It didn’t look like it was going to happen for a while but here we are. The NFL season is finally upon us. Your fall sports family has returned. Aaron Rodgers is back. Peyton Hillis is back. Beer commercials are back (did they ever leave?). Chris Berman and the two-minute drill are back (back, back, back). Rex Ryan’s back (and inked up). Brett Favre is … well he’s not back (thank God). Even Chris Johnson decided to join the party late last week.
If you haven’t guessed yet, this is my NFL Preview. I’m not doing it alone this time either. Welcome guest Beagle writers Aaron Ortega (Syracuse Legends), Jason Krakower and Neil Joshi (Down by 1 Sports) to the website. So put on your best Bill Belichick cut-off sweatshirt, grab a beer, a bowl of Tostitos (guacamole would be a nice touch if it fits your budget) and let the games (and the Rex Grossman jokes) begin. Let’s start off with some quarterback talk.
Who is the best QB in the NFL?
Aaron: Aaron Rodgers. For years the conversation has always been Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady, but after the steps that Rodgers took last year, he alone holds the title of best quarterback in the NFL. Like Brady and Manning, Rodgers has great poise, accuracy and decision-making. However, what Rodgers has that Brady and Manning don’t is mobility. He’s by no means is a “running quarterback” but that extra element to his game makes him an absolute nightmare for defenses.
Jason: Peyton Manning. If you take a straight look at all of the signal callers in the league, regardless of his teammates or stats, Manning is the most talented quarterback that has played in a very, very long time. The way he sees his receivers, reads the defense and prepares for games is unparalleled, not to mention that he has one of strongest and most accurate arms in the league. It’s true that he throws interceptions, but he honestly makes everyone around him a better player. The Colts season absolutely depends on whether Manning suits up in Weeks 1 and 2.
Jesse: Tom Brady. Last season he tossed 36 TD passes to just four INTs. That’s mind-numbing. As of now, Brady’s thrown 339 regular season passes in a row without being intercepted. The guy just doesn’t make mistakes. Now three years removed from the ACL injury and with Ochocinco and a fully healthy Wes Welker to throw to (not to mention two of the more sure-handed tight ends in the league in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski), look for Tom Terrific to be even better in 2011.
Neil: Aaron Rodgers. Legacies are made in the postseason, and Rodgers forever etched his name with the great Packer quarterbacks with last year’s playoff run. Many of the league’s elite quarterbacks own Super Bowl rings, but few are smack dab in the middle of their prime like Rodgers is at age 27. In his three years as a starter, Rodgers has averaged 4,100 yards passing, 28 TD passes and a 99 QB rating. With promising tight end Jermichael Finley re-entering the fray following his right knee injury last season, Rodgers will easily be in that neighborhood again this season as Green Bay looks for a repeat.
Aaron: Adrian Peterson. This could really be a 1A and 1B arguments with Peterson and Chris Johnson, but Peterson gets the nod. Johnson is probably the greatest playmaker in the league, but Peterson has a unique blend of size, speed, agility and strength. He can go into the teeth of the defense and run through people in short yardage situations, or bounce it outside and beat you to the corner for a big play. Plain and simple, he’s the complete package.
Jason: Adrian Peterson. One of the most common themes in recent NFL history is a back who steps in and rushes for 1,000 yards, only to fall completely off the map for the rest his career. It’s rare to find a jewel like Peterson who uses his superior size, strength, quickness and agility with such consistency that he has rushed for over 1,250 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his four NFL seasons. He puts the team on his back more than Greg Jennings does. Chris Johnson might be the best in a couple years, but for now AP is as dominating as they get.
Jesse: Jamaal Charles. The dude was second in the league in rushing last year … and he didn’t even start half the time. 6.4 yards per carry? Are you kidding me? That’s two yards PER CARRY more than Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, who are probably going one, two in most fantasy drafts (Arian Foster went for 4.9 per carry). The guy’s a stud. Don’t worry about Thomas Jones either. He’s 33 and on the decline. He won’t get many carries. Look for Charles to go for at least 1,500 yards and 10 TDs this year.
