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Super Bowl Picks

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 06:39 PM PDT

I put together a list of the Super Bowl picks of famous people and of people I respect (and a few of those I don’t). Several did not pick a winner. I couldn’t find Dungy’s runner-up.

Pete Prisco: Patriots vs. Falcons
Clark Judge: Chargers vs. Eagles

John Clayton: Patriots vs. Packers
Herm Edwards: Patriots vs. Falcons
Mike Greenberg: Chargers vs. Eagles
Mike Golic: Steelers vs. Falcons
Mike Sando: Patriots vs. Packers
Adam Schefter: Patriots vs. Cowboys

Cris Collinsworth: Patriots vs. Packers
Phil Simms: Steelers vs. Packers
Warren Sapp: Chargers vs. Falcons

Josh Alper: Patriots vs. Saints

Tony Dungy: vs. Packers
Mike Florio: Chargers vs. Saints

Dan Patrick: Steelers vs. Falcons
Gregg Rosenthal: Patriots vs. Saints
Evan Silva: Patriots vs. Packers
Michael David Smith: Patriots vs. Falcons

Chris Bach: Ravens vs. Packers
Russ Loede: Patriots vs. Saints

Brian Billick: Chargers vs. Packers
Marshall Faulk: Jets vs. Saints
Michael Irvin: Chargers vs. Packers
Steve Mariucci: Patriots vs. Packers
Kurt Warner: Steelers vs. Packers

Don Banks: Ravens vs. Packers

Les Carpenter: Patriots vs. Saints
Jason Cole: Patriots vs. Eagles
Eddie George: Jets vs. Packers
Michael Silver: Patriots vs. Eagles

Brad Biggs, Chicago Sun-Times: Patriots vs. Saints
Tim Kawakami, Silicon Valley Mercury News: Ravens vs. Eagles
Jim Lang, Sportsnet Canada: Patriots vs. Packers
Mark McGuire, Albany Times-Union: Jets vs. Packers

So, 8 votes for the Patriots to win the Super Bowl, 7 for the Packers, 4 for the Falcons, 3 for the Saints, 3 for the Eagles, 2 for the Steelers, 2 for the Jets and 1 for the Ravens.

Chris Picks Week 1

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 05:28 PM PDT

Home team
Packers 27, Saints 24
Super Bowl Pick: Ravens over Packers

Gridiron Gab NFL Week One Preview – Atlanta at Chicago

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 01:15 PM PDT

Two teams with playoff aspirations clash at Soldier Field in Week one, as the Falcons travel to Chicago to meet the Bears.  Both clubs won their division last season, and look to answer critics who question their legitimacy in 2011.  A must-see game that will feature two of the league’s most guttiest quarterbacks and a quartet of electrifying wide receivers.

1. Julio Jones factor – Roddy White will be shadowed by Charles Tillman, a physical corner who has a tendency to be more concerned with stripping the football rather than making the sure tackle.  That matchup is in the favor of the Falcons, considering Roddy is an elite receiver.  So, how about rookie wideout Julio Jones against Tim Jennings, or whoever Chicago throws at him?  The Alabama product, who the Dirty Birds mortgaged their future to move up to the sixth pick to acquire, could be the “X-factor” in determining the outcome of this battle in the Windy City.  Julio’s ability to pick up yards after the catch is something to keep an eye on in this affair.  He could have the attention of the Bears safeties, which would open up the middle for Matt Ryan to target his tight end Tony Gonzalez.

2. Bears defensive line – You can’t allow Julius Peppers to go one-on-one with Sam Baker; the former Tar Heel standout will have his way.  With that said, things could be clear for Henry Melton and Israel Idonije to go solo if the Falcons wisely decide to double-team Julius.  Both Henry and Israel are guys defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder knows by first name.  Although not recognized by the casual fan, the tandem of Melton and Idonije could wreak havoc on “Matty Ice.”  Expect the Bears d-line to impose its will on the very ordinary Falcons o-line; which is better suited opening holes for Michael Turner than protecting Matt Ryan in the pocket.  Keep in mind: Jay Cutler is more experienced under pressure, throwing on the run than Ryan is.

3. Windy City Flyer – With the new kickoff rules, Devin Hester will likely return less kicks this season.  What does that indicate?  More energy and fervor to take punts back for six.  So what do the Falcons do?  Kick away, and you get burned in the field position department.  Take a chance by letting him field a punt, and there’s an opportunity Hester takes it the full distance.  Either way, #23 is a game-changer that could make the difference in this NFC showdown.  It’s going to be a close contest, so special teams could decide the outcome on Sunday.

