Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Best/Spiller Dueling Rookie RB Ruckus

- Rookie sensation Jahvid Best broke a 51 yard run on his only carry in the Lions 35-27 win over Cleveland, powered by a pair of 4th quarter TD runs from 3rd stringer Aaron Brown. Cleveland's defense just got absolutely shredded (5.9 yards per rush, 7.1 yards per pass), but Jake Delhomme continues his walking undead routine this preseason, completing 20 of 25 passes.

- Bills' RB CJ Spiller is absolutely running away with the preseason rookie of the year title, if there was such a thing. He had another impressive outing, getting 85 yards from scrimmage and 2 TDs. Buffalo beat the Bengals 35-20 .Cedric Benson had 8 carries for 50 yards, and Carson Palmer threw TD passes to Chad Ochocinco and rookie TE Jermaine Gresham.

NFLPSW3- Eagles 20, Chiefs 17

Kevin Kolb is an oh so sexy fantasy pick for those who like to load up on rb's and wr's early, and not take a qb until later in the draft. If you're one of those people, you can't feel good about him putting up a 39.2 passer rating and getting sacked 4 times in this tune up against the Chefs, who made a nice ceviche out of him and the Eagles offense.

A couple high profile injuries in this one, as Jamaal Charles left with what looked like a lower body injury (hockey term), as did DeSean Jackson. Chiefs LBs Demorrio Williams and Andy Studebaker both had a pair of sacks. LeSean McCoy had a TD and averaged 5.6 per on 5 carries, while Thomas Jones scored KC. Rookie Dexter McCluster took a huge hit in this game, but also carried 8 times for 47 yards. The Chiefs have an embarrassment of riches at running back this year. Dwayne Bowe caught a TD pass from Matt Cassel.

Nicky's Fantasy Factor-
The Beltbuckles got a mid round steal in KC's #2 running back Thomas Jones. Every year some team tries to bury him behind a youngster and every year he ends up scoring 12 TDs and rushing for 1100 yards.

Preseason Week 3- Saints 36, Chargers 21

It was the Chris Ivory show in the Superdome on Friday Night, as the undrafted rookie running back probably cemented himself a spot on the Saints with a 76 yard TD reception and some strong running in the Champs impressive victory over the Chargers. Drew Brees looks like he's ready for the season to start right now, completing 18 passes and throwing 2 scores to Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem. Philip Rivers had a TD pass to Malcolm Floyd and Antonio Gates had 5 catches for 66 yards. The great Ryan Mathews who is already having a wing constructed for him in the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame had just 3.3 yards per on 13 carries. You read it here first, Ryan Mathews is the Fantasy Bust of 2010, him and Beanie Wells. San Diego couldn't run the ball last year, couldn't run it the year before that, and it wasn't all LT's fault.

Nicky's Fantasy Factor

Mugatu was very pleased the Philip Rivers fell to the fifth round in our draft, and we were able to grab him. Our gambit of letting Tom Brady go and using those picks on running backs (who turned out to be Jonathan Stewart and Knowshon Moreno), seems to have worked, as we still have a restaurant quality QB in Rivers. Me and my bro's team (Texas Beltbuckles), will have Pierre Thomas opening the season as our RB2, and I've got a bad feeling about that.

Monday, August 30, 2010

NFL Preseason Week 3- Falcons 16, Dolphins 6

Atlanta's defense locked it down really well against what should be a potent Dolphins running game. Ronny/Ricky combined for just 14 yards on 12 carries. Chad Henne had a miserable night too, completing just 10 of 22 pass attempts. Matt Ryan was a little better, he completed half of his 26 pass attempts, and found Roddy White for a score. Brandon Marshall was the only bright spot on the Dolphins offense, catching 3 balls for 51 yards. Michael Turner slumped last year and still doesn't look like he's found his groove, he averaged just 2.9 yards on 16 carries.

Nicky's Fantasy Factor-
Me and Dook!e's team (Mugatu) will be relying on Ricky Williams as our #4 running back. We snagged Harry Douglas, who is shaping up to be Matt Ryan's #2 wideout, late in the draft.