Neil: Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs have insisted on bringing Charles along slowly, but sooner or later, Thomas Jones is going to fully relinquish his spot to the ultra-talented fourth-year back. I’m going sooner. Jones has been steadily declining the past two years, and Charles is primed to take advantage. Despite carrying the ball 230 times – 15 times less than Jones – Charles still finished with 1,467 yards and a ridiculous 6.4 yards per carry. It’s almost certain that Charles will see that wickedly efficient number go down as a result of more touches, but his touchdowns and yards will pick up the slack in its place.
Aaron: Calvin Johnson. He’s 6’5”, 235 pounds, and is virtually uncoverable. Last season, Johnson reeled in 77 receptions for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns. And keep in mind he did this for Detroit. And what is even more impressive is that he did that with Shaun Hill under center after losing Matthew Stafford in the third game of the season to injury. If Stafford can stay healthy for a whole season, Johnson should put up huge numbers.
Jason: Larry Fitzgerald. Even though Andre Johnson is the first receiver taken in most fantasy drafts, Fitzy would fly off of the boards in a league that rewards hands, route running, separation, and dreadlocks. He’s averaged over 95 catches and 10 touchdowns in the past four years (with a few horrible quarterbacks in the mix), and he’s probably the most consistent and reliable weapon in the NFL. But seriously, the Cards might win more games if he throws himself the ball.
Jesse: Larry Fitzgerald. I know what you’re thinking. Only 1100 yards and six touchdowns last season? Well first off, that’s not a bad season. And second of all, look who was throwing to him. Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall. My high school football team has a more impressive depth chart. This year Fitzgerald is working with a real QB in Kevin Kolb. With Fitzy’s freakish athleticism and Kolb under center, I’d be shocked if number 11 doesn’t have a huge season.
Neil: Roddy White. White broke out in a big way in 2010, catching 115 passes en route to leading Atlanta to a prolific 13-3 record. With injuries a concern for Andre Johnson, and uncertain quarterback play holding back Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson, Roddy White emerges as my pick for the top wide receiver in the league. Matt Ryan will be looking to White early and often again over the course of the 2011 season, and with the talented rookie Julio Jones lining up opposite him, defenses won’t be able to exclusively key in on White. While he likely won’t match the 115 receptions he had a year ago, you can expect White to surpass 1,100 yards for the fifth straight year and reach double-digit touchdowns for the third consecutive time.
Top tight end?
Aaron: Antonio Gates. Realistically speaking, the Chargers use him like a receiver more than a tight end, but he’s still without a doubt the best tight end in the league. There really is no way to guard him. He’s too big to put a corner back on him, and is too fast and his hands are too good for a linebacker to cover him.
Jason: Antonio Gates. Yeah, he got nicked up last year. He also scored 10 touchdowns in 10 games. When he’s on, he as good as they come. Before last year, he hadn’t missed a game since 2005, so let’s put the injury concerns away for a bit and call him one of the greatest tight ends of all time. Remember, he also helped block for LT while he was setting those records so don’t call him just a receiving tight end.
Jesse: Jason Witten. This is a tough one. When Antonio Gates is healthy he’s a monster. But the fact is, for the second season in a row, he’s not going to be. That’s why I’m going with old reliable, Jason Witten. He’s a smart player with great hands (three 1,000 yard receiving seasons in his last four years). And unlike guys like Dallas Clark who are going to rack up fantasy points at the tight end position, he can actually block a little too. A healthy Tony Romo’s not going to hurt his stats either. Miles Austin regressed last season (1,041 receiving yards compared to 1,320 the year before) and Dez Bryant is talented but inconsistent so expect Witten to get a ton of targets.
Neil: Antonio Gates. Gates was good for a touchdown a game in 2010, catching 10 from Phillip Rivers despite missing six games. In the previous six years, Gates had only missed two games, so it’s reasonable to assume he’s ready to go the full season in 2011. The Chargers’ passing offense has been among the most potent attacks in the NFL during Gates’ reign as the team’s tight end and he’s Rivers’ go-to guy with the game on the line. With San Diego seething from missing out on the playoffs last year, the Rivers-to-Gates connection should be burning the atrocious AFC West defenses to shreds this season.
Best defensive player?
Aaron: Nnamdi Asomugha. You just don’t throw at this guy. Ever. Teams are realizing that. Since 2006 when he had eight interceptions and 11 passes deflected, he has only had three interceptions, including none last season. That’s not a knock on him. The only reason he doesn’t have more picks is because he never lets his guy get open and quarterbacks don’t throw his way. Now that he’s in Philadelphia along with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel, it’s going to be pick your poison for opposing offenses.
