Posts Tagged ‘Peyton Manning’


The NFL moves on from Day After Tomorrow, also known as Week 14, where half the games around the league looked like Tony Montana’s face in the last 5 minutes of his lifetime.  And now as Week 15 comes up the playoff picture continues to get more and more important, and the games continue to get unpredictable.

But looking at the picks, and picture is trending upwards again for the CHEAT SHEET. While the top upset picks continue to disappoint, the money locks are coming through. This week looks to be a much safer week to get some low risk payouts in, as well as some strong upset chances as well. Sunday in both Tennessee and Dallas could get interesting, and the while the week doesn’t start off with much of a challenge game in Denver, it does provide a chance to bet a pretty safe over/under either way.

Regardless of how you pick, it is bound to be an entertaining week, with Seahawks out for vengeance against the turnover prone Giants, the Redskins QB carousel going into soap opera levels of ridiculous and a certain #18 in the orange and blue looking to break a record that seemed pretty far out just a few months ago tonight.

Here is how it’s all playing out this week….


Free Money Picks: 5-7

Upset of the Week: 2-6-1

RECORD—Week 15: 10-6, SEASON: 122-69-1


San Diego Chargers (6-7) at Denver Broncos (11-2) [DEN -11, Over/Under 56.5]


Washington Redskins (3-10) at Atlanta Falcons (3-10) [ATL -7, Over/Under 50.5]

Chicago Bears (7-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-9) [CHI -2, Over/Under 45]

Houston Texans (2-11) at Indianapolis Colts (8-5) [IND -5, Over/Under 45.5]

New England Patriots (10-3) at Miami Dolphins (7-6) [NE -2, Over/Under 45.5]

Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) at Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1) [PHI -5, Over/Under 51.5]

Seattle Seahawks (11-2) at New York Giants (5-8) [SEA -7, Over/Under 41.5]

San Francisco 49ers (9-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) [SF -5, Over/Under 41]

Buffalo Bills (4-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) [BUF -1, Over/Under 43]

Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-9) [KC -5, Over/Under 41]

New York Jets (6-7) at Carolina Panthers (9-4) [CAR -11, Over/Under 40.5]

Green Bay Packers (6-6-1) at Dallas Cowboys (7-6) [DAL -7, Over/Under 49]

Arizona Cardinals (8-5) at Tennessee Titans (5-8) [ARI -3, Over/Under 41.5]

New Orleans Saints (10-3) at St. Louis Rams (5-8) [NO -6, Over/Under 47.5]

Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8) [CIN -3, Over/Under 41]


Baltimore Ravens (7-6) at Detroit Lions (7-6) [DET -6, Over/Under 48.5]


Week 7 of the NFL is ready to take off, and the Cheat Sheet returns in good condition yet again. Week 6 was a kind one, with double-digit wins once again being hit on. And it hit just in time, because Week 7 is shaping up as one with some tough home/road shots in it.

The letdown of the week last time around came from the Texans, who fell at home to the Rams. Also, the first “Upset of the Week” pick failed, as the Browns three-game winning streak came to an end at home to the Lions. Add in losses at home for the Vikings and Panthers, as well as a loss on Monday for the Colts, and a solid 10-5 mark was met overall.

In week seven, there are a handful of very tough matchups, with five matchups sharing spreads of three points or fewer to open up the week. There are close matchups that could come out of Bengals/Lions, Patriots/Jets, Cowboys/Eagles, Redskins/Bears & Ravens/Steelers, making for a risky week on the picks. But while last week was pulled by the road, this week, the confidence feels closer to home.

And with that, here’s the recap of the year as it’s been, and finally, what’s to come…

Free Money Picks (Cover spread & Over/Under): 0-2

Upset of the Week: 0-1

SEASON RECAP—Week 6: 10-5, Season: 51-25


Seattle Seahawks (5-1) at Arizona Cardinals (2-3) [SEA -6.0, Over/Under: 40]


St. Louis Rams (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (2-3): [CAR -6.0, Over/Under: 42]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5) at Atlanta Falcons (1-4): [ATL -7.0, Over/Under: 43]

Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) at Detroit Lions (4-2): [DET -1.0, Over/Under: 47] **Upset of the Week**

Buffalo Bills (2-4) at Miami Dolphins (3-2): [MIA -7.5, Over/Under: -7.5]

New England Patriots (5-1) at New York Jets (3-3): [NE -3.5, Over/Under: 43.5]

