Posts Tagged ‘Football’

The Cheat Sheet: NFL Week 2 Picks & Info

Posted: September 12, 2013 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
Tags: , , , , ,


Week one on the Cheat Sheet looked like I did not study quite enough, getting off to 9-7 start for the young NFL season. It was a very competitive week one, with only 3 games being decided by more than 10 points and the visiting club winning five games. But after getting to put eyes on a few more teams, as well as having a schedule with a bit more parity ahead, it’s time to let the second week fly.

The rules remain the same. The full schedule for the week is below. Winners made in bold.


New York Jets at New England Patriots (Line: NE -12, Over/Under: 43)


St. Louis Rams at Atlanta Falcons (ATL -4.5, Over/Under: 47)

Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills (CAR -3.5, Over/Under: 43)

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears (CHI -6.0, Over/Under: 41.5)

Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers (GB -7.5, Over/Under: 49.5)

Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts (IND -2.5, Over/Under: 43.0)

Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs (KC -3.0, Over/Under: 45.5)

San Diego Chargers at Philadelphia Eagles (PHI -7.0, Over/Under: 53)

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (BAL -6.5, Over/Under: 44)

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (HOU -8.0, Over/Under: 41.5)

Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals (EVEN, Over/Under: 47.5)

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NO -3.0, Over/Under: 48.0)

Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders (OAK -4.0, Over/Under: 41.0)

Denver Broncos at New York Giants (DEN -4.0, Over/Under: 54.0)

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (SEA -3.0, Over/Under: 44.0)


Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (CIN -6.5, Over/Under: 41.0)


The lines and over/under for each game will be updated by Sunday & Monday morning. For more on the week as it develops, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

The NFC East is always a fight. Whether it is among the fans or on the field, it will never be claimed easily. Last season, it was taken via heist on the field, when a new arrival in Washington DC took the previous season’s bottom feeders to a level the organization had not reached in 13 years, and in a fashion they’d never seen before.

But staying on top has much more struggle than reaching it, and Robert Griffin III and his Redskins are primed to discover this. The battle to hold the crown will be highlighted by a brand new approach in Philadelphia, a coach that’s likely pushing to hold onto his livelihood in Dallas and a Giants team that’s search for a new identity with familiar faces.

There were some gutsy wins a year ago, such as the Redskins sweeping the season series from Dallas, and the Eagles pulling out their last win in what would prove to be in nearly a two month span over the Giants, which ultimately ended up costing New York a playoff shot. There’s not many division that break down the middle closer than the NFC East does, and once again there may very well be only one ticket to the Playoffs provided from this division. So there will be no love lost once again, not as if there ever was any in the first place.

All-Division Team

QB: Robert Griffin III, RB: LeSean McCoy, Alfred Morris, WR: Dez Bryant, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, TE: Jason Witten, OT: Jason Peters, Trent Williams, OG: Todd Herremans, Kory Litchensteiger, C: David Baas

DE: DeMarcus Ware, Jason Pierre-Paul, DT/NT: Jay Ratliff, Issac Sopoaga, OLB: Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, MLB: Sean Lee, Demeco Ryans, CB: Morris Claiborne, Brandon Flowers, FS: Nate Allen, SS: Brandon Merriweather

K: Dan Bailey, P: Donnie Jones, KR: David Wilson, PR: Desean Jackson

Coming off his second consecutive 8-8 year, Romo is facing a season where a corner is needed to be turned.

Coming off his second consecutive 8-8 year, Romo is facing the task of leading the way for what needs to be turning the corner season, as well as a return to the playoffs for the first time in four years.

DALLAS COWBOYS (8-8 in 2012)

The Good: It finally clicked for Dez last year, and he began to deliver on the warehouse full of talent that he’s had for years. In his breakout season, he posted totals of 1,382 yards on 92 catches and 12 touchdowns, and became a regular playmaker in an offense full of steady, but not game breaking talents. 16 games of him playing at the level he finished 2012 at could change everything about the potential of this offense, and yes, even Tony Romo.

The Bad: Are they ready to play hardnosed football yet up front? Two of their previous three first round picks have been dedicated to bettering the offensive line, between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, so the effort is on. But with the perennially fragile Demarco Murray and an immediate need to keep Romo upright to deliver to the plethora of targets on offense, the difference between a run for the division or not starts with the development upfront paying out.

X-Factor—Sean Lee: The rangy, tackling machine in the middle of defense is the key to the success of the unit. He ran up big games of 10 and 14 tackles early in the year, before heading the PUP list after a toe injury in week 7 a year ago. His health and availability is a non-negotiable element of the success of a team whose linebacker corps are young and now without DeMarcus Ware, who moves to defensive end.

