2012 NFL Power Rankings: WEEK 5

We’re at the quarter pole of the NFL Season and we don’t know a whole lot.  Here’s what we do know – the AFC South and NFC South are both incredibly weak.  Though each division’s best team are the top two teams in the league, the next highest ranked team in the “South” falls at 23 meaning the 6 remaining AFC/NFC South teams fall within the last 10 spots.   We know that the Arizona Cardinals defense is undeniable, the Texans, Falcons, and Ravens hardly have a weakness on their roster, the NFC West is not as weak as we all thought, and that the AFC West is going to be a fight to the finish.   What we don’t know is whether or not the Saints can finish a game, which New England team we’re going to get from one quarter to the next, where the Detroit offense has gone, and which Tony Romo will show up this week.  Without further ado, the Week 5 NFL Power Rankings:

1. Atlanta Falcons (4-0)
Last Week: 1 (-)

There are a lot of people who will argue that the Texans absolute domination of teams deserves my top spot.  While Houston has been impressive, the Falcons have gone 4-0 with a much tougher schedule.  Matt Ryan’s clutch throw out of his own endzone to Roddy White to come back against the Panthers showed the kind of poise he’ll need to win his first career playoff game.

2. Houston Texans (4-0)
Last Week: 2 (-)

What can be said about this team?  They have one of the best running backs in the league, one of its best receivers, and its most underrated quarterback.  The defense is intense and both lines are very strong. This team has been absolutely dominant this season and with such a weak schedule, there’s no reason to think it won’t continue.

3. Baltimore Ravens (3-1)
Last Week: 3 (-)

It wasn’t pretty but Joe Flacco & Company got the win to extend the longest active home win streak in the NFL.

4. San Francisco 49ers (3-1)
Last Week: 4 (-)

A week after getting dominated by the Vikings, the team rebounded in a big way.  Anybody start Colin Kaepernick on their fantasy team?

5. Arizona Cardinals (4-0)
Last Week: 6 (+1)

You know the old saying, “Any given Sunday…”  Good teams find ways to win games and that’s exactly what the Cardinals did on Sunday.

6. Chicago Bears (3-1)
Last Week: 10 (+4)

Defense wins championships and this team is in a tie for 1st in their division on the strength of their D.  As the offense continues to improve this could be a very scary team.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)
Last Week: 13 (+6)

The Eagles protected the ball for once and got a big win against the defending Super Bowl Champs to take sole possession of 1st in the NFC East.

8. Green Bay Packers (2-2)
Last Week: 8 (-)

What we do know about the Packers right now is that it doesn’t matter whether the officials are replacements or not – Green Bay cannot get a call in their favor.

9. New England Patriots (2-2)
Last Week: 11 (+2)

The team that came out of the locker room for the 2nd half looks like a Super Bowl contender.

10. San Diego Chargers (3-1)
Last Week: 14 (+4)

The Chargers got a much-needed win against the division rival Chiefs to firm up their AFC West lead.  Don’t get too excited yet though San Diego, the Chargers were 3-1 at this point last year too.

11. New York Giants (2-2)
Last Week: 5 (-6)

An 0-2 start in the NFC East is not what the Champs had in mind.

12. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)
Last Week: 16 (+4)

This young team has won three straight since an opening week loss and this young offense is clicking.

13. Denver Broncos (2-2)
Last Week: 15 (+2)

Peyton Manning is getting better every week.  Brady vs. Manning Part LXVII is this weekend which will give Denver a chance to prove they’re for real.

14. Minnesota Vikings (3-1)
Last Week: 20 (+6)

The NFL has a utility player and his name is Percy Harvin.  Harvin has the surprising Vikings off to a 3-1 start and you could make an argument that he’s the MVP of this young NFL season.

15. Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Last Week: 9 (-6)

Monday night’s loss was nothing short of embarrassing for Dallas.  Jerry Jones can already feel that window starting to close.

16. Seattle Seahawks (2-2)
Last Week: 7 (-9)

In Sunday’s game Russell Wilson looked like a rookie quarterback.  The defense is solid but the offense has to find consistent production.

