While few games lived-up to their hype, we were blessed with a classic game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots on Sunday, while getting the chance to watch history between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings on Monday.
Still, when it’s all said and done, there are five teams who are undefeated after four games, and all of those teams have taken different journeys.
Read on to see who makes the top five, and then check to see where everyone else fits in: Read more…
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tags: adrian peterson, atlanta falcons, Brandon Jacobs, brett favre, chicago bears, denver broncos, Detroit Lions, drew brees, eli manning, green bay packers, indianapolis colts, Minnesota Vikings, new england patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, new york jets, philadelphia eagles, pittsburgh steelers, San Francisco 49ers
No thanks, Adrian Peterson. Brett Favre had this one.
Favre may still not own a 200-yard passing day as a Viking, but no one ever said winning games had to or would come by launching 50-yard passes.
Favre can’t face the 2007 Denver Broncos in overtime every week. But then again, he won’t be getting back-to-back supposed “cakewalk” matches with the Browns and Lions on a regular basis, either.
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Saturday, September 26, 2009
After a horrid 0-16 season made the Lions the laughing-stock of the league, Matt Millen and Rod Marinelli were sent packing, and Jim Schwartz was brought in to right the ship.
This is arguably a job that can’t be corrected in one season, and probably not even two or three, but if anyone can get Detroit going in the right direction, it’ll be a defensive-minded coach who will run the ball and keep his quarterback protected.
At least, that’s the hope.
The Lions have made strides by adding quality players to compete at several lacking positions, including receiver and linebacker.
While their roster certainly offers more buzz than 2008′s did, is there already room for optimism, or will Lions fans be gearing up for another run at a winless season?
5. Can Calvin Johnson Do It Again?
Johnson broke out in his second season, hauling in 78 catches for over 1,300 yards and 12 scores, despite playing for a winless ball club.
But don’t blame him for that.
Johnson did all he could to keep Detroit’s ineffective offense in games, while watching his defense blow any leads they could conjure up.
While that isn’t certain to change in 2009, the one thing Johnson won’t be worrying about is getting the ball.
Both Matthew Stafford and Daunte Culpepper have big, strong arms, and have the ability to go deep and get the ball to Johnson.
True, Johnson cracking 1,300 yards and grabbing another 12+ scores might not mean a division title or the playoffs in 2009, but at this point, Detroit will have to take it’s bright spots where it can get them.
Congratulations, Matt Millen, this one worked out for everyone.
4. Can Kevin Smith Be a True Feature Back?
If the carries are there, and the passing game holds up it’s end, Smith should easily crack 1,000 yards, and could even aim for 10+ scores.
His solid play and ability to be effective at both running and catching the ball made Rudi Johnson obsolete in 2008, and will likely render all other rushers as after-thoughts in 2009.
Smith isn’t a burner, but he combines great vision with solid speed, and elite between-the-tackles running.
The big question is if the off-season acquisitions and addition of Brandon Pettigrew on the line will shore up his blocking enough to help him make that extra step.
3. Is Jim Schwartz “The Guy” For the Job?
His 10 seasons in Tennessee lead us to believe, yes, yes he is.
Schwartz may be picking up the pieces in one of the most dysfunctional NFL cities we’ve seen in some time, but if teams like New Orleans and Atlanta can overcome trying times and embarrassing lawsuits to make the playoffs, then greener pastures could be on their way for the Lions.
Schwartz has assembled a patch-work defensive line-up of former studs, such as Julian Peterson and Larry Foote, and could easily coach Detroit into a competitive team in his first season.
It will take time to get the right players for his system, but with years of experience with Tennessee, there’s enough evidence in playoff appearances, defensive stars, and NFL ranks that suggest he indeed is the man for the job.
2. Matthew Stafford vs. Daunte Culpepper
While the jury is still out on Daunte Culpepper, fans and experts alike are eager to see what Matthews Stafford has in store for both Detroit’s future, as well as present success.
Culpepper. while wildly inconsistent at times, developed a solid connection with star receiver Calvin Johnson, and proved in spurts that he’s still a serviceable quarterback.
It’s clear that his knee injuries from his past hinder his mobility and confidence, and at least up until late last season, he still hadn’t shown the league he was the same passer he was three or four years ago.
It’s very possible that it’s time to label him a “washed-up” veteran, but if Detroit can save Stafford’s body from a brutal beating in his first year, while stealing solid games from the aging Culpepper-then why not?
