Just giving a heads up to people who are subscribed to my blog site or visit it daily. My blog site was picked up by Sports Blog .net last week and with that happening, my URL has slightly changed and all of my blogs will be posted over there from here on out.

Sorry for any confusion or re-subscribing issues this may cause you guys.

UPDATE!!!!!! I NOW HAVE MY OWN WEBSITE!!!!! IF YOU WANT TO GET MY BLOGS, PLEASE GO TO WWW.HELMETANDPADSREQUIRED.COM.

Thanks,
David Johnson

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Matt Schaub put up moster numbers in 2010 to lead the league in many passing categories.

I haven’t played fantasy football in about 8 years and I don’t plan on playing anytime soon in the near future. Well, I may play this year just to see how well I do, but I am not certain on that.

Anyway, I have had many people tell me that they are going to come to me for fantasy football information when it’s time for them to draft their teams, because of my wealth of knowledge about the game of football.

After thinking about it, I figured instead of waiting for people to come to me with fantasy football questions, I would just come to them by writing a fantasy football blog.

So on next Wednesday, July 7th, 2010. I will be posting what I am going to call “The ultimate NFL fantasy football blog.” It will be an informative blog on players and defenses that will be based on their schedule, team strengths and weaknesses as well as tendencies.

Brandon Marshall and Pro Bowl MVP Matt Schaub

For example, Brandon Marshall will not be in my top 5 of wide outs to draft. With a QB in Chad Henne who is still maturing, a Miami Dolphins offense that doesn’t have a very intricate passing game, the “wildcat” and becasue of double and triple team coverages that Brandon will be facing. I just don’t see Brandon putting up the numbers that he has in the past, nor do I see him scoring a lot of touchdowns since Miami will be using the running game or “wildcat” to score when in the red zone.

I am not going to say that my fantasy football blog will be the bible of how you should draft on your draft day. But it will be another tool for you to use when evaluating players for your team.

The ultimate NFL fantasy football blog, coming next Wednesday on July 7th, subscribe now so that you will have it in your email box for you to refer back to come draft day.

Bosh, James and Wade in Miami together? I dont think so.

We are two days away from the day that every Cleveland Cavalier, New York Knick, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets fan has been waiting for. But if you are a fan of any of those teams, you are probably not happy with the reports that are coming out about Lebron James and Chris Bosh going to Miami to team up with Dwayne Wade.

Reports are saying that the mini NBA summit meeting between Wade, Bosh and Lebron that took place over the weekend went very well, but that Lebron hasn’t “bought in” to the idea yet. Supposedly he wants to entertain offers from other teams. Translation: “I want to play on a team where I can be the man and maximize my marketing potential.”

That is a positive sign for Cleveland, New York, Chicago, Dallas and New Jersey. Personally, I don’t see Lebron signing with the Heat at all. There is no way that lebron would play on a team with Dwayne Wade who is already a top five player in the league and has a reputation for being able to carry a team on his back to win a championship.

If Lebron and Bosh went to Miami and the Heat won championships. Lebron wouldn’t be looked at as the one who brought Miami to the promise land. Either Wade would get credit, or people would consider it as a group effort amongst Wade, Bosh and James.

Lebron needs and wants to be the “man”. He wouldn’t be the man in Miami. If Lebron doesn’t want to be the man, Nike does and is financially banking on the fact that he is. Nike has built Lebron’s image on the fact that he is the next big thing to come along since Michael Jordan. Not to mention all of the other companies who have given Lebron endorsement deals on the belief that Lebron is “The chosen One.”

People already question Lebron’s ability to make plays in big games like Kobe and Wade routinely does, and his ability to take a team to the promise land. How much of a hit will Lebron’s on the court image take if he teams up with Wade and Bosh? How is Nike and every other company going to market and sell Lebron to the world as being “the man” if he goes to Miami playing in Wade’s shadow?

Some would say that Dwayne would have the same issue as Lebron if this NBA marriage happens. But I would have to disagree with that idea about Wade. Dwayne has already built his reputation as a clutch player and has a ring. He can play with other superstars now and no one will question him nor will his on the court image take a hit.

The NBA, who is an individual star driven league, will have a hard time marketing Lebron as “the man” down in Miami. People view the Miami Heat as Wade’s team. The NBA relies on having top level superstars who battle against each other every night to create marquee matchups. Not along with each other.

Not only do Nike and every other company need Lebron to be “the man”, but so do David Stern and the NBA.

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories unless it’s the JFK assassination, but I wouldn’t be surprised if David Stern’s wallet got involved somewhere during this Lebron free agency signing period.

Bottom line folks, don’t get caught up in the soap opera mess that’s going on right now. Lebron’s decision is a little more complicated than what some people realize. Yeah he wants big money via a NBA contract and wants to win, but he also needs to continue to build and maintain Lebron Inc.

Willie Parker churning out more yards after contact

Welcome to the third installment of my NFL blog series. If you haven’t read parts one and two, feel free to check them out. I know that I am supposed to have some sort of professional journalistic type of intro to my blog so that you guys can get all excited and lathered up about reading further. But I had a pretty crazy or should I say alcohol induced weekend. So F@*$ an intro, this is my intro.

