December 17, 2017

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: I would not want to be the Cardinals offense this week and have to play against the Ravens defense, they are surely going to be an angry bunch after an embarrassing loss to the Jaguars last Monday, it may not have been the defense’s fault that they lost, but they are going to take it out on the Cards offense none the less, an offense that may be without RB Beanie Wells who is dealing with a knee problem and is questionable.

Atlanta Falcons: The bye week comes at a good time for the Falcons as they can use the extra week to get WR Julio Jones back on the field, and even though QB Matt Ryan only missed a couple of plays after injuring his ankle/knee during the victory over Detroit, he could also use the time off to get back to 100%…..Some thought Harry Douglas might have a big game with Jones out with injury, but it really didn’t materialize, he did have 62 yards receiving, but 49 of it came on one play.

Baltimore Ravens: QB Joe Flacco’s performance Monday night versus Jacksonville was abysmal, he was constantly overthrowing his targets, especially WR Anquan Boldin, Boldin couldn’t catch those passes if he was 10 feet tall, this is Flacco’s 2nd bad performance in his last three starts as he was terrible versus the Jets also, that start was sort of excused as the Jets have a good defense, umm, the Jags, not so much…..Coach Harbaugh also has some explaining to do, why didn’t RB Ray Rice get more touches, sure he put the ball on the ground once or twice, but he doesn’t have a history of butter fingers, and it didn’t take a genius to see that Flacco couldn’t get it done, Harbaugh also elected to try an onside kick with 2:02 remaining when he had two timeouts and the two minute warning, seems letting K Billy Cundiff kick the ball out of the end zone and having Jacksonville start from their 20 was the higher percentage play.

Buffalo Bills: LB Shawn Merriman was placed on IR and out for the season due to an Achilles injury, what a shame that a once promising career fizzled out so quickly…..NT Kyle Williams could be done for the season with his foot injury, this would be a considerable blow to the Bills run defense…..The Bills will be catching the Skins at the right time this week as Washington has lost five starters the past
two weeks.

Carolina Panthers: I’d like to see a show of hands for anyone who would’ve thought QB Cam Newton would look this good this fast even with the running game being virtually non-existent, DeAngelo Williams only has 337 yards rushing, Jonathan Stewart 278, no way anyone saw this coming, are teams loading up at the line of scrimmage to force Newton to beat them, possibly, and if that’s the case it may be time to try another strategy as Newton is doing just that.

Chicago Bears: RB Matt Forte’s price just keeps getting higher and higher with every game he plays, the Bears made a big mistake not re-signing him before the season began…..We’re hearing a lot of talk now that Devin Hester should be considered for the Hall of Fame for his kick/punt return abilities, as good as he is at that, I’m just not seeing HOF in his future…..SS Chris Harris was waived by the Bears on Thursday, seems they didn’t think the former starter would react well to a bench role.

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are 4-2, a solid start, but I can’t help but think that this is a mirage, they still have to play the Steelers and Ravens twice each, we’ll find out if they are for real after those games, but they do get another gimme this week in Seattle…..RB Cedric Benson will finally serve his suspension this week, Bernard Scott figures to get the bulk of the carries in his absence, but don’t forget about Brian Leonard who could also see a handful of carries.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns-Seahawks game last week may have set the NFL back 50 years, what a terrible game…..RB Peyton Hillis is expected to sit this week, Montario Hardesty would get the bulk of the carries in that case, but remember, they are playing the 49ers, a team that doesn’t give up much on the ground and it’s not like there is much of a passing attack to force the 49ers off the line of scrimmage.

Dallas Cowboys: With a win Sunday night versus the Eagles, Dallas could put the final nail in the Eagles coffin, problem is Eagles coach Andy Reid has won 12 straight games after the bye…..RB DeMarco Murray announced his presence in a big way for the Cowboys with 253 yards rushing against the Rams last week, he wasn’t even the
starter, the Eagles also have a poor run defense so Murray could be in line for a solid day once again, but things will get more interesting in Week 9 once Felix Jones is expected back.

Denver Broncos: QB Tim Tebow validated everyone’s perception of him last week, he was terrible the first 55 minutes of the game missing receivers who were open by 10 yards, but during the last five minutes he looked like Joe Montana and showed why some believe he will make it in the NFL, he wins football games…..RB Willis Magahee is out for at least two weeks with a broken hand meaning Knowshon Moreno gets another chance to carry the rock.

Detroit Lions: QB Matthew Stafford is dealing with an ankle injury and is limited in practice, but it still looks like he will start Sunday versus Denver, Stafford would like to shake the label as a fragile QB and this could be one way to go about that, the Lions could elect to play it safe if they have any doubts about Stafford’s
ability to protect himself as they do have a bye in Week 9…..One player who definitely won’t make the trip to Denver is RB Javhid Best who is still dealing with post-concussion symptoms.

Green Bay Packers: Can the Packers go undefeated? Week 9 they are at SD, the Chargers have not been playing all that well and GB will be coming off their bye, Iike their chances, Week 10 against Minnesota should be a problem, if the Vikings can’t beat them in Minnesota, they aren’t going to beat them in GB, Week 11 is a battle of the bays, could be an interesting game if Bucs QB Josh Freeman is not throwing the ball to the wrong team, then comes Thanksgiving at Detroit, finally a good game to watch on turkey day, this could be the one chance for a loss, the Giants, Oakland, KC, Chicago, and Detroit close out the schedule, the Packers are better than all of them, but it’s not an easy slate, one off day will put a crooked number up in the loss column.

Houston Texans: WR Andre Johnson could return this week to help out the Texans aerial attack, he has practiced on a limited basis this week and will be a game-time decision Sunday…..S Daniel Manning is out at least a month after undergoing surgery on his fibula this week, could Chris Harris be an option here…..The win by Houston over Tennessee last week puts them in the driver’s seat in the AFC

Indianapolis Colts: Could Peyton Manning have played his last game with Indianapolis?, there are those who believe Manning would ask for a trade or his release if the Colts draft Andrew Luck, it wouldn’t be because Manning is upset and would view the drafting of Luck as a slap in the face, but he feels that any QB drafted 1st overall should play right away, this could be very interesting if the Colts win the suck for Luck sweepstakes, you think the Bengals received a bounty for
Carson Palmer, what could the Colts get for Manning?

Jacksonville Jaguars: All I can say about the Jaguars win over the Ravens on Monday night is that an ugly win is better than a pretty loss…..WR Mike Sims-Walker saw more snaps than Mike Thomas versus Baltimore, a little strange seeing as though Sims-Walker just signed with the team last week…..K Josh Scobee hit three 50+ yard FGs Monday night, clutch performance…..RB Maurice Jones-Drew worked OT
against the Ravens, 30 carries for 105 yards, but he also put the ball on the ground three times, luckily he only lost one.

Kansas City Chiefs: We all laughed at the Chiefs earlier this season when they had their doors blown off the first two weeks of the season, but if they beat the Chargers this week, they will be tied for 1st, pretty good turnaround especially when you lost your best offensive player (RB Jamaal Charles) and best defensive player (S Eric Berry) for the season during those first two games.

Miami Dolphins: Have to believe if the Colts don’t win the suck for Luck, than the Dolphins will, this is a team without direction right now, owner Stephen Ross made a huge mistake last season when he sent GM Jeff Ireland to interview Jim Harbaugh for the head coaching position while still employing Tony Sparano, whatever authority Sparano had with his players is gone, and they know it, the team has
never been able to figure out what to do with RB Reggie Bush, and now Bush may have divided the locker room when he stated this week that  “we stink”, while that may be the truth, you may not want to say that to the media.

Minnesota Vikings: QB Christian Ponder may not have won his first NFL start and did throw a couple of picks, but he kept the Vikings in the game versus the Packers and showed the fans and the organization why most believe he has a bright future in the NFL…..The Vikings cut WR Bernard Berrian this week for both a lack of production, and disciplinary reasons, Berrian may have a tough time hooking up with another team.

New England Patriots: RB Kevin Faulk practiced this week but has yet to be taken off the PUP list…..DT Albert Haynesworth has recorded exactly one tackle since Week 1, talk about a player that signed his big contract and then shut it down…..The Patriots have owned the Steelers of late, but this still figures to be a high scoring affair.

New Orleans Saints: RB Mark Ingram will probably miss this week’s
game with a heel injury and that will be quite a shame for fantasy owners as they had to be licking their chops at playing the Rams defense, a defense that gave up almost 300 yards rushing to the Cowboys last week, now Pierre Thomas is a must play, Chris Ivory doesn’t seem to be in football shape as of yet…..TE Jimmy Graham who is dealing with an ankle injury was able to practice in full
Thursday, he has quickly become a major threat in the Saints offense and defenses are starting to take notice, especially in the red zone.

