Sunday, August 14, 2011

NFC West Predictions

The NFC West had one team in the playoffs last year, the 7-9 Seahawks. Once again this division is up for grabs. Here are our predictions for the truley wild west.
Josh Neighbors 4th: Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carrol’s crew has taken multiple steps back this off-season. They have lost Matt Hassleback and have signed Tavaris Jackson. This offense is better suited running the option with Lynch at tailback. Jackson struggled majorly against The Chargers the other night. They added Sydeny Rice at a very expensive price. He is a good vertical threat, but this young offensive line will not give Jackson enough time or him to effectively throw the longball.  Aaron Curry must grow into the defensive leader after the loss of Lofa Tutupu. This team has some serious work to be done.
Connor Jones 4th, Seattle Seahawks: Where should I begin? Seattle made multiple head scratching moves during this years free-agency period. It started with the signing of Tavaris Jackson. Personally, I have seen enough of this guy and I do not believe he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Now I could be wrong, this division is up for grabs and could go anyone teams way. The second surprising move was the signing of Sydney Rice, Rice is a good receiver but he was WAY overpaid but Seattle. Five years and 43 million dollars!!?? Oh yea, also they lost the best thing that has ever happened to their franchise in Matt Hasslebeck.
Josh Neighbors 3rd: San Fransisco 49ers: Last year was supposed to be the year. And I do think the 49ers could easily win this division when I look at the talent on the roster. But, Alex Smith has not showed me enough. Coach Harbaugh travels 45 minutes from Palo Alto to San Fransisco to take over the 49ers, so his comfort level could be boosted. But, anytime a coach comes from college and goes to a professional team it usually takes time for the team to find success. The receiving core has some very good personal, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and new addition Braylin Edwards. The always steady Frank Gore is in the backfield. With San Fransisco’s quarterback situation, more pressure is placed on Frank Gore to succeed. This could be an issue with his ailing hip. On defense, well its Patrick Willis. The new acquisition of Carlos Rogers will help this secondary. This team has potential to win the division, but the QB position is their downfall.
Connor Jones 3rd, San Francisco 49ers: I believe 3rd place will go to the San Francisco 49ers. This would be a disapointing finish for a team that has a new head coach in Jim Harbaugh and is still sticking with Alex Smith at quarterback. They will rely on another big year from Frank Gore. Teams they face will consistently put eight guys in the box to force Alex Smith to throw the ball. Smith should have enough weapons on the outside to have an open man, they have Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan and newly added Braylon Edwards. Patrick Willis is a great defensive leader who will have another big season. If Alex Smith has an average season leading this team they will win the division, I do not trust him to do it.
Josh Neighbors 2nd: St Louis Rams: Sam Bradford is on the right track in St. Louis. In his first two seasons Bradford has shown steady improvement, game by game. Let’s not forget that his #1 receiver Donnie Avery was out for the entire 2010-2011 season. Stephen Jackson is in the backfield once again for the Rams, which opens up the passing game nicely. Chris Long is developing into a good D lineman and had 8.5 sacks last season. This line also adds Robert Quinn from North Carolina. Seeing Quinn play several times, I can tell you he brings a lot to the table and has potential to be one of the most dominant D-lineman in the league. St. Louis has a tough schedule, but I think they will be able to weather the storm... Weather but not fully succeed. Games against Philly, at NYG, Baltimore, at Green Bay and Pittsburgh. Bradford is going to be a great quarterback, but this is not St. Louis’s year. Look for the to be around .500.
Connor Jones 2nd: St. Louis Rams: St. Louis was one road win at Seattle from making the playoffs last year and once again believe they can make them this year. St. Louis has young quarterback Sam Bradford who is developing into a top 8 quarterback in this league. They have top 5 power runner back in Stephen Jackson so they should be able to run and throw the football again this year. St. Louis should be about equal to what they were last year but with tough road games at the Giants, Green Bay, Dallas, Arizona and Pittsburgh St. Louis will have a 7-9 season.
Josh Neighbors 1st: Arizona Cardinals: Jones has done all of his predictions before me, and I think this is the first time we have agreed top to bottom. Now looking back on it, i can tell you the Giants will not win the NFC East. That prediction was made in June before they made all these moves. Mike Missanelli from ESPN radio Philly told me they were going to make a bunch of moves because Andy Reid’s job is on the line this year... I guess I should have listened to him. I am getting sidetracked though. The Arizona Cardinals will once again be in the playoffs. I have never been a Kevin Kolb fan, and I did not believe he would rise and become one of the elite QB’s in the NFL. But, in Arizona, under Ken Wizenhunt, he has a fresh start and talent all over the place.  At Tight end he has season veteran Tod Heap, and that is also good news for running back Beanie Wells. Heap is known as a great blocker on the end. Larry Fitzgerald is at wide out as usual. Kolb will make sure he takes full advantage of him on the outside. Early Doucet is the #2 receiver, he is 6,0 but he brings ridiculous speed. He is a very explosive target as well. On defense they have a solid player in each tier. Up front it is Darnell Docket. At line backers, its 13 year veteran Joey Porter. And in the secondary, it is rookie Patrick Peterson who I am incredibly high on. Look for him to be returning some kicks as well. Arizona has a very solid team this year.
Connor Jones 1st: Arizona Cardinals: Now, here are some true upgrades. Arizona has a starting quarterback in Kevin Kolb something they did not have all of last season. Someone who can get the ball to star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. They drafted corner back Patrick Peterson and with Adrian Wilson he should boost their secondary. Arizona also drafted running back Ryan Williams and along with Beanie Wells they should be able to run the ball as well as pass. The signing of veteran Todd Heap the pressure will be off Larry Fitzgerald and they will have another leader. With these brilliant signings, Arizona will be back in the playoffs.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Change With A Smile