AFC North

The AFC North has been a two team division for years now. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens are the two best teams in this division who routinely duke it out between each other for the division crown.

Every now and then the Cincinnati Bengals will get their act together and make the division interesting or sometimes pull off a miracle to win the division title like they did last year.

Then you have the mistake by the lake Cleveland Browns who sit on the sideline picking their nose wishing they could compete in this division. Hopefully Mike Holmgren can make the Browns team competitive once again because as of now they aren’t nor have they been in awhile.

(Note: If you click on the red colored team name, a link will take you to a web page that will show you strength of schedule etc.)

Chad Johnson

Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals are that team that are basically made up of a bunch of almost good, talented players, bad draft picks, high draft picks who didn’t pan out, and former first round picks who other teams cut. They do have talent, but not the kind that produces winning season’s year in and year out. This includes Chad Johnson (Ocho Cinco).

I have said many times that Ocho Cinco is hands down the most overrated wide out in the game. He is maybe a top ten wide out but if he is in the top ten he is at number ten. He is more effective with his mouth and antics than he is on the field. I have never heard a coach say that they have to find a way to slow down Chad Johnson. Statements like that don’t get used when referring to Chad.

Chad isn’t the only one on this team that I am critical of. I am very critical of Marvin Lewis who in my eyes shouldn’t be a head coach in the NFL. He is doing just enough just to get by and it seems as if he players do the same.

Marvin Lewis became the head coach for the Bengals after being considered one of the best if not the best defensive coordinators in the NFL when he was at Baltimore. But when you look at the Bengals, they have never had a great defense like Baltimore had when Marvin was in Baltimore.

Typically good coordinators that become head coaches will have whatever side of the ball that they are an expert in be really good. Last year Cincinnati had a pretty good defense, but it wasn’t really good. One has to wonder if Marvin benefitted from the talent that was in Baltimore, or if he can really coach defense or coach at all.

Even though Marvin’s coaching is somewhat questionable. On offense the Bengals have at times had really good offenses. Getting Cedric Benson last year really added another dimension to their offense that gave them balance on the offensive side of the ball and should do the same in 2011.

The addition of rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham and wide out Jordan Shipley will give Carson Palmer what he has needed for years, two guys who can work the middle of the field and exploit a defense.

Free agent signee Antonio Bryant was also brought in to give Carson and Chad some help and will be a great addition to the offense.

These acquisitions at wide out and tight end are important due to the fact that after the death of Chris Henry last year, the Bengals offense struggled. Chris Henry, not Ocho Cinco was the guy that routinely stretched the field for the Bengals and had the speed and the size to get behind defensive backs. Whether he lined up outside or in the slot, he was the key to Cincinnati’s passing game.

From the defensive side of the ball the Bengals should improve on what they built last year under Mike Zimmer. But once again we are talking about the Bengals here. Injuries on the defensive line hurt this defense late in the year and teams were able to take advantage of that.

Defensive draft picks Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins and Roddrick Muckelroy add depth and talent to the defensive line and linebacker corps. All three guys are versatile defenders and will allow Zimmerman to get more creative with his scheme to put more pressure on the QB and stop the run.

At season’s end, I see 9-7 at best with 8-8 being the most likely scenario. With the Bengals having to face the Saints, Colts, Patriots, Jets and then the Steelers and Ravens twice this year, I don’t see the playoffs in the Bengals future for 2011.

Troy Palamalu and the Steeler defense may have to carry this team during Ben's suspension

Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are one of those “you can’t tell by what’s on paper” teams like the New England Patriots. Right now as you look at their roster, you wonder how are they going to consistently generate offense.

Besides Hines Ward, Rashard Mendenhall and Heath Miller, they have a bunch of unproven guys on offense, and a offensive line didn’t look too good last year. Along with that, wide out Limas Sweed is out for the year with a season ending injury.

Mike Tomlin addressed the offense during the offseason by drafting all-world center Maurkice Pouncey along with a very talented, speedster wide out in Emmanuel Sanders and running back Jonathan Dwyer who people compare to Barry Foster. But will that be enough for Pittsburgh?

We all know about the Ben Roethlisberger situation and the fact that the Steelers will have to play four to six games without him. So the question is can Byron Leftwhich or Dennis Dixon play well against the Falcons, Titans, Bucs, Ravens and Browns until Ben gets back with the talent that they have on offense?

Defensively they look to be just as strong if not better than last year. Pittsburgh has and always will be known for their defense and during the first four or six games of the season. They may have to carry this team with Ben being out.

When you look at Pittsburgh’s 21st ranked season schedule, the Steelers should be in the playoff hunt as usual. Besides games against the Ravens, Saints, Patriots and Jets, the rest of their schedule is very soft.

Look for an 11-5 or 10-6 record for the Steelers this year.

Mike Holmgren watching Colt McCoy during passing drills

Cleveland Browns – If you are a Cleveland Brown fan, you may just want to scroll on down and read about the Baltimore Ravens because I am having a hard time finding anything nice or optimistic to say about the Browns season this year. This franchise needs more than Mike Holmgren taking over the front office. They need talent and a new head coach because I dont think Eric Mangini is the answer.