Oh Shudder! NFL Dress Rehearsal Weekend

- Wow so New England's defense is looking a little bad. How you give up 20 points in one half to a Rams team featuring rookie QB Sam Bradford and his huge teeth, and the lethal and phonetically impossible receiver/running back duo of Michael Hoomanawanui and Chris Ogbonnaya is not a question I wish to know the answer to. Tom Brady threw 3 TD passes, including 2 to rookie TE Rob Gronkowski, but man that defense was terrible. Donnie Avery, out for the year.
Nicky's Fantasy Factor
I elected not to keep Tom Brady as my QB this year, and don't have any Patriots on either of my teams if you can believe that. Don't have any Rams either, although I did want to get Ogbonnoya in the 21st round of my insanely long 22 round draft, because you know Stephen Jackson is going to miss at least 5 games this year. The guy picking right before me got him though. #1 sign your draft is too long, you get aced out of picking Chris Ogbonnoya.

- Yeah the Colts lost 59-24 on national TV to the Packers, but they did get out to a 17-7 lead, satisfying any curiosity their coaches had, so don't read too much into it. Jermichael Finley had a monster game and probably bumped up his fantasy draft position 5 rounds because of it. Reggie Wayne is a guy some people say is in for a Marvin Harrison-esque like end to his career. I say wrong for two reasons, one, Reggie Wayne isn't going to kill anybody, and two he had seven catches for 96 yards and a TD in this game. Joseph Addai left with a concussion.
Nicky's Fantasy Factor
Peyton Manning will enter his 9th season as me and my bro's QB. This year we got him Dallas Clark to throw to. No Packers on either team, not that I didn't want any. I like to think I personally discovered Jermichael Finley, but I'm not using no 5th round pick on him.

- Donovan McNabb has a swollen ankle, giving him a built in excuse for when he plays bad against the Cowboys in the season opener. He'll gimp around and the announcers will talk about what a warrior he is and dur dee dur dee dur. Sexy Rexy started this preseason game for the Skins, and they beat the Jets 16-11, which is funny because everything I've read this year has the Jets winning the Super Bowl. LaDanian Tomlinson carried 11 times for 86 yards, and Larry Johnson may have saved his career for now, getting 42 yards on 9 carries and a 15 yard TD reception
Nicky's Fantasy Factor
I was the dumbass who took the Jets D way too early in my 22 round draft. We'll see how that works out. Also have Jerricho Cotchery as a receiver on one team, and Braylon Edwards on the other. The way Sanchise looks in this preseason though, they'll both be terrible. Dustin Keller is my 3rd string TE on the 22 round draft team. Yes, we have 3rd string tight ends in that league. I thankfully have no Redskins in my employ this season, save for Ryan Torain, who I got like in the 20th round of my megadraft and is merely a training camp body.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


The Rest of Week 2 of the UnEnhanced Season

- Kameron Wimbley had 4 sacks for the Raiders in their 32-17 beatdown of the Bears. In case you were wondering who the poor sack of organs who let Kameron Wimbley beat him for 4 sacks is, that would be Bears LT and former first round pick Chris Williams, who is continuing the tradition of great first round Bears draft picks. Matt Forte broke a very long TD run, which is good for the Bears, because they will need a lot out of Forte after Jay Cutler's ashes have been scattered in the south end zone after a few weeks playing behind this very offensive line once the real season starts.

-Not only did Philip Rivers complete 11 of 15 passes in the Chargers 16-14 loss to Dallas, he ran down a Cowboys safety who was running back a fumble over 70 yards, tackling a him to save a touchdown. A regular Jim Thorpe he is. Tony Romo was 4 of 11 and kind of ick. Rookie Chargers RB Ryan Matthews, who will be the belle of the ball at your fantasy draft this weekend, had 53 yards on 12 carries.

- As we continue the rookie RB fantasy watch, Detroit's Jahvid Best looked good this past weekend too, 49 yards on 8 carries. Too bad though that Detroit will always be losing and never run the ball. Kyle Orton and Matt Stafford both played well, as did Jabar Gaffney, who had 98 receiving yards. Detroit beat Denver 25-20. Tim Tebow didn't play, disappointing all those who showed up with #15 jerseys hoping for him to heal their ailments.

