Tag Archives: Julius Peppers

“NFL Week 1 Predictions”

In one of the top matchups of Week 1, Darrelle Revis and the vaunted Jet's defense look to contain an extremely talented Baltimore Raven's offense.

Are you ready for some football?..

Well the NFL is back in the flesh tonight baby.  So I am going to give you my Week 1 Prediction breakdown.  And for those of you who are College Football Fans, I will be picking the major games as well in the very near future.

But let’s get something straight about this pick’em scheme.  I am not a gambling man.  So I do not pay any attention to the spread.  I am going to pick straight up winners with a predicted margin of victory.  So take it as you will.

In addition, joining me on my NFL Predictions each week will be a lifelong friend, Chad Vordenberge, aka CV3.  Chad is an avid sports fan, who has innate expertise pertaining to the NFL.  We will be competing all year.  He has the honor of being the first official guest ever on “TheSportsKraze.” Here is a write up about him:

CV3 Bio: While I love just about every sport, even soccer, the NFL is my favorite and I pay very close attention to it all year long. With some football experience I look for more than the average fan when it comes to picking winners. I pay very close attention to offensive and defensive schemes and how they match up against one another among many other aspects of the game. I look forward to picking each weeks winners along with the knowledgeable Kraze this season. We are in for a treat this season with a lot of top and emerging teams that could make a run for the Super Bowl. There are some old faces in new places this season that might shake a few things up along with some talented rookies. This season should be an interesting one for NFL fans everywhere.

Week 1 (TheSportsKraze picks):

Vikings at Saints:  Saints by 7 in a shootout type of atmosphere.  Remember that the defending Super Bowl Champion has won their opening contest for 10 straight years running now.

Panthers at Giants:  G-Men by 7 in an old school smash mouth struggle that is won on the ground.  Look for some great running schemes and blocking during this affair.

Steelers at Falcons:  Falcons by 3 in a game where the Steelers really miss the lack of Big Ben on the field.  Dennis Dixon will have some “rookie” like struggles on the road (I know he is not a rookie).

Browns at Buccaneers: Buccaneers in a rumble of some pretty weak sides all around by 6.

Broncos at Jaguars: Broncos are always tough early in the year even if they may be in for a down season.  A very close 3 point escape.

Colts at Texans:  In perhaps the marquee matchup of Sunday’s games, I got the Colts  by 7.  Never sleep on Peyton Manning finding  a way to win on the home or on the road.  The Colts are not ready to give up their AFC South Crown yet.

Dolphins at Bills:  I got the Dolphins by 10 against a Bills team that lacks a passing attack.  Do not be surprised to see CJ Spiller break off a long run at some point though.  The kid is electric.

Lions at Bears:  Bears by 6 in a game that will demonstrate that the Lions are improving.  They just are not quite there yet.  But also enjoy getting to watch Peppers and Suh on the same field for the first time.

Raiders at Titans:  Titans by 3 in a down to the wire type of atmosphere.  The Raiders have the makings of a team that could sneak out 6 wins.  Ultimately though, in this game, as will happen in many, their lack of a big time receiving threat will come back to bite them.

Bengals at Patriots:  Welcome to a first place schedule Cincinnati fans.  I guess things could be worse, and you could have to go up to Gillette Stadium during the bitter cold of November, December, or dare I say January.  But my brain is telling me Patriots, but my heart has the Bengals winning this one by 3.

Cardinals at Rams:  Cardinals by 10 in a matchup of a declining Arizona squad and a woeful Rams team.  If only the Rams could have Albert Pujols suit up.  At least there would be excitement for football in St. Louis again.

49ers at Seahawks:  49ers by 6 in a back and forth affair.  Many are declaring San Francisco the favorite to win the NFC West.  And I will admit, I have jumped on the bandwagon.  A very solid defense led by the stud Patrick Willis, and a capable offense led by Alex Smith, Frank Gore, and Vernon Davis will be too much for Seattle.

Packers at Eagles: The post Donovan McNabb era will start with a loss sadly for the fighting city of Philadelphia.  I got the Packers running away with this one in perhaps the most lopsided affair of the week.

Cowboys at Redskins:  I know the Redskins made a great off-season pick up in acquiring Donovan McNabb.  And we are all very excited to see what he can do.  But the Cowboys have been aware of all he can do and more now for years.  I got the Boys by 10 as the Redskins inner turmoil proves to be too much of a distraction against the much more talented team out of Dallas.

