"Everytime I don’t get 100 [yards], I think ‘wow,’ because it’s so easy to get 100."
- Adrian Peterson
(Photo by Andrew Weber-USA Today Sports)

"Everytime I don’t get 100 [yards], I think ‘wow,’ because it’s so easy to get 100."

- Adrian Peterson

(Photo by Andrew Weber-USA Today Sports)

Well, the Minnesota Vikings sure had a day. Having the 23rd & 25th picks in the first round wasn’t enough, so they went ahead and gave the New England Patriots 4 of their picks to get the 29th pick, taking Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson.
That’s two defensemen and a wide receiver to support QB Christian Ponder and/or maybe QB Matt Cassel. They gave up a lot, including WR Percy Harvin, but it looks as though the Vikings are ready to get RB Adrian Peterson a decent shot at a ring.

Well, the Minnesota Vikings sure had a day. Having the 23rd & 25th picks in the first round wasn’t enough, so they went ahead and gave the New England Patriots 4 of their picks to get the 29th pick, taking Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson.

That’s two defensemen and a wide receiver to support QB Christian Ponder and/or maybe QB Matt Cassel. They gave up a lot, including WR Percy Harvin, but it looks as though the Vikings are ready to get RB Adrian Peterson a decent shot at a ring.

With the Minnesota Vikings choosing again in the first round, the Vikes take another defensive player in Cornerback Xavier Rhodes from Florida State at 25th.
Well, if it wasn’t apparent before, it looks as though the Vikings will be defensive minded this season.

With the Minnesota Vikings choosing again in the first round, the Vikes take another defensive player in Cornerback Xavier Rhodes from Florida State at 25th.

Well, if it wasn’t apparent before, it looks as though the Vikings will be defensive minded this season.

Defensive Tackle Sharrif Floyd out of Florida has been taken by the Minnesota Vikings at 23rd in the 2013 Draft.
The Vikings have a ways to go in order to legitimately become a contender for a championship. Obviously, their run game is fantastic with RB Adrian Peterson in video game mode, so why not step up their defense?

Defensive Tackle Sharrif Floyd out of Florida has been taken by the Minnesota Vikings at 23rd in the 2013 Draft.

The Vikings have a ways to go in order to legitimately become a contender for a championship. Obviously, their run game is fantastic with RB Adrian Peterson in video game mode, so why not step up their defense?

Winners and Losers: Wild Card Round edition

by @steven_lebron

So, that wasn’t the most memorable weekend of football, was it? Still, we’ve got several interesting match-ups set up for next week, and who will ever forget Ray Lewis’s final pre-game dance in Baltimore?

Onto the winners and losers of the wild card round:

Winners

The Green Bay Packers as contenders: The defense figured out a way to bottle up Adrian Peterson in their third game against the superhuman running back in the last six week and Aaron Rodgers was efficient in spreading the ball around (completions to 10 different receivers). Experience counts in the playoffs, and even though it was against an inferior opponent, the Packers reminded everyone why even with an uneven regular season, they’re still going to be a tough out in these playoffs. I can’t wait for Green Bay-San Francisco next week.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady: Anything can happen in the playoffs, but I imagine the two quarterbacks were texting each other throughout the weekend marveling at the level of competition that the AFC teams displayed. We’re still on track for an AFC Championship Game showdown between these two in Denver.

Arian Foster: Most rushing yards by a running back in his first three career playoff games in NFL history. By the way: undrafted.

Christian Ponder: Nothing like a bad performance from your back-up QB to enhance your own value by default. Although I think the Vikings would be wise to explore the free agent and trade market for a quarterback this off-season.

Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks in general: The numbers weren’t spectacular for Wilson, and there was no 50 point performance from the offense this time around. But down 14-0 on the road in the first quarter, all the questions came back: were these Seahawks just a great team at home? Is this team capable of playing from behind? Wilson answered that with two key drives in the first half to get the game back to a manageable 14-10 deficit. Also, even though he had a key fumble, Lynch was spectacular on the day (137 yards, and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter). The Seahawks defense also tightened up after the early deficit. That was an impressive win, by Seattle. They struggled early in a hostile environment, made mistakes throughout, and still walked out with a double digit win. It’s the type of win that will have people debating all week long whether they might just be able to go into Atlanta and give themselves a great chance at the upset.

Ray Lewis: A great final home game send-off for the future Hall-Of-Famer. Oh, and he got a shoutout from Kobe Bryant’s brand new Twitter account.