17. Washington Redskins (2-2)
Last Week: 21 (+4)

RG3 showed poise in bringing his team back on the road last week.  He has to be the frontrunner for rookie of the year at this point.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
Last Week: 18 (-)

Coming off the bye, the battle for Pennsylvania is a must-win game for the Steelers.

19. St. Louis Rams (2-2)
Last Week: 26 (+7)

The Rams have already matched their win total from 2011 thanks to the leg of rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein.  Mark my words, he will break the NFL record for longest field goal.

20. Buffalo Bills (2-2)
Last Week: 17 (-3)

This team looked like a playoff team for the first half.  The talent is here but the Bills have to find away to stop divisional rivals from finding the endzone.

21. New York Jets (2-2)
Last Week: 12 (-9)

Darelle Revis is done for the year and now Santonio Holmes might be too.  Doesn’t seem like things can get much worse for the ailing Jets.

22. Detroit Lions (1-3)
Last Week: 19 (-3)

The difference between 3-1 and 1-3 is subpar special teams play.

23. Carolina Panthers (1-3)
Last Week: 23 (-)

The Panthers looked like the team many thought they could be against the Falcons but they failed to get the job done.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)
Last Week: 22 (-2)

Many considered the Buccaneers the winners of the offseason.  Now they must find a way to win in-season.

25. Miami Dolphins (1-3)
Last Week: 28 (+3)

Ryan Tannehill looked impressive as he broke Dan Marino’s rookie single game passing record against one of the league’s top defenses.

26. Oakland Raiders (1-3)
Last Week: 24 (-2)

Carson Palmer wants to win his first playoff game this year.  In order to do that he must find a way to win his first AFC West matchup this year.

27. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)
Last Week: 25 (-2)

How bad is Matt Cassel?  The fans are asking for Brady Quinn.

28. Tennessee Titans (1-3)
Last Week: 25 (-1)

We’re 4 weeks into the season and the Titans are in second place and out of the running for the AFC South crown.

29. New Orleans Saints (0-4)
Last Week: 27 (-2)

The Saints looked like, well, the Saints last week but even with favorable calls could not win a game they had every chance to win.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the New Orleans Ain’ts…

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3)
Last Week: 30 (-)

If Blaine Gabbert is going to be an NFL starting QB, he needs receivers that can get separation and catch the ball.

31. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
Last Week: 31 (-)

Rebuilding is a long, painful process.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-4)
Last Week: 32 (-)

They almost pulled off the biggest upset of the young season.  Brandon Weeden is getting better but on a Hail Mary, he’s got to put the ball in a place where his receivers have a chance.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!
Where should your favorite team be ranked?

2012 NFL Power Rankings: WEEK 4

And as we approach Week 4, we know even less than we did last week.  We have only two teams that have yet to win and three that have yet to lose.  Many would’ve guessed the Falcons and Texans would be in this position but the Cardinals?  As you may recall, I picked this Arizona team to have the 2nd overall pick in the 2013 draft and that seems rather unlikely.  Many would’ve picked the Browns to start 0-3 but with the Saints playing Washington, St. Louis, and Kansas City many thought they would be 3-0.  By the way the only wins these three teams have is against New Orleans.  And to talk about craziness what do the Patriots, Packers, Steelers, Broncos, Lions, and Saints all have in common?  They all have a worse record than the Minnesota Vikings.  Can that be right?  Oh well, our power rankings have been jumbled again as we have a new top team.

1. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
Last Week: 2 (+1)

Prior to the Matt Ryan era this team never had back to back winning seasons.  Now the Falcons look like a team that can do something that Matt Ryan has never done – win a playoff game.

2. Houston Texans (3-0)
Last Week: 3 (+1)

Without a doubt the AFC’s best team plays in the NFL’s worst division.  With their schedule Houston could have a playoff seed locked up before the NBA season tips off.

3. Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 5 (+2)

The AFC is extremely weak this year but the two teams at the top are perhaps the two most complete teams in the NFL.  There is not a weakness on this Raven’s roster.

4. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
Last Week: 1 (-3)

To say that the 49ers were upset on the road last week is an understatement.  The 49ers handled the two best teams from the NFC North a year ago with ease and then they go up against its worst team and are absolutely embarassed.  The 49ers should return to form this week.

5. New York Giants (2-1)
Last Week: 6 (+1)

The Super Bowl champs have found their rhythm again and should continue their winning ways against an Eagles team that does not protect the ball.

6. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
Last Week: 14 (+8)

The Cardinals have made it clear they will not be ignored.  Their week 1 defeat was not a sign that the Seahawks were worse than we thought, it was simply a sign of how good this team was.  Big wins over the Patriots on the road and the Eagles shows that as long as there is steady QB play this is a team to be reckoned with.

7. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
Last Week: 18 (+11)

Everyone is going to talk about the gaffe at the end of Monday’s game but let’s talk about the fact that at the end of 4 quarters Seattle was in a position to win.  This defense held the Packers to only 12 points and made Aaron Rodgers look like Mark Sanchez.  Russell Wilson is playing beyond his years right now and like the rest of the NFC West right now, this defense is performing at an elite level.

8. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Last Week: 4 (-4)

Just three weeks in and the Packers have matched their loss total from a year ago.  Regardless of what you say about Monday’s game, this offense should never have been in a position to lose that game.

9. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Last Week: 12 (+3)

The biggest question I have about this team is the offensive line.  Everything else is there for this team to finally turn the corner.

10. Chicago Bears (2-1)
Last Week: 13 (+3)

I expected big things from Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall this season and so far I’ve been severely disappointed.  It is still hard to say how good this team is but they are 2-1 with a subpar offense.  If Jay Cutler shows up, watch out!

11. New England Patriots (1-2)
Last Week: 8 (-3)

I honestly cannot remember the last time the Patriots had a losing record.  The talent is here on this reloaded roster but this team is still trying to find an identity.

12. New York Jets (2-1)
Last Week: 16 (+4)

I want to give this team some credit before they freefall due to the loss of their best player for the season.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)
Last Week: 7 (-6)

I knew turnovers would eventually catch up to this team once they met a top tier defense.  How long before the Philadelphia fans start chanting for Foles?

14. San Diego Chargers (2-1)
Last Week: 10 (-4)

The San Diego Chargers are trying to get back to the playoffs.  This weekend’s game against Kansas City decides who takes the lead in the AFC West.

15. Denver Broncos (1-2)
Last Week: 11 (-4)

The Broncos have had one of the toughest early schedules in the NFL, there is no doubting that.  Peyton has shown he still has it but it’s unfair for Denver to expect him to lead 3+ touchdown drives in the 4th quarter of every game.

16. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
Last Week: 17 (+1)

The Bengals young offense continues to impress but this defense that was so great a year ago still has not shown up.

17. Buffalo Bills (2-1)
Last Week: 20 (+3)

When the Bills face the Patriots this weekend we’re going to get our first real idea of how good this Buffalo team really is.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
Last Week: 9 (-9)

Ben Roethlisberger is moving the ball on offense, the problem is that during the 4th quarter of games, the opposing QB is moving the ball a little better.  This defense needs to keep playing after the 45th minute.

19. Detroit Lions (1-2)
Last Week: 15 (-4)

The most “Penal-ized” team in the league is also among the most penalized.  This team’s success is going to be based on how healthy Matthew Stafford really is.

20. Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
Last Week: 27 (+7)

Christian Ponder put together his best game as a pro and Kyle Rudolph showed why he was the top tight end taken in the draft a year ago.  This surprising Minnesota team plays Detroit with the chance to take control of the NFC North.

21. Washington Redskins (1-2)
Last Week: 19 (-2)

You might have noticed that the Redskins have the best scoring offense in the league right now.  They also boast the league’s worst defense.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
Last Week: 22 (-)

This team is loaded with talent but the offense lacks any ability to move the chains.

23. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
Last Week: 21 (-2)

This team still lacks a rushing attack and a year after he took the league by storm, defenses are starting to figure out Cam Newton.

24. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
Last Week: 28 (+4)

The Raiders got a big win at home last week against the Steelers.  Now the Raiders have to travel to Denver in the hope of getting themselves back in the AFC West race.

25. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
Last Week: 29 (-4)

The Chiefs needed a win badly on Sunday and they got it.  This game was more of a statement for Jamaal Charles who proved that he still has the burst to be an elite NFL running back.

26. St. Louis Rams (1-2)
Last Week: 23 (-3)

In their first big loss of the season the Rams showed they still have a long way to go.  But they have to be excited about the leg on rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein.

27. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
Last Week: 27 (-)

The win against Detroit was a big one but I feel that after a loss to the Texans this week, Tennessee’s season will be officially over.

28. Miami Dolphins (1-2)
Last Week: 25 (-3)

Outside of Reggie Bush, who has blossomed in Miami, I cannot for the life of me figure this team out.

29. New Orleans Saints (0-4)
Last Week: 24 (-5)

Oh how the mighty have fallen.  A game against the Packers won’t help too much either.  Is this the return of the Aint’s?

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Last Week: 32 (+2)

Blaine Gabbert continues to impress, especially in the 4th quarter where him and Cecil Shorts have quite the chemistry.

31. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
Last Week: 26 (-5)

There is a lot of young talent on this roster and they will get there but for now there must be growing pains – even for a highly touted prospect like Andrew Luck.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-3)
Last Week: 31 (-1)

There are some good pieces here but I do not see how this team wins a game in the always difficult AFC North.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks?
Let me hear ’em!

Where should your favorite team be ranked?

2012 NFL Power Rankings: WEEK 3

As we go into Week 3 there are an unbelievable number of 1-1 teams which means there are only a few 2-0 and a few 0-2 teams.  Who would’ve thought that with 9 turnovers the Eagles would’ve gotten 2 wins, including one over the Ravens?  Who would’ve thought that Arizona would be among the 2-0 teams and not the 0-2s?  And did anyone believe that New Orleans would be 0-2 at this point?  There’s been a lot of upheaval but the good news is that NFL.com and ESPN.com have finally recognized what we tried to tell them last week – the San Francisco 49ers are the best team in the NFL.

1. San Francisco 49ers (2-0)
Last Week: 1 (NA)

The 49ers have beat the top 2 teams in the NFC North from a year ago to kick off the season and as they head into their 3rd straight NFC North game, the Niners should have no problem advancing to 3-0 against the Vikings.  Randy Moss’s first regular season game as an opponent in the Metrodome will make things interesting.

2. Atlanta Falcons (2-0)
Last Week: 2 (NA)

Tony Gonzalez continues to be reliable for Atlanta and the Matt Ryan-Roddy White connection is as prolific as ever.  This Falcons defense looks impressive and the offense is balanced.  This is a very scary team.

3. Houston Texans (2-0)
Last Week: 3 (+1)

The Texans are in a weak division and the question isn’t if they’ll win the division but how early will they rap it up.   This week Denver brings their first test of the season.

4. Green Bay (1-1)
Last Week: 6 (+2)

Green Bay silenced the critics with a crushing defeat of Chicago.  Questions of whether or not the Packers have a defense have been quieted… for now.

5. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
Last Week: 3 (-2)

Baltimore had a crushing loss against Philadelphia this weekend.  The explosiveness this offense had against Cincinnati just was not present for all 4 quarters on Sunday.  This is a team that will win a lot of ballgames though.

6. New York Giants (1-1)
Last Week: 9 (+3)

The loss against Dallas had many worried.  Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks exploded as Manning threw for over 500 yards against the Buccaneers.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)
Last Week: 17 (+10)

Philadelphia has turned over the ball 9 times in their first two games and somehow find themselves alone atop the NFC East.  This team has gotten lucky and will need to find ways to protect the ball if they hope to stay there.

8. New England Patriots (1-1)
Last Week: 5 (-3)

New England dropped their first home opener at Gillette Stadium well.. ever.  They were not prepared to go up against this dynamic Arizona defense.  The chance was there to win it for the Pats and they blew it.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)
Last Week: 11 (+2)

It’s hard to believe the Pittsburgh Steelers lack a running game but so far the passing game has been getting it done for the Steelers.

