Archive for September, 2013

Mike’s AFC Preview (and Matt’s Snark)

September 8, 2013 2 comments
Peyton Manning leads a stacked Broncos team.

Peyton Manning leads a stacked Broncos team.

AFC East

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! – New England Patriots

Sure, the Patriots won’t have Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez or Brandon Lloyd at all this year, and Rob Gronkowski could miss a sizeable chunk of the season, but I’ve learned to not doubt the dreadful duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They seem to keep finding hidden gems that nobody else seems to want (Zach Sudfeld, Kenbrell Thompkins) and turn them into valuable contributors. Most people forget that Welker was a guy the Chargers cut after one game and had averaged just 33 receptions a season his first three years in the league before the Patriots nabbed him. So as much as it pains me to say it, as long as Brady suits up and Belichick cheats is on the sideline, the Pats will remain the class of the AFC East.

Palmer – Many prognosticators are saying that the Dolphins are going to pull off the upset.  I hate to agree with you, but I will.  The hate has gone too far on the best team of the decade.  They will struggle this year, but they will win the division.  It pains me to write that sentence.

We’ll Get There Eventually – Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins seem to be on the right track. They have their first legitimate franchise quarterback since Dan Marino retired, a coach who isn’t Tony Sparano and an owner who desperately wants to win and will spend to do it (including overpaying for Mike Wallace). The pieces are coming into place, but they’re still likely a year or two away. However, if Tannehill can make the jump and Dion Jordan becomes the second coming of Jason Taylor, look for the Dolphins to possibly vie for a wild card spot.

Palmer – The Dolphins are going to have a very good year.  They will be in the playoff race all year long, and possibly get the Wild Card.  However, this is not their year.  A few close losses will keep them from making the next big step.  If things go well, I could easily see them doing great things next year.  (By great things, I mean beat the Patriots.)

At Least We Don’t Have Sanchez – Buffalo Bills

The Bills may not have Sanchez (a blessing) but they’re also looking t starting Jeff Tuel in Week 1 if EJ Manuel isn’t healthy (not a blessing). However, we’ll assume that Manuel is able to play most of the season, which will certainly be better than the train wreck that New Jersey B will be taking part in. Plus having solid playmakers like C.J. Spiller, Stevie Johnson and USC rookie Robert Woods, the offense should be respectable.

The key to the Bills season, aside from solid play from Manuel, will be the defense finally living up to its payroll. If Mario Williams can combine with Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams to provide a constant pass rush to help out a less-than-stellar back seven. However, getting to just 8-8 will be difficult.

Palmer – I like your comparison of the Bills to the Jets.  The Bills are basically the Jets but with some talent on offense.  They are like a pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top.  The Jets are basically just the frozen piecrust that you buy from grocery story.  They are empty and incomplete.  The Bills have all the fillings, but some of the ingredients are missing.  This year I do not see how the talent the Bills have sprinkled across their lineup will be good enough to make it to 8-8.

Crap, We Do Have Sanchez – New York Jets

Things will not be pretty for New Jersey B this year. Rex Ryan turned up the temperature on his chair by about 50 degrees after inexplicably bringing Sanchez in late in a preseason game, just to see him promptly get injured. Now, he may be forced to play Geno Smith well before he is ready. Given the absolute dearth of playmakers on that offense, it may not have mattered much anyway. At this point, they may want to consider just tanking for Jadaveon Clowney.

Palmer – The biggest story out of this year will be when Rex Ryan will be fired.  Will it be during the season or after the season?  I would say after the season, but that is just because I like Rex and I hope for the best for him.  Hopefully the new general manager and coach can manage a better draft.

AFC North

Ain’t Nobody Got Time for a Super Bowl Hangover – Baltimore Ravens

Much ado has been written about the offseason changes the Ravens have gone through, from the loss of Anquan Boldin (and absolute disregard to find his replacement) to the loss of key veteran leaders Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to the Dennis Pitta injury. Yet, the Ravens still find themselves with the best roster in the AFC North. They still have Ray Rice and Joe Flacco on offense (Torrey Smith has to refine his route-running before I sing his praises as a number-one receiver) and have a capable defense, including the addition of Elvis Dumervil. I’m not expecting a Super Bowl out of this team, but it should still be talented enough to win an open AFC North.

