We get to hear it all the time on how much the superstars of the NFL make, but what about the players that are play-makers but don’t make the big bucks?  The way that the NFL negotiates contracts is very flawed in some sense, but what surprises me is the players I am about to list.  The players I am going to add to this list are constantly making big plays or being a major factor on the team.  Before the 2013 season started we heard a bunch of players re-negotiating their contracts to make room for new players and draft picks to be signed; which shows how dedicated some players are to having there team win as apposed to how fat they can make their wallets.  Even with all the re-negotiations that took place, the players I am about to list out should be paid more than what they are getting paid. 

Torrey Smith WR Ravens – The Ravens traded away Anquan Boldin in the offseason so it pretty much left Smith to be the main target in Baltimore.  With that, I assumed the Ravens would want to secure him with a better contract because as of right now Smith is slated to make $683,000 in 2013.  I know to normal people like me that seems like a lot of money, but compared to other receivers in the NFL that is pretty low.  The average for a WR in the NFL is about $1.6 million dollars so the Ravens are getting Smith for a pretty good discount.

Josh Gordon WR Browns – The Browns leading receiver in 2012 was Gordon; and remember that the Browns drafted him as a supplemental draft pick.  In 2013 Jordan Cameron has emerged as a big target, but the majority of the passes are going to Gordon.  In his rookie year he hauled in 50 receptions (40 of those were for first downs), 5 TDs, and averaged 16.1 yards per catch.  So as you can see he is a big player in Cleveland, but the Browns are only paying him $632,802 for 2013.  Another AFC North team is getting a steal on a superstar receiver.

DeMarco Murray RB Cowboys – I know, I know Murray needs to stay healthy.  So far in his young career he is yet to play injury-free, but with the Cowboys releasing Felix Jones, Murray is really the best option for the Cowboys.  Think back to when Murray was in college; he was a bruising RB who also showed great speed.  So far in 2013, he has missed some time but he is showing signs of improvement in his running abilities and decision making.  The Cowboys are notorious for dropping huge contracts on players, but not Murray he is slated to make $620,000 for the 2013 season.  I feel pretty confident that if he can stay healthy that he could one day earn that big contract.

Eric Decker WR Broncos – The Broncos now have a killer receiving squad with Thomas, Welker, Thomas, and Decker; but Decker is getting the short end of the stick.  In 2012, Decker was second in the NFL in TD receptions with 13 and had over 1,000 receiving yards.  But instead of getting Decker a bigger contract, they brought in Welker and gave the contract to him.  As of right now everything is working great in Denver, but imagine being Decker right now.  Decker is going to make $575,000 in 2013 while his receiver buddies are all making at least double that.  It shows that Decker really wants to be on a championship team, but I am sure that has to be frustrating at times.

Randall Cobb WR Packers – Cobb just blew up in the 2012 season by returning kicks and being a solid target for Aaron Rodgers.  Cobb led the Packers in receiving yards with 954 and in receptions with 80.  With the departure of Greg Jennings I think we all assumed that the Packers would want to get him that contract that would help turn him into a franchise receiver.  Cobb and Torrey Smith are kind of a similar story because Cobb is slated to make $666,766 for the 2013 season.  With Cobb being injured now it worked out for the Packers to not give him a big contract, but if the Packers want to keep him for the rest of his career they are going to eventually need to open up that check book.

JJ Watt DE Texans – This is where the draft can determine how much your contract is.  Now don’t feel too bad for Watt because his contract is $1.396 million for 2013, but when you look at how well he has performed since he was drafted in 2011 everyone knows he should be paid more.  Remember that Watt was drafted as the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft; so he was one spot away from being drafted in the top 10 where if he would have been taken one pick earlier his contract would be almost doubled.  So until his rookie contract runs out, the Texans are getting a huge steal on Watt; but once that contract is up the Texans better be ready to pay him what he deserves or another team will scoop him up.

Cecil Shorts WR Jaguars – It has been a long time since the Jaguars were even remotely a good team, but they have been very good about finding awesome receivers.  With the inconsistent play of Justin Blackmon; the weight of the receiving responsibilities fell on Shorts and in 2012 he took advantage of that opportunity.  In 2012, he led the Jags in receiving yards, receiving TDs, yards per catch, yards after catch, and receptions over 20 yards.  In 2013 he picked up right where he left off and has been one of the few bright spots in a dismal Jaguar offense, but for his efforts he is only going to make $617,922 for the 2013 season.  Next time you watch a Jags game keep an eye on him and yo uwill really see how much of an impact Shorts makes on this dreadful team.

Ryan Tannehill QB Dolphins – I was actually pretty shocked when I saw his salary because its bordering on the league minimum.  Now Tannehill is no Drew Brees and he is very young with a lot to learn, but what the Dolphins are paying him shows they really dont have a lot of confidence in him at all.  For the 2013 season Tannehill is slated to make $484,841; he does have some bonus opportunities, but even if he received all the bonuses it would still be well under a million dollars.   Once again, if someone was to offer me that kind of money I would be happier than a kid in a candy store, but there are backups who make more money than Tannehill.

Blair Walsh K Vikings – I am putting him in here next to Tannehill for two reasons.  The first is that their salaries are almost the same; and two, a kicker and a QB are not the same thing so why are they paid the same?  Walsh had an amazing 2012 season by connecting on 35 out of 38 field goals and was 10 for 10 on field goals longer than 50 yards.  As of right now Walsh is going to make $480,000 for 2013 which is much lower than the average kicker makes in the NFL.

Jimmy Graham TE Saints – You would have to be under a rock to not know who Jimmy Graham is.  For the last two seasons he has been one of the most dominant receivers/tight ends in the NFL.  When Graham was drafted he was signed to a rookie contract that did not pay him much money.  For 2013 he is going to make $575,000 which is obviously extremely low for a player like Graham.  For the last few seasons the Saints have Graham at a serious discount.  Everyone knows that Graham will be getting a significant raise at the end of this season, but it is kind of shocking to see that one of the best players in the NFL is making less than half of the NFL.

Denarius Moore WR Raiders – I know that the Raiders have had difficulty finding a QB to actually get the ball to their receivers, but Moore has been a pretty reliable target for the Raiders since being drafted.  As it stands Moore is going to make $555,000 for the 2013 season.  I thought that would have been more since the Raiders traded away Heyward-Bey to the Colts.  With Pryor now being the QB for the Raiders it may raise the price for Moore, but as of right now I do not see any re-negotiations for him in the future.

Russell Wilson QB Seahawks – Wilson has quickly become the franchise QB for the Seahawks by being smart, talented, and classy player.  He has a great arm, great vision, and is a great runner.  So you would think he would have a great contract right?  Wrong.  For the 2013 season Wilson is going to make $526,217.  He is also under a rookie contract so the Seahawks are getting a really good bargain on him right now; but once that contract ends they will also need to open the checkbook if they plan on keeping him in Seattle.