New York Giants: The Giants were a beat up team in August, but are getting healthy including all four of their pass rushers, Giants may be the team to beat in the NFC East…..RB Brandon Jacobs is making noise again about how he is not used properly in the Giant’s offense and doesn’t believe he will be with the team next season, at this point with all of his bellyaching and constant injuries, the Giants may want to part ways as well.

New York Jets: No one should go crazy over WR Plaxico Burress’s three TD catches last week, he only had one other reception, all for a total of 25 yards, he is certainly a red zone threat but not much other than that…..RB Shonne Green had his best game of the year last week, perhaps this getting back to the ground game for Jets will work for them.

Oakland Raiders: QB Carson Palmer came out today and stated that he was told he wouldn’t play last week and was caught totally off guard when he was inserted into the game in the second half, good to see this marriage is getting off to a fantastic start, hopefully the bye week will give Palmer enough time to learn the entire playbook and not just the 15 plays he had memorized last week.

Philadelphia Eagles: For the Eagles sake, hopefully they solved their problems during the bye week, but even if they did, CB Asante Samuel dropped another bomb this week when he stated how unhappy he is that he is still a part of the Eagles team, it never gets easy…..Offensively it should be interesting to see if the Eagles stick with having QB Michael Vick take three step drops in order to avoid taking those hits, it’s not exactly what the Eagles like to do, but it could keep Vick healthy over the long haul.

Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Hines Ward is dealing with an ankle injury and is no safe bet to play this week in the big game versus New England, ironic thing is this may not be a bad thing as Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders need to be on the field as much as possible, they are the future along with Mike Wallace, Ward is the past…..LB
James Harrison is still not ready to return from his fractured orbital bone.

San Diego Chargers: There is rampant speculation going around that QB Philip Rivers is dealing with some kind of injury, his accuracy and velocity is way off, for his part Rivers stated that he is as healthy as he has been all season, well you can read between the lines there, and that could easily mean that Rivers suffered an injury during training camp that isn’t getting any worse, but isn’t getting any better either.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers may get a boost to their receiving corps this week as Braylon Edwards could return from knee surgery, it’s not written in stone however…..I’m not saying the 49ers aren’t a decent team, but I’ve seen some pundits have them as the 2nd best team in the NFC after Green Bay, are you kidding me, I’d take Detroit, New Orleans, Atlanta, Giants, Dallas, and Philadelphia before I even thought of San Francisco, this is the NFC West we are talking about.

Seattle Seahawks: Who will start at QB for the Hawks Sunday, Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst, and does it matter…..Jackson is certainly not fully recovered from his chest injury but Whitehurst doesn’t look like an NFL backup more or less starting material, best guess is Jackson plays…..RB Marshawn Lynch is also a game-time
decision after suffering from back spasms during pre-game warm-ups last week.

St. Louis Rams: How bad is the Rams run defense to let up a couple of football fields worth of yardage to the Cowboys last week, a team that was having all sorts of problems running the ball before last week…..QB Sam Bradford missed the game last week due to his foot injury, and won’t play this week as well, so it’s the AJ Feeley show once again, how many points will the Saints score this week?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Josh Freeman has certainly regressed this season as he is throwing way to many interceptions, it doesn’t help any that he and WR Mike Williams just haven’t been on the same page so far this season…..RB LeGarrette Blount should be healthy enough to return after the bye, and they now need him more than ever with his backup Earnest Graham done for the season with an Achilles injury.

Tennessee Titans: What is wrong with RB Chris Johnson? He has been nothing short of terrible so far this season, if he can’t do anything against the Colts on Sunday, it may be time for fantasy owners to give up on him for this season, the Titans are still resisting the urge to insert Javon Ringer as the starter over Johnson, but that
may change if he can’t get the job done this week.

Washington Redskins: Talk about a rough week, the Skins lost their starting RB Tim Hightower to an ACL tear, their starting WR Santana Moss to a broken hand, and their starting TE Chris Cooley to IR with multiple injuries, not to mention they benched their starting QB Rex Grossman, this is starting to look like a long last 10 games for Washington.

Bills 38, Raiders 35

Hello again! The Raider Guy has returned.  Yesterday, the Raiders traveled across the country to take on the Buffalo Bills.  This is a rivalry that goes all the way back to the days of the American Football League.  In recent years, when these teams have met, it has always been a close battle.  The game yesterday was no exception.

For most of the first quarter, the game looked like a chess match. Neither team could do much with the ball and the most exciting play was a 34-yard run by Bills running back Fred Jackson.  After a Brian Moorman punt, the Raiders took over at their own 29 with a little under four minutes to go in the period.  Some good running by Darren McFadden moved the Raiders to the Buffalo 37 as the first quarter came to an end with the score tied at zero.

On third and three, Raider quarterback Jason Campbell hit rookie receiver Denarius Moore for a 20-yard gain.  Moore got the start because the Raider’s top three receivers were inactive due to injuries.  After McFadden had two more carries for seven yards, Campbell hit a wide open Chaz Schilens at the Buffalo one yard line.  Three plays later, Michael Bush powered into the end zone to give the Raiders the lead.  Sebastian Janikowski made the extra point and it was 7-0 Raiders with 11 minutes to go in the half.

After the obligatory Janikowski touchback, the Bills took over at their own 20.  On third and ten, Buffalo’s quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted by Stanford Routt and the Raiders took over at the Buffalo 34.  Campbell hit Derek Hagan for a gain of 17 and then hooked up with fullback Marcel Reece for a gain of five down to the Buffalo 12.  Three straight runs by McFadden got the Raiders into the end zone once again as McFadden took it in from five yards out.  Janikowsi made the point after and that put the Raiders on top 14-0.

With eight minutes to go in the half, Buffalo took over at their own 20.  Trailing by 14, Fitzpatrick took to the air and hit Roscoe Parrish for 16 and Stevie Johnson for 19 on consecutive plays.  The Bills mixed in some short runs by Jackson and on second and three from the Raider 25, inserted return man/receiver Brad Smith in the wildcat formation.  Smith took the snap and ran for a first down down to the Raider 16.  From there, Fitzpatrick put one up for Stevie Johnson in the end zone, but his pass was tipped by Raider linebacker Rolando McClain in the back of the end zone.  The drive stalled at the seven and the Bills settled for a short field goal by Rian Lindell which made the score 14-3 with just over two minutes to go in the half.

After Raider return man Nick Miller returned the kickoff to the 18, the Raiders went to work.  Campbell hit McFadden for 16 yards and then hit Moore on a bomb that took them down to the Buffalo 23.  Raider head coach Hue Jackson called timeout with 1:39 remaining.  Michael Bush took the next carry straight up the middle for a gain of 22 and was dragged down at the one.  With plenty of time left and with a first and goal at the one foot line, the Raiders took another timeout. This would allow Buffalo to get the ball back with over a minute remaining.  On the next play, Campbell took the ball in from the one and Janikowsi made the point after to make the score 21-3 Raiders with 1:22 remaining.

Trailing by 18, the Bills had a decent amount of time to move the ball.  Some quick completions to Stevie Johnson and Donald Jones, and a 15-yard penalty on Tyvon Branch for unnecessary roughness moved the ball into Raider territory.  Fitzpatrick then hit Jackson for 12 and David Nelson for nine to bring the Bills closer to the end zone.  After a pass intended for Johnson was dropped, the Bills had to settle for a field goal attempt.  Lindell’s 39-yard attempt was tipped by Tyvon Branch and fell short.  At the half, the Raiders led by a score of 21-3.

The Bills got the ball first to start the second half.  The Raiders had the momentum and were hoping to force the Bills to go three and out. That didn’t happen.  After a 17-yard pass interference call on Raider cornerback Chris Johnson, Fitzpatrick ran to the right for 13 yards.  C.J. Spiller ran for seven and Fred Jackson finished the drive off with a 43-yard run.  Lindell’s extra point was good and the Bills closed the lead to 21-10.

After another horrific kick return by Nick Miler, the Raiders took over at their own 14.  The Raiders could feel the momentum swinging and they needed a score on this drive.  On third and nine, Campbell hit Derek Hagan for a gain of 10 and a crucial first down.  Then, on another third and long, Campbell found tight end Brett Myers for another first down.  After another third down conversion, the Raiders moved the ball into Buffalo territory.  But on second down, McFadden fumbled and it was pounced on by Danny Batten of the Bills.

The spark caused by the Fred Jackson touchdown was now turned into a flame of hope as the Buffalo defense forced a turnover.  Spiller got the call on the first play of the drive and got 12 yards.  Fitzpatrick hit Johnson for nine and Smith ran for 11 out of the wildcat formation.  Spiller ran for seven more down to the Raider seven yard line.  From there, Fitzpatrick hit Johnson again for a touchdown.  Lindell’s kick was good and the Raider’s lead was trimmed to 21-17.

