Just Another Typical, Run of the Mill NFL Preview: AFC East

Champs: New England Patriots (11-5)* – All you haters need to back off the criticism of Tom Brady for being the face of UGG for men. First of all, have you seen those things? They look like a really comfortable pair of cowboy boots. They look like the type of footwear Clint Eastwood would have really appreciated while filming a Sergio Leone spaghetti western in the Apennine mountains. And remember, according to your grandfather, no one has nor ever will ooze the same kind of rugged manliness as Dirty Harry.

On Deck: New York Jets (10-6)* – I just have this strange feeling that the Jets offense is going to miss WR Braylon Edwards much more than they realize. Plaxico Burress is a nice, redemptive story but after nearly two years in the clink, who knows how much he can actually contribute on the field. Of even greater concern, placing Greg McElroy on IR means the Jets will now have to find a different backup to hold the third string quarterback clipboard. I have always wondered what they are writing down on those things anyway. Could just be a couple of reserves playing a game of “hangman” or maybe doing the crossword puzzle.

Limbo: Buffalo Bills (7-9) – Ryan Fitzpatrick is the best quarterback to come out of the Ivy League since Jay Fiedler. Speaking of the former Dartmouth College great, did you know that Fiedler was close childhood friends with former New York Knicks enforcer Anthony Mason? That would be like Fitzy and Buffalo WR Stevie Johnson attending the same preschool.

Chumps: Miami Dolphins (5-11) – There’s a chance, repeat chance, that the Dolphins are in postion to take Stanford QB Andrew Luck with the 1st pick in the 2012 draft. Of course that would have to mean that the 2011 season is a complete disaster for a team that only a few years ago was considered one of the favorites to win the AFC East. Oh how the average have fallen.

Fantasy Sleepers – Brandon Marshall (WR, Miami), Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB, Buffalo), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB, New England)

Ready for Primetime Games – 9/11: Dallas @ NY Jets, 9/12: New England @ Miami, 10/2: New York @ Baltimore, 10/17: Miami @ NY Jets, 11/13: New England @ NY Jets, 11/17: NY Jets @ Denver, 11/21: Kansas City @ New England, 12/4: Indianapolis @ New England

*denotes playoff team

view from Dolphins/Cowboys courtesy of @Rontina

Just Another Simple, Run of the Mill NFL Preview: NFC North

Champs: Green Bay Packers (12-4)* – Honestly, what’s preventing the Packers from not being a better team this year than they were last year? I suppose they could take things for granted, enjoy the honeymoon like a lot of previous Super Bowl champs. But I don’t see that happening. Not with Aaron Rodgers. Especially not if the Packers QB keeps that dominant handlebar mustache. He looks like a character from The French Connection.

On Deck: Detroit Lions (8-8) – Warning! Warning! The Lions are quickly becoming the sleeper team of 2011. Proceed with caution. I need to see Matthew Stafford play all 16 games before jumping on the Detroit bandwagon. However, Ndamukong Suh is such a dominant force that I hear the Weather Channel is thinking of hiring the defensive lineman to stand in the path of the next hurricane before it makes landfall. Sorry Jim Cantore, you’ll have to find work elsewhere.

Limbo: Chicago Bears (7-9) –  I promised myself that I wasn’t going to take any cheap shots at Jay Cutler this season. So, I’m not going to tell you that it’s about time Cutler dropped those 20 extra lbs and came to camp in shape. You also won’t hear me say that I fully expect Cutler to be on the exercise bike as soon as the Chicago weather turns a tad frosty.

Chumps: Minnesota Vikings (6-10) – I am actually starting to believe that the Minnesota Vikings may surprise a few people this year. Donovan McNabb could in fact experience something of a career renaissance in the Twin Cities. Or he could just hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson 30 times a game and let All Day do the work. Either way, I sincerely hope the Vikings are not one of the 2(?) teams heading to LaLa Land in the not so distant future.