Record: NYG (W), @KC (W), STL (W), @SD (W), DEN (L), WSH (L), @PHI (L), @DET (W), MIN (W), @NO (W), @NYG (L), OAK (W), @CHI (L), GB (L), @WSH (L), PHI (W)

Prediction: There’s always going to be questions about the Cowboy’s consistency as long as Romo is calling the shots, but the biggest issue for them is finding consistency within the division. Jason Garrett is likely running short on opportunities to produce this, and health of his defensive unit will likely be the deciding factor for the season. A tough late season run with trips to Chicago and Washington, as well as hosting Green Bay will call the difference in a division title or the mud of a wild card push, with the former being more likely. 9-7


Cruz topped 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season, and has found the endzone 19 times in the previous two years.

Cruz topped 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season, and has found the endzone 19 times in the previous two years. He returns to be responsible for more of the production in NY than ever before.

NEW YORK GIANTS (9-7 in 2012)

The Good: They have undergone a steady change over the past few years, and it has returned several promising offensive tools. Between Rueben Randle, Brandon Myers and Ramses Barden, the offensive unit has a lot of breakthrough potential this season. Add in the luxury of staying in complimentary roles around Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks leading the way, along with Eli Manning, who has an underrated ability to bring out the best in young receivers, calling the shots for them.

The Bad: Will the defense have found its identity this time around? Osi Umenyiora is gone, Jason Pierre-Paul is rebounding from back surgery and the secondary is in transition. In a division with the type of offense that the NFC East, not to mention dates with Green Bay, Seattle and Detroit, the will be tested often. There will have to be a unit that overachieves to help steady the team’s outlook.

X-Factor—David Wilson: Wilson showed his big play potential in open space last year, with an NFL-best 1,533 kick return yards, but never quite figured out the nuances of running between, off or anywhere near the tackles. But with Ahmad Bradshaw gone, he’ll be leaned on heavily to be the same type of all-purpose back that his predecessor was. Picking up the details in year two will be a must.

Record: —@DAL (L), DEN (L), @CAR (W), @KC (L), PHI (W), @CHI (L), MIN (L), @PHI (W), OAK (W), GB (L), DAL (W), @WSH (L), @SD (W), SEA (L), @DET (W), WSH (W)

Prediction: They certainly could factor into the mostly even landscape of the NFC East, via the points potential of the best QB/receiver combo in the NFC alone. But they are thin on proven depth, as well as exactly what type of production they can count on from the defense week in and out. If everything goes right, they could steal the division. Yet if one unit lags, they could just as easily slide out of the playoff picture complete. This is likely a team that has stretches with both and has a record that reflects it. Record: 8-8.

McCoy has had at least 250 touches in each of the past three seasons, and is in line to be among the busiest backs in football in Philly's new scheme.

McCoy has had at least 250 touches in each of the past three seasons, and is in line to be among the busiest backs in football in Philly’s new scheme.


The Good: The new scheme certainly fits the pieces. It’s still not completely certain how Chip Kelly’s up tempo offense will be translated into the NFL, but he certainly has the right pieces to make it go. Desean Jackson, Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick can be instant offense, and the return of Jason Peters, coupled with massive first round pick Lane Johnson gives them the right bookends to build a persistent threat on offense.

The Bad: Defensively, there’s been a major turnover in the secondary, and it could be a target early on often for Romo, Manning and RGIII for the majority of the season. Without a promise of consistent pass rush (a team total of 30 in 2012), nor much change that would change the league-worse 13 turnovers they scrounged together, they could still be among the worst units in the League.

X-Factor—Michael Vick: The enigma that is Vick continues to take on new faces. Ideally, he is the perfect option for the type of offense that is being installed. However, he hasn’t been the most flexible decision maker on the run, especially standing up to the constant pressure that he has been subjected to the last few years. If he can play within himself and put to bed the rumors of the looming Nick Foles (again), the entire picture for the team could change.

Record—@WSH (L), SD (L), KC (L), @DEN (L), @NYG (L), @TB (W), DAL (W), NYG (L), @OAK (W), @GB (L), WSH (L), ARI (W), DET (L), @MIN (L), CHI (L), @DAL (L)

Prediction: There are a lot of elements going on at once that are not point towards much of a step forward in Philly. There is unrest at quarterback, a completely new offensive scheme under a rookie head coach, an offensive line bookended by a comeback attempt and a rookie, as well as a thin defense. Add in the usual brutality of the NFC East, and you have another long season in PA. Record: 4-12.


Griffin lead the Redskins to heights they hadn't reached in over a decade in route to becoming Offensive Rookie of the Year. But how much of a price did he pay?

Griffin lead the Redskins to heights they hadn’t reached in over a decade in route to becoming Offensive Rookie of the Year. But how much of a price did he pay?