After a very quick three and out by the Raiders, the Bills took over at their own 31 with 2:30 to go in the third quarter.  Fitzpatrick continued to torch the Raider’s secondary and get his passes off quickly.  He hooked up with Johnson again for gains of 13 and 11 yards.  Fred Jackson got the call and ran for a gain of 29 down to the Raider 16.  From there, the Raider defense finally got to Fitzpatrick and Matt Shaughnessy sacked him for a seven yard loss.  However, the sack didn’t count as Raider linebacker Rolando McClain was called for illegal contact.  That moved the ball to the Raider 11. From there, Fitzpatrick hit tight end Scott Chandler for a gain of ten.  Jackson finished the drive with a one yard run.  The Raiders didn’t think that Jackson scored and challenged the play.  That resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for challenging an unchallengeable play.  The penalty was enforced on the kickoff and Raider fans around the world were relieved to know that they would be spared the pain of watching Nick Miller return another kickoff.  The touchdown call stood and Lindell made the point after.  The 18-point lead the Raiders once had was gone.  The Bills led 24-21.

With 14:10 to go in the fourth quarter, the lead was gone, but the Raiders weren’t dead yet.  Campbell went to work and hit Moore for ten yards and Hagan for 25 more.  After a short run by McFadden, Campbell found Hagan again for a gain of nine to the Buffalo 43.  Then a little trickery was inserted as Moore ran a double reverse down to the 18.  Short runs by McFadden and Bush led to Campbell completing a 12-yard pass to McFadden for a Raider touchdown.  Janikowski split the uprights and the Raiders once again had the lead, 28-24.

The Bills took over at their own 20 with 9:18 to go in the game.  Once again, the Raiders could not stop the Bills as Fitzpatrick found Nelson for 15 and Spiller ran for 26 yards down to the Raider 39.  The Bills continued to mix up the runs and passes on this drive to keep the Raiders off balance.  Fitzpatrick hooked up again with Johnson and moved the ball to the eight.  A holding call on cornerback Chris Johnson moved the ball to the four.  Jackson was stuffed for a two-yard loss on first down, but on second down, Fitzpatrick found Chandler for a touchdown to give the Bills the lead.  Lindell made the point after and the Bills led 31-28.

With just under five minutes to go in the game, Nick Miller tried to run back a kickoff from three yards deep in the end zone.  This time, he stumbled and was brought down at the Raider 12-yard line.  Campbell connected with McFadden and Reece to move the ball close to midfield.  Then on first and ten at the 50, Campbell put up a deep bomb for Denarius Moore.  Moore leaped in between two defenders and brought the pass in for a 50-yard touchdown.  It was truly a thing of beauty.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 35-31. But, with the defense playing so badly, I was very concerned that the score came too quickly.

The Bills took over with 3:41 to go in the game.  On the first play of the drive, cornerback Chris Johnson was flagged for another penalty.  This time it was pass interference for 14 yards.  They dinked and dunked their way to midfield and moved the ball deep into Raider territory.  The Raider defense stiffened and had a chance to win the game as they forced the Bills into a fourth and short at the 24.  But Fitzpatrick completed a 9-yard pass to Jones to keep the drive alive.  After two incomplete passes, Fitzpatrick found Nelson for a 9-yard gain and it was fourth down again.  All the Raiders had to do was stop them on the next play and they would leave Buffalo with a win.  As badly as they played in the second half, they still had a chance to rise up and make a play to win the game.  That didn’t happen.  Fitzpatrick found Nelson WIDE OPEN in the end zone to give the Bills the lead.  Lindell’s kick was good and the Bills led 38-35 with 14 seconds left in the game.

With 14 seconds on the clock, the Raiders had the ball at their own 20. Campbell hit Moore in stride across the middle for a gain of 24. Campbell called timeout with six seconds remaining.  The next pass was overthrown and that led to the last play of the game.  Campbell heaved up a Hail Mary that was intercepted by Da’Norris Searcy.  That gave the Bills a 38-35 win.  After the game was over, the officials reviewed the final play. Nine minutes later, referee Mike Carey made the announcement to an empty stadium that the call was upheld and that the ball was intercepted.

Now that was a tough pill to swallow.  The Raider defense dropped several interceptions, missed assignments and the pass rush was nonexistent.  They allowed the Bills to score a touchdown on every drive in the second half.  It was pretty obvious at halftime that the Bills made adjustments and the Raiders didn’t.  Fitzpatrick had all the time in the world to find open receivers and completed 28 of 46 for 264 yards with three touchdowns and one pick.

Fred Jackson scored two touchdowns. He and Spiller ran through some huge holes for some very big gains.  Combined, they had 180 yards on 19 carries.  About the only good thing I can say about the defense was the interception by Stanford Routt.  That’s it.  All the rest was pure garbage.  Chris Johnson and Rolando McClain both had horrible games and there were countless missed tackles.  The term “garbage” also applies to the kickoff returns.  With Jacoby Ford out with a hamstring injury, Nick Miller was the next man up and he did a terrible job.  Get well soon, Jacoby! You are terribly missed!

The bright side was the offense.  Campbell had three starting receivers (Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford) and starting tight end (Kevin Boss) out for the game and he still did a great job.  Campbell completed 23 of 33 for 323 yards with two touchdowns and one pick.  He seems to have total command of the offense.  Big time props also go to the offensive line for not allowing a sack and no false starts in a very hostile environment.

It also looks like the Raiders have a solid deep threat in Denarius Moore.  He’s not the fastest guy on the team, but he has great hands and amazing leaping ability.  Moore hauled in five catches for 146 yards and a touchdown.  Not bad for a fifth round pick out of Tennessee, huh?  Darren McFadden also had a good game with 72 yards on the ground, 71 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

Next week, the New York Jets fly out to Oakland for the Raider’s home opener.  They destroyed the Jaguars yesterday by a score of 32-3 and will be looking for another win.  If the Raider defense plays the way they did in the second half against the Bills, the Jets will have an easy win.  Raider’s defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan better insert one hell of a game plan to stop Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes and the rest of the Jets.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Well the first game in the Kevin Kolb era went well as Kolb looked like he could be the answer to the Cardinals QB question…..How on Earth did the Cardinals pass defense allow QB Cam Newton to throw for over 400 yards against them in his first NFL game? That does not bode well for the future…..There has been no word out of Cardinals camp as to why prized free agent LB Stewart Bradley hardly saw the field Sunday.

Atlanta Falcons: Losing the first game of the season is not a big deal, but this loss comes after getting blown out in the playoffs at home last season and losing all four preseason games. Now ex QB Michael Vick comes to town…..If QB Matt Ryan doesn’t play well against Vick on Sunday, it should be interesting to see how the home crowd reacts…..The Eagles had a hard time stopping the run in Week 1. Look for a healthy dose of RB Michael Turner in this one.

Baltimore Ravens: That was a good old-fashioned butt whipping the Ravens put on the Steelers last Sunday…..WR Lee Evans was in a walking boot this week, but it looks to be more of a pre-caution than anything else and he should be good to go this Sunday…..Rookie CB Jimmy Smith has a high ankle sprain and will miss the next couple of weeks.

Buffalo Bills: WR Steve Johnson has been dealing with a groin injury for about a month and missed practice Thursday. He is still likely to play Sunday…..That was quite a game Buffalo played versus KC on Sunday. Perhaps, they could be a surprise team this season…..TE Scott Chandler has been a popular pickup in fantasy leagues after his big game.

Carolina Panthers: After having what could conservatively be called a bad preseason, Cam Newton came out firing in Week 1, throwing for over 400 yards and two TDs. Perhaps, he is just the type of player that plays best when the bullets are live…..WR Steve Smith must be thrilled to playing with a QB who can get him the ball down the field. He can finally use his speed again…..Enough with the praise of Newton, the Panthers had better be able to run the ball efficiently. Those kinds of games are usually few and far between for a rookie QB.

Chicago Bears: LB Brian Uhrlacher rejoined the Bears Thursday after leaving the team to attend to the passing of his mother earlier this week…..RB Matt Forte showed in Week 1 why he is deserving of a big contract…..Still have no idea why the Bears haven’t anointed Johnny Knox to the starting lineup, but they may have no choice this week as Roy Williams is dealing with a groin injury and may not be able to go.

Cincinnati Bengals: QB Andy Dalton looks like he will be able to go Sunday after suffering a wrist/hand injury in Week 1…..RB Cedric Benson rushed for 121 yards. If he can keep that up, he would be a rookie QB’s best friend…..Rookie WR A.J. Green may have had only once catch in his debut, but it was a big one–41 yards and a TD.

Cleveland Browns: Some thought that Cleveland could be a surprise team this season with a soft opening schedule, but a loss to the lowly Bengals may have most rethinking that position…..WR Mohamed Massaquoi is dealing with a hamstring issue but should be able to play Sunday…..CB Joe Haden is quickly proving himself to be one of the better corners in the game.

