cnotes Posts:27290 Followers:33
08/01/2012 07:20 PM

Redskins Up Against It In Rough NFC East Division

Shanahan must be feeling comfortable in his job.

Why, you say?

Three seasons into his job as coach of the Washington Redskins, working for a noted tempestuous owner (Dan Snyder), and yet to secure a playoff berth, “The Shan” is entrusting his 2012 fortunes to a rookie quarterback.

Perhaps Shanahan believes that Snyder will permit one more mulligan at FedEx Field after last year’s 5-11 disappointment that was fueled by...quarterback shortcomings. Maybe The Shan gets himself an extra year of grace by simply going with the rookie.

Of course, we’re not talking about an ordinary rookie quarterback. Baylor’s Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy last year and was the No. 2 pick in April’s NFL Draft. But he’s still a rookie quarterback, and precious few of those hit the ground running.

Maybe Shanahan knows something we don’t. Oddsmakers and the wagering public, however, don’t seem to be buying what he is peddling.

Las Vegas sports books aren’t expecting an miracles at FedEx Field, with the majority of them posting a season total of 6½ wins on the 'Skins. Washington is also a consensus pick to once again bring up the rear in the NFC East, with division odds quoted at 10/1 at many Vegas wagering outlets.

For those wanting to talk a walk on the wild side, the Redskins are being offered as high as 30/1 to win the NFC and 60/1 to win the Super Bowl.

Any takers?

Intriguingly, the 'Skins will be opening the regular season against an angry New Orleans side that will be proceeding minus suspended head coach Sean Payton after the “Bounty-gate” scandal erupted in the offseason. Prices have already been posted on that September 9 clash at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome; the Don Best odds screen notes that the Saints are priced from 9½-10 point favorites, with the total bouncing between 50 to 50½.

Shanahan, however, is no fool, and must believe that putting his eggs in RG III’s basket is a worthwhile risk. Of course, he also thought that it was a good idea to go to war with journeymen Rex Grossman and John Beck as his quarterback alternatives. That backfired like so much legislation on nearby Capitol Hill as neither provided consistent leadership last fall when the Washington ranked near the bottom of NFC stats, placing 14th among 16 conference entries in total offense.

Shan’s quarterbacks were also turnover machines last season, particularly the error-prone Grossman, who accounted for 20 of the team’s 24 interceptions.

RG III can’t be any worse, can he?

Griffin cost the 'Skins dearly, too, as they traded first round picks not only last April but in both 2013 and 2014, plus their second-round pick three months ago, to the Rams simply to move up four sports to get the Heisman winner. Griffin is likely to be close to a one-man draft for the Redskins, unless SMU G Josh LeRibeus or Texas LB Keenan Robinson make an impact. They drafted another QB in the later rounds as well, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, although he is unlikely to see the field this fall unless Griffin is hurt.

RG III had already been named the starter before a late-May OTA in which he more resembled an undrafted rookie than a Heisman winner. Griffin’s humble attitude, however, seems to have already won over most of his teammates, although the hype and the nickname have already become targets for opponents who can’t wait to put the Heisman winner in his place this fall.

Griffin, however, already is being compared favorably to Michael Vick, the king of the pass-run quarterbacks, by none other than Redskins DE London Fletcher.

"The speed will definitely shock you," said Fletcher to the Washington Post. "He has a rocket of an arm. He has the right mentality in terms of his preparation. When you have a quarterback who can make plays when it doesn't go exactly as it's designed to go, who can buy time and is a threat to run the football and make plays outside the pocket, defensively you're kind of always on your heels."

Still, even in a best-case scenario, expect RG III to be a work in progress throughout the fall. Although a handful of recent rookie QBs – Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton immediately come to mind – have led their teams into the playoffs, all were doing so in somewhat bulletproof offensive systems which didn’t begin to expand until those QBs were beyond their rookie year. The track record for rookie QBs making that sort of immediate impact remains spotty at best.

As Griffin tries to master The Shan’s version of the West Coast (coordinated by the coach’s son Kyle), the Redskins attempted to provide some help in the offseason by adding a couple of new receiving targets, in particular ex-Colt Pierre Garcon, who cost Washington $42.5 million in a multi-year deal and figures, at least according to Shanahan, as an upgrade from vet returnee Santana Moss or the departed Jabar Gaffney. Ex-49er Joshua Morgan was also brought in as a new receiving target.

Garcon could be a revelation, however, hinting at bigger things to come when routinely torching CB DeAngelo Hall in early camp drills.

Griffin should also have reliable targets at tight end if the Redskins can keep Fred Davis (back in the fold after a substance-related four-game league suspension at the end of last season) and Chris Cooley (felled by injuries again last year).

Shanahan also has higher hopes for his ground game that suffered a negative blow last October when versatile Tim Hightower, who had started five of the first six games last season, went down with a torn ACL. Ex-Nebraska slammer Roy Helu and Evan Royster ran with occasional flair in the second half of the season (each recording multiple 100-yard rushing games) and provide serviceable, if not spectacular, backfield options.

The Shan additionally expects the forward wall to be more cohesive this fall if LG Kory Lichtensteiger is fully recovered from a torn right ACL suffered last October. Lichtensteiger, however, is being brought around slowly in training camp, and lingering hip issues have put the availability of LG Jamaal Brown into some doubt for the opener vs. the Saints. Such injury concerns in the earliest days of training camp are rarely harbingers of good things to come.

The 'Skins played playoff-quality defense for much of last season, when the stop unit was often forced into uncomfortable situations by the mistake-prone tendencies of Grossman and the offense. Jim Haslett’s platoon will again deploy in 3-4 alignments and addressed a possible shortcoming during the free-agency period when inking ex-Bears strong safety Brandon Meriweather, who fills a gap created by LaRon Landry’s departure to the Jets.

Last year provided a coming-out party of sorts for OLB Brian Orapko, the former Texas star who blossomed into a big-play threat when recording a team-high nine sacks. It was also much the same for Nebraska rookie DT Adam Carriker, who played all 988 snaps in 2011 and recorded 7½ sacks along with forcing four fumbles.

Indeed, a robust front seven returns intact, with aforementioned LB London Fletcher having re-signed in the offseason. Fletcher led Washington in tackles last season.

The secondary, however, remains a bit unsettled. The previously-mentioned DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson were somewhat inconsistent on the corners last season. Besides Meriweather, free agents Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson have been signed to compete for jobs at the safety positions that were thinned by Landry’s free-agent departure.

Special teams-wise, Shanahan is hoping that vet PK Neil Rackers, who hit on 32-of-38 FG attempts for the Texans last season, proves an upgrade over Graham Gano, who saw five of his FG attempts blocked.

Pointspread-wise, Shanahan has historically been a solid underdog recommendation back to his days in Denver, although the 'Skins were only 6-6 as the “short” in 2011; Shan is 14-11 in that role since arriving two years ago.

One positive pointspread note from the past two seasons has been success vs. Dallas, against whom the Redskins have covered all four meetings. Washington also swept both meetings straight up against the Super Bowl champion Giants a year ago.

Washington has trended ‘under’ (19-13) during Shanahan’s first two seasons.

Summary: The Redskins live in a pretty tough neighborhood in the NFC East, and making a breakthrough with a rookie QB is not usually recommended. Perhaps, however, RG III is simply the exception to the rule, and if anything he is used to challenges after helping put the moribund Baylor program on the map. But if Griffin can limit his mistakes (something Rex Grossman couldn’t do a year ago), and the supporting cast on offense can stay healthy, the Redskins will hardly be cannon-fodder, especially with that playoff-level defense.

If Griffin proves serviceable, it would be no surprise to see the 'Skins emerge as an interesting underdog play (as has been the case often in Shanahan’s career). But unless Washington moves to the NFC West, we doubt the playoff drought (which extends to 2007) will end this season.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:27290 Followers:33
08/01/2012 07:20 PM

Redskins Up Against It In Rough NFC East Division

Shanahan must be feeling comfortable in his job.

Why, you say?

Three seasons into his job as coach of the Washington Redskins, working for a noted tempestuous owner (Dan Snyder), and yet to secure a playoff berth, “The Shan” is entrusting his 2012 fortunes to a rookie quarterback.

Perhaps Shanahan believes that Snyder will permit one more mulligan at FedEx Field after last year’s 5-11 disappointment that was fueled by...quarterback shortcomings. Maybe The Shan gets himself an extra year of grace by simply going with the rookie.

Of course, we’re not talking about an ordinary rookie quarterback. Baylor’s Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy last year and was the No. 2 pick in April’s NFL Draft. But he’s still a rookie quarterback, and precious few of those hit the ground running.

