NFL Wrap and Playoff Preview

Wow, it has been a while. I have a lot to get to, so let’s jump right in, no foreplay needed to warm you up, right? I will stop that example right there too, so let’s get to it! College Football rant: Batter up! Or “Hike” if we are being sport-specific.

College Football

Ohio State fans must cringe everytime they watch Newton. That was supposed to be what Pryor could do.

 

The NCAA is a joke. How can anyone get behind a system where the schools lose money (on non big bowl games), the NCAA makes boatloads of money, the players play for free, and the NCAA gets to make enormous profits off it and the players? AJ Green gets 3 games right away for selling a signed jersey and Ohio State’s best players get to play in the bowl game? Oh, I’m sure it had nothing to do with the NCAA wanting to make more money and not wanting bowl game ratings to drop. I do not even have anything wrong with the NCAA pursuing profits, but stop acting like it is about the students when it clearly isn’t. I get that football is one of very few varsity sports that makes money, and schools need it to keep others afloat. but the whole system is pointed toward NCAA profit, not anything else. Why is the Sugar Bowl on a Tuesday night when most kids are going back to school? I am sure it is for the student’s best interest. Just like how there were no Bowl Games Sunday. The student-athletes missing school is nowhere near as important as not competing with the NFL, huh? I am all for the kids enjoying their bowl game, but do they care about what kind of ratings the game gets.

So you ask why I don’t like college football? Because the NCAA is full of s&%#, and I haven’t even gotten to the BCS yet, or how your season is essentially over the second you lose 3 games. There is no chance of getting attached to players either since they leave after four years. I just cannot get behind it, and yes, part of that surely has to do with my Fighting Irish not being good right now.

Ok, time for a BCS rant now that I am on a roll. I brought this up last year, but I am going to bring it up again. 6 team playoff. Use the current 5 BCS bowls as the platforms. 1 and 2 seeds get a bye, and the other four play the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl (rotating which these are every year). Then the winners move on to face the #1 and #2 BCS-rated teams in the same format as the NFL (lowest remaining seed vs #1). That takes care of the Rose and Fiesta Bowls, and you get 2 teams left for the National Championship. That works to a T. Keeps the money-making bowl system, and gives the people what they want. As for the other bowls, organize them into little post-season tournaments using the bowl system just like with the BCS. Someone tell me why this wouldn’t work.

Oh, and the BCS worked perfectly this year (except thinking Michigan State was good), so it’s not that the ranking system doesn’t work, but that certain changes need to be made to bring in more fans.

By the way, Oregon 41, Auburn 35. Book it.

The NFL

Carolina Panthers

No Luck for Carolina.

 

Pretty horrendous season for a team that seemed to have quite a few pieces. I do not even know how to put a positive spin on it. It looked like they were going to take Andrew Luck with the #1 overall pick, but now will likely replace Julius Peppers by taking DaQuan Bowers out of Clemson. Remember when the Texans took Mario Williams and their reasoning had to do with how they had to put pressure on Manning? Given the QBs in the NFC South, the same logic could be used here. The Panthers front office actually might be a little relieved given that they no longer have to give up on Jimmy Clausen, though given the beatings he keeps taking thanks to his line, they may have to hire him a live-in chiropractor. It also remains to be seen who replaces John Fox, and what direction that takes the team. I suspect it will be a boring-but-solid hire that can set them up for future success. Don’t give up on Jimmy Clausen yet, just get him an offensive line. I may have had higher expectations than I should have, but I think it is hard to give out a grade other than an F for the season they just had.

Season Grade: F

Denver Broncos Nick Fairley. Lock it in. Fits their need to bolster and rejuvenate defense, and he is a total monster, so why not. I am not sold on the Tebow era moving forward, but I like plenty of other parts of the team like the young, talented offensive line, most of the skill position players on offense, and think they are just a few defensive pieces from getting back to respectability. I am not sure who will coach, but the cupboard is not bare. Overall, not much was expected of this team. They played pretty well for short stretches of the year, and I think they can be solid moving forward and can’t be too heartbroken about the season given the expectations going in.

