Posts Tagged ‘super bowl’

Lets rewind to 2012 when Atlanta finished the regular season 13-3.  They claimed the NFC’s Number 1 playoff seed, knocked out Seattle in the divisional round of the playoffs, and just fell short of going to the Super Bowl.  So when the 2013 season started a lot of analysts had Atlanta to make another deep run in the playoffs and possibly make a Super Bowl run.  The Falcons entered the season with a fearsome passing attack and an upgrade to the run game by adding Steven Jackson from the Rams.

By the time the season started we already started to see some concerns with the Falcons.  Roddy White was hobbled by a high ankle sprain which made it harder for Julio to get receptions.  By the time Roddy was getting his groove back; Julio had broken a screw in his surgically repaired left foot and missed 11 games.  Steven Jackson fell early to injury as well and missed 6 games and Jaquizz Rodgers filled in.  Matt Ryan made the best out of a bad situation by utilizing Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas, but it was very interesting to see how different that offense was without two of its big play makers.  Lets not forget that the defense was missing Sean Weatherspoon and Kroy Bierman.  The defense ended up averaging 27.7 points a game allowed against them.

Now the Falcons are looking to rebound, and I think a lot of people are expecting them to return to glory as well.  It is a big loss not having Tony Gonzalez come back, but they will have Julio Jones and Roddy White coming back strong.  Matt Ryan knows how to utilize his targets and with both of them healthy it should really spread out the offense which will help create running lanes for Steven Jackson and the running game.  The Falcons spent the offseason drafting lineman to protect Matt Ryan; and they spent a lot of money signing crucial players to the roster.  The Falcons did also bring in Devin Hester which will add depth with the receivers and help amp up special teams.  Where the Falcons really need to step up is the defense.  Weatherspoon is coming back from an injury, but he should make an immediate impact along side Paul Worrilow who totaled up 127 tackles last year. 

As long as this team can stay healthy it would not surprise me if they went 12-4 and made a playoff push.  Coach Mike Smith has only had one losing season since taking over as head coach of the Falcons so it should be an interesting year of football in Atlanta.

Receivers are becoming very useful in Fantasy Football over the past few years since most teams are becoming “pass first” teams.  There are some fantasy teams who will draft a receiver first especially if they are in a high passing offense like the Lions or Broncos.  There is still a few months before the season even starts, but it is still a good time to get an idea of what receivers are going to be beneficial to your fantasy team.  Just like with running backs there are a lot of players on new teams so before you draft a receiver make sure you think about who is throwing them the ball and who is protecting the QB.  It doesn’t matter how good a WR is; if the QB cant get them the ball then they are useless.

1. Calvin Johnson – Lions
2. Demaryius Thomas – Broncos
3. Brandon Marshall – Bears
4. Julio Jones – Falcons
5. AJ Green – Bengals
6. Dez Bryant – Cowboys
7. Alshon Jeffery – Bears
8. Jordy Nelson – Packers
9. Antonio Brown – Steelers
10. Randall Cobb – Packers
11. Larry Fitzgerald – Cardinals
12. Michael Crabtree – 49ers
13. Pierre Garcon – Redskins
14. Andre Johnson – Texans
15. Vincent Jackson – Bucs
16. Keenan Allen – Chargers
17. Julian Edelman – Patriots
18. Wes Welker – Broncos
19. Victor Cruz – Giants
20. Roddy White – Falcons
21. Percy Harvin – Seahawks
22. DeSean Jackson – Redskins
23. Golden Tate – Lions
24. Emmanuel Sanders – Broncos
25. Michael Floyd – Cardinals
26. Mike Wallace – Dolphins
27. Kendall Wright – Titans
28. Jeremy Maclin – Eagles
29. Torrey Smith – Ravens
30. Marques Colston – Saints
31. Reggie Wayne – Colts
32. Eric Decker – Jets
33. Terrance Williams – Cowboys
34. TY Hilton – Colts
35. Dwayne Bowe – Chiefs
36. Riley Cooper – Eagles
37. Greg Jennings – Vikings
38. Sammy Watkins – Bills
39. Anquan Boldin – 49ers
40. Mike Evans – Bucs

Now obviously there are a lot more receivers; but after this point in a draft it is really hit or miss with these guys.  I remember in 2013 most people didn’t even know who Alshon Jeffery was, and now he is going to be one of the better receivers in 2014.  You can always find sleepers in this category; you just need to have an understanding of what team they play for and the type of offense they are in.  Remember, if its a young QB under center or even a new QB its hard to really rely on that QB to get the ball to the receivers consistently.  I am not saying they cant, but its a reach to think otherwise.  Also, don’t ever underestimate how good or bad an offensive line is.  If the offensive line cant protect the QB, then obviously the receivers are not going to get many looks. 

