The Official 2010 SCU NFL Picks Post

The NFL Season is here, and as I always like to do, its time to lay down my choices for the way the season is going to shake out. I am not shy about admitting that I completely suck at predictions like this, even though I was relatively close with my picks last year. Because kickoff is tonight, I figured it was time to go right into it here, as well as give you guys a shot at making your own picks.

This season is definitely going to be full of surprises, especially when you consider how many of the teams recently drafting near the top of the first round have really made a complete turnaround. The Texans were drafting at number 1 in 2006 and now they are widely considered to be a playoff team. New Orleans was drafting number 2 and they are the defending champs, something that Im sure the 2006 Saints fans would have laughed at you about if you had suggested its possibility.

As I did last year, I will focus highly on rookie performance with the weekly Rookie Royal Rumble posts, and I may consider bringing back the value bumps if my time allows me to do so. Check back every Monday for that commentary to give your own thoughts or to debate my observations.

Without further adieu, here is my official slate of picks:

AFC North Champion: Baltimore Ravens
AFC East Champion: New England Patriots
AFC South Champion: Indianapolis Colts
AFC West Champion: San Diego Chargers
AFC Wild Card: Houston Texans
AFC Wild Card: New York Jets

AFC Championship Game: Chargers vs. Ravens
AFC Champion: Ravens

NFC North Champion: Green Bay Packers
NFC East Champion: Dallas Cowboys
NFC South Champion: New Orleans Saints
NFC West Champion: San Fransisco 49ers
NFC Wild Card: Minnesota Vikings
NFC Wild Card: Atlanta Falcons

NFC Championship Game: Cowboys vs Saints
NFC Champion: Saints

Super Bowl Champion: Ravens

NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers
NFL ROY: Ryan Mathews

I really think the Ravens have one of the most high powered offensive attacks in the league, and unlike some of the other NFC teams, they have a tremendous defense to match. The Packers are a popular pick because of a similar situation, but I don’t think they will hold up through the playoffs. They came on very strong at the end of 2009, but werent able to capitalize away at Arizona, when they definitely should have walked out of there with a convincing win. They did improve their OL in the draft this year, but I still think that someone finds a way to beat them early in the playoffs, at home. Look at what happened to them when the Vikings rolled into lambeau back a few years ago. It wont be the Vikings this time, but it will be someone else. As for the Saints making it back to the biggest stage in the world, I think its tough to count them out with how many people they are bringing back from last year. They look great, as good as the Ravens or the Chargers, and I am definitely expecting them to repeat as NFC champs.

I already cant wait for Sunday and its only Thursday, Saturday is definitely going to be an exercise in patience. Its going to be nice having a day of rest, playing with Noah and watching all the action. Here is to another great season, because there may not be one next year.

Celebrating My Favorite Religious Holiday

Each time a new NFL season rolls around, I get pumped up like I am the one who is going to be on the field rumblin’ with the big dogs. The excitement is palpable in every sense of the word. First glance at the crop of rookies, renewed hope for my team’s chances, redemption for last year’s mistakes, and a fresh start at 2010 greatness. I love it.

Tonight, the season starts anew, and luckily for me the Vikings are playing in the first game. Granted, it is against a team which gave them one of the most heartbreaking losses in the team’s history, but that doesn’t matter right now. Grandpa Gray Beard is back at QB, Peterson is primed for a terrific season, and there is a lot of hope that the Vikings could remain a team worthy of going deep into the playoffs. The injury bug has hit early, which is better than it hitting in week 12, so that will definitely cause some problems. However, I don’t think the biggest problem is whether or not Sidney Rice makes it back to the field, it is more about whether or not the Green and Gold from Wisconsin run wild all over the NFL.

Many experts have dubbed the Packers as 2010’s team to beat, and I will say that for once in my life, I agree. Unlike previous incarnations of the Packers team, I have a lot of respect for what they bring to the field. Aaron Rodgers has turned into one of the best QBs in the league, and he has a lot of great targets to throw to in Jennings, Driver and Finley. Although Ryan Grant has disappointed (much like I said he would) after a stellar season a few years ago, he is no slouch compared to others in the league. So, are the Packers as good as everyone says they are? Yes, no doubt.

In the AFC, once again, the Chargers and the Ravens have shown that they are primed for a run of their own, and I would expect that one or both of them end up in the championship game. With the addition of Anquan Boldin and TJ Houshmazoo, the Ravens have gotten better on offense, and that only complements their tremendous defense that much more. However, the Ravens D isnt what it used to be, and they are definitely getting older. We will see if their young, high powered offense can make up for it. My fantasy team is counting on it. As for the Chargers, its all going to fall on the shoulders of Ryan Mathews now that Vincent Jackson has decided that he is going to be a little bitch about his contract. Mathews looks great and should fill the large shoes left behind by Tomlinson quite nicely. Rivers is a good QB that doesn’t turn the ball over much, and that means that their defense can play with their ears pinned back that much more.