Losers

The Cincinnati Bengals franchise playoff drought: Saddest stat I read all week was that the Bengals had not won a playoff game since 1990, and since that time, every team in the league has won a post-season game (Browns? Yes. Jaguars? Yes, shouts to Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. And the list goes on). Marvin Lewis is now winless in four playoff games and, Andy Dalton, what exactly is his ceiling? Joe Flacco? Matt Schaub? I suppose that’s not entirely bad, since both those guys are still playing next week.

Joe Webb: If you follow the Vikings, or just football in general, you’ve heard whispers about Joe Webb and his freakish athletic ability, pretty best summed up by this video of him jumping over 7 dummies at the NFL combine. But on Sunday, pressed into action, he showed that there’s still a lot to go for him to be a competent quarterback.

The end of great regular season narratives: Time to tuck away #CHUCKSTRONG, and wonderful seasons from Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Adrian Peterson. But they’ll be remembered.

Football fans with Jets fatigue: Just when we thoughts Jets drama was behind us for at least a few weeks, we had to read all about Rex Ryan’s curious tattoo this week. The Jets aren’t just insufferable, they’re inescapable.

The Redskins: So, Washington fans, this is precisely why the Nationals took so much precaution with Stephen Strasburg by leaving him off the post-season roster, right? It was painful seeing Robert Griffin III out there on one leg, I mean, your knee isn’t suppose to bend this way, is it? With much chatter about whether Dr. James Andrews actually allowed Griffin to return to a game in December when he suffered his initial knee injury, coach Shanahan went ahead and risked further damage to his franchise, the investment that made the Redskins a topic of conversation again in football this year. We’re crossing sports for comparisons, but this reminds me of when the Blazers allowed Brandon Roy to return, and while that alone might not have cause the injuries that eventually forced him to retire (he’s since returned, but is on the injured list again), it does show what the long-term repercussions are when you don’t safeguard your best assets. Let’s just hope that we’ll see the same RG3 again next year. Also, Dan Snyder, let’s improve the field conditions just a little bit can we?

Who were your winners and losers?

Vikings at Packers: The Quarterback Is King

by @steven_lebron

Something hasn’t felt right about the Packers this season. I suppose some of that blame should go towards how well they’ve played the past two seasons, in which they won a Super Bowl and followed that up with a 15-1 regular season in which Aaron Rodgers and the offense put up historic numbers.

And then, they lost at home as the top seed, and started this season with a defeat at Lambeau to the 49ers, stumbling along the way to the Colts, to the replacement refs in Seattle and failed to show up in a statement game against the Giants (who aren’t even in the post-season, crazy league I tell you).

But check the starting quarterbacks in the divisional round this weekend: Matt Schaub, Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder, Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III.

And then: Aaron Rodgers.

When it comes to experience and skill, there’s no question who the best is for this week at least. The quarterback is king in the playoffs — and even though we might need to start a Kickstarter to get Rodgers a competent running back, and a way to keep his receivers healthy all at once — and Rodgers wears the crown for this week.

In what felt like an underwhelming season, Rodgers went for 4,295 yards, a 67.2% completion rate, and a ridiculous ratio of 39 touchdowns against 8 interceptions (reminder, last season: 45 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, a higher completion percentage and over 400 more yards in passing. He sat Week 17 too, and got Matt Flynn paid. Great player, greater teammate).

He has a Super Bowl, but not a home playoff win at Lambeau yet.

With much respect to Adrian Peterson — who’s already put up two great games against the Packers this season — unless Minnesota can get Rodgers out of his comfort zone, none of the Packers’ flaws will matter for this week.

Mason Crosby misses three field goals, the defense allows Peterson to run all over them, and yet, only one player may matter.

34-17 Packers.

What does everybody else think?

