NFL Roundtable

Steve O Speak

With the help of a number of Fanspeak members I did another Roundtable, this time on the NFL. Here are the questions they answered as well as their responses: (Note some of these responses were done before the full extent of the Manning injury became clear)

1. Right now who are your 8 division winners and 4 wildcard teams? What two teams do you see in the Super Bowl and who do you think will win it?

2. What is one surprising team you expect big things from this year (even if they don’t make the playoffs)? What is one team that you think will fail to meet expectations?

3. Who do you think will be the Offensive and Defensive MVP’s? What Rookie(s) do you see having a big year?

4. What current rivalry is the best in the NFL right now?

5. Will the new Kickoff rule have a major impact on the game this season?

Howard Ticker:

1)AFC EAST: New England Patriots AFC WEST: San Diego Chargers AFC NORTH: Pittsburgh Steelers AFC SOUTH: Indianapolis Colts AFC 2 Wild Cards: New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens NFC EAST: Philadelphia Eagles NFC WEST: St. Louis Rams NFC NORTH: Green Bay Packers NFC SOUTH: Atlanta Falcons NFC 2 Wild Cards:Tampa Bay Bucs and New Orleans Saints (yes I am putting in 3 NFC South Teams SUPERBOWL: Packers vs. Patriots -Patriots Win

2) I can see the Colts falling off if Peyton Manning is injured (then the Texans will win the division) and I expect the Jets to win a few less games than people expect. The Lions, Cardinals, and Skins will all win 7 games is my surprise.

3) Offensive: Aaron Rodgers Defensive: Clay Matthews Both Packers and Tom Brady and Jerrod Mayo as the runner ups respectively. ROOKIES: Julio Jones, Torrey Smith, JJ Watt, Nick Fairley (if healthy), Marcell Dareus, Patrick Peterson

4) Jets vs. Patriots

5) Yes, sadly less returns for touchdowns.

Rob Yunich:

1. NFC — Division winners: Eagles, Packers, Saints, 49ers; Wild Cards: Bears and Bucs
AFC — Division winners: Patriots, Steelers, Texans, Chargers; Wild Cards: Ravens, Jets
Super Bowl — Patriots over Eagles

2. I think the Texans will surprise people as they’ll finally be able to propel their great offense to a division title. As for disappointments, check out the Redskins, who still will be awful despite all of the positive off-season changes.

3. Offensive MVP: Tom Brady
Defensive MVP: Ray Lewis
Rookie standout: Mark Ingram

4. Steelers-Ravens. In addition to just plain hating each other, the teams always play close games, meet in the playoffs somewhat regularly and have a great historical rivalry.

5. No — in the end, defense still wins championships.

Gary Struble:

1. AFC East – Patriots NFC East – Redskins ( I can’t bring myself to pick Eagles, Giants or Cowboys)
AFC South – Texans NFC South – Saints
AFC North – Ravens NFC North – Packers
AFC West- Chargers NFC West – Rams

SB: Saints vs. Patriots with the Patriots being victorious in the Super Bowl.

2. Lions will give the pack a tough fight and could win division. Eagles will choke and go down in flames.

3. Offensive MVP – Drew Brees
Defensive MVP – Ndamukong Suh
Rookie stand-outs – Julio Jones WR Falcons, Ryan Kerrigan OLB Redskins, Von Miller OLB Broncos, Mark Ingram RB Saints
Kerrigan will be the best of this group.

4. Patriot and Jets – These two coaches are polar opposites and Ryan is a riot.

5. This rule will be changed next season. Returns are a major part of the game and sometimes can be game changers. I think the fans will
complain enough to get this changed.

Geoff Dwyer:

1. NFC East: Eagles – Overall I think they have the most well rounded team in the division, but I don’t think they are quite the ”dream team” that some are making them out to be. I do think the Cowboys and possibly the Giants will push them, but as long as Vick stays relatively healthy I think the Eagles win the division by a game or two. The Skins are heading in the right direction but I still think they are a year or two away from competing.