Prediction - My winner is the team with more to prove, and the “chip on the shoulder” will certainly show on the field.  I feel the Bears defense will make the necessary adjustments to limit the yards of White and Jones after the catch, thus, making the Falcons work for their points.  In the end, Chicago’s improved offensive line will ultimately wear down the undersized Atlanta’s defensive line with a new power rushing attack led by Matt Forte.  Bears 23 Falcons 17

Gridiron Gab NFL Week One Preview – Indianapolis at Houston

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 12:59 PM PDT

For the first time in his pro career, Peyton Manning will miss a start at QB Sunday for the Colts, and it couldn’t come at a worse time, as the team opens the season in Houston taking on the rival Texans.

It was just last season that the Texans and then unknown RB Arian Foster ran all over Indy on opening day, and while the Colts recovered to make the playoffs, they wanted to make a statement with a win opening day vs the Texans.

Now if they do it, it will have to be with the ageless Kerry Collins, who came out of retirement to ink with the Colts after Manning had neck surgery and couldn’t play in the preseason. Collins is 38, and will play over Curtis Painter.

"I really do feel like I've come a long way in a short period of time," said Collins. "I expect to run the offense, bottom line. Make plays when they're there, be smart with the ball, make good reads, good decisions, get us into the right plays when the situation calls for it.”

The Colts game plan will see Collins make plenty of check downs to TE Dallas Clark, and also look often to sure handed WR Reggie Wayne, who seemed to be against the move of bringing Collins in when it was announced.

Manning isn’t the only big injury in this game, as Foster is trying to come back for the Texans from a hammy injury suffered in a preseason game against the 49′ers. Last season he led the NFL with 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also led all running backs with 604 receiving yards.

Coach Gary Kubiak said Wednesday that Foster "has improved every day," but remains "day to day."

Look for Foster to be limited if he can go, and most of the carries Sunday will fall on his backups, Derrick Ward and Ben Tate. They will likely split backfield duties. Tate, who was in the running for the starting job as a rookie last year before suffering a season-ending fractured right ankle, has shown some skills during the preseason.

With Foster hampered, the game will come down to if the Colts can stop Texans QB Matt Schaub and All-Pro WR Andre Johnson. If the Texans can get those two going, it’s going to be a long day for the Colts, who on paper can’t keep up with the Texans on the scoreboard.

The Texans D will make it a tough day for the Colts offense all the way around. Collins needs to pull off some magic, and that’s going to be a tough task as without Manning, the Texans and their fans will smell blood.

Houston 23 Indianapolis 13

Peyton Manning Had Surgery, Likely Cervical Fusion; Will Curtis Painter Get a Shot?

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 12:24 PM PDT

is reporting that the prognosis is bad for Colts QB Peyton Manning. A source claims that Peyton Manning just had surgery today and that he will be out 2-3 months if it’s cervical fusion.

No decision has been made on whether or not Manning will go on IR.

Will Curtis Painter get a shot? Reggie Wayne wanted him to have the opportunity. “Colts are big on protecting their own, right? So I’m going to help protect our own,” said Wayne. Also: “We don’t even know him, we ain’t vanilla, man, we ain’t no simple offense. So for him to can come in here and be the starter, I don’t see it. I think that’s a step back.”

Painter was making quick decisions and crisp passes in the third and most important preseason game.

The way I feel about it is that – despite Jim Caldwell leading his team to a Super Bowl in his first year as head coach – 2009 and 2010 were disappointments for Colts fans. Last season, they lost at home to a Jets team missing several starters on defense with questionable clock management at the end. I’m not saying Caldwell is on the hot seat, but Colts fans are already going upset that they won’t be seeing Peyton Manning. Some are already upset that their season tickets have lost their value. They may get over the Manning streak ending and missing his artistry on the field but they want to see the team try hard to prevent the 9-year playoff streak from ending.

I know all about Kerry Collins and the big numbers and the veteran leadership but if he even has 6 or 7 mediocre quarters to start the season – and the Colts are losing -, they owe it to their fans to put Curtis Painter in.

Sources: Colts QB Peyton Manning Undergoes Further Neck Surgery

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 12:19 PM PDT

Colts superstar quarterback Peyton Manning underwent further neck surgery Thursday, sources close to the scene said.

The decorated signal caller opted to choose surgery, the sources said, after talks with a half-dozen doctors who came to a conclusion that the most realistic decision would be a one-level cervical neck fusion in the wake of his May 23 surgery to repair a bulging disk. It’s still uncertain whether Peyton will be able to return to play this season.