Palmer – The Ravens drank the Jungle Juice last year.  They went to the Fraternity party and beer bonged many beverages.  They will have a hangover this year.  They have lost a lot and they have not replaced everything they needed to.  However, they will take some Advil, drink some water, and be ready to go partway through the season.  They will be in the playoffs this year, but it will be a struggle for them every week.

What about Us? – Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are coming off their first ever series of back-to-back playoff appearances (in non-strike shortened season), thanks to Andy Dalton and A.J. Green leading a competent-but-not-stellar offense and Geno Atkins manhandling offensive linemen. They’re a stable, capable team, but they’re not especially scary. Last season, they had only two wins over playoff teams, but also lost to teams like Cleveland (once) and Miami, as well as falling 7-6 to the Cowboys. Unless Andy Dalton becomes anything more than league-average, they’ll continue to sit in this good-but-not-great bubble with no real shot at playoff success.

Palmer – This is a team that I think the love has gone a little too far on.  The Bengals have been pretty good, but they are still the Bengals.  They have some talent, and their defense is on the rise, but it doesn’t seem like it is going to all fit together right now.  They have a few bright spots but it will not be enough to shine in a difficult AFC North.

But We’ve Got More Lombardi Trophies Than Anybody! – Pittsburgh Steelers

 The Steelers are a team that has as much tradition as any, but even well-run organizations go through a downturn. However, for the Steelers a downturn is missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons. They still have a quality, if not injury-plagued, quarterback, one of the best centers in football and an all-time great as a defensive coordinator, but they still aren’t the Steelers we’re used to seeing. Maybe the running game will pick up and Antonio Brown will prove he’s a number one, but right now, there are too many questions to call the Steelers a playoff team.

Palmer – I disagree with you on this one and I see the Steelers as a playoff team this year.  They have been one of the most solid teams for the past 40 years.  They are never down long and they pull themselves back up with a chip on their shoulder.  They are flying under the radar this year, and if their three-headed running back tandem can be more Cerberus than ‘Puppy Bowl’ this team could surprise a lot of teams.

God Still Hates Cleveland – Cleveland Browns

The Browns will continue to struggle this year, thanks to a lack of receiving depth, questions surrounding Trent Richardson’s ability to stay healthy and that whole Brandon Weeden thing, but things are looking up. Cleveland has assembled a solid group on defense that will hopefully keep their offense in the game. If their front seven, including rookie Barkevious Mingo, can rush the passer, their prospects will look even better. Nonetheless, this is Cleveland, so a winning record is not to be expected.

Palmer – Yeah, you hit on everything with the Browns.  They will struggle again this year and have a top 10 pick in the draft.  But did you also know that Ridley has small feet?  Which will be lower, the draft spot for the Browns or Ridley’s shoe size?  I would take the Browns.

AFC South

I Suppose We’ll Take It – Houston Texans

Looking around the NFL landscape, it’s hard not to pick the AFC South as the weakest division in football. The Texans have to almost win this division by default. They have a talented roster including Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and man-child elite J.J. Watt, but their quarterback is shaky with a below average arm. There’s not much competition in the AFC South, so the Texans should prevail, but I’m not making any wagers on their Super Bowl chances.

Palmer – I agree that they will be the winners of the South, but I think they will be back to the Texans that we know and love.  For the past few years they have been an 8-8 team and they often underachieve.  They will probably underachieve again but this time the Colts will be nipping at their heels.

Give Us Another Year – Indianapolis Colts

The Colts came on to surprise everybody last year, thanks to incredible luck and the easiest schedule in the league. As Bill Barnwell points out, the Colts are primed for regression. Still, even regressing towards the mean of their talent would still put them in second place in this division. So at least there’s that.