10. San Diego Chargers (2-0)
Last Week: 14 (+4)

The Chargers were without their best two offensive weapons in Gates and Mathews last week and they still were able to put on a clinic against Tennessee.

11. Denver Broncos (1-1)
Last Week: 10 (-1)

The Broncos turned over the ball 4 times in the first quarter in a hostile Georgia Dome.  However, Peyton showed that he still has the command as he nearly brought his team back from a 13 point deficit.

12. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Last Week: 8 (-4)

The Cowboys were embarrassed against Seattle.  The stout Dallas D we saw in New York was nowhere to be found as Russell Wilson scored at will.

13. Chicago Bears (1-1)
Last Week: 7 (-6)

The Bears offense looked nonexistent against what was supposed to be a horrible Packers’ defense.  Jay Cutler had one of the worst single game performances for a QB in recent memory.

14. Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
Last Week: 22 (+8)

Nobody thought the Cardinals could go into Gillette and win.  If Kevin Kolb can get the win over his former team this week the Cardinals will find themselves with as many wins as most thought they’d have all season.

15. Detroit Lions (1-1)
Last Week: 12 (-3)

Tough loss against the 49ers last week.  This once prolific offense is still struggling to find a rhythm.

16. New York Jets (1-1)
Last Week: 13 (-3)

As good as Mark Sanchez was against Buffalo, he was that bad in Week 2.  It’s hard to figure these Jets out this early in the year.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
Last Week: 21 (+4)

The Bengals’ offense has shown they can score, but the question is can this defense stop the other team from scoring?

18. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
Last Week: 24 (+6)

Russell Wilson continued to look impressive as the Seahawks got a huge win over Dallas.

19. Washington Redskins (1-1)
Last Week: 15 (-4)

RG3 continues to look better than advertised and the weapons are there on offense to score.  However 2 huge injuries on defense could be the difference this year.

20. Buffalo Bills (1-1)
Last Week: 23 (+3)

C.J. Spiller averaged 10 yards per carry for a second straight week as he made Bills fans forget about Fred Jackson.

21. Carolina Panthers (1-1)
Last Week: 25 (+4)

The Panthers got a big win at home against New Orleans but are still struggling to find a rushing attack.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
Last Week: 19 (-3)

The Buccaneers had a great opportunity to go 2-0 until the defense laid down and allowed Hakeem Nicks to explode for nearly 200 yards through the air.

23. St. Louis Rams (1-1)
Last Week: 28 (+5)

The Rams were impressive in their win over the Redskins.  Sam Bradford looked great and the offense was steady but it was Jeff Fisher’s defense that continues to turn some heads.

24. New Orleans Saints (0-2)
Last Week: 16 (-8)

The Saints expected to be 2-0 with their early schedule.  As everyone has pointed out already, it is incredibly rare for an 0-2 team to make the playoffs.

25. Miami Dolphins (1-1)
Last Week: 32 (+7)

Who knew that Miami could have this kind of scoring explosion? Reggie Bush is clearly the heart of this offense.  What’s more impressive though is this Miami defense.

26. Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
Last Week: 31 (+5)

Andrew Luck got off to a fast start against the Vikings and when it was necessary he hit his receivers to put his team in a position to win.  The future is bright for Andrew Luck and the Colts.

27. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
Last Week: 26 (-1)

Kyle Rudolph has the tools to be an elite tight end and Christian Ponder has shown poise in the 4th quarter.  Unfortunately for Minnesota, it was them who came back just a little too early this week.

28. Oakland Raiders (0-2)
Last Week: 20 (-8)

This is a rough start for what many thought would be a good Raiders team.  Looking down the road to the Steelers, Falcons, & Broncos and 0-5 start is not out of the question for Oakland.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2)
Last Week: 18 (-11)

This was supposed to be a big year for Kansas City – this team looks like the only thing its going to win is the Matt Barkley sweepstakes.

30. Tennessee Titans (0-2)
Last Week: 27 (-3)

When is Chris Johnson going to show up in Tennessee???