Fantasy Sleepers: Bernard Berrian (WR – Minnesota), Matthew Stafford** (QB – Detroit), Marion Barber (RB – Chicago)

Ready for Primetime Games: 9/8 New Orleans @ Green Bay, 10/9 Green Bay & Atlanta, 10/10 Chicago @ Detroit, 10/16 Minnesota @ Chicago, 11/7 Chicago @ Philadelphia, 11/14 Minnesota @ Green Bay, 12/25 Chicago @ Green Bay

* denotes playoff team

**sans the baby fat

view from Vikings training camp courtesy of @durkeee

Just Another Typical, Run of the Mill NFL Preview: AFC West

Before we start our AFC West preview, just a few quick words on Tim Tebow, the new 4th string quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Let me preface these words with a quick disclaimer, I’m not a Tebow hater. Never have been. Always thought, given the right system, that he had a chance to be a productive player in this league…as a FB or TE. And sorry if this upsets “the flock” but he can be just as inspirational lining up in a three point stance next to the right tackle as he can under center. Tebow doesn’t need to be a QB in order to head butt offensive linemen or wear a microphone for NFL films. The endorsements will keep rolling in as well because he remains a charismatic person, just ask @darrenrovell. But it’s time to move on. In the immortal words of Humphrey Bogart: we’ll always have the Houston Texans game.

AFC West

Champs: San Diego Chargers – How many children does Philip Rivers have now? I think it’s like 6. 6 kids is an amazing accomplishment. I have only one and every night when he falls asleep it feels like Bastille Day/Mardi Gras rolled into one. Rivers must have an amazing support system at home. Either that or he ignores his brood like they are a gaggle of oncoming linebackers.

On Deck: K.C. Chiefs – I’m not totally sold on the Chiefs run in 2010 and have very little to say about their chances in 2011. I will however bring into question the marketing choices made by Matt Cassel. K Swiss is no Fila. In fairness, when you’re the QB of the Kansas City Chiefs your options are sometimes limited to Arthur Bryant’s BBQ and Bazookas.

Limbo: Oakland Raiders – I like Jason Campbell, always have. In fact, to show my love and affection I’m planning on overpaying for the QB when we hold our fantasy auction draft next week. And I understand nobody cares about my fantasy football league. Talking about your fantasy football league is the equivalent of your parents trip to Belize or the birth of a second child.

Chumps: Denver Broncos – I’m only going to say it once: Denver needs to go back to their old uniforms. I have such fond memories of the light blue and orange and I use to love watching Broncos games from Mile High Stadium. Usually those games were on NBC with Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen calling the action. Now the Broncos are stuck w/ Invesco Field and the D squad announcing team of Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots.

Fantasy Sleepers: Jason Campbell (QB – Oakland), Willis McGahee (RB – Denver), Steve Breaston (WR – Kansas City),

Ready for Primetime Games: 9/12 Oakland @ Denver, 10/31 San Diego @ Kansas City, 11/17 NY Jets @ Denver, 11/21 Kansas City @ New England, 11/27 Pittsburgh @ Kansas City, 12/5 San Diego @ Jacksonville, 12/18 Baltimore @ San Diego

view from Denver Broncos camp courtesy of @Jyz77

Just Another Typical, Run of the Mill NFL Preview: NFC West

Before tackling the NFC West, 49ers owner Jed York went on the radio this morning out in California and basically said that the NFL needs to reconsider expanding to an 18 game regular season schedule because much of the violence in NFL stadiums can be attributed to preseason games and the type of fans that go to these games. So what Jed York is basically saying is that people who can’t afford season tickets were responsible for the violence at Candlestick Park over the weekend and people who can’t afford season tickets are also the reason the NFL should renegotiate the brand spanking new CBA. Memo to Mr. York, the middle class is dwindling and pretty soon the only people who’ll be able to afford the luxury of season tickets at 49ers games are Mark Zuckerberg and the Google guys. You might want to be careful with making too many class distinctions right now because you’re eventually going to need those beleaguered and destitute souls to fill your stadium.

And now, latest breaking news out of the Bay Area has the Raiders and Niners canceling their annual preseason scrimmage. This is certainly one way to go about it or you could just pay for more security personal to roam the parking lots before and after games. Either way is likely curb violence at the stadium and both seem like a much more practical, measured response to a real problem than potentially waging class warfare on non season ticket holders. But I digress.