Season Grade: C-

Buffalo Bills

I am praying for you, Buffalo. Praying you don’t make the same mistake as you made last year and go for the flashy option (AJ Green in this case) over the meat and potatoes option of a guy in the trenches. We saw how the CJ Spiller pick worked. It didn’t and by no fault of Spiller’s. I like Patrick Peterson/Prince Amukamara, though I have admittedly not seen any of them play too much this year. Come on Buffalo, you can do it. Given Ryan Fitzpatrick’s emergence and some very solid performances, this was actually a somewhat productive year for the Bills, just not in the wins column,

Season Grade: C

Fantastically Awful. More on him later.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

During the days when we though Luck was in the draft, this seemed like a somewhat obvious pick. Now, it is a little more clouded but not so different. They have a slew of defensive line options that they should jump on, but as DaQuan Bowers will probably go #1 now, Robert Quinn is the most likely option.. His pass rushing should help out their already-solid corners and start what ought to be a new era of Bengals football.. That just makes a lot of sense if you ask me (and you did by visiting the site). I also think they should aggressively shop Carson Palmer as a necessity. I do not know about anyone else, but I LOVE the idea of them trading to get Kyle Orton. That just seems like a perfect fit to start the Orton-Benson-Shipley-Gresham era. I think it could be a good one. We will see if the Bengals can swing it. Given the expectations, there is only one grade we can give here.

Season Grade: F

Arizona Cardinals

If Larry Fitzgerald was the GM, I am pretty sure he would take Ryan Mallett, but Marcell Dareus would fit nicely into their 3-4 and Mallett or Gabbert could still be there a bit later. I could also see them taking one of the athletic defensive ends and making him an OLB in their 3-4. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone trade up to grab AJ Green or someone here, but the Cardinals will likely try to move back if they are after Mallett or Gabbert. A part of me still thinks that they will try to trade for Carson Palmer and continue Arizona’s trend of bringing in old and somewhat washed up veterans and assuming it will work. Get it done, Arizona, and help us all prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Carson Palmer is done. I am also somewhat disappointed that the Cardinals did not realize their inability to pass earlier and turned to Tim Hightower and Beanie Well’s Styrofoam Corpse  to carry the offense. Not too much was expected, but when you give Derek Anderson two separate chances at quarterback, you can’t be too disappointed with any grade.

Season Grade: D

Cleveland Browns

The big question in Cleveland right now is if Eric Mangini should have been fired. On the one hand, this team made fantastic progress this year, had a solid defense, could run the ball, and beat the Patriots and Saints. However, two straight 5-11 seasons is hardly getting it done and Holmgren is really the key here more than Mangini. Regardless, I think the team showed some serious improvement up until those last few weeks when they have been putrid. I am talking like worse than Sex Panther in Anchorman.

In an earlier column, I wrote that the Browns were about 5 pieces away from being really good. A WR (preferably a top flight guy or possession receiver), rush LB for their 3-4, a safety/extra secondary guy, and a TE if easily available. Well, time to address the first of those problems with AJ Green. This just seems like a great fit, and despite Green’s weak NCAA suspension, he seems like a good kid who will not turn into Braylon Edwards. I think this is a shoe-in pick unless they moveback a little and take him then. Perfect match. Solid building season for the Browns with some brown skid marks toward the end.

Season Grade: C+

San Francisco 49ers

Mallett? Gabbert? McNabb? One of the Smiths? None of those sound particularly appealing frankly, but one of them is going to have to be the answer at least for a year. I wouldn’t be shocked by a trade-down here either, but maybe they decide Robert Quinn or Stephen Paea is worth the pick here, and I think they are. It is just hard to justify anything but a QB given the 49ers season, so while both of those players are very solid picks, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them trade down.

Why? Why did we think Alex Smith could win a division? Why did we assume he would manage to not submarine the entire 49ers season? I have no idea, but they still were NFC West favorites and finished 3rd in the division. The grade seems clear. The D- over F is only because we should not have assumed Alex Smith could win a division.