31. Cleveland Browns (0-2)
Last Week: 32 (+1)

I’ll give this to the Browns – they are competitive.  Weeden looked like a completely different QB than the one we saw against Philadelphia.  Trent Richardson will soon be a top tier running back in this league.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
Last Week: 29 (-3)

Jacksonville didn’t have a prayer against Houston.   This Sunday’s game against Indy will be Jacksonville’s last chance to get a W for awhile.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!
Where should your favorite team be ranked?

2012 NFL Power Rankings: WEEK 2

Now before you go looking back for Week 1 NFL Power Rankings, there aren’t any.  Truth be told I wanted to start doing NFL Power Rankings this season but my pre-season projections give a good enough idea of where I believe teams will end up that I did not see a need to give pre-season power rankings – I thought it would be awfully redundant.  A week ago I would’ve never imagined some teams as high or low as I have them and of course being early in the season we’re going to see a lot of fluctuation the first 3-4 weeks.  Without further ado, my week 2 power rankings:

1. San Francisco 49ers (1-0)

Is it fair to say that Jim Harbaugh has turned Alex Smith into a QB?  The glaring position of weakness from last year’s NFC Championship, wide receiver, has been overhauled.  The ferocious defense is still in place.  San Francisco is the team to beat in the NFL right now.

2. Atlanta Falcons (1-0)

Tony Gonzalez had the kind of homecoming in Kansas City that most only dream of – what a way to kick of his final NFL Season.  The days of ground and pound are in the rearview for A-Town as this has become Matt Ryan’s team.  With so many weapons on offense, it was easy to forget at times that Roddy White is still on this roster.

3. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

We all know about what Ray Rice can do in the rushing game.  We’re more than aware of Ray Lewis & Company on the other side of the ball.  But now, Joe Flacco has arrived on the scene in style and has caused a Dennis Pitta waiver wire frenzy among fantasy owners.  The Ravens scored at will against one of the league’s top defenses from a year ago.  This is a very dangerous team.

4. Houston Texans (1-0)

The question is no longer whether or not the Texans can make the playoffs but how far they can go.  As long as Matt Schaub is under center I believe this is the most complete team in the NFL and everything I saw on Sunday confirmed that.

5. New England Patriots (1-0)

This team is fresh off it’s 5th Super Bowl appearance this century so we know that the offense was already great.  They focused on defense in the draft this year and their early picks are already paying dividends.  If this team can continue to perform this well on both sides of the ball – watch out.

6. Green Bay Packers (0-1)

I don’t believe this is a 15-1 team anymore but I still believe the talent is there for them to win 12-13 games.  The biggest question is, can this offense perform at a high enough level again to make up for the flaws of an anemic defense?  We’ll get our first answer to this question against Chicago.

7. Chicago Bears (1-0)

Many are quick to forget that had Jay Cutler stayed healthy last year, this would’ve probably been a playoff team.  This team is strong on defense as always and has added Michael Bush, Alshon Jeffrey, and Cutler’s all-time favorite target, Brandon Marshall on offense.  The game against the Packers will give us a better idea of just how good the Bears really are.

8. Dallas Cowboys (1-0)

How ’bout dem Cowboys?  It’s one game but what a huge win for Tony Romo and the boys. The offense can be explosive and the young cornerback additions of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr may be one of the best duos in the league.  DeMarco Murray picked up right where he left off and Tony Romo looked like a franchise quarterback.

9. New York Giants (0-1)

Yes the Giants dropped the ball and became the first Super Bowl Champion to drop the home opener under the present format but it’s just one game.  If the Giants have not taught us anything else in the last four years they’ve at least taught us this – it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.  The Giants just better hope Victor Cruz finds his hands again and quickly.

10. Denver Broncos (1-0)

Out of what promises to be a down-to-the-wire AFC West race, Denver was clearly the cream of the crop this past weekend.  Peyton Manning looked at home wearing orange for the first time in 15 years.  He’s about to make Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker household names.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)

Big Ben lost his second straight game in Denver but this is still a very talented roster and a team to be reckoned with in the AFC.