Jason: Troy Polamalu. There’s probably not a player in the NFL (or in any other sport) who hustles more than Troy does. He’s everywhere. He’s in on every play. His hair could probably tackle you. And apparently he can transport himself to the Minnesota Twins clubhouse whenever he wants. He’s only 30 years old and is already one of the greatest Steelers of all time, and that’s saying something.
Jesse: Troy Polamalu. He didn’t play great in the Super Bowl but Polamalu’s still my guy. Aside from his hilarious Head and Shoulders commercials, Polamalu is also one of the most ferocious defenders we’ve seen in a long time. He covers an insane amount of ground for a safety. He’s in on EVERY play. It’s almost like there’s no escaping him. He hits hard, he’s an interception machine. Would I be surprised if he won his second straight defensive player of the year award? Not at all. In fact, I expect him to.
Neil: Clay Matthews. In his second year in the league, Matthews miraculously held together a Packers defense that was ravaged by injuries all season long in 2010. There’s not a single play on the field Matthews cannot make, whether it’s rushing the passer, making bone-crushing tackles, or even in coverage. He emerged as the undisputed leader of a group that finally matched the effectiveness of the offense, igniting Green Bay to the title. Now in 2011 Matthews will lead a defensive core that will be at full strength. It all adds up to an even bigger year for #52.
Give me an underrated player to watch out for this season
Aaron: Kevin Kolb. Now that he’s in Arizona and is going to be the full-time starter, expect good things out of this guy. Obviously it helps when you’ve got Larry Fitzgerald to throw to, but Kolb is going to be a solid NFL quarterback once he finally gets the shot that he’s been promised for so many years. Back in 2009, Kolb started two games for an injured Donovan McNabb and threw for over 300 yards in both those games. This guy can play and people are about to find that out.
Jason: Kyle Orton. Orton is in probably the most unfair situation of any player in the NFL. In each of his two seasons with the Broncos, he’s thrown for more than 3,600 yards and 20 TDS, and his QB rating hasn’t dropped below 86.8. But Denver fans still want Tim Tebow to run the offense. The team just hasn’t won much with Orton, and former coach Josh McDaniels should shoulder some of the blame for that too. Keep an eye out for Orton to stay consistent if he’s not booed out of the stadium.
Jesse: Matt Cassel. It just blows my mind that ESPN preseason player rankings have him as the 16th best quarterback. Are you crazy? The kid threw 27 TDs to just seven picks last year. Sure he faded a little near the end of the year (five INTs in his final two contests including a 30-7 blowout loss to Baltimore in the playoffs). But those are just growing pains. The Cassel to Dwayne Bowe connection was money last year (15 TDs catches for Bowe). Cassel’s a strong guy (6’4, 230) with a Brady-like grasp of the game and I think he’s going to surprise a lot of fantasy owners in 2011.
Neil: Brandon Marshall. Prior to last season’s three-touchdown debacle, Marshall was easily one of the league’s top 10 wide receivers, catching at least 100 passes in each season from 2008-2010. A bad campaign with Chad Henne during Year One of his stint in Miami has taken the mercurial wide out completely off the radar. It’s hard to shrug off the incredible talent that Marshall has after just one bad season. Miami’s underrated offensive line will give Henne the opportunity to find Marshall with more frequency in the red zone, and lead to a great bounce back season.
Aaron: Eli Manning. I’ve been saying for years and continue to say that Eli Manning is the most overrated and overpaid player in the league. Yes I realize that he threw for over 4,000 yards last season. And yes I realize he threw 31 touchdowns, but he also chipped in 25 interceptions and lost five fumbles. The only reason he threw for so many yards last season was because the Giants were trailing in a lot of games and they were forced to throw. And again, I realize that the guy won a Super Bowl, but anybody who thinks that Eli could have won that without the amazing defense and running game that the Giants had that season needs to have their heads checked.
Jason: Kevin Kolb. I just don’t see it. I didn’t see it when he was drafted, I didn’t see it when he got the starting gig, and I definitely don’t see it now. It’s so tough to judge his career potential by what he’s done so far so I could be totally off base about what he can do, and now he has Larry Fitz to help him out in Arizona. But his stats were weak in Philly when Vick let him play (7 TDs and 7 picks), and he had a pretty good offense there too. There’s just too much hype.
