2013 NFL Season Predictions

Parity has ruled the NFL for over a decade but this might be the most up-for-grabs season in recent memory. There doesn’t appear to be a clear-cut favorite for several divisions and while the NFC is somewhat top-heavy, the AFC is a crapshoot.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

NFL Preseason Week 3 Observations: Rex, sleeper contenders & more

+ At this point it would be an upset if Rex Ryan wasn’t handed his pink slip before the end of the regular season. What he did Saturday night in New York was a joke, inserting his starting quarterback Mark Sanchez into a game that didn’t matter and watching him get planted by Marvin Austin. The result was rather Jets-like: Sanchez was injured and now Ryan will likely be forced to play rookie Geno Smith Week 1. (And that isn’t a good thing, as Smith looked completely overwhelmed in a disastrous performance on Saturday.) What was it all for? Apparently the annual “Snoopy Trophy,” which is handed to the winner of the Jets-Giants preseason game. Ryan and the Jets have progressively gotten worse every year he’s been head coach. He doesn’t have a handle on how to manage quarterbacks, he hires overmatched assistants, and no offensive player has show improvement under his guidance. He should go back to doing what he does best: Coordinate defenses.

+ Don’t fall asleep on the Lions this year. The interior of their defensive line is going to cause headaches for opposing quarterbacks and Jason Jones might turn out to be one of the more underrated signings of the offseason. He had his way with New England right tackle Sebastian Vollmer on multiple plays last Thursday.

+ Speaking of the Lions, they’ve been searching for years for a complementary piece for Calvin Johnson and they may have finally found that weapon in Reggie Bush. He remains a home run threat when he gets the ball in his hands, which Detroit plans on doing plenty of this season. While he still tries to bounce too many runs outside at times, he’s difficult to tackle in open space and the guy has the ability to take a screen pass 60-plus yards in the blink of an eye. He provides the Lions offense with an element they haven’t had since they drafted Johnson in 2007.

+ The Patriots’ passing game will be fine as long as Tom Brady is still under center. He has the rare ability to put the ball in places only his receivers can catch it, including when said wideout otherwise blanketed in coverage. That said, it’ll be interesting to see how much growing pains Brady’s new weapons will go through this season. Kenbrell Thompkins scorched Detroit for eight catches and 116 yards, but he also dropped a pass on a potential first down in the first half and fellow rookie Aaron Dobson needs to play with more physicality. While they should win the AFC East with relative ease, it’s fair to wonder whether or not this new receiving corps will hold the Patriots back this season.

+ Halfway through the first quarter of the Falcons-Titans game I was ready to write about how Atlanta’s reshaped offensive line won’t be as big of a problem as some believe. Then came Tennessee’s five sacks and the police report that Matt Ryan filed on RT Lamar Holmes for the abuse he suffered in the second quarter. The run-blocking was good for a second consecutive week, but pass protection could be a recurring issue for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations heading into Week 1.

+ While new OC Dowell Loggains would be wise to lean on Chris Johnson this season, Jake Locker has improved as a pocket passer. He threw a couple of frozen ropes in his 133-yard, one-touchdown performance on Saturday night versus the Falcons. He remains most effective when he can use play-action, deception and mobility to free up receivers, but his confidence is growing in the pocket. He specifically looked good during a second quarter drive that resulted in him completing all three of his pass attempts for 41 yards and a touchdown strike to Nate Washington off a play-action fake.

+ Opponents will find it difficult to run against the likes of Haloti Ngata, Arthur Jones and Terrence Cody in Baltimore. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil will also continue to be headaches for opposing quarterbacks from a pass-rush standpoint, and getting cornerback Lardarius Webb back from injury will benefit the secondary greatly. The Ravens lost a ton of leadership and experience when Ray Lewis retired and Ed Reed left for Houston via free agency. But from an overall talent perspective, they didn’t suffer much of a drop off and this idea that Baltimore will ultimately sink to the bottom of the AFC North is an overreaction to the losses they experienced this offseason.

+ Luke Kuechly is going to keep plenty of offensive coordinators up at night. Last Thursday he forced a fumble on a perfectly timed read in Baltimore’s backfield, intercepted Joe Flacco in the red zone, and damn near decapitated Aaron Mellette when the receiver went over the middle (which led to a penalty). He plays like a man possessed and he’s seemingly involved in every defensive play Carolina makes. He’s the exception to the current notion that teams should wait to draft linebackers in the middle rounds.

+ The biggest reason the Seahawks will survive Percy Harvin’s injury is because they have a fantastic stable of backs, led by Marshawn Lynch. The trio of Lynch, Robert Turbin and Christine Michael is the best in the NFL and each runner brings something different to the table. Lynch is a bruiser but he’s also versatile in that he can change directions quickly and explode through open lanes. Turbin is more of a plodder but like Lynch, it’s difficult to bring him down on first contact and Michael’s speed and quickness complements the other backs’ styles. Toss in Russell Wilson’s running ability and Seattle’s backfield will once again be a headache for opposing defenses.

+ While nobody will argue that the Cardinals are an improved team, they’re still going to struggle offensively this year. Carson Palmer is a significant upgrade over the signal-callers that Arizona trotted out last year but he’ll have no running game to lean on and he’s likely to face as much pressure as Kevin Kolb and Co. did a year ago. Losing Jonathan Cooper to a potentially season-ending fibula injury was a crushing blow.