NFC North: Packers – Last years Super Bowl Champs just snuck into the playoffs as a wild card, this year I think they win the division. They are just flat out more talented than the rest of the teams in the division. I think the Lions and Vikings should do better than last year and I think the Bears fall back to the pack so 2-4 in the division will be interesting.

NFC South: Saints – I think the Saints are one of the deepest teams in the league this year and I think they will have enough to beat the Falcons and last years surprise team Tampa Bay to take the division this year. The Panthers will struggle to improve on their 2 win season from a year ago.

NFC West: Rams? – This division looks like it will play out similarly to last season where the best worst team wins it in the last week or two. That is unless Sam Bradford takes a big step up this season and Jackson can stay healthy, if that happens the Rams should be able to eek out 9-10 wins mostly by beating up the other teams in the West. I think Seattle drops back this year, the Cardinals might do a little better with Kolb and the Niners can only hope the Harbaugh is the second coming of Bill Walsh.

NFC Wildcards: Falcons and unfortunately the Cowboys

AFC East: Patriots – As long as Bill Belichick is the coach and Tom Brady is under center it is hard to pick against them, even if Rex Ryan says the Jets will win the Super Bowl again. The Dolphins and Bills have no chance.

AFC North: Ravens – Let’s face it this pick is pretty much a coin flip between the Ravens and Steelers and this year I’m going with Baltimore. The Browns will be better this year but not good enough to challenge for the division and the Bengals will make Carson Palmer happy he is watching from his couch at home.

AFC South: Texans – Normally you would just put down the Colts and move on but without Peyton it is a different story. The Colts running game was abysmal last year and without the threat of Peyton carving up your secondary opposing teams will shut down the run even more this year. It looks like Peyton might miss a significant amount of time and without him the Colts will struggle to win 8 games. I think Jacksonville falls to the bottom of the division and Tennessee wins a few more games than last year, but I think this is the year that the Texans have enough D to go along with their explosive offense and save Gary Kubiak’s job one more time.

AFC West: Chargers – Norv won’t do enough to sabatoge San Diego’s season two years in a row and they take back the division from the Chiefs. Denver and Oakland can only hope to win enough games to prevent fans from hoping to start the Tebow/Pryor era’s.

AFC Wildcards – Steelers and Jets

Super Bowl: Saints vs Chargers, Saints win

2. I think this year the Lions (assuming Stafford keeps both shoulders in place) will live up to Kitna’s hype from years ago and have a decent season, just not good enough to make the playoffs yet. I think that Tampa Bay falls back down to a 7-8 win team this year after last years surprising 10 win campaign.

3. Offensive MVP will be Drew Brees, Defensive will be Ndamukong Suh. For rookies I like Ingram from the Saints and Von Miller from the Broncos.

4. Without question it has to be Steelers/Ravens

5. I think it will even out the playing field on special teams a little bit. Teams that have impact players on kick returns will feel it the most since a much higher percentage of kick offs will result in touchbacks. It will be interesting to see if some teams start to gamble a little bit and return kicks that go 4-7 yards deep in the endzone. Will the risk of starting on your own 12-16 yard line stop someone like Josh Cribbs from trying to break one?

John Manuel:

1. Right now who are your 8 division winners and 4 wildcard teams? What two teams do you see in the Super Bowl and who do you think will win it?

Philadelphia (only because I don’t see the other three winning), Green Bay, New Orleans and Arizona. Wildcards- Atlanta and Minnesota.  New England, Pittsburgh, Houston and San Diego.  WC’s- NY Jets and Tennessee.  Green Bay and NY Jets in Super Bowl with the Packers repeating.

2. What is one surprising team you expect big things from this year (even if they don’t make the playoffs)? What is one team that you think will fail to meet expectations?

I think Arizona will be better than most think.  I think they were so bad at quarterback that Kolb will make a huge difference.  Plus, they have solid coaching with Whisenhunt and HOFer Russ Grimm. I don’t like Baltimore to make the playoffs so that would be a huge drop.  I just don’t have a good feeling about them like my good friend, SuperFan POPs, who said 6-10 for the Ravens.