In a few months it is going to be time to start nailing down your fantasy football league; but its never too early to start researching who are going to be fantasy studs and busts.  More often then not the running backs are drafted early so its good to have an understanding of who is going to be the best options.  In free agency we saw a load of running backs go to different teams, sign huge contracts, and some are now on contract years.  Below is my list (as of right now) of the best value running backs going into the 2014 season.

It amazes me how far some of the 2013 “elite” runners have fallen down this list.  Just last year everyone was after players like Ray Rice, CJ Spiller, and Trent Richardson.  Now I think people are going to be very careful about drafting them because they are now considered risky instead of reliable.  On the opposite end there are now running backs who were just rookies last year and now they are going to be fantasy studs like Eddie Lacy and LeVeon Bell.  I know this list is going to change before the season starts, but for now if this was a final list you can see that some of the backs from last year, are not going to be the backs you want this year.

1. Jamaal Charles – Chiefs
2. LeSean McCoy – Eagles
3. Adrian Peterson – Vikings
4. Matt Forte – Bears
5. Marshawn Lynch – Seahawks
6. Eddie Lacy – Packers
7. LeVeon Bell – Steelers
8. Arian Foster – Texans
9. DeMarco Murray – Cowboys
10. Alfred Morris – Redskins
11. Gio Bernard – Bengals
12. Reggie Bush – Lions
13. Zac Stacy – Rams
14. Montee Ball – Broncos
15. Doug Martin – Bucs
16. Andre Ellington – Cardinals
17. Ben Tate – Browns (new team)
18. Knowshon Moreno – Dolphins (new team)
19. Toby Gerhart – Jaguars (new team)
20. CJ Spiller – Bills
21. Frank Gore – 49ers
22. Chris Johnson – Jets (new team)
23. Ray Rice – Ravens
24. Ryan Mathews – Chargers
25. Rashad Jennings – Giants (new team)
26. Shane Vereen – Patriots
27. Trent Richardson – Colts
28. Steven Jackson – Falcons
29. Fred Jackson – Bills
30. Darren Sproles – Eagles (new team)
31. DeAngelo Williams – Panthers
32. Maurice Jones-Drew – Raiders (new team)
33. Darren McFadden – Raiders
34. Danny Woodhead – Chargers
35. Stevan Ridley – Patriots

Remember when you are choosing running backs there are numerous factors you need to take into consideration.  You need to look at previous years and their stats.  Are they progressively getting worse like Ray Rice; or are they getting better like with LeSean McCoy?  How long have they been on their team?  If they just got to a new team it may take them some time to adjust to the new playbook like we saw with Trent Richardson in 2013.  How is their offensive line?  Did they get any new coaches?  Before the season starts I will post more answers to these questions, but these are things you will want to find out before draft day.

That time of year again is here where NFL players have expired contracts and are either on the prowl for a new team or hoping to stay with their current team for a bigger contract.  Free agency can be a stressful for the fans, owners, and the players.  In the 2014 draft there were some players that were signed quickly because the team recognizes the value in keeping them, but we have also seen some high value players hit the free agency market due to either off field issues or cant afford them anymore.  What has been interesting is seeing how some teams have dived right into this and signed a bunch of players, and to see some teams sit back and let all the players slip through their fingers.  Some teams have had salary cap issues so it makes sense why they have been sitting back not doing anything; and they have been focusing on keeping their current players or waiting for the draft.  Some times the free agent period can make or break a team and its shaping up to be an interesting 2014 season.  Below are some of the big named receivers that have signed to new teams. 

Wide Receivers

1. Steve Smith – Went from the Panthers over to the Ravens.  The Ravens are giving him $11 million with a $3.5 million signing bonus for 3 years.  Even at the age of 35 Smith can still offer a lot to the struggling pass offense of the Ravens.  With Torrey Smith on the other side and Dennis Pitta across the middle it should be an open field for Steve Smith.  And we all know that Flacco could use another weapon in the offense.