NFC West

Champs: St. Louis Rams – When in doubt, go with the best QB. In this case, even though Sam Bradford is only entering his second year in the league, his repetroire of quarterbacking skills is vastly superior to Kevin Kolb, Alex Smith, and Tarvaris Jackson.

On Deck: San Francisco 49ers – What is the Bay Area press corps going to do without former head coach Mike Singletary. His post game press conferences were comedy gold. Jim Harbaugh has some pretty big shoes to fill when it comes to creating the perfect sound bite. Coach Harbaugh may also want to consider taking a few snaps behind center as well.

Limbo: Arizona Cardinals – Larry Fitzgerald is a nice receiver and all but, that’s a lot of pesos! 120 million for 8 years, how is the team going to afford paying their other players? What happens if the Kevin Kolb experiment doesn’t work out? Then what? Kurt Warner is back to bagging groceries and Matt Leinart is blissfully content backing up Matt Schaub in Houston. Guess you could check in on the whereabouts of Neil Lomax.

Chumps: Seattle Seahawks – At what point during the Tarvaris Jackson experiment do you think Pete Carroll will look over at his offensive coordinator and say: “Holy s*^#! I didn’t think he was this bad. Quick, tell Clipboard Jesus to warm up.”

Fantasy Sleepers: Lance Kendricks (TE – STL Rams), Sam Bradford (QB – STL Rams), Kendall Hunter* (RB – SF 49ers)

Ready for Primetime Games: 9/19 St. Louis @ NY Giants, 12/1 Philadelphia @ Seattle, 12/12 St. Louis @ Seattle

*Frank Gore is unhappy with his contract and always a candidate for a season ending knee injury.

view from Seahawks training camp courtesy of @T_Drovetto

Just Another Typical, Run of the Mill NFL Preview: AFC South

From here on in, until the start of the NFL regular season on Thursday September, 8th, VMS will be offering quick overviews of each division, one NFC and one AFC per week. Next up, the AFC South (*denotes playoff team)

AFC South

Champs: Indianapolis Colts* – For years now, I have wondered how Peyton Manning’s elongated neck was strong enought to support his very oddly shaped dome. Well at least now we have our answer. If Peyton isn’t healthy, look for Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon to lose their you know what after about the 5th time Curtis Painter sails a crossing route over the middle of the field.

On Deck (next up): Houston Texans – Everybody is talking about how the Texans did a lot to improve their defense this offseason. Well I should hope so because last year they couldn’t stop Betty White before a snickers. A better defense will also make QB Matt Schaub a little happier. Last season, Schaub led the league in sad faces, 5 ahead of Eli Manning and 2 in front of Jay Cutler.

Limbo (neither up nor down; stuck in between): Jacksonville Jaguars – People are trying to talk us into a QB controversy in Jacksonville and I’m not buying it. David Garrard will be your starting QB this season, that is until Sunshine from Remember the Titans memorizes the playbook. I’m really looking forward to the Jags starting the season 1-5, followed by rumors that they intend to fire head coach Jack Del Rio for the umpteenth time at season’s end before finishing 2011 w/ a 9-7 record, just narrowly missing the playoffs and leading to another Del Rio contract extension.

Chumps: Tennessee Titans – What are we supposed to do now that we can no longer marvel at Jeff Fisher and his strangely coiffed stache? I’ll miss the Ray Ban and croakie combo too. Last night I was totally caught off guard seeing Vince Young on the Philadelphia Eagles. I figured the Titans were stuck with VY for at least 2 more seasons. And would you believe that Chris Johnson is only set to make $800K this season? I guess if I were that good I would be holding out for more money too.

Fantasy Sleepers: Javon Ringer** (RB – Tennessee), Zach Miller (TE – Jacksonville), Dan Orlovsky*** (QB – Indianapolis

Ready for Primetime Games: 9/25 Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis, 10/23 Indianapolis @ New Orleans, 10/24 Baltimore @ Jacksonville, 12/5 San Diego @ Jacksonville, 12/22 Houston @ Indianapolis

**only if all world running back Chris Johnson continues his holdout for more cash.

*** only if Peyton Manning’s neck wasn’t fused properly.

view from Colts practice courtesy of @TheSportsGuy13