Ravens at Jets:  I know the Ravens are becoming a very popular Super Bowl pick with the newly acquired TJ Houshmandzadeh out of Seattle.  And I will admit, they have as good of a chance as anyone.  But my pick to win the Super Bowl this year is the Jets.  And I got Rex Ryan and the Jets by 3 at home in a fantastic Monday Night Opener.

Chargers at Chiefs:  Chargers by 7 in the first game of the post LT era.  Though the Chargers have many issues with resigning players, holdouts, etc, they are still a little bit too tough for an improving team out of Kansas City.

Week 1 (CV3 Picks):

There are a lot of good match-ups on the schedule for this opening weekend in the NFL. There may be a few surprises this season with some top teams struggling and some young teams flourishing. I am excited to see how things play out over these very important first couple weeks of the season. Here are my picks for semana uno.

Saints over Vikings by 3- Will be tough to beat the Saints in what is possibly the loudest stadium now that the RCA dome is gone. Vikings are the better team if AP holds on to the football. Its hard to pick against Favre even at his age but the atmosphere will make the difference in this high scoring matchup.

Bills over Dolphins by 3 (Buffalo will make the field goal)- Buffalo’s defense will play better than Miami’s. Plus, C.J. Spiller will sniff out the endzone, maybe multiple times.

Titans over Raiders by 9- Chris Johnson is already a star, Michael Bush will establish himself as a better version of Brandon Jacobs (although he may not play week 1, look out for him). Raiders have more promise now that Jamarcus is gone but not enough to hold Chris Johnson to under 100 yards.

Bengals over Pats by 3- I’m waffling back and forth on this one. Both quarterbacks have shown that they are capable of last minute drives to win games, this will be close. If the Bengals O-line holds, the Defenses will be the difference in this game. 

Bears over Lions by 6- Lions have a lot of fire-power with Pettigrew, Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Jahvid Best, and Matthew Stafford but the defense is now the question. Can Suh help the Lions get back on track? Probably not, they need more than just one stud on D to help their team.

Giants over Panthers by 10- Quarterbacks will make the difference in this game. 

Falcons – Steelers TIE! Not this time. Steelers over Falcons by 6. Dennis Dixon will be a pleasant surprise. Also, the Steelers will not be run all over and Polamalu is back healthy. Plus, the Steelers are at home.

Browns over Bucs- Battle of who can make fewer mistakes. Having Holmgren as president will start a turn around in Cleveland, but not a complete turn around.

Broncos over Jags by 3- Bronco’s defense is missing a lot with Elvis out of the building but Dawkins and Bailey are capable of making the plays to keep them in the game. Orton is looking good and Tebow might show up in a few wildcat plays. If MJD has a great performance the Jags can win. 

Colts over Texans by 3- Look for this be a tight one. In their last four games the Colts have outscored the Texans by only 14 points, total. Schaub had more yards than Manning last year and the Colts have to deal with a beast in Andre Johnson. Houston is more than capable of hanging with the big dogs, however, I still have to go with the Colts on this one because of the experience in the organization and, Peyton Manning.

Cards over Rams by 10- Cards on the decline and Rams on the incline, should meet somewhere in the middle. With an even running game, only because Stephen Jackson doesn’t have an O-line to block for him yet, the Cards will win out with a better passing game and stronger defense.

Packers over Eagles by 8- The Packers had a great defense last year and their offense is borderline scary to any opposing defense. Rodgers has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders and I believe he is ready to handle that responsibility. The Eagles are not a scrub team but there has to be some transition from McNabb and Westbrook to Kolb and McCoy.

49ers over Seahawks by 14- Mike Singletary has a terrific defense this year with P Willis continuing to lead the league in tackles. Expect Seattle to have trouble getting any type of offense going in this one.

Cowboys over Redskins by 10- The Cowboys have not lived up to their Superbowl expectations in recent years but with a healthy backfield and a solid defense they will go a long way this year.

Chargers over Chiefs by 9- I do not like the guy but Rivers knows how to lead that offense, even without Vincent Jackson. The Chargers, another team with high expectations, should control the Chiefs in this game. The one positive side for Chiefs fans is their rushing game with Jamaal Charles in the backfield who finished last year strong. 