+ Some are expecting a massive rebound from the Saints this year and given how much explosion they have offensively, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them atop the NFC South again. That said, they better average 30-plus points a game because the defense is liable to give up 40 on a given Sunday. Former first-round pick Cameron Jordan is emerging as a stud but the Saints are going to need more than him and newly acquired Parys Haralson to drum up a pass rush. Matt Schaub did a nice job of getting the ball out of his hand quickly on Sunday but there were a handful of times when he had all day to allow his receivers to find openings in the Saints’ zone. The first-string wasn’t much better on run defense for New Orleans, which allowed Ben Tate to gash them for 6.7 yards per carry. Rob Ryan is a creative playcaller but he simply doesn’t have the manpower to keep top offenses in check.

+ Rams fans had to be encouraged that four of their offseason additions made impacts on Saturday versus the Broncos. While rookie LB Alec Ogletree continues to struggle getting off blocks, he caused a fumble of Ronnie Hillman, recovered the ball and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown early in the contest. Then later he got excellent depth in coverage and intercepted one of Peyton Manning’s passes down the seam, then nearly had another pick of Manning in the end zone. Fellow rookies Tavon Austin (81-yard punt return) and T.J. McDonald (blocked field goal) also made impacts, as did tight end Jared Cook (4 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD), who could be in store for a breakout season. Throw in another stellar performance by a motivated Jake Long and St. Louis’ collective 2013 offseason had quite a night.

+ There’s little to suggest that Christian Ponder will start all 16 games for the Vikings this season. Thus far, he’s completed 62.2 percent of his passes but his 4.97 YPA average paints a much clearer picture of his abilities. While his mobility is a plus, his slightly above-average arm will continue to hold Minnesota’s offense back. If Adrian Peterson doesn’t rush for another 2,000-plus yards, the Vikings are a horrible bet to make back-to-back playoff appearances.

+ The Bills need to resist the temptation of rushing E.J. Manuel back to the field. He’s their franchise signal-caller and while Week 1 will be an ass-kicking that Jeff Tuel has yet to endure, Doug Marrone and his coaching staff need to keep their eyes on the future. Heading into a season where they’ll be fortunate to win four games, it makes no sense risking further injury to Manuel in hopes of receiving less of a beat-down from New England in the opening week.

After Calvin Johnson Who Is #2 Fantasy Wide Receiver?

After last season’s 96 rec, 1,681 yard, 16 TD performance, “Megatron” is easily the #1 ranked WR in fantasy football- but who do you draft #2?

Brandon Marshall– Even with five different QB’s during two years in MIA, Marshall averaged 83 rec, 1,100 yards and 5 TD a season. In 07-08 w/Cutler in DEN, averaged 103 rec, 1,295 and 6 TD. How bad have the Bears WR been historically? Check this link and Marshall is easily the best one EVER.

Jordy Nelson– Since the 2010 playoffs, no WR has been more productive than Nelson. After a 15 TD 2011, some owners are scared he can’t match that production. But with Aaron Rodgers t QB, why can’t he?

Larry Fitzgerald– Fitz is arguably the best WR in the NFL- but in fantasy he isn’t thanks to another year of his career foreseeably wasted (or at least compromised) by substandard QB play in the desert.

Wes Welker– There are sexier WR out there, but over the last 5 years no one as consistent. 110 rec, 1,221 yards, 6 TD per season over the last five.

After “Megatron” is gone, who do you take next? I’m going Marshall.

Don’t Resist The “Double Tud”- Be Bold, Friend

The prevailing fantasy football draft wisdom that your grandpa used since he started playing has been “Get a #1 RB early or you will be screwed, Sonny.” Obviously in 2012, we all know that is no longer the case. But do you know what’s even more balls out? Using your 1st and 2nd round picks on a QB/WR combo from the same team, and hinging your future on the “Double Tud”.

Be a man, Hogan– do it. If you draft at the end of the first round, you have the potential of grabbing Calvin Johnson, then getting Mathew Stafford when the snake draft comes back around your way. Last year you would’ve gotten almost 1,700 yards and 32 TD.

How about Tom Brady and Wes Welker? A meager 1,569 and nine TD.

You don’t have to “do it” in rounds 1 or 2, but the adrenaline rush will certainly be intensified. There are several other latter round combos (B Marshall-J Cutler, S Smith-C Newton, D Jackson/J Maclin-M Vick) as well.

You can always invest in a RBBC later.

Paul Eide can be heard dispensing fantasy football advice every Friday AM during the NFL season on Jacksonville’s 930 AM “The Fox” at 8:00 EST. Email Paul at paul@pauleide.com

Michael Turner or Marshawn Lynch?

You’ve got a pick at the end of the first round and want a #1 RB- Michael Turner or Marshawn Lynch?

Lots of talk surrounding Turner and that he may be “done”. There was a lull from week 11 to 15 when he had 1 TD and no game above 76 yards. But from weeks 1-10, and 17, he had 1,060 yards and 10 TD. He just turned 30, but only averaged 57 carries a year his 1st 4 years with the Chargers.

Remember a year ago Lynch was “done” too? The he went out and posted career highs in yards (1,204) and TD (12). Lynch is four years younger w/less wear and tear. But the recent DUI arrest may or may not warrant a suspension; we’ll know in August.

Turner or Lynch?

Paul Eide can be heard dispensing fantasy football advice every Friday AM during the NFL season on Jacksonville’s 930 AM “The Fox” at 8:00 EST. Email Paul at paul@pauleide.com

Related Posts