back-to-back in Super Bowls. Plus, the NFL is making an emphasis on holding and grabbing wide receivers this year as a result of Seattle’s championship run. Russell Wilson is best out of the pocket and Marshawn Lynch will inevitably slow down with the wear-and-tear on his body. They’ll still be a good-to-great team, but I think they’ll get flagged A LOT this season and that will lead to a lot of points being scored on their defense.

3. San Francisco “Will Harbaugh Stay or Go?” 49ers: They are always a step behind the Seahawks and will continue to be as long as Pete Carroll coaches the Seahawks. It also doesn’t help that they are running out of running backs before the season even begins.

4. Arizona “Why Do We Have Carson Palmer at QB? Oh, Cuz Kevin Kolb” Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald and cornerback Patrick Peterson are elite players on this team, but I don’t think they can repeat their season last year (which somehow saw them NOT make the playoffs). Carson Palmer is NOT the answer at QB.

 

Any questions or comments? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks!

Overpaid NFL Quarterbacks Edition

andy dalton

Andy Dalton, the red-headed starting quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals, just got a significant pay raise from Bengals management and owner at 6 years, $96 million extension. However, CBS Sports said the following:

“In typical Bengals fashion, the only guaranteed money in Dalton’s contract consists of a $12 million signing bonus and a $5 million roster bonus payable three days after signing. Instead of making $1,086,027 in the final year of a rookie deal signed in 2011, Dalton gets $18,086,027, a $17 million raise, this year. Dalton also has a $4 million roster bonus payable on the third day of the 2015 league year, which is intended to serve as a substitute for additional contact guarantees.

Dalton’s contract has been characterized as a two-year, $25.28 million deal because the Bengals can release him after the 2015 season without any adverse salary cap consequences. By releasing Dalton at this time, the Bengals will have given him a one-year extension for $24.2 million, which is right around $5.7 more than the 2015 non-exclusive quarterback franchise tag should be with similar cap growth as this year (approximately $18.5 million). Dalton is scheduled to make slightly under $35 million in new money through 2016, the first two new years of the deal (three year cash flow of almost $36 million), which is close to $6 million less than receiving two years of franchise tags.”

So they’re not really on the hook after the 2015 season, which is smart negotiating. According to Pro Football Reference, his regular season record is 30-18 and his postseason record is a paltry 0-3. His QBR, a metrics guru stat explained by ESPN.com here, was 55.8 in 2013, beating division foes Joe Flacco (Ravens) and Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers). However, overall, he ranks 15th in the NFL. He’s ahead of Ben Roethlisberger, turnover-prone Matthew Stafford, the aging Carson Palmer and struggling Christian Ponder. Here’s the QBR chart for the regular season:

qbr ratings 2013

Is he a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? No, and he doesn’t get paid more than them. But, this is a big pay raise for a guy who hasn’t done much come postseason. The postseason QBR isn’t forgiving for Dalton, either. He ranks DEAD LAST among playoff quarterbacks with an awful 14.2 rating. As the regular season rankings showed, good quarterbacks hang around 49.00.

postseason 2013 qbr

This starts the discussion again: Who should be paid a lot of money and who shouldn’t? ESPN’s Jim Trotter has a great take here on how teams are scared of paying an unknown draft pick instead of sticking with what they know they have.

Why was Dalton so terrible? Because he faced a lot of blitzes and pressure in the playoffs and struggled against pressure overall. Grantland details the problems Dalton has while facing pressure.

tom brady

Tom Brady is highly paid for a reason. The guy has won 3 Super Bowls, is a great passer, competes at the highest level and hasn’t seen a 0.500 or losing record since he took over from Drew Bledsoe THIRTEEN YEARS AGO. Brady’s overall record in the regular season is 148-43. His QBR during the regular season was 11th among NFL QB’s and playoffs it was 6th. But, he’s great in the postseason as his record showed. What’s his salary? He has a base salary for $2 million this year, but got a lot of guaranteed money in the form of signing bonuses. For an in-depth look, check this out.

Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers are similar elite quarterbacks. Manning is a genius at the line of scrimmage, winning one Super Bowl and competes at a very high level. Aaron Rodgers has also won a Super Bowl, and this year, his QBR finished 6th among NFL quarterbacks in the 2013 regular season (ahead of Tom Brady who was 11th) and 7th in the playoffs out of 12 QB’s. He’s earned his 5 year, $110 million contract extension in 2013, especially after this game-winning TD to clinch the NFC North title and a playoff spot last season:

Drew Brees’ 5 year, $100 million contract extension in 2010 was well-deserved, with one Super Bowl to his name. In the past three years, he has thrown over 5,000 passing yards per season. His “low” the past three years was only 39 passing touchdowns in 2013.  Woah.

Who is overrated? Other than Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, with Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, and Matthew Stafford rounding out my list.

joe flacco

Flacco,, after seeing his targets Anquan Boldin leave to the 49ers in free agency after winning a Super Bowl in 2012 and tight end Dennis Pitta go down with a ACL tear, was not a franchise quarterback in 2013. His stats? Unimpressive. His QBR was 25th among regular season QB’s, meaning he was below Sam Bradford and above Ryan Tannehill; not great company. He has never thrown for more than 3,900 yards in a single season and last season, threw an awful 22 interceptions. His eye-popping contract for $120.6 million wasn’t a good investment by the Ravens front office, and Bill Barnwell of Grantland put him as the QB of the All-Bad Contracts Team.

mckayla maroney face

McKayla Maroney is not impressed, Joe Flacco.

Matt Ryan is the same. He had an awful offensive line last season and lost key target Roddy White and Julio Jones to injuries here and there, but he can’t win in the postseason when he gets there. He’s an awful 1-4 in the playoffs, but has a great regular season record (and that goes for his stats as well) of 60-34. His contract is 5 years, $103.75 million. I don’t think he’s “earned” that maximum franchise deal, but the Falcons front office begs to differ.

Jay Cutler. Seemingly disinterested and dispassionate, which some say is his personality, he’s been blasted by Denver and Chicago sports media. Yet, he has had some great statistical seasons and has a 7 year contract extension deal that would pay him $126 million. But, his win-loss record is 56-48 with the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears in the regular season and a 1-1 in the playoffs back in 2010 with the Bears. Not cutting it.

eli manning

Eli Manning is not even close to Peyton, his older brother, as far as talent or discipline. Yeah, he’s won two Super Bowls, but I’ve always believed his defensive line won him those rings. With the likes of Michael Strahan, Matthias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyora and Jason Pierre-Paul, you don’t have to be an elite quarterback. Eli throws interceptions like they’re hot potatoes or free t-shirts. He’s thrown 171 picks over his ten-year career, with his career high of TWENTY-SEVEN last year (and threw 20 picks in 2007, 25 in 2010). And his win-loss record is a respectable 85-66 overall, Eli is 8-3 in the postseason and those wins came in two years when they won the Super Bowl. His contract? He signed a 6 year extension for $97 million in 2011. Overpaid.

Disclaimer: I’m a Redskins fan so I’m biased, but I feel this is an objective opinion based on his performances lately.

Matthew Stafford is too much of a gunner and got a 3 year extension worth $53 million in 2012. He threw 19 interceptions last year and never threw less than 16 in his NFL career when playing a full season (he threw 1 pick in an injury-shortened 2010 year). Yeah, he’s thrown for a lot of yards, but he has Calvin “Megatron” Johnson to thank for that. His record is 24-37 overall and is 0-1 in his lone playoff appearance. Nope, not worth that franchise QB money. If you have additional questions, check out a Grantland column on Matthew Stafford.

What’d you think about my list? Any other QB that’s overrated?