Maybe Shanahan knows something we don’t. Oddsmakers and the wagering public, however, don’t seem to be buying what he is peddling.

Las Vegas sports books aren’t expecting an miracles at FedEx Field, with the majority of them posting a season total of 6½ wins on the 'Skins. Washington is also a consensus pick to once again bring up the rear in the NFC East, with division odds quoted at 10/1 at many Vegas wagering outlets.

For those wanting to talk a walk on the wild side, the Redskins are being offered as high as 30/1 to win the NFC and 60/1 to win the Super Bowl.

Any takers?

Intriguingly, the 'Skins will be opening the regular season against an angry New Orleans side that will be proceeding minus suspended head coach Sean Payton after the “Bounty-gate” scandal erupted in the offseason. Prices have already been posted on that September 9 clash at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome; the Don Best odds screen notes that the Saints are priced from 9½-10 point favorites, with the total bouncing between 50 to 50½.

Shanahan, however, is no fool, and must believe that putting his eggs in RG III’s basket is a worthwhile risk. Of course, he also thought that it was a good idea to go to war with journeymen Rex Grossman and John Beck as his quarterback alternatives. That backfired like so much legislation on nearby Capitol Hill as neither provided consistent leadership last fall when the Washington ranked near the bottom of NFC stats, placing 14th among 16 conference entries in total offense.

Shan’s quarterbacks were also turnover machines last season, particularly the error-prone Grossman, who accounted for 20 of the team’s 24 interceptions.

RG III can’t be any worse, can he?

Griffin cost the 'Skins dearly, too, as they traded first round picks not only last April but in both 2013 and 2014, plus their second-round pick three months ago, to the Rams simply to move up four sports to get the Heisman winner. Griffin is likely to be close to a one-man draft for the Redskins, unless SMU G Josh LeRibeus or Texas LB Keenan Robinson make an impact. They drafted another QB in the later rounds as well, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, although he is unlikely to see the field this fall unless Griffin is hurt.

RG III had already been named the starter before a late-May OTA in which he more resembled an undrafted rookie than a Heisman winner. Griffin’s humble attitude, however, seems to have already won over most of his teammates, although the hype and the nickname have already become targets for opponents who can’t wait to put the Heisman winner in his place this fall.

Griffin, however, already is being compared favorably to Michael Vick, the king of the pass-run quarterbacks, by none other than Redskins DE London Fletcher.

"The speed will definitely shock you," said Fletcher to the Washington Post. "He has a rocket of an arm. He has the right mentality in terms of his preparation. When you have a quarterback who can make plays when it doesn't go exactly as it's designed to go, who can buy time and is a threat to run the football and make plays outside the pocket, defensively you're kind of always on your heels."

Still, even in a best-case scenario, expect RG III to be a work in progress throughout the fall. Although a handful of recent rookie QBs – Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton immediately come to mind – have led their teams into the playoffs, all were doing so in somewhat bulletproof offensive systems which didn’t begin to expand until those QBs were beyond their rookie year. The track record for rookie QBs making that sort of immediate impact remains spotty at best.

As Griffin tries to master The Shan’s version of the West Coast (coordinated by the coach’s son Kyle), the Redskins attempted to provide some help in the offseason by adding a couple of new receiving targets, in particular ex-Colt Pierre Garcon, who cost Washington $42.5 million in a multi-year deal and figures, at least according to Shanahan, as an upgrade from vet returnee Santana Moss or the departed Jabar Gaffney. Ex-49er Joshua Morgan was also brought in as a new receiving target.

Garcon could be a revelation, however, hinting at bigger things to come when routinely torching CB DeAngelo Hall in early camp drills.

Griffin should also have reliable targets at tight end if the Redskins can keep Fred Davis (back in the fold after a substance-related four-game league suspension at the end of last season) and Chris Cooley (felled by injuries again last year).

Shanahan also has higher hopes for his ground game that suffered a negative blow last October when versatile Tim Hightower, who had started five of the first six games last season, went down with a torn ACL. Ex-Nebraska slammer Roy Helu and Evan Royster ran with occasional flair in the second half of the season (each recording multiple 100-yard rushing games) and provide serviceable, if not spectacular, backfield options.

The Shan additionally expects the forward wall to be more cohesive this fall if LG Kory Lichtensteiger is fully recovered from a torn right ACL suffered last October. Lichtensteiger, however, is being brought around slowly in training camp, and lingering hip issues have put the availability of LG Jamaal Brown into some doubt for the opener vs. the Saints. Such injury concerns in the earliest days of training camp are rarely harbingers of good things to come.

The 'Skins played playoff-quality defense for much of last season, when the stop unit was often forced into uncomfortable situations by the mistake-prone tendencies of Grossman and the offense. Jim Haslett’s platoon will again deploy in 3-4 alignments and addressed a possible shortcoming during the free-agency period when inking ex-Bears strong safety Brandon Meriweather, who fills a gap created by LaRon Landry’s departure to the Jets.

Last year provided a coming-out party of sorts for OLB Brian Orapko, the former Texas star who blossomed into a big-play threat when recording a team-high nine sacks. It was also much the same for Nebraska rookie DT Adam Carriker, who played all 988 snaps in 2011 and recorded 7½ sacks along with forcing four fumbles.

Indeed, a robust front seven returns intact, with aforementioned LB London Fletcher having re-signed in the offseason. Fletcher led Washington in tackles last season.

The secondary, however, remains a bit unsettled. The previously-mentioned DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson were somewhat inconsistent on the corners last season. Besides Meriweather, free agents Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson have been signed to compete for jobs at the safety positions that were thinned by Landry’s free-agent departure.

Special teams-wise, Shanahan is hoping that vet PK Neil Rackers, who hit on 32-of-38 FG attempts for the Texans last season, proves an upgrade over Graham Gano, who saw five of his FG attempts blocked.

Pointspread-wise, Shanahan has historically been a solid underdog recommendation back to his days in Denver, although the 'Skins were only 6-6 as the “short” in 2011; Shan is 14-11 in that role since arriving two years ago.

One positive pointspread note from the past two seasons has been success vs. Dallas, against whom the Redskins have covered all four meetings. Washington also swept both meetings straight up against the Super Bowl champion Giants a year ago.

Washington has trended ‘under’ (19-13) during Shanahan’s first two seasons.

Summary: The Redskins live in a pretty tough neighborhood in the NFC East, and making a breakthrough with a rookie QB is not usually recommended. Perhaps, however, RG III is simply the exception to the rule, and if anything he is used to challenges after helping put the moribund Baylor program on the map. But if Griffin can limit his mistakes (something Rex Grossman couldn’t do a year ago), and the supporting cast on offense can stay healthy, the Redskins will hardly be cannon-fodder, especially with that playoff-level defense.

If Griffin proves serviceable, it would be no surprise to see the 'Skins emerge as an interesting underdog play (as has been the case often in Shanahan’s career). But unless Washington moves to the NFC West, we doubt the playoff drought (which extends to 2007) will end this season.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:27290 Followers:33
08/01/2012 07:20 PM

Redskins Up Against It In Rough NFC East Division

Shanahan must be feeling comfortable in his job.

Why, you say?

Three seasons into his job as coach of the Washington Redskins, working for a noted tempestuous owner (Dan Snyder), and yet to secure a playoff berth, “The Shan” is entrusting his 2012 fortunes to a rookie quarterback.

Perhaps Shanahan believes that Snyder will permit one more mulligan at FedEx Field after last year’s 5-11 disappointment that was fueled by...quarterback shortcomings. Maybe The Shan gets himself an extra year of grace by simply going with the rookie.

Of course, we’re not talking about an ordinary rookie quarterback. Baylor’s Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy last year and was the No. 2 pick in April’s NFL Draft. But he’s still a rookie quarterback, and precious few of those hit the ground running.

Maybe Shanahan knows something we don’t. Oddsmakers and the wagering public, however, don’t seem to be buying what he is peddling.

Las Vegas sports books aren’t expecting an miracles at FedEx Field, with the majority of them posting a season total of 6½ wins on the 'Skins. Washington is also a consensus pick to once again bring up the rear in the NFC East, with division odds quoted at 10/1 at many Vegas wagering outlets.

For those wanting to talk a walk on the wild side, the Redskins are being offered as high as 30/1 to win the NFC and 60/1 to win the Super Bowl.

Any takers?

Intriguingly, the 'Skins will be opening the regular season against an angry New Orleans side that will be proceeding minus suspended head coach Sean Payton after the “Bounty-gate” scandal erupted in the offseason. Prices have already been posted on that September 9 clash at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome; the Don Best odds screen notes that the Saints are priced from 9½-10 point favorites, with the total bouncing between 50 to 50½.