Season Grade: D-

Tennessee Titans

Is this too early for Julio Jones? Maybe a little. More likely is going for another defensive guy like Adrian Clayborn or Janoris Jenkins, but Julio wouldn’t be the worst idea. Anyway, this was really not a good season for the Titans. I am not sure what was a realistic expectation for them, but given the Fisher/Young disharmony, Chris Johnson’s struggles, and epitomizing mediocrity in a mediocre division , few would call this Titans season a real success. Kenny Britt was a nice find, but otherwise this team just stagnated this year and the rot is starting to show. I think the TItans were right to choose Fisher over Young, but I am not sure if the Titans have what it takes to really challenge the Colts in the division regardless.

Season Grade: C-

Dallas Cowboys

If Nate Solder is still around, then the Cowboys should probably just pounce on him, but there might be slim pickins for the Boys. They need secondary help, but it looks like the top 3 CBs (Peterson, Prince, and Jenkins) might be gone at this point and Solder will likely be the pick if they decide to keep the pick. Jason Garrett is the wrong man for the job, but it looks like he will get it regardless. He is disillusioned about Tony Romo’s role, and about his offense as a whole, and making him head coach will not fix any of that.

Season Grade: F

Washington Redskins

Shanny did a surprisingly horrible job this year.

 

This has Julio Jones written all over it and if not then Justin Blackmon. You know why? Because Anthony Armstrong ain’t cuttin it. Chris Cooley has revealed himself as being a bad player (stats aside), and they are going with Rex Grossman. A QB is an option too, but I am not sure how good any of the QBs in this draft are. Blaine Gabbert? Ryan Mallett? Jake Locker? No thanks at this high a  pick. Frankly, there are just a lot of problems here. I wouldn’t blame them for just cleaning house and starting over, but I doubt it happens with Snyder in the Owner’s Box.

This was a promising season turned sour for the Skins and frankly I am not sure what to make of them, just as was the case throughout the year. They have very little to look forward to on offense, and are old. They have a coach who just alienated their new old QB and their entire season could be summed up in the word “disharmony”. Even with that they jumped out to a decent start before falling apart. They just did not quite pass.

Season Grade: D+

Houston Texans

I have been very hard on the Texans for many years. It isn’t because I hate them, ro because I want them to fail, it is because they have so much talent. Matt Schaub is very good, Andrew Johnson is the best receiver in football, Arian Foster is a very very good RB, they have a great offensive line, and Mario Williams, Brian Cushing, and co. are fantastic. I am hard on them because I am sick of seeing it all wasted for any variety of reasons. It used to be mental weakness, but this year it was just the secondary. I think they trade up to get one of the best 3 CBs, but if not, they could settle on another DE to go alongside Mario Williams.

I think Wade Phillips is a horrible idea for this team too. I do not like the idea of moving Mario Williams to OLB and making him change such a good thing, and they were fine against the run anyway, they just need better players in the secondary. Do not fix the parts of the defense that work just for the hire.

Frankl,y I am hard on this team because I want them to challenge my Colts. For years the Colts have skated to the playoffs because they just knew how to beat the other three teams. Every year the other teams would show promise and then fold at exactly the moment the Colts wanted. The Texans have all the talent to stand up to the Colts and drive them to be better, yet they never do and it drives me crazy. I am sorry, Texans fans, I am hard on you because I want you to be better. You should have fired Kubiak and brought in someone tougher and you were right to fire Frank Bush. I am not sure if the players were all playing hard for Kubiak or not, but it is time for him to go. Maybe bring Jeff Fisher back to Houston? Discretionary change is the name of the game. Please fix the right parts.

Season Grade: C-

Minnesota Vikings

The F word will not appear in this section. I sort of like the idea of Cam Newton here but it is probably a pipe dream for that many QBs to go at this point. Gabe Carimi on the line maybe? Anthony Costanzo on the line? Nope, I talked myself into Newton. Newton, Harvin, Peterson, Rice. I can’t turn back now, it needs to happen. AND they don’t have to pay him under the table! Granted the defense was bad this year for good portions, but I think Newton just fits. My initial reaction is that a northern team wouldnt take a risk on a player like that, but when you think about it, Culpepper, Harvin, Peterson, and Moss were never the hearty and safe options. The franchise takes risks and I would LOVE to see this one happen.