I think Mike Holmgren coming in to run things in Cleveland is very good for that franchise. They have not had any direction since their inception of the new Browns a few years back. I also think that in order for Cleveland to really progress, they need to find a new head coach or Mike may need to get back on the sidelines again.

Offensively they are a wreck but should be a lot better than last year. They are going to be running a west coast offense. When Bill Walsh created the west coast offense while in Cincy, he did it because they had no talent at any of the skill positions and Paul Brown needed to find a way to move the ball. So the Browns shouldn’t be as pedestrian as they have become known as of late.

I love all of their draft picks on the offensive side of the ball that Holmgren made. Colt McCoy and Carlton Mitchell are going to be very productive, franchise type players for Cleveland. I don’t know how Colt lasted until the third round or how Carlton lasted until the sixth round.

One tidbit to remember, Joe Montana who had the same skill set as Colt McCoy was also drafted in the 3rd round and was coached by none other than Mike Holmgren. I am not calling Colt the next Joe Montana, just saying that these guys are very similar in skill set and where they were drafted.

The running game needs help, and I don’t see any coming or on that roster as of now.

On defense, Magini is supposedly a defensive genius or good at coaching defense, but since he has left New England. He hasn’t done squat. Mangini needs to find a way to generate some sort of pass rush which would help that weak secondary a little bit. To his defense, he hasn’t had much talent on defense; I am assuming that’s why Holmgren didn’t fire him.

Mike spent four picks on defense by drafting CB – Joe Haden, FS – T.J. Ward, SS – Larry Asante and DE – Clifton Geathers. Although I felt that he was drafted a little higher than what he should have been, Joe Haden is a really good cover corner who will upgrade the secondary. T.J. Ward was a little bit of a reach too if you talk to some scouts. There were better free safeties on the board when Cleveland picked Ward.

The new kids on defense and offense will be a great asset to the team, although the young kids won’t turn this team around over night and I don’t expect to see anything that will make this team a competitive one during the 2011 season. I see a 3-13 or 2-14. Not much winning will be going on in Cleveland this year.

Baltimore will be stiff arming the competition this year

Baltimore Ravens – If there is one word that you could use to describe the Baltimore Ravens off season, it would be “Sick.” If the San Diego Chargers don’t go to Super Bowl XLV as the AFC representative, the Baltimore Ravens will. The one problem that has plagued this team for years going back to their Super year was their inability to move the ball at key times during a game. That won’t be a problem in 2011.

Joe Flacco has shown what he can do when healthy and when he has weapons at his disposal as he did during the first half of the season in 2010. With that in mind, John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome went out during the offseason and resigned wide out Derrick Mason, signed free agent wide out Donte Stallworth and traded for disgruntled, pro bowl wide out Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardnials. This gives Flacco and the Ravens a very impressive trio of wide outs to go along with Ray Rice and Todd Heap. Then they added depth and versatility to the tight end position through the draft by drafting Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

That’s a lot of quality offensive talent acquired by one team.

We already know about the defense. The two former Miami Hurricanes of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed along with the rest of the defense will be ready to play come any given Sunday or Monday night. In conjunction with that, the defense got even stronger this offseason with the drafting of DT – Terrance Cody, OLB/DE – Sergio Kindle and DT – Art Jones.

Baltimore can now have Terrance Cody line up next to Haloti Ngata, which will make it next to impossible for teams to run on them and will keep blockers off of Ray Lewis and allow him to roam free and make tackles. Sergio Kindle gives them another off the edge rusher who will be able to rush the quarterback from anywhere that he lines up. So while Ray is roaming free making plays, Baltimore will have several guys on the field that can blitz and get to the QB at will. It’s almost not even fair.

One major concern for Baltimore’s defense is their secondary. On a regular basis teams exploited holes and corners that couldn’t cover in the Ravens secondary. If they can fix that, then they are almost a lock to be in the super bowl.

I would have to say that Baltimore should finish with a 12-4 record or no worse than 11-5. Tough games against, the Saints, Patriots, Jets and Texans and of course two games with the Steelers make this year’s Super Bowl run a little difficult but do able.

Next blog, the NFC North

Should we go ahead and engrave this for the Dallas Cowboys?

I had planned on having this blog entry of my 9 part NFL blog series posted yesterday, but the job that pays the bills (oil & gas industry) has been killing me lately. Usually the day job doesn’t affect my blogging since I write my blogs in my head and then type them late at night. But this week I have been too mentally whipped to type anything after work.

By now you have most likely read part one of my NFL blog series that was about the AFC East. If you haven’t, please go and check it out. It’s worth the read even if you’re not a fan of any of the teams in the AFC East. Today I am going to stay with the east coast theme and discuss and analyze the NFC East.