- Green Bay's offense already looks like it's in midseason form, as Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, and company had little trouble against the Seahawks in a 27-24 win. Seattle lost rookie LT Russell Okung, the 6th pick in this years draft, to an ankle injury, and it seems like he'll have no problem fulfilling the Seahawks annual requirement of every player on the rostre missing at least 6 games a year due to injury. That's the Seahawks for you, ugly scuba uniforms and everybody's always hurt.

- Brett Favre played one series in the Vikings 15-10 loss to the Niners, and got sacked pretty hard by Patrick Willis.

- Everyone is cracking each other's skulls open over how bad Matt Leinart supposedly is. I dunno, he wasn't THAT awful in the 24-10 loss to the Titans. He completed 4 of 6 passes, mostly dumpoffs, Larry Fitzgerald isn't playing, I'm not sure what people are expecting here. I think more concerning for the Cards is the fact they gave up 3 rushing TDs, which doesn't reflect very well on a defense.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Week 2 Preseason

- Bucs QB Josh Freeman is gone for the rest of the preseason, breaking his thumb in a 20-15 loss to the Chiefs. There goes my Super Bowl pick.

- Miami could be an interesting team this year. They actually have a passing game now, and won't be relying on their 1930s Red Grange offense. Anthony Fasano caught 2 TD passes from Chad Henne, and Brandon Marshall had 4 catches for 65 yards and a key block on one of Fasano's scores in the Fins 27-26 win over Jacksonville.

- Browns and Rams preseason football in a muddy quagmire? Who can resist that? Besides pretty much everyone? There is some good news for the Browns though, Jake Delhomme is completing a high percentage of his passes, to guys on his own team even. Sam Bradford and his huge teeth not doing as well in that area. The Rams won 19-17 as Cleveland turned it over 5 times.

- The Jets beat the Panthers 9-3, and it was still more exciting than an episode of "Rubicon".

- Give the advantage to Arian Foster in his battle with Steve Slaton for the Texans RB1 job. Arian Nation ran for 4.7 yards per carry and a TD in the Texans 38-20 loss to the Saints. Chase Daniel threw 3 TDs for the Champs.

Redskins Still Stink

Donovan McNabb is still overrated, and now he's got a tweaked knee, Albert Haynesworth is picking fights with Mike Shanahan, and the desiccated mummies that used to be Larry Johnson and Clinton Portis are looking as unimpressive as you'd imagine. Oh, and the Redskins lost 23-3 to the Ravens, and the Redskin marching band is playing Hail to the Redskins after the other team scores a touchdown. Other than that looks like it's going to be a great season in DC.

Not So Gentle Ben Returns In Steelers Win

He's suspended for the first 6 games of the year, but that doesn't include preseason. The man affectionately known as Roofylisberger had the opportunity to polish his skills in this tuneup, completing 6 of 8 for 76 yards, Classic Ben! The six game suspension actually doesn't work out all that bad for him because the college bars are usually hopping in September and October, which I'm sure he'll enjoy.

The Giants were playing their second game in five days and had something called Rhett Bomar playing quarterback the whole game. They also gave up over 10 yards per pass play, which is not good. Mike Wallace caught a 68 yard TD pass from Byron Leftwich, Morly Safer did not have a catch.

Browns Haiku

eric mangini
they call him mangenius
holmgren should fire him

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TO A Go Go, Ocho a No No- Bengals 22, Eagles 9

TO caught a 41 yard pass to set up a TD, while Ochocinco had trouble getting open and was being met by "quizzical expressions" from Carson Palmer. Oh yes, I bet you will be seeing lots of quizzical expressions on that sideline this year, believe you me. Meanwhile, Andy Reid was disappointed that he couldn't get a TD out of his first offense. Rest assured though he will go back to his drug emporium and figure this out over a dozen quarter pounders.

NFL Preseason Week 2- Pats 28, Falcons 10


Tom Brady celebrates his official release from my fantasy team by completing 10 of 12 with a TD pass, looking like he is going to be officially back in pissed off Tom Brady throwing 40 TDs this season mode. He's got Wes Welker back too, who played and caught two passes. Fred Taylor carried for 54 yards and a TD. I could have sworn he retired but I guess not.