Ravens over Jets by 1- Wow, football fans are going to be treated to an amazing game to  kickoff Monday night football. Two top teams with a lot of expectations. These two are very similar in the way they approach a game with a stingy D and tough rushing attack. Look for Sanchez to be the deciding factor in this game. It’s now time for him to take control of a game rather than manage it. Between Sanchez and Flacco, look for Cool Joe to lead his Ravens to a victory.

So there you have my picks along with CV3’s.  I will keep a running tally of my accuracy versus CV3 for the year.  Please provide your picks in the comments and we can compete and see who is the most accurate picker over the course of the season.

Get ready for Week 1 of the 2010-2011 NFL season folks.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFC North Preview”

Aaron Rodgers was once Brett Favre's understudy as shown in this picture. Then Aaron took Brett's spot as the Packers quarterback and is now trying to take Brett and the Viking's spot atop the NFC North.

 To finish off my division by division breakdowns, we have the NFC West.  This division has become a  two headed monster.  There are two very good teams at the top, one mediocre squad, and a very weak team at the bottom.  When Brett Favre officially announces his return, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later, the Vikings and Packers will begin duking it out for divisional supremacy.  Lets get ready to rumble in the NFC North.

 NFC North:  Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings (alphabetical order)

 Detroit Lions (4th place):  Detroit’s suffering will continue for at least another year.  This team has only won 2 games over the course of the past two years and has not won more than 7 games in a season since the year 2000.  It has been a brutal last 10 years.  Well expect this year to be pretty typical for the Lion’s faithful.  This team had the worst defense in the League last year and an almost equally as bad offensive attack.  Lots of weight will placed on 2nd year quarterback Matthew Stafford.  Can he live up to the lofty expectations?  Calvin Johnson is one of the best receivers in the game.  It is a shame that the Lions cannot really give him another solid receiver to play alongside.  Guys like Dennis Northcutt and Bryant Johnson have not been able to cut the mustard.  From a rushing standpoint, they still have Kevin Smith, who will hopefully be fully recovered from a devastating Week 14 ACL tear (last season).  They also have rookie Jahvid Best.  Do not expect too much from this duo though due to lack of an offensive line.  Defensively it gets worse.  There is really not one player of note on the entire unit other than recently drafted Ndamukong Suh.  Lions’ fans better pray this guy gets signed, lives up to the hype, and is ready to be an instant leader for this team on the defensive side of the ball.  That is a lot to ask of a rookie.  Do not expect the Lion’s

to win more than 5 games this year.

Chicago Bears (3rd place):  Da Bears!  Yes Chris Berman is in the Hall of Fame, but the Bears still do not have the look of a contender sadly.  No matter how excited Chris Berman can get people when talking about the boys out of the windy city, the team is not ready to be a force yet.  The Bears have not been to the postseason since 2006, and do not count on that streak ending this year.  This team suffered without Brian Urlacher last year defensively, and did not do much with the newly acquired Jay Cutler from an offensive standpoint.  Though the Bears finally added a complement to Matt Forte in Chester Taylor, this does not appear to solve the rushing issues.  This team was near the bottom of the League in rushing yards last year, and though Taylor should help a little, these guys do not really compliment each other well in that they each have a very similar style.  I just hope for the Bear’s sake, conflict does not arise between Forte and Taylor.  The receiving corps has not improved either.  This team is still lacking a number 1 threat for Jay Cutler to use his “super” strong-arm to throw too.  So do not expect this team to put up a flurry of points on a weekly basis.  Defensively, the unquestioned leader is still the man with “swag,” Brian Urlacher.  Urlacher along with Lance Briggs make up one of the League’s best linebacker duos.  Also, the addition of Julius Peppers to the defensive line should make an instant impact.  If Urlacher can stay healthy, expect this team to be much better defensively than they were last year.  The secondary did do a solid job against the pass so hopefully with Peppers rushing the opposing quarterback, their jobs can be even easier this year.  The Bears will be a decent team.  But do not expect them to sneak into the playoffs.  I am predicting 7 or 8 wins due to the lack of offensive stability. 

