The 2011 NFL season is nearly upon us. I do that Sweet Chin Muzak baseball column on this great website, so I figured that a NFL column was a natural progression.
The column will be published on Sunday night/Monday morning and will discuss ten of the ongoings of the Sunday games. There will also be a heavy Fantasy Football slant to the column since I love me some Fantasy Football almost as much as Terrell “I love me some me” Owens loves himself.
(In full disclosure, I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan. My favorite player of all-time is Jerry Rice, I wrote a letter to Joe Montana when I was 9, and I had a Deion Sanders jersey in 1994. Owner Jed York can’t hold his Uncle Eddie DeBartolo’s jockstrap in a suitcase.)
Here’s a preview (with a preseason slant) to what I’ll write every week until the season is over:
10. If you’re wondering why I’m calling this 10 Yard Fight, wonder no more.
9. Peyton Manning has been told to not practice. He’s not going to start singing Khia’s My Neck, My Back anytime soon, but it looks more and more like the active NFL iron man will miss the start of the season. This doesn’t bode well for the Indianapolis Colts who probably don’t even remember how to play without him. He’s started 227 games in a row including playoffs. Who was the last QB to start for the Colts before Manning?
8. That would be San Francisco 49ers’ head coach and savior (really) Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh did something that nearly made many 49ers’ fans puke. He brought back incumbent, lame duck QB Alex Smith who has only been hurting fans’ feelings since 2005. In reality, Smith hasn’t really had a shot to play with an offensive-minded coach since Norv Turner went south to San Diego. If anyone can save Smith’s career, it’s Captain Comeback. But, if Smith doesn’t pan out this year, the 49ers have rookie Colin Kaepernick waiting in the wings. If you’ve watched Kaep’s elongated throwing motion, you might not be as fired up for that to happen anytime soon. In Harbaugh, we trust.
7. Smith is probably not the worst QB in the NFC West though. That would be Tavaris Jackson, who comes to Seattle via the Minnesota Vikings. The other QBs in the NFC West are Sam Bradford and Kevin Kolb, the same Kevin Kolb who just signed a 5-year contract for under 64 million dollars (21 million guaranteed) after just seven NFL starts. By the way, Sam Bradford’s contract scoffs at Kolb’s. Bradford signed for 6 years and 78 million last year, with 50 million of that guaranteed.
6. Usually when the most recognized QB in college football who just won a National Championship is the number one pick in the NFL draft, there’s immense buzz on that player going into the season. Not for Cam Newton. It seems like people are expecting him to fail tremendously and are keeping their expectations for this season low. A 42% completion percentage in the preseason does that.
Cam Newton, meet Tom Brady, and Justin Bieber’s haircut:
4. Even with Peyton Manning, the Colts look like an old football team. Since the AFC South was created in 2002, the Colts have won the division seven times. The only other team to win the division was the Tennessee Titans, who did it twice. Can the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Titans take advantage and surprise the NFL by unseating the Colts this season? I think it can happen, even if Manning gets healthy quickly. The Texans can score points, but they lack toughness. The Jags let go of David Garrard and look to be starting over offensively. The Titans have one of the most electric offensive players in the league in Chris Johnson and bring over a QB who won a playoff game last year. Titans, I’m going Titans.
3. I love to hate the Dallas Cowboys. America’s team is beloved throughout the US and many of my friends are diehard Cowboys’ fans. I should be happy when they’re terrible, but it wasn’t fun to root against them last year. My friends were just sad. I think the NFL is much better when the Cowboys are good and I think they have a chance to be good again this year. But the NFL schedule makers weren’t very nice to them by giving them the New York Jets on Sunday Night Football opening night. They may get rolled.
2. Players I’m checking box scores for this season: Matthew Stafford (stay healthy), Arian Foster (is it the back or the system?), Chad Ochocinco (if anyone can continue a career, it’s Sir Thomas Brady), Joe Flacco (I’m scouting for the Harbaugh Bowl), Jamaal Charles (he really had an insane season last year), Knowshon Moreno (has a chance to be sneaky good with a traditional run-first coach), Mike Vick (because he’s Mike Vick), DeMarcus Ware (new defensive coordinator could make him even better), Darren Sproles (how creative will New Orleans be with him?), Rowdy Roddy White (I think he’s ready to take the mantle of best WR in the league), Josh Freeman (will be pressured to get Tampa Bay to the playoffs), Chris Long (he scares me), Marshawn Lynch (if healthy, he’s a beast), and Tiki Barber (just kidding).
1. Kickoff coverage isn’t a big deal this season now that teams will kick off at the 35-yard line. There’s no denying that the San Diego Chargers were terrible on special teams last year. They’ll be better simply because of this new rule. Take into account these other things:
– Philip Rivers is already a top 6 QB in the league (Brady, Rodgers, Manning, Big Ben, Brees) and he’s sniffing the top 5
– Defensively, they didn’t give up many yards last year and are determined to be more aggressive
– Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert give them thunder and lighting in the back field and Tolbert has a nose for the endzone.
I think they beat the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game and then just get by the Packers (who go through the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship) to win Super Bowl XLVI.
Photo of Manning is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license