Posted on: September 29, 2009 2:26 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2009 11:55 pm

Week 3 Power Rankings: Birds of Prey

Ravens, by their very nature, are scavengers.

They are tough birds known for adapting to their environment and taking whatever is given to them. A common raven can feast on anything from maggots, to beetles, to garbage, or even small amphibians. Years of evolution have conditioned ravens to survive even in the harshest of environments.

Yes the raven is quite the specimen indeed.

Not to be outdone by their feathered counterparts, the Baltimore Ravens possess all of the characteristics that make them the most feared birds in the league.

Their stingy defense has devoured whatever opposition presented in front of them. Joe Flacco has spread his wings and dominated through the air – tailing only the Saints in offensive superiority. The Ravens migrate to New England this week in what figures to be a clash between AFC super powers.

On the flip side we have the Washington Redskins.

Shame on you, Washington.

Shame on you for losing to the Detroit Lions. I’ve speculated that the team to end Detroit’s streak will face serious heat from their fanbase, and the Washington faithful have proven that to be true.

Losing to the Lions on the road is downright pitiful. I can't tell whether the Lions are that good or the Redskins are that bad. There’s no way the first can be true, so I have come to the conclusion that Washington might just be…a bad football team.

I suppose Detroit deserves some credit too. Larry Foote and company really took it to the Washington offense.

1. (1) You know it’s going well when Drew Brees throws for a pedestrian 164 yards and the Saints cruise to a 20-point victory. On a side note, how good is that New Orleans’ offensive line? With some help from the underrated Pierre Thomas, they dominated the Buffalo defense to the tune of 5.8 yards per carry. This team is really something.

2. (3)   Holding an opponent scoreless in the National Football League is hard to do, but that’s exactly what the New York Giants did to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To give you an idea of how lopsided the game was, Amad Bradshaw – New York’s backup running back, single-handedly out gained the entire Tampa Bay offense in yards: 104 to 86. Big Blue begins their first of two bye weeks as they face Kansas City and Oakland in the upcoming weeks.
3. (6)   Now I know what you’re thinking – it was against the Browns. You’re absolutely right, but that doesn’t change the fact that Joe Flacco has been playing some very good football as of late. Flacco showed great touch and accuracy all day, and he looked like a quarterback ready to take the next step to greatness. Ray Lewis seems to have found the fountain of youth, as he is playing some of the best football of his career. The sky, of course, is the limit.

4. (4) Peyton Manning is the league MVP in the truest sense of the world. I couldn’t imagine this team going anywhere without him. It was nice to see that defense step up and actually stop someone. Holding the Cardinals to 10 points in Glendale is no easy task. Indianapolis is known for stellar play along the defensive line, but how about that secondary? Marlon Jackson and Antoine Bethea don’t get enough credit for the job they do back there.

5. (2) When it’s all said and done, the Steelers will be there in January. A few bad breaks have the Champs stumbling out of the gate, but as we’ve seen before, that should make them all the more dangerous. With their next three games coming against San Diego, Detroit, and Cleveland, Pittsburgh should find their way back toward the top of the AFC North.

6. (5)  So they can run the ball after all! New England doesn’t have that same glow of invincibility around them, but the Patriots are still one of the toughest teams in football. Bill Belichick is still the master of game planning. His Patriots successfully shut down Roddy White to the tune of 4 receptions for 24 yards. Matt Ryan was harassed with exotic coverages and Michael Turner found little room to run all day. I like their chances against Baltimore.

7. (8) Although the Jets had the better record and the home field advantage, I consider their week 3 win against the Tennessee Titans to be an upset. I thought Jeff Fisher has been coaching long enough to be able to take a rookie quarterback out of his game. Guess not. I hear they’re calling him “Mark Sanchize” out there in New York. I wonder how long it will take before these same New Yorkers start calling for his job?

8. (7) There’s no shame in losing to a future Hall of Fame quarterback and head coach. Despite the final score, the Falcons were able to keep the game close until New England pulled away late. While I won’t say the secondary was exposed, they struggled to keep Randy Moss in check all day. The Falcons are off this week, and that should give Mike Smith and crew some time to look over the mistakes they’ve made.