Shanahan, however, is no fool, and must believe that putting his eggs in RG III’s basket is a worthwhile risk. Of course, he also thought that it was a good idea to go to war with journeymen Rex Grossman and John Beck as his quarterback alternatives. That backfired like so much legislation on nearby Capitol Hill as neither provided consistent leadership last fall when the Washington ranked near the bottom of NFC stats, placing 14th among 16 conference entries in total offense.

Shan’s quarterbacks were also turnover machines last season, particularly the error-prone Grossman, who accounted for 20 of the team’s 24 interceptions.

RG III can’t be any worse, can he?

Griffin cost the 'Skins dearly, too, as they traded first round picks not only last April but in both 2013 and 2014, plus their second-round pick three months ago, to the Rams simply to move up four sports to get the Heisman winner. Griffin is likely to be close to a one-man draft for the Redskins, unless SMU G Josh LeRibeus or Texas LB Keenan Robinson make an impact. They drafted another QB in the later rounds as well, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, although he is unlikely to see the field this fall unless Griffin is hurt.

RG III had already been named the starter before a late-May OTA in which he more resembled an undrafted rookie than a Heisman winner. Griffin’s humble attitude, however, seems to have already won over most of his teammates, although the hype and the nickname have already become targets for opponents who can’t wait to put the Heisman winner in his place this fall.

Griffin, however, already is being compared favorably to Michael Vick, the king of the pass-run quarterbacks, by none other than Redskins DE London Fletcher.

"The speed will definitely shock you," said Fletcher to the Washington Post. "He has a rocket of an arm. He has the right mentality in terms of his preparation. When you have a quarterback who can make plays when it doesn't go exactly as it's designed to go, who can buy time and is a threat to run the football and make plays outside the pocket, defensively you're kind of always on your heels."

Still, even in a best-case scenario, expect RG III to be a work in progress throughout the fall. Although a handful of recent rookie QBs – Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton immediately come to mind – have led their teams into the playoffs, all were doing so in somewhat bulletproof offensive systems which didn’t begin to expand until those QBs were beyond their rookie year. The track record for rookie QBs making that sort of immediate impact remains spotty at best.

As Griffin tries to master The Shan’s version of the West Coast (coordinated by the coach’s son Kyle), the Redskins attempted to provide some help in the offseason by adding a couple of new receiving targets, in particular ex-Colt Pierre Garcon, who cost Washington $42.5 million in a multi-year deal and figures, at least according to Shanahan, as an upgrade from vet returnee Santana Moss or the departed Jabar Gaffney. Ex-49er Joshua Morgan was also brought in as a new receiving target.

Garcon could be a revelation, however, hinting at bigger things to come when routinely torching CB DeAngelo Hall in early camp drills.

Griffin should also have reliable targets at tight end if the Redskins can keep Fred Davis (back in the fold after a substance-related four-game league suspension at the end of last season) and Chris Cooley (felled by injuries again last year).

Shanahan also has higher hopes for his ground game that suffered a negative blow last October when versatile Tim Hightower, who had started five of the first six games last season, went down with a torn ACL. Ex-Nebraska slammer Roy Helu and Evan Royster ran with occasional flair in the second half of the season (each recording multiple 100-yard rushing games) and provide serviceable, if not spectacular, backfield options.

The Shan additionally expects the forward wall to be more cohesive this fall if LG Kory Lichtensteiger is fully recovered from a torn right ACL suffered last October. Lichtensteiger, however, is being brought around slowly in training camp, and lingering hip issues have put the availability of LG Jamaal Brown into some doubt for the opener vs. the Saints. Such injury concerns in the earliest days of training camp are rarely harbingers of good things to come.

The 'Skins played playoff-quality defense for much of last season, when the stop unit was often forced into uncomfortable situations by the mistake-prone tendencies of Grossman and the offense. Jim Haslett’s platoon will again deploy in 3-4 alignments and addressed a possible shortcoming during the free-agency period when inking ex-Bears strong safety Brandon Meriweather, who fills a gap created by LaRon Landry’s departure to the Jets.

Last year provided a coming-out party of sorts for OLB Brian Orapko, the former Texas star who blossomed into a big-play threat when recording a team-high nine sacks. It was also much the same for Nebraska rookie DT Adam Carriker, who played all 988 snaps in 2011 and recorded 7½ sacks along with forcing four fumbles.

Indeed, a robust front seven returns intact, with aforementioned LB London Fletcher having re-signed in the offseason. Fletcher led Washington in tackles last season.

The secondary, however, remains a bit unsettled. The previously-mentioned DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson were somewhat inconsistent on the corners last season. Besides Meriweather, free agents Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson have been signed to compete for jobs at the safety positions that were thinned by Landry’s free-agent departure.

Special teams-wise, Shanahan is hoping that vet PK Neil Rackers, who hit on 32-of-38 FG attempts for the Texans last season, proves an upgrade over Graham Gano, who saw five of his FG attempts blocked.

Pointspread-wise, Shanahan has historically been a solid underdog recommendation back to his days in Denver, although the 'Skins were only 6-6 as the “short” in 2011; Shan is 14-11 in that role since arriving two years ago.

One positive pointspread note from the past two seasons has been success vs. Dallas, against whom the Redskins have covered all four meetings. Washington also swept both meetings straight up against the Super Bowl champion Giants a year ago.

Washington has trended ‘under’ (19-13) during Shanahan’s first two seasons.

Summary: The Redskins live in a pretty tough neighborhood in the NFC East, and making a breakthrough with a rookie QB is not usually recommended. Perhaps, however, RG III is simply the exception to the rule, and if anything he is used to challenges after helping put the moribund Baylor program on the map. But if Griffin can limit his mistakes (something Rex Grossman couldn’t do a year ago), and the supporting cast on offense can stay healthy, the Redskins will hardly be cannon-fodder, especially with that playoff-level defense.

If Griffin proves serviceable, it would be no surprise to see the 'Skins emerge as an interesting underdog play (as has been the case often in Shanahan’s career). But unless Washington moves to the NFC West, we doubt the playoff drought (which extends to 2007) will end this season.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:27290 Followers:33
08/01/2012 07:20 PM

Redskins Up Against It In Rough NFC East Division

Shanahan must be feeling comfortable in his job.

Why, you say?

Three seasons into his job as coach of the Washington Redskins, working for a noted tempestuous owner (Dan Snyder), and yet to secure a playoff berth, “The Shan” is entrusting his 2012 fortunes to a rookie quarterback.

Perhaps Shanahan believes that Snyder will permit one more mulligan at FedEx Field after last year’s 5-11 disappointment that was fueled by...quarterback shortcomings. Maybe The Shan gets himself an extra year of grace by simply going with the rookie.

Of course, we’re not talking about an ordinary rookie quarterback. Baylor’s Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy last year and was the No. 2 pick in April’s NFL Draft. But he’s still a rookie quarterback, and precious few of those hit the ground running.

Maybe Shanahan knows something we don’t. Oddsmakers and the wagering public, however, don’t seem to be buying what he is peddling.

Las Vegas sports books aren’t expecting an miracles at FedEx Field, with the majority of them posting a season total of 6½ wins on the 'Skins. Washington is also a consensus pick to once again bring up the rear in the NFC East, with division odds quoted at 10/1 at many Vegas wagering outlets.

For those wanting to talk a walk on the wild side, the Redskins are being offered as high as 30/1 to win the NFC and 60/1 to win the Super Bowl.

Any takers?

Intriguingly, the 'Skins will be opening the regular season against an angry New Orleans side that will be proceeding minus suspended head coach Sean Payton after the “Bounty-gate” scandal erupted in the offseason. Prices have already been posted on that September 9 clash at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome; the Don Best odds screen notes that the Saints are priced from 9½-10 point favorites, with the total bouncing between 50 to 50½.

Shanahan, however, is no fool, and must believe that putting his eggs in RG III’s basket is a worthwhile risk. Of course, he also thought that it was a good idea to go to war with journeymen Rex Grossman and John Beck as his quarterback alternatives. That backfired like so much legislation on nearby Capitol Hill as neither provided consistent leadership last fall when the Washington ranked near the bottom of NFC stats, placing 14th among 16 conference entries in total offense.

Shan’s quarterbacks were also turnover machines last season, particularly the error-prone Grossman, who accounted for 20 of the team’s 24 interceptions.

RG III can’t be any worse, can he?

