Monthly Archives: September 2011
- Dallas Cowboys
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New York Giants
- Washington Redskins
Offensive MVP – Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys. Michael Vick is the sexy pick. And he may very well end up being the best offensive performer in this division. But for creativity’s sake I’m going to go with Jones, who will no longer have to compete for carries with Marion Barber III. Jones is explosive and has dual-threat ability catching balls out of the backfield. With Jason Garrett calling the plays in Dallas, anything is possible. 15-17 touchdowns are not out of the question, believe me.
Defensive MVP – DeMarcus Ware, DE, Cowboys. The best defensive player in the league not named Revis might be Ware, who is still only 29 and still only the best pass rusher in the league. He has 80 career sacks, 15,5 of which came last year on a bad Dallas defense. Rob Ryan is the new defensive coordinator and will have plenty of opportunities to spring Ware into the opposition’s backfield all season long.
Impact Rookie – Ryan Kerrigan, LB, Redskins. Had to give my Redskins some love eventually. But contrary to what you may be thinking, this is not a homer pick; in fact, I feel strongly that Kerrigan could contend for Defensive Rookie of the Year if he adjusts to playing linebacker as well as Brian Orakpo did when he was drafted. If all goes well, the Redskins will have a linebacker tandem for the ages.
- Green Bay Packers
- Detroit Lions
- Chicago Bears
- Minnesota Vikings
Offensive MVP – Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. This is the easiest pick in the history of the universe. Rodgers is a stud and should be the best quarterback of the next 10 years. He’s got a rocket arm, he’s got Vick-esque mobility, he’s as accurate as they come, and his IQ is through the roof. With Jermichael Finley back at tight end, and the best wide receiver corps in the entire league, expect Rodgers to approach numbers close to 4,300 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Defensive MVP – Clay Matthews, LB, Packers. No, he’s not overrated. Matthews is the real deal and while his numbers may have been inflated because of a monstrous start to the season, no numbers can do justice to how important he is to the Packer’s ‘D.’ He blows us plays, he crushed tailbacks, and overall scares the hell out of the opposition. He will come close to 15 sacks.
Impact Rookie – Gabe Carimi, OT, Bears. Camiri had an excellent career at Wisconsin but now finds himself of a completely different situation. His job: help improve one of the most notoriously inconsistent offensive lines in recent memory. For an tackle, Carimi is under an inordinate amount of pressure to make sure he’s a solid contributor on an offense that managed to reach the NFC Championship game last season.
*It bears mentioning here that no team has ever won this division in consecutive years. Also of note: since the division’s inception in 2002, the team that has finished in last place has won the division the next season SIX TIMES. In other words, this division is impossible to call and don’t be surprised if the Carolina Panthers end up 12-4. Seriously, the NFC South is nuts.
- New Orleans Saints
- Atlanta Falcons
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Carolina Panthers
Offensive MVP – Drew Brees, QB, Saints. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten the loss that the Saints endured in the playoffs last season. I know Brees hasn’t. That simple fact should make this entire division frightened. Brees will be a man on a mission and with a decent running game to back him up, he could direct the best offense in all of football.
Defensive MVP – Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers. The Panthers weren’t good last year, and they probably won’t be this year – but it’s no fault of Johnson, who gave the Panthers 72 million reasons to re-sign him after a breakout 11.5 sack campaign. Still only 25, Johnson should anchor Carolina’s defense for the next half-decade.
Impact Rookie – Take your pick. Honestly, while this division didn’t have a very good draft in terms of selecting for needs, every team drafted some form of player who will definitely contribute significantly for someone down the road. Here’s a quick rundown:
Saints – DE Cameron Jordan, RB Mark Ingram
Falcons – WR Julio Jones, RB Jacquizz Rodgers.
Buccaneers – DE Adrian Clayborn, DE Da’Quan Bowers, LB Mason Foster
Panthers – QB Cam Newton
- Arizona Cardinals
- St. Louis Rams
- Seattle Seahawks
- San Francisco 49ers
Offensive MVP – Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. Watch out. Last year Fitzgerald put up 1,137 yards and six touchdowns, but he did that with a rotation at quarterback that could be considered awful at best. With Kevin Kolb under center, WR Steve Breaston gone, and RB Ryan Williams injured, expect Fitzgerald to get targeted an EPIC amount of times. Don’t be surprised if he grabs 110 balls for 1,500 yards and 14 TDs.
Defensive MVP – Patrick Willis, LB, 49ers. Willis is the 49ers’ saving grace, the player that they can hang their hat on as the best at his position hands down. On an awful team, Willis stands head and shoulders above the rest of the league at the linebacker position. While he hasn’t posted numbers as good as he did in his rookie season, Willis is still a lock for 16 games, 100 tackles, and five sacks.
Impact Rookie – Austin Pettis, WR, Rams. I’m reaching here, considering the Cardinals took Patrick Peterson. But I’m a believer in Pettis, a physical receiver who can bolster the Rams’ corps and give QB Sam Bradford a good target. Pettis won’t put up astonishing numbers but I think that 700 yards and seven TDs would be considered superb in an offense that lacks any elite playmakers at the receiver position.