12. Detroit Lions (1-0)

It wasn’t the prettiest thing, but the Lions got the W and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.  Against a much improved Rams defense, Stafford once again led his team to a comeback victory in dramatic fashion.  He has this team ready to make another playoff push.

13. New York Jets (1-0)

Not only did the “nonexistent offense” score more points than any team in the NFL, they did it against a defense that many (myself included) projected to be among the top 5 defenses in the league this season.  Sanchez didn’t just manage the game, he won it.  And Stephen Hill was explosive in the tradition of Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas.  Who says the Georgia Tech triple option doesn’t prepare players for the NFL?

14. San Diego Chargers (1-0)

It was rough and it was ugly but the Chargers got themselves a key division win and found ways to move the ball against a tough Oakland defense.  The Chargers are looking for answers in the backfield while Ryan Mathews recovers from injury.  There are still plenty of other weapons on this offense to allow San Diego to contend for a playoff spot this year.

15. Washington Redskins (1-0)

I never expected to rank the Washington Redskins this high after week 1 but Robert Griffin III turned in the most impressive debut for a rookie quarterback that I can remember.  This roster has gotten better and like always, Mike Shanahan took a no-name running back and has made him work in that system.  The biggest question is – can this be sustained?

16. New Orleans Saints (0-1)

I do believe that New Orleans will find their rhythm and likely finish with a better record than the Redskins but after that shellacking there is no way I could rank them higher.  After that performance, there have to be some major questions about that defense.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

Prior to the season, all of the questions were about Michael Vick being able to stay healthy prior to the season.  Now all of the questions are going to be about whether he can go a series without turning the ball over.

18. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1)

For the first half on Sunday, Kansas City looked like the team I expected them to be this season.  Cassel was playing smart football and Charles was moving the chains.  The second half was another story.  This team can be competitive as long as they put together 4 quarters of football.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

Tampa Bay spent a lot of money this offseason to improve their offense.  In turn, the Bucs did not get much production.  It was enough to beat the Panthers but this offense has got to find a rhythm.

20. Oakland Raiders (0-1)

For this team, it’s all about staying healthy.  If McFadden and Palmer can finish out this season, this team will be fighting for a playoff spot.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)

If an entire roster were ever to have a sophomore slump, it would be this team.  The Bengals did much to improve this offseason but were pretty terrible on both sides of the ball on Monday.  I will say the ability to convert on 4th down twice in the same drive was impressive.

22. Arizona Cardinals (1-0)

The defense picked up right where they left off at the end of last season and the offensive weapons are there.  With a quarterback this could be a very good team.

23. Buffalo Bills (0-1)

I am shocked to find the Bills this low to start the season but their highly touted defense was helpless against the Jets on Sunday.  And many of the teams high hopes have been dashed with the loss of Fred Jackson for the first quarter of the year.  C.J. Spiller has shown he can pick up his share of the load but this team needs to get back on track fast.

24. Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

I thought Russell Wilson had the 2nd best debut of any rookie quarterback.  He almost got his team a win on the road against a very tough Cardinals defense.   His height is an issue though as he had trouble seeing the field.  The bigger issue though is the apparent lack of an offensive line.

25. Carolina Panthers (0-1)

Ryan Kalil promised fans a Super Bowl title this offseason.  In order for that to happen this team must rediscover their ground game.

26. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

It was the strength of rookie Blair Walsh’s leg that delivered the Vikes a much-needed win at home but its Adrian Peterson’s seemingly healthy leg that has got everyone talking.

27. Tennessee Titans (0-1)

Jake Locker is tough and his shoulder injury shouldn’t sideline him for too long.  This team’s fortunes though are directly tied to which version of Chris Johnson decides to show up this season.

28. St. Louis Rams (0-1)

While they have a long ways to go, Jeff Fisher has already transformed the defense of this young team.  The biggest concern for this team is offensive line depth followed by finding someone for Sam Bradford to throw the ball to.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

The Jaguars are not going to win many games this year but Blaine Gabbert showed vast improvement from a year ago.  That 4th quarter go-ahead drive took poise  and that was impressive.  The improvements at the wideout position may have something to do with it.

