NFL Predictions

September 13, 2013

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It is football season again. By the time this article is published, the first week of the regular season will already be on the books. The following is my prediction of what the results of this season will be. In 17 weeks we will see just how right or wrong I am, at least as far as the playoffs go.

Division 2012 2013 Prediction
AFC East New England New England
AFC North Baltimore Cincinnati
AFC South Houston Houston
AFC West Denver Denver
AFC Wild Card Indianapolis Indianapolis
AFC Wild Card Cincinnati Pittsburgh
NFC East Washington New York
NFC North Green Bay Green Bay
NFC South Atlanta Atlanta
NFC West San Francisco Seattle
NFC Wild Card Seattle San Francisco
NFC Wild Card Minnesota Minnesota


  • Exiting Playoffs: Baltimore, Washington – Baltimore defense is just too weak, RGIII will get hurt.
  • Joining Playoffs: New York Giants, Pittsburgh – both purely on defense
  • San Francisco moves from division champion to wild card – Keapernick will get hurt
  • Cincinnati and Seattle move from wild card to division champion – Overwhelming talent
  • All four divisional playoff games will be blowouts (more than 14 point victories)


Super Bowl: Atlanta vs Houston

Super Bowl Champion: Atlanta Falcons


January Football

January 5, 2013

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January is Football Euphoria

The Bowl Season is nearly complete. The office confidence pools are wrapping up, and more of us are looking forward to the BCS Title Game between Alabama and Notre Dame. The NFL playoffs start this weekend and there are a bunch of intriguing match-ups as well.

Hopefully Santa dropped off that new large flat screen LED TV for you to take in all the action from the warm and friendly confines of your home.

Wildcard Weekend!

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson (Photo credit: Mike Morbeck)

The NFL games start off with a rematch of last week’s battle of Minnesota and Green Bay. This match up puts arguably the best two players at their position, Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson, against one another yet again. How many weeks can Peterson carry the Vikings? I would have thought they would have slipped out of the race a long time ago, but the fact they are here at all speaks volumes to their coaching staff and well…Adrian Peterson. Weather forecast for the Frozen Tundra…not exactly frozen, but upper 20’s with a chance of snow.. Will that hurt the Pack’s passing attack?

Pack get revenge as it is too tough to beat a team in back to back weeks. Packer  27, Vikings 17

Houston and Cincinnati. It seems like just a few weeks ago (and actually was) that Houston was in the driver’s seat for home field advantage for the entire playoffs. Now they have to play a first round game against red hot Cincinnati. The Texans are better but you never know…Who Dey? Dey are going home early. Texans 21 – Bengals 20

Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Indianapolis Colts play the Baltimore Ravens – this one to me is a toss-up, the Colts have played well, and Baltimore is the model of inconsistency. This is the Last Hurrah for Ray Lewis. Will Flacco find some magic? Ravens in a close one. Baltimore 23 – Indianapolis 21.

The final game on the slate is maybe the most exciting. Two rookie quarterbacks face off as the Seahawks face the Redskins. To me, this game is three factors, 1) it is at Washington, 2) Shanahan is a way better coach than old cheatie Petey C. and 3) RG III ! Gimmie the Skins 28- Seahawks 17

Back to School

I said earlier this year in more than one article that Alabama was clearly the superior college football team. I mean they have the deity of all college coaches, Nick Saban, at the helm. Alabama is so great in the eyes of all of the television announcers, ESPN, ABC, FOX, CBS, and all of the sportswriters in North American that 2 of the last 3 quarterbacks to pull off the Herculean task of beating Alabama have won the Heisman Trophy (our condolences to the LSU Quarterback tandem, but the voters couldn’t find reason to vote you for Heisman in 2011 as you only scored 9 points in a win).

Alabama has superior defense, the Tide has the more experience quarterback, and is clearly the superior team.

Notre Dame on the other hand was the recipient of a quick whistle against Stanford on a 4th and goal play, and used the voodoo doll to ensure that Pittsburgh’s kicker Kevin Harper kept shanking short field goal attempts.

Yep no way Alabama loses this game.

Go Irish!!!!

