After two weeks, Drew Brees is on pace to throw 72 touchdown passes while gaining one million yards (but is still second to Phillip Rivers in the yardage area). His QB Rating is 132.9, damn near perfect. However, it’s not Brees and his 9 touchdowns that has me amazed. It’s second year studs, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco that have me impressed. These guys haven’t heard of sophomore slump, both have their teams undefeated, and are tied for second in QB TDs behind Drew…. Three offensive coordinators were fired right before the season started, of the three, it looks like only the Chiefs little fella has had any effect, and that might be pushing it. See Buffalo is moving the ball and putting up points despite cutting their OC, Trent Edwards is Top 5 in passer rating and tied for 4th with four touchdowns thus far. Byron Leftwich has also tossed 4 touchdowns while Tampa’s running game has put up some solid totals as well. The Chiefs have been brutal, but it’s hard to see KC being much better with Bill Walsh calling plays…. Brett Favre has the highest completion percentage in the NFL, and has yet to toss an interception. So much for him being too much of a gunslinger, and starting off the season a little rusty after spending more time throwing to high school receivers than pro guys. It has to be nice handing the ball to Mr. Peterson…… The 2007 Draft class is beginning to look like a quarterback bust. So far, the best season has to be given to Tyler Thigpen for his performance down the stretch last year. Trent Edwards is probably the best player of the bunch, especially given that Tyler couldn’t beat out Brodie Croyle for the Chiefs #3 job. Maybe Troy Smith would be getting the nod if he had not gotten hurt before the 2008 season, but Joe Flacco has that job on lock down so we may never see. The two first round picks, Brady Quinn and JaMarcus Russell (not in that order) have been guys I’ve tried to like, but they are making it very difficult to do so…. Matthew Stafford is not ready to be an NFL quarterback. I don’t know how else to put it. I know his first name is Matt, and last year a guy named Matt was a first year stud, but it’s not that kind of copycat league. He throws the ball really hard, and will pull an amazing toss out of his ace here and there, but the kid has a guy named Calvin Johnson on his team, of course he’s going to look good now and again. The Lions have lost nearly 20 straight football games, I know they’re not going to win a lot this year, but they might want to get Culpepper in there so they have a chance to break that streak before it gets into the 30s…. Speaking of that class, it may not have been QB heavy (to say the least) but there are some absolute freaks of nature (from that group) taking the league by storm. Adrian Peterson, beast. Calvin Johnson, freak. Patrick Willis, machine. Darrell Revis, stud. And there’s more pro-bowlers from that group. It may be top heavy, but you could argue that those four guys are either the best but no lower than Top 5 at their positions….. Marc Bulger is brutal. Somebody tell me how Jeff Garcia can just get signed last week when Marc Bulger can have a starting gig and millions of dollars getting paid to him to do what he does. Brutal. If they lose 16, they need to get the nod for worst team of all time…. It’s hard to write a weekly fantasy re-cap without mentioning Mario Manningham, it’s not fair to you guys and it’s not fair to him. Manningham looked like a beast in college, but he looks frail in the NFL. But looks can be deceiving, because all you have to do is ask the Cowboys to understand how tough this guy is to tackle. Apparently Elly Manning knew something when he told everyone that he expected big things from mini-Mario. He’s fast enough to get open, runs good routes, and has shown fearlessness when catching the ball in traffic. Steve Smith has been solid, but I don’t expect this to be Mario’s only good week. And I don’t know if the Giants are going to have a mediocre receiving corps for long. A trio of Hakeem Nicks, Mario, and Smith – with Hixon as a 4 – that is going to be a good group….. Julius Jones in Week 1 or Julius Jones in Week 2? Somewhere inbetween. It’s tough to fault him completely for his 8 carry for 11 yard performance against the 49ers. The Hawks will start getting offensive linemen back this next week, and should get better as the season moves forward. That being said, they only play the Rams one more time – still, Jones will be alright….. Felix Jones is still averaging over 8 yards per carry, which is just disgusting. I know he only has 13 carries this season, and barely over 40 for his short career, but he might get real carry numbers next week, and here’s to hoping he continues to bust carry’s off for 8.9 per clip. He might be the only RB in the history of the NFL that averages more yards per run than he does per catch…. Brandon Jacobs, Darren McFadden, and Kevin Smith: 3 guys I thought would have big years, are all averaging less than 4 yards a carry through 2 games. Kevin Smith has had a tough time early, but Sunday’s 85 yard performance against a stout Vikings defense makes me think he’ll be just fine. Jacobs should start to see more running room with Elly and his receivers looking good enough for the girls he goes with. And McFadden, well, unless Russell starts showing defenses that he can complete more than half his passes, he’s going to struggle to find room. Still, if you’re paying a running back that much cake, get him the ball at least 20 times a game. Yeah, that’s 11, not 10, so sue me.
TheGreek.com and the total wins I project as well. Enjoy!
- Oakland Raiders (Over 5.5 wins -140) (7): The Raiders are tougher than this. If they can stop the run a little better and be a little more efficient through the air, this team could get close to .500. It’s not like they have to rummage through a tough division, KC and Denver could both get swept by the more physical Raiders. Will that happen? I don’t know, but it’s possible, and the Raiders have a good enough run game to give mediocre teams fits. I think they’ll do that on way to their highest win total in quite some time.