The only way I can really see them making the playoffs again is by stealing a game from Houston, beating all the AFC West teams not named Denver and taking care of business against the Bengals and Dolphins. To do this, Andrew Luck will have to put points on the board, because the defense isn’t likely to stop anybody.

Palmer – The defense will be biggest problem for the Colts.  Andrew Luck is good, and that offense will be able to put up points, but how many points will they give up?  Will their offense be able to cover up the holes in their defense?  I think that they will.  The defense will stop from them from making a championship run, but they will still have a good year and make a playoff run.

Haha, Jacksonville! – Tennessee Titans

The Titans are not in great shape this year. They’re in a make-or-break year with Jake Locker, as well as free agent-to-be Kenny Britt. In an attempt to boost production from Chris Johnson, they restructured their offensive line, taking guard Chance Warmack in the First Round and attracting Andy Levitre away from Buffalo.  In their battle to create in offensive, they failed to address a defense that is devoid of talent. Like their Colts counterparts, the Titans will need to score a lot of points to come away with a W on Sundays. But on the bright side, they’re not the Jaguars.

Palmer – The Titans have holes on defense, holes on offense and a hole at QB.  Jake Locker just does not seem to be the franchise QB that they were hoping for.  Unless Chris Johnson can play defense, special teams and throw the ball to himself, he is going to have some problems.

We’re Number One (Overall Pick) – Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville is about to embark on this third, and likely final, season of the Blaine Gabbert adventure. After beating out Chad Henne for the starting position (much like a child outsmarts a toddler for his candy), Gabbert begins the season on the quarterback hot seat. He’ll be doing so without the use of Justin Blackmon for four games, but he will have the underrated Cecil Shorts, dynamic rookie Ace Sanders and “Offensive Weapon” Denard Robinson to help ignite the offensive.  However, if Jacksonville can’t create a pass rush on defense, it probably won’t matter.

Palmer – Here is another one that I completely agree with you on.  They will be in the top 2 or 3 picks in the draft and will struggle all year.  Their rebuilding phase is going to continue for another year.

AFC West

Who Else Would Win? – Denver Broncos

As the AFC West battles the AFC South for NFL Doormat-acy, the Denver Broncos still on top looking as a serious Super Bowl contender. Peyton Manning comes back even stronger than last year, with new receiver Wes Welker at his disposal. They also added rookie Montee Ball to carry the rock and still have Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker ready to produce 80/1200/10 seasons. Even with losing Elvis Dumervil to Baltimore and Von Miller for the first six games, the Broncos should have no problem producing an offense that will score with the best of them. All is good in Bronco-Land, unless of course you took their defense in fantasy football.

Palmer – I am sure that when John Elway sat down with Peyton Manning and tried to convince him to come to Denver he said, “I will help you out… I will get you what you need.”  Well, he is sure doing that.  This team is looking good and could be the best in the league.

I’ll Take a .500 Season! – Kansas City Chiefs

A year after the Chiefs “won” the first overall pick, they’re in a prime position to come back in a hurry. The additions of Andy Reid and John Dorsey to the front office should help produce results from a very talented roster. Newcomer Alex Smith will provide an upgrade over the departed Matt Cassel simply by not being Matt Cassel. This could help wake up Dwayne Bowe as well as free up some running room for the supremely talented Jamaal Charles. Also expect a fairly talented defense to step up as they’ll now have more than three minutes to catch a breather while the offense is on the field.

Palmer – You are saying that this season will be about a .500 season for them and I would agree.  Many people are saying that this team could compete for a championship but I think that is going too far.  They will be much improved for all the reasons that you say, but they will still struggle.

At Least Our Weather is Awesome! – San Diego Chargers

The Chargers went from a team Peter King predicted to be in the Super Bowl in 2012 to a weak retread that will be battling Oakland to stay out of the AFC West cellar. Once regarded as having the most talented roster in football, the Chargers find themselves hurting for talent, especially on the offensive line and the secondary. Philip Rivers is still capable of producing elite numbers, but must be given adequate time. The addition of D.J. Fluker up front will help, but King Dunlap is more likely to be a revolving door than an anchoring left tackle.