Until next time, stay classy Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


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Final Two Weeks of NFL Season

December 22, 2012

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First and evaluation of each of the AFC divisions. In the East, New England is it. They could improve their playoff position, but they are in the playoffs regardless of anything else that happens. This is overall a week division, but Miami and the Jets are still mathematically in the playoff hunt but it takes ties and combinations of losses for either of these teams to make it. In the North, Baltimore is trying to lose their playoff spot and Pittsburgh is equally trying not to get it. Today it looks like Baltimore and Cincinnati will both be in the playoffs. In the South, Houston has the division and unless the sky fall in on them, Indianapolis gets a wildcard berth. In the West, Denver gets the nod. There is not much to be said for any of the other teams in this conference.

Now for the NFC divisions. A few weeks ago, this looked like the boring conference, but things have heated up. In the East, there is a three way tie. What was once the most average division, now is on the verge of possibly having three teams in the playoffs. Washington, Dallas and the Giants all have the opportunity, but will any of they step up? In the North, Green Bay has sown it up with Minnesota and Chicago still grasping at possible wildcard births. In the South, Atlanta had things wrapped up several weeks ago. Last week the pundits pronounced the Falcons dead because of one bad game against New England. That is rather harsh for the number one seed in the NFC. In the West, San Francisco and Seattle need to figure out which will win the division and if the other can win enough games to take a wild card. Although there are three other teams that mathematically could still make the playoffs, it would take a miracle.

This year, parity has played out just like every year, with some of the haves remaining at the top and some of the have nots remaining at the bottom. There have not been that many surprises as far as who are the prime candidates for playoffs now that we are in December, although there have been some games that were surprising in outcome. My predictions are Green Bay – Atlanta in the NFC championship, with Atlanta representing in the Superbowl, Houston – Denver in the AFC championship with Houston representing. On top of that, I will predict Houston winning their first Lombardi Trophy.

NFL Players Fight For Roster Spots in Preseason

August 20, 2012

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Kurt Warner on USNS Mercy 2-12-05 050212-N-650...

Kurt Warner played in ArenaBall and NFL Europe before getting his NFL shot.

We are rapidly approaching a unique annual event in professional sports, the team down selects. Unlike other sports with the down select in the NFL, many athletes who were considered for the highest level of play will simply be unemployed. The NFL sets a specific limit of players who can be on an active roster or part of the practice squad (players owned by a team who can be called up to the active roster). As part of the preseason, that number decreases in steps to 75 players on August 27 and 53 players on August 31. Part of the purpose of preseason games is to determine who will be part of that 53 man squad for each team.

Unlike Baseball and Hockey, Football has on “farm” system. Some players can be assigned to NFL Europe to play over the summer, but are still subject to be cut with nowhere to go. They have to look in different leagues or the dream of playing professionally is over. In Baseball at least, if a player is having some issues, he can go down to the minors for a while to recover. If that recovery does not happen, then he is cut loose.

Part of the reason for the differences in sports is the limited number of games played per year in Football (16 regular season) compared to Baseball (162), Hockey (82) or Basketball (82). Part is because of the huge number of players available compare to teams. There are 117 Championship Series colleges (old Division 1A) each with up to 99 players. Even if we say there are an average of 60 and only a quarter of them are available each year, that is 15 x 117 or 1755. There are only 32 teams in the NFL which would provide 54 new players for each team, or the whole roster. On average, a player will be on an NFL team for 5 years after he makes the first cut.

This is not an all doom and gloom event. Many of the players who are given a chance during the preseason are just not ready for the big show. This is their opportunity to play under the light in the really big stadiums and where a real NFL uniform. Also, some plays, who appear to have little chance of making the team, shine is a way that no other venue would provide.

There are always stories of a player who seems to miss the chance and comes back to be a star. James Harrison is one such example. He was undrafted and actually cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers, signed by the Baltimore Ravens, cut again, then came back to be defensive player of the year (with the Steelers again). This is of course the exception rather than the rule.

Preseason in the NFL can be very exciting. Fans are looking for those players who can make their teams contenders. Players on the edge are trying to make the team. Everyone is making mistakes, either because they are new to the team or they are rusty from the off season. This year, there is a lock out of the normal referees and the NFL cannot take from the NCAA due to an agreement between the organizations. That kind of makes it even more of a free for all in the later stages of each game.