NFL Preseason Week 2- Bills 34, Colts 21

The Bills scoring 34 points? Beating the Colts? Iiiiiit happened. Keep in mind though, it's preseason, so it doesn't count, and it was in Canada, so it really really doesn't count. What does count a little though is that CJ Spiller looked awesome, busting a 31 yard TD run where he made everyone on the Colts look silly. Fast guys who don't carry a heavy load usually don't see succeed in the NFL (Reggie Bush, Darren McFadden, Felix Jones), but maybe Spiller is different.

Oh, and take note Canada, this is how the NFL deals with people who run out on the field. This isn't like curling where you can just go Canadian apeshit.

Bengals Haiku

i havent had time to bloog
work killing me
12 hr days then too tired to write at night
i now resolve will just write daily haikus to you each day about every team
all in lower case letters

here's the bengals

two diva wideouts
plus one gimpy quarterback
equals no playoffs

Sunday, August 22, 2010

EPL Week 3 Top 10 - LMAO we just started, relax edition

There will be teams on this Top 10 that will not be here in 10 weeks. So, like the Cincinnati Reds, let us celebrate the small teams' short term successes while we still can.

1 (1). Chelsea - 6-0, 6-0. They're not even playing well. Their next three fixtures are going to be much of the same. Start picking up Chelsea players on your fantasy teams ASAP.

2 (5). Arsenal - Walcott's hat trick makes up for the fact that their best player, Fabragas, is hurting and I see Arsenal dropping, just not now with an easy schedule ahead of them.

3 (2). Manchester United - Tied with Fulham. HUHZ. Nani, you missed a penalty that cost your team points. CR7 fans are laughing. Man U has Everton and Liverpool coming, so they won't have as easy a time getting points as Chelsea and Arsenal will.

4 (-). Bolton - They have Southampton (zzz), Birmingham (lower avg), and Arsenal coming up. They'll go down, but not too much as Johan Elmander is looking good.

5 (6). Tottenham - Wigan and West Brom gives them a good chance to move up, but they have problems with easy teams. I'd actually feel better if they had Bolton, Birmingham, or Wolverhampton on their schedule than bottom table teams. They play better with focus. Picking up Gallas may add more drama to the team, and that may be a good thing as this team needs more fire.

6 (9). Birmingham - ex-Man U backup keeper Ben Foster's already showing his worth single-handedly saving 3 points for his team. Don't expect them to stay this high, but they look like a solid midtable team.

7 (-). Wolverhampton - A draw with Everton lends more credibility to them, and a winnable next few games will determine if they're a true midtable team. But they need to make statements against Newcastle and Fulham, and these guys aren't pushovers.

8 (-). Newcastle United - 6-0 on Aston Villa made me cry inside a little bit. Their return to the Premier League starts with a bang. I actually think they can maintain it, but we'll see because they really just took advantage of a team losing their best player and their great coach.

9 (-). Blackpool - Don't be a dick. They lost to Arsenal and playing a man down will drive up an offense-minded team's score. I'm not worried for them yet.

10 (3). Manchester City - They haven't done anything impressive yet, but they have a sweet roster. That should count for something, right?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

MLS Week 20 Top Ten

1. Real Salt Lake - Time of possession and the hot streak of Javier Morales (two goals on Columbus) makes them the team to beat right now, which is good for defending champions.

2. LA Galaxy - Won their 2nd leg of Champions League but didn't advance on goal differential and won their last game against a DP heavy Red Bulls team. Stop freaking out on them; they'll be fine.

3. Columbus Crew - Lost pathetically to Real, but won with composure against a lame Guatemalan team, Municipal, in group stage competition. Still, they have a good chance to advance to the knockout round because their competition is Santos Laguna (who's pretty good), Municipal (HAHAHAH), and Joe Public (they're alright).

4. FC Dallas - Beat Phily 3-1 and DC United 3-1. Feasting on bad teams makes you awesome, but I'd hold off on calling them "hot" until they play a real team. They'll probably win their next game vs. Chivas, but the game after against Columbus should determine if they're for real.

5. Seattle Sounders - Beat Houston 2-0 and tied against a tough streaking team like Chivas. I think the Sounders will give teams trouble in the playoffs because they have grit.

6. NY Red Bulls - They have Theirry Henry (F), Angel (F), and Marquez (D), yes barely beat Toronto and ate cock against the Galaxy when Marquez showed why he doesn't play for Barcelona anymore. I think the Red Bulls are fool's gold. You have old fucks playing in a league of high physicality. Death.