Dallas Cowboys: Secondary was a major weakness in the Dallas defense last season and it’s proving to be so again this year. They played a good part of Sunday’s game against the Jets with their 4th and 5th string CBs as Terrance Newman missed the game with a groin injury. Orlando Scandrick suffered an ankle sprain early in the game and is out until October. Mike Jenkins was in and out of the game with multiple injuries. Newman won’t play this week either.

Denver Broncos: You have to love that there is a group of fans in Denver that are going to take out an ad on a billboard stating they want Tim Tebow to be their QB. Do they really believe that it will change John Fox’s or John Elway’s mind if they pass a billboard on their way to and from work?….WR Brandon Lloyd (groin) and RB Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) are both questionable to play Sunday. If neither can go, it could be another tough day for QB Kyle Orton and the chant for Tebow may only get louder.

Detroit Lions: QB Matthew Stafford once again showed what he can do if he is able to stay on the football field. The Lions are a dangerous team…..WR Calvin Johnson has an ankle injury and isn’t practicing, but is expected to play Sunday…..DT Nick Fairly still isn’t practicing with the team after undergoing surgery in early August.

Green Bay Packers: Green Bay proved in Week 1 that you didn’t need to organize off-season workouts during the lockout to be effective…..Big question for fantasy owners is who is more valuable at RB, James Starks or Ryan Grant Best guess is, as the season rolls along, Starks sees more and more of the action…..Rookie WR Randall Cobb showed why he is considered a dangerous return man bringing back a kickoff 108 yards for a TD. He looked good running routes as well. Makes you wonder if the Pack regrets re-signing James Jones.

Houston Texans: RB Arian Foster missed Week 1. Not a shock as the team didn’t want to push him to play, figuring they could beat Indianapolis without him. He is slated to start this week. Good thing too as Derrick Ward could miss the game with an ankle injury…..Do you think QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson are licking their lips knowing they are playing the same secondary this week that was lit up for over 500 yards passing Monday night?

Indianapolis Colts: Here’s a question: Do you think QB Peyton Manning could win the MVP this season if the Colts finish the season with four wins or less, proving just how valuable Manning is to the team?…..The Colts just aren’t built right now to win without Peyton. The running game is not very good. Neither is the offensive line. The defense is built to attack the QB, assuming the other team is playing from behind. This is a recipe for disaster.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The good news is that RB Maurice Jones-Drew looked good rushing the ball last Sunday, easing the doubts of fantasy owners who thought he may not be fully recovered from past injuries. The bad news is that for the first time in 67 games, MJD did not catch a pass…..TE Marcedes Lewis has missed practice this week with a calf injury. Luke McCown’s safety blanket may not be able to go Sunday.

Kansas City Chiefs: Wow! That was not a good start to the season for KC, getting their brains beat in by Buffalo at home…..S Eric Berry is gone for the season with a torn ACL. This is a huge blow and one the defense may not be able to recover from…..QB Matt Cassel is not on the injury report. Perhaps, he and WR Dwayne Bow will have a better game this week–they better.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins were expected to have one of the better defenses in the NFL this season, but they were absolutely torched by the Pats in Week 1…..RB Daniel Thomas missed his first game with a hamstring injury. Although he should play Sunday, the carries are still expected to fall heavily into Reggie Bush’s favor, but Thomas could get a majority of the goal line work…..QB Chad Henne played pretty well himself Monday, throwing for over 400 yards. It’s nice to know he can do that, but the Dolphins can’t rely on that week in and week out. They are not built to win games through the air.

Minnesota Vikings: That’s not a misprint you saw on Monday, QB Donovan McNabb only threw for 39 yards in the Vikings loss to the Chargers on Sunday. Teams are going to load up the line of scrimmage to stop RB Adrian Peterson until Minnesota proves they can throw the ball…..Christian Ponder is the number two behind McNabb.

New England Patriots: That was some display of offensive football the Patriots displayed on Monday night. If you can’t put pressure on Tom Brady, it’s all over; he will carve up your defense no matter how many defenders you put out there…..Not everything was perfect however, OT Dan Koppen fractured his ankle and will miss the next 6-10 weeks…..WR Chad Ochocinco was criticized pretty heavily for tweeting that he was in awe of the Pats offense. I’m not really sure what the big deal was and wonder if this would even measure on the Richter scale if it wasn’t Ochocinco who said it.

New Orleans Saints: The loss of WR Marques Colston to a broken collarbone was a huge blow, especially with Lance Moore still not being at 100%. This should mean more consistent looks for Robbie Meacham and TE Jimmy Graham…..The Saints and QB Drew Brees still have a long way to go on a new contract, but it doesn’t really matter if the Saints can’t sign him to a long-term deal. They will most certainly use their franchise tag on him in the off-season.

New York Giants: WR Hakeem Nicks is questionable at best to play Monday with a knee injury. He plans on practicing Friday to see how it goes…..The Giants stated this week that they don’t want to have to rely on QB Eli Manning to win games. Translation: they will run the ball more with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs…..DE Justin Tuck is questionable to play Monday with a neck injury. He missed Week 1 and is playing it cautious, but the injury is muscular, not structural.

New York Jets: The Jets pulled out a miracle versus Dallas Sunday and know they have to play better if they want to win on a more consistent basis…..QB Mark Sanchez was dinged up during the game and given a concussion test afterwards, but all tests came back negative and he will be good to go this week.

Oakland Raiders: RB Darren McFadden tweaked his neck during the game Sunday. Actually a Broncos defensive player trying to rip his head off tweaked it and he has been slowed this week in practice…..WR Louis Murphy (groin) will not play this week and Jacoby Ford is not looking too good this week either…..K Sebastian Janikowski tied an NFL record with a 63-yard FG on Monday. The Raiders are petitioning the NFL that it was actually a 64 yarder.

Philadelphia Eagles: It shouldn’t surprise anyone if QB Michael Vick is a little more amped up than normal Sunday in his first game back in Atlanta. It might even take him a quarter or so to return to normal…..Eagles coaches want to get WR Jeremy Maclin more involved in the passing game this week. He was on the field more than any other receiver in Week 1, but still only caught one pass…..CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played in the slot on Sunday, meaning he was only in on 18 plays. Seems Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha are the starters.

Pittsburgh Steelers: After the beating the Steelers took last week, I wouldn’t want to be the Seahawks…..The weakest part of the Steelers team is the offensive line, and the loss of Willie Colon certainly won’t help matters any…..The Steelers are going to use a no huddle offense at times this week to keep the Seahawks guessing defensively.

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers lost K Nate Kaeding for the season on the first play of the game with a torn ACL. They signed Nick Novak to replace him…..RB Mike Tolbert suffered a knee injury during the game that looked serious at the time, but turned out to be minor. He will be good to go this week…..RB Ryan Matthews also had a good game as the Chargers look to have a two headed monster at RB.

San Francisco 49ers: WR Ted Ginn Jr. took a pay cut the week before opening day and may have taken his anger out on the Panthers with both a kickoff return and punt return for touchdowns. He may not be able to catch the football consistently, but he can sure run with it…..WR Michael Crabtree is still not close to 100% and is limited in practice, but may play this week versus Dallas…..The 49ers have encouraged QB Alex Smith to scramble–a good idea with their offensive line. He may be running for his life against DeMarcus Ware this week.

Seattle Seahawks: Hard to take this team seriously on offense until they get a real QB, fix the offensive line and get WR Sidney Rice healthy. A better RB than Marshawn Lynch wouldn’t hurt either. How exactly did this team make the playoffs last season–and beat the Saints?

St. Louis Rams: The Rams were crushed with injuries in Week 1: QB Sam Bradford missed part of the game with a finger injury after hitting a helmet on a pass attempt, RB Steven Jackson will miss this week’s game after suffering a quad injury on his touchdown run, and WR Danny Amendola is expected to miss quite a bit of time after dislocating his elbow. Talk about a MASH unit…..S Ronald Bartell was placed on IR after suffering two small fractures in his neck.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I know the Bucs were down for a good part of the game Sunday, but how can RB LeGarrette Blount only receive five carries? The problem is that Blount is not a good blocker and can’t catch the ball which means he is not likely to play in passing situations or when the Bucs are trailing. Earnest Graham could have a bigger role on this team than first thought.

Tennessee Titans: RB Chris Johnson is expected to get close to 20 carries and 25 touches overall this week as the Titans didn’t want to overuse him last week…..Kenny Britt has court dates September 20 and 27. Neither one should land him in jail, and it doesn’t seem like either one will land him in trouble with the NFL either.