Green Bay Packers (2nd place):  The Cheesheads may be disappointed with another 2nd place appearance, but count on this team to roll deep into the playoffs.  I have them cruising all the way to the Super Bowl.  It will take this team time to gel and it will help when Favre tires down the stretch for the Vikings come playoff time.  This team is led by a lethal offensive attack.  Aaron Rodgers has become one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the League hands down.  They got a great duo at receiver in the up and coming Greg Jennings and the seasoned veteran Donald Driver.  Hopefully Driver is healthy after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on both of his knees this off-season.  But luckily for the Packers, they have young guns James Jones and Jordy Nelson waiting in the wings.  Not to mention they have a very solid tandem of receiving tight ends in Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee.  I also forgot to mention that though this team lives on the pass, do not sleep on Ryan Grant pounding the rock.  The question is who can complement Grant down the stretch?  Possibly the seasoned veteran Ahmad Brooks or the Florida product DeShawn Wynn.  Offensively, this is the only question mark this team has if any.  Defensively the Packers number 2 defense of a season ago will be led by the linebacking trio of Nick Barnett, AJ Hawk, and Clay Matthews.  This the best linebacking trio in the League in my eyes.  They are young, tough, and very fun to watch.  Lastly, you have 2 very strong veterans in Charles Woodson and Al Harris anchoring the secondary.  Good luck scoring points on these guys.  Neither AJ Hawk nor Clay Matthews has really entered their prime yet.  There is lots of upside.  The Packers have the best combination of offense and defense in the entire NFC. 

Minnesota Vikings (1st place):  This team came up just short of making an appearance in the Super Bowl last season.  They are determined to go one step further this year and bring a Super Bowl title back to the twin cities of Minnesota.  And why shouldn’t they be confident?  They have a great core group of guys returning.  Minnesota also possesses both a great offense and defense.  Last season, the Vikings became a pass first offense.  I think Brett Favre is the only player in the League that could make a team that has the one they call “All Day” (Adrian Peterson) a pass first team.  Brett can still really play and put on quite a show last season.  And I fully expect him to put up great numbers again this year.  Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Bernard Berrian are a great trio of targets for Favre.  All 3 are young and have a ton of upside.  Look for Favre to be slinging the ball all over the field again this year.  My question is will Sidney Rice be healthy?  Either way the passing attack will be lethal.  Then of course the Vikings do have the luxury of handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson, who has the ability to turn any play into a big time play.  If AP starts fumbling again though, who is the next guy in? Ryan Moats or the rookie Toby Gerhart?  This team does not really have a sure-fire compliment for Peterson nor do they really need one.  As long as Peterson stays healthy, it will be paradise in the Minnesota backfield.  Then from a defensive standpoint, this team stops the run with the best of them.  Guys like Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Pat Williams are absolutely outstanding.  They not only stop the run, but they pressure the quarterback early and often.  Then in the secondary, the addition of veteran cornerback Lito Shephard should help turn this unit from average, to pretty good.  Big things will also be expected from the outstanding cornerback Antoine Winfield, and their injury prone safety, Madieu Williams.  All I can say is, watch out, because this Viking’s team will be scary.  Do not be surprised to see this team roll deep into the postseason.

So the NFC North should have a repeat champion in the Minnesota Vikings.  But do not sleep on the Green Bay Packers, who I think could overtake the Vikings come playoff time on their way to making an appearance in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1997.  Both of these teams are very strong in nearly all aspects of the game.  

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFC South Preview”

Can Matt Ryan lead the Falcons past the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints?

 The NFC South had a banner year last season producing their first Super Bowl Champion since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took it home behind a stellar game by Dexter Jackson in the 2002-2003 season.  Jon Gruden was at the top of the coaching realm at that time.  Now he is one of the best analysts that ESPN has to offer.  But how about those Saints?  What a heartfelt story and exciting team to watch.  It was a very well deserved victory for the team and the entire city of New Orleans. 

NFC South:  Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4th place):  Things have not been the greatest in Tampa Bay for the past couple of years.  This franchise has not made the playoffs since 2007, and that does not appear to be changing this year.  They have both an abysmal offense and defense these days, that really struggles at defending the pass.  First of all the problem for this team starts at quarterback.  The 22-year-old, Josh Freeman, has a world of potential, but no business starting in the NFL yet.  This is not a League that young guys can typically make an instant impact in such as the NBA.  The running back combo of this team in Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward is mediocre at best.  It is hard to run a ball on a team that will have such an anemic passing game.  Which leads me to how much the loss of Antonio Bryant will hurt.  The Bucs were towards the bottom of the League in the passing game last year, think what it will be like this year with Kellen Winslow as your only real receiving threat (he is a Tight End).  On the defensive side of the ball, things get even worse.  The only names you will recognize are guys like Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib.  You recognize Ronde, because he once was great, and Aqib because of his run ins with the law.  Plus Ronde looks to be all but retired, and may actually be retired before the season starts.  So there you have it, not much hope for Tampa Bay in 2010. 

