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Subject: The NFL is back rss

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Brian Morris
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Most teams are starting training camps this week. My own Minnesota Vikings open training camp today as a matter of fact and the local Kansas City Chiefs did a few days ago. I live a stone's throw from their team headquarters. Looking forward to the season and a gentleman last year here in chit chat would sometimes post his thoughts which I always found interesting. As such I am going to follow his format and list 10 things I'll be following closely as the season begins.

(1) Minnesota Vikings wide receivers. Like I said I'm a Vikings fan. They won 10 games last year despite having the worst wide receiver group in the NFL (especially after Harvin got hurt and was lost for the last 6 games). The Vikings have made several changes in the off-season. They signed Greg Jennings from Green Bay and drafted Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round. Another change is Joe Webb has switched back from QB to WR. That may seem odd but Webb was drafted as a WR but the Vikings tried to make him a QB under previous coach Brad Childress. If you watched the playoff game you saw how that worked out. Webb however is a freakish athlete with blazing speed and is 6-4. He likely should never have been made a QB to begin with. So the Vikings passing attack at the very least should be improved giving Ponder finally some weapons to throw at.

(2) Philadelphia QB. I want to see Matt Barkley do well in Philadelphia because I think he got a bad shake in the draft. Yeah USC underperformed this past year but I blame that more on the coach than the players (Kiffin should have been fired at USC). I think the Eagles got a steal in Barkley. Not saying he will be the starter this year but maybe next year...

(3) San Francisco. I thought the 49ers were a slightly better team than the Ravens in the Superbowl. I emphasize the words team and slightly. The difference was you had a experienced quality QB in Flacco and an inexperienced quarterback in Kaepernick. That experience was the difference. I think the 49ers will be better this year and right now I think they are the Superbowl favorite.

(4) Steelers are rebuilding. 6 wins if things go well. Still a quality organization with an ownership that understands things ebb and flow. This is not an organization that panics and starts firing people because of one bad season. They will spend the next two years retooling and then they'll be back.

(5) I think outside of the Vikings the Bills had the best draft. They drafted a new offense literally with what they hope will be their starting quarterback and two wide receivers. They're going to suffer a bit this year due to inexperience but E J Manuel, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin will pay dividends down the road for the Bills. The team isn't a contender this year by any means but for the first time in years Bills fans have reason to be happy.

I like Doug Marrone as a head coach as well. The team will be a playoff contender in 2 years. Just avert your eyes here and there this year. Even the best rookies can make you pull your hair out from time to time.

(6) The Dallas Cowboys are on their way to being the new Oakland Raiders and I don't mean that in a good way. I think this year could be a disaster for the Cowboys. The team is turning into a circus.

(7) The Chiefs will beat Denver for the AFC West title. Yeah Denver has Peyton "Canton already has his bust waiting for him" Manning and is a super quality team but the Chiefs are loaded with talent and for the first time since Dick Vermeil was in KC they have a quality coach. I think the Broncos and Chiefs may be the top two teams in the AFC.

(8) The Patriots will miss the playoffs. The Patriots lost to much this off-season to free agency and the Department of Corrections. They likely made an error in trading with the Vikings instead of drafting Cordarrelle Patterson themselves. They're still a good team and they still have Tom Brady. However you can't drop that much talent in the off-season and expect the offense to continue to work just as well.

(9) New York Jets. I was so hoping the Jets would trade Sanchez. Not because I hate him but because I like him. The Jets offense is a mess. Bad offensive line combined with bad receivers and they did nothing to fix it. The quarterback always gets to much credit and to much blame. As it stands now Sanchez is being thrown to the lions and unfortunately will get all the blame when this offense goes down in flames. Jets will win 4-5 games.

