NFL Power Rankings 1-15

1.  New Orleans – They are the defending champs right?  The question is can the defense force as many turnovers as they did a year ago.

2. Indianapolis Colts – A healthy Anthony Gonzales is a huge boost for the offense.  If Bob Sanders can stay injury free, the defense will be just fine.

3. Minnesota Vikings – This pick is based on Brett Favre returning.  Memo to Adrian Peterson: Hold on to the football, please.

4. San Diego Chargers – They probably have the most talent on offense of anyone in the NFL.  Rookie Ryan Matthews will more than fill the void left by LT.

5. Dallas Cowboys – If you’ve read this blog, you know how impressed I am by Dez Bryant.  If the safeties hold up, they are contenders to play in the Super Bowl at their home stadium.

6. Green Bay Packers – After this season Aaron Rodgers will be one of the elite quarterbacks in the league.  The front seven of the defense is very talented.

7. New York Jets – I’m still not sold on them as an elite team based on the fact they’re starting a second-year quarterback.  The defense, which added Antonio Cromartie, will be even better.

8. Baltimore Ravens – Anquan Boldin gives Joe Flacco a legitimate threat a receiver.  If Ed Reed is 100% on defense, they will be fine.

9. Cincinnati Bengals – Bringing in Terrell Owens this summer was a good move.  Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph are arguably the best tandem of corners in the league.

10. New England Patriots – Any team with Tom Brady at the helm has a chance to be successful.  Having a healthy Wes Welker is huge for the offense.

11. Atlanta Falcons – Michael Turner trimmed down this off-season and should be quicker.  Adding Dunta Robinson to the defense is a plus.

12. San Francisco 49ers – Can Alex Smith finally live up to his draft expectations?  Michael Crabtree will become a star in this league and Patrick Willis might be the best linebacker in the game.

13. Tennessee Titans – Chris Johnson is the star, but the offense will depend on Vince Young.  The defense is old and it didn’t help losing pro-bowler Kyle Vanden Bosch.

14.  Philadelphia Eagles – I wouldn’t expect the Eagles to be a better team after losing Donovan McNabb and Bryan Westbrook.  However, the offense is loaded with young talent which will help first-year starter Kevin Kolb.

15. Arizona Cardinals – They took a big hit this off-season losing Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, and Antrel Rolle.  Matt Leinart finally get’s his chance to be the No. 1 guy in Arizona.

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NFL Power Rankings 16-32

16. Houston Texans – The Texans finished a franchise best 9-7 last season.  Until they breakthrough and make the playoffs, they can’t be considered one of the best in the league.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Losing Ben Roethlisberger for the first six games is devastating.  The defense will be boosted with a healthy Troy Polamalu.  If they’re .500 when Big Ben returns, they have a shot at making the playoffs.

18. New York Giants – I haven’t been impressed with the Giants since they won the Super Bowl.  Eli Manning is inconsistent and injuries have plagued them the last two seasons.

19. Denver Broncos – I like the defense led by Elvis Dumervil and veterans in the secondary.  Trading away Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall the last two years I think was a mistake.  Let the Tim Tebow show begin.

20. Carolina Panthers – Their season will be dependent on the play of Matt Moore.  The defense takes a hit losing Julius Peppers.  The running back tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart is potent.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars – The fact that they’re in a tough division hurts their playoff chances.  David Garrard is capable at quarterback but has to play more consistent.

22. Chicago Bears – I’m still not sold on this team.  Jay Cutler turned the ball over way too much.  Adding Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor should help though.  They have to find a primary receiver.

23. Miami Dolphins – The quarterback situation is uncertain, but Chad Henne is talented.  Brandon Marshall should help the offense, but I’m not sure Ricky Williams can play as well as he did last season.

24. Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs have a ton of young talent.  Matt Cassell should have a better second season.  I like Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones at running back.

25. Washington Redskins – It shocks me that Philadelphia traded Donovan McNabb within the division.  However, this team still has a lot of holes.  The running game was stagnant a year ago and Albert Haynesworth appears to be unhappy.

26. Oakland Raiders – Bringing in Jason Campbell and getting rid of JaMarcus Russell was a good idea.  Rookie Rolando McClain should be a stud in this league.

27. Seattle Seahawks – Pete Carroll left a sticky situation at USC to come to a struggling team.  Matt Hasselbeck has been injury-prone recently.