NFC East

Historically this division has been known as the best division in football and as the most physical division in the football. Over the years the NFC East has had its fair share of up and down years while teams within the division were going through transitional periods. But two things that remained during those down years was a division that featured four teams that were extremely physical and really good on defense. Ex; 2010 Washington Redskins

In 2011 expect to see the NFC East uphold that moniker as the “best division in football” as well as “the most physical division in football.” The Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and the Washington Redskins are four teams that no one will want to see on their schedule in 2011.

(Note: If you click on the red colored team name, a link will take you to a web page that will show you strength of schedule etc.)

Fellow Houstonian Kevin Kolb doing a interview with Skoal in his jaw

Philadelphia Eagles – As we speak, Philly fan is still applauding or complaining about the Donovan McNabb trade and sitting around wondering if Kevin Kolb is ready to be the starting QB. Some are wondering as to how good the Eagles will be this year with the team going through a transition phase.

Don’t worry Philly fan, your Eagles won’t be great, but they won’t be 1-15 bad either. Oh yeah, and to answer the Kevin Kolb question, he is ready.

Trading Donovan McNabb was a smart move by Philly. McNabb is good but not great and I think he is a better fit in Mike Shanahan’s version of the west coast offense than he was in Andy’s. In addition to that, Kevin Kolb is ready to be the starter in Philly and will allow Andy Reid to run his offense properly. Over the past few years, Reid has gone away from the west coast offense to fit Donovan’s ability which wasn’t suited for Andy’s west coast offense.

If you watch game film, when Kolb was in at quarterback, the offense became more efficient and ran more like a west coast offense rather than a Air Coryell offense with elements of the west coast offense sprinkled in, which is what Philly’s offense had become with Donovan in at quarterback.

The transition from McNabb to Kolb should be reminiscent of when Green Bay went from Brett Favre to Aaron Rogers last year. Green Bay’s offense went to good and effective to efficient and explosive.

Speaking of transition, Andy Reid and the GM have done a great job of remaking this roster on the fly in just two years. A lot of people in Philly weren’t too happy about the Eagles draft strategy back in April, but there was a method to Andy Reid’s madness and his draft class this year was great.

Philly picked up a lot of quality players in this year’s draft and guys who will make that team even better than it was in years past. Charles Scott is a guy on the offensive side of the ball who I think will drastically improve their running game. Scott is a type of running back that Philly hasn’t had since Andy has been there.

Charles is a big, bruising, punishing one cut running back that will bring a physical style of running game that the Eagles have never had but have needed. Wide out Riley Cooper from the University of Florida will also be a great addition to that offense and gives Andy a big wide out to play in either the slot or on the outside like Ed Mc Cafferey did in San Francisco and in Denver.

Defensively the Eagles should be better than what they were over the past two years. In the draft they were able to get guys who will bolster up their defensive line as well as improve their pass rush. Brandon Graham is the blue chip stud in their draft class who will be an extremely productive player on defense and wreck havoc on opposing offenses.

At year’s end, I am looking for Philly to finish the year at 9-7 if things go right, or 6-10 if things get bad or they lose some close games due to the fact that they are a young team having to learn how to win.

Tough games against the Packers, Vikings, Texans, Forty-Niners, along with playing the Cowboys twice equates to the 9th toughest schedule in the league.

Donovan McNabb getting comfortable in Shanahan's Offense

Washington Redskins Daniel Snyder finally got tired of losing and decided to stop getting involved in football operations. So he got rid of Vinny Cerrato who was his puppet, and he went out and hired two guys to take over football operations and make the Redskins a winner.

One of those guys was Mike Shanahan who had been unemployed for the past year after getting fired in Denver. The other guy was Bruce Allen who is the son of Redskin great George Allen. Bruce was appointed as GM of the Redskins and is the first guy to be named GM since Snyder has owned the team.

Shanahan and Allen have brought in years of experience on how to run a football team the right way. Unlike Snyder, they don’t believe in running the team like a fantasy football team. As soon as free agency hit, Washington’s new philosophy on how to operate during the offseason was put into effect by not going after big name free agents as they had done in the past, and they cleaned house of dead weight players. This was because Mike and Bruce were running things, not Snyder.

Thanks to Snyder and Vinny Cerrato this team has major issues, but majority of the issues are on the offensive side of the ball. Somehow Snyder and Cerrato were able to get good players on the defensive side of the ball as well as coaches.

Mike is known as an offensive genius and his fingerprints will be all over this team. Offensively the Redskins will be a much better team than what they have been in a long time. To help improve the Redskins offense, Shanahan went and stole his son Kyle Shanahan from my Texans to become the offensive coordinator in Washington.

If you don’t know how good Kyle is, pull up Houston’s stats over the past four years. The kid knows offense and helped make Houston a top five team offensively every year. Not to mention he made Matt Schaub the top quarterback in the league last year statistically and Pro Bowl MVP.

Getting Donovan McNabb from Philly was a great move and one that will make the Redskins a really good team for a long time. McNabb’s mobility is perfect for what the Shanahan’s love to do on offense with the various bootlegs they like to run. Along with his mobility, his veteran leadership will help solidify that ball club immensely.