May the best players be found, all give their best efforts, and most important, pray that none of the players get hurt.

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What Is The Length Of An NFL Running Back’s Career?

May 16, 2012

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TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Running back T...

How long can Trent Richardson expect to play in the NFL?

The topic comes up every year: how long is the average football player’s career?  People are particularly interested in the length of an NFL running back’s career, since it seems that injuries often cut their careers short.  This is often given as 4-5 years, with some estimates coming in as low as 2.5 years.

As is often the case, methodology is going to be very important.

Perhaps the worst methodology I have ever seen was looking at the current starting running backs and calculating the mean number of years they have been in the NFL.  However, this uses mid-career numbers and is going to underestimate the reality.  Would you take a 2 year old, 45 year old, and 75 year old and simply use the mean of their ages (40.67) and declare this to be the average life span?  Of course not – nor should you use mid-career numbers to calculate the average length of career.

The second issue is the decision of whom to include.  Do we include ALL NFL running backs, even the guy from Kosmo State who went in the 7th round and narrowly held onto a roster spot for a year before getting cut?  This guy’s career was cut short by lack of talent, not by injury.  We need to separate the wheat from the chaff and determine the average career length of a GOOD NFL running back.  I doubt that the casual fan is too concerned about how long her team’s third string back will kick around the league.

My methodology

There are two decisions to be made with the data.  The first is how to quantify “good”.  I’m going to take the years 1991-2010 and look at running backs who finished in the top 20 in the league in rushing yards at least once during that twenty year span.  My thought is that if you’re a good running back – the type that carries a team – you’re going to land in the top 20 at some point.  Maybe not every year, but at least once.  This is going to miss some situations like guys who are part of a tandem backfield for their entire career, but it should at least provide a decent sample size to work with.  I am excluding active players (defined as players who played in 2011), because of the problem with mid-career numbers.  Rushing yards isn’t a perfect barometer, but it should be fairly sound.

The second decision is what is meant by “length of career”.  Years can be messy – if a guy plays 9 games, does he get credit for a year?  I decided to just scrap the idea of years and go with games instead.

The data

Twenty years of top 20 lists means 400 names.  However, many players made the list multiple times.  There were 150 unique names on the list.  40 of these players are active, leaving 110 retired players in this group.  Here is the list, in order of most to fewest games played.

Player Games
Emmitt Smith 226
Marcus Allen 222
Earnest Byner 211
Jerome Bettis 192
Herschel Walker 187
Thurman Thomas 182
Warrick Dunn 181
Marshall Faulk 176
Curtis Martin 168
Chris Warren 162
Anthony Johnson 159
Mike Alstott 158
Tiki Barber 154
Troy Hambrick 154
Barry Sanders 153
Fred Lane 153
Michael Pittman 151
Corey Dillon 150
Craig Heyward 149
John L. Williams 149
Ahman Green 148
Edgerrin James 148
Charlie Garner 147
Eric Dickerson 146
Dorsey Levens 144
Leroy Hoard 144
Ricky Watters 144
Stephen Davis 143
Eddie George 141
Bernie Parmalee 134
Antowain Smith 131
Jamal Lewis 131
Terry Allen 130
Fred Taylor 126
Garrison Hearst 126
Harold Green 124
Tyrone Wheatley 124
Shaun Alexander 123
Adrian Murrell 122
Brian Westbrook 121
Neal Anderson 116
Lamar Smith 115
Duce Staley 114
LaMont Jordan 114
Reuben Droughns 114
Clinton Portis 113
Priest Holmes 113
Edgar Bennett 112
Ladell Betts 111
Harvey Williams 110
Lewis Tillman 109
Lorenzo White 107
Michael Bennett 107
Marion Butts 104
Rodney Hampton 104
Erric Pegram 103
Rodney Thomas 103
James Stewart 101
Dominic Rhodes 99
Gary Brown 99
Kevin Mack 99
Earnest Graham 98
Mario Bates 98
Mike Anderson 98
Robert Smith 98
Deuce McAllister 97
Rudi Johnson 95
Brad Baxter 94
Julius Jones 94
Justin Fargas 92
Reggie Cobb 92
Napoleon Kaufman 91
Mark Higgs 90
Travis Henry 89
Jamal Anderson 88
Natrone Means 88
Robert Delpino 88
Allen Pinkett 87
Anthony Thomas 87
Errict Rhett 86
Leonard Russell 85
Kevan Barlow 84
Rod Bernstine 84
Leroy Thompson 80
Willie Parker 79
Christian Okoye 79
Terrell Davis 78
Ronald Moore 77
Bam Morris 74
Johnny Johnson 72
Roosevelt Potts 71
Chris Brown 68
Cleveland Gary 68
James Allen 66
Blair Thomas 64
Kevin Jones 64
Barry Foster 62
Jerome Harrison 62
Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar 61
Gaston Green 58
Stacey Mack 58
Derek Brown 56
Raymont Harris 54
Tatum Bell 54
Olandis Gary 48
Domanick Williams 40
Reggie Brooks 40
Curtis Enis 36
Rashaan Salaam 33
Robert Edwards 28
Total  12034