Dallas Cowboys (3-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-3): [PHI -2.5, Over/Under: 55]

Chicago Bears (4-2) at Washington Redskins (1-4): [EVEN, Over/Under: 50]

San Diego Chargers (3-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6): [SD -7.5, Over/Under: 45]**$$ Free Money #1 $$**

San Francisco 49ers (4-2) at Tennessee Titans (3-3) [SF -4.0, Over/Under: 39.5]

Cleveland Browns (3-3) at Green Bay Packers (3-2): [GB -10.0, Over/Under: 46]

Houston Texans (2-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-0): [KC -6.5, Over/Under: 40]

Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4): [PIT -1.0, Over/Under: 40.5]

Denver Broncos (6-0) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2) [DEN -6.5, Over/Under: 56] **$$ Free Money #2 $$**


Minnesota Vikings (1-4) at New York Giants (0-6) [NYG -3.0, Over/Under: 46.5]


For more on the NFL has the picks and flops of the week work out, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

NFL: Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints

Over the last week, I’ve been working up division by division predictions across the NFL.  But today, on the verge of full-scale NFL action breaking out, it’s time to finish the job and put it all on the line. After all, what are 32 predictions if you don’t run them down to one? So here it is, who’s going to New York City for the Super Bowl, in the order they’d play out via the standings I arrived at. As a bonus, I’ll throw in a few awards for a few guys as well, for good measure.

But before we take it there, here a recap on how it all should shake out:

NFC East                                                           NFC North

  1. Redskins (10-6)                                 1. Packers (11-5)
  2. Cowboys (9-7)                                   2. Bears (10-6)*
  3. Giants (8-8)                                        3. Vikings (7-9)
  4. Eagles (4-12)                                      4. Lions (5-11)

NFC South                                                           NFC West

  1. Falcons (13-3)                                   1. Niners (12-4)
  2. Saints (8-8)                                         2. Seahawks (11-5)*
  3. Buccaneers (6-10)                            3. Rams (7-9)
  4. Panthers (5-11)                                 4. Cardinals (5-11)

AFC East                                                             AFC North

  1. Patriots (11-5)                                   1. Ravens (11-5)
  2. Dolphins (7-9)                                    2. Bengals (10-6)*
  3. Jets (5-11)                                            3. Steelers (10-6)*
  4. Bills (4-12)                                           4. Browns (7-9)

AFC South                                                        AFC West

  1. Houston (11-5)                                 1. Broncos (13-3)
  2. Colts (8-8)                                           2. Chiefs (7-9)
  3. Titans (6-10)                                       3. Chargers (5-11)
  4. Jaguars (2-14)                                    4. Raiders (3-13)



Green Bay Packers over Chicago Bears

Seattle Seahawks over Washington Redskins

Cincinnati Bengals over Baltimore Ravens

Houston Texans over Pittsburgh Steelers


Seattle Seahawks over Atlanta Falcons

San Francisco 49ers over Green Bay Packers

Denver Broncos over Cincinnati Bengals

Houston Texans over New England Patriots


San Francisco 49ers over Seattle Seahawks

Houston Texans over Denver Broncos


The MVP from two years back has as much of a load on his shoulders as ever before. And if he delivers on promise for the Pack again, an addition to his trophy case will be well deserved.

The MVP from two years back has as much of a load on his shoulders as ever before. And if he delivers on promise for the Pack again, an addition to his trophy case will be well deserved.


Now before throwing it all on the line with the Super Bowl picks, let me back up and get some award picks for the season. It is impossibly difficult to select an MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive/Offensive Player of the Year before the season begins. So much goes into it, and it can change on a week to week basis. But, it’s Kickoff, so why not.

MVP—Aaron Rodgers: The Packers are leaning on him more than ever, and really, the team just behind him in the North via Chicago is the better overall team. But all things considered, the Pack will still take the North and it should come via a virtuoso performance from the league’s best QB.

Offensive Player of the Year—Peyton Manning: It is going to be a close call over Rodgers, Adrian Peterson and Andrew Luck, but there’s a chance that Peyton pulls off one of the great offensive efforts in league history. He’s got the tools, the right division and a pretty decent head start to do it all. 50-45 touchdowns should be in his sights.

Defensive Player of the Year—Richard Sherman: Doesn’t seem like a stretch to think that the Seahawks will have the best defense in the NFL. And Sherman is not only the ringleader on the microphone, but also the catalyst of the entire attack. QBs have no choice but to challenge him due to the depth of the team around him. And he will make the most of it in some pretty big games.

