Colts Should Trade Top Pick If It’s Theirs

Maybe I’m in the minority, but if I was the Indianapolis Colts and I had the #1 overall pick in April’s draft, I’d trade it.

Peyton Manning is worth keeping, even though he’s aging and his health isn’t optimum.

As good as Andrew Luck is and could be, he hasn’t proven he’s a guaranteed winner in the NFL.

The only way the Colts should trade Manning is if he was physically unable to play at the level we’ve seen him play at. But if that’s the case, no one will want to take him.

Say the Colts do select Luck. He won’t start in front of Manning.

In all likelihood, Manning has four solid years left. Are you really going to sit your #1 pick for four years in today’s “win now” era of the NFL? I doubt it.

As good as Luck is, the Colts picking him presents more problems than solutions.

I said I’d trade the #1 pick if I had it. Use the value of Luck’s stock to your advantage.

With Luck being the best prospect since…Peyton Manning…the Colts could trade the pick and potentially get a first and second round picks this year, and maybe a conditional first/second round pick in the future. It’s definitely possible.

If that happened, the Colts would accomplish a lot. They’d retain Manning, keeping him happy and not have to train and teach a brand new rookie quarterback.

Moreover, the teams really wanting this pick from Indianapolis will probably be picking in the top 10.

So if there was a trade, the Colts could still likely pick either: Matt Barkley (USC), Landry Jones (Oklahoma) or any other top quarterback prospect.

Any of those prospects don’t have the hype Luck has, thus creating an easier transition for them and for the Colts.

In the NFL, you do not want to take any unnecessary chances. The #1 goal, bar none, is to win.

Luck may be a winner.

Manning is a winner.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike

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Filed under 2011 Week 13

2011 Playoff Predictions and Post Season Awards

With week 13 beginning on the first day of December, that’s a sign that playoff football is near.

The best teams traditionally start playing their best football this time of year. A strong, consistent running game and a healthy roster are two keys to a team’s chances of winning a Super Bowl.

The attrition of the NFL season is non-stop. Look at this past weekend in the Texans/Jaguars game. Matt Leinart is in for Matt Schaub after Schaub was placed on IR with a foot injury. Leinart was in the game for 26 plays before he injured his collarbone and is now also out for the year.

You don’t have to have the most talented roster. You need to be a team. I’d imagine being healthy is as big a concern for a coach as anything.

When people try to qualify the value of a team they use terms like “power rankings” and “if the playoffs ended today”–terms which are totally worthless.

Who ever won a Super Bowl based on power rankings? If the playoffs ended in week 3, the Bills would be the best team in the AFC with the NFL’s leading offense (37.7 ppg) with wins over the Raiders and the Patriots.

Who would take the Bills over either of those teams now? No one with sense.

After watching and studying the NFL this season, I’ve got a good idea about who will get to the playoffs and who will go far in the playoffs.

Here are my playoff predictions:

AFC

1) Baltimore Ravens
2) New England Patriots
3) Oakland Raiders
4) Houston Texans
5) Pittsburgh Steelers
6) Tennessee Titans

  • 3) Raiders vs. 6)Titans
  • 4) Texans vs. 5) Steelers
  • 1) Ravens vs. 5) Steelers
  • 2) Patriots vs. 3) Raiders
  • 1) Ravens vs. 2) Patriots

AFC Champion: Ravens

  • Baltimore has, by far, the better: run game, pass rush and overall defense (New England is the worst defense in the league, literally).
  • The Ravens are also only one of two teams in the league that are undefeated at home and in their division (Green Bay).