Alfred Morris RB Redskins – The Redskins drafted Morris in the 6th round of the 2012 draft, so I dont really think they expected much out of him so they signed him to a rookie contract,  After one of the best rookie seasons a player could ask for he is already turning into an elite RB.  In his rookie year he racked up 1,613 rushing yards with was second only to Adrian Peterson.  For the 2013 season Morris is slated to make $480,000 which is a huge bargain for an elite RB.  The Redskins are already in hot water with their salary cap so they are going to need to make some adjustments in order to keep Morris in the roster.

 

 

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Pretty much everyone can throw their “pre-season” predictions out the window because it has been a crazy NFL season so far.  The worst team in the NFL in 2012 is now undefeated, we have two teams that have only won one game, and we have teams that were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders just fall off the face of the earth.  But, thats whats fun about football; you never know whats going to happen.  We are now 10 weeks into the 2013 season and a playoff picture is now starting to form.  There are some teams that we can tell are playoff bound, and at the same time I really think we will have a crazy Wild Card race going into the playoffs.  So, with that being said here is the current NFL Power Ranking; along with some other interesting facts.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) – Ten weeks ago when it was Week 1 the Chiefs were ranked at #22.  People will make the argument that the Chiefs have not played a tough team yet, but the fact remains they are undefeated.  The Chiefs defense has really been a surprise and they have been holding opponents to under 18 points a game.  The Chiefs offense is not the best in the NFL, but Smith and Company have been doing something that most teams do too much of and thats NOT turning the ball over.  It is very rare that the Chiefs turn the ball over and when you add that to a stout defense it equals victories.  In the next 3 weeks the Chiefs will play the Broncos twice so we will really see what they are made of.

2. Denver Broncos (8-1) – Peyton Manning has been a thrill to watch this year and he is leading the NFL in pretty much every passing category.  Another surprise on the Broncos offense has been Knowshon Moreno, he has found the endzone 8 times this season.  The Broncos defense has suffered some setbacks, but when you get an offense that will score almost 40 points a game it really helps.  The 3-headed monster on the team is the combo of Welker, Thomas, and Decker and with those 3 running routes at the same time makes it almost impossible to defend.  The lowest the Broncos ranking has been this year was 4th; I dont see a way that the Broncos wont be deep into the playoffs.

3. Seattle Seahawks (9-1) – When the season started the Seahawks were ranked #1 and the lowest they have gone is 5th.  The Seahawks have had one of the best defenses in the NFL, not to mention a very high powered offense.  Lynch has already scored 7 rushing TDs and is second in the NFL in rushing yards.  Between Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas they have combined for 8 interceptions which makes it very difficult to pass on the Seahawks.  I really cant see anything slowing Seattle down between Russell Wilson, Lynch, Golden Tate, and a powerful defense it would not surprise me to see Seattle playing in the Super Bowl.

4. New Orleans Saints (7-2) – When the season started the Saints were ranked at 14 and had a terrible defense in 2012.  It has been a major turn around this season with Brees throwing 25 TDs already and over 3,000 passing yards.  Lets not forget Jimmy Graham who has been a dominating force with 10 receiving TDs and 54 receptions; which is more than most receivers on other teams.  Someone that gets overlooked on this offense is Pierre Thomas; with Sproles not being as productive as usual Thomas has been the primary running back to shoulder the load in the running game and he has made a bigger impact this year than he has in previous years.

5. New England Patriots (7-2) – The Patriots have had their struggles this year, but they have made the adjustments they need to still win games.  Brady has been doing his best to utilize the young receivers he has and the running game has almost been non-existent up until a few weeks ago with Blount and Ridley.  Now with Gronkowski coming back into the mix it has given Brady a reliable target in the pass game and the young receivers have been improving every week. 

6. Carolina Panthers (6-3) – Yes you are reading this right; the Panthers are in the top 10 in the Power Rankings.  Just 10 weeks ago they were ranked down in the 23rd spot and now with a 5 game win streak they have cracked the top 10.  Its mostly the defense that is making this possible by holding opponents to under 19 points a game for the last 5 weeks.  Obviously Cam Newton has been keeping the offense rolling, but the defense is their best weapon as of late.  Players like Charles Johnson with 8.5 sacks, Mike Mitchell with 3 interceptions, and Luke Kuechly with 75 tackles is keeping the Panthers in games.  Believe it or not, but the Panthers could make a playoff run this season which would be the first in almost a decade.

7. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) – Despite getting handled by the Rams this week the Colts are still looking pretty sharp.  They have the weapons in Luck, Richardson, Hilton, and Fleener but they need to utilize them more.  Everyone thought that Richardson would be the answer to the run game, but so far it has been a disappointment and with Reggie Wayne going to IR the load has fallen on Hilton and Heyward-Bey.  The Colts defense has stepped up when needed as well in tough games.  What fans are hoping for is that Luck and Company can continue to get the ball to the endzone and make another playoff run.

8. San Francisco 49ers (6-3) – Once again the 49ers defense is one of the best in the NFL; but the offense is not doing their part.  The 49ers have an incredible running game with Gore, Hunter, and James; but Kap is literally dead last in passing yards.  The Niners have weapons too in Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin, and Mario Manningham.  Eventually Crabtree will come back, but its not going to matter if Kap cant get the ball to them.  It would not surprise me if the Niners still make a playoff run, but it will be short lived unless the offense steps it up soon.  The good news is that the defense is stepping up big time.  When you have players like Patrick Willis, Navarrow Bowman, and Justin Smith you are bound to have a solid defense, but the Niners cannot rely on them to get them to another Super Bowl.

9. Detroit Lions (6-3) – When I think of the Lions there are 3 names that come to mind; Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, and now Reggie Bush.  Between those 3 guys the Lions have become a very powerful offense.  Calvin has already found the endzone 9 times and is almost to 1,000 receiving yards already.  Reggie Bush has been a double threat by being the main rusher on the team and a safety valve for Stafford.  Picking up Bush was the best thing for the Lions and Bush has taken advantage of it by having 4 total TDs and almost 1,000 total yards.  Lets not forget about the defense, DeAndre Levy leads the NFL with 5 interceptions and Stephen Tulloch with 72 tackles.  The Lions actually do have a good chance at a playoff run with the Packers and the Bears both multiple games in the last few weeks.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) – The Bengals have now dropped 2 straight games; both in overtime, but dont count them out yet.  AJ Green leads the NFL in receiving yards and second in receptions; and between Bernard and Green-Ellis the running game has gotten a lot better.  To me, the issue is Dalton.  He is a good QB, but he is still making bad decisions in crucial times of the game.  When Dalton is hot he is almost impossible to stop, but when he is cold he is ice cold.  The Bengals have had an incredible defense this year and it is because of the defense that the Bengals are leading in their division.  If the Bengals can pull the offense together they should be able to take the NFC North with no problem.