Washington Redskins: Sexy Rexy came out and played last week against a depleted Giants defensive line. He could be a good fantasy play this week against a Cardinals defense that was absolutely shredded by Cam Newton…..Good news for Tim Hightower owners, Mike Shanahan came out this week and stated that he has no plans to monitor Hightower’s touches. Of course with Shanahan’s past history, he has no problem benching him on a whim either…..TE Fred Davis played more than TE Chris Cooley last week.

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Not that this should come as a shock to anyone, but RB Ryan Williams was officially placed on IR this week…..The Cardinals may be paying the price now for trading away CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as Greg Toler’s knee sprain may force the team to bring along 1st round pick Patrick Peterson faster than the team would like…..QB Max Hall will miss the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Atlanta Falcons: WR Julio Jones is my pick for offensive rookie of the year in the NFC…..The reason I make that statement, QB Matt Ryan threw the ball an amazing 42 times last week. That’s unheard of in the preseason. The Falcons seem to be trying to make a statement to opposing teams: don’t load up at the line of scrimmage to stop the run or you will get burned by the passing game. RB Michael Turner has to like this as the safeties can’t play too close to the line of scrimmage anymore.

Baltimore Ravens: WR Lee Evans was still in a protective boot earlier this week, but the injury is still not considered serious and he should be good to go for Week One…..Coach Cam Cameron came out this week and stated that tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta are pretty much running neck and neck for the starting job. Dickson is a much better athlete and has the higher upside, but needs to display that upside on a more consistent basis before he is handed the starting job.

Buffalo Bills: Linebacker Shawn Merriman looks to be ready to play in Week One. Merriman can certainly help the pass rush if he’s healthy, but he can’t seem to remain so for any length of time…..RB Fred Jackson was upset last week for not knowing what his exact role is in the offense. He did receive the start last week and is the odds on favorite to begin the season as the starting back with CJ Spiller playing more of a 3rd down role and being lined up in the slot on occasion.

Carolina Panthers: I believe the Panthers are going to be an improved team over last season. It is hard not to be, but they are still going to be lucky to win 10 games. I still believe they would benefit by having a veteran quarterback tutor Cam Newton who has looked awful throwing the ball so far this preseason…..Fantasy wise, it will be next to impossible for me to draft any Panther in re-draft leagues.

Chicago Bears: RB Chester Taylor looked like he was going to be released this week. He was told as much, but the injury to Marion Barber gave him a reprieve–although that may be short lived…..I have the Bears third in the NFC North…..LB Lance Briggs may have three years left on his contract and be north of 30 years old, but he still wants a new contract and may demand a pay raise if he’s not given one.

Cincinnati Bengals: We learned earlier today that QB Carson Palmer had a face to face meeting with GM Mike Brown in late July about his situation. Palmer is still demanding a trade. However, he could really force the Bengals hand by reporting to camp late this week or next, thus forcing the Bengals to either pay him or trade him…..RB Cedric Benson elected to serve his 20 day prison sentence immediately instead of during his bye week. He will only be required to actually serve seven days, so he should be ready for Week One.

Cleveland Browns: Each and every week I’m more impressed with QB Colt McCoy. Once again, he’s never going to be a stud who puts up big numbers, but he has the look of a QB who will do whatever it takes to get the job done…..RB Montario Hardesty is finally starting to look healthy after tearing his ACL last season. He has the talent to be a starting back, which will give the Browns a strong 1-2 punch between himself and Peyton Hillis.

Dallas Cowboys: I was a little bit surprised by the release of C Andre Gurode this week. Gurode can still play but Dallas didn’t think he was worth the five plus million he was owed in salary…..By cutting Gurode, Dallas is now a little over $11 million under the salary cap. Remember, the dollar amount a team is under the salary cap this season, it can be added to next season’s cap. So even though Dallas may not have been big players in the this year’s free agent crop, don’t expect the same next season…..The release of Gurode also means that Dallas’ offensive line went from old and slow to extremely young and athletic. If QB Tony Romo can withstand the hits he is going to get, he will have a big season.

Denver Broncos: DE Elvis Demervil looks to be fully recovered from last year’s surgery. He and first round pick Von Miller should give the Broncos a pass rush that has to be game planned for by the opposition…..QBs Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn are still battling for the backup job to start the season. One has to wonder, if and when the Broncos are out of playoff contention, will they decide to make a switch to Tebow just to see what he can do, regardless of how well Orton is playing.

Detroit Lions: The reason I picked the Bears for third in the north is that I’m hopping on the Lions bandwagon and predicting a second place finish for them. Granted though, this all depends on QB Matthew Stafford and RB Javhid Best remaining healthy–two big ifs…..Best has already had a problem this preseason with a concussion suffered early on. He is expected to play in the last preseason game and be ready for Week One.

Green Bay Packers: TE JerMichael Finley won’t play in the final preseason game due to an ankle injury, but this injury is not considered to be serious and he should be good to go for Week One…..WR Randall Cobb returned to practice this week. Cobb has plenty of talent, but he will make the most noise for the Packers on special teams as they are loaded at WR…..Speaking of WRs, Donald Driver had a cortisone injection in the same foot he injured in the Super Bowl. It would seem to be a red flag to me. Have to think that Driver will slowly be phased out of a starting role as the season rolls along.

Houston Texans: RB Arian Foster’s hamstring injury has to worry fantasy owners. He was considered to be a top three back heading into the season, and now some believe he could miss up to a month. Of course, Foster and the Texans deny that he will miss any time, but one would have to think he won’t be at full speed and could re-injure the hamstring at some point during the season…..If you do draft Foster, better grab Ben Tate as his handcuff.

Indianapolis Colts: QB Peyton Manning was taken off the PUP this week, but still won’t play in the final preseason game. He is still questionable to play in Week One. Without Manning, the Colts are a bad team. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team so reliant on one person…..Fantasy wise, Manning would scare me. I couldn’t take him as one of my top five QBs anymore, but top eight is not out of the question.

Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Rashard Jennings was seen on crutches this week after suffering a knee injury. Jennings was expected to become more than just a backup to Maurice Jones-Drew this season. The Jags don’t want to abuse MJD, but if this injury is serious than Jones-Drew may get more carries per week than first thought…..RB Fred Taylor signed a contract with the Jags Thursday for the sake of retiring as a Jaguar.

Kansas City Chiefs: WR Jonathan Baldwin is running routes but not catching passes yet as he still has pins in his thumb after his fight with RB Thomas Jones…..I have the Chiefs finishing second in the AFC West this season. Not because they are not a better team than last season, but because I don’t believe the Chargers will have as many problems on special teams as they did last season. Chiefs will battle the Jets for that final wildcard spot.

Miami Dolphins: RB Daniel Thomas has aggravated the Dolphins coaching staff so much that he may no longer be the main ball carrier for the team. Reggie Bush could get more touches than first thought. Don’t be surprised if the Dolphins reverse their thinking. However, the more Bush touches the ball, the more likely he is to get hurt…..QB Chad Henne has actually looked good so far this preseason. This is a make or break year for Henne. Perhaps the light bulb has finally turned on for him.

Minnesota Vikings: I’m not sure anyone in the NFL was happier for the contract that RB Chris Johnson received than Adrian Peterson–cha ching…..Speaking of Peterson, he’s not expected to come off the field in passing situations anymore. He is in store for a massive season and should be the first RB off the board in fantasy leagues.

New England Patriots: WR Wes Welker injured his neck making a tackle last week. Although he doesn’t remember the play, he doesn’t have a concussion. Once again, he should be good to go for Week One…..RB Kevin Faulk still isn’t fully recovered from ACL surgery and is likely to begin the season on the PUP list…..WR Brandon Tate has not impressed this season and could be the odd man out in the Pats WR corps.

New Orleans Saints: K Garrett Hartley will miss at least the next six weeks with a hip injury. Jon Kasay has been signed to take over the kicking duties…..I like the Saints again this season, but also believe they finish behind the Falcons in the NFC South…..Big things seem to be expected from WR Lance Moore this season, but don’t forget he has a nagging groin injury and RB Darren Sproles will also take some of the snaps that would’ve previously gone to Reggie Bush.

New York Giants: In order for the Giants offense to work this season, WR Mario Manningham is going to have to have a good season to take the defensive pressure off of Hakeem Nicks. Not to mention QB Eli Manning is going to have to play better and limit his mistakes…..Third round pick WR Jerrel Jernigan, who was the leading candidate to take over punt returns, blew that opportunity with four fumbled punts versus the Jets Monday.

New York Jets: K Nick Folk won the kicking battle over Nick Novak…..WR Plaxico Burress and QB Mark Sanchez clearly weren’t on the same page in last week’s game versus the Giants. This is clearly a work in progress…..Jets finish behind the Patriots in the AFC East.

