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NFC North Preview: 2013 NFL

200715_27If you’ve been keeping track at all, the NFC North has only won one Super Bowl title in the past 12 years (Green Bay, Super Bowl XLV) and Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota have only one championship between them. What they do have on their sides is raw star power.

The North has a real gem in the league’s top receiver, Calvin Johnson, superstar running back Adrian Peterson, who superseded his position last season in the field, and without question its top notch quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.  If those players weren’t enough, the league also has Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, Jared Allen and Brandon Marshall. The NFC North is certainly a force to be reckoned with in terms of talent.

While Green Bay might be the favored for the 2013 season, there are so many possibilities with the way that this season could end up.   There are probably four possibly playoff teams and on the flip side, at least three that could totally tank.

Here’s a peak at the NFC North Division:

Chicago Bears-

With the hire of new head coach Trestman, a sea change in approach for the Bears has been launched.  Trestman got rid of former coach Lovie Smith’s defense-first philosophy and implemented a CFL-honed offensive stylings.  Things should go better for Cutler this year, but with so much change, anything is possible. The Bears will be quite formidable with the football, especially with Martellus Bennett.  While defense last year was a top 5 set, Trestman has his work cut out for him this year.  Things look very good for the Bears in 2013.

Detroit Lions:

The Lions should be pretty middle of the pack this season.  Hopefully somewhere between their 2012 and 2011 seasons. The players to watch are Stafford, Johnson and Bush, and especially Ryan Broyles.  The offensive line and defense are still worrisome.  While this seasons seems markedly improved over last year’s, playoff potential still seems questionable.

Green Bay Packers:

Thought Green Bay won a second straight division title, last season was annoying for the Packers. They couldn’t match up against the NFL’s elite, ending in a 45-31 playoff loss to San Francisco.  While they are down a couple decent players this year, like Jennings, the Packers seem to be better poised.   GB added a few superb run-game players, and Rodgers will be that much more of a threat. Green Bay once again seems to be the the team to beat in this division and an almost expected Super Bowl contender.

Minnesota Vikings:

Adrian Peterson totally ran the show last year.  While he is a phenomenal player, the rest of the team needs to pull their weight if they want to keep ahead of the Bears and the Lions and beat the Packers in order to become Super Bowl contenders.  Things are stacking up well for the Vikings, if Ponder and Cassel can keep the team in line and quit with the excuses.  The Vikings are capable to go the distance this season, but there is not much room for error.

What do you think of how the teams are looking in the NFC North for 2013?

 

 

Top 10 Rookies to Watch this NFL Season

There is electricity in the air!  The NFL Draft is well in the past, training camp is inching ever nearer, and a clearer picture is being painted of NFL Football Rookies rankings for 2013.  The group of rookies from last year, were incredible, to say the least, and it’s exciting to think what they could do in the upcoming year.

Clearly these rankings can change as training camp/offseason news is made, rosters are creates and injuries happen.

As stated before, last year’s Rookies saw the most rookie quarterbacks land in the top 12 positions by season’s end, and three rookie running backs end up scoring loads of touchdowns which ranks them among the top 10 rookies over the past 10 years.

Top 10  Football Rookies For 2013 by Tickifieds

1. Montee Ball, RB, Denver

If Ball becomes a starter, he will come upon tough defense to halt the pass during most of the game.  He’s one to watch.

2. Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay

While Lacy looks great on paper, he has some not great points of interest.  He recently had toe surgery and it’s pretty well known that he has attitude issues. These points make for not such a great team player and might not do as well this season.  The Packers also the have Johnathan Franklin in their back pocket too.

3. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston

Head coach Gary Kubiak, made a comparison between Hopkins and former Broncos WR Rod Smith. He will work closely with Johnson, and act as his protégé, as he hopes to outshine fellow defense WR Andre Johnson.

4. Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis

Stacy was a a fifth-round pick for the Rams in the 2013 NFL Draft, but Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson and still the frontrunners.

5.  Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo

Woods will be going through a lesser version of what fellow teammate Hopkins takes on. Unfortunately, Stevie Johnson cannot compare to Andre Johnson, and Woods’ outcome is linked to Manuel’s most likely.

6. Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh

Since Mike Wallace left for Miami, the Steelers had an extra wide receiver spot to fill. They already have starters in Brown and Sanders, but they plan to use Wheaton in the slot and in the backfield.

7. Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona

Ellington has been compared to fellow Clemson player C.J. Spiller.  He is a great addition Mendenhall and Williams with regards to speed and cutting.

8. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City

There is a plan in place by the Chiefs move Kelce out and line him up in several spots, but he has direct competition with free-agent signee Anthony Fasano and Moeaki.

9. Johnathan Franklin, RB, Green Bay

Franklin had the potential for being a top-three rookie running back had Lacy not been selected in front of him.

10. Aaron Dobson, WR, New England

Dobson has the oppotunity to start this season, across the way from Amendola.  This is special thanks to Welker and Lloyd moving on.

Check out tickifieds for all your football tickets needs!

2013 NFL Preseason Power Rankings

If you live in the Chicago area like me and your baseball teams have long fallen out of contention, the start of NFL season can’t come quick enough.  Fortunately, many NFL training camps are set to open in late July and early August.  While a majority of teams have lots of roster questions that need to be answered, many teams are clearly in the running to compete for a Super Bowl, while others will likely be in rebuilding mode.

With that in mind we thought it would be appropriate to break down the top NFL football teams heading into the preseason.  Although a lot can happen (e.g. injuries) between now and the start of the season, below are the teams ranked in order of likelyhood to win Super Bowl XLVIII.

1). San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers nearly won the Super Bowl last year behind 1st year starting QB Colin Kaepernick.  All they did to up their chances was load up on draft picks and sign Ed Reed.  The 9ers have to be the favorite heading into the 2013 season.

2).  Denver Broncos

The Broncos are clearly the class of the AFC.  The stout Denver defense coupled with the addition of Wes Welker and another year  of Peyton Manning should make this team scary good.

3).  Seattle Seahawks

I wasn’t much of a believer in the Seattle Seahawks heading into last season but Pete Carrol has certainly turned around the franchise with the help of Russell Wilson.  Should the Niners suffer a significant injury or falter in anyway expect the Seahawks to be right there with them.

4). Green Bay Packers

You can never count out any team that has all world quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  The NFC is going to be tough this year but the GB Packers should more than be able to hold their own against elite competition- especially if top draft pick Eddie Lacy pans out.

5).  Atlanta Falcons

Call me a doubter of the Atlanta Falcons but I really don’t feel they deserve a spot in the top 5. They do have a high power offense but their defense needs to improve if they are going to go anywhere in the playoffs.

6).  Houston Texans

The Texans really came on last year in large part due to the emergence of defensive lineman JJ Watt.  This young team is certainly on the upswing but still may be a year or two away from getting that ring!

7).  New England Patriots

The Patriots have been the model of consistency over the past decade or so.  As long as Tom Brady is running the show you cannot count out the Pats.  It will be interesting to see what is in the plans for the newly signed Tim Tebow.

8).  Baltimore Ravens

Although the Ravens are the defending Super Bowl Champs, it hard to see the repeating after losing key defensive players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.  Anquan Bolden also bolted for San Francisco.  Regardless, the Ravens still have Joe Flaco and

9).  Indianapolis Colts

Many thought the Colts were in for a long rebuilding process after parting ways with Peyton Manning.  That proved not to be the case as quarterback Andrew Luck led them into immediate playoff contention.  If Luck continues to progress this team could be scary!

10).  Chicago Bears

Call me a homer but I like what I see out of new head coach Marc Trestman.  The Bears have never had much of an offense in my lifetime and I am starting to believe things can be different for the Monsters of the Midway.