Man, just writing this post gets the blood pumping for the season to really get going on Sunday. Im curious to see how everything turns out, especially with the guys I have invested in. SCU Fantasy Football is back for a third year this year, and it looks like things are going to be pretty awesome. Hopefully, the Vikings start out the season with a bang, and turn Who Dat Nation in to Who? What? Nation, even though I fully expect them to get destroyed violently. Either way, its great that football is back, and it will surely be a wild ride this year all around.

The NFL Season Ends On Highs and Lows

Wow, I didnt understand how crazy it could get in the AFC, and it doesnt look like things are even close to being done yet. There were sure some weird decisions all around, the Patriots, Eagles, and Cowboys, all with possible detrimental choices to say the least.

Chris Johnson
What a freak, the guy was just lightning AND thunder this year, and I am very glad that he got to 2000 yards. Not only because my two Chris Johnson auto auctions should do a little better, but because I think he proved that you dont have to be a huge guy to be successful in this league. He showed week after week that he is a force to be reckoned with, thus cementing his place atop the yardage list as well as next years fantasy drafts.
Wes Welker
A lot of people questioned teams starting their guys without a purpose, and Wes Welker looks to have taken the brunt of the punishment. He tore multiple ligaments in his knee and may have taken the Patriots playoff hopes down with him. Brady also has a broken finger, and all of it did not prevent the Pats from sitting their guys in a meaningless game.
Minnesota Vikings
When you pitch a virtual shut out of the Giants banged up offense, no one really thinks much of it. However when you have to go to the dome two weeks from now and its louder than an airport runway during rush hour, it becomes apparent that it was not a good thing for the opposing teams. Philly ended up being killed at Dallas, so the road to the super bowl will go through two domed stadiums, one where the Vikings have gone 8-0. Favre also rested much of the second half, and now the Vikings look like they have a shot again. I love it.
MVP
Im not sure if its very clear anymore, especially with how Favre has played in the last two halves. He ended up with over 4000 yards and 30 TDs while throwing fewer than 10 interceptions and leading his team to the two seed. He played every game, and we all know the hard on that the sports writers have for his success. Manning and Brees are pretty much a toss up other than the Favre factor, and I could even seen Chris Johnson win in a split decision. Absolutely crazy for sure, but I am eager to see how it turns out.
ROY
Im not as sure as I once was that Harvin will walk away with it, but he is the odds on Favorite right now. If Sanchez rolls over the Bengals tonight, he could be back in it, and so may some of the other guys. Harvin’s contributions to his team were greater than many of the other rookies combined, although Austin Collie, Knowshon Moreno, and Mike Wallace have made their cases as well. Another good battle to see who takes it home.
Denver Broncos
Its been six years since a team started with six wins and missed the playoffs, but Denver sure looked very much like their brown throwback unis in the KC game this week. Im not sure how you can justify benching Marshall, even with the attitude problems, and losing to the Chiefs only makes that worse. Oddly enough, the last team to do what the Broncos did were the Vikings, and trust me, Im sure the Broncos fans are just as fucking pissed as I was in 2003.
Week 19
We could easily be headed for a Packers/Vikings III in two weeks, and I can only imagine what the media blitz is going to be like. Even though the Vikings decidedly beat the Packers twice this year, its far from the truth to think they are the same teams they were so many weeks ago. If the Packers beat the Cardinals like they should, I would expect a hard fought game come two weeks in the dome. Although I think the Vikings still have the firepower to win, it wont be as easy as it was in the beginning of the season.
Saints lose again
Although Drew Brees sat this game out, The Saints are no longer invincible, and could have trouble waltzing into town on the back of Tony Romo. Remember, the Cowboys beat the Saints down from their undefeated pedestal, and it could be hard to avenge that loss looking like the Saints have in recent contests. They will be playing at home, but look for some fireworks regardless if its Philly or Dallas coming to Louisiana.
Rams Secure Number 1 Pick
Whether its Ndamukong Suh or Jimmy Claussen, the Rams are drafting at the top in March. Because of a new regime in St Louis, I look for the Rams to stupidly chase a franchise QB rather than going for a beast in Suh or a Tackle to shore up their line. I just dont think you can justify a top pick regardless of the way you go due to the way that players can bust at a moments notice these days, but I do think you have to at least think of what your team could be missing if you choose someone like Bradford or Claussen at number one.
Rematches
I dont ever remember there being this many rematches on wild card weekend. Packers/Cardinals, Jets/Bengals, and Eagles/Cowboys are all week 17 rematches, and I cannot fathom what the odds are on that. It created a horrible atmosphere for some of the teams, as the routs were on in every one of the games. Whether its the coaches not trying to tip their hands, or just laying it down all together, the three games next week will be that much different than it was this time around. Not only because of the importance of the games, but because the teams will actually play their guys.
In closing, I am fucking sad that football season is over, as this is always my favorite time of year. Granted it is less than 50 days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training, but honestly, I couldnt care less right now. I am hoping for a fun playoffs starting next week, and after that I will enter my usual depression until the draft in March. At least its been a good season with no regrets for me, and I wish you all good luck in following your teams.