Even if Rivers is able to put numbers on the board, getting into a shootout is a big disadvantage to the Chargers. While San Diego fields one of the best safeties in the league in Eric Weddle, the remaining members of the secondary leave more to be desired. However, that means the San Diego games may be some of the most entertaining this year.

Palmer – Talk about a fall from grace.  This team was the top of the AFC West and a perennial playoff team.  Just a few years later they are going to struggle in a weak division.  Philip Rivers has not turned out to be the elite QB they thought and they are going to need a lot of work in the off season.

We’re Starting Terrelle Pryor! Wait, What? – Oakland Raiders

Reasons Oakland fans love Terrelle Pryor:

  1. He has lots of tattoos
  2. He didn’t pay for his tattoos
  3. He’s not Jamarcus Russell
  4. He has lots of tattoos

Palmer – How are those Cowboys doing?  A-Hole

Categories: Sports Tags: , ,

Matthew’s NFC Preview (and Ridley’s comments)

September 5, 2013 Leave a comment
Matthew thinks Kaepernicking will be in the Super Bowl again

Matthew thinks Kaepernicking will be in the Super Bowl again

There aren’t many things that we’re good at here at the Hour of Power. However, providing yearly NFL previews is something we’ve been able to do twice now, so that’s a win in our book. Below is Matthew’s take on the NFC, with Ridley adding his occasionally sarcastic comments. Later, we’ll post Ridley’s AFC preview with Matthew adding a snarky flavor to spice it up.

NFC East

Washington:  If you were talking about Washington last year, chances are likely you were talking about Robert Griffin III.  He was the major story line of last year and if his performance is any indicator of things to come, he will be the storyline for years to come.  However, this season we should take a look at the other side of the ball.  Washington’s passing defense was ranked 30th in the league with 281.9 passing yards per game.  If Washington wants to take the next step they need to stop the pass.  However, I still think they can win 10 games.

-Ridley: The biggest question surrounding this team is whether RGIII can survive the whole season. Having drafted him on one of my fantasy teams, I certainly hope so.

NY Giants:  Did you know what QB played all 16 games and was only sacked 19 times?  That right, I am talking about football’s favorite little brother, Eli Manning.  Speaking as a little brother, I know that living in a brother’s shadow can be difficult. However, that sack total was a whole two less than big brother Peyton.  Honestly, as fans we are so lucky that these brothers are in their prime at the same time.  The Giants are a solid team on offense and defense.  They will win nine games and maybe more.

-Ridley: Elisha (real first name) is as good as any in getting the ball out under pressure. However, the defense is in decline, with a lack of pass rush and no proven linebackers. I see them topping out at eight wins.

Philadelphia:  A new coach and a new beginning for the Eagles.  No one knows what this team will be this year and if Coach Kelly will bring a new, prolific offense to the league.  What we do know is that Michael Vick will start the year as QB, their defense will have to do better if they are going to go anywhere, and “Chip” is an awesome name for a head coach.  Other than that, this team should be exciting to watch this season.  A rough season but still seven wins.

-Ridley: Philly is certainly intriguing. Can Vick hold up? Will he limit his turnovers? This team will go as he goes, and I don’t see it going well. Another losing bid in the City of Brotherly Love.

Dallas:  This is Ridley’s favorite team and I totally understand the pain you are going through.  The Raiders at one point had an older owner who was out of touch with football just like Big Man Jerry.  With new defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, I believe that Dallas will be better. However, with an offense that will struggle, I cannot see them winning more than seven games.

-Ridley: Dallas’ offense doesn’t worry me. Romo, despite his reputation, is constantly in the top 10 for every stat QBs are measured by. They’ve got studs in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten and have other quality players to support them. The problem will be maintaining a healthy, respectable defense that can produce turnovers. Also, we need a new coach. Dallas goes 8-8 again.

NFC North

Green Bay:  Aaron Rodgers.  Like that sentence this team begins and ends with Aaron Rodgers (Who, in my own humble opinion, is the best QB in the league right now).  This team has a great offense and a defense that ranks in the top half of the league in all the major categories.  That is really all I can say about this team, so I will take some time to say that last year Ridley said that the Colts would have 5 wins and did not believe in Andrew Luck.  So take all his projections with a grain of salt.  Green Bay will win 11 games this year.