11. Chicago Bears (5-4) – I had high hopes for the Bears after they came out of the gates with 3 straight wins, but recently they have been a bit disappointing.  Part of it was the fact that Cutler was injured, but you cant blame all of it on that.  The Bears main weapon is still Brandon Marshall, but Alshon Jeffery has been a nice compliment in the pass game.  Also, the emergence of Martellus Bennett has been a nice addition in the pass game.  My problem with the Bears is that they have re-vamped offensive line and a killer RB in Forte, but they are not giving him the ball enough.  Forte is almost to the 700 yard mark and a solid 7 TDs, but I feel he should be used more like an Adrian Peterson type back.  With Cutler back under center I think the Bears can give the Lions a run for their money, but only time will tell.

12. New York Jets (5-4) – The Jets were ranked dead last when the season began, but they have clawed their way up to #12.  The best thing that the Jets did was bench Sanchez; I am not saying Geno Smith is that much better, but it is definitely an improvement.  You cant blame everything on Smith though; the offensive line has given up a lot of sacks and the running game has not been too impressive.  So, how are the Jets 5-4?  Simple answer; defense.  The offense has stepped up in big situations, but the defense plays a full 4 quarters of football. 

13. Green Bay Packers (5-4) – Very rough season for the cheese heads.  The Packers have just been plagued with the injury big with key players going down, such as; Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, and Jermichael Finley.  The bright spot though has been the outstanding play of rookie Eddie Lacy.  The Packers have been searching for a franchise RB and they found it big time.  Lacy as a rookie is ranked 8th in rushing yards and 7th in rushing attempts in the league.  This may not be the year that the Packers do well, but this team is going to be extremely tough for years to come.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) – Its been an up and down season for the Eagles, but I think they are on the right track now.  I think its official that Vick is not going to have a job next year, but Foles has played very well in a short amount of time.  And when you add in LeSean McCoy to the mix it just makes the offense that much better.  The Eagles have also found a star in Riley Cooper who is playing for the injured Jeremy Maclin; who also may not have a job next year.  The offense is finally coming together and even with the NFC East being a sloppy division, the Eagles could take the division easily.

15. Dallas Cowboys (5-5) – Speaking of NFC East its time to talk about the Cowboys.  What bothers me with the Cowboys is that they have all the weapons they need on offense and defense.  You have a better Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and DeMarco Murray.  And on defense you have Sean Lee and Ware who are having Pro Bowl years.  So whats the problem?  With the schedule that the Cowboys have I really thought they would be 7-3 right now.  Everyone wants to blame Romo (because its a habit), but I cant say its all his fault.  The Cowboys are going to need to step up their game if they hope to win this horrible division.

16. Arizona Cardinals (5-4) – Another team that has an awesome defense, but a mediocre offense.  I dont see the Cardinals making a playoff push, but if they can get some better offensive players I think they could be a contender in the NFC West.  In my opinion it starts with the offensive line.  The Cards have a decent run game and they have weapons in Fitzgerald and Roberts, but if Palmer cant throw the ball they will be useless.

17. San Diego Chargers (4-5) – They have had some bright spots in Woodhead, Rivers, and Gates, but they are having a tough time stopping teams from scoring.  Rivers is having a Pro Bowl type year, but that wont be enough in their division to make a playoff push.  They are competing in the AFC West that has the Broncos and the Chiefs; so I dont really see them going to the post-season. 

18. Baltimore Ravens (4-5) – Even with the Ravens being this low they could still make the playoffs.  The AFC North has the Bengals (who the Ravens just beat), the Steelers, and the Browns.  Over the alst few weeks the Ravens have been playing like the defensing Super Bowl Champs; especially the defense.  The biggest difference in the Ravens offense has been the poor play of Ray Rice who is barely averaging 3 yards per carry.  But, its not all his fault either the pass game has been almost non-existent this season.  But even with that said the Ravens could slip into the playoffs as long as they keep pulling in the wins.

19. Cleveland Browns (4-5) – Obviously in a re-building year trading away Richardson and going through QBs like I go through underwear.  The two bright spots have been the emergence of Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon.  The Browns and the Ravens have the same record, but dont expect the Browns to be a playoff team.  There are a lot of holes in the offense, defense, and staff that will not benefit them for the remainder of the season. 

20. St. Louis Rams (4-6) – Sam Bradford is out for the rest of the year, the running game is finally working, and Tavon Austin finally had a breakout game.  There were some high hopes for the Rams coming into the season but they were quickly put to rest.  Up until last week the Rams didnt even have a rushing TD and we were just waiting for Austin to show why he was a first round pick.  The Rams could improve for future seasons, but I dont see them advancing for this season.

21. Tennessee Titans (4-5) – Even being ranked this low the Titans could push to be a Wild Card team.  In their division its the Colts, Texans, Jags, and the Titans.  Obviously the Jags and Texans have sealed their fate for this season, but the Titans still have a sliver of a chance.  You wont find any of the offensive players leading in any stats, but when you combine Chris Johnson, Jake Locker, Kendall Wright, and Nate Washington I think they could slide into a Wild Card spot if they get more wins under their belt.

22. Miami Dolphins (4-5) – Everyone was shocked when the Dolphins came out guns blazing winning 3 straight games.  But it has not taken long for the whole team to just crumble.  Since their 3 win start they have only won one more game which was in OT against the Bengals.  People thought having Mike Wallace in Miami would be an improvement and that has proven to be a disappointment, and most people listed Lamar Miller as a sleeper for fantasy players which has also been a disappointment.  Now with the Dolphins getting a lot of negative attention its only going to add to a growing problem for the franchise.

23. Washington Redskins (3-6) – I just dont understand this team at all.  Alfred Morris is probably one of the more reliable backs in the game, yet he is getting a lot less carries than his rookie year and more importantly, Morris is getting a lot less redzone carries which confuses me greatly.  I really cant tell what is going on with RGIII either.  One week he is unstoppable then the next week he cant do anything right.  It has been a treat to see Garcon play to his potential this season and I think he is one of the main reasons that the Redskins have won 3 games.  The Redskins have a long road ahead of them, but I still think that RGIII is the answer to most of the problems.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6) – Another team that just baffles me.  They are just letting games slip through their fingers.  Antonio Brown leads the NFL in receptions and has proven to be a reliable target for Big Ben, but he cant get in the endzone.  When it comes to the running game its literally hit or miss.  Le’Veon Bell is a good runner when he is healthy, but they do not have that reliable RB to back him up if something happens.  The “Steel Curtain” has not been up to par either this year and I cant tell what the problem is.  The Steelers are a good team and they have been for decades, but this has not been a good year and I dont see a playoff birth for 2013.

25. New York Giants (3-6) – Talk about a team that just fell right on their face.  It was mostly in the running game when they released Bradshaw, then Wilson played poorly, then Wilson and Brown got hurt, then Jacobs got hurt, then Hillis stepped in, and now Brown is back.  The defense has been really soft this year too by allowing well over 20 points a game which equals a lot of losses.  I know the Giants are a good team, but they got off on the wrong foot this year and they are paying for it now.