Offensive Rookie of the Year—Tavon Austin: The impact may not be immediate…but then again maybe it will be. With a home run threat like Austin, there is no telling when or where he may make an impact from for the Rams. And in a style similar to what Percy Harvin did a few years back, Austin could be on par for a huge debut.

Defensive Rookie of the Year—Kenny Vaccaro: The Saints defense will be challenged yet again, but this time they’ll be met by a legitimate threat to bring the ball right back at them. Vaccaro was the perfect addition to a team that needs to keep its pass happy QB schedule honest.

And finally…


The Texans have been on the verge for a few years, while the Niners have rapidly reinvented themselves underneath Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick. With both teams touting strong defenses and rushing attacks, it could come down to who can find room to make the big play first. When it comes to that element, the Texans have the biggest threat in Andre Johnson, but the Niners have the most options to find room for one between Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and by that time, Michael Crabtree.

It will be tight and February in New York may not have the best conditions for a highwire act, and that’s where it favors the road options of the Niners with the ball in their hands, as well as the best linebacker group in football getting plenty of shots on Arian Foster and Ben Tate. This favors San Francisco, and it nets them their first Super Bowl since 1994.

To call the AFC West top heavy a year ago would be an understatement. With the new life that Peyton Manning breathed into Denver during his comeback campaign, the Broncos won their division by the largest margin of any other playoff club.

This inspired some sweeping changes across the division. There are new coaches in San Diego and Kansas City, and new quarterbacks in KC and Oakland as well. To further the point, the Raiders actually brought in two new signal callers, just to make sure that some change was made. Yet for all that’s changed, the Broncos were far from quiet themselves, adding the league’s best possession receiver in Wes Welker and giving Peyton Manning another way to decipher the division’s defenses, as if he needed.

This season will be geared towards narrowing the gap on the far end of the AFC. Can the overhaul in Kansas City pull them from the league’s cellar, and can Oakland avoid replacing them in it. And in San Diego, will Philip Rivers finally have what he needs to regain the conversation among the NFL’s elite tossers?


QB: Peyton Manning, RB: Jamaal Charles, Darren McFadden WR: Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, DeWayne Bowe, TE: Antonio Gates OT: Brandon Albert, Ryan Clady, OG: Jaromy Clary, Zane Beadles C: Nick Hardwick

DE: Tyson Jackson, Cory Liugett DT/NT: Travis Knighton, Pat Sims OLB: Tamba Hali, Von Miller MLB: Derrick Johnson, Nick Roach CB: Champ Bailey, Brandon Flowers FS: Charles Woodson, SS: Eric Berry

K: Sebastian Janikowski P: Dustin Colquitt KR: Trinton Holliday, PR: Trinton Holliday

Of all of his MVP seasons, there is a chance that Manning is about to take the helm of the most talented offense he has ever guided.

Of all of his MVP seasons, there is a chance that Manning is about to take the helm of the most talented offense he has ever guided. There is a legit chance for three 1,000 yard receivers for the Broncos.

DENVER BRONCOS (13-3 in 2012)

The Good: Unstoppable is not a word to throw around lightly, but this offense could be the finest that Peyton Manning has commanded in his career. With a deep threat in Eric Decker, huge red zone target in Demaryius Thomas and first down machine in Wes Welker, defenses will have to concede and hope for the blitz to work. Add in a rotating stable of tight ends and varied attack out of the three-man backfield, there are big play options everywhere Manning looks.

The Bad: How will the defense stand up? Champ Bailey has seen his better days, and it will be without its two primary pass rushers from a year ago in Von Miller (six-game suspension) and Elvis Dumervil (lost in roster restructure mismanagement) for the start of the year and the season. There will need to be a new presence that steps up and carries some weight of protecting the lead.

X-Factor—Knowshon Moreno: He went from injured and buried on the depth chart, to being once again being the versatile weapon out of the backfield it was always believed he could be since being the 13th pick in the 2009 Draft. Moreno is the perfect decoy and safety valve option for the master of the play action to have at his disposal.