Oakland Raiders: TE Kevin Boss has yet to practice since injuring his knee a couple of weeks ago. He’s questionable to play in Week One…..QB Terrelle Pryor reportedly scored a seven on the Wonderlic Test. That’s incredibly low. The test has nothing to do with his ability to play football, but does show you that he is probably not the sharpest pencil in the box.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Steve Smith is unlikely to play in Week One, and could miss most of September. This is why the Giants didn’t sign him…..WR DeSean Jackson could be the next player on the Eagles to sign a big contract after the Eagles rewarded QB Michael Vick with a $100 million contract this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers: LB James Harrison is still not at 100% after undergoing off-season back surgery and may get fatigued as games get into the fourth quarter during the regular season…..Due to the foot injury that has cost WR Emmanuel Sanders a good portion of training camp, Antonio Brown may be the Steelers 3rd WR to open the season.

San Diego Chargers: TE Antonio Gates practiced all week and will be ready to go for Week One….. The Chargers offense looks explosive and could put up a bunch of points week in and week out…..They are going to win the AFC West…..I love the trio of QB Phillip Rivers, WR Vincent Jackson and TE Antonio Gates, not to mention the RB duo of Mike Tolbert and Ryan Matthews–just scary.

San Francisco 49ers: RB Frank Gore also signed a new contract this week. It’s good that he received a lot of upfront money because that offensive line is going to get him killed…..As good a preseason as Kendall Hunter has had, he still hasn’t passed Anthony Dixon on the depth chart…..WR Michael Crabtree is still not practicing at full strength and is unlikely to play in Week One.

Seattle Seahawks: The signing of TE Zach Miller is all the more important now with the loss of John Carlson for the season with a torn labrum…..The Seahawks are still going to roll with Tavares Jackson as their starting QB even though the offense has looked abysmal so far this preseason and Charlie Whitehurst has outplayed him…..RB Marshawn Lynch has an ankle injury that will keep him from playing this week but he is expected to play in Week One.

St. Louis Rams: LB James Laurinaitis is still battling a pectoral muscle that he injured in the early days of camp and may not be at 100% when the regular season starts…..The Rams signed WR Mark Clayton to a one-year contract this week but he still might begin the season on the PUP. He is still recovering from a torn patellar.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs remind me of the Chiefs in that they may be a better team this season but it won’t show in their record. Not to mention, it certainly doesn’t help playing in the same division with Atlanta and New Orleans…..RB Earnest Graham is expected to be the Bucs third down back this season, at least at the beginning…..TE Kellen Winslow hurt his ankle in his preseason debut last week. It didn’t look to be a major injury, but the Bucs haven’t talked much about it this week.

Tennessee Titans: Everyone in Tennessee had a big sigh of relief today when RB Chris Johnson finally signed his new contract and reported to camp. The Titans don’t have the best of offenses to begin with, and without Johnson it would be non-existent…..More good news for the Titans, WR Kenny Britt is feeling close to 100% and expects to be so before the season opener.

Washington Redskins: I know RB Tim Hightower has had a great camp and is climbing up fantasy draft boards, but does anyone really think it’s going to last all season. What happens when he starts to fumble the ball or the Shanahans want to see what rookie Roy Helu can do? Plus the Skins don’t have a QB and teams may sell out to stop the run…..S Laron Landry has injuries to his Achilles and hamstring, but isn’t expected to miss more than a couple of games at this point in time.


All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Safety Adrian Wilson has started practicing on a limited basis and will continue to try and play through a torn biceps. I have a hard time seeing that last all season…..Great news for the Cardinals and their fans that WR Larry Fitzgerald signed an eight-year, $120 million contract…..RB Beanie Wells will once again get another shot at proving to Arizona that he deserves the full-time gig with the season ending injury to RB Ryan Williams.

Atlanta Falcons: DE Ray Edwards has been battling knee problems this training camp but will play this weekend…..RB Michael Turner revealed this week that he played last season with a special wrap to protect his groin. The injury has healed now and Turner is expected to get back that burst he didn’t have last season…..Some scouts believe WR Julio Jones may be ready to play a major part in the Falcons offense this season, not just take away coverage from WR Roddy White.

Baltimore Ravens: WR Lee Evans has made his presence known for Baltimore. Perhaps, he can be that deep threat the team has been looking for…..OT Bryant McKinnie was signed to provide depth along the offensive line. It’s a gamble, but if McKinnie is in shape and wants to play, he can still help a team…..Big things are expected of RB Ray Rice this season with FB Vonta Leach leading the way.

Buffalo Bills: While LB Shawn Merriman has looked like his old sack machine self at times, he is still getting nicked up more than one would like…..LB Kirk Morrison signed with the Bills this week. It is hard to see where he fits in with this defense, but he does have experience playing both the inside and outside…..RB Fred Jackson is getting frustrated with his role in the Buffalo offense, as he is not sure why he isn’t the starting back.

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton may have been the first overall pick in the draft this past April, but anyone who watches him play can clearly see that he is not yet ready to play in the NFL as a starting QB. Problem is though, the Panthers don’t have anyone else on the roster who is…..WR Steve Smith hasn’t come out publicly and stated anything, but you have to wonder if he is a powder keg ready to explode and would prefer to get out of Carolina and play for a contending team.

Chicago Bears: I’m still bewildered that the Bears somehow think they will be okay at WR with Devin Hester and Roy Williams. They need an upgrade there…..LB Lance Briggs is out for the remainder of the preseason with a knee injury. As of right now, he is not expected to miss any regular season time…..Have a feeling the Bears won’t be in the playoff hunt this season.

Cincinnati Bengals: Speaking of a feeling, one of the two Ohio teams should be in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes come the end of the season…..The Bengals offense showed some signs of life this week as RB Cedric Benson and rookie WR AJ Green looked good during their preseason game versus Carolina. Problem will be during the regular season.  Weeks like this may be few and far between…..The Bengals traded for S Taylor Mays from the 49ers. Well someone had to trade for him! It shows that Mays was literally one and done for San Francisco.

Cleveland Browns: QB Colt McCoy continues to impress for the Browns. He’s never going to be a gunslinger in the pocket, but rather someone you can count on to lead the team and find a way to win…..Smart move by Cleveland in locking up OT Joe Thomas. He’s one of the best and they don’t want to lose him…..RB Brandon Jackson is out about six weeks with turf toe.

Dallas Cowboys: If the Cowboys offensive line can hold up and give QB Tony Romo time, Dallas is going to score quite a few points this season…..Problem though, unless their secondary improves an awful lot, they are going to give up quite a few points as well…..RB Felix Jones is having a monster preseason. If he can just stay healthy, he could have a monster regular season, as defenses will more than likely be  more worried about the Dallas passing game.

Denver Broncos: The Broncos finally made it official that Kyle Orton will start at QB. Not really a shock considering how poorly Tim Tebow has played. He might be lucky to be the backup and not third string…..WR Brandon Lloyd has missed some practice time this week with some swelling in his knee…..RB Knowshon Moreno looks to be the starting back, but remember, coach John Fox likes to use more than one back and Willis McGahee was a touchdown vulture last year with Baltimore.

Detroit Lions: The Lions are playing it cautious and smart with RB Javhid Best and his concussion, holding him out of this weekend’s game. One has to wonder if this will hinder him as the season rolls along, not like a RB can avoid contact to his head…..WR Calvin Johnson is also dealing with an injured shoulder, although his injury shouldn’t be of any concern once the season starts.

Green Bay Packers: There are rumblings that RB Ryan Grant could lose his starting job to James Starks. Neither one had a great game Friday, although neither one touched the ball all that much. It doesn’t seem like the coaching staff is all that concerned, and who could blame them with QB Aaron Rodgers and the plethora of targets he has to throw to each week. I wouldn’t want to take it out of his hands either.

Houston Texans: The Texans are looking more and more like the team to beat in the AFC South…..RB Steve Slaton is still battling a hamstring injury and is unlikely to make the final roster. This is not a surprise, but his injury has made it highly unlikely that the Texans could trade Slaton for a draft pick…..LB DeMeco Ryans could miss the remainder of the preseason with an elbow injury.

Indianapolis Colts: The signing of QB Kerry Collins tells you two things; first, there is a pretty good chance that Peyton Manning is going to miss a game or two, and second, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky aren’t the answer…..The Colts are built to win with Manning at QB. I’m not sure it would matter who was behind center, without Manning, they are a considerable underdog.

Jacksonville Jaguars: As if there was any doubt, David Garrard was named the starting QB. Blane Gabbert is going to be a good one, but it’s best that he learn behind a veteran for now…..The Jags coaching staff believes Rashard Jennings is ready for a bigger role in the offense this season. This is also not a surprise, as we started to see that last season.