The best of the rest…

11).  New Orleans Saints

12).  Washington Redskins

13).  New York Giants

14).  Cincinnati Bengals

15).  Minnesota Vikings

16).  Miami Dolphins

17).  St. Louis Rams

18).  Pittsburgh Steelers

19).  Tampa Bay Buccaneers

20).  Dallas Cowboys

21).  Carolina Panthers

22).  Kansas City Chiefs

23).  Detroit Lions

24).  San Diego Chargers

25).  Philadelphia Eagles

26).  Tennessee Titans

27). Cleveland Browns

28).  Oakland Raiders

29).  New York Jets

30).  Arizona Cardinals

31).  Buffalo Bills

32).  Jacksonville Jaguars

Updated 2013 NFL Playoff Brackets and Schedule

2013 NFL Playoff ScheduleWell, the NFL regular season is just about over and the matchups for the first round of the playoff are just about set.  The AFC side of the bracket is finalized with both the Denver Broncoes and New England Patriots getting 1st round byes.  The Texans dropped to the #3 seed and will play the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC Wild Card Game.  The other Widl Card game will feature the Baltmore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts. In the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers locked down the top 2 seeds and will get round 1 off.  The Packers dropped to the #3 seed and will host the Minnesota Vikings in a rematch of the regular season finale.  The other NFC Wild Card Game will depend upon the winner tonight’s Sunday night football game between the Redskins and Giants.  The winner will host the Seattle Seahawks. Stay tuned as we will update this schedule as times, dates, and matchups continue to be announced!

Update 12/30/2012 10:32 PM:  The Redskins defeated the Dallas Cowboys 28-18 and will host the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wildcard game.  We also updated the dates and times of the wild card matchups in the first round of the 2013 NFL Playoffs.

Update 1/05/2013 6:40 PM:  The Houston Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals and will be headed to Boston to face the New England Patriots in a AFC Divisional Playoff game.  Since the Texans are the #3 seed, the winner of the Colts/Ravens game would end up the lower seeded team and will face the Denver Broncos.

Update 1/05/2013 10:40 PM:  The Green Bay Packers defeated the Minnesota Vikings and will be headed to San Francisco to face the 49ers in a NFC Divisional Playoff game.  Since the Packers are the #3 seed, the winner of the Redskins/Seahawks game would end up the lower seeded team and will face the Atlanta Falcons.

Update 1/06/2013 3:44 PM:  The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Indianapolis Colts and will be headed to Denver to face the Broncos in the other AFC Divisional Playoff game.

Update 1/06/2013 6:34 PM:  The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Washington Redskins and will be headed to Atlanta to face the Falcons in the other NFC Divisional Playoff game.

2013 AFC Playoff Bracket

  1. Denver Broncos
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Houston Texans
  4. Baltimore Ravens
  5. Indianapolis Colts (Wild Card #1)
  6. Cincinnati Bengals (Wild Card #2)

Round 1 – AFC Wild Card Matchups

Houston Texans vs Cincinnati Bengals (Texans 19 – Bengals 13)
1/5 4:30 PM Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas
 
Baltimore Ravens vs Indianapolis Colts (Ravens 24 – Colts 9)
1/6 1:00 PM MT Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland
 

Round 2 – AFC Divisional Playoff Matchups

Denver Broncos vs Baltimore Ravens
1/12 Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado
 
New England Patriots vs Houston Texans
1/13 Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts
 

Round 3 – AFC Championship

TBD vs TBD

2013 NFC Playoff Bracket

  1. Atlanta Falcons
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. Green Bay Packers
  4. Washington Redskins
  5. Seattle Seahawks (Wild Card #1)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (Wild Card #2)

Round 1 – NFC Wild Card Matchups

Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings (Packers 24 – Vikings 10)
1/5 8:00 PM Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin
 
Washington Redskins vs Seattle Seahawks (Seahawks 24 – Redskins 14)
1/6 4:30 PM Fedex Field Washington DC
 

Round 2 – NFC Divisional Playoff Matchups

Atlanta Falcons vs Seattle Seahawks 
1/13 Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia
 
San Francisco 49ers vs Green Bay Packers 
1/12 Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California
 

Round 3 – NFC Championship

TBD vs TBD

2012 NFL Week 1 Schedule

New York Jets

Will Mark Sanchez be able to quiet critics and hold off Tim Tebow? The answer may lie in the Jets ability to institute the Wildcat offense.