Washington Redskins (10-6 in 2012)

The Good: For all of the steps forward that the Skins took last year with RGIII at the helm, they were never truly at full strength. Pierre Garcon, Fred Davis, Trent Williams and Brian Orakpo all spent significant time off the field. All are slated to be back and in the fold from day one this year, which along with a miraculously ready (we think) Griffin back from knee surgery, this could be one of the most explosive teams in the NFL, both again and on a new level.

The Bad: Is the defense ready to carry their part of the bargain? They return much of the same unit as last year, and didn’t have many early draft picks to get creative with to infuse new life into the mix. The team won last year in spite of a bland pass rush and porous secondary. The pass rush will be improved with Orakpo back, but there have to be more elements than himself and Ryan Kerrigan to it.

X-Factor—Fred Davis: When he tore his ACL in week 7 last year, he was averaging just over 13 yards per catch and was a major target over the middle for Griffin as defensive were stuck between guarding the run and fearing the bomb. If he stays healthy and still has his unique mix of size and separation speed, he could be one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL.

Record: PHI (W), @GB (L), DET (W), @OAK (W), @DAL (W), CHI (W), @DEN (L), SD (W), @MIN (L), @PHI (W), SF (W), NYG (W), KC (L), @ATL (L), DAL (W), @NYG (L)

Prediction: RGIII may be the biggest difference maker in the NFL, for any team. Regardless of how he is deployed this year, having his full selection of tools around him this year makes him that much more dangerous and primed for an even better season. Combined with a strong complimentary threat in Alfred Morris and the bonus of the division’s best linebacker group in Orakpo, Fletcher and Kerrigan, and the Skins look to be able to repeat what could be a regular position atop the East. Record: 10-6.

Stay locked over the next week, as the previews keep coming and I walk the prediction plank. Either I look dumb, great or like the Giants. For the real-time development, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

The CHEAT SHEET in the CHEAP SEATS – NFL Week 1 Picks

Posted: September 9, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
Tags: , , , ,

The league’s best player (and mustache) vs. the league’s best defense to open the year. I’ll take it.


America’s greatest fall festival is back, as the NFL kicks off it’s 2012 campaign this morning. While I haven’t had time to write much in the way of previews, predictions or anything much off the diamond this year (where I’ll actually be during most of these games), there’s always time to make the weekly prediction sprint around the league.

I missed the Dallas/New York game, so I can’t count that one, so the season will be short one in the end.


Season Record: 0-0

Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears: Andrew Luck has a tough spot to debut in, but he’ll get plenty of chances to air it out, as the Bears should run up the scoreboard, air and ground. Bears win.

Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns: The Browns enter the regular season still working on roster like it’s the preseason. But it’s go time now, and the Eagles have a lot to prove this year. They’ll get started today. Eagles win.

New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans: The Pats weren’t the steadiest they’ve ever been in the preseason, but Titans don’t have the pass rush to shake them. Patriots win.

Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs: Going to be closer than it would seem, if only because of Arrowhead. But it’s the regular season and the Falcons have more firepower. Falcons win.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings: This should be a matchup of the two of the best backs the game has in Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew, but with both curbed for the most part, it won’t be much of note. But the Vikings still have a bit more, so they open with a W, and some hope from AP. Vikings win.

Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints: NOLA isn’t the most hospitable place to visit, football-wise, on a usual week. However, with the Saints reveling from the justice handed down via the overturned suspensions this week, and emotions at a high, expect a rough intro for Robert Griffin III. Saints win.

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: The Bills bettered their rush and are a team that has started quick out the gates the last few years. The Jets have been more circus than serious so far. Bills spring one on the road to start up the year fast again. Bills win.

St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions: The Rams are starting two rookies on the outside at corner. They’ll get baptized into their post-college life by Megatron. But at least it can go nowhere but up from here, even if their record doesn’t. Lions win.

Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans: With or without Arian Foster, this should be the beating of the week. Texans roll and Matt Schaub makes a triumphant return from injury. Texas win.

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers: Game of the week easy, with the league’s toughest defense taking on its most dynamic offense. This will be a tough go for both sides, but Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau isn’t what you want to try to start a year off that ended so startlingly for the Niners back in January. The Pack wins late in the fourth.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals: The two teams with the most shocking QB decisions of the preseason tie up in week one. While it isn’t an attractive matchup on paper, this could be still be a tight one. Seahawks pull it off late.