Schedule: BAL (W), @NYG (W), OAK (W), PHI (W), @DAL (W), JAX (W), @IND (W), WSH (W), @SD (W), KC (W), @NE (L), @KC (W), TEN (W), SD (W), @HOU (L), @OAK (W)

Prediction: Year two of Mile High Manning should see them soar above the clouds in the AFC. Not only do they return the most complete team from a year ago, but they should be the most productive offense in the NFL. Even at 38, Manning should make a run for yet another MVP, as well as the first Super Sunday in Denver since his boss’ final game. 14-2

Consistently healthy seasons have been rare, but Charles is perhaps the NFL's greatest home run threat, and he could see the ball more than ever.

Consistently healthy seasons have been rare, but Charles is perhaps the NFL’s greatest home run threat, and he could see the ball more than ever.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (2-14 in 2012)

The Good: They’re stacking up on the right kind of players to run the gritty, run-first offense that has always been KC at its best. With franchised tackle Brandon Albert back and coupled with brutally athletic top overall pick Eric Fisher, Jamaal Charles should be able to find the corner easier than ever. Add in new coach Andy Reid’s penchant for finding ways to land his feature back’s the ball in open space, and an explosion from Charles should be expected.

The Bad: Can they finally stop the run? They have been looking for solutions on the defensive front for years to slow down the ground attack against them, and the answers have not been too positive. First round pick Dontari Poe did not contribute much to the cause a year ago, and the defense bled out a 135 yards a game on the groud.

X-Factor—Alex Smith: For all of the rhetoric that Smith isn’t a game changer or a threat to the defense, he’s actually exactly the type of signal caller KC needs right now. More than anything else, they need a QB that will protect the ball and steady the flow of the game. Those are areas that Smith excels in and will be able to do in the steady offense that Reid employs.

Schedule: @JAX (W), DAL(L) , @PHI (W), NYG (W), @TEN (L), OAK (W), HOU (L), CLE (L), @BUF (L), @DEN (L), SD (W), DEN (L), @WSH (L), @OAK (L), IND (W), @SD (W)

Prediction: The Chiefs may have been the best team to pick #1 overall in years. It is not that the talent wasn’t there; it was more that the leadership and breaks were absent. They worked to change all of those factors, from quarterback to coach to front office, as well as added to their strengths in place. With a better break in health and development, they should be one of the most improved teams in football. 7-9

Woodson returns to where it all started from him, and he was a four time Pro Bowler from 1988-2005. He'll be as tasked with leadership as he is with performance this time.

Woodson returns to where it all started from him, and he was a four time Pro Bowler from 1988-2005. He’ll be as tasked with leadership as he is with performance this time.

OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-12 in 2012)

The Good: They haven’t been afraid to gamble, and switch up the status quo. This is most evident in the decision to give Terrelle Pryor first dibs at the quarterbacking job this fall. His dual-threat playmaking element is what a team that has few reliable weapons needs, as he can get in motion and find ways to create plays where they shouldn’t be.

The Bad: There are a lot of elements that say things could actually get worse in the Bay this year. After giving up over 350 yards a game on an average week last year, and whose team sack leaders tied at 4 apiece. Now they have gone into a youth movement on that side of the ball as well. Charles Woodson has returned to man free safety, which could speed along the learning curve, but it’s a steep one.

X-Factor—Darren McFadden: It’s almost become generally accepted that he will give a few great games early in the season, before sitting out the second half with yet another injury. For the sake of defense’s staying honest against Pryor and to boost a running game that produced only 88 yards a game on the ground a year ago, he has to show back up.

Schedule: @IND (L), JAX (W), @DEN (L), WSH (L), SD (W), @KC (L), PIT (L), PHI (L), @NYG (L), @HOU (L), TEN (L), @DAL (L), @NYJ (L), KC (W), @SD (L), DEN (L)

Prediction: There is a good chance that the Raiders faithful are more likely to tune to Jadevon Clowney and Teddy Bridgewater games on Saturday this year over the ones of the current Raiders on Sunday. Between a questionable situation behind center and an unfortunate one on defense, it doesn’t stand to be a very fun season in Oakland. 3-13

The main element for a Charger turnaround could be a consistent campaign from Ryan Mathews, who is yet to deliver a 16 game season in his three year career.

The main element for a Charger turnaround could be a consistent campaign from Ryan Mathews, who is yet to deliver a 16 game season in his three year career.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (7-9 in 2012)

The Good: Change has finally come to San Diego on the sidelines. After (…) years of the Norv Turner administration, the transmission finally gave out on the ride and a change was made. Mike McCoy will take over for a team that has steadily lost pieces, without replacing them (Michael Turner, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles) and finally has something in place that represents a restart. This could be all that this still averagely talented club needs.