Happy Endings
I spent all week convincing a friend that the Cowboys were the right bet for tonight’s game against the Redskins, for no reason other than the fact that sports rarely provides the happy endings that we want.
Excuse the pessimism, but especially in a year where the negative side of things reared its ugly head in sports, I was expecting the final week of football of 2012 to deliver much of the same. It feels alright being wrong too.
In Indianapolis, the #Chuckstrong story of coach Pagano and the upstart Colts got one more chapter to their brilliant season, upending the previously top seeded Texans at home, and gave us the victory dance of the year. No matter if this team is confronted with a new reality when the playoffs start next week, the entire turnaround coupled with Pagano’s return has more than made up for the forgettable season in 2011. Oh, and by the way, Andrew Luck is your quarterback for the next decade and some. Not too bad at all.
In Minnesota, the Vikings and Packers went 12 rounds, before Adrian Peterson decided to finish things off at the end. He came just shy of breaking the all-time rushing yards record, but after the performance that he just put on, are we suppose to doubt that he will challenge for it again next season? We need more nicknames for All Day. I suggest New God Flow, because he’s the God of everything else.
And tonight, in Washington, the Skins capped off Robert Griffin III’s rookie season with a win over the Cowboys for the divisional title, and a home playoff game next week. A season that started with a road win in New Orleans, stalled with a 3-6 record, ultimately ended with a seven game winning streak, and hope that things are changing for the franchise. For now. For later.
So if you’re in Detroit, Cleveland, Jacksonville, New York (both, but more so the Jets), Buffalo, or any other city where there doesn’t seem be much hope on the other end. Just remember today. No one could’ve foretold the stories above when the season started.
Sometimes sports is really the most fun when we get reminded of how little we know, then when it reaffirms what we think we know.
Next time, I might be a little less skeptical, and just let the stories play out to their happy endings.
@steven_lebron

Happy Endings

I spent all week convincing a friend that the Cowboys were the right bet for tonight’s game against the Redskins, for no reason other than the fact that sports rarely provides the happy endings that we want.

Excuse the pessimism, but especially in a year where the negative side of things reared its ugly head in sports, I was expecting the final week of football of 2012 to deliver much of the same. It feels alright being wrong too.

In Indianapolis, the #Chuckstrong story of coach Pagano and the upstart Colts got one more chapter to their brilliant season, upending the previously top seeded Texans at home, and gave us the victory dance of the year. No matter if this team is confronted with a new reality when the playoffs start next week, the entire turnaround coupled with Pagano’s return has more than made up for the forgettable season in 2011. Oh, and by the way, Andrew Luck is your quarterback for the next decade and some. Not too bad at all.

In Minnesota, the Vikings and Packers went 12 rounds, before Adrian Peterson decided to finish things off at the end. He came just shy of breaking the all-time rushing yards record, but after the performance that he just put on, are we suppose to doubt that he will challenge for it again next season? We need more nicknames for All Day. I suggest New God Flow, because he’s the God of everything else.

And tonight, in Washington, the Skins capped off Robert Griffin III’s rookie season with a win over the Cowboys for the divisional title, and a home playoff game next week. A season that started with a road win in New Orleans, stalled with a 3-6 record, ultimately ended with a seven game winning streak, and hope that things are changing for the franchise. For now. For later.

So if you’re in Detroit, Cleveland, Jacksonville, New York (both, but more so the Jets), Buffalo, or any other city where there doesn’t seem be much hope on the other end. Just remember today. No one could’ve foretold the stories above when the season started.

Sometimes sports is really the most fun when we get reminded of how little we know, then when it reaffirms what we think we know.

Next time, I might be a little less skeptical, and just let the stories play out to their happy endings.

@steven_lebron

"Nope. They’re still using human beings." 
- Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, asked the other day if he was being blocked differently this year than in the past.
(Photo by Eric Miller/Reuters)
Winners and Losers - Week 3 Sunday edition
Wait, was that Justin Tucker field goal good or what? The refs will review and get back to you tomorrow. 
Can we sum up the NFL so far with this: the Cardinals are 3-0, the Saints are 0-3 and the best team after two weeks in the league lost at Minnesota.
Don’t look now, but we might be in for a fun race in the NFC West. The Cardinals next four games: vs. Miami, at St. Louis, vs. Buffalo, at Minnesota. All winnable games. Looks like that Week 8 Monday Night game between San Francisco and Arizona might be an important one. Who knew.
The best play in the Cardinals-Eagles game was Arizona safety James Sander’s 93 yard fumble return for a touchdown to end the half (reminiscent of what James Harrison did to the Cardinals in the Super Bowl a few years ago). If you missed it, you can watch the video here. My favorite part of it: Larry Fitzgerald sprinting down the sideline as the play unfolded.
Also, before we get to the winners the losers, I just want to send a word of condolence to the family of Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. Smith’s younger brother Tevin Jones passed away in a car accident late Saturday night. I can’t pretend to know what he’s going through, except to say, it can’t be easy. He played tonight, and went for 127 yards, two touchdowns, and one sweet victory.
If this made Smith’s day any better, even for a few hours, then it was all well worth it regardless of what the result was on the field. I hope tomorrow will be a better day for him.
Onto the rest:
Winners
Mayhem in Tennessee - Sunday was a throwback day in Tennessee. Tommie Campbell’s punt return touchdown brought back memories of the Music City Miracle, and the game ended up going to overtime on a crazy sequence of events to end regulation that culminated in a Hail Mary touchdown for the visiting Lions with no time left on the clock. But the Titans would win on a controversial fourth down call by Jim Schwartz — who said after the game that they weren’t suppose to snap the ball on the play. A team coming up a yard short to end the game? It’s an ending Titans fans are familiar with and happy to be on the other side of it this time.
Jamaal Charles - 233 yards rushing, 55 yards receiving and a touchdown for Kansas City. A week ago, many wondered about whether he was fully recovered from last year’s knee injury, turns out all you need to do is go up against the New Orleans defense and all is cured.
Adrian Peterson - His stats on Sunday against the 49ers didn’t stand out, but watching him run into that San Francisco defense and be the last one standing on most of the running plays was great to see. Still a bit amazed at how quickly he’s recovered from his injury, maybe Peterson is a superhero.
Mohamed Sanu to A.J. Green - A thing of beauty.
Ray Lewis: A Football Life - Do yourself a favor and watch this on NFL Network. Made me want to drive to Pittsburgh just to get a W!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mikel Leshoure - 26 carries, 100 yards, 1 touchdown. I’m just including this in here because I have him on my fantasy team. Carry on.
The Falcons - The division is theirs to take, but you get the feeling nothing they do in the regular season will matter. Not with Matt Ryan still without a playoff win on his resume and that turd they dropped against the Giants in the post-season last year. Seriously, they literally dropped a deuce. I’m going to stop now.
Losers
Replacement refs, again - I’m sick of 20 minute replay reviews, and just a sense that the players are under the impression that they can do whatever they want on the field without the consequences of being policed. Also, in the Vikings-49ers game, Jim Harbaugh was awarded an extra challenge on a Toby Gerhart fumble even though he had no timeouts left, which he won. That wasn’t the most ridiculous part of it. Somehow Harbaugh got another timeout added back for his team, and used it to challenge another Gerhart fumble before the two minute warning in the fourth. It was a standard fumble and recovery by Gerhart. But you know why Harbaugh even bothered to challenge? Because there’s actually a chance that the replacement refs could blow the call and reverse it in his favor. The refs are now being exploited by players and coaches for their own advantage as they see fit. I’m just going to keep complaining until the real zebras come back.
The Saints - Stat alert: Saints are the eighth team to start 0-3 after winning 13 or more games the previous season. They’re starting to remind me a lot of the last team in this group: the 2009 Titans, who started 0-6 before making a frantic run for a playoff spot, finishing short at 8-8. Although, three weeks in, they’re three games back of the division leading Falcons. Looks like another season without a home team playing in the Super Bowl.
Peyton and the Broncos - It’s entirely possible that they were beat on their home field by the best team in the AFC. I still can’t believe the Texans are competent, and wait for it: trustworthy to win games they’re supposed to. Still wrapping my head around this. Regardless, the Broncos are in a division where they can afford to work their way through a slump. I think eight or nine wins will be enough in the West. Don’t count the Broncos out just yet, but expectations have been lowered after their last two outings.
Randy Moss - For some reason, I thought Randy Moss would be a different teammate in San Francisco. I don’t know if it’s the simple fact that I assumed age and a year away from the game meant that Moss would mature. But there he was on Sunday, sulking on the sidelines and benched in the fourth quarter. After the game, he was asked about playing time and simply said: “Next question”. I still like this 49ers team a lot, but not sure if it’s worth it to deal with Moss if he’s going to start spreading that negativity in the locker room.
Chris Johnson - He now has 45 yards rushing on the season. How bad is that? There’s six teams with single rushing plays greater than 45 yards so far this season.
Sanchez to Tebow - Not exactly a thing of beauty.
@steven_lebron

Winners and Losers - Week 3 Sunday edition

Wait, was that Justin Tucker field goal good or what? The refs will review and get back to you tomorrow.

Can we sum up the NFL so far with this: the Cardinals are 3-0, the Saints are 0-3 and the best team after two weeks in the league lost at Minnesota.

Don’t look now, but we might be in for a fun race in the NFC West. The Cardinals next four games: vs. Miami, at St. Louis, vs. Buffalo, at Minnesota. All winnable games. Looks like that Week 8 Monday Night game between San Francisco and Arizona might be an important one. Who knew.

The best play in the Cardinals-Eagles game was Arizona safety James Sander’s 93 yard fumble return for a touchdown to end the half (reminiscent of what James Harrison did to the Cardinals in the Super Bowl a few years ago). If you missed it, you can watch the video here. My favorite part of it: Larry Fitzgerald sprinting down the sideline as the play unfolded.

Also, before we get to the winners the losers, I just want to send a word of condolence to the family of Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. Smith’s younger brother Tevin Jones passed away in a car accident late Saturday night. I can’t pretend to know what he’s going through, except to say, it can’t be easy. He played tonight, and went for 127 yards, two touchdowns, and one sweet victory.

If this made Smith’s day any better, even for a few hours, then it was all well worth it regardless of what the result was on the field. I hope tomorrow will be a better day for him.

Onto the rest:

Winners

Mayhem in Tennessee - Sunday was a throwback day in Tennessee. Tommie Campbell’s punt return touchdown brought back memories of the Music City Miracle, and the game ended up going to overtime on a crazy sequence of events to end regulation that culminated in a Hail Mary touchdown for the visiting Lions with no time left on the clock. But the Titans would win on a controversial fourth down call by Jim Schwartz — who said after the game that they weren’t suppose to snap the ball on the play. A team coming up a yard short to end the game? It’s an ending Titans fans are familiar with and happy to be on the other side of it this time.

Jamaal Charles - 233 yards rushing, 55 yards receiving and a touchdown for Kansas City. A week ago, many wondered about whether he was fully recovered from last year’s knee injury, turns out all you need to do is go up against the New Orleans defense and all is cured.

Adrian Peterson - His stats on Sunday against the 49ers didn’t stand out, but watching him run into that San Francisco defense and be the last one standing on most of the running plays was great to see. Still a bit amazed at how quickly he’s recovered from his injury, maybe Peterson is a superhero.

Mohamed Sanu to A.J. Green - A thing of beauty.

Ray Lewis: A Football Life - Do yourself a favor and watch this on NFL Network. Made me want to drive to Pittsburgh just to get a W!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mikel Leshoure - 26 carries, 100 yards, 1 touchdown. I’m just including this in here because I have him on my fantasy team. Carry on.

The Falcons - The division is theirs to take, but you get the feeling nothing they do in the regular season will matter. Not with Matt Ryan still without a playoff win on his resume and that turd they dropped against the Giants in the post-season last year. Seriously, they literally dropped a deuce. I’m going to stop now.

Losers

Replacement refs, again - I’m sick of 20 minute replay reviews, and just a sense that the players are under the impression that they can do whatever they want on the field without the consequences of being policed. Also, in the Vikings-49ers game, Jim Harbaugh was awarded an extra challenge on a Toby Gerhart fumble even though he had no timeouts left, which he won. That wasn’t the most ridiculous part of it. Somehow Harbaugh got another timeout added back for his team, and used it to challenge another Gerhart fumble before the two minute warning in the fourth. It was a standard fumble and recovery by Gerhart. But you know why Harbaugh even bothered to challenge? Because there’s actually a chance that the replacement refs could blow the call and reverse it in his favor. The refs are now being exploited by players and coaches for their own advantage as they see fit. I’m just going to keep complaining until the real zebras come back.

The Saints - Stat alert: Saints are the eighth team to start 0-3 after winning 13 or more games the previous season. They’re starting to remind me a lot of the last team in this group: the 2009 Titans, who started 0-6 before making a frantic run for a playoff spot, finishing short at 8-8. Although, three weeks in, they’re three games back of the division leading Falcons. Looks like another season without a home team playing in the Super Bowl.

Peyton and the Broncos - It’s entirely possible that they were beat on their home field by the best team in the AFC. I still can’t believe the Texans are competent, and wait for it: trustworthy to win games they’re supposed to. Still wrapping my head around this. Regardless, the Broncos are in a division where they can afford to work their way through a slump. I think eight or nine wins will be enough in the West. Don’t count the Broncos out just yet, but expectations have been lowered after their last two outings.

Randy Moss - For some reason, I thought Randy Moss would be a different teammate in San Francisco. I don’t know if it’s the simple fact that I assumed age and a year away from the game meant that Moss would mature. But there he was on Sunday, sulking on the sidelines and benched in the fourth quarter. After the game, he was asked about playing time and simply said: “Next question”. I still like this 49ers team a lot, but not sure if it’s worth it to deal with Moss if he’s going to start spreading that negativity in the locker room.

Chris Johnson - He now has 45 yards rushing on the season. How bad is that? There’s six teams with single rushing plays greater than 45 yards so far this season.

Sanchez to Tebow - Not exactly a thing of beauty.

@steven_lebron

Consequently, this is what it looks like to beat the Minnesota Vikings by doing your job.
Too bad the Pats didn’t have Adam Vinatieri…oh wait.
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Consequently, this is what it looks like to beat the Minnesota Vikings by doing your job.

Too bad the Pats didn’t have Adam Vinatierioh wait.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Winners and Losers - Week 1 Sunday edition
It’s good to be back. First full day of football means doing absolutely nothing but watch games on Sunday, which is a pretty tough commitment.
Surprises, comebacks, upsets, disappointments? Just the way football should be. 
Onto the winners and losers of the first Sunday. Since all judgments are made off one game, I reserve the right to deny writing any of the below in a week.
Winners
Robert Griffin III/ Dan Snyder - The list of quarterbacks that have come through Washington in the past few decades have been so mediocre that it’s been immortalized on this t-shirt. For those with shorter memories, recent years included Rex Grossman, the wonderful experience of Donavan McNabb and the likes of Mark Brunell and Jason Campbell. This year’s draft revolved around Andrew Luck — whom most believed to be the sure thing, and Robert Griffin III — a dazzling talent whose potential intrigued many teams to move up for the right to pick him. The Redskins gave away a sizable package to be that team, and no one would’ve blamed their fans to expect some growing pains for Griffin III this season before he matured and that potential became realized. But there he was on Sunday, in the hostile dome environment of New Orleans, controlling the game like a ten year veteran, demonstrating his arm strength and using his legs as a weapon. I don’t know what Dan Snyder or Mike Shanahan did to deserve this, but the sky’s the limit now for Griffin III. The growing pains will come, but fans will have a performance like this week’s to remind them of better times to come. Sooner rather than later.
Orlando Franklin - I am terrified.
Quarterback enigmas part 1, Alex Smith - All Super Bowl chatter with the San Francisco 49ers this off-season started and ended with their quarterback Alex Smith. The defense is championship caliber, the offense was retooled with enough weapons to surround Smith, but was he really someone who could put it all together? All he did on Sunday was play an efficient game in Green Bay, and come out with a victory. Not just a game manager, but a productive quarterback who looked comfortable leading drives and making the right plays in the red zone. This was the most eye opening performance to me from Sunday. The 49ers looked complete, and ready to make a run.
Quarterback enigmas part 2, Mark Sanchez - I woke up this morning and pronounced that Sanchez was starring in his own edition of “Dead Man Walking” starting at 1 pm. You know, the one touchdown in four pre-season games, the shadow of Tim Tebow lurking everywhere — on the field, in the press, probably in his dreams. That’s a weird thought, let’s move on. Of course, this being a league where we know absolutely nothing except what just happened, Sanchez went out and put up 48 points on the Buffalo Bills, and giving Bart Scott enough ammunition to declare a “media mutiny" after the game. He meant boycott by the way.
Tampa Bay and believers of karma -In this era of statistics and more statistics, I hope there’s still room for stories that aren’t about just numbers. That special moments still be quantified in their own ways. In the off-season, the Buccaneers signed former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (coached in college by current Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano) whose career was ended by a spinal cord injury. It was a symbolic gesture by the organization that along with their draft and off-season acquisitions, bodes well for the coming season. By the way, if you haven’t read about LeGrand’s story, do yourself a favor and check out this Sports Illustrated feature from last year. The Bucs did just enough to win at home against Carolina. But for a team that most expect to win five or six games, I think there could be something more there. 
Randall Cobb/ Julio Jones - I’m going to go on record and say that Jones will be the best receiver in football this year. I felt that way before his performance in Kansas City today (6 catches, 108 yards, 2 touchdowns), which just reaffirms my belief in him. As for Randall Cobb, I get the feeling that Aaron Rodgers is going to be targeting him a lot this year, if only because the Fox broadcasters kept reminding me of it. Plus he’s a must watch on returns all year. 
Adrian Peterson - In December, Peterson tore both his ACL and MCL. On Sunday, he came back and went for 84 yards, two touchdowns and looked as electric as he was pre-injury. A lot of fantasy regrets are in order.
Peyton Manning - Competent quarterbacking in Denver? Must be refreshing. The league’s more fun with Manning back directing traffic and running no huddles. Plus I’m sure Brandon Stokley is happier this way. This might not end up in a second Super Bowl for Manning, but it’s nice to see he still has more then a few competent games left. 
Negotiating leverage of referees - All referees make bad calls. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that once the real officials come back, we’re not going to have controversial calls. But there’s a difference between human error and incompetence, and that line is not very thin. Consider how the replacement refs gave Seattle a mysterious fourth timeout at the end of their game against Arizona. That’s the perfect example of that not very thin line. There are judgment calls, and then there are calls that can only be explained by inexperience and inability to referee a game at the professional level. Let’s hope the real refs come back soon, so we can have more legitimate gripes than phantom time outs. 
Losers
Browns fans - Let’s see. Where do we start with this one. Former Browns owner Art Modell passed away this week. You know, the guy who took the team and moved them to Baltimore. There were plans for a Modell tribute before their home opener against the Eagles on Sunday, which would’ve probably turned into a horrible mess, so luckily Modell’s family asked the team to cancel such plans. Of course, this did not stop 28 year old rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden from getting sacked by the American flag pre-game, and than going out there and putting up a quarterback rating that was ten times worst than Michael Vick, who only threw four interceptions himself. Still, the Browns had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter, but Vick drove the Eagles the length of the field for a one point victory. On the bright side, If Weeden doesn’t pan out, Colt McCoy and Thaddeus Lewis are waiting their turn.
Carolina Panthers rushing attack -13 rush attempts, 10 yards. That includes Cam Newton.
Ike Taylor - Will see Demaryius Thomas in his dreams tonight. That’s my second reference to someone’s dreams. Let’s move on. 
Saints and non-believers of karma - I thought that Friday’s arbitrator decision to reverse the Saints’ player suspensions would start the healing process in New Orleans, and remove all the bad vibes still hanging from Bounty Gate. You know, because I actually believe in these things. But there was Griffin III shredding their defense, and Drew Brees not looking in sync with this receiving corp. The offense is still one of the best in the league, and we could chalk it up to one poor performance. Check the schedule though, and consider the improvement of the NFC North, I don’t think the Saints can consider themselves favorites this season. 
The Bills - Did all that optimism get crushed in literally one quarter in week one? I think we should just leave Buffalo alone and not anoint sleeper status on them. It’s less painful that way. 
@steven_lebron
photo via Keith Allison

Winners and Losers - Week 1 Sunday edition

It’s good to be back. First full day of football means doing absolutely nothing but watch games on Sunday, which is a pretty tough commitment.

Surprises, comebacks, upsets, disappointments? Just the way football should be. 

Onto the winners and losers of the first Sunday. Since all judgments are made off one game, I reserve the right to deny writing any of the below in a week.

Winners

Robert Griffin III/ Dan Snyder - The list of quarterbacks that have come through Washington in the past few decades have been so mediocre that it’s been immortalized on this t-shirt. For those with shorter memories, recent years included Rex Grossman, the wonderful experience of Donavan McNabb and the likes of Mark Brunell and Jason Campbell. This year’s draft revolved around Andrew Luck — whom most believed to be the sure thing, and Robert Griffin III — a dazzling talent whose potential intrigued many teams to move up for the right to pick him. The Redskins gave away a sizable package to be that team, and no one would’ve blamed their fans to expect some growing pains for Griffin III this season before he matured and that potential became realized. But there he was on Sunday, in the hostile dome environment of New Orleans, controlling the game like a ten year veteran, demonstrating his arm strength and using his legs as a weapon. I don’t know what Dan Snyder or Mike Shanahan did to deserve this, but the sky’s the limit now for Griffin III. The growing pains will come, but fans will have a performance like this week’s to remind them of better times to come. Sooner rather than later.

Orlando Franklin - I am terrified.

Quarterback enigmas part 1, Alex Smith - All Super Bowl chatter with the San Francisco 49ers this off-season started and ended with their quarterback Alex Smith. The defense is championship caliber, the offense was retooled with enough weapons to surround Smith, but was he really someone who could put it all together? All he did on Sunday was play an efficient game in Green Bay, and come out with a victory. Not just a game manager, but a productive quarterback who looked comfortable leading drives and making the right plays in the red zone. This was the most eye opening performance to me from Sunday. The 49ers looked complete, and ready to make a run.

Quarterback enigmas part 2, Mark Sanchez - I woke up this morning and pronounced that Sanchez was starring in his own edition of “Dead Man Walking” starting at 1 pm. You know, the one touchdown in four pre-season games, the shadow of Tim Tebow lurking everywhere — on the field, in the press, probably in his dreams. That’s a weird thought, let’s move on. Of course, this being a league where we know absolutely nothing except what just happened, Sanchez went out and put up 48 points on the Buffalo Bills, and giving Bart Scott enough ammunition to declare a “media mutiny" after the game. He meant boycott by the way.

Tampa Bay and believers of karma -In this era of statistics and more statistics, I hope there’s still room for stories that aren’t about just numbers. That special moments still be quantified in their own ways. In the off-season, the Buccaneers signed former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (coached in college by current Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano) whose career was ended by a spinal cord injury. It was a symbolic gesture by the organization that along with their draft and off-season acquisitions, bodes well for the coming season. By the way, if you haven’t read about LeGrand’s story, do yourself a favor and check out this Sports Illustrated feature from last year. The Bucs did just enough to win at home against Carolina. But for a team that most expect to win five or six games, I think there could be something more there.

Randall Cobb/ Julio Jones - I’m going to go on record and say that Jones will be the best receiver in football this year. I felt that way before his performance in Kansas City today (6 catches, 108 yards, 2 touchdowns), which just reaffirms my belief in him. As for Randall Cobb, I get the feeling that Aaron Rodgers is going to be targeting him a lot this year, if only because the Fox broadcasters kept reminding me of it. Plus he’s a must watch on returns all year.

Adrian Peterson - In December, Peterson tore both his ACL and MCL. On Sunday, he came back and went for 84 yards, two touchdowns and looked as electric as he was pre-injury. A lot of fantasy regrets are in order.

Peyton Manning - Competent quarterbacking in Denver? Must be refreshing. The league’s more fun with Manning back directing traffic and running no huddles. Plus I’m sure Brandon Stokley is happier this way. This might not end up in a second Super Bowl for Manning, but it’s nice to see he still has more then a few competent games left.

Negotiating leverage of referees - All referees make bad calls. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that once the real officials come back, we’re not going to have controversial calls. But there’s a difference between human error and incompetence, and that line is not very thin. Consider how the replacement refs gave Seattle a mysterious fourth timeout at the end of their game against Arizona. That’s the perfect example of that not very thin line. There are judgment calls, and then there are calls that can only be explained by inexperience and inability to referee a game at the professional level. Let’s hope the real refs come back soon, so we can have more legitimate gripes than phantom time outs.

Losers

Browns fans - Let’s see. Where do we start with this one. Former Browns owner Art Modell passed away this week. You know, the guy who took the team and moved them to Baltimore. There were plans for a Modell tribute before their home opener against the Eagles on Sunday, which would’ve probably turned into a horrible mess, so luckily Modell’s family asked the team to cancel such plans. Of course, this did not stop 28 year old rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden from getting sacked by the American flag pre-game, and than going out there and putting up a quarterback rating that was ten times worst than Michael Vick, who only threw four interceptions himself. Still, the Browns had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter, but Vick drove the Eagles the length of the field for a one point victory. On the bright side, If Weeden doesn’t pan out, Colt McCoy and Thaddeus Lewis are waiting their turn.

Carolina Panthers rushing attack -13 rush attempts, 10 yards. That includes Cam Newton.

Ike Taylor - Will see Demaryius Thomas in his dreams tonight. That’s my second reference to someone’s dreams. Let’s move on.

Saints and non-believers of karma - I thought that Friday’s arbitrator decision to reverse the Saints’ player suspensions would start the healing process in New Orleans, and remove all the bad vibes still hanging from Bounty Gate. You know, because I actually believe in these things. But there was Griffin III shredding their defense, and Drew Brees not looking in sync with this receiving corp. The offense is still one of the best in the league, and we could chalk it up to one poor performance. Check the schedule though, and consider the improvement of the NFC North, I don’t think the Saints can consider themselves favorites this season.

The Bills - Did all that optimism get crushed in literally one quarter in week one? I think we should just leave Buffalo alone and not anoint sleeper status on them. It’s less painful that way. 

@steven_lebron

photo via Keith Allison

Welcome back, Adrian Peterson.  It’s nice to have you back in my Sundays, All Day.

Welcome back, Adrian Peterson.  It’s nice to have you back in my Sundays, All Day.