However, if you ask players around the league, including future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, they’ll say it’s best to just “throw them into the action”, in regards to Stafford.
The argument can truly be made either way, and despite rumors that Stafford has a good chance of being the starter on day one, it’s sure to be a heated battle throughout pre-season.
In the end, Stafford is a near-lock to be starting around mid-season.
1. When Will They Get That First “W”?
Despite the new regime, solid draft, and key additions on both sides of the ball, it still looks like quite the uphill climb for Detroit.
It’s not enough to just make progress in a growing division like the NFC North. The Lions, despite their best efforts, watched as the Vikings, Packers, and Bears all widened the gap between the cellar dwellers, furthering the notion that regardless of their record in 2009, Detroit will inevitably find themselves at the bottom of the division.
Don’t believe it? Well, on paper at least, the schedule to start the season is, well, brutal.
Detroit opens the season on the road against a New Orleans Saints offense that can score on anybody, along with a defense that is regarded as “much improved”.
They then go home to face the Vikings and Redskins, and then have road games at Chicago and Green Bay sandwiching a match-up against the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
Their sigh of relief? Their bye week in week seven.
Their first realistic chance at victory comes the next week against a woeful St. Louis team that, after a overhaul of it’s own, probably is on even ground with them.
Can Detroit fans handle an 0-6 start? Well, they may have to.
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Wednesday, August 12, 2009
(Calvin Johnson has already arrived.)
Everyone knows the old cliche’ about wide receivers. They don’t always make an immediate impact as rookies, and despite having natural talent, usually take a while to carve a niche with their team.
About three years, to be exact.
Not everyone can be Randy Moss and bust out 17 touchdowns in their first try, or like last year’s Eddie Royal, and haul in 91 receptions.
No, sometimes fantasy owners and NFL teams are forced to go the traditional route and wait.
Here’s a look at the wide receivers from the 2007 NFL Draft, who are entering their third season, with analysis on their progress and role with their team.
(This article will only analyze those receivers taken in the 2007 draft.)
1. Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions)
Johnson is arguably a top-three fantasy receiver, depending on who you’re talking to.
Despite not having a dependable quarterback, or any sort of supporting cast, Johnson racked up over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2008.
The new regime is reportedly enamored with Johnson (how couldn’t they be?), as he’s poised to match last year’s numbers, and possibly add to them.
Prediction: 85 rec., 1,479 yards, 13 TD
2. Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City Chiefs)
Bowe has already made a quiet name for himself, as he was the second-best weapon (behind Tony Gonzalez) on Kansas City’s offense in 2008.
With Matt Cassel coming to town, Bowe should easily crack 1,000 yards again with a pass-happy system and an upgrade at the signal caller position.
Bowe has already showed glimpses of his potential with 12 touchdowns in his first two seasons. This should be his break-out year.
Prediction: 87 rec, 1,244 yards, nine TD
3. Anthony Gonzalez (Indianapolis Colts)
Gonzalez has been showing for the past two years that his speed and hands are more than able to make up for the loss of future Hall of Famer, Marvin Harrison.
His chemistry with Peyton Manning improves with every day of practice, and there’s no doubt Gonzelez can improve (and will) on his 2008 numbers of 57 catches, 664 yards, and four scores.
Prediction: 81 rec, 1,209 yards, eight TD
4. Ted Ginn Jr. (Miami Dolphins)
Ginn has progressed slower than many had hoped, but he has still shown flashes of electric play-making ability, and has starred as a solid return man, too.
His role has been increasing in the offense over his two years with the team, and to avoid the Wildcat offense from getting predictable, his production will have to increase.
Prediction: 74 rec, 1,088 yards, seven TD
5. Steve Breaston (Arizona Cardinals)
Breaston has been quite impressive already, as he topped 1,000 yards as the Cardinals reliable third option.
Apparently it’s not very difficult to get open when you have Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin taking all the attention from the secondary. Go figure.
Breaston has already “broken out” more than he or anyone else could have hoped, considering he was the third option last year, and will continue to be in 2009.
His numbers are likely to dip a bit, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t already “arrived.”
Prediction: 72 rec, 955 yards, five TD
6. Steve Smith (New York Giants)
With Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer out of town, Steve Smith is likely to pair up with Domenik Hixon (at least in the early going), and will have a legitimate chance at locking down a starting role.
Smith has good hands and is a solid route runner, and also possesses underrated speed and quickness. If he and Manning can continue the chemistry that landed him 57 catches and over 500 yards.