28. Detroit Lions – The defense will be better with free agent acquisitions and drafting Ndamukong Suh.  Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson should be a deadly combo for a while.  Love the pick of Jahvid Best in the last first round.

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Josh Freeman showed his potential at times last season.  Barrett Ruud should be a pro-bowler in the near future.

30. Cleveland Browns – Mike Holmgren enters with little talent on the team.  I don’t think Jake Delhomme is the answer at quarterback.

31. Buffalo Bills – The uncertainty at quarterback is a problem.  At least the T.O. show has left town.

32. St. Louis Rams – Sam Bradford will struggle his first season with the lack of receiving talent.  It’s a shame a running back like Steven Jackson is on such a poor team.

Check back later for 1-15

Will C.J. Spiller be a bust?

Let’s face it, if a top 10 pick in the NFL  isn’t eventually a pro-bowler, his career has to be considered somewhat of a failure.  C.J. Spiller has all the tangibles to be a great NFL player.  He’s fast, elusive, and can catch the ball.  Not to mention he is a serious threat in the return game.  

However, the more I saw Spiller’s college game, the more it reminded me of Reggie Bush.  Which is potentially a problem.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of teams in this league that would love to have Bush.  With that being said, looking back at the 2006 draft, it’s hard to see why Bush was picked even in the first round.  

Coming out of college Spiller and Bush were virtually the same size with Bush at 5-11 200, and Spiller 5’10 195.  They are both extremely fast and versatile.  I still see too many similarities between them though.  

Was C.J. Spiller worthy of a top 10 pick?

 

The biggest challenge for Spiller will be if he can run between the tackles better than Bush has in the NFL.  In college Bush was able to run two yards upfield, and then break to the outside using his speed.  In the NFL that hasn’t exactly worked for him.  While Spiller is a bit of a better inside runner than Bush, he still used his speed to bail him out of many situations.  

If Spiller was a pure wide receiver, his abilities could be utilized better on the field.  Think of someone like Minnesota’s Percy Harvin.  He too is similar to Spiller and Bush in athletic ability.  However, with Harvin’s main threat being at receiver, it takes less pressure off of him to run the ball.  

If I were to predict C.J. Spiller’s career in the NFL, I would say he will have a good one.  But not great.  And Buffalo has to decide if they will be satisfied with that.

MLS stars square off against Manchester United

There are very few teams that have fans around the world.  When Manchester United take the field tonight against the MLS All-Stars at Reliant Stadium, expect a sea of red jerseys.  United are the world’s most popular team in any sport with an estimated fan base of over 100 million.

Tonight, they will try and do something no other team from Europe has accomplished.  That is defeat the MLS All-Stars.  Since the game was switched to its current format in 2005, the MLS have defeated every one of their foreign oppositions with the exception of Everton a year ago who won in penalties (because Everton won on penalties the game goes down as a draw with them then winning on pk’s).

Landon Donovan

Although this is an exhibition match, something tells me United boss Sir Alex Ferguson wants to leave with a victory.  The Red Devils will have to do so without the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ji-Sung Park, Nemanja Vidic, and Patrice Evra who are being rested after recently playing in the World Cup.  Rio Ferdinand is also a no-go due to injury.

United still have plenty of quality players though with veterans Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.  Portuguese winger Nani will also be available after missing the World Cup due to injury.  There’s also talented youngsters Danny Welbeck, Gabriel Obertan, and Federico Macheda.

The biggest signing for Manchester United this summer was Mexico International Javier Hernandez.  He linked up with the team this Tuesday in Houston to train for the first time.  The up-and-coming forward scored twice for Mexico in the World Cup.  Sir Alex Ferguson is still unsure whether Hernandez will debut tonight.

“We’d like to use him part of the game,” Ferguson said. “We’re trying to integrate him into the team as quickly as possible. … But we want to have a chat with him to see what he’s been doing physically, because I don’t think it would be wise to play him without any physical preparation.”

Landon Donovan of the LA Galaxy should feature later in the match.  Donovan and teammate Donovan Ricketts flew in this morning after playing a CONCACAF Champions League match in Los Angeles last night.

Cincinnati is a good fit for Terrell Owens

Go ahead and pat yourself on the back T.O.  Other than agreeing to do reality television, signing with the Bengals has been your best move in quite some time.  Today, Cincinnati signed the veteran receiver to a one-year $2 million deal.

While the Bengals training camp will be a media frenzy, Owens should have the least drama-filled season he’s encountered in a while.  For several reasons, Owens joining Cincinnati is a smart move for both sides.