7. Chicago Fire - Nery Castillo helps them win 2-1 over a surging New England team. These guys are for real, be very afraid once Castillo, Brian McBride, and Freddie Ljungberg start gelling and don't kid yourself, it's coming soon.

8. San Jose Earthquakes - They just picked up Geovanni as a DP from Hull City. Oh, you don't know them? They got him from Man City. He's legit and I'm actually surprised he's in the MLS. I'm actually concerned about San Jose now.

9. Toronto FC - Won 2-1 vs. a strong Cruz Azul team in Champions League. Actually, they were dominating until they gave up the 89th min goal to an awesome player in Christian Giménez. How the hell did they pull this off?

10. New England Revolution - Look, I know they don't seem that impressive at 6-10-3, but mark my words, they're making the playoffs and they'll be one of those teams that makes top seeds shit their pants.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I cheated on my wife because of overtraining

I was chilling at home and my wife called wondering why another woman's underwear was at my house. As you all know, that's bullshit, so I deleted her number from my phone. She asked why I did that when I got home and I said I was overtraining. Moron.

Everyone's a moron. Don't you guys realize Brian Cushing has given everyone the best excuse in the history of excuses? If you look at all the reasons to cheat at anything, Brian Cushing's excuse works.

Reasons to cheat and how Cushing's excuse translates:

1) To annoy people in video games

Some of you might not connect to this, but I play video games all day. Some people are scared to play video games all day when you have kids and a wife, but you can't be brave without being scared. I would be playing games and installing speed and wall hacks to own everyone. Then I got my key banned, which is bullshit. So I called up tech support and they asked me why I installed speed and wall hacks and used an aimbot and I told them because I was overtraining. They immediately understood and reactivated my key so I could continue to overtrain all over their mom's faces.

2) Need to pass or get ahead in something

Need to get an "A" on a paper you didn't do research for? Just copy and paste whole essays, mix them together, change the words using random synonyms, and BLAMMOTHERFUCKER. Sometimes you get caught by the teacher or professor Googling what you wrote, but that's cool. This is one conversation I had with a student when I caught her doing the exact thing I just described to you:

Me: This isn't your paper.
Her: I know.
Me: Why did you cheat?
Her: I was working so hard on it I overtrained.
Me: Why didn't you just write it in your own words?
Her: I told you! I OVERTRAINED.
Me: Shit, my bad, bitch.

Gave her an instant "A" right there. Then I slapped her in the face with a desk for looking smug about it.

3) To win money

Sometimes you cheat in gambling to win money. I was playing craps with these other homies of mine, and this guy KEPT fucking winning. We couldn't believe this bullshit. The we found the dice were loaded. We grabbed him and pinned him to the wall and were like, "GIVE US ONE GOOD REASON WHY WOULD SHOULDN'T FUCK YOU UP FOR CHEATING US, ASSHOLE." He was like, "YoyoyoYOOYoyoYOyo I was overtraining my dice when I was rolling it and the lead fell in there. We were like, "Oh cool." We didn't kick his ass because we understood. I mean, he was overtraining, so obviously you gotta give him some slack. And just as he was walking away we overtrained a broom up his ass and broke it.

4) Annoying chick

Man, sometimes you gotta cheat on a chick because she's annoying. Remember when she's all like, "You gotta watch your weight or you'll die!" or the more annoying, "I love you!"? Fuck that bitch. She's practically begging to be cheated on. But when you do, she won't understand, so you just tell her you were overtraining your dick and she'll be cool. Worked for me. Ask your mom.

So instead of laughing at how fucking ridiculous the excuse of overtraining is for taking PEDs, we should be applauding him. Don't be that asshole that ruins it for the rest of us.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Up To Speed - Chicago Bears

One thing you have to remember, is that the majority of Bears fans are also Cubs fans. That means that they just can't wait to fall all over themselves with goofy levels of optimism without really thinking thru if that optimism is justified. Case in point, when the Bears made the most significant move the franchise has made in at least a decade in April of 09, trading for QB Jay Cutler.