-Ridley: Green Bay’s offensive line is among the worst in the league. If they can’t keep Rodgers upright, they’re season will fall down as well (see what I did there?). Even with his ability to get the ball out quickly, he gets sacked way too often. Then again, given his mustache, maybe he likes it.

Chicago:  Can Chicago’s struggling offense keep up with their powerful defense?  I know what you are thinking… you have heard this before.  Year after year after year, the story is the same.  However, this is a new Bears team.  They have a new coach and a new attitude, but will that translate to more wins?  Probably not.  With Jay Cutler having only one reliable target in the passing game I’m afraid it might be the same story again.  They will be in the playoff hunt, but not the bell of the ball.  I’m afraid the fans of Chicago will have another eight win year.

-Ridley: Cutler got a new weapon in Martellus Bennett, but in typical Bears’ fashion, they’ll probably choose to ignore him. Brandon Marshall was the league leader in percentage of team targets, and if that happens again, this offense will continue to sputter. Add in a hyper-competitive NFC North and you getting to seven wins could be a challenge.

Detroit:  Matthew Stafford was second in the league in yards, and also first in completions and attempts.  However, the number that really matters is four.  The Lions were fourth in the NFC North and they only had four wins.  The Detroit offense has got to be more than Stafford and Johnson if they want to take the next step into the playoffs.  Detroit’s defense was in the bottom half in almost every category.  That defense needs to step up if they want to get into the playoffs.  I’ll give them a little credit… probably five wins.

-Ridley: El Leons (as my friends south of the border call them) lost a whopping seven games by one score or less last season. Add in the fact that Calvin Johnson was tackled at the 3-yard line or closer ELEVEN times last year and you can see that the Lions record last season screams “fluke!” Expect them to rebound for eight wins.

Minnesota:  This is a big year for Minnesota.  It was not long ago that we were saying that the Vikings had everything they needed except a starting quarterback.  Well, times have changed but the need is still the strongest on this team.  This will be a make or break year for Christian Ponder, who ranked 21st in passer rating last year.  The running game is still one of the tops in the league, but the defense has taken a few steps back recently.  This will be a tough year for Vikings fans and they will be shopping for a QB after a four win year.

-Ridley: Minny seems to be the team every is taking a collective dump on this offseason. Without Percy Harvin as Ponder’s security blanket, I can see why. AD will have to reach his 2,500 yard goal to bring this team back to the postseason.

NFC South

Atlanta:  This team should be a great team to watch this year.  They are solid at QB, they picked up Steven Jackson to beef up that running back position, and their 1-2 punch at wide receiver is one of the best in the league.  On the other side of the ball, the defense struggled last year, but managed to only give up the fifth least amount of points per game.  It is very possible that a high-powered offense this year could cover their Swiss cheese-like holes in the defense.  They will win the division with 11 wins.

-Ridley: I just can’t see Atlanta winnings 11 games this year. Their defense is incredibly weak, Matt Ryan doesn’t scare anybody and they’ll be battling a rejuvenated Saints team for top billing. Nine wins is much more likely.

New Orleans:  Last year their defense was historically bad and their offense needed to carry them (Much as Ridley carries me in most of these articles).  Like Ridley, Drew Brees’ back must be hurting him after the giant weight he carried much of last year.  If the defensive side of the ball can be in the top 15 to 20 overall, this team could go far because they will put up a lot of points.  That is great for fantasy teams and great in reality.  They will win 10 games.

-Ridley: Saints will rebound under the leadership of Sean Payton, but their defense is still as stout as Matthew after a deep conversation with his buddy Johnny Walker. Expect a lot of shootouts as the Saints battle to top .500.

Carolina:  This team is very difficult to judge.  If you were to come back from the future and tell me they would be 12-4 I would believe you.  I would also believe you if you said they were 4-12.  However, my first question would be, “Why the hell did you come back just to tell me about the Carolina Panthers?”  This team is a well-rounded team and solid.  I am afraid that their record will also be well rounded and solid.  Eight wins for the Panthers this year.