Kansas City Chiefs: Kind of surprised that the Chiefs announced that Dexter McCluster will only be used as a running back this season. I’m not sure you want to feed any mouths other than Jamaal Charles in that backfield…..LB Derrick Johnson looks like he might be ready to take that next step this season…..TE Tony Moeaki still hasn’t fully recovered from off-season surgery. It might be time to get a little worried with the season just two weeks away.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are growing more and more concerned with RB Daniel Thomas’ unwillingness to hit the line of scrimmage hard in practice, so much so, that Reggie Bush may become a bigger part of the offense than first thought…..The Dolphins haven’t named a starter opposite WR Brandon Marshall. In other words, they aren’t very happy with Brian Hartline and have even given Davone Bess reps on the outside in practice even though he excelled last season in the slot.

Minnesota Vikings:  QB Joe Webb, who is listed 2nd on the depth chart, has also been taking reps at wide receiver…..It looks like DT Kevin Williams will only be suspended two games instead of four in the StarCaps case…..WR Percy Harvin returned to practice this week. He still has bruised ribs, but that shouldn’t hinder him in the regular season, and at least it’s not migraines.

New England Patriots: The Patriots have come out this season like they are on fire, dismantling teams in the 1st quarter. They are already regular season ready…..Rookie RB Stevan Ridley missed practice this week with an undisclosed illness and won’t play this weekend….DT Albert Haynesworth returned to practice this week. One still has to wonder if he has the will to play football at the level he is capable of, even for Bill Belichick.

New Orleans Saints: Saints are dealing with some injury issues; RB Mark Ingram has a knee problem, WR Lance Moore a groin, and WR Marques Colston has knee issues of his own…..Like Kevin Williams of Minnesota, there is a chance that Will Smith’s suspension will be reduced to two games…..I would love to grab TE Jimmy Graham late in my fantasy drafts.

New York Giants: The Giants are being crushed with injuries to their secondary, suffering four season ending injuries so far. They did sign Brian Williams for depth purposes this week…..RB Ahmad Bradshaw is dealing with a back injury that is starting to worry the team. They believe it might linger into the regular season…..Speaking of RBs, Brandon Jacobs stated this week that he would like to play another 3-4 seasons; good news for the G-men who can always use a battering ram in the backfield.

New York Jets: WR Plaxico Burress made his presence felt in his first game for the team with a touchdown reception. If he is actually back to the player he used to be before ending up in jail, the Jets could have a dangerous offense…..With Hurricane Irene threatening the east coast this weekend, the Jets and Giants moved their game to Monday night, which means these two teams will play their final two preseason games in four days.

Oakland Raiders: Someone has to explain to me the Raiders philosophy of running a football team. You let your two best players leave in free agency (Nnamdi Asomugha and Zack Miller) but then spend a 3rd round pick in the supplemental draft on Terrelle Pryor, a player who may be a great athlete, but who no one believes will be a top NFL QB. They don’t have a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round pick in next year’s draft. Exactly how is this team going to get better?

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles may have defeated the Browns in their preseason game Thursday and put 24 points up on the scoreboard, but they are going to get QB Michael Vick killed if they don’t fix that offensive line. I believe last week I put the over/under of Vick’s games played at 13.5. I’m starting to think double digits might be a more accurate line. I can’t see how anyone in fantasy leagues can take Vick as the number one QB, more or less the 1st player taken overall.

Pittsburgh Steelers: I’m a big Cowboys fan, but the game I am looking forward to seeing most on the first Sunday of football is definitely Pittsburgh-Baltimore. The hatred these two teams have for each other is for real, and a joy to watch…..The Steelers would like to see a big game out of QB Dennis Dixon on Saturday, possibly to showcase him for a trade as they have plenty of backup QBs on the roster…..The Steelers have also let it be known to teams not to salivate over the possibility of S Troy Polamalu becoming a free agent next season. They will franchise him if they can’t come to an agreement on a new contract.

San Diego Chargers: WR Malcolm Floyd, who did suffer a concussion last week, returned to practice this week, so all seems to be well there…..RB Ryan Matthews has redeemed himself in his coach’s eyes but may still share the spotlight with Mike Tolbert…..Fantasy wise, I think I’d rather have Tolbert. Sure, Matthews will catch more passes out of the backfield, but Tolbert is more than likely to be the man at the goal line.

San Francisco 49ers: RB Frank Gore is getting more and more frustrated with his contract situation and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if this comes to a head before the season starts…..WR Michael Crabtree seems more and more unlikely to play in Week One as he is not running yet. However, he is out of the walking boot…..The back to watch if Gore were to miss any time is Kendall Hunter. Even if Gore plays, Hunter should have a few plays designed just for him.

Seattle Seahawks: Kicking news, it looks like Jeff Reed has won the starting job for the Hawks…..LB Aaron Curry agreed to restructure his contract this week. So far Curry has looked like a pretty big bust in the NFL…..Still no word on the severity of TE John Carlson’s shoulder injury, although initial word is that the injury could be pretty severe.

St. Louis Rams: It seems TE Lance Kendricks has quickly become a favorite target of QB Sam Bradford, so much so, that he could be Bradford’s favorite target on 3rd downs and in the red zone…..RB Steven Jackson no longer looks like a top NFL back as he no longer possesses the elusiveness he once had. Oh he can still be productive, but it’s more of a hit the hole and then run over someone type.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Aqib Talib met with the commissioner this week to discuss his run in with the law this past offseason. Depending on whom you believe, the commissioner may have his rulings challenged by the union once he doles out what he considers is the proper punishment…..WR Arrelious Benn is scheduled to play this week. It seems he will likely open the season as the number three WR as Dezmon Briscoe has looked awfully good in camp.

Tennessee Titans: WR Kenny Britt is in the same situation as Aqib Talib and could face a suspension. He is also dealing with a hamstring injury that has cost him most of the preseason so far…..RB Chris Johnson met with Titans officials this week to discuss a new contract. No dice! Both sides still seem to be pretty far apart on what his next contract should be worth. If this heads into the regular season, Tennessee is in deep trouble.

Washington Redskins: John Beck and Rex Grossman are still battling for the number one job. The Skins know what they have in Grossman, a gambler who will either hit big or miss big. Beck may be the one that requires less Pepto Bismol on a regular basis…..RB Tim Hightower has looked nothing short of awesome so far this preseason leaving some to predict that a huge season is on its way.

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Right now Andre Roberts is expected to start opposite Larry Fitzgerald at WR. Now don’t get too excited and go running out to pick him up in your fantasy leagues. This could easily change before the season begins…..Speaking of Fitzgerald, he wants to sign a long term deal with Arizona as he is happy with their off-season moves, but if a deal can’t be worked out, the Cards can’t franchise him as he has a clause in his contract that prohibits that move.

Atlanta Falcons: Rumors are flying around the Atlanta training camp that the addition of WR Julio Jones will allow the Falcons to have more of a high tempo aerial attack. With WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons could certainly go this route, but it’s hard to see them going in this direction unless it is necessary; as it’s hard to win shootouts week in and week out…..With all the talk about the Saints, Packers, and Eagles, the Falcons have been able to fly under the radar so far. They just may be the best of them all.

Baltimore Ravens: TE Ed Dickson is practicing once again. Dickson needs to be on the field as much as possible in order to gain QB Joe Flacco’s trust. Flacco could use a big target over the middle…..Where RB Ray Rice goes in your fantasy draft probably depends on whether or not you believe that Ricky Williams will take over the Willis McGahee role and vulture short yardage touchdown runs. The Ravens coaching staff states that Rice will get those carries, but I have my doubts.

Buffalo Bills: If LB Shawn Merriman can continue to put pressure on the opposing QB like he did in the first preseason game, than the Bills’ defense could be better than first thought…..QB Brad Smith saw quite a few snaps in the Wildcat formation during the first preseason game. He could be a weapon in that offense, as the Bills want to use him similar to how the Steelers used Kordell Stewart in the 90s…..The Bills finally parted ways with former 1st round pick LB Aaron Maybin. Can you say bust?

Carolina Panthers: QB Cam Newton impressed in his first pro start and seems to be on target to start the season under center for Carolina. With that being said, if the Panthers had a solid veteran presence at QB, they would probably prefer to have Newton watch and learn but Jimmy Claussen does not give them that option…..TE Greg Olsen had a solid 1st game for Carolina. It should surprise no one if he is the team’s best receiver this season no matter who is throwing him the ball.

Chicago Bears: Neither WR Johnny Knox nor Roy Williams was all that impressive in the first preseason game, as only one ball was caught between them. So if there is indeed a training camp battle between these two, no one did all that much to cause separation…..I have a hard time thinking the Bears believe they can go into this season with Williams and Hester as your starting wideouts. Not all that impressive.

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals and CB Leon Hall are likely to open up contract negotiations shortly. Hall has pretty good leverage, as the Bengals have plenty of cap room and can’t let another CB walk and get nothing in return. They already let Jonathan Joseph go to the Texans. But then again, this is the Bengals we’re talking about…..WR AJ Green injured his knee in practice Wednesday, but it looks to be minor. Green may be one of the few reasons to watch the Bungles this season.