German soccer legend Jurgen Klinsmann has just taken over as the newest United States men's soccer coach. Klinsmann has been named coach in attempt to re-energize this team. And in his debut against Mexico he did not dissapoint. Although the US did not win the friendly, there were signs of mass improvement. A late goal by Robbie Rodgers held Mexico to a draw, and Klinsmann made his mark on his debut as head coach.
Klinsmann has already had huge success as a coach. He lead Germany to a third place finish in the 2006 World Cup. His success as a player and international manager is what has an impact on the players and coaching staff. The US is hinting that they don’t want to just make a run in the World Cup, but to win one. To do so the style of play needed a change, and Klnsmann has brough a positive one.
The timing of the coaching switch was convenient due to the fact the Mexico match up was upcoming, and World Cup qualifying is on the horizon. Klinsmann has plenty of time to implement his new style of play, a 4-2-3-1 as opposed to Bob Bradley’s 4-4-3.
Klinsmann has also shown that he is going to feel out the team to make his new starting lineup. He showed us this as he started Eddie Buddle against Mexico, which was Buddle’s first time playing in an international match since the World Cup. Another thing that was a great move by the German was letting Landon Donavon have more freedom and create plays. Once Clint Dempsy and Jozy Altidore rejoin the squad, That attack has the potential to be very lethal.
The United States’s next match will be against Costa Rica on September 2nd, which will be yet another test for Klinsmann and his squad. A sense of urgency surrounds the US team, but Klinsmann seems very relaxed and is telling his guys just to go out and have fun with it. Not only are the US players going to have fun, but watching them play is going to be fun. This 4-2-3-1 is a fast paced, ball pressuring system.  It will be interesting to see how they do against teams that thrive off of their speed.
The United States knew it was time for a change, and it looks like the change to Klinsmann was the right one. And the fans agree. Klinsmann walked off Lincoln Financial Field on Wednsday night hearing his name being chanted very loudly by the red white and blue faithful.-Hugo Thaxter

Thursday, August 11, 2011

NFC South Predictions

This is a division that featured three teams over .500, two of which made the playoffs. Three teams will once again be in contention for the playoffs in this division. This is a division that is loaded at the quarterback position, and some really good young guns.