Jesse: Eli Manning. Really both New York QBs are overrated but I’ll go with Eli since he’s been talking a lot of smack this offseason. Forget about the Super Bowl win against the Pats in ‘08. Eli was a turnover machine last season. Yeah, he had 31 TDs, but is that really worth it when you throw 25 interceptions and fumble the ball five times? Nope. Plus he doesn’t have Steve Smith to throw to this season (signed with Philadelphia). It could be a long year in the Meadowlands.
Neil: Michael Vick. The Eagles’ bandwagon is growing by the minute, and while they had an incredible offseason, there are still questions to be answered on both sides of the ball. It starts with Vick, who’s had an unbelievable ride to end up where he is today, but still needs to prove he can be an elite pocket passer. Don’t get me wrong: Vick is a great quarterback with some unmatchable talents, but the injury concerns will always be an issue. Last season proved that he is a solid top-10 quarterback in the league, but there are several other signal callers I would prefer if I had to win one game.
Who wins the AFC?
Aaron: Patriots. As hard as it is to admit this, the Patriots have got to be considered one of the favorites out of the AFC. Any time you have Tom Brady as your quarterback and Bill Belichick calling the shots, you’ve got a legitimate shot to make it to the Super Bowl. Adding Chad Ochocinco to your offense doesn’t hurt either. The more weapons you can give Brady the better. An interesting thing to watch for is the play of Albert Haynesworth. If he buys into the Patriots system and the “Humble Pie” mentality, the Patriots will have essentially stolen one of the best defensive players in the NFL. When he is dedicated, in shape and willing to work, he’s probably the best defensive lineman out there, and if that’s the Albert Haynesworth that the Patriots get, the rest of the AFC had better watch out.
Jason: Patriots. The AFC is stacked at the top, and it looks like there are at least four teams that can make a serious run to the conference championship. The Pats just seem like the best team in the conference at this point, both on and off the field. Brady is just behind Manning as the league’s best QB, and he spreads the ball to wide receivers and backs like Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead that are perfectly suited for Belichick’s offense. The defense is scary with some new and old faces, but now the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man Albert Haynesworth is in town to bring the ruckus. We’ll see how Haynesworth fits in with a perfectly run organization. The Steelers, Ravens, Chargers and Jets will put up a fight, but the Pats are too tough to pass up as a pick in the AFC.
Jesse: Patriots. Trust me, I’ve been looking for every excuse to not pick New England to win the AFC. But I just can’t do it. The passing game with Brady, Ochocinco, Welker, Branch, Gronkowski and Hernandez is going to be incredible. The defense with a rejuvenated Albert Haynesworth and massive tackle Vince Wilfork should be just as solid. New England also returns the league’s leading tackler Jerod Mayo and Devin McCourty, who was second in the NFL in INTs (seven) last season. The running game, traditionally one of New England’s few weaknesses, even played well last year with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead combining for 18 rushing TDs. When a team has that many ways to beat you, and an evil genius for a coach, it’s pretty tough to pick against them.
Neil: Patriots. The AFC is in a bit of flux, with many of the usual suspects facing considerable hurdles. The Colts are facing a colossal collapse if Peyton Manning doesn’t get right soon, while the Jets and Ravens are looking to incorporate some aging veterans into key spots around the field. San Diego missed the playoffs last year, and even when they do make the postseason, they haven’t displayed any of the mettle required to win meaningful games in January. That leaves the AFC’s two most consistent playoff winners, the Steelers and Patriots, left. New England could do no wrong in the regular season last year, posting a 14-2 record before bowing out in their home opener in the playoffs for the second year in a row. This season, however, I expect Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to experience much more adversity during the regular season before sneaking into and then peaking during the playoffs and claiming their first AFC title in four years.
Aaron: Eagles. This is a tough one to call but I’m going with Philadelphia in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX. A large part of me thinks it will be the Green Bay Packers again, and quite frankly it wouldn’t surprise me if it was, but all the moves that the Eagles have made this offseason have been in an effort to stack up with the Packers. After the first round of the playoffs last year where the Packers carved apart the Eagles secondary, Philadelphia got themselves the two best defensive backs on the market with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie. They also picked up former Green Bay run stopper, Cullen Jenkins, as well as another outside pass rusher in Jason Babin to take some of the focus away from Trent Cole. As long as Michael Vick can stay healthy, the Eagles are poised for a trip to Indianapolis.