9. (11) Although they decisively handled the struggling Rams, I walked away from that game more concerned about the long-term success of the Green Bay Packers. It seems Green Bay’s biggest problem defensively is stopping the run. Steven Jackson ran wild to the tune of 117 yards. Opponents average a whopping 128.7 yards per game against the Pack – good for 23rd most allowed to running backs in the league. Their week 4 opponent: Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings.

10. (9) If there were such a thing as an unimpressive win, the Chargers certainly earned on at home against the Miami Dolphins. In their first game without former Pro Bowler Nick Hardwick, Darren Sproles scampered for 41 yards on 18 carries. There wasn’t much to stop with Miami, but San Diego contained the Dolphins’ rushing attack and did enough to walk away victorious. As Dr. Seuss reminds us, “a win is a win, no matter how small.”

11. (10) Brett Favre doesn’t have any gas left in the tank. He still runs on coal. After that dramatic win against the 49ers, it’s safe to say that Brett Favre has plenty of coal left in the tank. Heading into this one, I thought the 49ers would give us a good indication of how strong this team is, and they did. The Vikings are a good football team. I’m not sure whether Brett Favre is capable of winning football games outright. In the end, that will separate Minnesota from the elites.
12. (12) Just when I thought I had this team figured out, they go and do this to the Seattle Seahawks. With all due respect to Seneca Wallace, a backup quarterback should not put up nearly 300 yards through the air against a presumably dominant defense. Jay Cutler completed 77% of his passes, yet he still found a way to turn the ball over twice. You know, I’m starting to think that Cutler actually likes turnovers. He better kick the habit fast, because the ever dangerous Detroit Lions are coming to town…

13. (14) If you don’t believe the Philadelphia Eagles have the most astute front office in the league, look no further than their newest star: Brent Celek. Never mind they drafted him with the 162nd selection of the NFL Draft. The amazing thing here is they had enough confidence in Celek to let L.J. Smith leave via free agency. Kevin Kolb bounced back nicely from a rough start and has the Eagles looking like one of the better teams in football.

14. (17) Don’t look now, but the Cincinnati Bengals are back. This team looks balanced on offense and sharp on defense. I am certainly willing to buy what they are selling if not for one thing: they’re the Bengals. This weeks’ game against the Browns in Cleveland is a classic trap game. They seem to know how to run the football. They seem to know how to play aggressive defense. Do they know how to win consistently? Only time will tell.

15. (13) They let the Carolina Panthers hang around, and that is a dangerous thing to do in today’s NFL. Despite this, Tony Romo and the Cowboys did enough to properly christen Jerry World with it’s first win. The Cowboys really need to stop this little charade they’re playing with Wade Phillips as their head coach. This is Jason Garrett’s team and everybody knows it. I was impressed by how Garrett utilized personnel and handled Romo on the sidelines. One day he’ll make a great head coach…excuse me – he already IS a great head coach.

16. (16) It took a miraculous fourth quarter throw by the greatest quarterback of all-time to hand the 49ers their first loss. If they keep playing like this every week, they are bound to raise their fair share of eyebrows. It was tough sledding for Glen Coffee and company against The Great Wall of Williams, but hats off to the 49ers for trying. On a side note, Patrick Willis might be the best middle linebacker in the NFC.

17. People give Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez all the credit, but the Orton/McDaniels tandem in Denver has been equally impressive. Elvis Dummervil is looking like a special player in this league and he has to be considered the favorite for defensive player of the year. I don’t know if any player is doing much for their defense as he is. I want to see Kyle Orton make a big-time throw against a professional football team. Only then will I like their chances against the big boys of the AFC.

18. (18) I don’t believe a team has to run the football to be successful, but these Arizona Cardinals are the exception. It seems this team is most successful with they are willing to pound the ball on the ground 18-20 times per game. Kurt Warner is a good quarterback. The Cardinals need to minimize his attempts and play the version of Steeleresque football that Ken Whisenhunt made popular in 2008.