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Bucs: Cam Newton had a hell of a debut as a rook, and his sophomore start shouldn’t be too bad either. The Bucs aren’t anything exciting on D, while the Panthers could have one of the most improved offenses in the L. Panthers win out.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos: It’s time to see what it’s going to be regarding Peyton Manning’s return, and the Steelers are about as gritty of a test as you’ll get. But these Steelers are slowing and shorthanded on D, running by committee and still jelling at receiver. For all of these reasons, the Broncos get the W.

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are problems at home, major problems. And the Bengals will have to deal with being a target instead of a surprise this year. The Monday Night stage awaits them, and a 0-1 start does too. Ravens walk.

San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders: The Chargers are without Ryan Mathews (or anything else on the ground) and are walking into an extra-hostile Oakland for the Monday Night week one finale. The Raider defense has some issues, and Philip Rivers can stretch the field with or without a run support. Chargers win.


Posted: October 22, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
Tags: , ,

Fearless Predictions didn’t make it to print last week here, which is a shame because it was a great week in the “crystal ball of football picks” business. However, have no fear, here’s the recap for those of you keeping score a home, before we get into this weekend’s business.

Winners: Falcons, Bengals, Packers, Giants, Steelers, Eagles, Raiders, Ravens, Patriots, Bears, Jets

Losers: Lions, Buccaneers

The Lions/49ers tilt was surprising on several levels, but it proved if there was any doubt about the Niners, it should be put to rest. And the post game Jim Harbaugh/Jim Schwartz antics made it even better. Wouldn’t mind those two team (and coaches) getting a second shot at each other, of either the figurative or literal variety.

Stafford and the Lions have to pick up the pieces and show they can comeback as good as they get ahead this week.

The Buccaneers are beginning to be a big time day and night club. After getting roasted by 45 on the road in week 5, they came back to Florida and stopped the Saints and many of Drew Brees best shots to pull off a win and move back to the top of the NFC South.

In review, last week’s picks went for an 11-2 mark, bringing the total season record to 55-22 (71%) on the year here in Fearless Predictions. Week 6’s correct picks were decided by a total of 132 points, while the losses by only 12.

Week 7 Premier Matchups

Game of the Week #1 – Atlanta Falcons (3-3) at Detroit Lions (5-1): The Lions were undeniable the first five weeks of the year, but got turned back in frustrating game against the 49ers for their first loss last week. On the other side of the ball, frustrating is the word of the year for the Falcons, as they have been unable to get any sort of consistency in any part of their game all year. They are still tough at home, but have looked like they don’t know what to do on the road. Ford Field has become one of the rowdiest fields in the NFL, and the Lions will come out fast to avenge their first setback of the year. Lions win.

Read more at Suite101: NFL Week 7 Fearless Predictions |

To follow me following each game this Sunday and all the rest, catch me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.


Posted: October 9, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
Tags: , , ,

It’s a new week around the NFL, but before moving ahead, here’s a look at what was, and what a week it was in week 4. Statements were made around the League, of both the good and bad variety. The Champs flexed their muscles, the team that was crowned the kings to be got its imaginary crown knocked off its head both on the field and off and an early season juggernaut took the fight to Texas non-stop. Plus, it was a rebound week here in Fearless Predictions. After barely leaving with a winning record in week 3, several of these aforementioned games steady the ship and gave the crystal ball of football “knowledge” a much needed credibility boost.

The predicted winners included the Green Bay Packers, who showed why they are still the best team in the game a year after bringing the Lombardi Trophy home, behind five Aaron Rodgers touchdowns, including two running. Down in Dallas, the Detroit Lions proved they are the real deal without a doubt, making their second huge comeback in as many weeks when they hawked down the Cowboys after being behind 24 points at one point. In the not so positive column, the Philadelphia Eagles were knocked off by the San Francisco 49ers, and then pleaded to be held to a lower standard that reflects the 1-3 squad that they currently are.

Overall, 11 winners were picked last week, with the Ravens, Bears, Titans, Saints, Giants, Falcons, Chargers, Patriots and Buccaneers also pulling their weight.

The five losses joining the Cowboys and Eagles picks were the Bills taking their first loss of the year to the Bengals no less. The Vikings couldn’t outscore the league’s lowest scoring club in a loss in Kansas City, and the beat up Rams couldn’t hold off the Redskins.

Overall, last week’s forecasts ended up with an 11-5 mark that pulled the overall season record in Fearless Predictions to a 44-20 standing. Week 4’s 11 correct picks were decided by a combined 121 points, with the five losses totaling 20 points.

D-Jax and the Eagles have to find a way to get right soon or the critics (and soon their fans) will keep raining down on em.

Game of the Week #1 – Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) at Buffalo Bills (3-1): A month ago, you’d look at these records and say they were put on the wrong teams. But sure enough, the Bills, even after a setback in Cincinnati a week ago, sit among the league’s best, while the Eagles have lost three straight and are have even began writing themselves off. The Bills have already proven they can knock off one of the League’s most talented clubs in the Patriots, but this is a different challenge….