Jason: Packers. Did anyone leave last season’s Super Bowl-winning team? Cullen Jenkins … Nick Barnett (only four starts last year) … is that it? For anyone who believes in the “super team” theory, there’s really only one thing that should fit that definition: team chemistry. The Eagles don’t have it yet. The Packers might have the most cohesive team in the entire league. Add in the best pass rush, one of the best secondaries, and an aerial attack that can torch any defense (take another look at the Super Bowl), and this is the definition of a well-oiled machine. The NFC should come down to the Packers and Eagles, but Mike McCarthy’s squad have the advantage until we’ve seen if the “super team” is for real.
Jesse: Eagles. Philadelphia is going to be scary good this year. Vick finally learned how to be an effective passer last season, putting up career bests in yards, TD passes and QB rating. Now combine that with his freakish running ability and you’ve got something pretty damn terrifying for opposing defenses. DeSean Jackson might be the most dangerous big play receiver in the whole league. LeSean McCoy is a more than capable runner in the backfield. And that’s just the offense. Philly put together a secondary for the ages this offseason by picking up Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque-Rodgers-Cromartie. Now add Asante Samuel to the mix. How the heck are you supposed to throw the ball against an All-Star team? You can’t. Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis? Book it.
Neil: Saints. With all due respect to the Eagles, the Packers and Saints are the co-favorites to win the NFC. Philadelphia has a stacked secondary now that Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie have been paired together, but they are still vulnerable up the middle, with suspect defensive tackles and linebackers. In addition, the offensive line was porous enough to allow severe injuries to Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick last season, and no significant upgrade was made to shore up those deficiencies. Green Bay has more all around talent than the Eagles, and New Orleans, which made some under the radar moves to improve its defense and run game, has the tools to take down Philadelphia as well. Week 1 will present a preview for the NFC Championship, and while the Packers are likely to win the opener, I see the Saints prevailing in January.
Who’s your dark horse?
Aaron: Buccaneers. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily fair to call them a “Dark Horse” considering they posted a 10-6 record last year, but since they were a pathetic 3-13 in 2009, I’m going with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They have done a brilliant job drafting the last couple years and have found some late round steals. Heading into his third year now, quarterback Josh Freeman looks like the real deal. He took huge steps forward last season with 3,451 yards passing, along with 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. As mentioned, the Bucs found great talents in the late rounds in the 2010 draft with Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount. Both players were first round talents, but teams chose to pass on them because of disciplinary issues in college. Tampa Bay took a chance on those guys and it paid off big time. Williams caught 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns in his rookie campaign, while Blount rushed for 1,007 yards, six touchdowns, and was great when he took over the full-time starting position for the final seven games of the year. The NFC South is one of the most competitive divisions in football with the Saints and Falcons there as well, but expect Tampa Bay to make some noise.
Jason: Texans. This is the year. How can it not be? They have a 1-2-3 punch reminiscent with the old Manning-James-Harrison combo if Arian Foster repeats his 2010 performance. Their defense should be miles better then it was last season with the additions of Johnathan Joseph, Danieal Manning and rookie J.J Watt. And the Colts should give them a head start as Peyton rides the bench for a couple games while his neck heals. After going 8-8 too many times, this should be the first time that Houston breaks through and reaches the playoffs.
Jesse: Texans. If Houston doesn’t win the AFC South this year, they probably never will. Who knows how Peyton Manning’s neck injury will affect the Colts this season, not to mention the fact that they have practically no running game (Joseph Addai? Come on). Jacksonville and Tennessee aren’t playoff quality. Sure the Texans defense leaves a lot to be desired but how can you not go at least 10-6 with arguably the best receiver (Andre Johnson) and running back (Arian Foster) in the game?
Neil: Lions. With the Bears and Vikings on their way down, there’s a vacancy behind the Packers in the NFC North, and the Lions look primed to take it. Detroit has assembled a number of young talents on both sides of the ball. Could this be the year they are ready to take advantage of it? Provided Matthew Stafford can finally stay healthy, it should be a resounding yes. Calvin Johnson has proven he can dominate no matter who is throwing him the ball, and if Stafford can stay upright, Johnson could become the league’s best wide receiver. Second year back Jahvid Best started fast before fading late last season but he is a gifted athlete with lightning quickness. With Ndamukong Suh ready to become the league’s most dominant interior defensive linemen, the defense is ready to come into its own. The Lions have the talent to win at least nine games this year.