NFC

1) Green Bay Packers
2) New Orleans Saints
3) San Francisco 49ers
4) Dallas Cowboys
5) Atlanta Falcons
6) Chicago Bears

  • 3) 49ers vs. 6) Bears
  • 4) Cowboys vs. 5) Falcons
  • 1) Packers vs. 5) Falcons
  • 2) Saints vs. 3) 49ers
  • 1) Packers vs. 2) Saints

NFC Champion: New Orleans Saints

  • The Saints have the better offensive line and a better running game. They are equal in: coach, QB savvy and kick returners.
  • Don’t forget, in their week 1 match-up, the Saints had a chance to tie the game from the GB 1-yard line on the last play of the game (after being down by 15 points with 2:20 remaining in the 4th quarter).
  • Brees’ week 1 stat line: 32/49, 419 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
  • Rodgers’ week 1 stat line: 27/35, 312 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT

SUPER BOWL XLVI: Baltimore Ravens vs. New Orleans Saints

  • The Packers, Patriots or Steelers certainly have a strong chance to make the Super Bowl. For the Packers to go undefeated the year after they won the Super Bowl is improbable. Of course they have the talent and chemistry, but the law of averages suggests that they cannot maintain this level of play forever.
  • New England and Pittsburgh are strong teams as well, but have holes at significant positions (PIT: offensive line, NE: defense–ranked last and are the 4th most penalized defense in the league).
  • The Ravens and Saints have had just enough success and adversity to give them the proper amount of confidence and caution. Last year, in Baltimore, the Ravens beat the Saints, 30-24. If this is the match-up for Super Bowl XLVI, I think it will be a similar type of game.

Here are my predictions for who will win the individual awards:

MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

  • He’s the best player and the best player on the best team in the NFL.
  • Rodgers leads the NFL in completion percentage (71.8%), TD/INT ratio (33/4) and QB rating (127.7).

Offensive player of the year: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

  • Brees is on pace to throw for 5,366 yards in 2011 (282 yards more than Dan Marino’s all-time record)

Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Willis, ILB, San Francisco 49ers

  • Willis is the only player to currently have 90+ combined tackles, 10+ passes defensed, 5+ caused turnovers and 2+ sacks.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

  • His team is 7-4. His main target is also a rookie. They lost to the Steelers and Ravens by a combined 10 points.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos

  • Miller ranks third in the NFL in sacks (10.5).
  • He’s the only player in the league to have 50+ combined tackles, 10+ sacks and 3+ forced fumbles.

Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers

  • For a first-year NFL head coach, coming from the NCAA, to take a team from 6-10 a year ago to 9-2 and what could easily be a 13-3 record this year is nothing short of remarkable.
  • Oh, by the way, there was no opportunity (mini camps, OTA, etc.) for Harbaugh to meet his new players and get acclimated with the team this past off-season.

Comeback Player of the Year: Plaxico Burress, WR, New York Jets

  • Burress is tied for sixth in NFL in receiving touchdowns (7).
  • He holds the second highest percentage of receptions resulting in 1st downs, among receivers with at least 30 receptions (85.3%).

Whatever happens for the last four games of the regular season and in the playoffs, I’m sure it will be the typical NFL we’ve come to know in this era: exciting, wild, controversial, must-see football action.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike

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Towson @ Rhode Island: November 19, 2011

The Towson Tigers will wrap up their 2011 regular season tomorrow when they travel to Rhode Island to face the 3-7 Rams.

If the Tigers win at Rhode Island and Maine loses at New Hampshire on Saturday, Towson will win the CAA Championship.

If that scenario unfolds, the Tigers could very well lock up a first-round bye and a home playoff game in the FCS playoffs.

Yes, this team was 1-10 just one year ago.

Rhode Island comes into this game with a 3-7 (2-5 CAA) record. The Tigers are 8-2 (6-1 CAA) and are ranked 8th in the nation. I just don’t see Rhode Island standing toe-to-toe with the Tigers for 60 minutes.