26. Buffalo Bills (3-7) – Between having a rookie QB and Spiller being a bust its just been one thing after another for the Bills this year.  People were really putting a lot of faith into Spiller and Manuel going into the season, but injuries put a stop to that quickly.  The Bills also have weapons that can add up tp wins, but they need to be able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.  Eventually I could see the Bills being a playoff contender; just not this year.

27. Oakland Raiders (3-6) – It has been a treat to see how much Pryor has improved since the beginning of the season and I think Oakland finally has a QB they can groom to be a franchise QB.  One piece of this puzzle though is DMC needing to stay healthy for a full season.  McFadden has put up good numbers this year, but he is still plagued with the injury bug.  I gotta give the Raiders defense some credit because the few wins they have had this year have been won by the defense.

28. Houston Texans (2-7) – I really thought the Texans were going to be a solid playoff team this year; was I off or what?  It was very hard to watch Matt Schaub literally throw this team into the ground for the first 4 weeks, but its even tougher now with Foster being injured and the defense has fallen apart now that they are talking about cutting Ed Reid.  I am hoping this is just an “off” year for the Texans and they come back next year and get back on track.

29. Atlanta Falcons (2-7) – Roddy White, Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, and Tony Gonzalez.  When you look at those names all you see is Pro Bowls, TDs, and great players.  The fact that they are all on the same team you would think that it would be an unstoppable offense; well its been a different story this year.  I was predicting the Falcons to make another deep playoff run, but between injuries and just poor play they find themselves searching for answers.  2013 was not kind to the Falcons, but they will be better next season that much I know.

30. Minnesota Vikings (2-7) – I can sum up this teams season in two words; QB issues.  I can seriously say that the Vikings can blame the majority of this crappy season on the poor play of all 3 of their QBs.  Adrian Peterson is playing well and carrying the team as best as he can right now, but the QB (no matter who it is) is not helping matters.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) – With the loss of Josh Freeman and Doug Martin the Bucs have been using inexperienced players to try and carry the team.   Its been a sad year for the Bucs, but its mostly sitting on the offense to pick up the slack for next season.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) – They finally got a win.  To be honest I dont really think too many people had high hopes for the Jags this season.

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Me and some of my buddies are always trying to figure out who we would pick if we were to draft our own “Dream Team”.  The question normally is “who would you want on your team if you could build any defense?”  We do this for offense too; but that will be a different post.  There have been so many great defensive players that have played so it is very hard to choose the best of the best because everyone is always going to have their own opinions who the best players are.  You cant just go off of stats because some players are still young; or played in a different era when the game was different then it is today.  The way that I am choosing my players is based off stats, Pro Bowls, impact on the game, and presence on and off the field.  Its fun to think about how some of these players would play together, and we can always wonder, but all these players that I am about to list have made a huge impact on the game of football

+DEFENSIVE LINEMAN+

Defensive lineman include defensive tackles and defensive ends.  Without a group of solid defensive lineman you are going to have a defense that will get torn apart by the run and the pass.  Defensive lineman are the big guys that plug up holes in the running game; and put pressure on the passing game.  Below are just a few players I would love to have on my defensive line.  I know there are a lot of players not on this list, but these are the players that I would personally choose.

1. Reggie White (Packers)- 13 Pro Bowls, 1,112 tackles, 198 sacks, NFL Sack Leader twice, NFC Defensive Player of the Year 3 times
2. Bruce Smith (Bills) – 11 Pro Bowls, 1,225 tackles, 200 Sacks, Defensive Player of Year 2 times, Record Holder for Sacks
3. Cortez Kennedy (Seahawks) –  8 Pro Bowls, 668 tackles, 58 sacks, NFL Defensive Player of the Year
4. John Randle (Vikings) – 7 Pro Bowls, 556 tackles, 137.5 sacks, 1990s All-Decade Team
5. Warren Sapp (Bucs) – 7 Pro Bowls, 573 tackles, 96.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, NFL Defensive Player of the Year
6. Joe Greene (Steelers) – 10 Pro Bowls, 78.5 sacks, Defensive Rookie of the Year, NFL Defensive Player of the Year 2 times
7. Michael Strahan (Giants) – 7 Pro Bowls, 854 tackles, 141.5 sacks, Most Sacks in a Season Record (22.5), NFL Defensive Player of the Year
8. Richard Dent – 4 Pro Bowls, 137.5 sacks, 8 interceptions, Super Bowl MVP

+LINEBACKERS+

This is the meat of any defense.  The linebackers are like the quarterback of the defensive unit.  Linebackers are meant to be tough players that are fast, big, and needs great vision.  They need to be able to stop the run and be able to drop into pass coverage and cover the pass.  I know that the people I choose here would not be the same as others because there are some notable people who are missing.  The linebackers I am choosing I think are the best to ever play and when you pair them up with the defensive lineman I have chosen it would be beautiful to watch.

1. Ray Lewis (Ravens) – 13 Pro Bowls, 2,061 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 31 INT, 2x NFL Defensive Player of the Year
2. Lawrence Taylor (Giants) – 10 Pro Bowls, 1,088 tackles, 132.5 sacks, 3x NFL Defensive Player of the Year
3. Jack Lambert (Steelers) – 9 Pro Bowls, 1,479 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 28 INT, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
4. Patrick Willis (49ers) – 6 Pro Bowls, 839 tackles, 15 forced fumbles, NFL Rookie of the Year, 3x Linebacker of the Year
5. Derrick Thomas (Chiefs) – 9 Pro Bowls, 642 tackles, 126.5 sacks, 6 Chiefs Records, NFL Record 7 Sacks in a single game
6. Mike Singletary (Bears) – 10 Pro Bowls, 1,488 tackles, 2x NFL Defensive Player of the Year
7. Junior Seau (Chargers) – 12 Pro Bowls, 1,849 tackles, 56.5 sacks, 18 INT, NFL Defensive Player of the Year

+DEFENSIVE BACKS+

These are the speedy guys who mostly cover passes; but can come up and smack you if need be.  Most people think that defensive backs are small guys who can run fast; but those people are very wrong.  Most of these guys are as big as fullbacks and as fast as receivers.  On a defensive unit the defensive backs can make or break a game especially in the pass game.  Quarterbacks are always reading what the safety and corners are doing and they are going to be the players that get most of the interceptions, but the better they cover the receivers the more sacks the defensive lineman get.  Then you get some defensive backs who play just like linebackers and can completely take over a defense and make them better than then average defense.

