Are you ready for Football?

The NFL is back and I take a look at some major story lines and ask some major questions that you should be looking at as we enter the upcoming season. Respond to the questions in the comments

The Philly "Dream Team": The Eagles had the biggest offseason that I can remember but are they turning into the Heat? With the signing of the top free agent Nnamdi Asomugha along with picking up Dominque Rodgers Cromartie from the Cardinals the Eagles now have arguable the best secondary in the league. Steve Smith, Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin are also headed to Philly. Can they top the Packers?
McNabb looks to bounce back in Minnesota
after a season to forget for the Redskins

Out of the System: Quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck, Kevin Kolb, and Tavaris Jackson are all off on new teams and looking to thrive. McNabb struggled last year out of the Philly system but can he become a star in Minnesota? Hasselbeck, Kolb, and Jackson have been in the same systems their entire careers, can they succeed in a new one?

The Pack: The Packers are back and favorites to win repeat but no one has done it since the Patriot's back in the early 2000's. They get players like Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant back and look to be better than ever but will that translate to another championship in Green Bay or will there be a Super Bowl hangover?

New York: The Giants and the Jets have been hit hard in the off season. Eli Manning lost several weapons from his offense when Kevin Boss went to Oakland and Steve Smith went to NFC East rival Philly. The Jets on the other hand lost two of their top three receivers in Baylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery while Shaun Ellis headed to the Pat's and wildcat threat Brad Smith went to the Bills. Will the Meadowlands produce two playoff teams this season?
Calvin Johnson aka Megatron has been one of
the leagues best receivers since he was drafted

80 yard drives: With the new rule that moved the kickoff spot up five yards we will likely be seeing most of the drives starting on the 20 yard line. That doesn't help teams like the Browns or the Bears with superstars in the return game.

Lions: The Lions made huge strides towards a winning season last year and it only looks to get better with Matt Stafford back from injury. the Lions finished with four straight wins and a 6-10 season. Can Megatron,
Stafford, and Ndamukong Suh lead the Lions to their first playoff birth since 1999?

Cam Newton: The Heisman winner and #1 overall pick is in a battle for the starting job with 2nd year play Jimmy Clausen. Will the Heisman winner be the one leading the Panthers come September 11th and how will he do?

Cutler during the Bears NFC finals
loss to the Packers 
Buc's to the Playoffs: A young Buc's team lead by Josh Freeman surprised everyone last season by posting a 10-6 season. Despite the 10 win season they failed to make the playoffs. Freeman is back along with targets Mike Williams, Kellen Winslow, and Arrelious Benn and LeGarrette Blount in the backfield. Is this young team poised for the playoffs?

Tony Romo: Romo was out for 10 games last season and the Cowboys failed to make another postseason while Wade Phillips was fired and Josh McDaniels put in charge. Can the Cowboys get back to the postseason with their franchise quarterback back in the line up and Rob Ryan leading the defense?

Cutler bounce back: After ending the season in the worst way possible Jay Cutler comes back to the field in 2011. Cutler will once again be under heavy scrutiny by the die hard Bears fans but will he thrive under all that pressure or will he crumble?


Most Underrated Player in the NFL?

The Eagles have had one of the biggest offseason's in NFL history with the signing of Nnamdi Asomugha, Douglas Rodgers-Cromartie, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Ronnie Brown, and Vince Young. All of those stars added to a roster with Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Asante Samuel, LeSean McCoy and your bound to forget about some key players on the roster. The Eagles boost one of the most underrated players in the league and is bound to have another breakout year with all this talent around him.

Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End Trent Cole was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft back in 2005 and was a solid player for a mediocre team, Cincinnati, back in college. Cole came to the Eagles and has thrived year in and year out but has yet to gain the real recognition that the likes of Justin Tuck, Dwight Freeney, Mario Williams, Jared Allen and others. Yes many, if not all Eagles fans and all die hard NFL fans know his name but with casual viewers his name always slips by.

Over the last four season Cole has averaged 11 sacks and 67 tackles a season and has been ranked in the top 10 twice in his career and top 20 two more times. Cole, 28, is bound to have a breakout season with teams unable to double him with Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin now on the line. Lock down corners Asante Samuel, Doglas Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha will give him more time to get to the quarterback. By the end of this season the Eagles star shouldn't be underrated any more.


The Nnamdi Chaos is Over

Asomugha sporting an
Eagles uniform
Surprises are very uncommon in the times of text messaging and twitter. This technology helps us know almost everything before it happens but the battle for elite cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha surprised us all and changed all of that, at least for a little bit. The former Oakland Raider was predicted and expected to head to New York and play opposite of Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis but in a matter of minutes the news went from going to the Jets to going to the Cowboys and then surprisingly agreeing to terms with the Eagles, who really were never mentioned in the bidding war. With all of that drama over now, how do the Eagles now move on with three elite cornerbacks on their roster?