Mean: 109.4

Median: 103.5

If we divide these numbers by a 16 game schedule, we get 6.8 years for the mean and 6.5 for the median.  However, it’s important to note that it’s pretty common for a player – in any sport – to get dinged up and miss a game every one in a while.  So even a generally healthy running back would generally stretch these games out over 7.5 – 8 years.  Only 27 of the 110 players in the group had a career of 80 games or fewer (5 full seasons).

Most likely, a running back with Trent Richardson’s pedigree can bank on an eight year NFL career.  Longer if he’s lucky, shorter if he’s not.

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Final Week of NFL Season and The Bowls

January 3, 2012

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First we will start in the NFL, where the last of the playoff spots were sorted out. We learned a couple of things in the NFL this weekend.

  1. Terence Newman is even worse than most Cowboys fans in my office thought. I have heard complaints about his lack of ability to cover himself with coat before stepping outside on a cold day, but he showed this weekend against the Giants that he simply is not very good.
  2. It appears Tebow Time is over.
  3. Matt Flynn just made himself some serious money looking towards next year.

Bowl Games

The College Bowls took seat front and center yesterday with the traditional January 1st bowl games moved to Monday due to Sunday and the NFL.

Worst game of the day had to be Penn State versus Houston. Neither team really wanted to be there but the fact is Houston has an offense and Penn State does not.

The best game of the day is up for debate, but my vote goes to the Oklahoma State win over Stanford. I would still have loved seeing Oklahoma State avoid the upset against the Iowa State Cyclones and be playing for it all due to their ability to score in bunches.

Better yet, how about a Cowboys versus Ducks matchup. I am after everyone would be handed 3-D Glasses to view the newest uniforms rolled out to each of these two teams, watching the actual game would remind anyone in their early 40’s of the glory days of play Super Tecmo Bowl. I would give the edge to Oregon in a shootout. 84-80.

Worst of the Worst – from Bowl Games

You have GOT to feel badly for a pair of kickers yesterday. First off Georgia Kicker Blair Walsh….While he became the Southeastern Conference’s career scoring leader with a field goal in the second overtime, he missed a 42-yarder in the first overtime and then had a 47-yard attempt blocked on the final play of the game.

You have got to feel even worse for Stanford freshman kicker Jordan Williamson, who missed 3 kicks – including one at the end of regulation to win the game and again another miss in overtime. On the game’s final drive, he reminded me of the pitcher throwing a no-no late in the game, he was all by himself, basically excluded from the rest of his team on the sidelines. He looked nervous to me on television, but he is only a dreshman, so hopefully he will bounce back.

Worst of the Worst – is two of the Marquee players in the Capital One Bowl, Alfonso Dennard and Alshon Jeffery get into a slugging match on the sideline and both players are thrown out. Not a great thing to do on the national stage, in your final game of your college career

An even Bigger bomb was dropped by the Capital One Bowl who selected Jeffrey with their MVP award for the game.