1. Ronnie Lott (49ers) – 10 Pro Bowls, 63 INT, 1980s All-Decade Team, 1990s All-Decade Team
2. Deron Cherry (Chiefs) – 6 Pro Bowls, 50 INT, AFC Defensive Player of the Year, 1980s All-Decade Team
3. Rod Woodson (Steelers) – 11 Pro Bowls, NFL Defensive Player of the Year, NFL Record 12 INT for touchdowns
4. Darrell Green (Redskins) – 7 Pro Bowls, 1,159 tackles, 54 INT, 4x NFL Fastest Man Winner, 20 NFL Seasons
5. John Lynch (Bucs) – 9 Pro Bowls, 1,058 tackles, 26 INT, 13 sacks
6. Charles Woodson (Packers/Raiders) – 8 Pro Bowls, 752 tackles, 56 INT, 13 TDs, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, NFL Defensive Player of the Year
7. Brian Dawkins (Eagles) – 9 Pro Bowls, 1,131 tackles, 37 INT, 26 sacks, 2000s All-Decade Team
8. Troy Polamalu (Steelers) – 7 Pro Bowls, 660 tackles, 30 INT, 2000s All-Decade Team

As we approach the mid-way mark of the 2013 season it is time to see how our fantasy “projections” have turned out.  At the start of the season everyone had their opinions on who was going to be the best fantasy options.  Also, there were plenty of sleeper and bust articles written and now we get to see if any of those projections were correct.  In this article I will go over every position that encumbers a fantasy football team and I will go over who is leading in fantasy points and see if the projections earlier this season were correct or way off.  The point system I am using is a Standard ESPN Fantasy Football Scoring Format.  At the end of this article I will show the top rankings for all positions.

+QUARTERBACKS+

The QB section is pretty close to what we had expected.  The big surprise was how good of start Peyton Manning started off with.  Through 7 weeks Peyton has already put up a monstrous 168 fantasy points.  The next QB down is Drew Brees with 130 fantasy points which is still very good obviously.  A name that has shocked me is Jay Cutler; she is 7th in fantasy points for QB with 102 points which is above Aaron Rodgers (100), Matt Ryan (96), and Cam Newton (92).  Cutler was not even drafted in some leagues and in other leagues he has been just sitting on the bench.  People may want to think about starting him for future games now that he is proving to be a better QB than before.  Another big surprise was Tony Romo; he is 4th in fantasy points for QBs with 115 points and he has made some mistakes but not nearly as many as previous years.

The players that I have been disappointed with are Colin Kaepernick (76), Tom Brady (79), and Matt Schaub (72).  Kap in his first game looked like he was going to be just amazing, but since that game he has not been playing to the standard we had thought he would.  Tom Brady is going to the Hall of Fame, but with an inexperienced receiving squad he has really had to struggle to get the ball downfield this season.  There are some Patriot receivers who are stepping up, but it is a far cry from where he was just a few years ago.  Matt Schaub has just been a mess this season and if he is on your fantasy team then you are just wasting a slot.  He has been a turnover machine and he is not making it easy for the Texans to win.

+RUSHING+

There have been some big shockers here.  People who picked up Jamaal Charles are sitting pretty right now since he leads all RBs in points with 112.  LeSean McCoy is sitting at 98 points while Marshawn Lynch is at 93.  Outside of those 3 people it has been an absolute mess with RBs.  As it stands right now Knowshon Moreno is 4th in points for RBs with 92 which is ahead of Adrian Peterson (84); who I am sure was drafted #1 in every league.  In most leagues Moreno was not even drafted since it was said that Montee Ball would most likely be the starter.  Reggie Bush is also fitting in very well with the Lions by scoring 77 points already and that is with him missing one full game.  Adrian Peterson has had a lot of things happen this season but he is still producing numbers and he is 5th in points with 84 points so far this season.

Now for the disappointments in the RB column.  Here are some of the running backs that people picked in the first round of their drafts; CJ Spiller, Ray Rice, Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, Arian Foster, and Alfred Morris.  Now I am not saying they are all doing bad but I am going to put this into perspective.  Ray Rice has 37 fantasy points; that is one point more than back up running back Jaquizz Rodgers (36) for the Falcons.  I know Rice has had some injury issues but he is only averaging 2.8 yards per carry.  People had high hopes for CJ Spiller but he has only put up 39 points while his counter part Fred Jackson has racked up 71 points.  I dont think anyone saw that coming.  I think my two biggest surprises are Doug Martin (47) and Trent Richardson (45).  Martin had an incredible rookie year but he is proving to have a huge sophomore slump right now and the same goes for Richardson who even got traded to a better team!  I know most people who have Richardson or Martin have not been impressed yet.  Arian Foster is still having a good year so far with 80 points but he would be putting up a lot more if Schaub was not turning the ball over so much.  Some other quick disappointments are Maurice Jones-Drew with 40 points (27th ranked); and Chris Johnson with 46 points (19th ranked).

Some surprises at the running spot; besides Moreno; is DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore, and Danny Woodhead.  Even with Murray battling an injury he is still 10th in points for RBs, Gore is 11th in points with 67, and Woodhead who is playing behind Ryan Mathews is 16th in points with 49 while Mathews is 26th with 41 points.  There is still a long way to go in the season and there is always going to be players that just explode in November and December.

+RECEIVING+

This is where most of the fun is taking place right now.  I will go over the receivers first then the tight ends, but I am shocked that DeSean Jackson is the leader in points for receivers right now with 87 points.  Wes Welker is in second with 80 points, Dez Bryant is 3rd with 78 points, Brandon Marshall is 4th with 76 points, and Demaryius Thomas is 5th with 74 points.  There are a lot of familiar names toward the top of this list like Victor Cruz (73), Julio Jones (65), and Jordy Nelson (71).  One name that stands out right now is Alshon Jeffery with 63 points which ranks him 10th overall.  Another surprise name is Denarius Moore ranking in at 11th with 62 points which is above big named players like Reggie Wayne (56) and Calvin Johnson (55).  One player who is still consistent as ever is AJ Green with 69 points and coming in 8th in overall points.

The disappointments are all over the place here.  Most leagues had Calvin as the first picked receiver and so far he is ranked 16th in points which is pretty bad compared to his previous seasons.  At number 21 we have Anquan Boldin who had a monster first game, but since then has literally done nothing to keep his fantasy value up.  Another big name that is yet to impress is Vincent Jackson; I know he has had two games that were good, but other than that he only has 50 fantasy points and is ranked 23 right now.  One surprise here is Josh Gordon who missed the first 2 games of the season; yet he is ranked number 18 with 55 points.  All of the Bronco receivers are in the top 20 with Welker at number 2, Thomas at number 5, and Decker at number 17 so if you have any of those guys keep them in your lineup forever. 

When it comes to TEs we all know that Jimmy Graham is ranked first with 93 points, but sis you know the second TE with the most points is Julius Thomas with 78?  Bottom line if you have any Broncos receiver, you better hold on to them.  Vernon Davis comes in 3rd right now with 74 while the 4th ranked is Jordan Cameron with 73 points.  Antonio Gates is 5th on this list with 53 points and he is showing glimpses of previous seasons.  But that is a huge gap between 4th and 5th place right now; thats a whole 20 points.  There really are not any surprises when it comes to TEs except for the absence of Gronkowski.  There have been reports of Gronk coming back very shortly and I can see Brady putting him to good use very quickly.

+DEFENSE+

Most people dont really see how many “fantasy” points defenses put up.  I bet right now that most people dont know that the Chiefs have scored the most points with 113; the next defense down at number 2 is the Seahawks with 75 points.  So go to your fantasy team and add the Chiefs right now.  Also, the Titans are 3rd in defensive points with 66 and the Browns are 4th with 58 points.  After the first few defenses on this list they all are about equal; just a few points off so if you need a defense; you best pick up one of these.