19. (15) I’ve been saying this for some time, but this team won’t go very far with Kerry Collins at quarterback. Although many of their loses have been close, they’re still loses and I put at least two of them on Collins. The receivers in Tennessee deserve some blame as well. Defensively, the Titans look good as ever. They’re going to need to be, they’ll have to win low-scoring affairs if they want to get back to .500.

20. (20) Just as I was about to break out the Chrisim and anoint Trent Edwards’ arrival to the NFL, they go out and flop against the Saints. For the life of me, I don’t understand how Terrell Owens goes the entire game without recording a reception. Even if it’s just on a quick slant or a screen, the Bills need to make a conscious effort to get this guy the football. Teams seem to be running around Marcus Stroud. That means those outside linebackers aren’t doing enough in run support.

21. (22) They lost to the Bears on a late Hester score, but they played well considering the injuries that have plagued this team. If anything, this team seems to be overachieving. It didn’t take Aaron Curry long to adjust to the speed of the NFL. He leads one of the most underrated pass rushes in the league. If they can rush the passer like that every week, this team may upset someone.

22. (29) The Jaguars finally show signs of life. Good for them. I had a hard time believing this team would stay at the bottom of  league for a long time. Their matchup against the Titans this Sunday is going to be very interesting. I don’t think there are two teams more evenly matched in the league. It should be a great game. This is unrelated, but thank you, Maurice Jones-Drew. You have single-handedly wrecked my fantasy football season.

23. (24) Add another team into the log-jam that is the AFC South. I thought this division would be competitive, but it seems no one cares to win consistently. Has this defense regressed? Heading into the regular season, I thought this would be the year Houston puts it all together on that side of the ball. Guess not. To this point, the Texans are still ranked dead last against the run. If the red flags aren’t out, they should be.
24. (26)  The Panthers did well for themselves as they kept up with a tough Dallas team on the road, but it wasn’t enough. Jake Delhomme is a turnover machine. Giving the ball away three times like he did in Dallas will never take the Panthers where they need to be. That defense wasn’t nearly as aggressive as they should have been. Without pressure, even mediocre passers will find a way to get the job done.
25. (21) The Miami Dolphins are in some deep water now Chad Pennington is out for the year. A sub-par passing attack somehow downgraded, as they’ll give Chad Henne a shot. With the success rookie quarterbacks have seemed to enjoy over the past few years, this isn’t necessarily a lost cause. Miami hosts division rivals in consecutive weeks, so they may finally get that elusive first win of the season.
26. (23) They’re playing down to their competition and that can not continue. God help Jim Zorn if the Redskins lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I don’t get it. This was a team that on paper, appeared to get better in the offseason. There is certainly a lot of blame to go around, but I somehow doubt the majority falls on Jason Campbell. Sherman Smith, Steve Jackson, I’m pointing at you guys.
27. (30) Poor Rams. Their problems start and end in the trenches. Alex Barron looks great one week and terrible the next. Steve Spagnuolo has brought the West Coast offense to Saint Louis, but it has been largely ineffective through the first three weeks of the season. A West Coast system requires big, physical receivers on the outside with good hands and excellent body control. Laurent Robinson is one, but who is the other?
28. (28) Rome wasn’t built in one day and Kansas City won’t be either. The first element of building a successful 3-4 defense is stopping the run. Once you can do that, everything else will follow. The Chiefs haven’t gotten to that point yet, but once they do, things will slowly turn around. Matt Cassel is this franchise. There’s nothing wrong with that team, so I expect a breakout performance within the next few weeks.
29. (32) Congratulations, Detroit on finally winning a football game! Jim Schwartz still has a long way to go before restoring pride in this team, but winning certainly puts him on the right track. The next stop for these Lions? .500. If they can find a way to contain Jay Cutler in Chicago, they certainly have a chance. Cutler will do everything in his power to turn the ball over. The only question is whether these Lions are brave enough to win the football game.
30. (27) We’re really scrapping the bottom of the barrel with these last few teams. How long do they stick with JaMarcus Russell? He has shown flashes, but he is way too inconsistent at this stage in his development. This week’s loss to the Denver Broncos was ugly. They couldn’t pass or defend the pass. They couldn’t run or defend the run. In the spirit of competition, the Raiders should switch places with the Trojans of Southern California. The talent seems like a better fit.
31. (25) Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the same team that finished 9-7 the year before? The biggest mistake the Bucs made was switching defensive philosophies. They call it the Tampa 2 for a reason. Losing Derrick Brooks can’t affect this team that much, can it? With the quarterback position being what it is, I don’t know when they win a game this year.
32. (31) Eric Mangini needs to win a football game. This entire football team is in disarray. They have a good chance of upsetting the Cincinnati Bengals this week at home – especially now they’ve made the switch to Derek Anderson. There’s still plenty of football to be played, but it’s difficult to realistically project this team miraculously turning their season around.