They have some questions at the wide out position, but the west coast offense isn’t based on how great your wide outs and running backs are. It’s an offense that focuses more on execution and timing. Plus Donovan is used to not having wide outs. But he does have several running backs to either hand off or throw to now. (Larry Johnson, Clinton Portis, Willie Parker)

Washington’s running game should be better with Portis, Johnson and Parker splitting time in the backfield and with Mike’s commitment to running the ball.

Over the past five years the Redskins have had a top ten defense while running a 4-3 defense. This year the Redskins are switching to a 3-4 defense. They don’t have all of the pieces to run that defense properly, but they have talent and like Green Bay last year who went through the same switch. Talent will be able to cover up for deficiencies in certain areas. If Albert Haynesworth gets with the program, this defense can be dominating up front.

Overall I think the Redskins will be a more competitive team and may also compete for a wildcard spot along with the Eagles. I see them either ending the season with a 9-7 or an 8-8 record.

The week 12 game against the Houston Texans should be a very interesting game to watch. The teacher Mike Shanahan will be going up against his pupil/former player in Gary Kubiak, and Rick Dennison while Kubiak and Dennison will be going up against their former teacher Mike Shanahan, and pupil Kyle Shanahan. To make a long story short, these two teams will know everything that each other will be doing before they do it.

Eli Manning saw too much of this last year

New York Giants – I must admit that out of all of the teams that I get bored writing about, the New York Giants are at the top of my list. Sorry Giants fans. Fact is, the Giants are and always will be a non flashy team with not anything that makes you clamor for news about them. They have even become back page news in their own city now.

Watching Giants games can be boring at times and could possibly cure someone of insomnia, especially last year. In 2010 the Giants offense was inconsistent at best. Whether it was through the air or on the ground, New York was pedestrian at times. Brandon Jacobs looked slow and wasn’t as effective as he had been in previous years. When Brandon wasn’t struggling to be effective, the offensive line and Eli Manning was.

The loss of Plaxico Burress seriously affected the Giants passing game last year and you could tell that Eli missed his go to guy. Eli, unlike his brother Peyton and a few others, doesn’t have the ability to make others around him better. He needs to be surrounded by good players to make him better. Hopefully New York’s young, talented group of wide outs will be much better than what they were last year and give Eli some help.

On defense, the Giants need to figure what they are going to do to stop teams from running the ball on them all day long like teams did last year. Their defensive tackles are just plain bad at stopping the run. They simply couldn’t hold up at the point of attack at all last year.

To make matters worse, their defensive leader, middle linebacker Antonio Pierce was released and they didn’t really find a good, proven replacement for him yet. In the NFL, if you don’t have good defensive tackles and a good middle linebacker, you can’t stop anyone from running on you.

New York did address the defensive tackle position by drafting Linval Joseph to help shore up their run defense, but you can’t expect a second round pick rookie to be the answer to a poor run defense.

Despite their issues on both sides of the ball, they will be a much better team than what they were last year. I don’t expect them to improve much defensively, but we will see what happens. There are surprises every year.

I see 10-6 with 8-8 being the worst possible scenario with Tom Coughlin being on the hot seat at the end of the year. Games against the Packers and Vikings could be ugly for the Giants.

Dez Bryant is focused on proving 31 other teams wrong

Dallas Cowboys – Last year I and many called the Dallas Cowboys one of the most complete teams in the NFL. In all three phases of the game, the Cowboys are solid and are in most cases, better than their competition.

Well, one of the most complete teams in football got better this offseason. The only thing that can stop the Cowboys from reaching the Super Bowl is their inability to put together a complete season. It seems like every season they start the season off fast, get into a funk for about four games, then finish the season well. That needs to be fixed or they will be watching the Super Bowl in Dallas this year and not playing in it.

If Wade Phillips can get his team to put together a complete season, I don’t see but maybe two other teams competing with them in the NFC to go to Super bowl XLV. Dallas should become the first team in NFL history to play in a home Super Bowl.

Whether it’s with the running game or the passing game, Dallas can hurt a team in many ways. I don’t need to bore you with mentioning the names of the three headed monster rushing attack that Dallas has. Nor do I need to talk about how much more explosive they will become with the addition of Dez Bryant to go along with Miles Austin, Jason Witten and a inspired to improve (thanks to Dez Bryant being drafted) Roy Williams. Some things in life should just be left unsaid.

All that needs to be pointed out is that if you are a defensive coordinator not on the Cowboys coaching staff, you have a serious situation on your hands come Sunday. Dallas just simply has a lot of weapons for Tony Romo to use to put points on the board.

With Wade Phillips calling the plays on defense, you can expect to see the dominating defense that Dallas displayed in the second half of the season last year. Their one weakness on the defense last year was the secondary. That won’t be much of a weakness this year.

Even though the Cowboys have the third toughest schedule in the league, I see them going 14-2 at best or 12-4 at worst. They have several tough games this year starting off with a game in week two against the in state rival Houston Texans. Games at Lambeau Field and in Minnesota in weeks 6 and 9 aren’t going to be cake walks either but will be great games. Then a rematch of last year’s Saints/Cowboys game in week 12 will be one not to miss if you’re a football fan.