Now it’s time for the Terrance West stats of the week…
West has 25 rushing touchdowns on the year, and is on pace to score 110 rushing touchdowns in his career (based on four 11-game seasons). Here is some perspective on how rare of a season he is having:

  • The most touchdowns ever scored by a freshman was 26 by Adrian Peterson (Georgia Southern, 1998).
  • The all-time collegiate record for touchdowns scored in a career (FBS or FCS) is 89 by Brian Westbrook (Villanova, 1997-98, 2000-01).
  • The all-time best touchdown-per game average (in one season) is 2.7 touchdowns per game by Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State, 1984). West is currently averaging 2.5 touchdowns per game in 2011.

Folks…he is a true freshman.

Not much else needs to be said. The Tigers know what’s at stake.

Prediction: Towson 40, Rhode Island 13
.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike

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Towson vs. New Hampshire: November 12, 2011

Considering the special run the Towson Tigers football team is on, I figured I’d write a special college football post for you all.

For the second straight week, the Tigers will play the 7th ranked team in the FCS and a team that is also tied for the CAA lead. On Saturday at 3:30, #7 New Hampshire comes to Johnny Unitas Stadium to battle #12 Towson for sole possession of first place in the CAA.

As a matter of fact, if Maine loses to UMass and Towson beats New Hampshire, the Tigers will be CAA Champions.

I don’t know Rob Ambrose personally, but I will bet a large sum of money that he has been making his players aware of the rare opportunity they have this week.

Ambrose is also likely to have reminded his Tigers about how it’s time for a change in the New Hampshire series.

Out of all the games these two teams have played against each other, New Hampshire is 8-0 vs. Towson, outscoring the Tigers by a combined score of 302-120.

New Hampshire comes into town led by senior quarterback Kevin Decker and the league’s-leading passing attack (278.2 yards per game). Towson’s pass defense is ranked 4th.

Conversely, the Tigers are the top rushing team in the league, rushing for an average of 238.4 yards per game. The Wildcats’ run defense is ranked 10th.

I have a really hard time thinking the Wildcats will stop (or even contain) Terrance West and company, when the Tigers had their best rushing performance of the year last week, against an excellent Maine defense (334 yards rushing, 5 rushing TDs).

Speaking of West, he’s a true freshman that’s scored 21 rushing touchdowns this season. That’s already good for a seventh-place tie in school history (Noah Read).

With 13 more rushing touchdowns, West will have the school record for rushing touchdowns in a career (at his current pace, he’ll reach that mark at some point in the third game of next season).

Simply put, I don’t see New Hampshire being able to go toe-to-toe with the Tigers on Saturday afternoon. It’s senior day, Terrance West looks unstoppable and Towson has too much to play for to let this opportunity slip away.

The only thing I see keeping this game close is the kicking game for Towson. Even if the game isn’t close, they need to stop missing extra points. The Tigers have missed more extra points (3) than field goals (1) this season.

Still, I see the Tigers taking one more step toward the CAA Championship by getting their eighth win of the season on Saturday.

Prediction: Towson 44, New Hampshire 20.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike

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Is Joe Flacco elite?

Is Joe Flacco elite?

Is he even good?

So many fans have been debating this question, so I figured I’d attack it with research and analysis to find the answer.

At Ravens24x7.com, I analyze Flacco’s career to date and compare him to the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

How good is Flacco? Check out my article. You may learn something new. I certainly did.

Then you decide.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike

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The best of the best

It’s the middle of the week and you’re looking for something to talk about. Maybe your team is coming off a bye week and your anxious to see them on Sunday. Maybe your team just began its bye week, and your growing impatient already.

We’ve got you covered.

The topic that is always bound to stir up conversation (and maybe some hard feelings) is the question: “Who’s the best?”

It’s easy to make a case for your favorite player, but realistically, there may be some players you’re overlooking.

So without further delay, here is the best player at every position in the NFL today

OFFENSE

WR-Andre Johnson (HOU)—NFL Rank: #7

  • There is nothing he can’t do as a receiver. A polished version of Calvin Johnson.

LT-Joe Thomas (CLE)—NFL Rank: #43

  • Maybe Jake Long here, but I think Thomas is better.