Griffin cost the 'Skins dearly, too, as they traded first round picks not only last April but in both 2013 and 2014, plus their second-round pick three months ago, to the Rams simply to move up four sports to get the Heisman winner. Griffin is likely to be close to a one-man draft for the Redskins, unless SMU G Josh LeRibeus or Texas LB Keenan Robinson make an impact. They drafted another QB in the later rounds as well, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, although he is unlikely to see the field this fall unless Griffin is hurt.

RG III had already been named the starter before a late-May OTA in which he more resembled an undrafted rookie than a Heisman winner. Griffin’s humble attitude, however, seems to have already won over most of his teammates, although the hype and the nickname have already become targets for opponents who can’t wait to put the Heisman winner in his place this fall.

Griffin, however, already is being compared favorably to Michael Vick, the king of the pass-run quarterbacks, by none other than Redskins DE London Fletcher.

"The speed will definitely shock you," said Fletcher to the Washington Post. "He has a rocket of an arm. He has the right mentality in terms of his preparation. When you have a quarterback who can make plays when it doesn't go exactly as it's designed to go, who can buy time and is a threat to run the football and make plays outside the pocket, defensively you're kind of always on your heels."

Still, even in a best-case scenario, expect RG III to be a work in progress throughout the fall. Although a handful of recent rookie QBs – Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton immediately come to mind – have led their teams into the playoffs, all were doing so in somewhat bulletproof offensive systems which didn’t begin to expand until those QBs were beyond their rookie year. The track record for rookie QBs making that sort of immediate impact remains spotty at best.

As Griffin tries to master The Shan’s version of the West Coast (coordinated by the coach’s son Kyle), the Redskins attempted to provide some help in the offseason by adding a couple of new receiving targets, in particular ex-Colt Pierre Garcon, who cost Washington $42.5 million in a multi-year deal and figures, at least according to Shanahan, as an upgrade from vet returnee Santana Moss or the departed Jabar Gaffney. Ex-49er Joshua Morgan was also brought in as a new receiving target.

Garcon could be a revelation, however, hinting at bigger things to come when routinely torching CB DeAngelo Hall in early camp drills.

Griffin should also have reliable targets at tight end if the Redskins can keep Fred Davis (back in the fold after a substance-related four-game league suspension at the end of last season) and Chris Cooley (felled by injuries again last year).

Shanahan also has higher hopes for his ground game that suffered a negative blow last October when versatile Tim Hightower, who had started five of the first six games last season, went down with a torn ACL. Ex-Nebraska slammer Roy Helu and Evan Royster ran with occasional flair in the second half of the season (each recording multiple 100-yard rushing games) and provide serviceable, if not spectacular, backfield options.

The Shan additionally expects the forward wall to be more cohesive this fall if LG Kory Lichtensteiger is fully recovered from a torn right ACL suffered last October. Lichtensteiger, however, is being brought around slowly in training camp, and lingering hip issues have put the availability of LG Jamaal Brown into some doubt for the opener vs. the Saints. Such injury concerns in the earliest days of training camp are rarely harbingers of good things to come.

The 'Skins played playoff-quality defense for much of last season, when the stop unit was often forced into uncomfortable situations by the mistake-prone tendencies of Grossman and the offense. Jim Haslett’s platoon will again deploy in 3-4 alignments and addressed a possible shortcoming during the free-agency period when inking ex-Bears strong safety Brandon Meriweather, who fills a gap created by LaRon Landry’s departure to the Jets.

Last year provided a coming-out party of sorts for OLB Brian Orapko, the former Texas star who blossomed into a big-play threat when recording a team-high nine sacks. It was also much the same for Nebraska rookie DT Adam Carriker, who played all 988 snaps in 2011 and recorded 7½ sacks along with forcing four fumbles.

Indeed, a robust front seven returns intact, with aforementioned LB London Fletcher having re-signed in the offseason. Fletcher led Washington in tackles last season.

The secondary, however, remains a bit unsettled. The previously-mentioned DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson were somewhat inconsistent on the corners last season. Besides Meriweather, free agents Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson have been signed to compete for jobs at the safety positions that were thinned by Landry’s free-agent departure.

Special teams-wise, Shanahan is hoping that vet PK Neil Rackers, who hit on 32-of-38 FG attempts for the Texans last season, proves an upgrade over Graham Gano, who saw five of his FG attempts blocked.

Pointspread-wise, Shanahan has historically been a solid underdog recommendation back to his days in Denver, although the 'Skins were only 6-6 as the “short” in 2011; Shan is 14-11 in that role since arriving two years ago.

One positive pointspread note from the past two seasons has been success vs. Dallas, against whom the Redskins have covered all four meetings. Washington also swept both meetings straight up against the Super Bowl champion Giants a year ago.

Washington has trended ‘under’ (19-13) during Shanahan’s first two seasons.

Summary: The Redskins live in a pretty tough neighborhood in the NFC East, and making a breakthrough with a rookie QB is not usually recommended. Perhaps, however, RG III is simply the exception to the rule, and if anything he is used to challenges after helping put the moribund Baylor program on the map. But if Griffin can limit his mistakes (something Rex Grossman couldn’t do a year ago), and the supporting cast on offense can stay healthy, the Redskins will hardly be cannon-fodder, especially with that playoff-level defense.

If Griffin proves serviceable, it would be no surprise to see the 'Skins emerge as an interesting underdog play (as has been the case often in Shanahan’s career). But unless Washington moves to the NFC West, we doubt the playoff drought (which extends to 2007) will end this season.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:27290 Followers:33
08/01/2012 07:29 PM

Green Bay Packers Juicy Choice In NFC North

Our preview of the NFC North begins with what appears to be a juicy price on the Green Bay Packers to win their fifth Super Bowl title when the big game is played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans next February.

Green Bay raced through the 2011 regular season with a 15-1 record just after winning Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers are 6/1 to win it all again this season, and heavy favorites (2/5) to take home their sixth NFC North crown.

The Chicago Bears are getting some love recently and have seen their odds to win Super Bowl XLVII bet down to 20/1 and lower at some outlets. The Bears finished 8-8 last season, dropping five of their final six games to fall out of playoff contention.

The Detroit Lions rank next with a price around 25/1 to win the Super Bowl, and the long shot Minnesota Vikings are listed at 150/1

Coaching Change Promises Return To Ground Game In Chicago
There was some speculation that Lovie Smith wouldn't survive as head coach in Chicago after the Bears' collapse, but he did and has now turned the offense over to Mike Tice. The former Vikings head coach, who replaces Mike Martz as offensive coordinator, should push Chicago to a more run-oriented style of play.

Thanks to years of banking top draft picks, the Detroit Lions returned to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 a year ago under 3rd-year head coach Jim Schwartz. Don Best analyst Brian Blessing points out that Schwartz's personnel spent too much time making offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Mike McCarthy doesn't seem to get the accolades he deserves in Green Bay, and the Packers will also have a new offensive coordinator this year in Tom Clements after Joe Philbin departed for Miami as the Dolphins head coach.

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier will be helped this year by Mike Singletary who was hired as a special assistant and linebackers coach. Don Best analyst Kenny White says to expect improvement by the Minnesota defense, yet a conservative offense under 2nd-year QB Christian Ponder.

Bears Among Busiest In Offseason Acquisition Market
While Chicago is expected to feature the run more under Tice, the Bears did land a premier wideout in Brandon Marshall, most recently with Miami. Marshall is reunited with his former Denver slinger Jay Cutler. The Bears also look for 2nd-round pick Alshon Jeffery out of South Carolina to give them an additional deep threat.

Chicago picked up RB Michael Bush from the Raiders to add depth behind Matt Forte in the backfield, and QB Jason Campbell to give the Bears more insurance if Cutler is felled by injury.

The Bears will supply new linebackers coach Singletary with an immediate project on defense after they selected Shea McLellin out of Boise State with their top pick at April's NFL Draft.

Minnesota lured tight end John Carlson away from Seattle with a 5-year, $25 million deal, giving the Vikes a solid blocker and receiver.

Speaking of solid blockers, the Vikings got a potentially great one in Matt Kalil when they grabbed the USC stud with the fourth overall pick in Round 1 of the draft.

Detroit looked towards offense in the draft, taking OT Riley Reiff out of Iowa with the 23rd overall choice and record-setting WR Ryan Broyles from Oklahoma in Round 2.

Strength Of Schedule Favors Packers
Those 6/1 odds on Green Bay to win it all really begin to look nice when you factor in the Packers have the second-easiest schedule behind the New England Patriots. The Pack will open with a couple of tough home tilts vs. the 49ers and Bears, plus have the Saints in town for Week 4. But Don Best's Kenny White points out that while Green Bay will have seven tough games, they draw nine very easy opponents.