September 9th can’t some soon enough folks, until then. I will see you guys on Sunday with part three. The AFC North is on deck.

Rex has his Jets poised to make a run for the top spot

Football season is around the corner and I vowed that I wouldn’t write my division and team ranking blogs until training camp. Well yesterday a conversation amongst a couple of people on twitter about the Miami Dolphins motivated me to start this nine part series today.

I am not trying to prove a point or anything. I think my knowledge of the game of football whether its college or pro speaks for itself. Anyone who knows me personally or has been following me on twitter for awhile can attest to this. Bottom line, I am rarely wrong when it comes to football.

You may not like what I have to say or may think I am borderline clueless at times with my Skip Bayless like comments. But like Skip, usually what I say comes true or almost does.

I am a realist and the truth hurts sometimes. Unlike most people, I am able to analyze the game of football without rose colored glasses on. I am a Texans and Patriots fan, but I will criticize everything and anything they do also. I favor no one when it comes to the truth.

So let’s get into day one/blog entry number one of my nine part NFL division and team rankings blogs. Parts one through eight is going to be divisional analysis with the ninth entry being team rankings. Today we will begin with the AFC East.

AFC East

This division has never really been a strong division. For the exception of last year, it’s been the New England Patriots and everyone else. From time to time, the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins or Buffalo Bills will have a decent year and challenge New England or maybe win the division. But it isn’t the norm.

Things should be a lot different with New England aging and the Jets and Dolphins getting better. New England will still be New England, but the Jets have shown that they can beat New England and Miami can give them a run for their money too. Buffalo isn’t even ready to compete with themselves yet so no need to think about them competing with the previous three that I just mentioned.

(Note: If you click on the red colored team name, a link will take you to a web page that will show you strength of schedule etc.)

Tom Brady

New England Patriots – The Patriots are a aging dynasty that is in the midst of retooling, not rebuilding. New England had one of the best drafts in this year’s draft and was able to address lots of needs both of the defensive and offensive side of the ball.

Offensively the Patriots will be ok as they always have been. Will they be as explosive as they were in 2007? No, but they will be just as effective as they were last year and should be a little better with Brady having a full season under his belt after missing a year to knee surgery.

Most of New England’s offensive issues last year came from Tom Brady who wasn’t comfortable playing with his surgically repaired knee. Brady wasn’t stepping into his throws most of the time and wasn’t comfortable with “trash” around his legs while in the pocket. Another major issue in New England last year was that the new players were not learning or buying into the system (Joey Galloway).

Wes Welker is another big concern for the Patriots offense. Question still remains as to how he will bounce back after the season ending knee injury that he suffered against the Texans in the last game of the season. If he returns and is the Wes Welker that we all know, then all is good in Boston.

Defensively New England should be better but I am not going to put my name on that prediction. Last year the defense was atrocious and lost a lot of games for the Pats. Bill Belichick fired Dan Pees who was the defensive coordinator over the last couple of years in New England. Bill went ahead and announced that he was taking over the play calling for the defense this year and no defensive coordinator would be named.

With the genius calling the plays on defense, and with the new players that they acquired on defense during the offseason. This year’s defense should be much better than last year’s defense. I will admit though, I am taking a wait and see approach to that prediction. One thing that New England must do if they don’t do anything else is improve their run defense. They were fourth in the NFL in giving up the most yards per carry to opposing teams.

In the end I see the Patriots finishing 12-4 if all things go well. Or 10-6 if they don’t get their defensive issues fixed and their running game and Wes Welker don’t play well in the first half of the year. Games against the Vikings, Packers and Ravens are games that can go either way and can give New England problems if their secondary isn’t on point.

Mark Sanchez

New York Jets – I have gone on record as saying that I am not completely sold on the Jets being what everyone is saying they are, a championship contending team. They made some really nice moves during the offseason and then made some questionable ones. Releasing Alan Faneca and trading Leon Washington could come back to haunt them.

Offensively everything relies on the maturation process of Mark Sanchez. In this being his second year, he needs to be able to take that next step that rookie QBs have to take in order to become a legit NFL quarterback and take his team to that next level as a Super Bowl contender. He was way too inconsistent last year and hurt his team more than he helped which is typical of rookie quarterbacks.

The addition of Santonio Holmes and LaDanian Tomlinson should give Mark the weapons he needs to help turn the Jets offense into an efficient and formidable one, but it all comes back down to Mark being smart with the football.

The Jets have already become known as a defensive team in just one year. The defense is the strength of this team and most likely will always be. They were the number one ranked defense last year, and I expect them to be even better.

Having Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis on the corners with that pass rush isn’t something that teams in the AFC are too excited about having to face. First round pick Kyle Wilson was a great draft day selection that allows Rex to have a good speedy, physical cover corner on a team’s slot receiver (Wes Welker).

Rex Ryan loves having really good cover corners because it allows him to do so much with his scheme. When Rex was in Baltimore, he was always begging Ozzie Newsome to draft certain corners for him to have on defense. Ozzie declined 95% of the time. Well now Rex has his corners, three really good ones. That Jets defense is going to be scary good.

