Thursday, December 27, 2012

2013 Pro Bowl Rosters- Offensive Skill Positions--What They Got Right & Wrong


QB: Brady and Manning were fantastic this season (again...we are spoiled to have 2 of the greatest QBs ever playing the position right now) and their spots need no explanation. However, due to what Manning has done in terms of switching teams and coming back from an even more horrific injury than Brady had to deal with (knee), it needs to be said that Manning's year is the most impressive of all the quarterbacks in the league. The selection of Schaub for the Pro Bowl could be debated but it's not a serious debate. Roethlisberger, Dalton, Flacco, and Andrew Luck are probably the only serious contenders for this position yet none have guided their team to as good as a record and really have no better numbers than Schaub. Luck has lots of interceptions but is in the picture because of his late game heroics, the fact that he is a rookie standout, and the impressive job he has done of guiding a terrible team to a playoff spot. Even with the interceptions, Luck probably has the best reason to feel snubbed. Palmer and Rivers have decent numbers but many of those numbers have been compiled in garbage time or in games without much meaning. Each have made critical mistakes that have cost their teams multiple games.
Analysis: They got all 3 selections right. 

RB: The only slam dunk in this conference is Jamaal Charles. If the Chiefs had a better team and if Adrian Peterson wasn't grabbing all the attention for coming back off injury with maybe the best year ever by a running back, Charles would be the story of the year at the position. He's probably going to end the year with over 1500 yards and with nearly a 5.5 yard per carry average His team has played from behind a lot and yet he still gets serious yards.  Arian Foster's spot on the all star roster is hard to argue with due to his TD numbers (14) and his yardage (1300 +) yet I think his numbers are bloated due to a better offensive team that puts him close to the goal line a lot and the numerous carries he gets. He has around 80 more carries than Chris Johnson and over 100 more carries than C.J. Spiller and yet they each have around 1100 yards compared to Foster's 1300 or so. Steven Ridley has great numbers as well for the Patriots and Ray Rice had another solid year with similar numbers to Ridley, Johnson. Still, C.J. Spiller is the guy who stands out after Charles and I believe he was robbed of a justified position on this Pro Bowl Roster. He has similar numbers in yards to Ray Rice (who was selected) but he has a 6.5 yard per carry average with twice the number of 20+ yard runs and only 3 fewer TDs. It seems Rice got in on reputation this year rather than production. He was no slouch to be sure, but after Charles, Spiller was the most feared back in the AFC this year and deserves the spot.
Analysis: 2 out 3 ok, but Spiller was robbed. 

Andre Johnson, A.J. Green, Reggie Wayne, and Wes Welker are all worthy picks. Johnson and Green are "no question" all stars but you could make a case for Demaryius Thomas over Welker or Wayne. But how do you leave off the team the guy (Welker) who led the conference in receptions (110)? Well, you ask which player was more impressive this season out of Welker, Thomas, and Wayne. Thomas and Wayne answer the bell in that category. In comparison to Welker, Thomas and Wayne both had more yards, a higher yard per catch average and over 20+ catches of 20 yards or more. Welker had 11.  Despite a stellar season again, Welker is only the 5th best receiver among this lot and should unfortunately be left off the roster.
Analysis: Switch Denver's Thomas for New England's Welker and all would be well. 

Brandon Myers, Dennis Pitta, Jermaine Gresham, and Owen Daniels all had solid years but the selections of Rob Gronkowski and Heath Miller are good ones. Gronkowski only played in 10 games and maybe that should disqualify him but despite that he had slightly overall better numbers than the other tight ends except Miller. Imagine what Gronk would have done with another 4 or 5 games on his resume.
Analysis: No arguments.


QB: Yards apparently don't mean as much this year. Drew Brees, Mathew Stafford, and Tony Romo lead the conference in yardage but none were selected. And I think it's true that Brees and Stafford really didn't have great years despite the yardage. They played from behind a lot and in the case of Brees I think not having his coach around and having to make up for a terrible defense led to a down year for him personally. Many QBs would kill for his down year. 4700+ yards passing, 39 TDs, 62% completions. Those are great numbers. And yet I'll bet Brees wouldn't argue that Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, and Robert Griffin III had better seasons.  Ryan had 4,400+ yards and 31 TDs and a passer rating of 100. Granted, passer rating isn't always the best measure for QBs (see Andrew Luck)  but check out who's at the top of the ratings each year and you'll notice most of the good QBs have high ratings. Rodgers has the highest rating this year with 106.2, with 3,900+ yards and 35 TDs. With teams that also did well, Rodgers and Ryan had great personal years. Griffin may be debatable for the Pro Bowl since Romo has led his team to the exact same record, has 7 more TDs than the rookie and 1,500 more yards passing. He does have more interceptions and a lower rating and it's really the excitement level that gives Griffin the edge. Romo and Griffin had comparable years in many ways but Griffin had the wow factor. In fact, rather than Romo it may be Russell Wilson that has more of an argument to challenge Griffin on the all-star roster. The Seattle rookie has done many of the things that Griffin has in terms of being new to the league and producing some great wins and memorable plays. Pete Carroll clearly made the right choice on his QB and Wilson may end up being the best rookie of the class down the road. It will be fun to watch what happens in the years to come.
Analysis: Good choices with Griffin slightly debatable. 