Posted on: September 24, 2009 4:17 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2009 8:51 pm

Week 2 Power Rankings: Holier Than Thou Art

I can think of only three things in the world that mean less than September power rankings: Cosmopolitan Magazine, the T.O. Show, and the Washington Nationals.

Despite this, I bravely forge along in my quest to rank all 32 NFL teams from strongest to...umm...the Detroit Lions.

Not surprisingly (at least to me) come the new bad boys of the NFL: the New Orleans Saints.

Can anyone even slow down that offense?

A heathy Pittsburgh team certainly has a chance. The Jets and Ravens do too, however I doubt either offense could keep up. Until a team proves they can put everything together, the Saints will take their place as the most dominant team in the NFL.

The bottom of the rankings is littered with the usual suspects with the exception of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

They just don't seem to have enough firepower on offense or defense to match up against anyone. The passing game is suspect with David Garrard at the helm. Maurice Jones-Drew is an explosive talent, but one 5'6" running back can only do so much to carry the load.

Jack Del Rio's squad better start winning games soon. There is no one left to blame but Del Rio himself, so he must produce results - and fast.

1. Sean Peyton has created a monster. Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints have one of the most potent offenses we’ve seen in years, and that lands them a top these rankings. Defensively, the Saints are better than many give them credit for. By the end of the season, Scott Shanle will become a household name. That defense should be able to hold up their end of the bargain, and that should mean a deep playoff run for New Orleans.

2.   A three-point loss to the Bears on the road means nothing . Jeff Reed has kicked this team to Super Bowls before, and he’ll continue to do so in 2009. Pittsburgh may have lost Troy Polamalu, but they haven’t lost any aggressiveness or intensity. Just ask Greg Olsen. For this team to compete, Ben Roethlisberger will be asked to win the game with his arm. Cincinnati will be a good test.

3. Much like the Steelers, the Giants seem to be winning games backwards. Instead of running to set up the pass, New York seems to be throwing to set up the run. I’m not sure how long they can keep that up. After narrowly surviving two brutal division games, New York will fatten up on AFC West cupcakes before their week six showdown with the Greatest Show on Bourbon Street .

4. If last week’s bizarre win against the Dolphins has shown us anything, it’s that the Colts are exactly who we thought they were. This team isn’t built to stop the run. This team is built to score points, play from ahead, and rush the passer. Fortunately, there isn’t a dominant rushing team left in the AFC that Indianapolis can’t handle. On a side note, I hope they’ve reinforced the scoreboards in Glendale. Their Sunday afternoon matchup with the Cardinals smells like a shootout.

5.  When we look back at the 2009 season at the end of the year, I have a feeling we’ll look back on last week’s Patriots/Jets slugfest as a season-defining moment for both teams. Bill Belichick was essentially humiliated and Tom Brady was heavily scrutinized. Both things spell trouble for the rest of the NFL. Despite this, a defense in transition may be this team’s Achilles Heel. Can they stop Atlanta this week? That should tell us how good this team really is.