The Vikings are saddled with the 8th-toughest slate in the league for the coming season, including two of their final five games in December against the favored Packers.

Detroit has three tough road trips in the first six games with battles at San Francisco, Philadelphia and Chicago, the latter a Monday Night clash in Week 7. The Bears are at Green Bay in Week 2 on a Thursday night and then in Dallas two weeks later for MNF.


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:27290 Followers:33
08/01/2012 07:32 PM

Vikings In Rebuild Mode Entering 2012 Season

Like the Greek mythological figure Sisyphus, forever doomed to rolling a boulder up a hillside only to have it always roll back down before reaching the summit, the Minnesota Vikings have been cursed to the same fate throughout their 51-year history, close to many Super Bowls and championships, only to inevitably have to start over again before reaching their ultimate goal.

Never has that pattern been more pronounced than in the past couple of years, when the Vikings were a bit unfortunate not to win the 2009 NFC title – no one in the Twin Cities will ever forget that bitter conference title game loss in New Orleans – but have slid downhill fast ever since.

The Brett Favre fiasco and unraveling of the Brad Childress regime were unsightly. And in their wakes, Minnesota now finds itself looking up at everyone else in a suddenly-potent NFC North, where even the Lions and Bears have roared past and the Packers are somewhere far over the horizon.

Like Hank Stram’s Kansas City Chiefs in the early ‘70s, the Vikings refused to believe they were a team in need of rebuilding last season, hanging on to several aging veterans in hopes of one last playoff push, and even enlisting the help of the Donovan McNabb at QB. Predictably, it all blew up in their faces as the team tied a franchise record for losses (13) set in 1984.

But, unlike 27 years earlier when head coach Les Steckel was forced to walk the plank after a 3-13 season, Leslie Frazier gets another go at the MSFC Metrodome after his own 3-13 mess from 2011.

(We wonder if octogenarian and franchise icon coach Bud Grant was asked to come out of retirement after last season as he was in 1985, when he leant some stability to a franchise badly in need of it before eventually handing the coaching reins to Jerry Burns.)

The difference between now and the mid ‘80s, however, is that the Vikes have admitted the errors of their ways the past few seasons and have begun to build the personnel foundation from ground up, with building blocks acquired in the draft while using free agency for spot additions that could provide short-term help.

As a result, expectations have been lowered, although season win totals posted by Las Vegas sports books suggest Minnesota could be expected to improve upon last year’s woeful W-L record. The win total is posted at 5½ at the majority of Las Vegas sports books.

Whereas Minnesota could always find some takers for other season-long wagers in recent years, few are also going to be tempted by the longer prices being quoted on the Vikings to win the NFC North (25/1 at books offering such wagers, and even that doesn’t appear to offer much value) and 40/1 to win the NFC. Super Bowl prices have the Vikes down in the depths of the league with the likes of the Browns and Jaguars, priced anywhere form 60/1 to 100/1 to win it all.

Any takers?

Despite flying under the radar, the Vikings are still expected to get off to a quick start this fall, at least in their first game. The Don Best NFL odds screen has already posted the readily-available regular-season opening week numbers in which Minnesota is priced as a 4½-point favorite over Jacksonville at most Las Vegas wagering outlets, with the total sitting at 38 for the September 9 opener in Minneapolis.

It’s too bad the Vikes can’t play the Jags every week.

Most NFC North observers, however, don’t expect Minnesota to re-emerge as a contender until 2013 at the earliest, and that’s if everything goes well in the interim. Which includes second-year ex-Florida State QB Christian Ponder progressing on the learning curve after hinting at bigger and better things to come last fall.

Ponder, however, clearly remains a work in progress after tossing as many picks (13) as TD passes in his rookie campaign. Only once in his 10 starts did Minnesota produce a win.

At least Ponder doesn’t have to worry about McNabb stealing snaps this season. Interestingly, a surprising number of NFC North onlookers think the Vikings could also go to battle with backup QB Joe Webb, the ex-UAB gunslinger who has ignited the offense on occasion and if nothing else is a serviceable relief option should Ponder go down.

Ponder was no doubt pleased that new Minnesota GM Rick Spielman decided to upgrade the OL in the draft and spent the first-round choice on Southern Cal OT Matt Kalil, considered far and away the top offensive lineman in the draft. Like another former Trojan lineman drafted 45 years earlier by Minnesota, Ron Yary, Kalil is expected to enjoy a Pro Bowl career (if, knock on wood, he isn’t slowed by injuries). Better yet, he signed in July, avoiding a protracted contract dispute.

Ponder was even Kalil’s chauffeur on the first day of training camp, which indicates it hasn’t taken Ponder long to figure out the guys he has to keep happy on his strike force.

Of course, all eyes in the Twin Cities are on RB Adrian Peterson as he seeks to return from a devastating knee injury last December when tearing his left ACL. Don’t expect to see much, if any, of Peterson in the preseason; the goal is to have him ready for that regular-season opener vs. the Jaguars.

If Peterson isn’t ready or is otherwise compromised, ex-Stanford slammer Toby Gerhart is a serviceable infantry option, though he lacks Peterson’s many dimensions. Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave will also continue to look for ways to involve Percy Harvin, a versatile weapon who gained more than 1,200 yards from scrimmage last season via run and pass receiving.

But Harvin must be used judiciously; at a mere 185 pounds, his durability is always a concern, and the Vikes run risks if he is overworked.

Minnesota did make a few free-agent upgrades to the receiving corps in the offseason, adding TE John Carlson from Seattle and WR Jerome Simpson, the human pogo-stick, from Cincy (remember his wild, acrobatic TD catch vs. the Cardinals last December?).

Carlson, expected to team with holdover Kyle Rudolph at TE, did suffer an MCL injury early in training camp which could keep him out of preseason action, although Frazier said early indicators were that the injury wasn’t serious. Keep an eye on this situation regardless.

A potential surprise contributor from the draft is WR Jarius Wright, a 4th-round pick from Arkansas who set Razorback records for receptions and yards out of a slot position.

Still, in an overview of the strike force, there are questions, beginning with how far Ponder might advance in his second year, Peterson’s health, and, aside from Harvin, a true go-to receiving threat. Place-kicking is also a concern after Ryan Longwell was released; Georgia rookie Blair Walsh, a 6th-round pick, is going to get the first shot at replacing Longwell. The OL also remains an issue despite the addition of Kalil, as three new starters will be operating up front.

Meanwhile, that once-robust defense that Frazier used to coordinate was also a shell of itself a year ago when the Vikings dropped precipitously in NFL stats, indeed all of the way to 31st next-to-last) in points allowed at 28 ppg.

This season, Frazier has turned coordinator duties over to Alan Wilson, who is expected to keep the Tampa 2 scheme but add in more man coverages and blitz packages as needed.

Minnesota went for help in the secondary on draft day, adding Notre Dame’s physical safety Harrison Smith, whose early training camp reviews suggest he could be the big, instinctive, hard-hitting safety the “D” has lacked for years, and big enough to move into the box if necessary. Third-round pick CB Josh Robinson from UCF was perhaps Conference USA’s top defensive performer last fall.

The Vikings also added veteran CB Chris Carr (most recently with the Ravens) as insurance in the offseason, while hoping CB Chris Cook will be ready to contribute after missing the final 10 games last year due to legal issues. Keeping CB Antoine Winfield healthy is another concern.

At least star DE Jared Allen hasn’t slowed down; his 22 sacks last year set an franchise record, and DE partner Brian Robison proved he was an every-down player last year. The LB corps, however, needs MLB Jasper Brinkley to return at full speed after missing last season with a hip injury.

Spread-wise, the Vikings have been a money-burner the past two seasons, recording a subpar 11-20-1 overall mark vs. the line since 2010. Two years ago, many of those failures were due to being wildly overrated while Favre was still in tow and distorting perceptions, but the pointspread mark didn’t improve appreciably a year ago (6-9-1). The Metrodome has also ceased to be a benefit vs. the number lately, with the Vikes covering only twice in eight home games a year ago.

Minnesota has also covered only three of 12 NFC North games the past two seasons, and has really had its problems vs. the Bears, who have won and covered all four meetings since 2010.

Summary: Expectations are low for a reason in Minneapolis, as the Vikings have adopted the sort of rebuild them that the Lions embraced a few years ago. As was the case in Detroit, it’s going to take time to put a playoff contender back in the field.