- Philadelphia Eagles (Over 9.5 wins +125) (10): This one is tough, not a great value bet, but I like the Eagles to get into double digit wins. They’re hurting at linebacker though, they have some dings on the offensive line, and they lost their defensive and possibly team leader when Brian Dawkins left Philadelphia for Denver. This team is still full of talent. I would stay away from this bet, they could take the division or they could be scrambling for .500 – but I like the former over the latter, dream big Philly fans.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (Under 10.5 wins +110) (10): I would be surprised if the Steelers got 12 wins in 2009. Finishing out of the playoffs seems like a crazy idea too, but after a long run last season, the injuries could pile up in 2009, making a good finish tough to come by. Besides the Browns, I think this division will be pretty tough. They do get the luxury of playing the AFC West though, that should get them 3 wins easily. Still, I have a feeling dings will catch up with the Steelers, making 11+ wins tough to come by.
- San Diego Chargers (Under 10.5 wins -125) (10): Somebody will say I’m crazy, but it’s possible that nobody in the AFC East wins double digit games. The Chargers are talented, as always, but they aren’t completely healthy, have one of football’s toughest schedules, and rely heavily on a 30+ running back. Now LT is one of the best ever, and the Chargers do have 6 games against the likes of KC, Oakland, and Denver, but I wouldn’t be stunned if they just barely get to 10 wins. Oakland plays them tough at least once a year. Denver could get a lucky win. The Chargers have to play the Steelers, Ravens, Giants, Eagles, Titans, Cowboys, Redskins, Cowboys, and Dolphins, not to mention the rest of their normal NFL schedule. Those are playoff teams, or at least teams in the playoff picture right off the bat. Easy division? Yes. But they rest of their schedule has me on the under.
- San Francisco 49ers (Over 7.5 wins +105) (9): So what? Maybe there’s a little soft spot in my heart for anything football related to Mike Singletary. As a kid, I wore #50 in anything I did. I rocked it throughout my football career, and tried to play with that Singletary focus. So maybe I think a little too highly of Mike’s Niners. But I don’t think that’s the case. What I see is a team that finished the season 5-2. A team that has a lot of toughness and is easily the most physical team in a pretty soft NFC West. They may not be the best or most talented, but the Seahawks always have trouble stoping Frank Gore, and the Cardinals have similar problems. Obviously the Rams are relatively soft up front as well. I see lots of teams San Fran can out physical this season, and quite a few of those are on the 49ers’ schedule. So I’ll take the over and root hard for my favorite football guy to come through.
- Seattle Seahawks (Over 8.5 +130) (11): I really like this bet, even when I’m surprised it’s not at 7.5 – maybe Vegas just knows. The Hawks are the best team in the NFC West. That’s right, better than the returning Super Bowl runner-up Arizona Cardinals, better than the more physical Niners, and better than last year’s worst team in football, St. Louis Rams. (Record-wise, maybe not, but they would have lost 7 of 10 to the Lions last year, I guarantee it). So the Hawks are the top of this division, and this is why, they are a little better, a little more explosive, better up front defensively, and they also add TJ Housh and the best player in the draft, Aaron Curry. Oh, and they are twice as healthy. Injuries can always hit, but two years in a row seems questionable. The Hawks have more depth, a new coaching situation that should invigorate them a bit, and better players at the top end. And this team was picked to win the West last year. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m thinking last season’s down year was a fluke for the Hawks. This year will be different.
- St. Louis Rams (Under 5.5 +135) (6): I hate the Rams, think they were absolutely brutal last season. Plus their best receiving playmaker is an undersized sophomore that is known mostly as a burner, and will start the season on in injured list. (Donnie Avery). They are starting players that were cut from other teams. I see a lot of teams on the Rams schedule that will be difficult to beat. Starting with everyone, and then having to play the NFC North and AFC South, plus their usual terrible division is getting stronger, and they have to play the Redskins and Saints, two more teams I would easily rank much higher than the Rams. There’s no easy games for a team like the Rams, but this season seems especially tough.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Over 6.5 +140) (8): Really? Six and a half? This team has a stacked offensive line, a very good group of running backs, a solid leader in Byron Leftwich (whom doesn’t make tons of mistakes) and a defense that is out to prove they’re still solid after struggling down the stretch last season. It’s not like they lost a ton in the off-season, and they are consistently a solid team. Maybe it was all Jon Gruden before? I don’t know, I don’t get it, I think 8 seems like an easy number to get for the Bucs.
- Tennessee Titans(Over 9.5 wins +160) (10): The Titans lost one of the best defensive front players in football when Haynesworth signed a ginormous deal with the Redskins. But they are still stout defensively. They have playmakers on offense, easily being more explosive in the passing game with the additions of Nate Washington (very underrated) and rookie burner Kenny Britt – big tough receiver from Rutgers. LenDale is in great shape, looking to repeat as a touchdown beast, and everybody knows Chris Johnson is made of magic and pixy dust. I’m not a big Kerry Collins fan, but he rarely puts his team in tough situations. There’s lots of wins on the Titans’ schedule.
- Washington Redskins (Under 8.5 wins -150) (8): This is not a great money bet, the payout numbers are bad, and in the NFC West anything can happen. This defense got a lot stronger at the point of attack with Haynesworth climbing on board. They have lots of speed and talent in the secondary, and a second year under Jim Zorn, running his offensive schemes, should help this passing game be more efficient. Still, this team needs to get tougher, and in a very tough division less than .500 is a very big possability. Talentwise they could make the playoffs. So there it is, I didn’t give you much in terms of a sure thing here, but I’m leaning toward the under.
And that’s a wrap, next time I discuss this it will be a review of how well I did… But I will reference it throughout the season, if it supports my cause of course. Ha.