6. Is it just me, or does this Baltimore Ravens team look eerily similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers team that won it all in 2007? They possess one of the leagues most feared defenses. They have a balanced, yet aggressive running game. They have a young quarterback able to make all the throws and manage the offense. Baltimore replaced some of the signature names of the past with internal talent, so we’ll see just how far that takes them.

7.  Matt Ryan is a special player. With him at the helm, and Michael Turner in the backfield, the Falcons are poised to remain in the top ten throughout the entire regular season. One thing that concerns me about this team is the defense. They have yet to face an elite quarterback, and I have reason to believe that secondary will be exposed sooner rather than later.

8. Is it just me, or does this New York Jets team look eerily similar to the Baltimore Ravens team that lost the AFC Championship game in 2008? The Jets appear to be following the same formula that has worked so well with Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and so many others. Surround your young quarterback with talent, and slowly but surely assimilate him into the offense. Sanchez will eventually struggle. How much he does will determine how far this team will go in 2009.

9. It’s still early to raise any red flags, but what in the world is wrong with San Diego? The once super-Chargers limped out of Oakland victorious and lost a heartbreaker to Baltimore at home. This team should be winless. Losing Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick for 8 weeks will not help a rushing attack ranked 31st in the NFL. Letting DE Igor Olshansky walk was a rare mistake that will eventually cost this team down the road.

10. It’s hard to properly evaluate this team because they haven’t faced off against any playoff contenders so far. San Francisco is a good team and should shed some light on this Minnesota team. That defense may look good against Cleveland and Detroit, but I have a hard time buying them as legitimate. Through two games, Jared Allen has registered 5 tackles and 1 sack. Those statistics must be improved upon.

11. Few things surprise me in the NFL and the Packers’ week two loss to Cincinnati was one of them. Carson Palmer was able to move up and down the field against a talented Green Bay defense. Aaron Rogers has yet to turn the ball over, which is good. He also has yet to replicate the big-play ability shown in 2008, which is bad. By the time he figures it out, the Packers should find themselves back in the hunt for NFC North supremacy.

12. Will the real Jay Cutler please stand up? If he would stop Delhomming on us, we just may be able to figure out how good this team actually is. That defense looked impressive against the Steelers last week, and Rod Marinelli is a big reason why. Marinelli had his defensive linemen firing off the ball and wreaking havoc on a suspect Steelers line. I like the Bears against the Seahawks, but Cutler will have to settle down if the Bears want to be playing in January.

13. There is good news and bad news for the Dallas Cowboys. The bad news is Tony Romo is underachieving. DeMarcus Ware is underachieving. Roy E. Williams in underachieving.  Marion Barber is injured and Flozell Adams might be the dirtiest player in the game. Wade Phillips may have already lost his team and the Giants spoiled the grand opening of Jerry World . But hey, at least Terrell Owens is gone!

14. Fred Taylor might have found a successor for his signature nickname in Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb. McNabb has only played the full 16 games four times in his 11-year career. The Eagles are a different football team with McNabb under center, but that may be the least of their problems. The Eagles lost two Pro Bowlers in the secondary when Lito Sheppard and Brian Dawkins left this past offseason. So far, replacing those two seems easier said than done.

15. Let me be frank about one thing: Kerry Collins is not an elite quarterback. He’s barely even serviceable. The NFL is turning into a pass-first league, which means teams will need to throw in order to remain competitive. Mario and Luigi, or whatever they’re calling themselves nowadays, should be enough to overpower weaker opponents. It goes without saying, but the Titans are the best 0-2 football team in the league.

16. If there were ever a team to go Arizona Cardinals on the NFL, it’s this one. Shaun Hill is a savvy veteran a la Jeff Garcia and that defense has been pushing on great for a few seasons now. If Frank Gore’s injury becomes serious, Glen Coffee is your 2009 Rookie of the Year. That third-rated rushing defense should be put to the test when they face off against Adrian Peterson and company.

17. I challenge anyone to find a more inconsistent team than the Cincinnati Bengals. This team will look great one series and terrible the next. Their extreme inconsistency balances out and the result is an average football team. Penalties and mental errors still hurt, but Carson Palmer’s revitalized relationship with Chad Ochocinco helps. As the weeks go on, Bengals rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga looks more like a different Ray in the same division. As of today, he is your defensive rookie of the year.