I am sure he was chosen for his “Hail Mary” catch right before halftime, which definitively turned the tide and the momentum of the game in South Carolina’s favor. However, giving an award to a person ejected from a football game for fighting with another player sets an exceedingly poor example, no matter how big the player’s impact in the game. You can’t select that person as the winner of an award on individual merits in this fame based on principal alone.

Boo Capital One….

Until Next Time, Stay Classy St Matthews, South Carolina.

Does the NFLPA Represent Rookies?

August 1, 2011

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According to most observers, the biggest losers in the new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association are the rookies.  There will be a new cap for rookies.  A team will be alloted a bucket of money to distribute among rookie contracts based on the slotting of their picks (the team with the #1 pick will be allowed to spend more money than the team with the 18th pick, for example).  A team could choose to spend all of the money on their top pick and non-tender their others pick, if you wish (along this is not likely to happen).

There has been much complaining about unproven rookies making more money that veterans who have been in the league a long time.  While we can argue all day about whether athletes are overpaid, within the existing context of player salaries, I really wonder if this is an attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.  I have a couple of concerns with the new rookie cap.

It removes accountability for owners.

You know the best way to keep rookie salaries from spiraling out of control?  Have owners put their foot down and refuse to pay.  Pass on a guy who wants too much money and make a safer, cheaper, pick instead.  This happens in the baseball draft all the time, when prospects drop due to concerns about signability (baseball draftees often have a lot more options, since many of them are high schoolers or have college eligibility remaining). 

Not willing to pass on Joe Smith (who is demanding $50 million) to settle for Bob Jones, who is willing to take $25 million?  Guess what?  This means that Joe Smith is worth $50 million to you.  Suck it up and write the check.  Otherwise, let him drop a few spots and have your rivals pay the big bucks.

No upside for rookies

The new CBA calls for rookies to sign contracts for four years, with a team option for the fifth year.  In baseball, a player gets arbitration when they have accrued slightly less than three years of major league service.

If you blossom as a pro and out-perform your contract, there’s no reward.  You’re still going to make the same money.  This doesn’t sounds so bad, except that teams can cut a player who under-performs their contract.  In other words, the teams are protected against under-performance and at the same time don’t have to pay for over-performance.

Some writers say that teams need to be able to lock players up for five years because of how much money and effort goes into coaching.  Just a second … are these also the same writers who talk about a top pick being able to step in and start on day one?  These are contradictory statements.

There needs to be some sort of escape for the rookies.  Perhaps something as simple as baseball’s arbitration system, which would kick in after a player has three years of service.  Perhaps an “overachiever” pool of money to be divvied up each year.  Perhaps allowing playing time to trigger free agency earlier (maybe a sliding scale that gives a 7th round pick more “credits” toward free agency than a 1st round with the same amount of playing time – since the 7th rounder overachieved more than the 1st rounder?)

Taking money away from deserving veterans?

Sure, there are some underpaid veterans in the league.  Guys who have paid their dues with many years of stellar performance in the league.

Then we see the Cardinals giving $63 million over five years to Kevin Kolb.  Kolb has done a helluva job of carrying a clipboard for the Eagles, but has he really earned that contract any more than, say, Andrew Luck (the presumptive #1 overall pick in the 2012 draft)?  Sure, Kolb has “potential”, but at this point in his career has more inteceptions (14) than touchdowns (11).

Get back to me when you stop talking out of both side of your mouth, owners.

Will There Be NFL Football In 2011?

March 23, 2011

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As we stand on the cusp of baseball season, football still manages to take center stage. Usually, it’s just the scouting combine and draft getting all the coverage on sports talk radio. Now there’s also the lockout. Who is in the right and who is in the wrong?

I personally think there’s enough blame to go around. The union recently decertified in an effort to make the league subject to anti-trust legislation. I’m not a legal expert on the matter, but it seems that the NFL has anti-trust exemption if the players are represented by a union, but do not have this exemption if the players are not part of a union – the un-unionized players are allowed to file lawsuits in court.

Not surprisingly, at least one owner (Rooney of the Steelers) has suggested that it might be prudent for the National Labor Relations Board to take a look at this. Does the practice of having the players hop in an out of the union depending on which is better at the moment constitute an unfair labor practice? I would say yes. You’re either a union, or you’re not. You have to take the good with the bad. And does anyone actually believe that the players are not still unified, despite not being in a “union”?