RB: Adrian Peterson has me setting my DVR each week just so I can watch him. I could care less about the Vikings but I figure Peterson will do something awesome each week. He didn't disappoint. He has nearly 1,900 yards with a chance for over 2,000 and the possibility of breaking Dickerson's record in his last game. That tells you all you need to know. He has had one of the best years ever for a running back. His TDs are down (11) but that's the result of an offense that doesn't get him close to the goal line much. He has to do his damage from afar. And boy did he. He has a 6 yard per carry average and and his number of 20+ yard runs is amazing. He had 23 of these type of runs. C.J. Spiller was 2nd with 12. He had 11 more than anyone else!
   Marshawn Lynch is a no brainer for the Pro Bowl as well. He's 2nd in yardage to Peterson (nearly 1,500 yards) and he just runs through and around defenders. They call him the Beast and it fits.
Frank Gore had a great year (1,100 yards, 4.8 yard per carry) but this is definitely a controversial pick. Alfred Morris had a fantastic rookie season with more yards than Gore (1,400+) and a yard per carry average that was similar (4.7). They both have 7 TDs and have been critical for the success of their team. Gore seems to get the nod due to experience and reputation. Even rookie Doug Martin has some better numbers (1,300+ yards, 9 TDs) and a respectable 4.5 yards per carry.
Analysis: Peterson and Lynch are obvious selections but Morris should get the call instead of Gore.

WR: Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the league and is pretty much unstoppable.  His numbers are ridiculous (1,800+ yards, 117 receptions). He has 39 receptions of over 20 yards. The next closest guy in the conference was Vincent Jackson with 23. If it wasn't for Megatron's year we would be talking about Brandon Marshall more (1,400+ yards, 11 TDs). Marshall is a great talent and if he has his head on straight (which he doesn't always have) he is one of the best in the business. Johnson and Marshall are easy to call for this roster but the next two selections of Victor Cruz (82 receptions, 1,040 yards, 9 TDs) and Julio Jones (76 receptions, 1,142 yards, 10 TDs) are more debatable. They had great years but Dez Bryant's season was better than both of these guys (88 receptions, 1,311 yards, 12 TDs). Next to Calvin Johnson, Bryant may be the most feared guy in the league when he's on. Even Roddy White has a better case than his teammate Julio Jones as White has more catches (87) and yards (1,309).  Vincent Jackson also has a case here as he is 3rd in the conference with 1,300+ yards. He didn't have as many receptions (66) due to a more inept offense but when he caught them, he caught them deep (19.3 yards per catch....3 more yards than his closest competition).
Analysis: Johnson and Marshall are automatic but Cruz and Jones should be replaced with Dez Bryant and Roddy white.  

TE: Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, and Jimmy Graham were the class of this conference. Witten had 103 receptions and over 900 yards. Gonzalez had over 800 yards and 88 catches. Jimmy Graham could make a case for the roster with nearly as many yards as Gonzalez and the same number of TDs (8) but he has about 10 receptions less. With nearly identical numbers to Gonzalez, Graham deserves consideration but not the nod. Tony Gonzalez has said he's done after this year. He's crazy. He should play at least a couple of years more and see if he can't get a ring.
Analysis: Good picks. 

Overall: Fun to debate the picks but the actual game is a joke and I won't be watching. A football all-star game doesn't work because to play it competitively and make it watchable you also create a game where the risk of injury is too great. Nobody wants to see Adrian re-injure his knee or Payton Manning end his career with another neck injury over a meaningless game. They should just do skill competitions and call it good.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 16

Falcons over the Lions
It's hard to pick Detroit these days as they finish up an absolute trainwreck of a season. Way too much talent for the results they've put up. They've been undisciplined and unorganized and that's amcoaching issue as much as it is the player's fault. Silver lining in Calvin Johnson who may not be the TD machine he was last year but he's still the best receiver in the league. He might break Jerry Rice's total receiving yardage record, and even in the pass happy NFL of today that's a fantastic accomplishment.

Cowboys over the Saints
The Saints are playing for pride now and won't lay down for anyone, But the Cowboys are still in the playoff hunt and that may give them the edge.