Prediction: 79 rec, 855 yards, three TD
7. Sidney Rice (Minnesota Vikings)
Rice battled injuries last year, taking him down a peg after putting forth solid effort in his rookie year.
With the potential (and likely) addition of Brett Favre, Rice could easily develop into a solid red-zone target, and could also be a decent down-field threat, as his speed has gotten better every year.
Prediction: 58 rec, 744 yards, six TD
8. James Jones (Green Bay Packers)
Jones and fellow slot receiver candidate, Jordy Nelson, both arguably have the talent right now to unseat Donald Driver.
Unfortunately, they will have to settle (at least for 2009) for fighting over third receiver duties.
While Nelson appears to have the upper hand with better size, speed, and hands, Jones may have more ability after the catch, making him a better fit for the slot.
Regardless, Green Bay’s system leaves the door open for tons of yards and scores to go around, especially as Aaron Rodgers matures.
Prediction: 46 rec, 690 yards, five TD
9. Johnnie Lee Higgins (Oakland Raiders)
Higgins is in line for contending for a starting role, and may end up with one of the starting gigs, almost by default.
Seventh overall selection, Darrius Heyward-Bey, has been slowed for the past month with injuries, and Javon Walker hasn’t been able to put forth 100 percent of his effort in over a year.
Higgins was a highlight reel waiting to happen on returns (three scores), and it’s clear Oakland coaches will do what is necessary to get the ball in his hands.
Prediction: 45 rec, 722 yards, four TD
10. Mike Walker (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Dennis Northcutt and Matt Jones are gone, which leaves the door open for Walker to step in and snag the spot opposite of Torry Holt.
Walker has the skills needed to make the jump, and in limited action, has impressed.
Prediction: 44 rec, 596 yards, three TD
11. Laurent Robinson (St. Louis Rams)
Robinson was a bit of a disappointment in Atlanta, which prompted the Falcons to send him packing to St. Louis.
Now Robinson is a better environment to utilize his skills, but will also have some young talent around him, making his production difficult to gauge.
Prediction: 42 rec, 539 yards, four TD
12. Jason Hill (San Francisco 49ers)
Until further notice, Michael Crabtree and Isaac Bruce are not starters, while Josh Morgan and Jason Hill are.
Hill has good after-the-catch ability, and could snag a spot in the slot, regardless of the play of Crabtree.
Prediction: 39 rec, 477 yards, three TD
13. Chansi Stuckey (New York Jets)
Stuckey burst onto the scene early last year with some nice catches and decent performances, as he and Brett Favre formed some solid chemistry.
However, that eroded mid-way through the season, and we never saw that confident, rising receiver again.
It’s unlikely he’ll reach his potential with Kellen Clemens or a first-year Mark Sanchez throwing him the ball, but he’s a better bet than, say, a Titans receiver.
Prediction: 41 rec, 505 yards, four TD
14. Robert Meachem (New Orleans Saints)
Meachem only makes this list because Drew Brees spreads the ball around more than Fabio spreads I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and that Saints offense is insanely sick.
He can still run with the best of them, and even as their fourth option, could still put up some decent numbers.
Prediction: 33 rec, 421 yards, three TD
15. Dwayne Jarrett (Carolina Panthers)
Muhsin Muhammad won’t be around forever to rescue Steve Smith from double teams. Come to think of it, I’m not sure he was that great at it last year.
Jarrett isn’t guaranteed slot duties, and is still in a run-first offense. But if he can show he can get it done in pre-season, he could prove to be a dangerous weapon with Steve Smith distracting the secondary.
Like many receivers, though, he’ll have to start slow.
Prediction: 22 rec, 311 yards, four TD
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Friday, July 24, 2009
Categories: Fantasy Football
Tags: anthony gonzalez, arizona cardinals, atlanta falcons, Calvin Johnson, Carolina Panthers, Chansi Stuckey, Detroit Lions, Dwayne Bowe, Dwayne Jarrett, Fantasy Football, indianapolis colts, jacksonville jaguars, james jones, Jason Hill, Johnnie Lee Higgins, kansas city chiefs, Laurent Robinson, miami dolphins, Mike Walker, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, new york jets, NFL, oakland raiders, Robert Meachem, San Francisco 49ers, Sidney Rice, St. Louis Rams, Steve Breaston, Steve Smith, Ted Ginn Jr.