LG-Logan Mankins (NE)—NFL Rank: #39

  • When the Patriots do run the ball, watch where they run. When Brady drops back, count the time he has.

C-Nick Mangold (NYJ)—NFL Rank: #47

  • Their best offensive player, and the best offensive lineman in football. You saw how much he was missed Week 4 in Baltimore.

RG-Jahri Evans (NO)—NFL Rank: #34

  • Voted 1st team All-Pro by the Associated Press the last two seasons.

RT-Tyson Clabo (ATL)

  • Clabo held his own against Clay Matthews on Sunday night, something few Right Tackles can do. Michael Oher (BAL) could very well be in this spot at the end of the season.

TE-Jimmy Graham (NO)

  • 2nd in receptions (32), 4th in receiving yards (496), 3rd in plays of 20 yards or more (10) and 2nd in receptions resulting in 1st downs (26)…among all receivers.

WR-Calvin Johnson (DET)—NFL Rank: #27

  • 9 touchdowns. 5 games. Any questions?

QB-Aaron Rodgers (GB)—NFL Rank: #11

  • Arm strength, throwing motion, quick release, release point, footwork, vision, toughness, mobility, intangibles, football IQ, pocket presence, etc.. The best player in football, hands down. He’s playing better than Tom Brady with a worse offensive line, while taking more throwing risks down-field.

FB-Vonta Leach (BAL)—NFL Rank: #65

  • Rated the best fullback in football a year ago. On the NFL’s top 100 of 2011 list, he was voted ahead of players like Greg Jennings, Richard Seymour, Mario Williams, LaMarr Woodley and others.

RB-Adrian Peterson (MIN)—NFL Rank: #3

  • 1st in rushing touchdowns (6), 2nd is rushing yardage (498). He’s lost only 1 fumble in his last 489 touches.

DE-Haloti Ngata (BAL)—NFL Rank: #17

  • The best lineman in football. Incredible power and agility…and he’s getting better.

DT-Ndamukong Suh (DET)—NFL Rank: #51

  • Violent & scary.

DE-Julius Peppers (CHI)—NFL Rank: #10

  • Maybe the most athletic defender in the league and a terrific pass-rusher. He once ran a 4.5 40-yard dash…at 285 pounds. By the way, Peppers was the starting Power Forward for UNC’s basketball team after he was done with playing football for the Tar Heels.

DL/OLB-Terrell Suggs (BAL)—NFL Rank: #40

  • Averaging 1.0 sack per game this season, and is finally the pass-rusher he’s wanted to be.

ILB-Patrick Willis (SF)—NFL Rank: #23

  • If there is a “next” Ray Lewis, Willis is it.

ILB-Ray Lewis (BAL)—NFL Rank: #4

  • No, he’s not as fast as he used to be. Ask players around the league (who rated him as the best defender in the NFL coming into this season). No one prepares physically and mentally better than Lewis. What makes a player great? When he makes his teammates better. If not Lawrence Taylor, Lewis is the best linebacker of all-time. Heck, when you think of defending an offense, he may the single best defender ever.

OLB-DeMarcus Ware (DAL)—NFL Rank: #12

  • On a defense that struggles, Ware is a constant threat. Tall, quick, agile, powerful, skillful. How did he not go to a bigger school than Troy?

CB-Charles Woodson (GB)—NFL Rank: #16

  • Tied for league lead in interceptions (3), 3rd in passes defensed (7) and he’s recovered a fumble. An all-around cornerback. Jason McCourty (TEN) was also considered here.

FS-Ed Reed (BAL)—NFL Rank: #5

  • Do I honestly need to explain this? Ok. 10 interceptions in his last 14 regular season games. This play in Week 4 against the Jets shows he can still be a threat around the line of scrimmage, as well.

SS-Troy Polamalu (PIT)—NFL Rank: #6

  • George Wilson (BUF) is having the best statistical season among defensive backs this year, but I still can’t put him ahead of Polamalu, considering Polamalu’s experience.