This fall, look for signs of progress from QB Christian Ponder, RB Adrian Peterson getting back to his old self after injury, and the defense at least holding its own. That might signal an improvement in the Vikes’ spread fortunes, but any thoughts of a playoff push will likely have to wait until 2013 or 2014 at the earliest.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:27290 Followers:33
08/01/2012 07:36 PM

Packers Have Designs On Return To Super Bowl

So much for winning back-to-back Super Bowls, as Vince Lombardi’s Packers did in the late ‘60s when the old AFL-NFL rivalry began. After threatening to do the same through much of last season, and hinting at matching Bill Belichick’s 2007 New England Patriots and their record 16-0 regular-season mark in 2007, the 2011 campaign ended with a thud in Green Bay.

The perfect regular season was lost in mid-December at Kansas City, and the playoffs ended before they really began when the Giants avenged a late-season defeat at the Meadowlands by dismantling the Pack by a 37-20 count in the NFC Division Round at Lambeau Field.

Now, the talk is about two titles in three years (not so bad, eh?) in Wisconsin, and Las Vegas oddsmakers are buying that line of thinking. Green Bay’s season win total of 12½ is clearly the high-water mark in the NFL and alongside the Patriots in the entire NFL. Those books quoting other season-long prices have the Packers favored in the NFC North (1/3 at various outlets) and to win the NFC (11/5 as of late July).

Green Bay is also the clear favorite to win the Super Bowl, with prices in the vicinity of 9/2 at most Vegas wagering outlets, down from 6/1 just recently.

As noted on the Don Best NFL odds screen, prices have already been posted on opening-week regular-season games, and the Pack is involved in perhaps the featured game of the first weekend when hosting the 49ers on September 9. Currently, Green Bay is listed as a 6½-point favorite over Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco at the majority of wagering establishments, with the total hovering between 45 and 45½.

Still, the manner in which the Packers were dispatched by the Giants in the playoffs is cause for alarm, and not simply a hiccup in an otherwise brilliant 2011 campaign. Getting undressed in such a manner in a postseason game is revealing. And in the Pack’s case, it underlined concerns with a defense that hardly looked Super Bowl-caliber for most of last season, ranking last in total yards and net passing yards (although it should be noted that those numbers were a bit distorted by teams constantly playing catch-up).

Pressure is thus on defensive coordinator Dom Capers to get more of a push on opposing QBs who simply had too much time to throw. Capers’ 3-4 looks too often let QBs stand in the pocket for what seemed like an eternity, as Green Bay generated only 29 sacks all season. Moreover, Capers’ “D” permitted more than 70 completions of 20+ yards.

Looking to upgrade where needed most, GM Ted Thompson went almost exclusively for defensive help in the draft and spent the majority of his free-agent signing money on stop unit help as well. Defensive linemen Anthony Hargrove (via Saints) and Daniel Muir (via Colts) at least figure to add some quality depth to the defensive front.

Still, Capers and head coach Mike McCarthy look as if they are going to have to rely on some of the rookies to step into the breach immediately. After cutting former Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins (who has had neck issues) before the draft, Thompson didn’t select a replacement, which raises the possibility that 35-year-old Charles Woodson might be asked to move from the corner to Collins’ old position.

To help with the pass rush issues, Thompson selected Southern Cal hybrid LB/DE Nick Perry with the first-round selection in April at Radio City Music Hall. Perry, expected to start right away, will hopefully alleviate some of the big-play burden from LB Clay Matthews III, held to a career-low six sacks in 2011.

Moreover, second-round pick Jerel Worthy, a playmaking DE from Michigan State, could be plugged in right away along the line aside DT B.J. Raji. If Woodson moves to free safety, then another second-round pick, Vanderbilt’s Casey Hayward, could step into the lineup sooner than expected.

At the least, expect Hayward to be featured in nickel-back looks this fall.

But can all of these new faces be counted upon to upgrade a defense that was subpar a year ago? We’ll see.

We spent time talking about the defense because there are few issues on the attack end as the NFL’s most-explosive offense returns virtually intact from a year ago.

Aaron Rodgers returns for an encore at QB, long-since having proven a worthy successor, and then some, to Brett Favre (who’s he, anyway?). The reigning MVP Rodgers delivered another record-breaking season with his aerial exploits last fall as Green Bay amassed a whopping 560 points, second most in league history.

Rodgers, who tossed 45 TD passes and only six interceptions a year ago (and those numbers are no misprints) while passing for 4,643 yards, also posted a passer rating of 122.5, an NFL record. Perhaps the only concern for McCarthy and offensive coordinator Tom Clements is experienced cover behind Rodgers. Just in case, Matt Flynn (who left for the Seahawks in free agency) was a serviceable reliever; that role now goes to inexperienced ex-Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell.

There remain an overload of receiving options led by wideouts Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson (combined 135 catches and 24 TDs in 2011) and TE Jermichael Finley, a potential free agent who was wisely re-signed by Thompson. Randall Cobb, an electric second-year force from Kentucky who made his mark on kickoff returns a year ago, could also become more involved as a big-play WR this fall.

The one potentially-significant offensive loss, C Scott Wells (who left via free agency to the Rams), was addressed in free agency when Thompson inked longtime Colts C Jeff Saturday as Wells’ replacement. Veteran OT Chad Clifton was also released in the offseason, though McCarthy believes one of two young prospects (Marshall Newhouse or Derek Sherrod) can handle the position.

If we want to nitpick about this potent strike force, the running game takes a secondary role to the aerial show in the very-vertical McCarthy offense. And Ryan Grant, who split carries with James Starks last fall, remains unsigned. Ex-Hawaii RB Alex Green, who carried the ball only three times before a knee injury, could be asked to split carries with Starks, whose durability as a featured back is in question.

Like we said, that’s just nitpicking; the Pack can still outscore any team on the schedule.

Green Bay has also been a pointspread force lately, recording a 25-13 mark against the number thee past two seasons, routinely handling hefty spreads along the way. Since 2007, McCarthy’s spread record is a sterling 57-30. The Packers also enter 2012 having covered 17 of their last 24 on the board, and 10 of 14 at Lambeau.

It was also no surprise that with Rodgers & Co. scoring points at a record-breaking clip, that Green Bay would be 'over' 12-5 last season.

Summary: Despite what happened in the playoffs vs. the Giants, the Pack still looks like the team to beat in the NFC as long as Rodgers stays healthy and in the lineup. The offense remains capable of outscoring any foe in the league, but Green Bay risks getting derailed as it did last January by the G-Men if the “D” can’t make upgrades. The pressure is on Dom Capers to get the stop unit functioning effectively for the Packers to have another Super Bowl shot next February.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:27290 Followers:33
08/03/2012 06:31 PM

Broncos & Chargers Separate From AFC West Pack

The passing of Al Davis has led to a brand new look for the Raiders in 2012.

Although most of the offseason storylines out of the AFC West originated in Denver, there are indeed no shortage of intriguing headlines to follow throughout the division as the 2012 regular season prepares to commence in September.

Of course, the Broncos dominated the news cycles with their acquisition of Peyton Manning and subsequent trade of Tim Tebow prior the last April’s NFL Draft. More on that in a moment.

But it’s worth remembering that there was a razor-thin margin between the four teams last season, the likes of which we had never seen in the post-merger NFL. Three teams (Denver, San Diego, and Oakland) finished the 2011 campaign at 8-8; the Chiefs were just a step behind at 7-9. The Broncos’ division championship was only achieved after several steps of the tiebreaker formula which ended up putting Denver on top, the Chargers second and Raiders third...important for 2012 scheduling purposes.

Yet, even the acquisition of Manning has not separated the Broncos from the division pack, at least according to Las Vegas oddsmakers. At best, Denver is being priced as a co-favorite along with the Chargers to win the division, though at this writing the majority of Nevada wagering outlets have San Diego at 8/5 to win the division and the Broncos close behind at 9/5.

Suggesting that another four-team photo finish is unlikely this fall, most Las Vegas sports books are pricing division win odds on the Chiefs (mostly at 4/1) and Raiders (hovering in the 11/2 range) significantly higher.

A quick preview of each side is in order. Season total-win prices are included with the analysis.

Denver Broncos (season win total 9)
Of course, the addition of Peyton Manning was the buzz in the Rockies and throughout the NFL in the offseason, although more intrigue than usual accompanies this move. That’s because Manning is now 36 years old and off of a serious neck injury that required multiple surgeries last year and kept him out of the entirety of the campaign with the Colts.

Moreover, the departed Tebow, unorthodox as his style might have been, was nonetheless an extremely positive force, as the Broncos amazingly found a winning formula when adapting their offense around Tebow’s limitations. Those sorts of dynamics are going to be hard to replicate this fall.

The offense that Manning will orchestrate should look a lot like the Colt versions he piloted over the past several years: lots of no-huddle, timing routes, dump-offs to backs and liberal use of tight ends.