18. The Cardinals are not a bad football team. They are ranked where they are because there are 17 NFL teams better than they are. Beenie Wells has survived through two games in the NFL season. For that, I congratulate him because that’s two more than I originally figured. Arizona needs this Sunday's win more than the Colts do in order to keep pace in their division. I say they’ll lose this one, but only by a narrow margin. 63-59 Colts.

19. It’s one thing to rebuild an entire offense, and it’s another to rebuild an entire defense. To do both at the same time with a first year head coach means one thing and one thing only: AFC wildcard contenders. As crazy as it may sound, the Broncos have a legitimate shot at postseason action. In addition to playing with a chip on his shoulder, Kyle Orton actually has wide receivers to catch the ball. This alone will make him better. The Raiders and Chiefs figure to help as well.

20. For those who haven’t seen this team, the 2009 Buffalo Bills are very fun to watch. Trent Edwards seems to have taken a giant step in establishing himself among the legitimate starters in this league. Defensively, the Bills have gotten by thanks in part to strong safety play from Donte Witner and Bryan Scott. They’ll need strong play from both players and then some, as they play host to the New Orleans Saints this week.

21. Monday Night’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts told us everything we need to know about the Miami Dolphins. They can run the ball effectively, but at the end of the day they can not throw the football. It seems newly acquired linebacker Jason Taylor left his dancing shoes at home, as he’s been quiet in his return to the swamplands. Dolphins’ cornerback Sean Smith will find his way to the Pro Bowl very soon. He’s one heck of a corner.

22. Until they move to the east coast, the Seattle Seahawks will continue to be looked over. A healthy Matt Hasselbeck should allow Seattle to move in the opposite direction of his hairline, provided T.J. Houshmandzadeh and company continue to catch the ball. Seneca Wallace has been in this system for quite some time, so he is expected to produce. Even if he does, this team has too many injuries to go anywhere any time soon.

23. This team should be good. They have enough talent to make the playoffs, but something simply isn’t right. Jason Campbell’s approval rating makes him the second most controversial figure in Washington. Albert Haynesworth may not have any sacks, but he has been a force in the middle of that defense. Once they put everything together, this team could push for top ten standing.
24. Houston has given up more yards on the ground than any other team. They are ranked dead last in total yards allowed and they average the fewer yards on the ground than any other team in the NFL. Most of that can be attributed to one Chris Johnson, but those statistics are disturbing nonetheless. Fortunately, the Jacksonville Jaguars are coming to town to ale their offensive woes.
25. The Buccaneers are a product of what I believe to be the most difficult schedule in the NFL. Their next five games: NYG, @WAS, @PHI, CAR, @NE. Wow. If it hasn’t begun already, the Josh Freeman clock should be ticking. On the bright side, Jeff Faine, Antonio Bryant, and Kellen Winslow should help this team adjust to losing. They’ve all had experience doing so in Cleveland.
26. Bump this team up seven slots if Jake Delhomme plays consistently from week to week. Bump them up four slots if Dwayne Jarrett lives up to even half of his potential. Bump them up seven more slots if Megan Fox decides to go on a date with me. Odds are none of these things will happen any time soon, so the Panthers will stay exactly where they are.
27. No one screams bust quite like JaMarcus Russell. It’s puzzling to think, but the Raiders actually have a fairly decent team around him. Michael Bush and Darren McFadden are solid. Zach Miller is a sure-handed tight end. That defense is surprisingly good. If a veteran quarterback provided stability to the position (*cough* Jeff Garcia *cough*), this would be an interesting team to watch every Sunday. Sadly they are not, and the Raiders will remain one of the more disappointing franchises in the NFL.
28. Much like the Washington Redskins, the Kansas City Chiefs should be a better football team than they have shown to this point. Matt Cassel’s health has something to do with it, but there have been voices around that organization that believe Brodie Croyle is actually the better passer. With an innovative head coach like Todd Haley, this offense shouldn’t be down for long. Too bad I can’t say the same for the defense.
29. Jack Del Rio’s buns should begin to feel warmer as the season progresses. His defense was thoroughly trounced at the hands of Warner and the Cards, and that offense remains stuck in gear one. David Garrard is struggling and it won’t be too long before the fans turn their backs to the team. I thought a healthy Vince Manuwai would turn this team around, but that certainly doesn’t seem like the case.
30. Over the past few seasons, the Saint Louis Rams have put the misery in Missouri. This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Rams Super Bowl run in 1999, and oh how things have changed. Torry Holt and Issac Bruce are replaced by Laurent Robinson and Doney Avery. Kevin Carter and Grant Winstrom give way to Gary Gibson and Chris Long. Steve Spagnuolo has worked miracles in the past, and he’ll certainly have his hands full with this team.
31. The Browns haven’t given Clevelanders much reason to be optimistic this season. Brady Quinn has struggled to move the ball down the field, and that is a big reason why the Browns are ranked dead last in several offensive categories. There is some talent on that defense, but they need to play four quarters of consistent football in order to be competitive.
32. With Daunte Culpepper, Detroit may have won 6 games. Starting Matt Stafford cuts that number in half. In fairness to the Lions, there is some talent on that roster. Ernie Sims, Julian Peterson, and Larry Foote form a semi-legitimate linebacker corps while Anthony Henry and Philip Buchannon receive chances to turn their respective careers around. Projected date of Detriot’s first win: November 22nd, 2009.