Packers over the Titans
I love Randall Cobb's moves and James Jones' hands. They've played well enough that injuries to Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings haven't been as as painful as expected (at least to the team...because I'm sure the actual injuries sucked pretty bad for the players). If they can get all of these guys going at the same time they could be unstoppable.

Colts over the Chiefs
Good test for Indy. Need to beat these types of teams. Handily.

Dolphins over the Bills
Middle of the road teams like this year after year in the AFC East are one of the reasons why the Patriots have no competition for the Division title....ever. The other reason would be Tom Brady.

Chargers over the Jets
If the Chargers can't beat the Jets with NY playing their 3rd string QB then they are truly hopeless.  On second thought though, this 3rd stringer could easily have been the 1st team QB all year long. And who am I kidding, the Chargers, win or lose this week are definitely hopeless.

Redskins over the Eagles
Very impressed with Alfred Morris this year. The Redskin rookie RB has been solid and at times very good. I also like the backup running back for the Eagles (Brown), who if he can hang onto the ball a little better, deserves some playing time even when McCoy gets back

Bengals over the Steelers
Never count out Pittsburgh---but the better looking team this year is certainly in Cincy.

Bucs over the Rams
Jeff Fisher has brought some respectability back to the Rams. The problems is he brought that to the Titans for years as well.... in mostly 8-8 and 9-7  type seasons. He had decent and almost never great teams. I'm not sold on the idea of him bring St. Louis back all the way but anything is an improvement of where they were..

Panthers over the Raiders
As goes Cam, so go the Panthers.

Patriots over the Jaguars
The only question is will the Pats score 40 in the first half or will it take 3 quarters to get there.

Texans over the Vikings
Very tough test for Adrian Peterson. He's facing a good defense and a team who has a guy that's pretty good at running back too. Still, although Arian Foster is no slouch, if he wants to see true greatness rarely seen at his position, he just needs to spot number 28 in purple. In my opinion he's the best to play the position since Emmit Smith and Barry Sanders hung up their cleats.

Broncos over the Browns
Even though Denver took out Baltimore last week pretty handily I'm still not sure how good they are. Their schedule has been light on quality opponents so the guesswork goes on.

Bears over the Cardinals
Finally a team to make the Bears look good. Too bad Dennis Green isn't around any more to let us know that the Bears are who we thought they were. ....Frauds.

Giants over the Ravens
I might be giving NY too much credit here.

Seahawks over the 49ers
Looks to be the best game of the day on paper.  Who knew Seattle would be this big of a threat in the West this year. During the offseason we had expectations that Matt Flynn would be running the offense but rookie Russell Wilson grabbed the job by the throat and has never let go. Doug Flutie is smiling somewhere on behalf of all sub-six footers.

Friday, December 14, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 15

Bengals over the Eagles '
Foles and Brown have shown some flashes of brilliance in their backup roles for Vick and McCoy but Cincy is definitely the more complete team. Philly is just auditioning players for next year at this point (I'm still shocked they let Babin go), but the Bengals have the capability to do damage in the playoffs if they can get in.

Giants over the Falcons
This may be knee jerk by me but after watching the Falcons the last six weeks I haven't been terribly impressed by this 11 win team. I'm not the only one either.

Rams over the Vikings
I would love to see Adrian Peterson get 2,000 yards.  He's grabbed back the title of best rusher in the game with a vengeance. The question is will their be any additional emphasis on stopping him by the Rams or future opponents? I can't imagine it would be much different than it's been all season, I mean it's not like you game plan around Christian Ponder. Peterson has been the focal point of defenses the entire season so maybe he's got chance  at 2K.

Dolphins over the Jags
Battle for Florida. Awesome.

Packers over the Bears
What's up with Chicago? Has it really been over a month ago when they were cracking on Tennessee (scoring 50 plus points) and we were declaring them a championship threat. Now? Not so much. Still, we've seen early December woes before from teams that went on runs as they neared the playoffs. The Steelers 2005 championship season would be an example. They lost in weeks 11-13 but then reeled off 4 straight. Could it happen for the Bears? Sure. Will it? I doubt it.

Browns over the Redskins
If Griffin plays will he be at his playmaking self? If he doesn't play can Cousins replicate his one play magic of last week? Perhaps I'm not giving the rest of the Skins enough credit here but the Browns are riding a 3 game winning streak and should not be taken lightly.

Ravens over the Broncos
This should be a good one. Manning has a lot of respect for Ed Reed and the Ravens defense (even if they are less potent than in previous years).

Texans over the Colts
Andrew Luck's interceptions are going to hurt them eventually. Maybe this week. The Texans are going to want to get some credibility back after last week's beatdown by the Pats.