Read more at Suite101: NFL Week 5 Fearless Predictions |

THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE – CSP’s Top 50 NFL Players (Part 2)

Posted: September 19, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
Tags: , , ,

In part two of this season’s ranking of the top 50 players in the NFL, we bring it all home with #25 to #1. This is where the cream of the crop comes out. The faces of the league, the Super Bowl winners and MVPs, as well as the most respected players that may not get the brightest shine. All of that is represented here, as well as the biggest debates of them all.

Whenever word is dropped on who’s the best, it sparks up the most heated of all debates. What determines the best? Is it the biggest winner, the most statistically dominant or the best talent? Is it who’s hot at the moment or who’s got the best resume? All of that and more was represented by the ten voters that participated in determining this year’s top 50, and it is sure to inspire even more debate from here.

So why wait? Let’s get into it, the best of the NFL in 2011, via the CHEAP SEATS:

Vick pulled himself back into the elite of the NFL last season, but how high does he make it against his peers?

25. Joe Thomas (High 12, Low: Unranked): The biggest rock in Cleveland’s foundation is the massive protector that keeps the pressure off Colt McCoy and blows holes open for Peyton Hillis with equal ease. He hasn’t missed a Pro Bowl trip in his career, and if you’re going to beat the Browns, it’s going to have to go through another side than his.

24. Jamaal Charles (High 20, Low: 35): An unfortunate injury ended this season for him, but that’s about all that can stop KC’s speedster. Put the ball in his hands and just look downfield…and usually a long ways down it. Last season, his 6.3 yards per carry placed him only behind Jim Brown (barely) in single season effort. That’s good company for a guy entering only his third year as a starter.

23. Arian Foster (High: 19, Low: 40): The Texans ground threat came out of nowhere to go from undrafted free agent, to becoming one of the most unlikely rushing champions ever last year with 1,606 in his first full season as a starter. He’s battling a hamstring injury early this year, but once he gets right, more of the same is in store for the up and coming Texans.

Nobody had a bigger breakthrough in 2010 than Foster did in his year as a starter.

22. Patrick Willis (High: 8, Low: Unranked): The Niners could probably get away with using just one linebacker with Willis out there. Nobody racks up the tackles like the 49ers middle linebacker does. He lead the league in them each of his first three years, and when teams began to avoid anything he could reasonably get to last year (which takes some work), he set a career-high in sacks instead…and still had over 120 tackles.

21. Clay Matthews (High: 13, Low: 30): He bares a striking resemblance to both Thor and He-Man, and he plays exactly like they would in football pads. In both of his first two seasons he has reached double figures in sacks and opened up 2010 with six sacks in the first two weeks of the season.

20. Antonio Gates (High: 14, Low: 29): Oh what could have been if Gates’ health would’ve held together last year. In ten games and on just 50 catches, he hauled in 782 yards and got in the endzone 10 times. When he went down, he lead the NFL in TD grabs, was on pace to get up to 18. Let’s see if he can pick up where he left off this year.

19. Calvin Johnson (High: 14, Low: 26): There’s no other mixture of size and speed like him in the game. He’s fast enough to run past most cornerbacks, and if he isn’t, he can just dominate them physically. With Matthew Stafford finally getting healthy and being able to feed him the ball, the best is yet to come for Megatron.

18. Jake Long (High: 7, Low: 44): The Dolphins offense may come and go as far as productivity goes, but it can’t say it doesn’t have the chance with Long leading the way. The perennial All-Pro tackle is the main reason why Reggie Bush could be about to live up to his potential in Miami.

17. Philip Rivers (High: 13, Low: 27): It’s no secret he can fling the ball around the field, but last year he did more than he’s ever done, with the most depleted roster he’s ever been surrounded with. Despite his top receiver holding out, his All-Universe tight end out with injuries, a depleted offensive line and a rookie running back, he threw for a career high 4,710 yards.

Rivers has become a perennial candidate for MVP now, and carries as much weight as any QB in the game.

16. Haloti Ngata (High: 4, Low: 35): The most versatile defensive linemen in the NFL, it doesn’t matter where the Ravens place him, he makes plays. For years, he clogged the middle of the defense and was a Pro Bowler at tackle. Last year he set a career high in sacks after moving to defensive end, and still returned to the Pro Bowl.

15. Larry Fitzgerald (High: 12, Low: Unranked): The most dangerous endzone target in the game, Fitz still managed 90 catches and actually ended up with more yards than he did with Kurt Warner tossing to him the year before. Now with Kevin Kolb hooking him up way downfield again, he could easily add both a 4th year of over 1,400 yards and a 5th double digit touchdown year.

