How the Lions and Bills are proving pundits wrong
Preseason predictions in any sport mean absolutely nothing. It’s a fun way for the media and fans to get hyped for the regular season but it’s not like players and coaches are concerned about who prognosticators predict to win the Super Bowl.
That said, it is interesting to look back at how the “experts” whiffed when it came to predicting the success of the Lions and Bills. Granted, there’s still plenty of time for both teams to fall flat on their faces (after all, the Lions were 6-2 in 2007 before losing seven of their last eight to finish 8-8) and to be fair, there were several pundits who believed Detroit would make the playoffs as a Wild Card. But you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would have laid money on Detroit and Buffalo being a combined 9-1 at this point in the season.
Thus, what did pundits miss that prevented them from believing the Lions and Bills would be this good (at least record wise)? Below are a couple of thoughts.
THE PASS PROTECTION
Both teams were expected to be hampered by their offensive lines and yet outside of the Titans, no team has been better in pass protection than Buffalo. Third-year players Andy Levitre and Eric Wood have really come into their own while Fred Jackson has stepped up his efforts in pass protection as well. The Bills blew it in 2009 with the selection of mega-bust Aaron Maybin, but give Buffalo credit for also pulling the trigger on Wood and Levitre in that same draft. They were dedicated to rebuilding their O-line and now they’re starting to reap the rewards. As for the Lions, their pass protection hasn’t been great but it’s certainly been much better than people expected coming into the season. While Jeff Backus continues to be exploited at tackle, veteran Dominic Raiola has made up for his poor run blocking with solid pass protection and the same can be said for Stephen Peterman. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew has also come a long way as a pass blocker since his rookie year in ’09.
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2010 NFL Question Marks: Buffalo Bills
Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the Bills, who, as you may imagine, have a couple of issues on their plate.
Ugh. I think I had the Bills in mind when I first thought about doing this series, as there’s no limit to the number of issues going on right now in Buffalo.
Actually, that’s not fair because the Bills are moving in the right direction and the hiring of GM Buddy Nix is proof of that. Nix has 14 years of NFL experience and previously spent 26 years coaching in the college ranks. The guy knows how to scout and for a team that desperately needs to re-stock their roster with talent, that’s huge.
Whether or not Chan Gailey was the best choice for head coach is debatable, but at least a) he has experience and b) isn’t Dick Jauron. For the time being, let’s give Gailey a chance and take solace in the fact that the Bills actually have people in their front office who don’t base their decisions on simulations in “Madden.” (“Madden says that the Cowboys would be willing to take Marshawn Lynch, a fourth, and a seventh for Tony Romo, so get Jerry Jones on the phone and let’s see if we can wrap something up by lunchtime.”)
That said, things still look bleak for this team, especially compared to the rest of the AFC East. Defensively, the secondary is deep and the team devoted a lot of time this offseason re-tooling the line for new coordinator George Edwards, who will implement the 3-4. It’s going to take time for the new scheme to take shape, which is why I’ll leave the defense alone for now.
The offense, however, is another story.
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Posted in: NFL
Tags: 2010 NFL Question Marks Series, 2010 NFL season, 2010 NFL Season Preview, Andy Levitre, Brian Brohm, Buddy Nix, Buffalo Bills, C.J. Spiller, Chan Gailey, Demetrius Bell, Eric Wood, Geoff Hangartner, George Edwards, James Hardy, Lee Evans, Marshawn Lynch, Roscoe Parish, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trent Edwards
The top five best, worst and most improved offensive lines in the NFL
There’s a secret that most good fantasy football owners don’t want you to know: Knowing how good (or how bad) an offensive line is could be the difference between you making the playoffs in your league, and winning the whole damn thing.
The bottom line is that the offensive line is the key to whether or not an offense is going to be successful in any given season. They’re the reason why guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brews are able to rack up terrific passing yards year in and year out, and why Brandon Jacobs, Michael Turner and Adrian Peterson continue to be solid fantasy backs. So knowing which O-lines are quality and which act like revolving doors to their team’s backfield will give you an edge on draft day.
Below is a ranking of the top five best lines, the top five most improved lines and the top five worst lines in the NFL heading into the ’09 season. Use these rankings as a tool to help you make better decisions on draft day and to also aid you when you’re stuck between a couple of players in later rounds.
Granted, we’re not advocating bumping certain players to the top of your pre-draft rankings just based on these rankings. The Lions offensive line is the worst in football, but if Kevin Smith is there for the taking in the 5th round, by all means jump on him. This article is purely meant to be a helpful aid; obviously you still have to use solid judgment on draft day.
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Posted in: Fantasy Football, NFL
Tags: 2009 fantasy football, 2009 fantasy football preview, 2009 Offensive Line Rankings, Ahmad Bradshaw, Alan Faneca, Andre Smith, Andrew Whitworth, Andy Levitre, Anthony Stalter, Arron Sears, Brad Butler, Brad Meester, Brandon Jacobs, Brandon Pettigrew, Carl Nicks, Carson Palmer, Casey Wiegmann, Chris Kuper, Chris Snee, Chris Spencer, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Damien Woody, Dan Koppen, Daunte Culpepper, Davin Joseph, Donald Penn, Drew Brees, Eben Britton, Eric Wood, Eugene Monroe, Gosder Cherilus, Harvey Dahl, Jahri Evans, Jammal Brown, Jason Brownm, Jason Peters, Jason Smith, Jeff Backus, Jeff Faine, Jeremy Shockey, Jeremy Trueblood, Justin Blalock, Kyle Cook, Logan Mankins, Marques Colston, Matt Light, Matthew Stafford, Max Unger, Michael Turner, New Orleans Saints, NFL Offensive Line Rankings, Nick Kaczur, Nick Mangold, Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, Ryan Clady, Ryan Harris, Sam Baker, Shaun O'Hara, Shawn Andrews, Stacy Andrews, Stephen Neal, Todd McClure, Tra Thomas, Tyson Clabo, Walter Jones