To hear the local media tell it, Jay Cutler would be the Bears' Brett Favre, finally putting an end to the 20 year long procession of mediocrities the Bears have trotted out at QB in an effort to end a Championship drought that now stands at a pretty substantial 25 years. After all, Cutler was a Pro Bowl Quarterback, and by God the ball actually made noises when he threw it! ZZZIPPPPPPPPPP!.

One year later, there's a lot of doubt as to whether Cutler is the Bears' Favre, or if he's just a taller version of Rex Grossman who can't stop himself from throwing INTs at an alarming rate. 26 picks is not what anybody had in mind. Neither was the defense being worse than mediocre, ranking in the bottom half of the league in Y/A against both the run and the pass. That may have had something to do with playing the whole season without Brian Urlacher, who broke his wrist in the season opener, but it's hard to imagine the defense would have been anything more than average even with him.

To top it all off, the running game was also ineffective, with Matt Forte falling short of a 1000 yard season despite getting 258 carries. The end result of all this was a 7-9 season that in reality was worse than that record indicates because of the disappointment factor involved.

After 3 consecutive years out of the playoffs, the organization is officially in Panic Mode. And nothing says Panic Mode like hiring Mike Martz as your offensive coordinator. Yes, his schemes do get results in terms of points and yardage. But there are also ancillary costs such as the quarterback getting hit alot, and for a team whose backup QB is untested Caleb Hanie, that might not be such a good thing. The same cast of mostly incompetent wide receivers will be back running this new scheme as Cutler's targets, but the Bears did add a nice piece in former Vikings RB Chester Taylor. He is a very effective pass catcher and at the very least can split the workload with Forte, possibly making him more effective.

The task of protecting Cutler in this high risk scheme will fall to an offensive line with virtually the same personnel as last year, but with former Vikings head coach Mike Tice coaching them. Tice is a well respected line coach, so we'll see if he can make lemonade out of the lemons he's got on that line.

On defense, the Bears opened up the checkbook and landed the offseason's number 1 free agent prize, pass rusher Julius Peppers. That's actually a very nice pickup for the Bears IF Peppers plays at the level he has the last 2 years that earned him this big contract. If he does, it should really help the Bears be able to generate pressure with a 4 man rush, allowing Lovie Smith to play more of his beloved Cover 2, which allows him to drop more men into coverage and generate more turnover yumminess. They'll need Peppers to be productive, because as far as pass rushers go he's all the Bears have after they let Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown, who combined for 12 1/2 sacks last season, walk. The secondary is a bit unsettled, with one corner spot up for grabs opposite Charles Tillman, and it's very possible the starting safeties could be a second year player, Al Afalava, and a rookie, Major Wright.

The Bears tried to half ass an organizational overhaul this offseason by firing virtually all of their assistant coaches but keeping Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo. That strategy really doesn't deserve to work, and it probably won't. Green Bay and Minnesota remain better teams than the Bears, and the Lions had a really good draft this year that will make them dangerous. Add to that the Bears having a brutal schedule outside of the division (at Dallas, at Giants, at Carolina, at Miami, home against New England and the Jets among the most notable probable losses), and I don't see the Bears having a successful year, or saving Lovie's job. I say 6-10 with Cutler, and if Cutler gets hurt as a result of playing in the Martz offense, we're talking a 2 or 3 win disaster.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Premier League Preseason Top 10

The Premier League starts August 14th with Chelsea as defending champions and two rule changes: 1) teams must declare their 25-man squad at the end of August and 2) 8 homegrown players must be on every squad. The first rule hurts teams that need big rosters (aka the rich teams) to compete in the zillions of competitions throughout the year, unless you get players under 21 who don't have to be registered to be called up. The major theme for this season is the lack of big signings this season, but August isn't over yet.

1 (1). Chelsea - Pretty much the same team as last year with no big signings. They replace the quicker Joe Cole with the more consistent Yossi Benayoun.

2 (2). Manchester United - Also the same team except one significant signing, Javier Hernandez from Chivas. He's the real deal and as a Club America fan, I'm glad he's gone.

3 (5). Manchester City - Two majors, Toure (Barca) and David Silva (Valencia), as well as Robinho returning from being a pussy. Has way too many players and it will be interesting to see who gets chucked at fire sale price.

4 (7). Liverpool - One player and one coach solves all their problems. New signing Joe Cole solves their creativity problem and new coach Roy Hodgson solves their insanity problem. If Liverpool becomes communist by being bought out by the Chinese government, expect a lot of Man City people to come over.