14. Michael Vick (High: 6, Low: Unranked): Vick’s renaissance took him from backup to Pro Bowl starter in under one season. He’s still the ultimate weapon in skills; has fast as a receiver and with an arm as good as any in the game. However, now he’s a better passer than ever before and has weapons around him just as quick and dangerous. The best is yet to come here.

13. Julius Peppers (High: 8, Low: 19): While he had better statistical seasons in the past, the story of Julius Peppers runs deeper than that. He’s never played better football than he is now. He’s just as dangerous running down rushers as he is chasing the quarterback and he brought an intensity that was undeniable and placed the Bears four quarters away from a Super Bowl in his first year.

12. Chris Johnson (High: 8, Low: 23): He’s the only back in the game that can say he’s going for 2,000 yards, and it’s not seen as crazy talk. Arguably the fastest player in the game, and is instantly a threat as soon as he touches the ball. He’s the all-time record holder for most yards in one season and will continue to carry the weight of the Titans world on his shoulders.

11. Nnamdi Asomugha (High: 9, Low: Unranked): So dangerous that teams don’t even throw his way. Since his eight interception breakout season in 2007, opposing QBs have only been brave enough to throw his way often enough for him to grab a total of three in the last four years. Now he moves over to Philadelphia and has a legit chance of turning that fear into the only number that counts: his first Super Bowl ring.

10. DeMarcus Ware (High: 9, Low: 21): It’s starting to seem like he can get sacks whenever he wants them. The best pass rusher in the NFL has led the league two of the last three seasons in QBs landed, and has averaged a ridiculous 13 sacks a season in his six year career. 20 of these came in one season, and it’s not a stretch to think he could top that number again.

9. Andre Johnson (High: 4, Low: 16): It’s not so much about if he’s the best receiver in the game now anymore, that’s a given. It’s more about how high up the all-time list the ninth year Texan is. He gets the job done early and often, and is one of two receivers to ever lead the league in yards two consecutive seasons (and passed 1,500 yards in each year).  The other player to achieve this? Some guy named Rice.

8. Darrelle Revis (High: 2, Low: 15): Revis Island is real, and it’s lonely. The Jets cornerback is a silencer: he takes the biggest and best receivers in the game on one-on-one, and takes them out the game. For his efforts, he’s made three consecutive Pro Bowls and pushed the Jets to two straight AFC Championship games.

7. Ed Reed (High: 4, Low: 10): No player turns defense into offense as often as Reed does. He has 13 touchdowns in his career from a mixture of interceptions, punt blocks, punt and fumble returns. For all of this, his greatest act, in a career with plenty of them, may have come last season when he lead the NFL in interceptions with eight despite playing in only 10 games.

Reed sometimes seems like an entire secondary by himself, and has legit claim to being the greatest free safety of all-time.

6. Aaron Rodgers (High: 2, Low: 17): The wheeling and dealing Rodgers threw the Pack on his back and took them to the top of the NFL a year ago. He leads one of the deepest receiving groups in the game and is the most dangerous passer on the move in the game. He doesn’t waste passes either: he is the All-Time leader in both regular season and playoff passer rating, and has the lowest interception rate in NFL history as well.

5. Drew Brees (High: 3, Low: 9): The face of the New Orleans Saints has made a career of being able to thread the needle like no other QB. To date, he has a 5,000 yard season and four 4,000 yard efforts. He is tied for the most consecutive seasons with 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, and opened up this year with a 400 yard day in Green Bay against the team that succeeded his Saints as Champions.

4. Adrian Peterson (High: 3, Low: 9): He’s the highest paid runner in the game, and for good reason. There’s no player that combines power, speed and instincts like AD. He reached 5,000 yards in third fastest time in league history and passed 6,000 early this year already. He has reached at least 10 rushing touchdowns in every season of his career.

In just four years, Peterson has become one of the most revered runners in the game's history due to his rare overall ability.

3. Troy Polamalu (High: 3, Low: 8): His effect on the Steelers over the last few years is simple, yet major. When he plays, they go to the Super Bowl. When he doesn’t, they aren’t even a playoff team. In 2008, they won the whole thing. In ’09, they miss the Playoffs when he misses most of the season. He comes back last year, plays better than ever and they go back to the Bowl. He’s the very definition of difference maker.

2. Peyton Manning (High: 1, Low: 2): No player means more to his team than Peyton does. His greatness has long been defined by numbers, but now it’s shown in presence. With him on the sideline for the first time in his career, the Colts look more like a team that lives at the top of the Draft every year, than one that has taken home seven of the last nine division titles. Last year, Peyton carried the entire team on his shoulders more than ever due to a rash of injuries. Now this year, they are healthier as a whole, but one injury has sunk the rest of the ship. He should win MVP this year even if he doesn’t throw one pass.