+KICKERS+

Kickers and defenses are pretty similar.  Most kickers will do about the same amount of points give or take 10 points.  Right now Matt Prater leads all kickers with 72 points while Stephen Gostkowski comes in 2nd with 67 points.  Garrett Hartley and Steven Hauschka both have 62 points while Mason Crosby has 60 points.  After that they all pan out to be pretty much equal; but if you are in need of a kicker one of these guys will do the trick.

+TOTAL POINTS ALL+

1. Peyton Manning – 168
2. Drew Brees – 130
3. Philip Rivers – 119
4. Tony Romo – 115
5. Chiefs – 113
6. Jamaal Charles – 112
7. Matthew Stafford – 110
8. Jay Cutler – 102
9. Sam Bradford – 102
10. Aaron Rodgers – 100
11. Michael Vick – 98
12. LeSean McCoy – 98
13. Andrew Luck – 97
13. Matt Ryan – 96
14. Marshawn Lynch – 93
15. Jimmy Graham – 93
16. Knowshon Moreno – 92
17. Cam Newton – 92
18. Russell Wilson – 92
19. Alex Smith – 87
20. DeSean Jackson – 87
21. Adrian Peterson – 84
22. Matt Forte – 82
23. Andy Dalton – 81
24. Wes Welker – 80
25. Arian Foster – 80
26. Tom Brady – 79
27. Robert Griffin III – 79
28. Dez Bryant – 78
29. Julius Thomas – 78
30. Reggie Bush – 77
31. Terrelle Pryor – 77
32. Brandon Marshall – 76
33. Colin Kaepernick – 76
34. Joe Flacco – 75
35. Seahawks – 75
36. Vernon Davis – 74
37. Demaryius Thomas – 74
38. Victor Cruz – 73
39. Jordan Cameron – 73
40. Geno Smith – 73
41. Matt Schaub – 72
42. Matt Prater – 72
43. Fred Jackson – 71
44. Jordy Nelson – 71
45. DeMarco Murray – 71
46. Eli Manning – 70
47. AJ Green – 69
48. Frank Gore – 67
49. Stephen Gostkowski – 67
50. Titans – 66
51. Ben Roethlisberger – 65
52. Julio Jones – 65
53. Jake Locker – 65
54. Ryan Tannehill – 64
55. Alshon Jeffery – 64
56. Garrett Hartley – 62
57. Steven Hauschka – 62
58. Denarius Moore – 62
59. Torrey Smith – 62
60. Carson Palmer – 60
61. Larry Fitzgerald – 60
62. Mason Crosby – 60
63. Antonio Brown – 60
64. Nick Novak – 59
65. Gio Bernard – 59
66. EJ Manuel – 59
67. Browns – 58
68. Adam Vinatieri – 57
69. Alex Henery – 57
70. Reggie Wayne – 56
71. Bengals – 56
72. Colts – 56
73. 49ers – 56
74. Calvin Johnson – 55
75. Eric Decker – 55

Running backs are almost becoming a dying breed these days in the NFL since its turning more into a passing league.  For running backs like Marshawn Lynch that is not a problem since he is a powerful runner and a great pass catcher.  Lynch has made a reputation for being a bruising running back that can punish you with his strength, or burn you with his speed.  Lynch is one of the best running backs in the league and he is always picked in the first round of every fantasy football draft since he has proven to be a tough player.  He has the potential to be a Hall of Fame player and if he stays in “Beast Mode” he should have no problem getting there.

Marshawn Terrell Lynch was born on April 22nd, 1986 in Oakland California.  Lynch attended Oakland Technical High School.  In his 2003 high school season he racked up 1,722 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns in only 8 games.  In the postseason he had 375 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in two games.  He was voted a PrepStar and SuperPrep All-American and was also voted as the San Francisco East Bay Player of the Year.  He also played defensive back, a little bit at QB, and dabbled in the wide receiver position.  Rivals.com ranked him as the #2 player in the nation right behind Adrian Peterson.  While in high school he kept in shape by being a track star and played basketball in the offseason. 

Lynch decided to play his college ball at the University of California, Berkeley.  He played football for the California Golden Bears and was a major in social welfare.  As a freshman he was the back up running back but still totaled up 628 yards and 8 touchdowns.  In 2005, Lynch was named the starter for the Golden Bears and he took advantage of it by rushing for 1,246 yards and 10 touchdowns.  He led the team to the Las Vegas Bowl where he ran for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns and was named MVP.  The 2006 season was an interesting one for Lynch.  He was on track to win the Maxwell Award and the University launched a program for Lynch to win the Heisman.  He rushed for 1,356 yards and 11 touchdowns including a game winning touchdown against Washington.  Lynch was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year and holds the school record for most 100-yard games with 17.

Lynch decided to enter the 2007 NFL Draft and was selected 12th overall by the Buffalo Bills and agreed to a six-year, $18.935 million contract.  The Bills were in need of a running back badly so they had him start as a rookie.  He made an immediate impact by being able to rush, catch, and even throw the ball.  He missed some time due to injuries but he still went over 1,000 yards and totaled 7 touchdowns.  He even threw a TD pass, which was the first touchdown pass completed by a Bills non-QB since 1981.  The next season the Bills got a new offensive coordinator and did not utilize Lynch like people expected.  Lynch still had 1,036 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns, but there were numerous times he was on the sideline during crucial parts of the game. 

In 2009, Lynch plead guilty to a weapons charge and was suspended for 3 games.  In his absence Fred Jackson shouldered the load while Lynch only had 450 yards and two touchdowns.  He did not have a single game over 100 yards while Jackson had over 1,000 yards.  In the 2010 season Lynch suffered an ankle sprain in the preseason and was expected to be out for a few weeks.  He played in three games that season before the Bills traded him to the Seattle Seahawks for two draft picks, a fourth-rounder in 2011 and a conditional pick in 2012.

Lynch went to Seattle where he was welcomed with open arms and utilized as much as they could.  His first TD came against the Bears on October 17th and then on Dec 5th he had 3 scores against the Panthers.  The Seahawks made the playoffs  that season and against the Saints Lynch had one of the best runs to ever be seen.  Lynch had a 67-yard touchdown run where he broke nine tackles for the touchdown.  The reaction from the crowd was so strong that it was recorded as seismic activity at a monitoring station 100 yards away from the stadium.  In the short time he played that season he still managed 747 yards and 6 touchdowns. 

The 2011 season would prove to be one of his best years by rushing for 1,204 yards and 12 TDs.  He set a franchise record that year for consecutive games with a rushing TD with 10.  After the season ended the Seahawks signed Lynch to a 4 year $31 million contract.  In 2012 Lynch was in the best “Beast Mode” we have ever seen by rushing for 1,590 yards and 11 TDs.  During the two seasons he has been on the Seahawks he has been playing the best football of his career and has made the Pro Bowl both years.  Now in 2013, Lynch is already off to a great start by making big plays and helping his team win.  He is already on pace to have a record year.