Posted on: October 6, 2008 3:00 am
Edited on: October 6, 2008 4:02 am

LeBron James: King or Traitor?

We Are All Witnesses

Or at least during the NBA season. Throughout every other time in the year, Cleveland sports fans are nothing more than sources of admiration and revenue for a man who is widely regarded as the face of the city.

That's right folks, I'm talking about LeBron James - the self-proclaimed King of Cleveland.

Now let me start off by saying I have nothing against LeBron James personally or even as an athlete. He is easily the most talented superstar ever to don a Cleveland uniform in the past 20 or maybe even 30 years. When it's all said and done, James may very well be the best basketball player of all time. LeBron has contributed so much to the city of Cleveland - both in reputation and financial gain that it's hard to hate the guy. For everything we owe him, I have only one small problem:

LeBron James hates Cleveland.

I say this with a great deal of caution. James does not hate Cleveland in the Braylon Edwards joking sense, but rather an I don't give a crap how you feel sense.

For the few who do not know, LeBron James is not only a die-hard Yankees fan, but a Dallas Cowboys fan as well. Those two facts, while painful in their own right, are not enough to draw this particular writer's ire. Athletes are imported from across the country, so obviously pre-determined allegiances to foreign sports franchises are a given. The issue with James is he does such a good job of rubbing that in our faces.

LeBron James supports both the Cowboys and Yankees.

Flashback to the year 2003. James was selected as the first overall pick in the NBA draft and Cleveland was ecstatic. A phenomenal talent who grew up two hours from city limits was drafted with the hopes of turning our most lowly franchise around. James was a young, charismatic, and charming star who we all embraced as our own. It was a match made in heaven.

Over the next five years, James did little to disappoint. His stellar play on the field and his impeccable reputation off lifted the Cavaliers from the depths of obscurity into the national spotlight.

And we supported him.

According to Neil Schwartz of Sports Scan Info, LeBron James' rookie jersey sales were far and away the most popular of any basketball player, grossing 1.5 million sales in his first year. To put that in perspective, James' 1.5 million jerseys sold in 2004 amounts to 5,542 sales...per day. Carmello Anthony, second in sales, recorded 630,000 sales that year - not even half of LeBron's figure.

So season after season passed, and Cleveland was still enamored with the local hero. LeBron remained the affable young man who brought this city to the brink of championship gold. No one questioned King James or his loyalty until a little over one year ago.

On October 3rd, 2008 the Cleveland Indians hosted the hated New York Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS, and our beloved basketball King made an appearance at the game. Prior to the game, James was quoted on Saturday Night Live as saying that he would openly spurn the Indians by cheering for the New York Yankees.