Rookie Battle Royale: Week 11

I love this week, I said it before, Ill say it again. The Vikings had an easy win, the Entire AFC North lost, some in epic fashion, and the rookies had great weeks, which is good for all of us. I think the playoff picture is becoming pretty clear in some parts, which is also cool, even though a few of my least favorite teams are pretty much in. Anyways, on with the show.

Mark Sanchez

Its been an up and down season so far for Sanchez, and this week was a major down week. He threw four interceptions en route to a Jets loss, again, and showed that rookie QBs usually don’t have the know how to figure out a tough D. Sanchez was once the runaway contender for ROY, but now isnt looking so hot. His cards have taken a hit as well, with some not cracking $100 where they used to be getting $120 and above. He is not going to be Jamarcus Russell, so don’t worry, but he still has a long way to go.

Matthew Stafford

Holy crap, what a week for Matthew Stafford. I guess the Browns really are that bad, and Stafford may be that good. He threw five TDs, a rookie record, and also passed for over 420 yards, again a rookie record. His Lions’ team had an epic comeback against the worst team in the league, and even though he broke all kinds of records, it just goes to show that the Browns suck that bad. Regardless, his cards will jump, and they deserve to, as he may have just catapulted ahead of Sanchez in the ROY watch.

Josh Freeman

Again, rookie QBs usually have a pretty bad game against good defenses, and Packers game aside, Freeman has done just that. 126 yards, a TD and a pick doesn’t leave you with much if you are the Bucs, especially so when you play against the Saints. Eh, growing pains are going to be common in Tampa Bay.

Percy Harvin

Harvin had a very good game against the Seahawks, including starting the scoring with a 23 yard TD. He ended up with 79 yards and 5 catches including one on third down for a nice gain. Harvin has quickly emerged as a top candidate for rookie of the year, and the Vikings seem to greatly benefit each time he catches the ball – kickoffs and otherwise.

Mohammed Massaquoi

Another great week for Massaquoi, even though it was against the Lions. He had a long TD, as well as 115 yards, so I guess the Browns fans should pleased that they ended up with Stuckey and him as their two guys instead of Braylon. I doubt that will remain the case, but for now, its not bad.

Bernard Scott

Bernie had a great week in a stunning loss. 115 yards rushing, though the Bengals were the second top team to lose to the Raiders. With Benson out, the Bengals are going to need some major help, especially with Larry Johnson dragging them down. Scott doesn’t look like a bad fill in, but he is little more than a stop-gap.

Michael Crabtree

Crabtree had his first good game of the year against the Packers, and it only took 11 weeks to do it with the hold out. Good for you buddy, smart move. He had 77 yards and a TD, though the Niners couldn’t pull off the late come back. Crabtree looks like he is going to be pretty good, but he will have that hold out tag on him until he explodes.

Brandon Pettigrew

Pettigrew had a feast with his Lions teammates, including a game winning TD catch with no time on the clock. He almost dropped it, which was funny, but overall he had a pretty good game with 72 yards. Its going to be tough as a tight end for him to get any sort of value momentum while playing in Detroit, so don’t go rush to your local shops looking for his stuff.

Hakeem Nicks

Nicks has been notably absent during the Giants losing streak, and this week was just alright. 65 yards on 5 catches, but the Giants did squeak out a win. Nicks is losing steam, but that could be just that the 16 game season is starting to catch up with him. He was injured for 2 games early on, so who knows.

Beanie Wells

74 and a TD is pretty good, second good game in a row for Beanie. Now that Warner is banged up, he should have a much more prominent role in the Cardinals’ offense. Maybe that will do well for him to get even more back on track.

LeSean McCoy

I remember back when getting 100 yards against the Bears on the ground was an impossible feat. McCoy came awfully close with 99 and a TD last night, so I guess its not that much of an accomplishment anymore. McCoy has quietly put together a great season, but with Westbrook coming back again soon, I doubt he will get the same attention later on.

Offensive Rookie of the Year Watch

Now that the season is more than half over and the graveyard is coming to life, its time to switch gears. There are a lot of candidates for ROY, and here is my own version of a tracker to show you who deserves consideration to me.