Lynch was ranked #24 in the Top 100 Players of 2013; been named to 3 Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro in 2012, and ranked #94 in the Top 100 Players of 2012.  So far in his career he has 6,132 rushing yards, 46 TDs, and averaging 4.1 yards per carry.  I do not see anything slowing Lynch down at this point in his career.  He will be around for a long time and I can see him ending his career with a lot more awards under his belt.

With the NFL season about a third of the way done it is time to see how the best players in the NFL are doing so far.  There have been a lot of surprises, trades, upsets, and close games thus far and some players are rising to the challenge while others are crumbling under the pressure.  Due to some of the great playing there are teams that are still undefeated while some other teams are still searching for that first win.  The one thing that always gets in the way is injuries.  There have been a large load of injuries that have already taken place proving that no player is safe.  Ill be going over the leaders in passing, rushing, receiving, defense, and kicking to see who is on top.

+PASSING YARDS+
Right now Peyton leads this group and if he stays on this path he will have well over 5,000 yards by the end of the season.  The same thing goes with Drew Brees; both of these QBs are deadly when they get into a groove and I do not see anything slowing them down.
1. Peyton Manning – 1884
2. Drew Brees – 1722
3. Matt Ryan – 1649
4. Philip Rivers – 1610
5. Matthew Stafford – 1524

+PASSING TDS+
This is a category that is pretty shocking to me.  I am used to seeing different names on this list, but this year has shown that no matter who is taking snaps, they can succeed with a solid offensive line and a good group of receivers.  Tom Brady is not on this list due to him having a lot of young receivers; same thing with Eli Manning except he has a weak offensive line.  At this rate we could have 7 QBs with over 40 TD passes by the end of the season and Manning could have well over 50.

1. Peyton Manning – 20 TDS and 1 INT
2. Tony Romo – 13 TDS and 2 INT
3. Philip Rivers – 13 TDS and 5 INT
4. Drew Brees – 12 TDS and 4 INT
5. Jay Cutler – 10 TDS and 6 INT
6. Matt Ryan – 10 TDS and 3 INT
7 Sam Bradford – 10 TDS and 3 INT

+RUSHING YARDS+
I was expecting a lot more rushing yards from certain players and so far this season it has really showed that teams are throwing the ball more.  There are only a handful of running backs that have actually lived up to their expectations.  I am not saying they are not playing well; but I am saying that teams are not running the ball like they used to.  McCoy is still on pace to have over a 1500 yard season and Peterson is on track to have at least 1300.  But players like Spiller, Jones-Drew, and Chris Johnson have been mostly a bust so far this season.

1. LeSean McCoy – 514
2. Adrian Peterson – 421
3. Marshawn Lynch – 410
4. DeMarco Murray – 399
5. Jamaal Charles – 397
6. Arian Foster – 390
7. Frank Gore – 376

+RUSHING TDS+
There have not been too many rushing touchdowns yet, but as the season goes on these numbers should get better.  What is more shocking to me is how some of the best players have not reached the end zone at all or just once.  Like Arian Foster has 1 rushing TD in 5 games; or CJ Spiller only having 1 rushing TD. 

1. Adrian Peterson – 5
2. Fred Jackson – 4
3. Knowshon Moreno – 4
4. Frank Gore – 3
5. Marshawn Lynch – 3
6. Matt Forte – 3
7. Ray Rice – 3
8. Jamaal Charles – 3
9. LeSean McCoy – 3
10. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – 3

+WR RECEPTIONS+
Here is where the big boys are and where some big numbers are being posted.  With most teams looking to pass the ball more, receivers are becoming better fantasy options than running backs.  Even with injuries, suspensions, and constant depth chart moves, receivers are getting the ball a lot. 

1. Julio Jones – 41 receptions and 60 targets
2. Andre Johnson – 37 receptions and 57 targets
3. Julian Edelman – 36 receptions and 50 targets
4. Demaryius Thomas – 34 receptions and 44 targets
5. Antonio Brown – 32 receptions and 42 targets
6. Wes Welker – 31 receptions and 42 targets
7. Brandon Marshall – 31 receptions and 47 targets
8. Victor Cruz – 31 receptions and 55 targets
9. AJ Green – 31 receptions and 59 targets
10. Cecil Shorts – 31 receptions and 61 targets

+WR RECEIVING YARDS+
Just because you catch a lot of passes does not mean that you get a lot of yards or touchdowns.  The players in this category make the best use of their receptions by turning them into big plays.  Some of these players are set to have well over 1300 yards by the end of the season.

1. Julio Jones – 580
2. Torrey Smith – 556
3. DeSean Jackson – 525
4. Victor Cruz – 473
5. Demaryius Thomas – 450
6. Alshon Jeffery – 429
7. Eric Decker – 4278. Dez Bryant – 423
9. Antonio Brown – 412
10. Cecil Shorts – 411

+WR TDS+
1. Wes Welker – 7
2. Dez Bryant – 6
3. Eddie Royal – 5
4. Calvin Johnson – 4
5. Demaryius Thomas – 4
6. Victor Cruz – 4
7. Austin Pettis – 4
8. Larry Fitzgerald – 3

+TE RECEPTIONS+
The NFL over the last few years is really starting to use the tight end more like a receiver than a blocker.  I am not saying that tight ends dont block anymore, but we are starting to see them put up receiver like numbers.  There are some teams where the TE is the main receiver on the team.

1. Jimmy Graham – 37 receptions and 54 targets
2. Tony Gonzalez – 33 receptions and 46 targets
3. Jordan Cameron – 33 receptions and 47 targets
4. Antonio Gates – 32 receptions and 43 targets
5. Jason Witten – 28 receptions and 43 targets
6. Julius Thomas – 27 receptions and 36 targets

+TE RECEIVING YARDS+

1. Jimmy Graham – 593
2. Antonio Gates – 438
3. Jordan Cameron – 396
4. Julius Thomas – 359
5. Tony Gonzalez – 339
6. Jason Witten – 313
7. Charles Clay – 297

+TE TDS+

1. Jimmy Graham – 6
2. Julius Thomas – 6
3. Jordan Cameron – 5
4. Vernon Davis – 4
5. Tony Gonzalez – 3
6. Jason Witten – 3
7. Owen Daniels – 3
8. Martellus Bennett – 3
9. Garrett Graham – 3

+DEFENSE+
We have seen the emergence of some pretty good defenses and special teams this year.  Just based on fantasy points scored here are the defenses that lead the NFL.

1. Chiefs
2. Seahawks
3. Browns
4. Titans
5. Colts
6. Bengals
7. Cardinals
8. 49ers
9. Bears

Three weeks of the 2013 NFL season is now in the books and it has already been a crazy ride.  There are teams that were supposed to do well that are not, teams that were not supposed to good who are, rookies making big plays, and crazy trades.  I made some predictions a few months ago about who I think was going to win their division and obviously I need to throw those out the window.  Below is some new predictions based on what has happened so far in the first three weeks thus far.