(10) My prediction for the Superbowl is...the same as last year. Last year I predicted the 49ers would beat the Chiefs in the Superbowl. I was half right in terms of the teams and I like both teams again this year. The 49ers are the cream of the NFC and the Chiefs still have some of the best talent in the AFC (which tells you just how bad Crennel was as a coach). With Andy Reid now head coach I think the Chiefs are a legitimate contender. Remember the Chiefs had 6 pro bowlers last year. They were all 6 legitimate pro bowlers too. So that talent now under a quality and proven head coach makes them a legitimate Superbowl threat.
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Mike K
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You really think the team fresh off the #1 overall draft pick is SB bound? Good luck with that!

[Eagles fan here.]

I have much respect for Andy Reid, and I would love to see him succeed (just not in Week 3), but I don't know if he can get a team 'over the hump'. Expect way too much Alex Smith, I think.

As for the Eagles, Vick is either starting or getting cut. I don't think there's any middle ground. I also think 6 wins is optimistic for this group, but hopefully Chip Kelly will do better in the pros than Steve Spurrier.

I am very curious to see if the Patriots can get anything out of decent-guy (and whipping-boy) Tim Tebow. Certainly going in no better than 3rd-string, but you know Belichek would love to rub it in the Jets' faces.
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Brian Morris
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Coyotek4 wrote:
You really think the team fresh off the #1 overall draft pick is SB bound? Good luck with that!


Fresh off the top pick and full of pro bowl players. The Chiefs are not your typical first pick in the draft team. Crennel was literally that bad a coach. They have playoff caliber talent no question. I also don't see a dominant team in the AFC. I don't see the Bengals, Broncos or Ravens being that much better talent wise. So don't view the Chiefs as your typical worst record in the league team.

Quote:
I have much respect for Andy Reid, and I would love to see him succeed (just not in Week 3), but I don't know if he can get a team 'over the hump'. Expect way too much Alex Smith, I think.


Smith is a good QB. He had 6 offensive coordinators in 6 years in SF was the problem. Is he the best thing since sliced bread? No, but he's not bad either and a perfect fit for Reid's offensive style.

Quote:

I am very curious to see if the Patriots can get anything out of decent-guy (and whipping-boy) Tim Tebow. Certainly going in no better than 3rd-string, but you know Belichek would love to rub it in the Jets' faces.


Tebow is having the same problem as Smith. Three offensive coordinators and head coaches in three years. He has not had the chance to learn properly to be an NFL QB. Best thing for Tebow would be to sit for two years in a stable organization and learn normally rather than have 400 reporters watching his every pass at practice. The Pats are the perfect place for him. Now he can do it right and develope properly without some head coach trying to turn him into some football circus act like making him a qb/te or playing him on the punting team. He's going to be third string with no expectation other than learn from a hall of famer.
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I'll watch to see if the receivers will improve the quarterback in MN. It's been the opposite for 20 years in Green Bay.

As for Kansas City...


Tebow is no scapegoat. He ought to shift to running back, where teams want to see him play. He's not got the arm strength to throw a crisp pass to the sideline. That won't cut it in the NFL.

I expect my team, the Packers, to compete for a title this year. Their young defense is much improved with the return of Nick Perry and their top defensive picks like Datone Jones and company.

But their running game will be the surprise of the NFC. Lacy and Franklin are two first-round talents that ought to surprise some folks. And the flip of the offensive line to highlight the strengths of existing personnel will be interesting to see.

If they are able to run the ball, they'll no longer lead the league in sacks allowed. The potent passing game will be even more impressive, particularly with the emergence of Randall Cobb, and the maturity of Boykin and Ross. We'll miss Jennings for sure, but in Green Bay we simply reload at wideout, since we develop so many young players into capable pros. Jordy Nelson will likely see less double-teams this year with the running game forcing teams to play the run as well as the pass. James Jones led the NFL in TDs at his position last year. I doubt that will remain the same... but Cobb could do that this year.

But they did draft WR Charles Johnson, the fastest player (4.38 in the 40) to compete at the position in the draft. At 6'2" and 215lbs, he'll be a player to watch in the preseason.