Colts owner Jim Irsay mentioned via his Twitter that an announcement is forthcoming. On Wednesday night, Irsay tweeted: “Peyton didn’t have a medical procedure last sunday, we’ll have more info 2 add clarity 2 situation soon.” On Thursday, Irsay tweeted: “NFL Season opens 2nite! We had a good practice yesterday and r guys r fired up 4 the season.#18′s out for awhile,but compete,we will/BELIEVE.” And Colts coach Jim Caldwell said Thursday at a news conference he sensed more surety concerning Manning’s predicament soon.

Gridiron Gab NFL Week One Preview – Philadelphia at St. Louis

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 12:05 PM PDT

We are going to take a look at group by group matchup for the Rams against the Eagles this week and see if we can see who has the advantage in which area.

Rams Offensive Line v. Eagles Defensive Line

The Eagles have buffed up their defensive line with the acquisition of Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin.  The Rams have a good offensive line, but one that has shown signs of struggling despite its high pay grade.  Let's call this a DRAW.

Rams Running Backs v. Eagles Linebackers

The Rams have a veteran running back in Steven Jackson who is slowing down, but can still pack a punch although he cannot run away from anyone, especially in the secondary.  The Eagles linebackers are young, and they are starting a rookie at MLB.  Steven Jackson will have his eyes on the "Mike" all game, waiting to get a chance to hit him.  ADV: RAMS.

Rams Tight Ends v. Eagles Linebackers

The Linebackers do double duty here as they will also match up against the tight ends.  The Rams will most likely be without Mike Hoomanawanui, but Lance Kendricks and veteran Billy Bajema should be enough to overwhelm the linebackers into matchup problems.  SLIGHT ADV: RAMS

Rams Wide Receivers v. Eagles Secondary

Here's where the real mismatch this week happens.  The Rams have young and up or hungry receivers at every position.  None of them have proven to be game breakers however.  The one advantage the Rams will have is that Nnamdi Asomugha only covers one side of the field and stays on that side.  He doesn't follow the #1 receiver, so the Rams can dictate who he matches up against.  Also, Asante Samuel is very vulnerable to a pump fake.  If the Rams can block it up, the pump and go should be attempted at least twice on Samuel's side.  Still, HUGE ADV: EAGLES

We are going to take a look at group by group matchup for the Rams against the Eagles this week and see if we can see who has the advantage in which area.

Eagles Offensive Line v. Rams Defensive Line

The Eagles offensive line is being shuffled again a few days before the game against the blitzing and aggressive pass rush of the St. Louis Rams.  The Rams have lots of different players and looks they can throw at the Eagles young and patchwork line.  Mike Vick is the "X Factor" here as he has the ability to escape any rush. ADV: RAMS

Eagles Running Backs v. Rams Linebackers

The Eagles will run LeSean McCoy at the Rams when they are expecting the pass and hope to catch the aggressive Rams defense up the field or too far in pursuit to cover a cutback.  The Rams linebackers have been vulnerable last season and in the preseason to the cutback.  They will need to stay at home and follow their keys to keep the Eagles running game in check.  SLIGHT ADV: EAGLES

Eagles Tight Ends v. Rams Linebackers

The Eagles will run Brent Celek out there, who is a solid tight end in his own right has been overshadowed by his coworkers at receiver, does not get as many looks from Vick as he did from McNabb, but he is still solid.  EVEN.

Eagles Wide Receivers v. Rams Secondary

The Rams secondary is improving, but not that deep.  The Eagles will run 2 very good wide receivers in Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson all over the field and the athletic deep threats will be a tough assignment for the Rams secondary. ADV: EAGLES

Colts Coach Caldwell Says More News On Manning’s Prognosis Coming Soon

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 11:09 AM PDT

The Colts' latest buzz word about Peyton Manning's neck condition is "clarity," as in more information about the four-time NFL MVP's prognosis is expected soon, possibly by week's end, coach Jim Caldwell said today.

Owner Jim Irsay used that word, clarity, in tweeting last night the assurance more would be offered to the public on Manning's situation. Caldwell said today he anticipated more clarity on Manning's prognosis soon. The star quarterback is ruled out for Sunday's season opener at Houston – Irsay tweeted earlier today he'll be out "awhile" – due to slow progress from offseason neck surgery to fix a bulging disc.

Asked about Irsay's tweet today, which for the first time confirmed suspicions Manning is expected to miss a lot of time, Caldwell said, "It's obviously accurate or he wouldn't have tweeted it.

"But nevertheless, just in terms of what kind of time frame we're talking about, I think (Irsay) also stated he's not quite certain of the time frame. None of us really know at this point in time. … It's a little bit in flux this week. But I do think we're going to have maybe a little bit more clarity here shortly."