In the NFC East the big surprise for me is that the New York Giants are 0-3, while the Dallas Cowboys are 2-1.  Also, a lot of people had high hopes after the Eagles opening game, but after winning their first game they have dropped two straight.  I had some high hopes for the Washington Redskins, but I was way off on that since they have started their season 0-3.  With what has happened so far it would not surprise me to see the Cowboys take the NFC East; the only other team that might have a shot is the Eagles, but Vick needs to step his game up for that to happen.  As long as Romo keeps playing the way he has they should be able to roll through the rest of the season.  Romo in three games has had 6 touchdowns and only one interception which is a huge improvement since the 2012 season.

In the NFC North the Bears are on top with a 3-0 record behind their powerful defense.  The Bears are only allowing 88 yards per game on the ground and less than 300 passing yards a game.  The Bears are also passing the ball better and Marshall has already pulled in 20 receptions and two touchdowns.  The Bears offensive line is getting the job done as well only allowing 3 sacks so far this season.  On the other end the Vikings are 0-3 even with Adrian Peterson scoring 3 touchdowns so far this season.  The Detroit Lions have had some close games but they are at 2-1 behind a brutal passing game.  Stafford already has over 1,000 passing yards and 6 touchdowns, and with all the weapons the Lions have on offense this may be the year they make a playoff push.  The surprise here is the Green Bay Packer losing to the 49ers and to the Bengals.  Rodgers does have 8 touchdowns, but the Packers are pretty banged up when it comes to the running backs.  As long as the Bears and Lions keep playing the way they have been I think one of them could take the division.

In the NFC South the Saints are off to a big start at 3-0 behind the great play of Brees and Graham.  Jimmy Graham has already pulled in 4 touchdowns while Brees has thrown 6 touchdowns.  I am a bit surprised that the Falcons are 1-2, but with Roddy White and Steven Jackson injured it makes a little more sense.  Once the Falcons can get healthy they should be able to make a comeback from their terrible start.  The Panthers are being led by Cam Newton but the rest of the team is letting him down and they are 1-2 so far.  I am surprised that the Bucs are having this many issues already.  They are 0-3 and the defense is not playing up to the standard people had anticipated; and the offense is not getting the ball into their playmakers hands.  Vincent Jackson has 15 receptions and is yet to reach the end zone.  Doug Martin is doing his best to carry the team with 297 rushing yards, but he has only reached the end zone one time.  I think the Saints are going to be a strong contender this year and the will be tough to beat.

The NFC West has the Seattle Seahawks on top with a 3-0 record behind the outstanding play of Russell Wilson and the defense.  The Seahawks have only allowed 27 points in 3 games with is only a 9 point average.  The Seattle defense is also only allowing 146 passing yards a game which makes them the best defense in the NFL right now.  As for the 49ers, they are having some major struggles right now after a lot of people predicted them to be one of the best teams.  They have 3 key players out right now with injuries (Davis, Crabtree, and Manningham), but Colin is not playing well.  The 49ers can turn it around but they need to step it up in every aspect of the game.  The Cardinals and the Rams are both 1-2 which was to be expected from both of them.  I think the Seahawks will be the team to beat, but the 49ers could come back from this and be a contender.

In the AFC East the Patriots and the Dolphins are both 3-0.  Yes; you heard right, the Miami Dolphins are undefeated.  The Dolphins have been laying excellent defense, but Ryan Tannehill is becoming a leader for the team.  Tannehill may not put up the number Tom Brady does, but he knows how to win.  Speaking of Tom Brady, he is adjusting well to the young receivers around him while he waits for Amendola to heal.  The Patriots defense is making a huge contribution as well by only allowing 34 points so far.  They are only allowing 188 passing yards per game as well.  The surprise for me is the New York Jets; they are now 2-1 behind their rookie QB Geno Smith.  Even with Geno learning he has found a way to lead the Jets to victory with a dismal running game, and a banged up receiving squad.  The Bills are 1-2 behind their rookie QB EJ Manuel, but the Bills are having more issues than anticipated.  Spiller is not putting up the numbers people had expected so its putting a lot of pressure on Manuel.  I can see the Patriots making a playoff push, but honestly I think the Dolphins could be a Wild Card team as long as they keep pulling wins.

In the AFC North the Bengals are playing some good football which has made them 2-1.  Andy Dalton has already put the ball in the end zone 5 times and has been connecting with AJ Green for a lot of them.  The Bengals have an improved run game as well with Ben Jarvus Green Ellis and Giovani Bernard making them a difficult offense to slow down.  The Ravens are also 2-1 even with the absence of Ray Rice and Jacoby Jones.   The Browns have traded away Trent Richardson and are talking about trading Greg Little and Josh Gordan which has made them a 1-2 team.  No one is really sure why the Browns are getting rid of all their playmakers, but thats Cleveland for ya.  The biggest surprise here is the Steelers being 0-3.  Big Ben and company have had a lot of offensive struggles and has been putting too much pressure on the defense.  I don’t see the Steelers making a playoff push this year, but I do think the Bengals have a strong chance to take the division.

The AFC South is a race thus far with the Texans, Titans, and Colts all being 2-1.  The Jaguars are exactly what we thought with a 0-3 record.  The Texans offense has not been as deadly as last year but they are finding ways to win.  Arian Foster is only averaging 3.9 yards per carry and has only had one rushing touchdown so far.  The Titans running game is much of the same with Chris Johnson only averaging 3.7 yards per carry and is yet to find the end zone.  The Colts acquired Trent Richardson from the Browns and is splitting carries with Ahmad Bradshaw which gives the Colts a huge advantage in the back field.  Andrew Luck is throwing the ball well and finding all his receivers in crucial situations.  The Jaguars are struggling everywhere, Maurice Jones-Drew is yet to have a breakout game, and the defense has allowed 92 points already which averages 30 points a game for opposing teams.  With three teams having the same record its hard to say who will come out on top, but as of right now I think the Colts have the best chance.

Finally the AFC West its the Broncos and Chiefs who have 3-0 records.  It has been a shock with the Chiefs since they were the worst team in the NFL last year and now with a new head coach and new players they are undefeated.  Alex Smith is not going to put up Peyton Manning numbers, but Smith does have 4 passing touchdowns and zero interceptions.  Jamaal Charles is also stepping up by having 2 rushing touchdowns and averaging 4.3 yards per carry.  The Broncos are playing behind their veteran QB Peyton Manning who leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 12 and zero interceptions.  Manning also leads the NFL in passing yards with 1,143 and completing 73% of his passes.  The Raiders and Chargers are both 1-2, but the Chargers are showing life in Rivers.  Philip Rivers is second in the NFL in touchdown passes with 8 and only 1 interception.  The Raiders are struggling, but they have found a diamond in the rough with Pryor.  The Broncos will win the division, but the Chiefs could be a wild card team.