1. Tom Brady (High: 1, Low: 2): No one came in at the top of more lists than Brady, and for good reason. It’s bigger than the 14 win, MVP season he had a year ago. It’s the fact that he makes playing the most difficult position in the game look effortless. After landing his second MVP nod with a ridiculous, record-setting 9:1 touchdown to interception season, he picked right back up where he left off in 2011, throwing for 517 yards in the season opener, the fifth best performance in League history. Point proven.

It's his world: Brady didn't get a vote lower than #2, and came in at #1 on 80% of the ballots cast.


Follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan for more on the never ending debate on who’s man around the NFL week-to-week.

THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE – CSP’s NFL Top 50 Players (Part 1)

Posted: September 16, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL, The Lineup
Tags: , ,

Every year in CSP (which would be exactly two years now…I’m growing up) I do a top 50 players in the NFL rank. It’s not based on who’s the hottest model at the moment or just who’s most attractive on “Madden”, skill wise. Rather it’s a mixture of both; who makes the biggest impact overall. Who’s the best regardless of situation, team, etc.

This year, I decided to take a step outside of myself. After countless Twitter discussions on “Who’s best” or even just “better than” whoever else, I sent out a call to as many as would answer to figure out what we all are really saying: who are the people’s choice best players in the NFL? So here’s how this goes:

Ten ballots were cast of the top 50 players in the NFL. They are all ranked against each other, with the tie breaker being the highest standing rank on any ballot of that player. Rocket science right? Now that we all know what we’re looking at, here’s how it played out this year…

Suh had an instant impact on QBs around the league, but where does that place him among the NFL's true elite?

(High/Low = Ranking on lists for poll)

50. Jonathan Vilma (High: 39, Low: Unranked): The leader of the Saints defense is one of the most active tackling middle linebackers in the game. He made his second Pro Bowl last season, and hit a career high in sacks as well.

49 (tie). Ryan Clady & Justin Tuck (High: 33, Low:  Unranked): A tie in regard amongst the lists, Clady and Tuck represent opposites on the field, but not in impact. With Clady guarding the gates, the Broncos passing attack still finished in the top 10 in the NFL and Kyle Orton had time to make Brandon Lloyd the most productive receiver in the league. As for Tuck, he reached double digits in sacks for the 3rd time in his five year career and had a pair of three sack games last season on the way to total of 11 for the year.

48. Terrell Suggs (High: 27, Low: Unranked): He once again became the outside rushing terror that he began his career as last year. He racked up 11 sacks for the year after managing only 4.5 in ’09. He added three more in the Ravens’ playoff match up with the Steelers.

47. Asante Samuel (High: 32, Low: Unranked): Why people still throw at Samuel, I don’t know. He’s snatched 20 interceptions in the last 3 years and led the NFL three times. This trend may not be ending anytime soon with Nnamdi Asomugha scaring QBs at him more than ever now.

46. Jason Witten (High: 35, Low: Unranked): Tony Romo’s favorite target did pretty good to say the least in a year without his QB. He brought in 94 catches for the second straight year and went over 1,000 yards for the third time. He also reached 600 career catches quicker than any other tight end in history.

Witten is definitely the only #3 option in the game that is good for 1,000 yards a year.

45. Michael Turner (High 34, Low: Unranked): The Falcons workhorse got back to what he does best: punishing defenses and finding the endzone. He found the endzone 13 times, and the Falcons rode him to their first division title since 2004.

44. D’Brickashaw Ferguson (High: 21, Low: Unranked): The foundation of the Jets formidable offensive line, Ferguson is one of the premier pass protectors in the game. His mixture of length and speed behind Mark Sanchez’s back enabled the QB to reach a career high in yards and touchdowns in his second year.

43. Nick Mangold (High: 26, Low: Unranked): Another testament to how solid the Jets line has been, Mangold stands at its core & is the only center to make this list. He was instrumental in the rebirth of LaDainian Tomlinson, and could work the same magic in Shonn Greene’s assumption of full-time duties this season.

42. Brian Urlacher (High: 36, Low: Unranked): The Bears defense rose back up to the forefront of the league this year and delivered them back to the Playoffs for the first time since 2006. It’s no coincidence that Urlacher also returned from an injury that kept him out of the entire 2009 campaign to lead them as well.

41. Steven Jackson (High: 31, Low: Unranked): SJ39 long carried the heaviest weight in the league, with the burden of the bottom feeding Rams on his shoulders alone. That weight was lessened with the Rams improvement of a year ago, but his results didn’t decrease: he surpassed 1,000 yards for the sixth consecutive year, the longest streak in the NFL.