Ok, I will use the F word once. Why did Favre want to go to Minnesota so badly? Because he heard Sterger (“Regrets” backwards) and co. would be on the Sex Boat on Lake Minnetonka. Boom, roasted. Again, the only reason this isn’t an F is because we shouldn’t have expected F-word to be so good again.

Season Grade: D-

Detroit Lions

Jake Delhomme is about to get Suh'd.

 

The Lions would have won the NFC West by two games if they would have played in the division. That is the kind of progress they made, and they did it without their franchise QB Matthew Stafford and with chronic injuries to Jahvid Best. I was on the bandwagon all year and do not plan on getting off. The guys they would like (top 3 CBs and another good lineman) are probably gone at this point, so I think they will either try and trade up, or just trade down and accumulate picks. The scary thing is that the Lions do not even need the high pick so badly. They are pretty close to set, apart from that secondary guy so this is not so bad. I love me some Lions Kool Aid. Watch out NFC North. I am predicting a 2nd NFC North place finish and a winning record.

Season Grade: B

St. Louis Rams

Ever seen a retard hump a doorknob? Too clichéd. I suggest we change it to “ever seen a Rams player make a catch when it matters”. If there was any doubt in your mind about the OROY (and there shouldn’t have been) then that game should have clinched it. Look at what he is working with! They are awful and he had a great year! He is that rare #1 pick Qb that pans out just as well as they could have hoped and they have got to be ecstatic. They lost Donnie Avery to injury, and they lost other receivers so they are not so lost at receiver as it seems, but this wouldn’t be the worst place to take Justin Blackmon or take a tackle and admit their mistake with Jason Smith from a few years ago. This season as a great one for Steve Spagnuolo and the Rams, and their grade shows it. More deserving than Seattle without a doubt.

Season Grade: A

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins really outdid themselves this year. Not only did they continue their M.O. of disappointing, but they did it while going 1-7 at home and 6-2 on the road. But wait, there’s more! They frequently abandoned the running game early in games, showed a consistent lack of discipline in the secondary, and while Vontae Davis actually emerged as a really good corner, the team as a whole was likely brutal for its fans.

As far as the draft is concerned, there are a few directions they could go. Obviously, this is a defense-heavy draft, but Mark Ingram could possibly go here if they decide they want to get younger at RB. I am not sure if there are any CBs they really want here, but if one falls, you can bet on the Dolphins grabbing him. One of those OLBs might go here as well, but my money would be elsewhere. Tricky spot for the Dolphins right now, and this offseason could o a long way towards determining their future.

Season Grade: B-

Jacksonville Jaguars

It would be a little harsh to call him "Hack Del Rio" but the clock has almost hid midnight for Jack Del Rio.

 

Jack Del Rio needs to go, but he will stick around for at least another year. If you were a Jags fan, and every year the expectation is 8-8 with a fairly unimpressive roster, are you happy? 8-8 is nothing to laugh at, but they are doing themselves no favors being complacent. I originally thought they would be going after a WR here, but I am a believer in Mike Thomas, MSW and Marcedes to hold down the receiving corps, so we have to look elsewhere. They do need secondary help, but maybe the easiest way to help the secondary is by getting more pressure on the QB. As we have said about 50 times, this is a defensive draft, so seeing them go with a defensive lineman wouldn’t be all that surprising. The other option would be an offensive lineman, but the Jaguars are just not a team whose needs are abundantly available right now. Very subtle needs in general.

For the record, my opinion on Del Rio is completely independent of their failure to win the division this year. This is about his body of work with the team, not about his good year this year. Something about the AFC South keeps coaches around.

Season Grade: B+

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders will draft whichever player runs the fastest 40, so that is taken care of. Tom Cable will likely be out, and it brings us to one of the real themes of this offseason. Shouldn’t there be a way for fans to fire the owner? Mike Brown has killed the Bengals for years, Al Davis has been hamstringing the Raiders for a decade, Dan Snyder is getting pretty good himself, and Jerry Jones remains just a little too handsy with him team. If not fire the owner, then at least remove his personnel decision-making abilities?