The Bad: There has been no regular vibe for the offense to follow. For too long, it has all depended on what Philip Rivers can pull off, and it has begun to be too much for him to hold himself. The team finished 24th in passing offense and 27th in rushing yards per game last season, and with a season-ending injury to Danario Alexander, as well as Malcom Floyd nearly missing one himself already this year, there cause to believe more of the same will continue.

X-Factor—Ryan Mathews: How many years is it “all going to depend” on Mathews? The former first round pick is one of the biggest potential riding backs in the league, but alternates between not being healthy and not being able to string together regular efforts on it. Philip Rivers needs some help, and the guy behind “should” be most easily able to provide it.

Schedule: HOU (L), @PHI (W), @TEN (L), DAL (L), @OAK (L), IND (W), @JAX (W), @WSH (L), DEN (L), @MIA (W), @KC (L), CIN (L), NYG (L), @DEN (L), OAK (W), KC (L)

Prediction: The San Diego offense has to find some identity. Whether it is becoming a more run-based attack or simply cutting down on the turnovers (35 Rivers interceptions since 2011), there has to be a page turned. It does not seem to be the year that happens this time around. Couple these issues with a defense that’s remolding itself at every level, and it could be a low mark in recent Charger history. 5-11

"Yesterday....all my troubles seemed so far away..." - Peyton Manning...(not really but you get it)

The un-imaginable is really taking place; Peyton Manning isn’t going to be a Colt much longer. Right now, it’s not even for certain that he’s going to be an NFL player again really. But if Peyton is one thing, it’s tough. He never missed a game before 2011, and in that time he rarely even missed a snap. For all the debate about whether he will actually get on the field again, I honestly believe that if there was one player in the game that would die for it, it’s Peyton. Albeit, that’s what doctors and medical staffs are there for is to prevent kamikaze guys like him from actually doing that, but that’s neither here nor there.

I honestly believe that the Colts are going to have to make the toughest call on turning the page at QB since the 49ers had to move on from Joe Montana. In that case Steve Young made that decision a pretty easy one to live with, but the Colts have no reason to worry about who is next with top pick, uber-prospect Andrew Luck being on their roster nothing but a technicality of the NFL Draft making it official at this point.

But a healthy Peyton may be the best second life QB since Joe took his talents to Kansas City after being cast out from the team he built up from the ground to the heavens. He soon showed he had plenty of life left to him, and even pushed the Chiefs to an AFC Championship game. A healthy Peyton Manning is easily worth a few victories some hard up at quarterback clubs lose simply due to inept leadership in the pocket.

The Montana model is what could be in store for a club that looks into the disenfranchised Manning.

What teams are the best fits for a potential 4-time MVP, 11-time Pro Bowl free agent-to-be, which undoubtedly has a few more yards in him to add to the 54,828 he’s already covered? One thing for certain is that it opens up “a need” at QB for a lot more teams than there are without him on the market. A starter kit estimate would make sense for at least half the teams in the NFL to really take a hard look at how good they are now, and how much better they would be with Peyton on board.

The Dolphins, Redskins & Jets are the obvious contenders for his services, and no doubt he makes each of them a much better club (imagine Peyton in the AFC East going head up with Tom Brady and the Pats constantly?). Adding him to the NFC makes for even more intrigue in the most melodramatic division in the game. However, to see the true impact of his availability, the real impact is the fringe teams that come into play.

Regardless of what they say about their dedication to their current signal callers, the 49ers, Seahawks, Chiefs and Broncos would be foolish not at least inquire into his services. These are all teams that are one step away, and a healthy Manning takes everything about those teams to the next level. Cleveland has been a football wasteland for what seems like a millennium now, but nothing could kick the perpetual rebuilding phase to the gaining ground level like a move like this one. In Minnesota, Christian Ponder showed promise, but did he show that much to put off the possibility of pursuing Peyton and instantly reviving a sagging franchise in a super competitive division? They’ve danced a similar dance to this before, and the rewards they reaped were substantial.

How about the clubs that have high priced experiments in the mix such as the Cardinals and Jaguars? A Larry Fitzgerald-Manning combo is flat out Fantasy League-style fun to imagine and Blaine Gabbert could truly benefit from some bench time, just as new ownership could use the boom the league’s most marketable player brings to the gate. In the ultimate case of an emergency, what if (in the very definition and extreme of the term) the Saints can’t get a common ground with Drew Brees? It’s not a bad fall back to bring home town hero Peyton back to lead the Saints is it?

Much of this is speculation at its finest, but with the welcome mat being pulled in the house in Indianapolis, the unimaginable is about to become a very real situation soon. No matter what uniform he ends up in, it’s going to take a lot of eye wiping and head shaking to bring into focus. Getting ready for any and everything to take place in the biggest player auction in forever is going to be something to see, and in the end, could be the caffeine boost that either stagnant or on the verge team needs to have a pretty good run for a couple of years here.

Who’s got it in them to walk out on faith?


Follow me on Twitter, about 900 other folks will tell you it’s a good idea…most of the time. @CheapSeatFan.

Well, the season that many months ago we thought might not be has finished it’s qualifying round and is headed towards it’s real season now. Unfortunately for most, only 12 clubs qualify for the bonus round, which leaves 20 left in line waiting for next fall already.

That means that the NFL Draft rumor mill can get to spinning it’s wheels with a bit more of a concrete picture now that the order in which the league’s lessors is set. One of the most intriguing races yesterday afternoon was to see who would not end up in, but who would end up the furthest out. When the Colts kept to their usual form of the year and fell to the nearly equally depressing Jacksonville Jaguars, it locked them in atop the Draft for the first time since 1998, when they selected Peyton Manning…who is now in hot water with them landing this pick and the best QB to approach the NFL since him sitting right there for the taking as well.

Bill Polian & owner Jim Irsay have a big decision to make, and Manning is at the "heart" of it in more ways than one.

However, there will be a lot of time for the dynamics of how this will all play out to be discussed, so for now here is how the non-playoff NFL Draft will go, along with a few of the biggest needs of each spot. Coin flips will be used to decide who will go in which spot in a few locations, and they will be noted with asterisks.


1. Colts (2-14): Luck or a QB (not the same thing)  DT, WR, OLB, Guard

2. Rams (2-14): OT, WR, LB, DT, CB

3. Vikings (3-13): CB, OT, S, WR

4. Browns (4-12): WR, RB, DE, QB, OT

5. Buccaneers (4-12): OLB, CB, OT, OG, RB

6. Redskins (5-11): QB, CB, OT, DT, WR

7. Jaguars (5-11): WR, CB, DE, QB, OT

8/9* Panthers (6-10): DT, OLB, WR, OG

8/9* Dolphins (6-10): DT, OT, QB, ILB, S

1o. Bills (6-10): OLB, WR, CB, OT, DE

11/12. Chiefs (7-9): OT, DT, QB, CB, TE

11/12* Seahawks (7-9): QB, DE, DT, OG, RB

13. Cardinals (8-8): OT, OG, OLB, QB, C

14. Cowboys (8-8): CB, S, OLB, OT, C

15. Eagles (8-8): ILB, OT, OLB, SS, DT

16. Jets (8-8): OLB, SS, OT, OG, RB

17. Bengals [via Raiders for Palmer] (9-7): CB, SS, OLB, DT, OG

18. Chargers (8-8): OT, DT, OC, OG, WR

19. Bears (8-8): WR, OT, FS, OLB, SS

20. Titans (9-7): DE, OG, DT, OLB, F/SS


There’s a lot of debate to be had and there’s a lot of football to play….except if you’re on this list. But no matter what, my advice is to not get too comfortable with where your team may be today, because this draft will have more wheeling and dealing than maybe the last three combined. Stay tuned.


In the in-between time, follow my wheeling, dealing, bumbling AND stumbling on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

The AFC South is segregated, has been for while (not in a Civil War is needed type of way). Ironically, it’s landlords have come from up north in Indianapolis however, and last year was no different. The Colts brought their eighth title home in ten years of the division. However, no division has potentially more change on deck than the South, and it all starts around what may not be in Indy.

The Houston Texans started off last season in a fashion that suggested change wasn’t going to wait until this year, as they aggressively knocked off the Colts to start the year off. Along the way, the Jaguars got into the mix and eventually became one of the most surprising party crashers in 2010 Playoffs. In the end, the Colts pulled together around Peyton Manning and pulled it out.

This year, for the first time ever, Peyton’s status is uncertain and therefore so is the Colts. Can the Jaguars capitalize on the momentum they discovered last year, or can the Texans finally live up to how they read on paper? How about the Titans? With Chris Johnson back and a new coach leading the way, maybe they’ll take the crown. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s bigger than just Peyton and the Colts will hold down the fort regardless. The times, they are-a changing down way or four.


QB: Peyton Manning RB: Chris Johnson, Arian Foster WR: Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne TE: Dallas Clark OT: Michael Roos, Eric Winston OG: Wade Smith, Jonathan Scott C: Jeff Saturday

DE: Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis DT: Terrance Knighton, Tyson Alualu OLB: Mario Williams, Jimmy Durant MLB: DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing CB: Cortland Finnegan, Jonathan Joseph S: Antoine Bethea, Michael Griffin

K: Rob Bironas P: Matt Turk Returner: Mark Mariani

HOUSTON TEXANS (6-10 in 2010)

Offense: A. Johnson-WR, A. Foster-RB, M. Schaub-QB, O. Daniels-TE (A-)

Defense: M. Williams-OLB, D. Ryans-MLB, B. Cushing-MLB, J. Joseph-CB (C+)

The Good: They are being retooled as potential blitzing machine. While the secondary was shredded last season, a lot of what hurt them was a limited blitz. The focus in the offseason was to use the tools in place better and bring in new assets to get after the passer frequently. Mario Williams will move to outside linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme coordinator Wade Phillips will employ, and JJ Watt and Brooks Reed were drafted to bring plenty of trouble around the field.

The Bad: Their greatest strength is on shaky ground. Arian Foster totaled over 1,600 rushing yards and led the league, but much of his offseason was spent battling hamstring injuries. His emergence gave the Texans the running threat they long needed to balance out their air-only attack. Having him sidelined for any period of time this year could hold back any hopes of a takeover this season.

A new look defense is the focus, and it will be on Mario Williams & company to exorcise the Texans demons.

X-Factor-Jonathan Joseph: The Texans hemorrhaged 267 yards per game on average to opposing quarterbacks, so saying they needed to make some changes at cornerback is obvious. Enter Jonathan Joseph, who made the jump to Houston from Cincinnati and instantly inherits a world of expectation. How well he performs behind the revamped defensive rush can improve the entire team’s potential.

Fearless Projection: IND (W), @MIA (L), @NO (L), PIT (W), OAK (W), @BAL (L), @TEN (W), JAX (W), CLE (W), @TB (W), @JAX (W), ATL (L), @CIN (W), CAR (W), @IND (L), TEN (W)

In The End: It seems like every year by now is going to be their “breakthrough” year. Finally, it seems like the time has arrived. The entire division is in some kind of flux, and the Texans have finally made the improvements they need at the right time to take the control. Their postseason debut will finally find them this time around, via a South championship. Record 10-6


Offense: P. Manning-QB, R. Wayne-WR, D. Clark-TE, J. Saturday-C (A)

Defense: D. Freeney-DE, R. Mathis-DE, G. Brackett-MLB, A. Bethea-S (C+)

The Good: Many of their offensive weapons are back. Last season Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez and Joseph Addai all missed extensive time. However, Peyton Manning was able to mask these issues by just shouldering more of the load himself than he ever had. The problem is he is the only QB in the league that could have pulled that off and still won the division. With his status completely unknown, having the arsenal of weapons back is essential.

The Bad: The corners could get torched. Jacob Lacey, Jerraud Powers, Kevin Thomas and Justin Tryson could be in rotation by necessity all year as they try to find a way to get some combination that works will. If they don’t step up, it could be a very long season for the Colts defense, as they were awful against the run a year ago, giving up 127 yards a game. Some part of the defense has to produce.

How soon Peyton gets his hat off and helmet on will tell the story of the Colts fate, and in a hurry.

X-Factor-Peyton Manning: No team’s success hinges more on one player than the Colts. Since 1998, he’s played every game and operates the entire offense through himself. And as he proved a year ago, he can still push them regardless of who surrounds him. As the preseason proved, it doesn’t work the other way around. Very few players are truly irreplaceable, but Peyton is at the top of the list.