2. Eric Decker – Went from the Broncos over to the Jets.  This was kind of surprising since he was in the best pass offense and he is now going to a team that had very serious pass issues.  Now Decker did hit pay dirt by signing a 5 year $36.25 million deal with $15 million being guaranteed money.  The Jets finally released Sanchez, but signed Michael Vick to replace him.  This is going to give Decker to shine now that he is out of the shadow of Thomas and Welker.

3. James Jones – Went from the Packers over to the Raiders.  I think this is a good move for Jones and his career.  The Raiders have added a lot of people to the roster already and with Jones being a deep threat it should add a lot of depth to the offense.  The Raiders added Matt Schaub and even though Schaub had a terrible 2013 campaign he should be able to connect with Jones.  We have to remember Schaub fed the ball to Andre Johnson for a lot of years so he should have no problem getting it to Jones.  Jones was bound to get picked up quick with how he has a knack for getting in the endzone. 

4. Golden Tate – Went from the Seahawks to the Lions.  I can see this going very well, or very bad.  Tate just helped the Seahawks win their first Super Bowl and now he is going to a team that has never been to the big game.  The plus is that the Lions is a pass happy team who has the best WR in the game in Calvin Johnson.  Now Stafford may not be the most consistent QB in the game, but he will have no problem getting the ball to both Tate and Johnson.

5. Hakeem Nicks – Went from the Giants to the Colts.  This is a great pickup for the Colts and I really think that Nicks needed to get away from the Giants.  As long as Nicks can stay healthy he should be able to have a fresh start with the Colts.  Andrew Luck is just getting better and better and Nicks could be a useful tool to help the team get farther in the playoffs.  Nicks was a big part of the offense in New York and when he was healthy he was almost unstoppable. 

Emmanuel Sanders – Went from Steelers to the Broncos
Andre Roberts – Went from Cardinals to the Redskins
Brandon LaFell – Went from Panthers to the Patriots
Devin Hester – Went from the Bears to the Falcons
Dexter McCluster – Went from Chiefs to Titans

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.

There are only a few linebackers who are extremely feared in the NFL; Clay Matthews is one of them.  He has only been in the league a handful of years, but he is already considered to be one of the bests in the league.  Not only is he an incredible pass rusher; he is also very popular among fans around the league.  Even if you are not a Packers fan, you still find yourself liking to watch Matthews.  He is know for being very athletic, strong, and quick.  Not to mention his “flex” when he sacks an opposing quarterback. 

William Clay Matthews III was born on May 14th, 1986 in Northridge California.  Believe it or not; Matthews was not the biggest guy in high school.  He attended Agoura High School and he played on the football team where his father was the defensive coordinator.  His father refused to play his son because of how small he was at the time.  In his senior year of high school he really began to gain strength and size, but because he did not play much high school football there were no school really interested in Matthews.  He decided that he would walk onto the USC Trojans football team and take his chances there.

He made the Trojan football team and his first year at college he never actually got to play; he was on the scout team.  The coaches tried to put Matthews in during “garbage time” in some games.  Garbage time is where USC was winning by so much that they would pretty much put anyone into the game to give them playing time.  Matthews turned down the offer to play during the garbage time.  In 2005 he got to play on special teams for the Trojans.  For the next two seasons he only got to play on special teams and even the small amount of time he played he made a big impact by blocking field goals and making tackles. 

It was in 2008 that Matthews really dedicated himself to the gym to be able to start for the Trojans.  The coaches for USC decided to try Matthews in a defensive position called “Elephant”; where he would line up as a defensive end, but would be in a two point stance so he could utilize his speed.  He did very well in that position and recorded 4.5 sacks his senior year.  He still played on special teams and was able to showcase his speed and tackling abilities.

Even with only limited college experience, Matthews still was invited to attend the 2009 NFL Combine where he dazzled NFL teams with his size, strength, and speed.  He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the first round (26th overall pick) in the 2009 draft.  That same year the Packers hired former NFL great Kevin Greene to help coach the linebackers for the Packers.  Matthews made an immediate impression as a rookie by being a sack machine and made a name for himself by forcing fumbles and actually scored a touchdown on a Monday Night game where he stripped the ball away from Adrian Peterson and ran for a touchdown.  As a rookie he recorded 51 tackles, 10 sacks, and 3 fumble recoveries.  He also led the Packers in QB Pressures with 45.5 and finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year award.