Expect a young receiving corps to flourish with Manning firing his customary darts. Third-year wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Erik Decker have flashed plenty of upside, and if each can stay healthy could post monster numbers, with Decker already establishing a nice rapport with Manning in the early days of training camp.

A young and talented offensive line, led by All-Pro LT Ryan Clady, provides a nice fortress. Among the rookies, San Diego State RB Ronnie Hillman is expected to make significant contributions after vet Willis McGahee wore down late in 2011 and Knowshon Moreno battled through more injuries. Place-kicker Matt Prater is also a weapon, having won a pair of OT games last fall on 50+-yard field goals vs. the Dolphins and Bears.

There is concern, however, about depth behind Manning, with Tebow and last year’s other QB options – Kyle Orton, who was released before the end of 2011, and Brady Quinn – having left town. As cover for Manning, all head coach John Fox has at the moment are ex-Bears journeyman Caleb Hanie and Arizona State rookie Brock Osweiler, a second-round pick and considered strictly a developmental project until further notice.

Lost amid Tebow-mania last fall was an improved defensive effort spearheaded by impact sorts such as undersized DE Elvis Dumervil (who missed the entirety of the previous 2010 campaign due to injury) and Texas A&M rookie LB Von Miller, who proved a revelation from the edge. New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who was Jacksonville’s head coach the last nine seasons, has only had to tweak the platoon instead of overhauling it.

With a healthy Manning, however, the Broncos would seem a good bet to clear nine wins.

San Diego Chargers (season win total 9)
As mentioned, Peyton Manning is hardly the only storyline in this season’s AFC West. Head coach Norv Turner’s future in San Diego similarly intrigues.

Indeed, like a cat, Turner seems intent on using up all of his allotted nine coaching lives. We'll never know if more dynamic leadership over the past five seasons would have reaped more than the Chargers have sown since 2007, but it is a fair question to ask.

Most NFL insiders acknowledge that Norv's strength is as a coordinator and offensive game-planner; he is too introverted and passive to provide the fire-and-brimstone angle, one the Bolts could have used the past few years. San Diego's motivation usually comes from within the player ranks, and it annually seems to manifest only after the many slow starts the Chargers have endured under Turner.

Now the talent gap, so overwhelming in San Diego's favor against AFC West opposition the past several years, has dissipated.

Only once in the "Norv years" have the Chargers really hit their stride, and that was in 2009 when they wasted their best chance at the Super Bowl with a flat playoff effort vs. the beatable Jets and their rookie QB. The Chargers have spent most of the past five years struggling to reach .500 under Turner; imagine what success Philip Rivers & Co. might have had with a coach like Bill Cowher running the show.

Now, Rivers seems to be regressing (as his 20 interceptions last year would indicate), top downfield target Vincent Jackson left via free agency, and the defense is full of holes that need to be plugged after conceding an NFL-worst 49 percent conversions on third downs last season. Moreover, the Chargers have missed the playoffs the past two seasons in arguably the NFL's weakest division.

Whatever made owner Dean Spanos decide to keep Turner for another year after last season's 8-8 finish escapes us; if there were ever an NFL situation that demanded a coaching change, it was San Diego's after last season. Charger fans cannot say they haven't been forewarned; those who want to look 'over' those nine wins do so at their own peril.

Kansas City Chiefs (season win total 8)
Another interesting storyline in the West is at Arrowhead, where former defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel turned a late-season audition a year ago as a full-time gig as the Chiefs’ head coach.

Crennel, of course, flamed out a few years ago as Cleveland’s coach, one of several Bill Belichick disciples who have not exactly set the world on fire in their head coaching endeavors. Perhaps Crennel, a defensive expert but hardly Bill Walsh when it comes to offense, learned something from the Cleveland adventure.

Sources say Crennel, a noted straight-shooter, at least has the respect of the team clubhouse, which didn’t always afford the same to predecessor Todd Haley.

Crennel, however, will be utilizing the franchise’s fourth different offensive coordinator in as many years, with ex-Dolphins coach Brian Daboll now stewarding the strike force. Daboll will hopefully have better luck on the injury front than a year ago when maladies knocked the likes of QB Matt Cassel, RB Jamaal Charles and TE Tony Moeaki out of the box.

Crennel, whose conservative nature suggests he would probably be comfortable with Antonin Scalia as his offensive coordinator, will no doubt approve of Daboll’s new-look strike force that will be run-oriented and often feature double-tight end alignments. The free-agent additions of ultra-physical RB Peyton Hillis and TE Kevin Boss are indicative of the type of power-based offense Daboll will be looking to implement.

Mostly, Crennel desires that infantry diversion as a means to effectively set up play-action for Cassel, who could benefit from that extra tick of time in the pocket to scan the field.

Crennel will continue to act as his own defensive coordinator and will no doubt benefit from the healthy return to action of SS Eric Berry, another of those KO’d by injury a year ago. The addition of first-round draft choice Dontari Poe, a run-stuffing DT from Memphis, will hopefully help to shore up a soft spot on last year’s K.C. stop unit that ranked in the bottom quartile (in 26th spot) in NFL rush defense stats last season.

Crennel, however, never coached a Cleveland team to a winning record, so assuming the Chiefs can exceed eight wins seems a bit of a reach.

Oakland Raiders (season win total 7)
Afforded less fanfare than such an overhaul would normally suggest, the Raiders will have a completely different look this fall in the wake of sweeping front office and sideline adjustments following the passing of franchise supremo Al Davis.

With Al’s son Mark now calling the shots for the organization, there were changes aplenty in the offseason, with a new GM (ex-Raider player and recent Green Bay asst. GM Reggie McKenzie) and head coach (Dennis Allen, most recently Denver’s defensive coordinator) enlisted.

Hue Jackson, under whom the Raiders seemed destined to make the playoffs for much of last season, was pink-slipped after just one season in charge as head coach.

McKenzie seems intent on building a Packers’-like structure in Oakland, with a clear delineation between his duties and those of Allen. Green Bay was also a reluctant participant in free agency, instead preferring to build through the draft, a direction we expect the McKenzie Raiders to eventually pursue.

McKenzie, however, had little to work with in the April draft, with the Raiders minus a first-round pick (surrendered to the Bengals in the Carson Palmer trade) and without a selection until the 95th pick overall, late in the third round. McKenzie instead spent much of the offseason purging some of Al’s big contracts from the roster, while working on the periphery of free-agency and adding a few modestly-priced vets.

McKenzie also altered the offensive mix, letting former QB Jason Campbell and RB Michael Bush both walk in free agency. Campbell’s departure puts extra pressure on Palmer to stay healthy, with disappointing ex-Heisman winner and free agent signee Matt Leinart the only experienced cover for Palmer on the roster.

New offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, the Texans’ QB coach the past two seasons, will implement a new-look West Coast-style package as well and will also be reinstalling the zone blocking schemes last used in Oakland when Knapp was working for Lane Kiffin’s regime in 2007-08.

Palmer showed he could still fire away despite being thrown into the lineup cold just a couple of days after signing with the team in mid-October. The adjustments-on-the-fly partly accounted for the poor TD/interception ratio (13/16), but when Palmer had time to set and scan the field, he often looked as good as he did in his best Cincinnati years.

With Bush gone to Chicago, however, extra pressure will be on RB Darren McFadden (who played in only seven games due to injuries last year) to stay healthy. Place kicker Sebastian Janikowski remains the default offensive option, a threat to salvage at least three points whenever the Silver & Black cross midfield.

New defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, hired from Stanford, was authorized by Allen to junk the old Raider defense and implement multiple 4-3 looks that can hopefully better highlight a deep and disruptive group of linemen featuring DT Richard Seymour and DE Lamarr Houston. Upgrades in the secondary, however, will be required for the “D” to show any marked improvement from last year.

With so many changes and a first-time NFL head coach in Allen, projecting anything over seven wins appears a bit risky.





TEAM

DIVISION

NFC

SUPER BOWL



Denver Broncos


9/5


17/2


20/1



Kansas City Chiefs


4/1


25/1


50/1



Oakland Raiders


11/2


35/1


80/1



San Diego Chargers


8/5


12/1


25/1

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:27290 Followers:33
08/03/2012 06:32 PM

NFL Season Preview: New England Patriots

To get you prepared for the upcoming NFL season, we continue our run of all 32 team previews, rolling out one per day from August 1 to September 1. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2012 StatFox Edge Football Preview. Up next is the AFC Champion New England Patriots, whose odds are set at 1/4 to win the AFC East division.