Jackson grinded, smashed and willed his way to yet another 1,000 yard running season.

40. Jahri Evans (High: 34, Low: Unranked): Evans productivity on the inside of the Saint’s offensive line has given Drew Brees every inch of space he needs to make the pinpoint tosses he specializes in. The Saints put the trust in him to watch their most important asset, he has returned on the investment with two Pro Bowl appearances.

39. Greg Jennings (High: 37, Low: Unranked ): Being Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target has its benefits, and it ended with Jennings reeling in two Super Bowl touchdowns, along with a ring for his efforts. Overall, he made it to the promised land 14 times and proved he can “put the team on his back” like few other receivers.

38. Mario Williams (High: 28, Low: Unranked): The lone difference maker in the Texans defense moved to linebacker this season to be able to start his rush even quicker. Considering he has averaged over nine a season already, the league could be getting a new leader this year and a lot more to come.

37. Logan Mankins (High: 32, Low: Unranked): After a lengthy holdout a year ago, Mankins played so well in his nine active games that he still made his second consecutive Pro Bowl. With a new contract in his hands, a full season of Mankins in the New England mix makes them even more dangerous.

36. Vince Wilfork (High: 23, Low:Unranked): He’s the wall in the middle of the Patriots defense that has made them go for so many years, Wilfork has been the best pure nose tackle in football. Now he will move over in their new 4-3 scheme, and now quarterbacks as well as running backs will learn to fear him.

The massive 6'2, 330 pound frame is more often than not where it all starts and stops when running at the Pats.

35. Ndamukong Suh (High: 34, Low: Unranked): Suh wasted no time in becoming one of the most feared presences in the entire league. He returned in the Lions investment in rebuilding the defense around him with 10.5 sacks and a Pro Bowl nod in his first year.

34. Reggie Wayne (High: 18, Low: 50): The player represented on every list, Wayne had a career-best season last year as he shouldered more of the burden of the Colts offense than ever before. His 111 catches were a career high and he passed 1,000 yards for the seventh consecutive year. It was also the 3rd time he had at least 100 receptions in a season.

33. Maurice Jones-Drew (High: 24, Low: 41): Long standing as the Jaguars only true threat, MJD is more than happy to carry that weight. He’s a warrior in the process as well: he ran for over 1,300 yards for the second straight year despite a torn meniscus in his knee the entire season.

MJD has been a one man offensive show for the Jags, and is one of the toughest runners in the game.

32. Charles Woodson (High: 13, Low: 46): He didn’t turn in another Defensive Player of the Year performance last season. But he did turn that same effort into another Pro Bowl season and leading the Packers defense to its best performance, as well as his first Championship year.

31. Ray Lewis (High: 5, Low: Unranked): How Ray Lewis didn’t appear on one list completely is beyond me. Maybe they felt like he is slowing down, but considering he still the most feared middle linebacker in football & reached his fifth straight (and 11th overall) Pro Bowl a year ago, there’s not much fact to back that up. He’ll still be able to force a fumble when he’s 80.

30. DeSean Jackson (High: 15, Low: 32): No player keeps defenses on their toes more than DeSean does. One of the few guys that can score from anywhere, whenever he touches the ball, his “Miracle at the Meadowlands”, 65-yard game winning return proved the Eagles are never out of it when he can get his hands on the ball.

29. Ben Roethlisberger (High: 18, Low: 38): After beginning 2010 with a four game suspension and finishing it in the Super Bowl, Big Ben’s knack for making the big comeback is indisputable. However, despite reaching Super Sunday three times, he remains one of the more underrated players in the game: he has made only one Pro Bowl in his young, but accomplished career.

28. Roddy White (High: 11, Low: 38): Despite entire defenses hanging on him, Matt Ryan’s favorite target led the NFL with 115 catches a year ago and a personal career high in touchdowns with 11. He has led the NFL in receiving yards over the last four years with 5,158.

27. Dwight Freeney (High: 22, Low: Unranked): The Colts defense is far from anything to get excited about, but it’s not Freeney’s fault. The franchise all-time leader in sacks notched his third straight season in double digits a year ago, and will surpass 100 for his career this season.

26. James Harrison (High: 18 , Low: 44): He’s like a missile flying around the field, and there’s very parts he can’t reach on every play. He is arguably the hardest hitter in the entire league; and has a dent in his bank account from fines to prove it. I don’t say he’s dirty like he gets painted to be; he just is such a machine it just looks worse than it was intended to be.

On a Pittsburgh defense full of weapons, none can cause the damage Harrison can.

Check back tomorrow for the rundown from 25 to 1, and keep up with the debate more by following on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.