Regardless, the Raiders were pretty respectable this year, and it looked like they even had a cohesive identity this year with that running game and some solid defensive performances. I would have said they needed an offensive lineman, and they still might, but it is hard to argue with their results running this year, so maybe they just need to re-tool the secondary or something. I would still bet on the offensive line pick, but who knows with the Raiders.

I humored you by acting like the Raiders have a first round pick just to talk about their needs, but guess what? The Patriots have their pick. Thanks, Crypt Keeper Davis.

Season Grade: B+

San Diego Chargers

How do you sum this up? They had the #1 offense. They had the #1 defense. They missed the playoffs. Was it all on the special teams? Was it Norv Turner’s fault? Was it just a little bad luck? Was it legendary unclutchness? What the hell happened? I blame Turner first, but that is largely just because I think he is a bad coach and do not really have a ton of basis for that based on this year. Was it all the negative energy generated by Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson? Was it the lack of a running game? I have no clue. I think they should fire Turner, keep Ron Rivera at just about all costs, and find a new leader. Norv ain’t cuttin it.

As far as the draft, would it be cruel to suggest they draft a special teams player? Yes? Alright, um, maybe grab a corner to go with Cason? Maybe just get deeper? Trade the pick?

Season Grade: C

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This season was literally beyond reproach for the Bucs. I cannot imagine any Bucs fan who would be genuinely unhappy with how the team played this year. Josh Freeman really is Big Ben minus rape even though it is getting clichéd to say that, Mike Williams was outstanding, leGarrette Blount didn’t star alongside Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, and everyone seemed to step up before the injuries. The improvement across the board was astounding and Raheem Morris is my pick for coach of the year because frankly I think he did the most coaching. I don’t think BB or Haley did that much coaching, but I think Morris made a huge difference. Not sure about their needs, but this was a great season despite the playoff miss. Can’t even think of a negative thing to say about them really.

Season Grade: A

New York Giants

This is a tricky one. A lot of people had them struggling this year (not me, I had them at 10-6. It was one of my few good predictions) but they really underachieved. The Philly game was an obvious mess-up, but with all those turnovers all year long, they just could not keep their pistol pointed away from their foot. Eli was atrocious for big stretches of the year, and evidently none of the Giants backs took notes from Post-Fumbilitis Tiki because it looked like they were trying to carry around a wet bar of soap all year. 10-6 is good. 12-4 was very possible. This Giants season will be remembered for forgotten opportunities, but good for them for not firing Tom Coughlin. He wasn’t the one turning the ball over.

Season Grade: B

The Playoffs

First of all, we are not talking Seahawks football. Sorry, just not happening.

Secondly, the other five NFC teams all have a shot at winning the conference without a doubt. The Packers might be the longest shot entirely because of injuries, but I do not think anyone would be shocked beyond belief if they made it to the Super Bowl. The Bears are probably next least likely, but that is entirely because of Jay Cutler’s decision making, not because of the team as a whole. it is wide open.

Thirdly, the AFC is not nearly as open as it looks. You will think I am a homer for saying this, but I think it is clearly true. The Patriots only fear one team in the AFC, and that is the Colts. If the Chiefs, Ravens, Jets, or Steelers play the Pats in New England, the Pats are cleaning the floor with them. The Colts are the only team in the AFC with a shot at stopping the Patriots.

I don't know about anyone else, but I would gladly back the redcoats against this nunty.

 

So we have two very difference scenarios here. In the NFC, it is wide open and every team has some clear flaw. The Seahawks are a flaw all by themselves, the Eagles are depending on a fragile man and Andy Reid’s time management, the Packers have no running game, the Saints just do not have the magic from last year and they need it, the Bears have a mistake-waiting-to-happen at QB, and the Falcons just lack that thing that makes you really believe in them. After losing to the Saints in the Georgia Dome, some of the allure is gone there, and they are not on too much more solid ground than anyone else.

A random note (confirmed via consultation with a friend): The nickname “Matty Ice” will haunt Matt Ryan his entire career can keep him from being elite. Seriously, do you fear someone going by “Matty”? Or someone that sounds almost liek “Vanilla Ice”? Do you know what I think when I hear Matty? I think “Maddie”, and not even the one from True Grit because that one was spelled “Mattie”. Does Tom Brady have a lame nickname? Manning? Brees? Rivers? No, none of them have nicknames. This will ensure that the Falcons do not win a Super Bowl with him as a major piece.