Saints over the Bucs
I don't know how much gas the Saints have left in them this season. They are slightly off in every category of football and it's cost them too many games. Brees has pride though and even if he's had an off season maybe some of that pride will still rub off.

Lions over the Cardinals.
Speaking of pride, do the Cardinals have a shred of it left after the debacle against Seattle? I probably won't tune in live to find out.

Panthers over the Chargers
Good thing I've been starting Cam Newton in my fantasy league the past few weeks. His Superman crap was wearing thin while he was blowing chunks with his play, but he's found a phone booth somewhere and  found his cape.

Seahawks over the Bills
How about the play of that rookie on the Seahawks? Of course I'm talking about rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner out of Utah State. Doesn't get the publicity but he's been critical on that side of the ball.

Cowboys over the Steelers
I don't know how to read the Steelers. Their QB is coming off injury and they've looked flat on defense. Romo is a wildcard as usual so this game seems a toss up.

Raiders over the Chiefs
Imagine Jamaal Charles on a good team. He has a career 5.7 yard per carry average. Think about that.

Patriots over the 49ers
After a cupcake schedule to this point New England has finally hit some real meat. Their shelling of the Texans bodes well for them and ominous for the rest of us who would rather stick a fork in our eyes than see the Patriots go to the Super Bowl again. The 49ers may be the best in the NFC and this will be a good test for them prior to the playoff push.

Titans over the Jets
Monday night magic.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

NFL Picks: Week 13

Two things before the picks for Sunday:
1. The Chiefs player who took his girlfriend's life as well as his own--was a coward.  I realize that there are details to the story we don't know yet, however,  NFL players talk a lot about courage. Real bravery is working through problems instead of shooting through them.

2. I was determined not to watch the Alabama/Georgia game. So of course we went out to dinner as a family and tvs all over restaurant had it playing. We're in the West for hell's sake! Why is this place playing an  SEC title game? I could understand if USC, BYU, Oregon, or Boise State were playing, but Alabama? Please. It was a Mexican restaurant not a sports bar and grill. I was forced to choke on my enchilada as evil triumphed again. I will never root for a college team harder than I will for Notre Dame come January.

Falcons over the Saints
I thought Atlanta would win this but I didn't think the Saints would hand it to them like they did. A TD called back on a penalty. A TD pass dropped by a Saints receiver. Even with 5 picks this could have been a different game without those mistakes. The Falcons were talking trash after the previous game with the Saints. Now it's New Orlean's turn to complain that they just gifted a victory to Atlanta.

Jags over the Bills
Who cares?

Bears over the Seahawks
Injury bug hit Chicago the past few weeks but the hawks are less formidable when you get them outside of the Northwest.

49ers over the Rams
I'm feeling terrible for Alex Smith. And Harbough has not handled his QB situation with anything remotely resembling tact. But it's the right decision. If there is any chance that this could be a situation like Brady replacing Bledsoe in New England you have to take it. Smith has a ceiling and we have a pretty good idea of the parameters of that ceiling. It's ridiculous to say there is no way he could win the Superbowl, especially with how good the team is, but it does seem Kaepernick brings something to the table that you just have to try. It looks too good not to try. You just hope it goes down smooth and doesn't end up with an aftertaste.

Pats over the Dolphins
Have you looked at the Patriots scoring output this season? It's crazy good and reminds me of some previously good New England offensive teams. They're probably the best team in the AFC and maybe in the entire NFL. We won't know that for a bit though because they play the easiest damn schedule in the league (year after year) and their defense has been somewhat suspect.

Cardinals over the Jets
What happened to gregarious Rex? Ryan just isn't as fun when the Jets suck.

Lions over the Colts
Luck reminds me of Stafford in that sometimes the deep ball looks too enticing to both of them. This could be a good day for defensive backs. \

Packers over the Vikings
Green Bay needs to regroup after last week's drubbing. Watch out for Peterson though, the Packer defense gave up the farm last week in the run game.

Texans over the Titans
I'm tempted to go the other way on this just because Houston may overlook Tennessee. But no.

Panthers over the Chiefs
K.C. will still be in shock and it's not like they'll want to play for the memory of their teammate. Or at least they shouldn't. Dude's a murderer.

Broncos over the Bucs
Good test for Denver. Tampa is a plucky team. But Greg Shciano is still a douche.

Raiders over the Browns
I'd like to think that Cleveland could take Oakland, but the Raiders have enough talent to win this easily if they eliminate the mistakes.

Bengals over the Chargers.
Nor Turner. Dead man walking.

Ravens over the Steelers
Get well soon Ben.

Cowboys over the Eagles
Without McCoy or Vick I won't be watching.

Giants over the Reskins
To me this is the game of the week. I will be watching this one. Griffin vs. the Giant defensive line. It's go time baby!