It's Titletown or bust.

But then again, I don't have three teams to cheer for. I have only the one, albeit the best franchise in pro sports.
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mrbeankc wrote:

(4) Steelers are rebuilding. 6 wins if things go well. Still a quality organization with an ownership that understands things ebb and flow. This is not an organization that panics and starts firing people because of one bad season. They will spend the next two years retooling and then they'll be back.


I agree with your characterization of management and the vibe also flows down to the players who take on a more career perspective to play and development. They give a fair shake to anyone willing to put in the work and some players shine given that opportunity.

It would be surprising to me if they won less than 8. They have a particularly easy schedule this year.

The Steelers play the Ravens 8:30pm on Thanksgiving. There goes my holiday. That should be fun to watch.
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mrbeankc wrote:
Smith is a good QB. He had 6 offensive coordinators in 6 years in SF was the problem. Is he the best thing since sliced bread? No, but he's not bad either and a perfect fit for Reid's offensive style.


Agreed. I was a little worried when he got hurt last year and Kaepernick came in...then the kid lit it up. But the Chiefs have a solid QB there as long as they keep some consistency under him. Poor kid got put through the ringer in San Fran.

As a Niners fan, I'm looking for another solid season. They've added some parts to their offense that should help offset the loss of Crabtree (which worries me a little) and the defense is still very strong.
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If you praised the Bills' draft just to get my thumbs up, it worked.
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Octavian wrote:
If you praised the Bills' draft just to get my thumbs up, it worked.


It used to be that he'd get a tip. You're slacking there, Octavian.
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As a lifelong Broncos fan I am excited for this season. I think we will be a strong contender for the Super Bowl. I really like the resurgence of KC to help keep the Broncos from slacking off.

Living in Arizona, I really hope that the offensive line can give Palmer time to throw. I am very interested in watching the Palmer-Fitzgerald connection. Poor Larry finally has a good QB throwing to him (you know he missed Warner desperately the last few years).

Still pulling for a Broncos - Seahawks Super Bowl. A little old school AFC West throwback (they should wear throwback uniforms for the game when this happens).
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mrbeankc wrote:
- snip-.

(9) New York Jets. I was so hoping the Jets would trade Sanchez. Not because I hate him but because I like him. The Jets offense is a mess. Bad offensive line combined with bad receivers and they did nothing to fix it. The quarterback always gets to much credit and to much blame. As it stands now Sanchez is being thrown to the lions and unfortunately will get all the blame when this offense goes down in flames. Jets will win 4-5 games.

-snip


Wha??? A QB controve... uh, lions, not Lions. Never mind.
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Brian Morris
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jeRm! wrote:
As a lifelong Broncos fan I am excited for this season. I think we will be a strong contender for the Super Bowl. I really like the resurgence of KC to help keep the Broncos from slacking off.

Living in Arizona, I really hope that the offensive line can give Palmer time to throw. I am very interested in watching the Palmer-Fitzgerald connection. Poor Larry finally has a good QB throwing to him (you know he missed Warner desperately the last few years).

Still pulling for a Broncos - Seahawks Super Bowl. A little old school AFC West throwback (they should wear throwback uniforms for the game when this happens).


Seahawks Broncos could definitely happen. My big question with the Broncos is defense as they lost Dumervil. I see these other teams improving this off-season but not really the Broncos. If they lose Miller for the first four games you have to question how much that will effect their pass rush against the Giants and Ravens. It is possible that the Broncos will open the season 0-2 against those two teams. They should however beat Oakland and Philly the next two weeks.

The fun game for the Broncos is week 7. Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis. No surprise that's the Sunday night nationally televised game.
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jeRm! wrote:

Living in Arizona, I really hope that the offensive line can give Palmer time to throw. I am very interested in watching the Palmer-Fitzgerald connection. Poor Larry finally has a good QB throwing to him (you know he missed Warner desperately the last few years).