Terrell Owens will be with his third team in as many seasons

First and foremost, T.O. is going to a team that can contend for a division title.  Had he gone somewhere like St. Louis, people would have been looking for someone to blame for another poor season.  Who better than Owens?  Not to mention he would’ve been chirping in the ear of rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, which wouldn’t have been good for his confidence.  While I still don’t consider the Bengals an elite team of the AFC, they do have the pieces to make a deep run.  Which leads me to….

Carson Palmer is the quarterback in Cincinnati.  Everyone knows T.O. has no problem bashing quarterbacks.  However, after working out with Palmer this off-season Owens has already backed the veteran.  No offense to Trent Edwards, but Owens will have a better quarterback throwing him the ball this year.  Combine that with Cedric Benson who revived his career last season, you have quite an offense.  Not to mention…

For the first time in over a decade, Owens will not be the No. 1 receiver on a team.  Chad Ochocinco is younger than T.O. and will be their best option.  While Owens is certainly aging, he is still a very good No. 2 receiver.  The two of them on the field together should open up defenses for rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham, who I like a lot.  The Bengals also have talented young receivers with rookies Dezmon Briscoe and Jordan Shipley.  Adding Antonio Bryant this off-season as well probably gives Cincinnati the deepest set of receivers in the league.

Yao Ming on the verge of potential retirement

As if the Houston Rockets luck couldn’t get any worse, well it has.  For half a decade they struggled with keeping the tandem of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming healthy.  The two never played an entire season together at full strength, and only twice were they both able to play in the postseason as a duo.

Half of that problem is gone in McGrady, now the franchise player is in major doubt of whether he wants to continue his career.  The timing of this is detrimental because had Yao retired a few months ago, Houston would’ve had more cap space to sign one of the big free agents this summer.

Yao Ming has been plagued by injuries his whole career

Yao, who turns 30 in September didn’t sound very optimistic about his future as a basketball player.

“If the foot injury does not heal next season, I might choose to call it quits,” he said.

Everyone knows how passionate Yao was a couple years ago when he was in trouble of missing the 2008 Olympics in Beijing due to injury.  Now, he has come out and said he has probably played his final game for the Chinese National Team.  This makes me think his future in the NBA is in serious question.  Yao seemingly put his country before the Rockets.  And the fact that he is contemplating retiring from International play, has to be a scary thought in a place once known as “clutch city”.

Even if Yao is going to play this season at close to full strength, his minutes will be limited, hence the signing of big man Brad Miller.  Look for Yao to play around 35 a game.  To be a superstar in this league I just don’t see how you can play less than 40 minutes a night.

It appears with a healthy Yao, the Rockets have the pieces to make a deep run in the Western Conference.  Especially now that players like Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer have left the Suns and Jazz respectively.  However, as a Houston fan myself, it worries me that our chances to play great basketball rely on the health of one player rather than the team itself on the court.

Good for you Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant didn’t come into the  NFL to be an equipment manager.  Especially not for a player who he was drafted to replace.  Which is why Bryant promptly shut down the idea of carrying teammate Roy Williams’ pads and helmet off the practice field.

“I’m not doing it,” Bryant said.  “I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player’s pads.”

“If I was a free agent, it would still be the same thing. I just feel like I’m here to play football. I’m here to try to help win a championship, not carry someone’s pads. I’m saying that out of no disrespect to [anyone].”Dez Bryant has looked spectacular so far for Dallas

It’s common for rookies to go through a hazing process and when Williams was a rookie in 2004 he claims he carried pads for other players as well as paid for meals.

“No matter if you’re a No. 1 pick or the 7,000th pick, you’ve still got to do something when you’re a rookie,” Williams said.”

By being the first 1st round pick to sign, Bryant is taking this gig very seriously.  He has wowed spectators in practices by making spectacular catches.  It’s not like Bryant doesn’t have enough pressure to succeed anyway.  He is wearing the number of Cowboy great Michael Irvin.

When listening to Bryant talk, you feel he has the swagger of a guy who knows he is going to be good.  Hopefully this doesn’t turn into arrogance and drama.  It would be nice to see him turn out with a personality like Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson.  Not someone like Terrell Owens or Chad Ochocinco.

Since the issue has come out Bryant has said the two were just joking around.  Something tells me though Williams was not happy Bryant showed him up.  My prediction is that in a few months Williams will be the one carrying Bryant’s pads.

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