And true to form, James did not disappoint.

LeBron showed up at the game in a fresh Yankee fitted - much to the chagrin of Cleveland fans. James flaunted his hat - at one point taking it off and holding it above his head for all the crowd to see. The controversial incident was discussed at length on local television, radio, and newspaper shows - with opinions varying on the alleged offense. No general consensus was reached, and the incident died down as soon as it arose.

Three weeks ago we all had the privilege of seeing LeBron James once again outside of Quicken Loans Arena. This time, it was James schmoozing it up with members of the Dallas Cowboys on the visiting sidelines at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I understand everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that is taking it too far. Why should LeBron spurn the fans who have shown him nothing but loyalty and support since his arrival to the NBA? We are the ones who spend hard earned dollars to support his team, yet he openly snubs ours.

We wear his apparel and he doesn't wear ours.
We root for him and he roots for our opponents.

Question: Which two things here do not belong?

There is absolutely no reason why LeBron James needs to cause such a stir. How does it make us look as fans when we are so loyal to a man who seemingly only cares about himself? Pretty bad, I'll say.

Even if you love the Yankees and Cowboys, why not downplay that fact?  Whether James realizes it or not, image and loyalty mean something to sports fans. 30 years from now when we're discussing LeBron's legacy in Cleveland sports history, it may be tainted due to this stupid show of arrogance.

And it gets worse.

LeBron's latest shoe, the AirZoom V, is covered in navy and white pinstripes: clearly an homage to his love for the Yankees.

You know what? If LeBron really wants to take a bite out of the Big Apple and chooses to leave Cleveland, so be it. The last thing I want to see is James pull a Brett Favre and hold the city hostage for whatever dollar figure he sees fit. A departure from C-Town would immediately destroy the surreal nature of his career and personality, as well as annihilate any legendary status he may garner. James would go from beloved icon to another athlete in search of fame and fortune.

Since LeBron wants to be "Like Mike," why not follow in Jordan's footsteps and at least try to get along with a city clearly in love with you? Never once can I recall seeing Michael Jordan attend a Chicago Bears' game while fully clad in a Packers' gear...

Only time will tell, but these recent backlashes at Cleveland sports teams sure look like the start of a tumultuous relationship. Hopefully LeBron wises up and protects his image from further damage. I would hate for something so simple to put a black mark on a storybook career and legacy.

LeBron James hates Cleveland, and if this continues Cleveland just may hate LeBron too.

  1. "LeBron spurns Tribe, sports Yankee Cap" Official Major League Baseball Website, Accessed October 6, 2008 http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp
  2. "A Yankee fan from head to toe" Cleveland Plain Dealer, Accessed October 6, 2008 http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index
  3. "New school rookies top NBA jersey sales" ESPN.com, ESPN Internet Ventures, Accessed on October 6, 2008 http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/spor
Posted on: August 20, 2008 6:36 pm

Softcore Avatars

Ever since I started posting on CBS Sportsline, I've seen a lot of things. Some of which include:

- Fans with no idea of what they're talking about
- Obnoxious Red Sox, Yankkees, and Cowboys fans
- Pete Prisco Articles

Out of all the terrible things that I have seen, nothing frustrates and intrigues me more than the softcore pornography people show off as avatars.

Now, I will be the first to tell you that freedom of speech is one of the most important values that this country is founded on. Everyone has the right to choose whichever image they please as an avatar. What gets me is why use the softcore? Is there some hidden competition that I'm not aware of?

My underlying assumption is these avatars are predominately used by guys like myself - probably around the 15 to 23 age range.

Given that, are we so horny and sexually frustrated as a generation that we need pictures of scantily clad women wherever we go?

I mean, avatars are supposed to be an expression of things that we hold in high regard. Since this is a sports site, the natural assumption is a sports avatar. I guess that logic is too much.

Oh well - continue posting your sensually obscene pictures gentlemen. Lord knows they drive me crazy with...anger ;)
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com