The Eagles picked up young cornerback Douglas Rodgers-Cromartie earlier in the week from their recent trade of Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals. The Eagles also have veteran and Pro Bowl corner Asante Samuel on the roster. My guess is that the Eagles will trade away Samuel, 30, to get maybe another receiver or linebacker and to get rid of the 6 million due on his contract.

Many say that with the Rodgers-Cromartie move and the Asomugha pick up the Eagles could be favorites to win the Super Bowl for the upcoming season. I say this is way to bold of a statement after making just a few offseason moves, even if they are some of the biggest. Yes Michael Vick played amazing last season, but will he do that again? Yes they have a great secondary, but what about their young and inexperienced linebacking unit? I think they have some question marks going into the season that they need to figure out before they can surpass the Packers and Patriots as preseason favorites.


Free Agency

As the Lockout nears the end this could be a very frantic week in free agency. Amid all the chaos we take a look at the top Free Agents in this years' market and where they will likely be playing come September.

Asomugha is the top free agent in 2011
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Raiders: The Pro Bowl corner would love to be on a winning team for the upcoming season and hopefully that will happen. The shutdown corner should be leaving Oakland and the top franchises vying for him are the Texans and the Ravens. He may also remain in the bay area this season while playing for the 49ers. All three of these teams have a chance to make the playoffs and all three of these teams would love to have Asomugha. Asomugha is one of the top three cornerbacks in the league and any team in the NFL would want this guy on their team come September.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: Williams has had a great career in Carolina and many expect him to stay there for the next few seasons with the Panthers, likely to pick up his contract once again. If not in Carolina he may head down south to Miami where an aging Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown lead the running game.

Ray Edwards, DE, Vikings: The young Defensive End has played in the shadow of Jared Allen the last few seasons but has still racked up 8 and 8 1/2 sacks in the last two seasons. Edwards,26, has potential to get double digit sacks every season and that is why he is wanted by many teams. The top team looking to pick him up will be the Seattle Seahawks, who need major improvements on their line, but Edwards may be headed down south to the Georgia Dome and the Falcons.

Rice will be a franchise receiver for anytime
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings: Rice was a big time player in 2009 but missed most of last season with a hip injury. Many teams hope that he gets back to that 2009 form when he had over 1,300 receiving yards for the Vikings. Rice, only 24, may stay in Minnesota but other teams like Washington or St. Louis would love a young and talented receiver on their roster. There are some teams that could put more money on the table and he could be headed out of Viking country.

Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets: The top two receivers for the Jets are probably going to stay in New York but they maybe headed out for the right price. They both like their coach Rex Ryan, like where the franchise headed and especially like New York City, Braylon Edwards' DWI proves that. I think that teams like Washington and St. Louis would have to pay significantly more money to pry one or both of them away from NYC.

Jonathon Joesph, CB, Bengals: With the new cap room negotiation in the CBA and the likely release of Carson Palmer, the Bengals will probably have over 50 million dollars in their cap space and cant afford to lose this gem. Joesph and Leon Hall make one of, if not the best, cornerback tandem in the NFL. If the Bengals want to get back to winning they will need to keep Joesph in a Bengals uniform.

Paul Posluszny, LB, Bills: Posluszny was the leader on defense for a pitiful Bills team last season. This may not say much but he ranked in the Top 5 in the NFL for tackles last season, 151, and this makes him a rising defensive star. The former Nittany Lion is the best linebacker in free agency and many teams are interested. Despite many teams being interested in Posluszny I see him staying up in Buffalo and the Bills likely signing him to a long term contract.

Carolina hopes to keep their star DE
Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers: Johnson emerged as a star for the Panthers last season after Julius Peppers left for Chicago. He had a breakout season that included a career high 11.5 sacks to lead the team. Many people think that this may have been a fluke season but he has the potential to get double digit sacks year in and year out. The Panthers would love the young Defensive End to stay in Charlotte, especially after losing Peppers last season, but he may be headed else where... Atlanta or Cleveland.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants: The 200 pound work horse for the Giants last season racked up over 1200 rushing yards and raised some eyebrows. He had some trouble throughout the season with fumbling but he improved at the end of last season. Reports say that it is between the Giants and the Dolphins right now but many expect he will continue playing at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Sundays this season.


Is A Deal Close?

Reports stated that on Thursday the NFL and the NFLPA came to an agreement on rookie salaries, which was said to be the hardest part of the negotiations. Does the settling of this huge obstacle give us hope that the lockout will be lifted soon?