CB-Darrelle Revis (NYJ)—NFL Rank: #8

  • Strength, technique, leverage, man, zone…he can do it all.

K-Sebastian Janikowski (OAK)

  • Has only missed one field goal out of his 12 attempts so far this season (56-yard attempt). In Week 1, Janikowski tied an NFL record when he kicked a 63-yard field goal against the Broncos (which turned out to be the game-winning score).

P-Jon Ryan (SEA)

  • Leads NFL in net yardage (1,297), has the longest punt (77 yards) and most punts downed inside the 20-yard line (12).

Head Coach: Mike McCarthy (GB)

  • 5-0 in 2011. 11-0 since Week 16 of 2010. Take note, people.

*NFL Rank refers to where a particular player was ranked by a collection of NFL players prior to the start of the 2011 season.

What do you think? Let the debate begin!

Thanks for reading.

-Mike

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Filed under 2011 Week 6

1st quarter power rankings

First, we apologize for the long layoff. We hope you’ve enjoyed the exciting NFL action so far, as records are being broken and the unexpected may be becoming the norm.

What better way to summarize the first quarter of the NFL season than to post power rankings.

Teams that have impressed me that I thought would have very little chance to win even a few games are the 49ers and the Redskins. Good coaching, a commitment to running the ball and a stout, underrated defense are ways these teams have gotten to a 3-1 record and first place in their respective divisions.

Other teams you thought would be good that have been very good so far are the Ravens, Packers and Patriots. The Ravens lead the league with a +67 net point differential and have forced 11 turnovers against the Steelers and Jets alone. The Packers are 4-0 and haven’t lost a step since their Super Bowl win ten months ago. Aside from a close loss to Buffalo in Week 3 (in which Tom Brady threw four interceptions and the Bills played really well), the Patriots are still clicking on offense.

Without further delay, here are how the 32 teams in the NFL stack up after the first four weeks of the 2011 season.

1. Green Bay Packers (4-0, 1-0)

  • Leading candidate for league MVP (Aaron Rodgers), depth everywhere; scary good.

2. Baltimore Ravens (3-1, 1-0)

  • The defense is playing out of its collective mind: 2nd in points allowed (57…TEN is 1st with 56 PA) and 1st in forced turnovers (14…3 of which resulting in a TD); Reed, Ngata, Suggs, Lewis are just the tip of the iceberg; offense is good and getting better; only loss to a not-so-bad-after-all Titans (3-1).

3. New Orleans Saints (3-1, 0-0)

  • Only loss being an opening-night shoot-out at Green Bay (which could very well be a preview of the NFC Championship game). Exceptional talent and leadership at QB and head coach. Defense needs some work, but will be fine.

4. New England Patriots (3-1, 1-1)

  • Tom Brady is on pace to throw for 6,212 yards. That’s not a typo. If he were to reach that mark, it would be 1,128 yards more than Dan Marino’s all-time record. As a matter of fact, only two players have ever thrown for 5,000 yards in a season (Marino, 1984; Drew Brees, 2008).

5. Detroit Lions (4-0, 1-0)

  • Unstoppable QB/WR combination and Suh is a beast that no one wants to play. They won six games all of last year.

6. Houston Texans (3-1, 1-0)

  • The defense is the strength of their team. That’s how good they are.

7. San Diego Chargers (3-1, 1-0)

  • Rivers is Rivers, Vincent Jackson and Ryan Matthews are both healthy and playing very well. Not to mention, Antonio Gates is hurt.

8. Buffalo Bills (3-1, 1-1)

  • First win against the Patriots in eight years. Fitzpatrick, Johnson and Jackson are dynamic.

9. New York Giants (3-1, 1-1)

  • Unbelievable amount of resiliency despite numerous key injuries. Good running game, a big-play wide receiver and a Super Bowl MVP at quarterback.