Carolina Panthers (3rd place):  Next you have a Carolina Panther’s team that is coming off of a very disappointing 3rd place finish.  Well expect the same this year.  The one thing this team has going for them is a very strong defense.  Jon Beason is rapidly becoming one of the best linebackers in the League.  He is another great NFL linebacker out of none other than the U (Miami University).  Chris Gamble is a gamer in the secondary and can come up with some big time plays.  But the loss of Julius Peppers will sting.  Regardless if the guy was overpaid, he still contributed big time and really was a guy that offensive lines keyed in on freeing up others on the Panther’s defense to run rampant.  Can the Panther’s secondary still do well without a Julius Pepper’s attack coming at opposing QB’s?  We will find out.  Offensively, there is a brand new look with the sad departure of Jake Delhomme.  It will be interesting to see how Matt Moore does with the pressure of being the starter and having a guy like Jimmy Clausen breathing down his throat.  At least there is a great 2 headed monster at running back in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.  Oh yeah, they also have a guy named Steve Smith to throw to.  But the loss of Muhsin Muhammad will hurt and somebody will have to step up as the number 2 receiver.  All in all, this Panther’s team has a lot of question marks.  But expect the rushing attack to be solid and do not be surprised to see this team win between 6 and 8 games. 

Atlanta Falcons (2nd place):  Atlanta will boast a solid offensive attack again this year led by their fearless quarterback Matt Ryan.  Ryan is getting close to entering his prime and continues to develop into a very strong NFL quarterback.  This team has targets for him to throw to such as Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, and the future hall of famer, Tony Gonzalez.  But make no mistake, this is still one of the NFL’s few run first teams.  Between having a healthy Michael Turner, Jason Snelling, and the explosive Jerious Norwood, opponents should fear the rushing attack of Atlanta.  Also word on the street is that Michael Turner has had a fantastic off-season and has a big time year forthcoming.  On the other side of the ball, you may not have heard of many of these guys if you are not from Atlanta, but they are tough.  Led by linebacker Curtis Lofton and safety Erik Coleman, this defense is very solid.  They work very well as a collaborative unit and this year should be no different.  The only question is can this team improve in stopping the pass?  If they are able to improve as a secondary unit, they could challenge the pass happy Saints for the divisional crown.  Expect this team to come up just short of a Wild Card spot, but to have a very solid season. 

New Orleans Saints (1st place):  I know it has been a trap in recent history to pick the defending Super Bowl Champs to make any noise the next season.  I know the past couple of years the defending champs have faltered in even making it back to the playoffs, but this team looks too good not to at least make the postseason.  They are led by possibly the game’s best quarterback in Drew Brees.  They have an outstanding receiving corps in Colston, Henderson, Meachem, and Shockey.  Also they have probably the best receiving running back in the League in Reggie Bush.  This team can hurt you in so many ways offensively.  And with the way Drew Brees spreads the ball around, it does not really matter who you put around him or what defenses you throw at him.  Brees will put up points.  Also this team has the best run/pass balance in the League.  They are old-fashioned, and though they appear pass happy at times, they are able to do this due to an established rushing attack.  Though the loss of Mike Bell will hurt, expect Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush to carry the load just fine and really compliment each other well.  Then on the defensive side of the ball, can Darren Sharper repeat his amazing performance of a year ago?  Or at least half of the performance?  For a Super Bowl Champion, the Saints did not have a great defense.  They really lived and died on the bend and not break motto.  But who cares.  If you are putting up points the way this team does, all the defense has to do is hold opponents under 30 (sometimes 35).  Jonathan Vilma, Darren Sharper, and Roman Harper just have to ensure that this defense does not totally collapse.  Due to the amazing scoring ability of the offense, they predominantly have to defend against the pass as teams try to catch up.  Is the defense up to the challenge? 

So the NFC South looks to be very good as usual.  I see the Saints repeating as champions and the Falcons having a great season, but just missing a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.  The Saints will break the recent streak of defending Super Bowl Champions not making the playoffs. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze