December 17, 2017

Giants 37, Packers 20

After defeating the Atlanta Falcons at home last week, the New York Giants made it to the next round of the playoffs and headed up to to the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion, Green Bay Packers.

The Giants got the ball first and started at their own 20.  Quarterback Eli Manning completed passes to wide receivers Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz that moved the ball to the Packer 42.  A short run by running back Ahmad Bradshaw and a 13-yard pass to tight end Travis Beckum got the Giants a first down at the Packer 18.  They would get as far as the 13 and kicker Lawrence Tynes made a 31-yard field goal to give the Giants an early 3-0 lead with eight and a half minutes to go in the first quarter.

Packer kick returner Randall Cobb returned the kick to the Packer 21. On the return, it looked like he fumbled, but the replay showed his knee was down.  Two passes from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to tight end Jermichael Finley and a pass to wide receiver Greg Jennings got them to the  Giant 31.  The drive would stall at the 29 and kicker Mason Crosby made a 47-yard field goal to tie the game at three with five and a half minutes to go in the first quarter.

On third and 11 from their own 19, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks caught a pass for 15 yards to move the ball to the 34.  Manning found Nicks again on the very next play.  Nicks caught the pass, bounced off some Packer defenders and ran the rest of the way for a 66-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 10-3 lead.

The kickoff by Tynes went out of bounds and the Packers got good field position at their own 40.  Some running by Rodgers and running back Ryan Grant moved the ball to the Giant 49.  An 11-yard pass to wide receiver Jordy Nelson gave them another first down at the 38.  From the 38, wide receiver Greg Jennings caught a six-yard pass and appeared to fumble.  Replay showed the play over and over again and it sure looked like the ball was coming out before his knee was down.  But the replay official didn’t see it that way and ruled Jennings was down.  An offside penalty on the Giants and a 16-yard pass to wide receiver James Jones got the Packers another first down at the 11.  On second and seven from the eight, Rodgers found fullback John Kuhn for a touchdown and that knotted the score at ten.

With momentum in their favor, the Packers tried an onside kick.  It was recovered by the Giants and they had good field position at the packer 41-yard line.  A pass to Beckum and a nine-yard run by Bradshaw moved the ball to the 21.  That was as far as the Giants would go and a 39-yard field goal attempt was blocked.  The Giants couldn’t capitalize on the good field position and the score remained tied at ten.

After a punt by the Packers, the Giants moved the ball through the air from their own 20 to the Packer 34.  On second and five from the 34, Manning looked for Nicks, but the pass was picked off by safety Morgan Burnett at the 13.  He returned it 12 yards to the Packer 25.

On third and seven from the 28, Rodgers found Jennings for a gain of ten and a first down.  From the 38, Kuhn ran up the left side and the ball came loose.  Safety Antrel Rolle picked it up and returned it nine yards to the Packer 34.  Once again, the Giants couldn’t get the ball into the end zone and settled for a 23-yard field goal to put them up 13-10 with just under two minutes to go in the first half.

The Packers couldn’t get anything going and punted.  The Giants took over with 41 seconds remaining.  A nine-yard catch and a 23-yard run by Bradshaw gave the Giants a chance to try a long field goal from the Packer 37 before halftime.  But the kicking unit stayed on the sideline.  Manning took the snap and launched a bomb to the left side of the end zone where it was caught by Nicks for a 37-yard touchdown to end the half.  At halftime the Giants had the momentum and a 20-10 lead.

Another touch-back got the Packers the ball at their own 20.  A 14-yard pass to Jennings and a 15-yard scramble by Rodgers got the Packers to their 49.  A 16-yard pass to wide receiver Donald Driver moved them into Giant territory.  On first and ten from the 30, defensive end Osi Umenyiora sacked Rodgers and forced a fumble that was recovered by safety Deon Grant.  However, the Giants couldn’t capitalize on the turnover and punted.

Passes to Driver and running back James Starks got the Packers to midfield.  Starks got the call on the next two plays and the Packers found themselves in Giant territory again.  On third and five from the 17, Rodgers fired a pass to Finley across the middle.  Finley couldn’t hang on to it and Crosby was called on for  a 35-yard field goal attempt.  It was good and the Packers now trailed 20-13.

The Giants punted on their next possession and the Packers once again moved the ball into Giant territory.  But, on fourth and five from the Giant 39, Rodgers was sacked by linebacker Michael Boley for a loss of six yards.  Clinging to a seven-point lead, the Giants knew they had to get a drive going and get some more points.  Passes to Cruz and Manningham and a defensive holding penalty moved the ball to the Packer 28.  Another pass to Cruz put the ball at the 17.  Runs by Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs inched the Giants a little deeper into Packer territory.  But on third and five from the 12, Manning was sacked by linebacker Brad Jones.  Tynes made his 35-yard field goal attempt and the Giants now led 23-13 with just under eight minutes to go in the game.

On second and five from the 34, Rodgers found Grant for a gain of ten. Grant was hit by safety Kenny Phillips and the ball was picked up and returned to the Packer four-yard line by linebacker Chase Blackburn.  On first and goal, Manning hooked up with Manningham for a four-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 30-13 lead with 6:48 to go in the game.

Facing a 17-point deficit, Rodgers knew he had to get his team going.  On third and ten from the 24, a pass to Driver fell incomplete.  However, a roughing the passer penalty was called on Umenyiora and that gave the Packers a first down at the 39.  A pass to Cobb for 21 and a 16-yard scramble by Rodgers got them down to the Giant 24.  On second and two from the 16, Driver caught a 16-yard touchdown pass to make it 30-20 with 4:45 to go.

An onside kick by Crosby was recovered at the 50 by Cruz and the Giants knew a couple of first downs would get them a win and a trip to San Francisco.  On third and 11, Manning found Cruz wide open for a gain of 17.  Bradshaw ran up the left side for 24 yards to give the Giants a first and goal at the ten.  On second and 14, Jacobs ran up the right side for a touchdown and that gave the Giants a commanding 37-20 lead with 2:36 to go.  One last desperate attempt by Rodgers was picked off by Grant and the Giants came away with a huge playoff win on the road.

For the Giants, Eli Manning completed 21 of 33 for 330 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.  Hakeem Nicks caught two touchdown passes and he and Victor Cruz combined for 12 catches for 239 yards.  Brandon Jacobs ran for a touchdown and he and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for 95 yards on 21 carries.  Defensively, the Giants forced four turnovers, allowed 25 first downs and 388 total yards.  They sacked Rodgers four times and Michael Boley led the team with eight solo tackles, two sacks, three tackles for a loss and one pass defensed.

For the Packers, it was an uncharacteristic day for them as the receivers dropped passes throughout the game and they fumbled the ball away three times.  Aaron Rodgers completed 26 of 46 for 264 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  He spread the ball around to nine different receivers and Donald Driver led the team with three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown.  Rodgers also led the team in rushing with 66 yards on seven carries.  Grant and Starks combined for 77 yards on 14 carries.  Defensively, the Packers allowed 19 first downs, 420 total yards, forced only one turnover and sacked Manning only once.  Safety Charlie Peprah led the team with nine solo tackles and one tackle for a loss.

The Giants will be heading out to San Francisco to take on the 49ers on Sunday at 6:30 eastern time.  They met in week ten at San Francisco and the 49ers came away with a  27-20 victory.  As I mentioned in my Saints-49ers article, they met in the playoffs in 2003 and the 49ers came back from 24 points down and won 39-38.  Will the upcoming meeting be just as exciting?  Time will tell.



The Nightmare Continues…

The Oakland Raiders headed east again to take on the Green Bay Packers.  The Raiders were coming off a 34-14 blowout loss to the Miami Dolphins and the Packers were coming off a 38-35 win over the New York Giants.

Going into this game, I thought maybe there was a chance for the Raiders to get an upset.  The Packers tend to give up lots of yards and their defense had a hard time against the Giants.  But, any chance of that happening was diffused almost immediately as the Raiders looked out of sync and undisciplined for the second straight week.  Dropped balls, false starts, offside penalties and turnovers put the Raiders in a hole that they would never climb out of.

But, like I said last week, I’m back to do my usual play-by-play format.  This could be painful.  The Raiders won the toss and elected to receive.  Quarterback Carson Palmer guided the Raiders into Packer territory, but on second and six from the Packer 43, he was flushed out of the pocket and put up a duck that was intercepted by linebacker D.J. Smith.  He returned it to the Packer 48.  After an offside penalty on defensive end Lamarr Houston, running back Ryan Grant took the hand-off and ran up the left side for a 47-yard touchdown.  Kicker Mason Crosby made the point after and it was 7-0 with 12 minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders got as far as the Packer 48 on their next drive when left tackle Jared Veldheer was called for holding.  A false start penalty, a short run and an incomplete pass to Michael Bush set up a third and 25 at the Raider 37.  On third down, Palmer went looking for wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and hit him right in the hands at the 50.  Heyward-Bey dropped the ball and the Raiders were forced to punt again.

The Packers started at their own 20 and got some more help from the Raiders as defensive tackle Tommy Kelly promptly jumped offside on second and ten at the 20.  From the 25, Rodgers spread the ball around to four different receivers and moved the ball to the Raider four-yard line.  On first and goal from the four, Rodgers found tight end Ryan Taylor standing all by his lonesome in the end zone.  Crosby made the point after and it was now 14-0 with four minutes to go in the first quarter.

After another Raider punt, the Packers took over at their own 26.  Rodgers continued to spread the ball around to wide receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb.  A seven-yard run by running back Brandon Saine and a 12-yard run by Grant put the ball at the Raider 10.  But a clipping penalty moved the ball back ten yards.  Two seven-yard completions to Saine set up a third and six, but they couldn’t make the third down conversion and settled for a 34-yard field goal to make it 17-0 with 13 minutes to go in the second quarter.

Another obligatory three and out by the Raiders gave the Packers the ball at their own 16.  It was from here that a few more weapons in the Packer arsenal were introduced.  Enter wide receivers Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson.  Rodgers hit Nelson for a gain of 13 on first down and also found Driver for gains of six and 22 yards.  A six-yard run by Grant moved the ball to the Raider 37.  On first down from the 37, Rodgers put up a bomb for Nelson and the baffled Raider secondary allowed him to catch it for another Packer touchdown.  That made it 24-0 with nine minutes to go in the second quarter.

The Packers weren’t done yet as Carson Palmer was picked off by cornerback Charles Woodson at the Raider 22 to give the Packers excellent field position.  A sack by Tommy Kelly moved the Packers back six yards and Grant was stopped for no gain on second down.  But, on third and 16, safety Michael Mitchell was flagged for pass interference and that gave the Packers a first and goal at the six.  Grant took the ball straight up the middle for another Packer touchdown.  Crosby made the point after and it was now 31-0 with seven minutes to go in the half.

After ANOTHER three and out and a horrible fake punt attempt by the Raiders, the Packers once again had great field position at the Raider 28.  A 19-yard pass to Driver moved the ball to the eight.  On third and goal from the four, Mitchell intercepted a pass in the end zone intended for tight end Jermichael Finley.  It truly was a nice play by Mitchell and it stopped the bleeding for a little while.

Palmer gathered the troops together and the Raiders had one more shot to put some points on the board before halftime.  Completions to tight end Kevin Boss and some running by Palmer put the ball at the Packer 41.  A 16-yard pass to Heyward-Bey and another completion to Boss gave the Raiders a first down at the 14.  But with 48 seconds to go, Palmer went looking for Boss again in the end zone and the ball was picked off by linebacker Rob Francois.  The half ended and the Packers had a commanding 31-0 lead.

A 50-yard kickoff return by Cobb gave the Packers good field position to start out the second half.  Rodgers went right to work and found Driver for 19 and wide receiver Greg Jennings for eight more.  Jennings was injured during the play and would not return.  On third and two from the 11, Rodgers was sacked by linebacker Rolando McClain for a loss of nine.  Crosby came on and made a 38-yard field goal and the Packers increased their lead to 34-0 with 12 minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders got the ball at their own 20 again and Palmer completed passes to Bush and fullback Marcel Reece to put the ball at the 50.  Some more runs by Bush and a 34-yard completion to Heyward-Bey moved the ball to the Packer four.  On second and goal from the two, Bush powered his way into the end zone for a Raider touchdown.  It’s a miracle!  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and that made it 34-7 with eight minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Packers started at their own 20 and on third and 19, Rodgers saw Cobb standing by himself at the 37.  Rodgers thought Cobb looked lonely with no Raiders around to keep him company, so he threw the ball to him and he caught it for a first down.  Some good runs by Grant and fullback John Kuhn moved the ball to the Raider 31.  But, that was as far as they would get and Crosby made a 49-yard field goal to make it 37-7 with three minutes to go.

This is where things got thoroughly disgusting.  The Raiders got the ball again at their 20 and on first down, Palmer completed a pass to Reece.  He was hit by Rob Francois and the ball came out and bounced backward toward Palmer.  Palmer pounced on the ball and it somehow squirted through his hands.  The opportunistic Packers recovered it and linebacker Erik Walden ran it in for another Packer touchdown.  The point after was blocked by defensive end Desmond Bryant and the Packers led 43-7 with just under three minutes to go in the third quarter.

Guess what the Raiders did next?  Yup. They started at their own 20 again.  Care to go two for two? What do you think they did next?  Did they get a first down?  Did they fumble, throw another interception or go three and out?  If you guessed three and out, you got it right!  Congratulations!  You have just won a case of Genesee Cream Ale!

Rodgers decided he had enough and quarterback Matt Flynn came into the game.  The Packers took over at the Raider 41 and on third and five from the 36, a pass intended for Nelson fell incomplete.  But, what would a Raider game be without a personal foul?  Linebacker Quentin Groves was called for roughing the passer and that moved the ball to the 21.  They would get as far as the 13 and Crosby was called on once again.  He made a 31-yard field goal to make it 46-7 with almost an entire quarter to go.

The Raiders started their next “drive” at their own 11 and got as far as the 28 when Shane Lechler punted the ball away again.  This time, he hit a 71-yard punt that was downed at the one.  On third and five from the six, McClain burst through the line and sacked Flynn for a safety.  It was good to see somebody hadn’t given up with the score being so lopsided.  That made it 46-9.

With 11 minutes to go in the game, the Raiders took over at their 23.  Some more running by Bush and a couple of completions to wide receiver Louis Murphy moved the ball to the Packer six.  On first and goal from the six, Palmer found Boss for a Raider touchdown.  Wow!  That makes two touchdowns in the same game.  Impressive.  Janikowski made the point after and that made the final score 46-16.  There you go.  I managed to write what happened in this game without puking my guts out.

Caron Palmer completed 24 of 42 for 245 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.  Darrius Heyward-Bey led the Raiders in receiving with five catches for 78 yards.  Michael Bush led the team in rushing with 78 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown.  As a team, the Raiders had 117 yards rushing.  Linebacker Rolando McClain led the Raiders with seven tackles and two sacks.  The Raiders had a total of four sacks and one interception.  They were also penalized 11 times for 89 yards.  Most of them were false starts and offside penalties.  Every time Rodgers did a loud “HUT,” a Raider would promptly jump offside.

For the Packers, it was business as usual as Aaron Rodgers sliced up the Raider secondary.  He completed 17 of 30 for 281 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Jordy Nelson led the team with three catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.  Grant and Kuhn combined for 131 yards on 20 carries and the Packers rushed for 136 yards as a team.  Linebacker D.J. Smith led the Packers with seven solo tackles and an interception.

The Raiders have been outscored the last two weeks by a score of 80-30.  It’s tough to win games when your offense turns the ball over five times and your defense has more holes in it than a pack of Swiss cheese.   It’s also very tough to win when you have 14 players on the injury list and are short-handed at receiver.  A while back, they had a four and one road record and people were picking them to win the division and go deep into the playoffs.  That’s not the case anymore.  As I wrote that, I was reminded of a song by the Beatles.  It goes something like “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.  Now it looks as if they’re here to stay.  Oh, I believe in Yesterday.”

Well, believe it or not, there still is some time to right the ship with two of the next three games at home.  But if they want to win those games, they better play a hell of a lot better than they played against Miami and Green Bay.  They also need some help from other teams if they want to catch Denver.  Wide receivers Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford should be back next week against Detroit.  The word on running back Darren McFadden is still “wait and see.”  If he can’t go, hopefully Taiwan Jones can make it back and we’ll see some speed in the backfield.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy



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.