That’s not to say the owners are blameless. They have been very reluctant to open their books. This is troublesome for the players, since the collective bargaining agreement gives the players a 60% share of revenues in excess of one billion dollars. If the union is unable to determine what the actual revenue for the league is, then they can’t determine that their share is.

I’m admittedly not an expert on the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, but it seems that the players are going to have to drop their no-union charade and the owners are going to have to open their books. Why not have the owners and players agree on an independent audit from a CPA firm. The firm wouldn’t need to share details, just state that revenue is $X. And while you’re at it, get a commissioner that is truly an unbiased mediator instead of one that basically serves as president of the owner’s group (this flaw isn’t unique to the NFL).

Or the NFL could just drop the salary cap and allow teams to bid freely on players. I hate salary caps, since they don’t exist in the real world. Imagine that you’re a programmer at Microsoft, and you can’t get a raise because the League of Computer Companies sets a salary cap that every company must abide by. It’s not that your employer doesn’t want to pay you and your co-workers more, they simply aren’t allowed to. Weird, huh? Yet, this is standard in team sports. Baseball is the holdout, with no hard salary cap. Baseball teams that exceed a certain payroll level must pay a luxury tax, but nothing prevents them from spending $500 million on payroll. (Yeah, I’m a fan of a small market team and am opposed to salary caps. Weird, huh?).

Personally, I’m on the fence. I’ve been a Vikings fans for many years, but have largely ignored the NFL for the past two years as a result of Brett Favre playing for the Vikings. I’ve lost quite a bit of interest, and really don’t miss the games very much – and if there is no football this year, I’m probably gone for good.

NFL Predictions

August 24, 2010

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Editor’s note: This is Johnny’s 50th article for The Soap Boxers.  He has been with us longer than any other writer (myself excluded).  I’d like to thank Johnny for all of his hard work and look forward to seeing him write his 100th, 500th, and 1000th article for us!  I’ll leave it to you to figure out why the site is crediting Johnny with 51 articles instead of 50 🙂


With football right around the corner, (and Johnny’s Picks on deck for next week)  today I make some predictions for the 2010 Football Season

Biggest NFL Team disappointment – Minnesota Vikings –  Anything short of a super bowl appearance for the Purple and Gold will be a disappointment, and they are not going to get there.  While they do have a great defense, their offensive line struggles too much at times, their schedule is tough, the division is catching up, and Favre simply cannot replicate his numbers from last year.  Playoff team, likely yes, Super bowl champs?????  Sorry Vike fans.

Biggest Surprise of the NFL Season – I think will be Vince Young.  He is 26-13 all time as a starter, was 8-2 last year with only losses as a starter being to the Colts and the Patriots.  It is no secret that every team they play will put eight guys in the box trying to stop Chris Johnson, this should leave Vince many opportunities for one on one coverage and a chance to have a much better year than

The first starting QB to get benched – Matt Leinart-  The Cardinals will miss Kurt Warner more than Tom Brady misses the Norelco … He has never seemed prepared at this level, has Derek Anderson staring down his back, and no longer has Anquan Boldin.  Sounds like a lot of double teams to me and a lot of time on your back side for this former Heisman Trophy Winner.

Team most flying under the radar this year – Baltimore Ravens.  They get significant offense upgrades with signing Boldin another year of experience of Ray Rice, and Joe Flacco looks poised to have a breakout year.  All that coupled with a still good, but aging defense makes me believe they will make another playoff run.  Why is no one talking about these guys at all?

Biggest Drama I wish would end … Albert Haynesworth.  Ok … we get it already, you are overweight, you don’t like to practice, and you now have a coach that will call you out at every excuse you make.  This is worse than watching the Jersey Shore.  Another smart move signing a guy for the Redskins and way overpaying a problem child on and off the field.  The Redskins are quickly turning into the new look Oakland Raiders.  Island of misfit toys and guys past their prime.  Should be an interesting year in D.C.

Get your pencils sharp for next week with the first installment of Johnny’s picks!