The NFL and the players have been struggling since the beginning of this lockout. Peyton Manning needs medical attention that the Colts wont pay for, many players have been getting in trouble (Kenny Britt, Pacman Jones, Hines Ward) and some have been blatantly calling out the commissioner and teammates (James Harrison.) These players need football, and our country needs their to be NFL Football come August. Business wise: this is a multi-billion dollar business and in a struggling economy the players and the country need this economic boost from the NFL. Social wise: people meet in bars, family gatherings, at the stadium, and in garages listening or watching the game every week and it helps us grow together. Some of our best friends are our "football buds."

Several owners, even Jerry Jones, have been spending late nights up trying to resolve this embarrassing situation. Roger Goodell has been working non stop on is $1 salary to reach an agreement, I mean if I was on a $1 dollar salary I probably wouldn't be working every day.

We as fans need to stop hearing "close" "soon" "almost" and hear "done" and "finished" so we can start up the 2011-2012 NFL season.


2010-2011 All Pro Team

As we are just a few day away from the Super Bowl and the end of the 2010-2011 NFL football season I give you my All Pro team...
QB: Tom Brady (Patriots)
RB: Arian Foster (Texans)
RB: Jamal Charles (Chiefs)
FB: Vonta Leach (Texans)
WR: Roddy White (Falcons)
WR: Brandon Llyod (Chargers)
TE: Jason Witten (Cowboys)
OT: Jake Long (Dolphins)
OT: Joe Thomas (Browns)
OG: Kris Dielman (Chargers)
OG: Logan Mankins (Patriots)
C: Nick Mangold (Jets)

DE: Julius Peppers (Bears)
DT: Haloti Ngata (Ravens)
DT: Ndamukong Sug (Lions)
DE: John Abraham (Falcons)
OLB: DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys)
ILB: Jared Mayo (Patriots)
ILB: Patrick Willis (49ers)
OLB: Clay Matthews (Packers)
CB: Darrelle Revis (Jets)
CB: Nnamdi Asomuha (Raiders)
S: Ed Reed (Ravens)
S: Troy Polamalu (Steelers)

KR/PR: Devin Hester (Bears)
K: Sebastian Janikowski (Raiders)
P: Shane Lechler (Raiders)


Can the Packers Repeat

The Packers won their 14th NFL Title and their 4th Super Bowl with a 31-26 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Dallas on Sunday. After the celebration was over people, including me, started to look towards next season. My question for the next seven months is whether or not the Packers can repeat as NFL Champs, even with that target on their back.
No team has done it since the Patriots nine years back and the Packers may need till 2013 to wait for their 5th Super Bowl title with a possible lockout for next season.
Aaron Rodgers will be the key for this team and they should have more talent on the field than they did in their Super Bowl run. They will return All star Greg Jennings at WR and they will try and keep their entire O-line. Athletic Tight End JerMichael Finley will return from injury to add another receiving weapon for Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers.  Running Back Ryan Grant will return to the backfield along with John Starks, who came alive in the playoffs, to try and add another dimension to their offense. Their offense was a Top 10 offense last season and look to be poised for a one than better last season.
On the defensive side the Packers will return All-star's CB Charles Woodson and OLB Clay Matthews along with DT B.J. Raji, CB Tremon Williams, S Nick Collins, and LB A.J. Hawk. S Atari Bigby and LB Nick Barnett will return from injuries. The Packers are also negotiating to get Johnny Jolly back to the line-up after a suspension last season. If this defense stays healthy then they can be one of the best in the league.
It will be hard for the Packers to get back to the pinnacle of the sports world but it can be done with this young team. If they stay relatively healthy for the season you could very possibly see them collecting their 5th Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis. 

5 Teams looking to knock off the Packers...

Jets- They could head into the season as favorites in the AFC after two straight AFC Championship appearances and returning a strong young team.
Colts- As long as Peyton Manning is on the roster the Colts are in the Super Bowl race. Hopefully they will have a healthy receiving core this season and Bob Sanders can be healthy for once.
Falcons- The Falcons surprised everyone with a stellar season but it was cut short by the Packers. Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Michael Turner will be the stars but the defense needs to get better.
Ravens- This team is aging on defense but their offense in getting better every season. We'll see if Joe Flacco and Ray Rice can counter the strong defense.
Patriots- NFL MVP Tom Brady will look to take the Lombardi Trophy back to Foxboro after a disappointing end to their 2010-2011 campaign.

Others that could surprise...

Texans- Everyone thought they would have a breakout season last year but it didn't work out. With all the hype died down look for them to make their first playoff appearance in the franchise history.
Lions- The Lions won four straight heading into the end of the 2010-2011 season, including one over the Packers and can't wait to get Matt Stafford back under center. This young team could be successful for a losing franchise.
49ers- High expectations in the pre-season last year didn't work out but with Jim Harbaugh taking over command they could take over in the weak NFC West.
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