Cleveland Browns: I’m still trying to think of a reason to watch the Browns…..The teams top two RBs, Peyton Hills (hamstring) and Montario Hardesty (knee), are both banged up but should be good to go by next week…..QB Colt McCoy might be that reason to watch the Browns. He had an impressive first preseason game. Still he is not a true franchise QB, rather he is more of a game manager.

Dallas Cowboys: WR Dwayne Harris had a fantastic first pro game and is gaining on Kevin Ogletree for the 3rd WR job, but before anyone gets too excited, the Cowboys don’t use three WR sets all that often. They love to go with two TEs and line up Jason Witten in the slot to go along with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant…..A name to remember in those two TE formations is John Phillips, as he may eventually surpass Martellus Bennett on the depth chart. Phillips was making noise in training camp last year before tearing his ACL.

Denver Broncos: While RB Knowshon Moreno has looked very good in practice so far, Willis McGahee could vulture TDs from him just like he did from Ray Rice last season…..It’s pretty much set in stone that Kyle Orton will start over Tim Tebow at quarterback. The bigger question may be who will backup up Orton: Tebow or Brady Quinn…..DT Ty Warren, who was being relied on to stuff the run for Denver, tore his triceps and is a candidate for IR.

Detroit Lions: DT Ndamukong Suh may think the $20K fine for ripping the helmet off yet another QB’s head is excessive, but he still will want to calm himself down for fear of getting the reputation that LB James Harrison of Pittsburgh has gained. Last thing Suh wants is the NFL to look at his play with a fine tooth comb…..DT Nick Fairly is no longer wearing a cast and seems to be on pace to possibly play in Week One.

Green Bay Packers: WR Donald Driver has stated that he will accept a demotion from his starting WR role if he feels James Jones or Jordy Nelson warrants the job…..WR Randall Cobb may not see much action in the passing game since the Packers are absolutely loaded at WR. He still could make a huge mark in the return game. Cobb will be a threat to take the ball to the house every time he touches it, as if the Packers didn’t have enough of those types of players.

Houston Texans: LB Mario Williams doesn’t look the least bit comfortable yet in the 3-4 defense. Switching from DE to LB means Williams will now have coverage responsibilities, something he is not the least bit familiar with…..The Texans are starting to tire of RB Ben Tate’s injuries. They need to see him on the field to see if he can be a legitimate backup to Arian Foster. If not, than Steve Slaton will remain on the roster.

Indianapolis Colts: After watching the Colts backup QBs, you have to seriously wonder if they could ever win a game that Peyton Manning didn’t start…..Will this be the year that WR Pierre Garcon takes that next step? It would be a big boon to the offense if Garcon could become a bit more consistent in his route running, and even more so, if he could actually catch the ball. He has been one of the league leaders in drops the past couple of seasons.

Jacksonville Jaguars: There is a pretty good chance that the Jags will play it safe with RB Maurice Jones-Drew this preseason. He may not see a snap until Week One of the regular season…..QB David Garrard looks to get his first action of the preseason this weekend. He better get on the field soon if he wants to remain the starting QB. The longer he is out, the more likely it is Blaine Gabbert that opens the season as the #1.

Kansas City Chiefs: Rookie WR Jonathan Baldwin looks to finally be healthy and could see some action this week. But don’t expect anything big. Baldwin may be no better than 5th when it comes to passing options…..No matter where the Chiefs place RB Jamaal Charles on their depth chart, the team will go as far as Charles can take them.

Miami Dolphins: QB Matt Moore hasn’t practiced all that well with the team. However, he did impress the coaches with his play during the game Friday. Will he unseat Chad Henne? Probably not right away, but the team/players have little to no faith in Henne. It could just be a matter of time, unfortunately for the Fish, that their quarterback of the future is not on the roster…..RB Reggie Bush will get his first action this weekend. Coach Tony Sparano is still undecided if he will use Bush on punt returns. I am not sure why you wouldn’t.

Minnesota Vikings:  Apparently the Vikings first choice to start at QB was Tyler Thigpen, not Donovan McNabb. If that’s true, I’m not sure why Thigpen would sign in Buffalo for a backup job…..WR Percy Harvin may not play this weekend. It’s not due to migraines, but rather bruised ribs…..DL Kevin Williams has accepted his fate that he will finally be suspended after losing an appeal in the StarCaps case, probably four games.

New England Patriots: WR TJ Houshmandzadeh is scheduled to visit New England this week. It could be interesting to see Housh and Ochocinco together once again…..QB Tom Brady is said to be on fire in training camp. I would still like to see who becomes the Pats deep threat to stretch out the secondary…..You have to love coach Bill Belichick’s honesty about why the NFL moved the kickoff up to the 35 yard line—because they want to eliminate the return game.

New Orleans Saints: RB Mark Ingram has looked impressive in camp, but still it’s hard to see him having a big season with Pierre Thomas still on the roster…..If you’re looking for a sleeper WR for your fantasy league, Lance Moore could be your man.

New York Giants: A little bit of controversy here in the Northeast as QB Eli Manning compared himself to Tom Brady. You have to love his self confidence. He did beat Brady in a Super Bowl, but Manning has a ways to go before he can consider himself in Brady’s class, a sure fire Hall of Famer…..DE Osi Umenyiora has returned to camp, but one has to wonder if it’s just a matter of time until he walks out again if he is unable to get his contract extension.

New York Jets: WR Plaxico Burress finally practiced Wednesday. He will need all the reps he can get with QB Mark Sanchez…..LB Aaron Maybin, formerly a Bill, signed with the Jets Wednesday…..RB Joe McKnight suffered a concussion during the game Monday. He’s going to have to prove himself a bit more durable if he wants a bigger role in the Jets offense this season.

Oakland Raiders: WR Louis Murphy will miss the regular season opener with hamstring and groin injuries…..The good news is that WR Jacoby Ford and RB Darren McFadden are both on the mend and should get into a preseason game or two, but not this weekend.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles received a dose of good news when it was discovered that WR Jeremy Maclin does not have a significant illness and could begin practicing with the team in a week to 10 days. He is expected to be ready for the regular season…..The asking price for CB Asante Samuel is two 2nd round picks. So it seems he is unlikely to go anywhere, which makes sense seeing as though the Eagles seem to be all-in for this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Ike Taylor suffered a broken thumb in the first preseason game. Not a big deal though. He is supposed to be out of action for just a couple of weeks and won’t miss any regular season time…..WR Mike Wallace has set a goal this season of 2,000 yards receiving this season. While it’s always nice to set your goals high, that’s certainly not going to happen. Wallace seems to forget that the Steelers are a run team first.

San Diego Chargers: In fantasy leagues, drafting RB Ryan Matthews or Mike Tolbert could be dangerous, as the Chargers plan for these two seem to change by the day. The team wants Matthews to be the every down back, but right now, he hasn’t been all that impressive in camp…..TE Antonio Gates returned to practice this week and once again seems to be somewhat healthy. However, with plantar fasciitis, it could act up again at any time.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers were thinking about signing QB Daunte Culpepper but decided on Josh McCown instead…..WR Michael Crabtree was spotted without a walking boot, so it seems like the worst may be behind him…..If there is a QB competition between Alex Smith and rookie Colin Kaepernick, Smith is clearly ahead.

Seattle Seahawks: TE John Carlson has a labrum injury in his shoulder. Any missed time could find Carlson on the outside looking in with Zach Miller the new number one TE…..Even though Charlie Whitehurst clearly outplayed Tarvares Jackson in the first preseason game, head coach Pete Carroll stated that there is no competition at quarterback and that Jackson is his man.

St. Louis Rams: With the Rams minus a true number one WR, rookie TE Lance Kendricks could play a major part in their passing game…..WR Donnie Avery has returned to practice, but may have a hard time making the team. Don’t be surprised if he finds himself on the waiver wire before the end of camp.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Arrelious Benn, who is coming off ACL surgery, will be cleared for contact next week…..Apparently LB Mason Foster will be eased into game action rather than having everything thrown at him at once.

Tennessee Titans: RB Chris Johnson not only wants to be the highest paid back, but also wants to be one of the highest paid players in the NFL. This situation could get real ugly if his contract demands don’t come down…..Still no word yet on whether or not WR Kenny Britt will be suspended for his multiple transgressions this off-season…..If there was any doubt in your mind, Matt Hasselbeck will start at QB for the Titans, at least to begin the season.

Washington Redskins: The Skins plan to start John Beck at QB this season unless he plays terribly this preseason. The Shanahan’s believe he is the real deal. This is not saying much, but I think Rex Grossman is the better QB. Ouch!…..TE Chris Cooley made a visit to Dr. James Andrews regarding his knee. Makes one wonder how serious the injury is…..The Skins are deep at TE though, as Fred Davis is a pretty good option.