Josh Neighbors 4th: Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton is not the answer to all of Carolina's problems. Steve Smith is a great wide receiver on a terrible team. Johnathon Stewart is developing into a strong running back. The offensive pieces are there, but with a somewhat shortened training camp and a rookie QB, things will be rough this year. This defense alacks some serious pieces, as they only held teams under 20 points twice last season.

Connor Jones4th: Carolina Panthers: This one does not need to much explaining. Carolina was horrible last year. They did get Cam Newton with the number one overall pick but he will not help the get out of the cellar this year. I do believe Carolina is heading in a good direction. They started this process by re-signing some of their top players from last years team including running back DeAngelo Williams and line backer James Anderson. The Panthers also signed undrafted free agent Kendric Burney a corner back from North Carolina. Burney is a real talent, the only reason he was not drafted because of his off the field problems at North Carolina. With these additions, Carolina could win three or four more games than they did last year.

Josh Neighbors 3rd:  Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I am very high on Josh Freeman. In his 2nd year he threw 25 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions, and lead the Bucs to a 10-6 season. Mike Williams caught 11 of those TD’s last year. Sammie Stroughter is showing much improvement and will develop into a great target for Freeman. Legarrette had over 1,000 yards last year. The defense is just as young as the offense with the exception of Ronde Barber. That is the teams downfall. Bucs fans just wait for 2 or 3 years, you will be in the playoffs.

Connor Jones3rd: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay will not be the average 3rd place team in a division. The only reason they are stuck in the back half of the division is because the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints are in this division. And Josh Freeman is not the average 3rd place quarterback in a division and this is only because Matt Ryan and Drew Brees are in this division. The Bucs will be strong on offense with 1,000 yard rusher Legarrette Blunt and 25 touchdown thrower Josh Freeman. Tampa will compete for the wild card once again this season and will have somewhere between 8-10 wins.

Josh Neighbors 2nd: New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees leads this offense that in my mind has no big name receiver. The addition of Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram at running back will really help Drew Brees. Even as a rookie I think Ingram’s work ethic is inspiring to veterans as well as other young players. Defensively, this secondary is loaded. Right to left you have Tracy Porter, Roman Harper, Darren Sharper, and Jabari Greer. I am not saying the Saints are getting worse..... The Falcons are just getting better.

Connor Jones 2nd: Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta will come in second place and win a wild card this year. Young stud quarterback Matt Ryan will lead them to double-digit wins once again. The Falcons will rely on running back Michael Turner to help give them an attack in the air as well as on the ground. They added a weapon on the outside in Julio Jones who should work well along side Roddy White. This team has proven they are ready to win and ready to win now and I believe they will enact these plans this year.

Josh Neighbors 1st: Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan is not a kid anymore. For the Atlanta Falcons, the time is now. Michael Turner is the most physical running back in the league. Roddie White is one of the biggest freaks at the wide receiver position, and the Falcons are only getting stronger with the addition Julio Jones. Tony Gonzalez is a rock at the tight end position. The pieces are there for Matt Ryan and I think he can utilize them well enough to win the division. Oh yeah, that defense is not to bad either. Mike Smith is coaching the team with the most well rounded offense int he entire league, and I think that will win this division in the 2011-2012 season.

Connor Jones 1st: New Orleans Saints: Those off-season workouts are going to pay off. Drew Brees is like a . Tim Tebow with more talent. He will once again spread the ball around and have six players with a least five touchdowns. New Orleans is strong in all aspects of the offensive game, they do not rely on one wide out to carry them instead they let everyone get in on the action. They have brought in running back Darren Sproles to boost the ground game and have brought in veteran center Olin Kreutz to boost the offensive line. The Saints are motivated and are back to fight for their second championship in three years.