1. Percy Harvin – 36 rec / 501 yards, 4 TDs, 2 KR TDs – he has helped his team the most, and has shown to be a very elusive runner and tough to tackle. Those KRs have been icing on the cake in some of the Vikings wins, where others have been the cake themselves.

2(T). Mark Sanchez – 1761 yards, 10 TDs, 16 INTs – Sanchez is here because so many of the rookie QBs are always the most visible. NY has a better record than DET, even though Stafford has generally played better.

2(T). Matt Stafford – 1911 yards, 11 TDs, 14 INTs – Stafford has brought 2 wins to a horrible team with his arm alone. His recent 5 TD game brings him into this conversation, especially after missing games with a knee injury.

4. LeSean McCoy - 452 yards, 4.3 YPC, 3 TDs – McCoy has done great in Westbrook’s absence considering the circumstances. I doubt he has a chance to win unless he puts up a monster game next week.

5. Mike Wallace – 28 rec / 500 yards 3 TDs – He has done pretty well as a 3rd wide receiver, though has been used more of a deep guy than someone integral to the offense. It has netted him a great YPC avg and a few TDs, but he will need to step it up to overcome the rest of the candidates.

Rookie Battle Royale: Week 10

Another week for the NFL, another good week by a few of the rookies who werent doing so well before. With both undefeated teams staying undefeated, the rookies werent as much of a focus as usual, but they definitely didn’t sleep the week away either.

Josh Freeman

Coming off the game of his life in his first start last week against the Packers, there were high expectations this week for him against a struggling Dolphins team. Freeman did not play half as well as he did in his debut, and the Dolphins took it on the last play of the game. He threw for 196 yards, a TD and an interception, but had four fumbles with one lost. Not great.

Mark Sanchez

Sanchez played like a rookie again this week, with a very mediocre game against a team they should have beat. This now shows that he is human after all, with more games this year on the rookie side than the spectacular side. He threw 2 interceptions and a touchdown, as well as 212 yards, so it wasn’t all that wonderful of a game for him. This should make it interesting come the end of the year ROY voting.

Matt Stafford

Of the three rookie QBs, Stafford had arguably the best game against the best team. On 51 throws, he didn’t have a pick, which is pretty good considering that last time he played the Vikings he threw 3. He was sacked 4 times, but really it was more of a receiver issue than anything. The guys he was throwing to also dropped 8 passes, so that will hurt in the long run. Stafford ended up with 224 yards and a TD. Not bad.

Beanie Wells

Finally, after nine weeks, Beanie had a really good game, best of the week for the rookie running backs. He had 85 yards and 2 TDs, which was only the second 2 TD game of the year for rookie RBs. His YPC avg, a concern in previous weeks was up considerably (5.3 this week), and he didn’t look lost out there in a nice Cardinals win. Beanie still has a long way to go, but things are starting to improve.

Jeremy Maclin

Maclin is quietly putting together a great rookie campaign. He led all rookie WRs with 76 yards, as well as a touchdown, which makes his second consecutive with a score. Maclin is playing on a team where he will need to be the top guy eventually, so he really needs to come through, and this game was another notch in the bed post for him.

Bernard Scott

If I told you at the beginning of the Cincy/Steelers game that Bernard Scott would be the MVP, you would have laughed me out of the building. Yet, with a HUGE kickoff return TD, he was the reason the Bengals won. So, Steelers fans, you have given up KR TDs to two rookies this year, who is next, haha?

Knowshon Moreno

Moreno had a good game this week, but the Broncos lost to a team that they should have killed. He had 104 total yards and 97 on the ground, so it was definitely a solid effort. I also didn’t see any huge fumbles, which Im sure was a sigh of relief for his fans, but the loss was more than a shock irregardless.

Johnny Knox

Knox went from the top of the game to being right where he was expected to be. On Thursday, he had his third game in a row where he did nothing, and this time the Bears needed a big play. Knox hasn’t caught more than two passes in any of the games of late, and he is going to need to step up if the bears are going to recover.

Percy Harvin

Harvin had 3 for 53, but most of those yards came on an amazing catch where he pinballed around and ran for forty yards. Harvin’s impact was minimal, but the Vikings didn’t really need it with Favre, Peterson and Rice playing like fucking beasts. Not the best game of the year, but that catch was pretty awesome considering the hit he took and still stayed up.

The Rookie Graveyard

Darrius Heyward-Bey – 1 for 20? C’mon Al Davis, you suck at drafting.

Michael Crabtree – Nothing still, needs at least a TD to be worth the hold out.

Brandon Pettigrew – Had a couple drops and no production again this week.