-Ridley: Don’t ask me why, but Carolina is my “worst to first” pick this year. Granted, they were in a three-way tie for both second, third and fourth in their division, but that’s beside the point. I think Cam Newton finally puts it together and the Panthers pull off a couple upsets they couldn’t in 2012.

Tampa Bay:  This year Tampa Bay has beefed up that defense and I think that will help them a lot.  Remember when the Bucs went to the Super Bowl?  They did it with a good defense and Brad Johnson as their QB.  The offense will still be weak as Josh Freeman may not be able to get better than a 54-percent completion percentage.  While this team is improved, I do not think that defense is good enough to carry them again, they will struggle to get five wins this year.

-Ridley: Josh Freeman is in the final year of his contract and the Bucs made ZERO attempts to resign him. That should tell you all you need to know about this team and where it’s headed.

NFC West

San Francisco:  There was a time that if you wanted to see eight wins a year in the Bay Area you had to watch both Raiders and 49ers games.  Even then it would be a stretch.  Look at how this team has grown up.  They are building through the draft, they are making smart free-agent pickups (Boldin), and they are putting their players in good situations to win.  This team is talented and young.  I see good things for them as they go for 12 wins.

-Ridley: A. I don’t see the Niners beating out the ‘Gulls for the NFC West. B. I certainly don’t see them being two games better than Seattle. I think you let homerism get the best of you here. With Boldin being the only wideout of consequence, this offense will struggle at times.

Seattle:  Great defense, high-powered offense and good on the special teams.  This team is well rounded and a championship contender.  They have built this team the right way and it is paying off for them in a big way.  Last year they ranked fifth in rushing yards per attempt, fourth in passing yards per attempt and Russell Wilson stunned the league with only 10 interceptions the whole season, proving that he is smart with the ball.  This year the “Twelfth Man” will help push them into the playoffs with 10 wins.

-Ridley: Seattle is the new in vogue team. They’re considered one of the favorites to win the NFC and they certainly have the talent. However, for this to take place, two things must happen: Russell Wilson must avoid a sophomore slump and the city of Seattle needs to ban Adderall within a 100-mile radius.

St. Louis:  This is a young team with some upside this year.  They showed some real promise last year with their defense ranked 14th in the league in total yards per game, and points per game.  Their offensive leader (Sam Bradford) only completed 59-percent of his passes, while leading his offense to 18.7 points per game (good for 25th in the league).  This team needs to put up more points on offense, but I think that the Rams will look better. They will likely lose a few close ones and be stuck with six wins.

-Ridley: Their defense is definitely solid and will only get better due to its youth. The question is, can Sam Bradford finally live up to his top pick billing. Also, will Tavon Austin be able to provide a dynamic weapon to an otherwise mundane offense?

Arizona: Many people are saying that Arizona will not be as bad as they were last year.  That Carson Palmer will be a better game manager and they will take steps forward.  Having watched Carson Palmer on the Raiders last year I can say with all honesty… “I thought so too.”  I thought he would be able to come in there and help the team win games, but he did not.  He was the best player on the team, but he couldn’t do it himself.  This time he will have Larry Fitzgerald to help him, but it will not be enough.  Five wins, but they will be in many of the games they lose.

-Ridley: To say that Carson Palmer couldn’t succeed in Oakland is placing too much burden on him. Larry Fitzgerald wipes away more talent every morning than what the Raiders put on the field last year (I’m looking at you DHB!). He’ll add a level of stability to the offense. However, the lack of a suitable tight end in a system that demands one will hamstring this offense. But the Honey Badger is good for an extra win, so we’ll go with six on the year.


That means my playoff teams are:

San Francisco (12)

Green Bay (11)

Atlanta (11)

Washington (10)

New Orleans (10)

Seattle (10)

I’ll take San Francisco to represent the NFC in the Championship game.

Categories: Sports Tags: , , , ,
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