Since his rookie year opposing defenses have tried to figure out how to contain Matthews and there has been little success.  The 2010 season the Packers went to the Super Bowl and in that season Matthews racked up 60 tackles, 13.5 sacks, and recorded his first interception.  In the post season Matthews was one of the big reasons why the Packers went to the Super Bowl.  Even in the Super Bowl Matthews forced a game changing turnover that sealed a Championship for the Packers.

In 2011 Matthews recorded 3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 50 tackles, and 6 sacks.  Even though his numbers were lower for the 2011 season; it was crazy to see the amount of times that he was double teamed and even triple teamed.  Matthews did show an improvement in his pass coverage abilities which helped the Packers be one of the most dominant defenses of that season.   Even with all the extra attention from opposing teams he still managed to be one of the best linebackers of the 2011 season.

In the 2012 season it was much of the same where teams would double team Matthews to try and contain him.  He still was able to record 43 tackles, 13 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.  He helped the Packers get to the NFC Divisional Championship game where they lost to the 49ers; but Matthews showed that he can lead a team on and off the field.  He may not have posted the biggest numbers of his career, but he did help ignite a defense that was struggling in numerous areas.

So far in Matthews short career he has totaled up 204 tackles, 42.5 sacks, 154 QB Pressures, 4 interceptions, 2 touchdowns, 22 pass deflections, and 7 forced fumbles.  He has made the NFL Pro Bowl every year he has been in the NFL and been named to the All-Pro team 2 times.  He already has a Super Bowl ring, was the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year, 2010 NFC Defensive Player of the Year, and won the 2010 Butkus Award.  Matthews still has a long career ahead of him and he will continue to be a dominant presence on the field.

We get to hear it almost everyday about how wealthy some NFL contracts are, and how much NFL teams will spend on their team.  Sometimes the numbers seem outlandish and un-realistic; but they are very real and crazy to think about.  This article is going the other way; how much each NFL franchise is worth.  Surprisingly enough almost every team makes very good money (except for a few); but it is interesting to see how much a team makes compared to how “good” the team actually is. 

When you think about a revenue stream for an NFL team it is really is a science.  Even though owners will shell out a lot of money to player, coaches, and stadiums; the real revenue comes from us; the fans.  The NFL does obviously contribute to each team but think about how NFL teams make their money.  There are ticket sales, season ticket holders, VIP suites, parking, merchandise sales, television, cable, etc.  So like I was saying; even though owners will shell out a lot of money; there is a ton of money coming in.  Below is the complete list of the richest and poorest NFL teams as of 2013. 

1. Dallas Cowboys – Worth $2.3 billion
2. New England Patriots – Worth 1.8 billion
3. Washington Redskins – Worth $1.7 billion
4. New York Giants – Worth $1.55 billion
5. Houston Texans – Worth $1.45 billion
6. New York Jets – Worth $1.38 billion
7. Philadelphia Eagles – Worth 1.31 billion
8. Chicago Bears – Worth $1.25 billion
9. Baltimore Ravens – Worth $1.22 billion
10. San Francisco 49ers – Worth $1.22 billion
11. Indianapolis Colts – Worth $1.2 billion
12. Green Bay Packers – Worth $1.18 billion
13. Denver Broncos – Worth $1.16 billion
14. Pittsburgh Steelers – Worth $1.11 billion
15. Seattle Seahawks – Worth $1.08 billion
16. Miami Dolphins – Worth $1.07 billion
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Worth $1.06 billion
18. Carolina Panthers – Worth $1.05 billion
19. Tennessee Titans – Worth $1.05 billion
20. Kansas City Chiefs – Worth $1 billion
21. Minnesota Vikings – Worth $1 billion
22. Cleveland Browns – Worth $1 billion
23. New Orleans Saints – Worth $1 billion
24. Arizona Cardinals – Worth $961 million
25. San Diego Chargers – Worth $949 million
26. Atlanta Falcons – Worth $933 million
27. Cincinnati Bengals – Worth $924 million
28. Detroit Lions – Worth $900 million
29. St. Louis Rams – Worth $875 million
30. Buffalo Bills – Worth $870 million
31. Jacksonville Jaguars – Worth $840 million
32. Oakland Raiders – Worth $825 million