New York should either finish 13-3 or 11-5. 9-7 if Mark plays inconsistent like he did last year. Vikings, Texans and Packers are games that the Jets may struggle in. Offensively these teams can put it on ya.

Ronnie Brown

Miami Dolphins – Miami is one of those teams that you look at and you ask yourself how are they able to do what they do with what they have. They don’t have one or two guys on their entire roster that is ranked in the top ten in any position except for maybe Brandon Marshall now. The Fins have question marks up and down their roster that is littered with “B” level talent and unproven players.

Unless you are a Browns, Bills, Chiefs, or Seahawks and maybe a Raiders fan, you’re not really worried about the Dolphins beating your team are you? They just don’t have it all together yet to really make you scared. I have to admit that I don’t even watch the game when Houston or New England plays Miami. The Dolphins haven’t handled any one of those two teams yet so I have no worries.

Losing Jason Taylor and Joey Porter will hurt immediately. Jared Odrick and Koa Misi aren’t ready to step in and produce at that level yet. Second round pick Koa Misi who is a DE, is being converted into an outside linebacker. It takes three to four years for DEs to make that transition to outside linebacker. So don’t expect Miami to have a great pass rush this year. Karlos Dansby helps but he can’t do it by himself, and Channin Crowder benefitted from Jason Taylor and Joey Porter being there.

Miami brought in Brandon Marshall to add some punch to their offense and to give Chad Henne a big time target at wide out to throw to. Marshall is a great addition to that almost anemic offense, but he isnt the overall answer. There are two major issues with Miami’s offense; one is that as talented as Chad Henne is, he needs time to develop. Expecting him to go from where he was last year to good over night won’t happen. Brandon Marshall helps, but a QB and a wide out need time to get on the same page.

Brandon Marshall is an extremely talented wide out, but he may not get properly used in Miami until they change their offensive philosophy. Think about it, in Denver he played in Mike Shanahan’s west coast offense. Then he played in Josh McDaniel’s pass happy version of the Erhardt-Perkins offense. Miami tries to run the run oriented version of the Erhardt-Perkins offense that has about 80% of the “wildcat” mixed in. The old saying of “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” applies to the Marshall in Miami experiment.

The second issue with Miami offensively is their offense as a whole. They can’t consistently move the ball without running the “wildcat”. I have no problem with the “wildcat”. It has a place in this league and I think more teams should use it more (Dallas, Houston). It’s when you have to rely on the “wildcat” to consistently move the ball because your passing game is inept is when I have an issue with the “wildcat”. Like one of the Dolphins players said on a NFL films clip, “The wildcat! That’s our whole playbook now!”

On the defensive side of the ball their secondary is bad and they have no pass rush. They did address both areas in the draft and should be better overall defensively. I like the Dansby free agent signing and the draft picks of Koa Misi and Jared Odrick. Those three guys along with the DBs and defensive lineman they drafted should significantly improve this defense. I just don’t expect great things from them until two years from now.

Miami has a pretty tough schedule and as I was tweeting yesterday. I was having a hard time finding more than five games that they would win. At best I have them going 7-9 with some lucky breaks, and 6-10 as the most likely scenario. Three games that are hard to call are the Tennessee, Oakland and the Detroit game.

I can’t see Tennessee being a bad team again and Oakland is going to be a good team. Not playoff good, but a team that goes 8-8 and will not be an easy win for some teams. Detroit is a team that has made a lot of great offseason moves over the past two years. Everyone including myself loves what Detroit has done. Check the roster and game film from all sixteen games last year and you will see what I mean. The Lions may not be an easy win if at all a win for Miami.

I don’t think that Miami is a bad team; I just think that their talent level and many question marks on both sides of the ball don’t put them in a favorable position for this year. Especially with them playing in a tough AFC division and conference.

Trent Edwards and Fred Jackson

Buffalo Bills – Where do I start with this team? Will we see paper bags back on Bills fans heads at games this year? This team is bad and is going through a rebuilding year/phase with a new head coach in Chan Gailey who shouldn’t have even gotten the job. Brian Billick or Leslie Frasier would have been much better choices than a retread in Gailey.

Talent wise they don’t have much if any except for C.J. Spiller who will be an amazing player, but may have a hard time his first two years being effective with the lack of offensive line help and overall talent on offense.

Offensively they have questions everywhere except at running back. Trent Edwards hasn’t officially been given the job yet in Buffalo, but the other quarterbacks on the team aren’t anything to be hopeful about anyway.

Buffalo will struggle worst than what they did last year offensively. I don’t see where or how they will be able to generate offense with the players that they currently have. If you’re a defensive coordinator, you put eight or nine guys in the box a double Lee Evans and tell the equipment guys to start packing up stuff and for the bus drivers to keep the busses running.

Defense is something that may go from bad to worse as they are transitioning from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense. There isn’t much talent on this Bills defense that was one of the worst teams on run defense last year. Gailey didn’t do too good of a job drafting defensive players that will fit his 3-4 scheme in this year’s draft. That’s not good news when you are transitioning from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and you already don’t have talent on that side of the ball.