3. Who do you think will be the Offensive and Defensive MVP’s? What Rookie(s) do you see having a big year?

Offensive MVP-  I like Aaron Rodgers, he is too good and now people expect him to win like a Manning or Brady.  Defensive MVP- My gut says Eric Berry but I don’t think the Chiefs will win enough. So I am going with the best defensive player in the NFL, Ndamukong Suh.  Rookie Offensive MVP- Julio Jones will get all the attention to win this but I am thinking Mark Ingram scores enough TDs and takes it.  Defensive Rookie MVP-  Going with my boy Ryan Kerrigan. Going to get a lot of snaps and already showed he can play.

4. What current rivalry is the best in the NFL right now?

I would say Pittsburgh/ Baltimore but the Steelers win every big game.  So I am going with Jets and Patriots right especially after the Jets playoff win in Foxboro.

5. Will the new Kickoff rule have a major impact on the game this season?”

I am in a wait and see feel for this one. Let it play out and ask me again in November.

My Take:

1. AFC East: Patriots- right now they are the top team and while the Jets might challenge I think NE will be too much for them

AFC North: Steelers- The Ravens won’t give the division to them, but Pittsburgh lost less this offseason than the Ravens, and probably gained more when you factor in Willie Colon and Aaron Smith returning from injury.

AFC South: Texans- This would have been a battle even with Peyton there for most of the year, but now the Texans have to win this division, as the Titans and Jags look to be years away.

AFC West: Chargers- San Diego looks healthy this year, and should rebound from their disappointing season a year ago where they had one of the top offenses and defenses in the league but couldn’t make the playoffs.

Wild Card: Ravens- they very well could have the 2nd or 3rd most wins in the AFC, Jets-Not a big fan of theirs this season, but with the Colts out I think they squeak in.

NFC East: Eagles- They have some weaknesses, but they were the best team in the East last year, and they are much improved.

NFC North: Packers- Green Bay last year dealt with major injuries and needed a number of unheralded players to come through. Now they have better health and depth, so they shouldn’t have the same issues as a year ago.

NFC South: Saints- It will be a tough division with both the Falcons and Bucs making strong runs, but the Saints brought in a ton of talent this year as they try to win another title before Brees becomes a free agent next year.

NFC West: Cardinals- Although I still think the West is the worst division, I don’t think we will see someone ride in on just and 8-8 or 7-9 record. The Cards will be benefited by a schedule that features not only the 6 games against their division and the Bengals, Browns and Redskins. But they also face the last place teams from the other two NFC divisions; Vikings and Panthers. I think double digit wins are likely, though I think the Rams will be right on their heels.

Wild Cards: Bucs- I love their young squad and could see them as a team that could make a run, Falcons- it won’t be an easy road, defending a 1st place schedule, but they should have the talent.

Super Bowl: Saints vs Steelers, with the Steelers winning it all

2. Well I picked the Texans and Cards to make the playoffs, but those could be considered default picks. My surprising teams are Buffalo, Detroit and Cleveland who I think are are capable of 7-9 wins. The Bears are probably the biggest disappointing team I see going forward, but I’m also not too high on the Jets. Even with the Colts likely out of it, the Jets will need to hold off the Chiefs or a surprise team like Cleveland or Buffalo. I really think New York is overrated this year as both of their lines look weaker this year, and Mark Sanchez has yet to show that he can develop.

3. Offensive MVP: Drew Brees– I think he is going to have a HUGE year

Defensive MVP: Lamar Woodley- James Harrison won’t get it due to his craziness, but Woodley is quite deserving as well. Steelers backers don’t just rush the passer, but they are very strong in coverage and against the run as well.

Rookies: Mark Ingram, Patrick Peterson, Marcell Dareus, Greg Little

4. Best rivalry has to be the Ravens and Steelers. I do agree with what John said above that the Ravens have only won games that don’t ‘matter’ (i.e. when Big Ben isn’t playing), but the ferocity and quality of those games is unmatched.

5. I think the kickoff rule will have a pretty big impact as yards, starting field position and return TD’s will all be down. Overall though I don’t think it will change the dynamic too much, as the return game is just a small part of what makes a top team.

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