Team that will disappoint in 2011
Aaron: Texans. Year after year, this team seems like it’s got the talent to finally win the AFC South, and year after year they find a way to come up just short of the playoffs. The talent offensively is there with Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, but Houston’s secondary is still awful. As much as I hate to say it since I’m a huge fan of both Schaub and Johnson, I think this year is going to be more of the same for the Texans: just not quite enough.
Jason: Lions. I only say this because seemingly every NFL expert is saying that the Lions will make a huge turnaround and make the playoffs as a wild card team this year. They’ll get better with a healthy Matt Stafford and their defense actually looks solid with the beast that is Ndamukong Suh. The problem is that there’s still not much of a running game with rookie Mikel Leshoure out for the year, and the secondary is loaded with questions. They also play in a relatively tough division and have games against the Bucs, Chiefs and Falcons on the schedule. I don’t see it happening this season.
Jesse: Bears. How in God’s green earth did Chicago go 11-5 last season? Their offense finished in the bottom ten in just about every category. Jay Cutler is a train-wreck waiting to happen. At age 33, Brian Urlacher’s no spring chicken anymore. Greg Olsen’s gone and it looks like Lance Briggs might be on his way out too. Never mind that the new kickoff rules basically render Devin Hester useless. If the Bears make it back to the NFC title game this season it will be a miracle.
Neil: Bears. Chicago was extremely lucky in 2010, going 7-3 in games decided by seven points or less on their way to winning the NFC North title and getting one game away from Super Bowl XLV. Not only were they unusually lucky in close games, but they are getting older on defense. Six of their starters are over 30, which means the injury bug could hit the Bears hard this year after being a relative nonfactor in 2010. With the defense taking a step back and a little less luck in close games, Chicago will be lucky to go .500 this year.
Who’s winning it all in February?
Aaron: Eagles. This is a tough call because it’s hard to pick against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in a playoff setting, but I’m going with the Philadelphia Eagles to win it all this year. All the pieces are in place for Andy Reid’s squad this season. The Eagles have possibly the most dynamic offense in all of football this year. Vick as the starter for the full season, a solid running game with LeSean McCoy and newcomer Ronnie Brown, and a receiving core consisting of DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Steve Smith makes the Eagles difficult to stop. I already mentioned the defensive improvements with Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie, Jenkins and Babin. The only concern really for the Eagles now is linebacker, but Philadelphia’s lockdown secondary should help in that department. In Andy Reid’s second try at a Vince Lombardi trophy, it will be the Eagles emerging as Super Bowl Champions.
Jason: Packers. I never like it when analysts pick the previous winner to do it again, but I don’t know if there’s a better team in the NFL than the Packers. Just like Tom Brady did nearly 10 years ago, I think this is the time when Aaron Rodgers starts to build his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks of the modern era.
Jesse: Patriots. The last time New England won it all it was against the Eagles back in 2005. I say they turn back the clock and do it again this season. Brady and Belichick have stumbled in the playoffs the last two years. They won’t let that happen again.
Neil: Saints. New Orleans has been flying under the radar so far because it’s hard to ignore the talented defending Super Bowl champions and “Dream Team” Eagles standing toe-to-toe with them. But in their Super Bowl winning season two years ago, the Saints took advantage of the fact that they were being overlooked. 2011 should be similar as New Orleans integrates an intriguing running back core that features newcomers Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles joining the talented Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas. The running back by committee will resemble the wide receiver core and make the Saints offense a formidable unit to defend. With the addition of Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin to the front four, New Orleans will be improved upfront. If their defense can resemble the opportunistic unit from 2009, this team will be loaded and outlast all takers to win its second Super Bowl title in three years.
There you have it folks. Good old-fashioned American football is back. Hopefully that’ll tide everyone over until Celebrity Apprentice starts up again (will we see another Kardashian next season?). Have fun at the Karaoke Draft. And for any Redskins fans reading this blog, good luck with that whole Rex Grossman thing.
All photos were taken from ESPN.com.