After college football’s opening weekend this past weekend, it’s now the NFL’s turn to kick off the 2012 season.  After a long offseason filled with OTAs (Organized Team Activities), mini camps, training camps, and preseason games both fans are players are eager to play in games that count.

The NFL will start things off with a special Wednesday night game (September 5th, 2012) between the NY Jets and Dallas Cowboys.  The game will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey and will feature two of the more popular teams in the NFL.  Both teams are looking to rebound from disappointing 8-8 seasons in 2011 in which neither team qualified for the playoffs.  All the hype coming out of Jets training camp surrounds the quarterback position.  Jets QB Mark Sanchez inked a new deal but fans and media alike are not sold on his abilities.  If Sanchez stumbles out of the gate be prepared for the second coming of Tebow mania.  The Jets are expected to debut a new hybrid offense in which Tim Tebow will see the field as a running back in a variation of the “Wildcat” offense.  The “Wildcat” formation consists of a direct snap to the running back is named after the Wildcats of West Genesee High School.

Week 1 will also include a double-header of Monday Night Football (MNF) games.  Game 1 will be a matinee (kickoff at 6:00 PM) between the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals at MT Bank Stadium in Baltimore.  Game 2 will begin at 9:15 PM and will feature the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers at the newly named O.co Coliseum in Oakland California.

Below is the complete 2012 NFL Opening Week Schedule.

2012 NFL Week 1 Schedule

Wednesday, 9/5/2012
Game Time Location
Giants vs Cowboys 7:30 pm MetLife Stadium
Sunday, 9/9/2012
Bears vs Colts 12:00 pm Soldier Field
Titans vs Patriots 12:00 pm LP Field
Jets vs Bills 12:00 pm MetLife Stadium
Saints vs Redskins 12:00 pm Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Vikings vs Jaguars 12:00 pm Mall of America Field
Chiefs vs Falcons 12:00 pm Arrowhead Stadium
Browns vs Eagles 12:00 pm Cleveland Browns Stadium
Lions vs Rams 12:00 pm Ford Field
Texans vs Dolphins 12:00 pm Reliant Stadium
Packers vs 49ers 3:25 pm Lambeau Field
Cardinals vs Seahawks 3:25 pm University of Phoenix Stadium
Bucs vs Panthers 3:25 pm Raymond James Stadium
Broncos vs Steelers 7:20 pm Sports Authority Field
Monday, 9/10/2012
Ravens vs Bengals 6:00 pm M&T Bank Stadium
Raiders vs Chargers 9:15 pm O.co Coliseum

Week 1 also means that the fantasy football season is starting.  My main money league just switched to a dynasty format and we had out first draft last weekend.  It’s a uber competitive 16 team league with individual defensive players and a unique scoring format (PPR, bonus for 100 yards rushing/receiving, 300 yards passing, etc.).  I was out of town for the draft which meant I was forced to take my chances with auto-pilot.  I had the 9th pick in the draft and was able to snag my top target Cam Newton.  Cam Newton is a beast in this league as, in addition to impressive passing game, he also racks up mega points with his rushing ability.  He is also young which bodes well for a dynasty league in which you get to keep your entire starting lineup from year to year.  Below is my complete roster…what do you think?

Position Player
QB Newton, Cam(QB) CAR
RB Brown, Donald(RB) IND
RB Sproles, Darren(RB) NO
WR Johnson, Steve(WR) BUF
WR Marshall, Brandon(WR) CHI
TE Celek, Brent(TE) PHI
DL Dareus, Marcell(DL) BUF
LB Fletcher, London(LB) WAS
LB Lofton, Curtis(LB) NO
DB Harper, Roman(DB) NO
K Akers, David(K) SF
Bench Sanchez, Mark(QB) NYJ
Bench Tebow, Tim(QB) NYJ
Bench Redman, Isaac(RB) PIT
Bench Bennett, Earl(WR) CHI
Bench Cobb, Randall(WR) GB
Bench Briggs, Lance(LB) CHI
Bench David, Lavonte(LB) TB
Bench Bell, Yeremiah(DB) NYJ
Bench Watt, J.J.(DL) HOU