SO WHO GETS TO THE SUPER BOWL?
Last year I picked the Packers. This year, I pick..the Green Bay Packers. Yes, I’m going with my Jets-Packers Super Bowl prediction of a year ago once again. The Pack won last year with nearly half their team on injured reserve. They get back RB Ryan Grant and TE Jermichael Finley. The defense is superb. The coaching is excellent. The Packers will repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
By David Webber
Well, you can smell it. I mean that in every sense possible – I step outside my house every year on September 1 and I smell football. It’s a combination of worn leather, cool air, and wet leaves that makes any fan of Fall drool in anticipation. I’m ready. Are you? Here’s my take on the AFC this season (NFC will be covered tomorrow).
- New England Patriots
- New York Jets
- Buffalo Bills
- Miami Dolphins
Offensive MVP – Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Need I say more? The guy has been incredible for a decade and with his steady hand under center, the Pats have won the division in eight of the last 10 years – and in one of the years they didn’t win, Brady was injured for the entire season.
Defensive MVP – Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets. It’s hard to quantify how dominant a defensive back can be, but take two things into account with Revis. One: in 16 games, teams threw his way only 57 times, and two: of those 57 targets, Revis prevented significant situational yardage (i.e. significant yardage on first, second, and third down) 70% of the time. The most dominant corner in all of football.
Impact Rookie – Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Jets. At Temple, he was a monster in the middle racking up 68 tackles and 10 sacks. He fills a glaring hole in the Jets defensive line and should produce immediately in an aggressive system.
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Baltimore Ravens
- Cleveland Browns
- Cincinnati Bengals
Offensive MVP – Ray Rice, RB, Ravens. Rice may be the most versatile back in the league and this year will have more opportunities than he ever has. With Willis McGahee gone and with an excellent offensive line, Rice will thrive on his surprising power and speed and put up 1,300 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards.
Defensive MVP – Troy Polamalu, SS, Steelers. How could it not be Troy? Without him, the Steelers’ defense is average. With him, their defense is spectacular. I can’t remember a team whose defense depended so much on the health of one player. Polamalu has great ball skills, superb instincts, and the sexiest hair in the NFL. This future Hall of Famer will give offenses nightmares once again this season.
Impact Rookie – Jimmy Smith, CB, Ravens. Smith had been projected as a top-15 player coming into the draft, and the Ravens took him at 27th. He will be another excellent player in Baltimore’s vaunted defensive backfield and should be a long term starter in a few short seasons.
- Indianapolis Colts
- Houston Texans
- Tennessee Titans
- Jacksonville Jaguars
Offensive MVP – Andre Johnson, WR, Texans. There are a lot – and I mean A LOT – of players worthy of preseason offensive MVP consideration. But with Arian Foster’s injury and the ineffectiveness of nearly every defense in this division, I think that Johnson will put up 1,400 yards and 12 TDs easily.
Defensive MVP – Tyson Alualu, DT, Jaguars. He was picked 10th overall out of California…it was called a reach. I’m picking him as the defensive MVP of this division…and I think it’s a reach. But I’m going with it anyway. He had 38 tackles and 3.5 sacks in his rookie year and appears poised to break out. Time to prove the doubters wrong, Tyson.
Impact Rookie – Anthony Castonzo, OT, Colts – Honestly, this division didn’t draft very well this year. But in light of Peyton Manning’s neck surgery, Castonzo instantly becomes the rookie to watch. No, he’s not going to be protecting the blind side – but he’s considered the most NFL-ready offensive lineman in this year’s class and he’ll have to be on his game if he wants to protect one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.
- San Diego Chargers
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Oakland Raiders
- Denver Broncos
Offensive MVP – Phillip Rivers, QB, Chargers. Rivers has become Dan Marino, in a sense. He puts up stats that absolutely blow you away, but he can’t win in the postseason. Last year, he put up 4,700 yards and his team didn’t even make the playoffs. Expect at least 4,500 yards and 27 TDs for Rivers this season, and expect the Chargers to run away with this division.
Defensive MVP – Elvis Dumervil, LB, Broncos. This is a risky pick but I have a gut feeling. Despite missing all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, the fact still remains that this beast of a linebacker led the NFL in sacks in 2009 with 17. If he comes anywhere near that this season, the Broncos will be a defensive force to be reckoned with.
Impact Rookie – Von Miller, LB, Broncos. This might be the easiest pick to make. Miller is a beast. He’s a BEAST. He didn’t go number two overall for nothing, and pairing him with Dumervil will give opposing offenses fits for years to come. This may develop into the best 1-2 linebacker punch in the entire NFL.
SO WHO GETS TO THE SUPER BOWL?
Last season, I picked the Jets. This season, I pick…The New York Jets. No, they won’t win their division. No, they won’t have the best record. But in a league where the quarterbacks win the games and the defenses win when it matters, the Jets will exorcise their demons. They will make it to a third straight AFC Championship game – and this time, they’re going to win.