But allow me to discuss why the Colts are the only team that can challenge the Patriots in the AFC. First off, Peyton Manning owns Rex Ryan like the Yankees owned Pedro, except Rex Ryan isnt a little pitcher with ungodly stuff. I wouldn’t say Ryan put his foot in his mouth (joke intended) talking about how it was personal about Manning, I jsut don’t think it will matter. If the Jets beat the Colts, it will be because their offense excels, not because the defense stymies them. However, this statement concerns more than just the Jets game. The Colts have quietly shut down MoJo Drew, Chris Johnson, and Darren McFadden the last three weeks, and have been outstanding defensively for long stretches. The Tennessee game was really their first slip up, and it was against a division rival who you expect to give you a good game. Also keep in mind that when the Colts played the Pats, they ere missing Gary Brackett, who is like the anti-Woodhead. He blows players like that up because he is one of them, and that will frustrate the Pats greatly when they suddenly are not getting 5 extra yards after contact. Secondly, the Colts have been running the ball like crazy, and it has made all the difference. Being able to run the ball not only makes the Colts more balanced in general, but makes it much harder for Bill Belichick to gear his defense toward Manning.

Why are these things that the Colts have that are unique to them and not the other quality teams? Joe Flacco does not scare the Patriots at all. Neither does the diminished Ravens secondary. The Chiefs without Weis is a big deal too, and they were never likely to beat the Patriots anyway. The Steelers got annihilated by the Patriots because they have one major threat on offense and tend to get away from the run (though I would make them 3rd most able to beat the Pats). The Jets buried the game ball, but not the fact that the Pats now have their number.

Not your typical Manning season, but the team is on a roll.

 

NFL to the Colts: Help us Peyton-Wan Kenobi! You’re our only hope!

Sorry, I had to.

But what does that make my pick? I am taking the Eagles in the NFC. Why? Why not. I do not think Vick can stay mistake free the entire team, but I just do not trust any NFC team. The winner is coming from the AFC. And in that AFC? I am taking the Patriots and it will not be close. They will beat everyone without breaking a sweat and make up for the 18-1 season by really earning this one. They deserve it. What? I’ve never heard of something called a reverse jinx. And sarcasm isn’t something I do. Patriots 44, Eagles 20.

Overall Picks

Colts over Jets, Chiefs over Ravens (though I am shaky on it without Weis)
Patriots over Chiefs, Steelers over Colts
Patriots over Steelers

Again, please take these AFC picks with a grain of salt as the last thing I would do is pick my own team and risk jinxing them.

Saints over Seahawks (closer than you think), Eagles over Packers (the power of a rested Vick)
Eagles over Bears (I trust Cutler less than Andy Reid), Saints over Falcons (the bounce back from the Seahawks game)
Eagles over Saints (In a poorly played squeaker)

And yes, the Eagles could easily lose to the Packers in the first round. Just one of those years.

Patriots over Eagles

Also, I have historically been awful at picking the playoffs, so don’t put any money on my opinions here.

Awards and Some Fun

MVP: Tom Brady. You could go with “best player best team”. You could go with “best stats”. You could go with “holy crap he has played better than anyone this year and it is pretty undeniable”. They all work.?
Honorable Mention: Michael Vick, Roddy White, Peyton Manning

Defensive Player of the Year: Julius Peppers. Quietly a gigantic impact and unblockable just like the good old days in Carolina.
Honorable Mention: If this was Most Valuable Defensive Player, I would go with Ed Reed and Ndammukong Suh, but it is DPOY. Cameron Wake gets my “favorite new defensive player” award, but again, that is not the award. The HMs here is Clay Matthews

OROY: Sam Bradford. See above, and there is just no one else in his league.
Honorable Mention: Mike Williams (TB),  LeGarrette Blount, Aaron Hernandez/Rob Gronkowski (NE)

DROY: Ndammukong Suh. Because no one else was close. He is the 2nd best D-lineman in the league right now (Haloti Ngata).
Honorable Mention: Devin McCourty is a distant second, and third is almost as distant.