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 15-4
ATS Record: 10-8-1
Over/Under: 12-7
Points Scored: 32.1 PPG (3rd in NFL)
Points Allowed: 21.4 PPG (15th in NFL)
2012 Odds:
(For the latest Odds, connect to Sportsbook.com)
Odds to Win AFC East: 1/4
Odds to Win AFC Championship: 9/4
Odds to Win Super Bowl XLVII: 9/2
Regular Season Wins Over/Under: 12.5

2012 Preview:
Offense:
Josh McDaniels returns to the role of offensive coordinator—he called plays for New England in 2007, a record-setting year for Tom Brady and the offense. But while he was gone the Patriots got more comfortable running the ball. Last year they ended up being middle of the pack in terms of run/pass split (41/59 vs. NFL average of 43/57). There will be plenty of work for the backs. The Patriots run a wide range of blocking schemes, but McDaniels strongly prefers a power scheme. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are expected to split duties as the primary ball carriers, and Danny Woodhead and Joseph Addai will likely get spot duty on third downs.

The Patriots use spread principles. Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez are utilized frequently out of the slot underneath, while Rob Gronkowski is used as a field stretcher working up the seam. The return of McDaniels and addition of Brandon Lloyd means more deep shots. Lloyd is familiar with the playbook from his days under McDaniels in Denver and was very impressive during off-season workouts. Deion Branch and Jabar Gaffney will primarily stay outside for spacing. The backs have been marginalized in the passing game with the emergence of Hernandez, but Woodhead is typically targeted a couple of times every week. While Gronkowski is frequently Brady’s first option from about 10 yards out, they tend to use play-action and utilize Hernandez once they’re closer to the goal line.

Defense:
The Patriots allow gobs of yardage, especially through the air, but they will also force a lot of turnovers and don’t allow as many points as you’d expect of a defense that surrenders so many yards. DT Vince Wilfork is a monster in the middle, and the team is expected to have a better pass rush in 2012 with the expected contributions from rookies Chandler Jones and Donta’ Hightower. Jerod Mayo was limited by a knee injury through most of 2011. As a three-down player who excels at stopping the run, there’s no reason he can’t top 100 solo tackles, even playing the weak side when New England uses a 4-3 look. Brandon Spikes was also slowed by a knee injury during most of 2011, but bounced back for an impressive 26 total tackles in three post-season games. Patrick Chung was en route to a career year statistically before a foot injury derailed him. He’s at his best in the box, but is instinctive enough in pass coverage to make up for some of New England’s deficiencies on the corners. If Mayo, Spikes and Chung can all remain healthy in 2012, the Patriots defense has a chance to be vastly improved.

Key Offseason Moves:
ADDITIONS
FB Spencer Larsen (from Broncos)
FB Tony Fiammetta (from Cowboys)
WR Brandon Lloyd (from Rams)
WR Jabar Gaffney (from Redskins)
WR Donte Stallworth (from Redskins)
WR Jesse Holley (from Cowboys)
TE Visanthe Shiancoe (from Vikings)
TE Jake Ballard (from Giants)
TE Daniel Fells (from Broncos)
C Jamey Richard (from Colts)
G Robert Gallery (from Seahawks)
DE Trevor Scott (from Raiders)
DE Jonathan Fanene (from Bengals)
DE Tim Bulman (from Texans)
LB Bobby Carpenter (from Lions)
CB Will Allen (from Dolphins)
S Steve Gregory (from Chargers)

SUBTRACTIONS
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Bengals)
FB Lousaka Polite (released)
WR Chad Ochocinco (Dolphins)
WR Tiquan Underwood (Buccaneers)
T Matt Light (retired)
G Rich Ohrnberger (released)
DE Mark Anderson (Bills)
DE Mike Wright (released)
LB Gary Guyton (Dolphins)
CB Antwaun Molden (Giants)

2012 Schedule:
2012 Schedule Strength: 18.63 (31st toughest in NFL)
Week 1 - at Tennessee
Week 2 - Arizona
Week 3 - at Baltimore
Week 4 - at Buffalo
Week 5 - Denver
Week 6 - at Seattle
Week 7 - New York Jets
Week 8 - at St. Louis
Week 9 - BYE WEEK
Week 10 - Buffalo
Week 11 - Indianapolis
Week 12 - at New York Jets
Week 13 - at Miami
Week 14 - Houston
Week 15 - San Francisco
Week 16 - at Jacksonville
Week 17 - Miami

StatFox Take: With the second-easiest schedule in the NFL, the Patriots have a legitimate shot at going undefeated. They’ll face just four 2011 playoff teams (Ravens, Broncos, Texans and 49ers), playing three of those squads at home. Other than Week 3 in Baltimore, New England should be favored by at least a touchdown in its other seven road games. If Tom Brady stays healthy, expect the Patriots to finish with the best record in the AFC.
Prediction: OVER 12.5 wins (+140)


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:27290 Followers:33
08/04/2012 10:54 AM

NFL Season Preview: New York Jets

To get you prepared for the upcoming NFL season, we continue our run of all 32 team previews, rolling out one per day from August 1 to September 1. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2012 StatFox Edge Football Preview. Up next is the New York Jets, whose odds are set at 11/2 to win the AFC East division.


NEW YORK JETS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 8-8
ATS Record: 6-9-1
Over/Under: 10-6
Points Scored: 23.6 PPG (13th in NFL)
Points Allowed: 22.7 PPG (20th in NFL)
2012 Odds:
(For the latest Odds, connect to Sportsbook.com)
Odds to Win AFC East: 11/2
Odds to Win AFC Championship: 12/1
Odds to Win Super Bowl XLVII: 25/1
Regular Season Wins Over/Under: 8.5

2012 Preview:
Offense:
“Ground and pound” wasn’t former OC Brian Schottenheimer’s style. However, things will be different under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who preached power running recently in Miami and Dallas. It will be a change from the zone-blocking scheme the Jets ran under former offensive line coach Bill Callahan, so there could be growing pains. Expect a heavy dose of Shonn Greene, though Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight should see an uptick in playing time since Sparano typically has used a time-share backfield. The Jets will surely work in some single-wing-type sets for Tim Tebow, who should see an average of up to 10 reps per game.

Sparano wants to run a lot of play-action and get the ball downfield. But while Mark Sanchez has the feet and athleticism to make the play-action part work, he’s never been an accurate downfield passer. Santonio Holmes is by far their best receiver, but rookie Stephen Hill, who’s expected to start, is a better fit in this scheme. TE Dustin Keller is Sanchez’s safety blanket; he and slot man Jeremy Kerley would normally be his favorite targets, but in this offense they’re likely to be secondary targets. With Plaxico Burress gone, the Jets are unlikely to throw in the red zone as often as they did last season.

Defense:
Say what you will about their antics and propensity to run their mouths, but the Jets defense continue to back up its talk. The one exception last year was the pass rush, where Gang Green is hoping rookie first-rounder Quinton Coples will help. If he does, it will allow David Harris to blitz less and commit to the run more often, which will improve a Jets rushing defense that was inconsistent at times in 2011. Darrelle Revis continues to be the best shutdown corner in the game, and the team is hoping that LaRon Landry will make an impact at the safety position after coming over from Washington. Landry’s health is a question mark again as he’s coming off a major Achilles injury and opted against surgery.

Key Offseason Moves:
ADDITIONS
QB Tim Tebow (from Broncos)
QB Kevin O’Connell (from Chargers)
WR Chaz Schilens (from Raiders)
OT Stephon Heyer (from Raiders)
PK Josh Brown (from Rams)
S Yeremiah Bell (from Dolphins)
S LaRon Landry (from Redskins)

SUBTRACTIONS
G Robert Turner (Rams)
S Brodney Pool (Cowboys)
S Gerald Alexander (released)

2012 Schedule:
2012 Schedule Strength: 20.63 (10th toughest in NFL)
Week 1 - Buffalo
Week 2 - at Pittsburgh
Week 3 - at Miami
Week 4 - San Francisco
Week 5 - Houston
Week 6 - Indianapolis
Week 7 - at New England
Week 8 - Miami
Week 9 - BYE WEEK
Week 10 - at Seattle
Week 11 - at St. Louis
Week 12 - New England
Week 13 - Arizona
Week 14 - at Jacksonville
Week 15 - at Tennessee
Week 16 - San Diego
Week 17 - at Buffalo

StatFox Take: This is a tough team to figure out, as the Jets seemingly improved this offseason. But they have a tough schedule, especially to start the season. The Jets can certainly begin the year 2-5 and have five road games in their final eight contests. Considering the odds are 4-to-6 for this team to win nine or more games, take the plus money here and expect another season of .500 or worse.
Prediction: UNDER 8.5 wins (+120)


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: