Friday, November 12, 2010

The Canon Review 2010 NFL Preview Mid-Season Review

With every team now playing at least half of their schedule, I figured that now is a good time to look back at how my predictions for the 2010 NFL season stack up so far.

AFC East:(*=Wild Card)

Predictions:                              Current Record:

1. New England Patriots          1. New York Jets (6-2)
2. Miami Dolphins*                 2. New England Patriots (6-2)
3. New York Jets                     3. Miami Dolphins (4-4)
4. Buffalo Bills                         4. Buffalo Bills (0-8)

Well, it looks like I was wrong about the Jets, as RB LaDanian Tomlinson has made a huge impact on the Jets' offense, and QB Mark Sanchez has cut down on his turnovers and has had more good games than bad. Defensively, the Jets aren't quite as dominant as last year's squad, but they still are one of the best defenses in the NFL and the Jets look as if they will battle the Patriots for the AFC East squad right down to the wire. The Patriots, in spite of trading WR Randy Moss, are still one of the top teams in the league. But last week's loss to Cleveland raised some questions about the team's once stout defense, which ranks 29th in the league after week 9. Miami just benched their starting quarterback, Chad Henne, as their offense has struggled to put up points. But their defense, led by OLB Cameron Wake, has been solid, and the Dolphins have survived a brutal schedule to remain at .500 thus far. The Dolphins' schedule in the second half is a bit easier, but they'll have a tough time catching the Patriots and Jets unless they can beat both teams on the road. The Bills have been called the best 0-8 team in NFL history, which still means that this season has been a disappointment. With QB Ryan Fitzpatrick developing into a legit starting-caliber quarterback, all hope is not lost in Buffalo, and look for the Bills to get at least one victory, possibly as soon as this Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Overall, I'm sticking with the Pats as division champs, but the Jets will make the playoffs instead of the Dolphins.

AFC North:

1. Baltimore Ravens                1. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)

2. Pittsburgh Steelers               2. Baltimore Ravens (6-3)

3. Cincinnati Bengals               3. Cleveland Browns (3-5)

4. Cleveland Browns                4. Cincinnati Bengals (2-6)

My Super Bowl pick at the beginning of the season, the Ravens, still look strong, but they seem to make a habit of letting inferior teams hang around before finally closing them out. With S Ed Reed recently rejoining the defense that has gotten great years out of DT Haloti Ngata and ILB Ray Lewis, and QB Joe Flacco having an excellent year thus far on offense, the Ravens may be the favorites in the AFC to reach the Super Bowl. The Steelers went 3-1 without QB Ben Roethlisberger, thanks to a stifling defense and the excellent play of RB Rashard Mendenhall. With Roethlisberger back in tow, another Super Bowl run is definitely in reach for Pittsburgh. The Browns, in spite of a muddled quarterback situation, have played tough all year and can claim victories over the Saints and Patriots. With QB Colt McCoy solidifying the quarterback situation and RB Peyton Hillis playing at an All-Pro level, the Browns are capable of winning on any given Sunday, and even though a playoff birth is unlikely, they are a team not to be taken lightly. Despite WR Terrell Owens playing like the T.O. of old, the Bengals are one of the NFL's most disappointing teams, as QB Carson Palmer has played much worse than his reputation and the team has made a staggering amount of mental errors. Overall, I still have the Ravens and Steelers making the playoffs, with the Browns and Bengals switching places.

AFC South:

1. Indianapolis Colts                1. Indianapolis Colts (5-3)

2. Tennessee Titans                 2. Tennessee Titans (5-3)

3. Jacksonville Jaguars           3. Houston Texans (4-4)

4. Houston Texans                   4. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4)

The Colts have suffered a ton of injuries on both sides of the ball, but as long as they have QB Peyton Manning, it would be foolish to count the Colts out. The Titans are tied with the Colts and with the teams playing each other twice in the second half, the Titans will control their own destiny in the AFC South. If WR Randy Moss can provide the Titans with another deep threat and open up the field for RB Chris Johnson, then the Titans will be a dangerous team, provided that QB Vince Young stays healthy. The Jaguars are a roller-coaster team, looking dominant one week and absolutely dreadful the next. Despite an improved TE Mercedes Lewis and the continued excellence of RB Maurice Jones-Drew, look for the Jaguars to continue their inconsistent play. After beating the Colts in week one, the Texans looked as if they turned the corner, but their defense has been hurt by injuries and poor play, hampering a top-notch offense powered by RB Arian Foster. In the end, I can't go against the Colts, and I see no reason to change my preseason picks.

AFC West:

1. San Diego Chargers            1. Kansas City Chiefs (5-3)

2. Denver Broncos                  2. Oakland Raiders (5-4)

3. Oakland Raiders                 3. San Diego Chargers (4-5)

4. Kansas City Chiefs             4. Denver Broncos (2-6)

The Chargers have a high-powered offense led by QB Philip Rivers and a solid defense, but have been historically bad on special teams, allowing three return touchdowns (including two in one game) and five blocked punts, half of the entire league's total of blocked punts thus far. If the Chargers can get their special teams under control, they could once again return to the playoffs. The Chiefs have been a pleasant surprise thus far, behind a top-notch running game powered by RBs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, and a defense powered by the pass rushing of OLB Tamba Hali and solid play from ILB Derrick Johnson and rookie S Eric Berry. With an easy schedule remaining, the Chiefs have a good chance to win the division. The Raiders have won five games for the first time since 2002, as RB Darren McFadden has become the player the Raiders hoped he would be after picking him in the 2008 Draft. With a solid defense backed up by CB Nmandi Asomugha, the Raiders aren't going away anytime soon. The Broncos have gotten solid play out of QB Kyle Orton and CB Champ Bailey, but have struggled because they can't run the ball (2.9 ypc) and can't stop the run either (allowing 4.6 ypc). Unless they find a solution to those problems, 2010 will be a lost season for the Broncos while the other three teams fight for the division crown. At the end of the day, look for the Chargers to once again reign as division champions despite a tough challenge.

NFC East:

1. Dallas Cowboys                   1. New York Giants (6-2)

2. New York Giants                 2. Philadelphia Eagles (5-3)

3. Washington Redskins         3. Washington Redskins (4-4)

4. Philadelphia Eagles             4. Dallas Cowboys (1-7)

Looks like I was dead wrong about the Cowboys, as their dismal play has gotten their coach Wade Phillips fired. Their offense has been bad, and their defense has been worse. The Giants have gotten some talk thrown their way as being the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, and with an offense powered by WR Hakeem Nicks and RB Ahmad Bradshaw complimented by the pass rushing exploits of DE Osi Umenyiora and the defense, the Giants have the look of a top-notch team. The Eagles' season may not have gone exactly as planned, but QB Michael Vick has revitalized his career and made the Eagles a dangerous team in the process. The Redskins are fortunate that they are 4-4, as QB Donovan McNabb has not played well and the team has allowed more yards than they've gained in every game thus far this season. With an opportunistic defense led by CB DeAngelo Hall and the return game exploits of Brandon Banks, the 'Skins should continue to hang close with most teams, but unless McNabb gets back on track, then this looks like a 7-9 team at best. In the end, look for the Giants to win the division, while the Eagles take one of the two wild-card spots.

NFC North:

1. Green Bay Packers             1. Green Bay Packers (6-3)

2. Minnesota Vikings*            2. Chicago Bears (5-3)

3. Chicago Bears                     3. Minnesota Vikings (3-5)

4. Detroit Lions                       4. Detroit Lions (2-6)

The Packers have suffered a lot of injuries, but thanks to a breakout season from OLB Clay Matthews and a solid performance from QB Aaron Rodgers, the Pack remain the favorites in the NFC North. When the Bears keep the turnovers down and protect QB Jay Cutler, they're a capable football team. Otherwise, the Bears can look as bad as any team in the NFL. The Vikings are a colossal mess, with rumors of coach Brad Childress's job security, the saga of WR Randy Moss, and the scandal involving QB Brett Favre contributing to a lost season in Minnesota, despite the best efforts of RB Adrian Peterson. The Lions are 2-6, but have lost 5 games by fewer than eight points, and have actually outscored their opposition by 15 points. But with QB Matthew Stafford likely out for the season, the Lions may struggle to reach 5 wins, even with super rookie DT Ndamukong Suh. The Packers are probably the only above average team in this division, so they should coast to a division title.

NFC South:

1. Atlanta Falcons                    1. Atlanta Falcons (7-2)

2. New Orleans Saints*           2. New Orleans Saints (6-3)

3. Carolina Panthers                3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-3)

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers      4. Carolina Panthers (1-7)

The Falcons just became the first NFL team to reach seven wins this season, in part because that they played 3 days before everyone else this week, but nevertheless. With WR Roddy White having an All-Pro season and QB Matt Ryan maturing into one of the NFL's top quarterbacks, the Falcons are living up to expectations. The Saints have had some bumps in the road and injuries have hampered their running game, but QB Drew Brees and company have an easier second half schedule and should compete for the NFC title. The Panthers have a decent defense, but their offense is historically bad, and it wouldn't be surprising if the Panthers didn't win a game for the rest of the season. Despite coach Raheem Morris's claims, the Buccaneers are not the best team in the NFC. They are a lot better than I picked them to be though, as QB Josh Freeman may be the most promising young quarterback in the NFL. The Bucs are going in the right direction, but the Falcons and Saints are just too tough for them to overcome. Look for Atlanta and New Orleans to make the playoffs.

NFC West:

1. Arizona Cardinals                1. St. Louis Rams (4-4)

2. San Francisco 49ers            2. Seattle Seahawks (4-4)

3. St. Louis Rams                    3. Arizona Cardinals (3-5)

4. Seattle Seahawks                4. San Francisco 49ers (2-6)

This division is just as bad as most pundits predicted, and it is likely that the division winner will finish with a .500 or worse record. The Rams have received a huge boost from rookie QB Sam Bradford, and most of their recent high draft picks such as DE Chris Long are starting to play up to their draft positions. At the very least, the Rams have finally emerged from the doldrums of the past few years. The Seahawks got off to a hot start, but have been blown out in the last two games by the Raiders and Giants. If QB Matt Hasselbeck can come back from injury, the Seahawks should be a factor in the NFC West. If the Cardinals could get decent play from the quarterback position, then they would probably lead the division. Unfortunately for Arizona, neither Derek Anderson or Max Hall have proven to be the answer, and Arizona will spend the rest of the season struggling to find a consistent offense. The 49ers still have ILB Patrick Willis, RB Frank Gore, and not a whole lot else. However, other than a game in Green Bay, the 49ers have a rather easy schedule down the stretch, so it wouldn't be surprising if they get on a run. Ultimately, I really don't know who's going to win. I guess I'll go with the Rams since they seem to be the team that's the hottest right now.

AFC Championship Game: Ravens over Colts
NFC Championship Game: Packers over Falcons
Super Bowl: Ravens over Packers

If there's one thing for certain in the NFL this season, it's that there is still no clear-cut favorites to win the Super Bowl. You can make a case for the Jets, Patriots, Colts, Ravens, Steelers, Falcons, Saints, Packers, Giants, and perhaps the Eagles to be the top team in the NFL. Since my Championship Game picks are all among the favorites, I see no reason to change course now, although I do have my doubts about the Colts being able to beat the Steelers or Patriots with all of their injuries.


Preseason Picks:

1. QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (192 completions in 303 attempts, 2,300 yards, 15 TD passes, 9 interceptions, 90.6 QB Rating)
2. QB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts (228-351, 2478, 16-4, 96.1)
3. QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots (166-261, 1826, 14-4)
Dark Horse: QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (212-338, 2265, 16-5, 91.9)

Current Favorites:

1. Manning
2. Brady
3. QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (215-329, 2944. 19-8, 102.9)
4. OLB Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers (10.5 Sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD)

In spite of losing three of his top four receivers and his top running back due to injury, Manning still is playing at his usual level, making a star out of previous unknown TE Jacob Tamme and having the Colts on the top of their game. Brady also has taken a subpar supporting cast, on paper at least, and led the Patriots to a 6-2 record. Rodgers and Ryan are definitely very valuable to their teams, but it will be hard for them to get votes over Manning and Brady. Rivers is third in the NFL in QB rating and leads the league in touchdowns and yards. If the Chargers could block on punts worth a damn, Rivers would be the frontrunner for MVP Awards. In his second year, Matthews has become the biggest defensive impact player in the NFL, and a 20 sack season is not out of the question for the pass-rushing specialist.
NFL Most Outstanding Offensive Player:

Preseason Picks:

1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings (180 attempts, 857 rushing yards, 7 touchdowns, 26 catches)
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans  (178, 721, 8)

Dark Horse: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals (42 catches, 510 yards, 4 TDs)

Current Favorites:

1. Rivers
2. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans (157, 864, 9 , 32 catches)
3. Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons (70, 934, 7)
4. Peterson

Although the Vikings have disappointed, Peterson has continued to shine and has even improved, as his fumble problems of last year have largely disappeared. Rodgers has been solid, but Rivers has performed at a much higher level. Johnson may not run for 2,500 yards this year, as he predicted, but 1,500 seems like a safe bet. Foster has come out of nowhere to become the most productive back in the NFL this season, while White has taken his game to another level to become the most productive receiver in the league. As for Fitzgerald, the poor quarterback play in Arizona have hampered his numbers, although he still remains a top-notch player.

NFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player:

Preseason Favorites:

1. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys (8 sacks, 1 fumble recovery)
2.Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh Steelers (2 INTs, 32 tackles)
3. Patrick Willis, ILB, San Francisco 49ers (54 tackles, 1 sack)
Dark Horse: Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets (2 fumble recoveries)

Current Favorites:

1. Matthews
2. Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore Ravens (5 sacks, 32 tackles)
3. Tamba Hali, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs (8 sacks)
4. Aqib Talib, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5 Ints, 1TDs)

Ware may have eight sacks, but other than that his play has been spotty at best, and the rest of the Cowboys' misfortunes won't help his cause. Polamalu's return has solidified the Steelers defense, although he may not have the individual numbers to get POY consideration, Willis has once again been spectacular for a struggling 49ers team, while Revis has struggled to stay on the field due to injury. Matthews is the odds-on favorite right now, but it would be unwise to ignore Ngata, as he is the best defensive lineman in the game. Hali has sparked the Chiefs' Renaissance, while Talib has proven to be an impact player for the surprising Bucs. 
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year:

Preseason Picks:

1. Ryan Matthews, RB, San Diego Chargers (87 carries, 382 yards, 2 touchdowns)
2. Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions (107, 345, 4, 41 catches, 356 yards)
3. Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams (171-292, 1674, 11-8, 75.9 rating)
Dark Horse: Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (38 catches, 435 yards, 4 TDs, 2 punt return TDs)

Current Favorites:

1. Bradford
2. Bryant
3. Mike Williams, WR, (36 catches, 559 yards, TDs)
4. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Steelers

Matthews and Best were supposed to carry the rushing load for their respective teams, and each player has for the most part, although the Lions would probably like Best to improve on his 3.2 ypc. Bradford has been everything the Rams could have hoped for, while Bryant has been one of the few positives in a season full of negative for Dallas. Williams, a fourth-round pick, has emerged as Josh Freeman's favorite target in Tampa Bay, while Pouncey has stepped into a starting role for the Steelers and excelled for the most part.
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year:

Preseason Picks:

1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions (6.5 sacks, 24 tackles)
2. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs (2 INTs, 33 tackles, 2 sacks)
3. Rolando McClain, ILB, Oakland Raiders (26 tackles, 0.5 sack)
Dark Horse: Derrick Morgan, DE, Tennessee Titans (1.5 sacks)

Current Favorites:

1. Suh
2. Berry
3. Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks (4 INTs, 30 tackles)
4. Koa Misi, OLB, Miami Dolphins (3.5 sacks, 14 tackles)

Suh, the second pick in the draft, has quickly become one of the most dominant lineman in the NFL from day one. Berry and Thomas have been key components in the improvements of the Chiefs and Seahawks, respectively. McClain has been decent for the Raiders thus far, while Morgan has made very little impact for the Titans thus far. Misi has given the Dolphins a second pass rushing threat besides Cameron Wake. Ultimately, Suh is going to run away with this award, even if he struggles with extra points.

Coach Most Likely to be Fired: 

1. John Fox, Panthers
2. Lovie Smith, Bears
3. Jack Del Rio, Jaguars
Dark Horse: Andy Reid, Eagles

With the Panthers at 1-7, it's only a matter of time before Fox gets fired. The Bears may be 5-3 and the Jaguars may be 4-4, but both Smith and Del Rio could ultimately lose their jobs if their respective teams falter in the second half. Reid's Eagles have played well thus far, so he should be safe. As for other coaches in danger, the Cowboys' Wade Phillips has already lost his job, while the Vikings' Brad Childress seems to have lost the respect of his team. Other coaches that could be in trouble include the 49ers' Mike Singletary, the Browns' Eric Mangini, the Bengals' Marvin Lewis, and the Texans' Gary Kubiak.

Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this or previous posts, or ideas for future reviews or posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at


  1. Man, you should definitely be writing for ESPN or some other sports website. All of your sport reviews/previews are much more intelligent and in-depth than the "professionals".

    Keep up the good work my man, and GO FALCONS!

  2. Thanks for the kind words. GO FALCONS, and also Go Bills, because it would suck if they couldn't win a game.