NFC Editor Russ Loede’s 2011 NFL Predictions

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 10:38 AM PDT

Most Valuable Player


East: 1. New England Patriots (12-4)

         2. New York Jets (10-6)

         3. Miami Dolphins (9-7)

         4. Buffalo Bills (6-10)

North: 1. Baltimore Ravens (12-4)

           2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)

           3. Cleveland Browns (4-12)

           4. Cincinnati Bengals (4-12)

South:  1. Tennessee Titans (10-6)

            2. Houston Texans (8-8)

            3. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)

            4. Indianapolis Colts (4-12)

West:  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)

           2. San Diego Chargers (9-7)

           3. Denver Broncos (7-9)

           4. Oakland Raiders (5-11)

Playoff Seeding

1. New England

2. Baltimore

3. Tennessee

4. Kansas City

5. Pittsburgh

6. New York Jets

Wild Card Playoffs: Steelers over Chiefs, Jets over Titans

Divisional Playoffs: Patriots over Jets, Ravens over Steelers

AFC Championship Game: Patriots over Ravens


East: 1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)

         2. New York Giants (8-8)

         3. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

         4. Washington Redskins (5-11)

North: 1. Green Bay Packers (11-5)

           2. Chicago Bears (10-6)

           3. Detroit Lions (7-9)

           4. Minnesota Vikings (5-11)

South: 1. New Orleans Saints (12-4)

           2. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

           3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)

           4. Carolina Panthers (6-10)

West: 1. San Francisco 49ers (8-8)

          2. St. Louis Rams (7-9)

          3. Arizona Cardinals (6-10)

          4. Seattle Seahawks (3-13)

Playoff Seeding

1. New Orleans

2. Green Bay

3. Philadelphia

4. San Francisco

5. Chicago

6. Atlanta

Wild Card Playoffs: Eagles over Falcons, Bears over 49ers

Divisional Playoffs: Saints over Bears, Packers over Eagles

NFC Championship Game: Saints over Packers

Super Bowl XLVI: Saints 31, Patriots 27

Super Bowl XLVI MVP: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans

Awards Predictions

MVP: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans

Offensive Player of the Year: Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City

Defensive Player of the Year: Tamba Hali, LB, Kansas City

Coach of the Year: Mike Munchak, Tennessee

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aldon Smith, LB, San Francisco

ESPN, NFL Reach New Eight-Year Deal for MNF

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 07:58 AM PDT

Monday Night Football, the most successful series in sports media history, will remain on ESPN through the 2021 NFL season under a new eight-year agreement between ESPN and the National Football League, it was announced today by ESPN and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The broad multi-platform agreement, which begins in 2014, includes eight full seasons of MNF telecasts, expanded NFL studio programming (beginning this week), highlight rights for TV and, the Pro Bowl, the NFL Draft, 3D rights, and enhanced international rights.

The extensive package of NFL rights will fuel the continued growth of ESPN year-round, boosting its core television business while at the same time supporting the company's "best available screen" strategy with NFL programs on TV, online and on mobile devices via authentication and digital rights. Outside the U.S., ESPN will televise MNF and other regular season games, playoffs, and the Super Bowl in 30 million households in 144 countries and territories across five continents, including Brazil, the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Israel, Australia-New Zealand, and Continental Europe. The agreement also provides the NFL with an option to air a postseason Wild Card playoff game on ESPN should the NFL decide to do so.

An iconic series in the history of American television, Monday Night Football debuted in 1970. After a 36-year run on ABC, the series moved to ESPN in 2006 as part of a landmark eight-year agreement. During the past five seasons, ESPN's MNF has become the most-watched series in cable television history, registering eight of cable's 10 all-time biggest household audiences and 16 of the top 20 (excluding breaking news). In 2010, MNF ranked eighth among all primetime programs (broadcast or cable), averaging 10.5 million homes (14.7 million viewers), an unprecedented achievement for a cable television property. In addition, an estimated 140 million people viewed MNF and NFL studio programming on ESPN/ESPN2 over the course of the 2010 NFL season

Said Bodenheimer: "Today, we've secured cable's most valuable television franchise, along with an enhanced international package of year-round multimedia rights. It will help grow our business well into the next decade. No one has the breadth of worldwide media assets or the ability to monetize a property the way ESPN can, particularly with Monday Night Football and our complete NFL coverage."

"We are proud to extend our three-decade partnership with ESPN," said Commissioner Goodell. "We have come a long way together since ESPN first televised the NFL Draft in 1980. With this new agreement we are excited about the opportunity to take the NFL-ESPN partnership to innovative new heights in serving the most passionate fans in sports."

- Courtesy of the NFL

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