I don’t see Buffalo winning more than one or two games this year unless they catch a team slipping. I expect a 2-14 season at best or 1-15 if things really get bad. But then again things are already bad in Buffalo.

Kobe Bryant doing his imitation of Michael Jordan after last nights win over Boston

Unless you are a Quaker or you just got released from prison or the county jail this morning. You probably watched the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 83 to 79 to win back to back NBA championships last night by outscoring the Celtics 30 to 22 in the fourth quarter.

I am not a Lakers fan nor am I a hater. L.A. winning last night doesn’t piss me off even though I predicted that the Celtics would beat L.A. in seven games. I can admit when I am wrong and eat crow and be gracious about it. I can also give credit when credit is due.

The Lakers did what I didn’t think they had the ability to do. L.A. beat a team that was mentally, physically tougher and more talented than they were. Out of all of the championships that L.A. has won since Kobe has been there, this one to me is the most significant one and makes me respect them more than I ever have.

So congratulations to the Lakers and the city of L.A. and their fans. I hope the city of L.A. and every Lakers fans around the world enjoys this championship for as long as you possibly can. I am sure Ron Artest and the rest of the Lakers are.

Ron Artest is probably still sitting in a club or lounge somewhere in L.A. telling stories of how the greatest basketball player that he has ever seen or played against was a dude named Mike Chathway from Queens Bridge, New York who went to jail or died last year; or how Michael Jordan said that he wished that he would have played against him (Artest) in his prime. I swear that boy isn’t right in his head, but I am happy for him for some odd reason.

Somewhere Kobe Bryant is doing what God only knows Kobe does during his off time when he isn’t doing lame commercials of him doing soccer celebrations, participating in photo shots of him wearing weird all white outfits or jumping over Ashton Martins driving towards him at 60 MPH. Maybe he is at home with Vanessa planning his next attempt to immolate Michael Jordan’s mannerisms as he did last night after the game by jumping on the scorer’s table with the ball in his hands holding up five fingers like Jordan did after winning his fourth.

I have always defended Kobe when people would say that he tries to imitate things that Jordan did and said during Jordan’s career. I never saw what people were talking about until last night. That Jordan like stunt that he did after the final buzzer really caught my attention. Kobe has become just as consumed as we are as fans when it comes to comparing him to Mike that he seems to think that he needs to act like Mike at times.

The one thing that Kobe didn’t do a good job of last night was imitating how well Jordan typically played in NBA finals games. Kobe was horrendous all night long except in the last two minutes of the game when he hit a big shot and grabbed two key rebounds to help the Lakers complete the comeback over the Celtics. When he wasn’t missing shots, or dribbling the ball off of his feet, he looked out of sync and frustrated at times.

A good example of how bad Kobe was last night was displayed in the second quarter when he got the ball at the three point line and had Rasheed Wallace in front of him about three feet away. Instead of pressuring Kobe, Wallace backpedalled to go position himself under the basket for a rebound and let Kobe take a wide open three pointer which he missed. He was that bad at times last night. Ignore the 23 points that Kobe scored and the finals MVP award he collected. Those points and MVP award are very misleading of how Kobe actually played last night.

Overall the Lakers didn’t play well at all. They shot poorly from the field due to the Celtics tough defense and poor shot selection from several Lakers players, and L.A.’s free throw shooting wasn’t anything to brag about either except for in the fourth quarter when they needed every point to win. Besides hitting key free throws in the last three minutes of the game, there only saving grace was their great offensive rebounding, and Ron Artest and Pau Gasol.

Ron Artest and Pau Gasol stepped up and played big throughout the entire game and were the ones who led the charge late in the third quarter to come back from a thirteen point deficit. Derek Fisher didn’t play extremely well last night but he came through with a huge three point shot in the fourth with two minutes remaining to tie the game.

Despite Kobe’s off night and the Lakers overall average to subpar play. Game seven was by far the best game of the series. At the same time this game displayed what the entire series had been all about; two good teams who at times couldn’t find a way to put it all together to play a complete game.

For three quarters the Boston Celtics looked like the team that we saw in games two, four and five. Then at times they looked like the team we saw in games one, three and six. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett came to play and played well at times and so did Rasheed Wallace. But they disappeared in the fourth quarter when they were needed the most.

While the Celtics were playing like the team we saw in games two, four and five through three quarters of game seven. L.A. was playing like they did in games two, four and five and pretty much played like that the entire game. The game basically came down to which one of the two underperforming teams could make big plays down the stretch in the fourth quarter since both teams had reverted back to old habits in the fourth.

Five years from now when people talk about this game. They are going to talk about how great both teams played defensively and how poorly Kobe Bryant played in maybe one of the biggest games in his career to date. Some may mention how Ron Artest played big for L.A. all night, then thanked his psychiatrist and promoted his upcoming rap album during the post game interview.

However people choose to talk or remember game seven of the 2010 NBA finals. It will ultimately be remembered as the night that L.A. got revenge on Boston for the loss in the 2008 NBA finals. Once again, congrats to the Lakers.