I really don't think that quarterbacks have been Arizona's problem nearly as much as the offensive line and lack of a run game. I don't think that any QB could do a much better job in the situation that Arizona had last year.

I think that Kolb is better than most Arizona fans give him credit for (and not just because I'm hopeful as a Bills fan). In his final 3 games last year before he was injured Kolb was sacked an astounding 22 times. Five of those were by Buffalo who was running one of the worst, vanilla defenses I've ever seen and barely ever blitzed. As ESPN noted last year, by the end of October the Cardinals had allowed 134 QB disruptions on 300 passing plays. Kolb and Skelton got sacked, hit, or hurried on a combined 43% of their pass plays. Regardless of that, Kolb still led the cardinals to 4 wins (one as a second-half sub), a 60% pass completion percentage, 8 touchdowns, and only 3 interceptions. I don't think that many QBs could have done better than that regardless of who they are. Not that Kolb is a world-beater, but I would much sooner look to fixing the line/running game than sentence another QB to death by pass rush.
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Obviously, I am a Steelers fan...

Quote:
It would be surprising to me if they won less than 8.


I agree, I think they will win 9 games, or maybe 10, and possibly make the playoffs. They were a Ben-injury/Mike-Wallace-drop away from winning another 2 or more games last year, putting them in the playoffs.

If their new and super powered offensive line can stay healthy and live up to expectations, then a franchise QB like Big Ben should have no problem winning his fair share of games. I also wouldn't be suprised if Le'Veon Bell breaks out, he is certainly in the right situation to become a stud.

The only loss I think we will really feel is Keenan Lewis, but I have faith in Dick LeBeau and he obviously feels Cortez Allen can replace him. I also am going to grumble quite a bit evey time Tyler Eifert catches a TD on us, as I really wanted him in a Steelers uniform over Jarvis Jones. I really hope I eat those words.
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Gearing up for the Titans to be irrelevant again. Woo!
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mrbeankc wrote:

So the Vikings passing attack at the very least should be improved giving Ponder finally some weapons to throw at.


Wait a second, Ponder can throw?
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AndySzy wrote:
mrbeankc wrote:

So the Vikings passing attack at the very least should be improved giving Ponder finally some weapons to throw at.


Wait a second, Ponder can throw?


Define throw?

If you mean he can put an object in his hand, move his arm in a sudden forward motion and then let go of said object in the middle of that forward motion, in order to make said object propel through the air...

Well ya, he can, but so can my 4 year old.
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bjlillo wrote:
No love for Seattle?



Sorry, the schadenfreude is flowing freely for me today.


I can't believe I am thumbing anything to do with the Vikings, but that is funny.
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mrbeankc wrote:
(3) San Francisco. I thought the 49ers were a slightly better team than the Ravens in the Superbowl. I emphasize the words team and slightly. The difference was you had a experienced quality QB in Flacco and an inexperienced quarterback in Kaepernick. That experience was the difference. I think the 49ers will be better this year and right now I think they are the Superbowl favorite.


Niners were so close. I think they could've got a touchdown if they used their downs to run the ball in the read option. Talking about inexperience, I think Kaep poorly managed the clock in that he let the clock run out on the play that looked like they could've ran in for the touchdown.

mrbeankc wrote:
(10) My prediction for the Superbowl is...the same as last year. Last year I predicted the 49ers would beat the Chiefs in the Superbowl. I was half right in terms of the teams and I like both teams again this year. The 49ers are the cream of the NFC and the Chiefs still have some of the best talent in the AFC (which tells you just how bad Crennel was as a coach). With Andy Reid now head coach I think the Chiefs are a legitimate contender. Remember the Chiefs had 6 pro bowlers last year. They were all 6 legitimate pro bowlers too. So that talent now under a quality and proven head coach makes them a legitimate Superbowl threat.


Alex Smith vs. Niners in the superbowl. What a game that would be, especially if the Chiefs won. Wow!
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