Fearless Prediction: @HOU (L), CLE (W), PIT (L), @TB (W), KC  (L), @CIN (W), @NO (L), @TEN (L), ATL (L), JAX (W), CAR (W), @NE (L), @BAL (L), TEN (W), HOU (W), @JAX (W)

In The End: Much of where they finish up is based on when Manning shows up, but the toughest part of their schedule is early and that’s when his availability is uncertain. They slipped some last season overall, and didn’t make the necessary adjustments to hold off the up and coming Texans…or to prepare for Manning to actually miss any time. Their two-year run atop the South will end. Record: 7-9


Offense: M. Jones-Drew-RB, M. Lewis-TE, M. Thomas-WR, B. Gabbert-QB (C+)

Defense: D. Smith-OLB, P. Poslunzsny-MLB, R. Mathis-CB, D. Landry-FS (C+)

The Good: The defense was improved to be able to handle more of the load. Paul Posluszny will add a second active tackler with Daryl Smith that will clean up the middle of the field well. The defensive line features an underrated pair of tackles in Tyson Aluala and Travis Knighton, and Matt Roth joins the group to round it out well opposite Aaron Kampman. The biggest addition could be Dawan Landry at free safety, a position that has long been a week spot in Jacksonville.

The Bad: It’s going to be a long season on offense either way it goes. The receiver group is already an issue, with no semblance of a number one target out the WR group. At least David Garrard was a savvy enough vet to not lose games with the group, but with his sudden release it puts Luke McCown in the seat until the Blaine Gabbert era is rushed into play. Maurice Jones-Drew is still here and well rested, but teams will load up the box non-stop to get to him in a hurry since there is no QB of note to scare them off.

How Daryl Smith and the defense shoulder the load will tell the story of the Jags...and Jack Del Rio's future.

X-Factor-Blaine Gabbert: He’s got all of the tools: the big arm, the size and the confidence. The time is now for him, because there’s nothing to be gained competitively from playing McCown. He doesn’t represent the type of QB that will be able to salvage a playoff run, and by at least playing Gabbert, it starts the clock towards his maturity (and the team renaissance that could come with it) earlier.

Fearless Prediction: TEN (W), @NYJ (L), @CAR (W), NO (L), CIN (W), @PIT (L), BAL (L), @HOU (L), @IND (L), @CLE (W), HOU (W), SD (L), TB (W), @ATL (L), @TEN (L), IND (L)

In The End: There’s a lot on the line in Jacksonville this year, and a late season surge last year was all that saved coach Jack Del Rio’s job. This year’s defense has the potential to keep that trend going forward, but unsteady QB production will be a season long problem and will run the rest of time off Del Rio’s clock in Jacksonville. Record: 5-11

TENNESSEE TITANS (6-10 in 2010)

Offense: C. Johnson-RB, K. Britt-WR, M. Hasselbeck-QB, R. Bironas-K (B-)

Defense: C. Finnegan-CB, M. Griffin-S, W. Witherspoon-OLB, C. Hope-S (C)

The Good: The offense came together, later than sooner. Chris Johnson’s holdout was ended in time to have their biggest weapon available for the full season. There’s no substitute for what he brings, especially to a team in transition. His load won’t be as heavy with Matt Hasselbeck on board this year, and while he’s not who he used to be, he will be a steadying presence that will be able to get everything that can be brought out the receivers.

The Bad: The defense could get worse, and considering it was assaulted for 252 yards a week through the air last year, that’s a bad scenario. This is due to an anemic pass rush that lost its only real pass rush threat in Jason Babin, and a secondary that is both too young at cornerback and too old at safety. The unimproved defensive line also what hammered for 115 yards a game on the ground a year ago, and is breaking in new tackles at both spots inside the defensive line.

Munchak inherited a messy situation in Tennessee, and has a task ahead of him to pull this group back together.

X-Factor-Kenny Britt: He escaped both suspension, jail for multiple driving offenses and preseason injury to make it to the field, and he could be in store for a breakout season as a result. Hasselbeck will be the most consistent passer he has paired with in his young career, and coming off a year where 9 of his 42 catches reached the endzone, he will be looked too often.

Fearless Prediction: @JAX (L), BAL (L), DEN (W), @CLE (W), @PIT (L), HOU (L), IND (L), CIN (W), @CAR (L), @ATL (L), TB (L), @BUF (W), NO (L), @IND (L), JAX (W), @HOU (L)

In The End: The offense has playmakers, but isn’t deep and has a fragile quarterback behind a shaky line. In addition, the defense will have trouble getting after the passer…and isn’t really built to stop the pass on the other end. They’ll break in their first new coach in 16 years (Mike Munchak) with a frustrating debut on the job. Record: 5-11

To see how right, wrong or in-between this all works out, and me living with it, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan and @STLSport360.