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1, 1-0)

  • They will go as far as Josh Freeman goes.

11. Washington Redskins (3-1, 1-1)

  • I thought they’d be last, not first as they currently are, in the NFC East. Strong running game and a relentless defense. Still have room to grow.

12. Tennessee Titans (3-1, 0-1)

  • Matt Hasselbeck, not Chris Johnson, is the team MVP so far. Can they sustain their early success?

13. San Francisco 49ers (3-1, 1-0)

  • Since when does a first-year head coach take what the 49ers have and make it into a first place team? There could be something special brewing in San Fran.

14. New York Jets (2-2, 0-0)

  • Still have a top-notch defense that blitzes from all angles. Joe McKnight picked up where Brad Smith left off on special teams. Mangold needs to get healthy in a hurry, or else it will be a long season for the Jets.

15. Oakland Raiders (2-2, 1-0)

  • The Raiders have now won seven consecutive divisional games, dating back to last season. Darren McFadden is showing how dangerous he can be when healthy, and Hue Jackson is looking good in his first four games as Raiders head coach.

16. Dallas Cowboys (2-2, 1-0)

  • Tony Romo is a gamer. Playing with a broken rib and without Miles Austin usually will result in losses. Their record could be a lot worse.

17. Atlanta Falcons (2-2, 0-1)

  • Loads of talent, but I’m not sold on Matt Ryan. Julio Jones was a really good pick, and he should continue to produce for the next decade.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2, 0-1)

  • Health is a huge concern, more so than the nine defensive starters over the age of 30 and their last place position in the AFC North. Not only is the offensive line hanging by a thread, but Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison were both seriously injured during the Texans game.

19. Chicago Bears (2-2, 0-1)

  • A duplicate of last season’s 13-3 record probably isn’t in the cards for this year’s team. But Julius Peppers and Devin Hester will always keep the opposition honest.

20. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2, 1-0)

  • Rookies A.J. Green and Andy Dalton have formed quite a tandem. Add in Jermaine Gresham and you could have sometime special for years to come.

21. Cleveland Browns (2-2, 0-1)

  • So far in 2011, Peyton Hillis has rushed for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns. At this time last season, he’d rushed for 322 yards and 4 touchdowns.

22. Arizona Cardinals (1-3, 0-1)

  • A bad start can be overcome in a bad division. Larry Fitzgerald, Beanie Wells and Kevin Kolb should be able to right the ship fairly quickly in Arizona.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3, 0-1)

  • Jason Babin leads the league in sacks (7.0) and LeSean McCoy is playing at a Pro Bowl level. Other than that, the Eagles have problems.

24. Carolina Panthers (1-3, 0-0)

  • Cam Newton is third in the league in passing yardage (1,386), but they aren’t winning games.

25. Denver Broncos (1-3, 0-1)

  • Rookie Von Miller may be their best player.

26. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3, 0-1)

  • Losing your best offensive and defensive players (Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry) for the year is something not many teams can come back from.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3, 1-0)

  • Now you know why fans don’t show up to games.

28. Seattle Seahawks (1-3, 1-1)

  • Thank goodness for Pete Carrol’s optimism and energy.

29. Indianapolis Colts (0-4, 0-1)

  • How valuable is Peyton Manning? Watch the Colts play and you’ll have your answer.

30. Minnesota Vikings (0-4, 0-1)

  • Losing leads and not giving enough carries to the best back in football is not a formula for success.

31. St. Louis Rams (0-4, 0-0)

  • 27th in total offense, 26th in total defense. Help.

32. Miami Dolphins (0-4, 0-1)

  • Cameron Wake, Brandon Marshall and Jake Long wish they were dreaming. Premier talent suck on a bad football team. By the way, you still have to play the Patriots, the Jets twice and the Bills twice.

Alright, let the comments begin. Please feel free to reply with any feedback.

Thanks for reading.

-Mike

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