Coach of the Year:  Raheem Morris. See above.
Honorable Mention: Belichick, Todd Haley

Comeback Player of the Year: Michael Vick. No one else was close to the point I am not giving honorable mention.

NFL Man of the Year: Andre Johnson. Video below.

The All-Clowns Team

Yup, we are making a team for the Clowns. In this case, it is not the players who are clowns so much, but because these are players who were once good and now are done. Sort of like you if you have settled on a career as a clown. The important thing to remember is that these players were good at one point, but now suck, so the career scrubs are out. Say bye to these guys. And yes, they are partial lists because I don’t have time to think up guys on both sides of the ball, but don’t let that stop you, dear reader.

QB: Carson Palmer (CIN-captain)
RB: Clinton Portis (WAS)
RB: LaDanian Tomlinson (NYJ)
WR: Randy Moss (NE/MIN/TEN)
WR: Chad Ochocinco (CIN)
TE: Chris Cooley (WAS)
T: Ryan Diem (IND)
G: Leonard Davis (DAL)
C: Andre Gurode (DAL)

Reserves: Donovan McNabb, Thomas Jones, Felix Jones (placed here due to fantasy football bitterness), Reggie Wayne (not really, but declining fast), Hines Ward (probably was done for a few years now really).

All OTC Team

This one is for all my guys. They aren’t the best players in the league, and they are all from the middle-class, but they are good and people need to know about it. Admittedly I started to run out of guys and had to go a little more name-brand at times.

QB: Kyle Orton (DEN). Josh Freeman was a close second, but give me Captain Neckbeard/ Kyle The Bottle.
RB: Joseph Addai (IND). Tough yardage is his middle name and an amazing blocker and good receiver. Underrated.
RB: LeSean McCoy (PHI). He is one of those guys that would be borderline elite on most teams, but on Andy Reid’s team, he is just underrated. He can do it all.
WR: Anquan Boldin (BAL). A tough guy that will block and go across the middle, but he can also finesse you. Always underrated in Arizona, and Flacco just isn’t that good.
WR: Legedu Naannee (SD). More than a slot receiver.
WR: Davone Bess (MIA). He is playing the slot for me and will be my leading receiver if I have my way. My favorite random NFL player. It’s not close.
TE: Jimmy Graham (NO). I was looking for a guy who could block a little more, but I will settle for the extremely athletic TE.
OL: Too hard to single out one guy on each O-Line.
DE: Cameron Wake (MIA), Tamba Hali (KC). Love the motors on both of them and they are a menace.
DT: Eric Foster (IND), Ahtyba Rubin (CLE). Fiesty, solid, and good.
OLB: James Anderson (CAR), Geno Hayes (TB). Fast, good tacklers, and underrated.
MLB: London Fletcher (WAS). Gary Brackett Sr. Gotta love him.
CB: Jerraud Powers (IND), Brandon Flowers (KC). Good ball-skills and good cover-skills.
SS: Malcolm Jenkins (NO). Converted corner making the transition very well from what I have seen.
FS: Antoin Bethea (IND). I realize I am heavy on Colts here, but he clearly belongs on the list.

Head Coach: Jim Schwartz (DET). I was going to take Tomlin, but we all know how good he is.
OC: Mike Mularkey (ATL). Watch out, he is about to leave the underrated ranks for the overrated ranks.
DC: I am running a 4-3 with this team, but I want Crennel/Mangini to do it. Screw it, I am just going to act like they run a 4-3.
Special Teams Coach: Just kidding, no favorite special teams coach.

Ok, here’s the point.This team is probably a borderline playoff team on paper, but there are good players to be found out there if you look around a little. Granted, Anquan Boldin and Percy Harvin might be a bit hard to pick up, but they are players who have much more than meets the eye and are worth a look.

So is everything covered? All those loose ends tied up before heading to Spain? It has been a great year and I regret not getting to cover the playoffs, but a great college experience looms. Do not give up on us and we will be back before you know it.

 

The Clowns are going further out of town. A live report from the Bernabeu? Keep your fingers crossed.

 

 

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