5 (3). Arsenal - With Fabragas staying, they'll have essential the same team except no crazy William Gallas. Unless they get one big signing, preferably at forward, they'll be top 4 but won't win anything.

6 (4). Tottenham - With a chance at Champions League glory, it's surprising that they essentially made no moves (just Sandro from Inter). Their squad is solid all around, but I feel there's one more signing for them before the window ends.

7 (6). Aston Villa - No signings with no plans for any and a chance they'll be losing Milner to Man City, Aston Villa is quite happy where they are at mid-high table.

8 (8). Everton - It's a shame they couldn't secure Landon Donovan from the MLS because, even though I think he sucks, he does make Everton better offensively.

9 (9). Birmingham City - New signings Ben Foster (Man U) and Zigic (Valencia) will keep them floating in the mid table safely.

10 (12). Fulham - Losing Chris Smalling (Man U) was huge, but getting Mark Hughes to take over for Roy Hodgson is pretty good. He's got a great defensive mindset that's needed for a mid table team.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Up To Speed- Carolina Panthers

The Panthers were loyal to a fault to Jake Delhomme, and pretty much sacrificed their 2009 season for that loyalty. After a decade of posting QB ratings in the 80-90 range so consistently you could set your watch to it, Delhomme's play fell off a cliff in 2009, continuing at the nightmarish level established in the season ending playoff loss to Arizona in 2008. The Cats came out of the bag with an 0-3 start during which Delhomme threw 7 INTs against just 2 TDs.

With a bye week after that miserable start, and a seemingly insurmountable hill to climb to get back in contention, it would have made sense to bench Jake The Guy at that point. The Panthers didn't. They kept rolling Delhomme out there, and he kept right on being awful, finishing his season with 8 TDs vs. 18 picks, and a Derek Anderson-esque 59.4 passer rating. They finally pulled the plug with five games left, and lo and behold, replacement Matt Moore led Carolina to a 4-1 finish to end the year at 8-8. Moore threw as many TDs in his 5 starts as Delhomme threw in 11, and only 2 INTs. The semblance of a passing game that the benching of Delhomme gave the Panthers opened up the running game, as Carolina averaged 166 rushing yards over those last 5 games, which concluded with season ending wins over Minnesota, the Giants, and New Orleans.

Delhomme is gone, and so are a lot of other people who played for the Panthers for a long time. Most notable is Julius Peppers. Peppers had 10 1/2 sacks last season and was the main pass rushing threat on a defense that was in the top 10 in Y/A against the pass. There's no obvious replacement. Tyler Brayton had the most sacks of any returning player from last year and he only had 5.

Peppers isn't the only piece missing from last year's defense. Tackle Damione Lewis is gone, with journeymen Tank Tyler and Louis Leonard competing to replace him. Jon Beason is the only linebacker with a starting job nailed down, with a host of unproven commodities competing for the other two spots. Strong safety Chris Harris has gone back to Chicago and will be replaced by 2009 2nd round pick Sherrod Martin.

So a lot of guys gone on defense, without proven replacements. The same can be said for any receiving option other than Steve Smith. Mushin Muhammad is retired, and he had 53 catches last year. That leaves underachieving former USC star Dwayne Jarrett as a starter, so that's bad.

The Panthers may not have enough receivers to go around, but they certainly have enough quarterbacks. In addition to Moore, they drafted Notre Dame's Jimmy Claussen, and Cincinnati's Tony Pike, so geez ONE of these guys has to pan out, right??

There are some areas the Panthers are strong. Their offensive line has a couple of stud tackles in Jeff Otah and Jordan Gross. They are both coming off pretty bad injuries but if they stay healthy the Cats have a really good offensive line. Jonathan Stewart and D'Angelo Williams are both top 10 running backs and the Panthers can run it 30-40 times every week with those guys. And Steve Smith is still really really good.

That's pretty much the end of their list of strengths though. The old saying goes if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have one, and the Panthers have three. The defense has question marks all over the place and even some interrobangs. There are 2 teams in the NFC South clearly better than Carolina, which means no playoffs. I think we're looking at 7-9 this year and Bill Cowher next year.