30. Cleveland Browns (0-1)

When you have a rookie quarterback in his late twenties, the plan is not to develop him – it’s to start him.  Weeden posted a 5.1 passer rating which has to make Jamarcus Russell feel good about himself.  He stared down receivers and showed an inability to read defenses.  There is plenty of young talent on this roster but they are not going to contend in the always-difficult AFC North anytime soon.

31. Indianapolis Colts (0-1)

There remains a lot of work to be done in Indy but Pagano has the right pieces in place.  Luck and Fleener are going to be the cornerstones of this offense for years to come and Reggie Wayne is the veteran presence this young team needs.  The offensive line and rushing attack have to find a way to take some pressure off Luck.  They face a tough test this week against Jared Allen and Chad Greenway.

32. Miami Dolphins (0-1)

Is anyone surprised that the Dolphins have once again started the year 0-1?  Of all 5 rookie quarterbacks that started this weekend, there is no doubt that Ryan Tannehill has the least amount of talent surrounding him.  Miami is a long ways from being significant.

 

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let Me Hear ‘Em!
Where should your favorite team be ranked?

2012 NFL Postseason Award Predictions

Yesterday evening prior to kickoff I laid out where I believed each team would finish for the 2012-13 NFL Season.   Dallas impressed last night and only verified where I believe they are as a team and that they will move ahead of the Giants in the NFC East.  Today we look at individual players and see what the postseason award picture will look like.  While I knew all of these picks on Tuesday, this is my first chance to write them down.  Last night’s game solidified my belief in one of my picks.

Offensive Rookie of the Year – 

Doug Martin, RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

More often than not, the offensive rookie of the year has been a running back.  While we’ve had a few young quarterbacks receive the award in recent years, I foresee a return to the running back trend.   The Boise State product has great vision and is a threat running the ball as well as catching out of the backfield.  He has already secured a starting position on a talented roster that considers itself a playoff team this year.  While I don’t see Tampa making their playoff return quite yet, I’m expecting great things from Martin.

Others that will be considered: Andrew Luck, QB – Indianapolis Colts, Robert Griffin III, QB – Washington Redskins, Trent Richardson, RB – Cleveland Browns, Kendall Wright, WR – Tennessee Titans, Alshon Jeffrey, WR – Chicago Bears, Coby Fleener, TE – Indianapolis Colts, & Matt Kalil, OT – Minnesota Vikings

Defensive Rookie of the Year –

Luke Kuechly, LB – Carolina Panthers

Going into this year’s draft, I thought that – outside of Vikings OT Matt Kalil – Kuechly was the rookie most prepared for the NFL.  The young star from Boston College has great vision and leadership qualities and he has been thrust into a talented defense that fits his talents perfectly.  I am a big believer that linebacker is the easiest defensive position for a rookie to have success in and I believe that given his talent, situation, and position that Kuechly will be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year this season.
Others that will be considered: Morris Claiborne, CB – Dallas Cowboys; Harrison Smith, S – Minnesota Vikings; Stephon Gilmore, CB – Buffalo Bills;  Janorris Jenkins, CB – St. Louis Rams; Mychal Kendricks, LB – Philadelphia Eagles; Dont’a Hightower, LB – Houston Texans; & Fletcher Cox, DT – Philadelphia Eagles

Offensive Player of the Year –

Arian Foster, RB – Houston Texans

There is a very good reason that most fantasy football experts listed Foster at the top of their draft boards this season.   It is because, in my opinion, the Houston Texans are the most talented and most complete team in the NFL.  On a team that I expect to have the NFL’s best regular season record in 2012, Foster is the best player.   He is a threat on the ground and in the receiving game.  If he can stay healthy, I fully expect Foster to eclipse the 2,000 all-purpose yards mark.

Others that will be considered: Calvin Johnson, WR – Detroit Lions; Ray Rice, RB – Baltimore Ravens; Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers; Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans; Tom Brady, QB – New England Patriots; & Matt Ryan, QB – Atlanta Falcons

Defensive Player of the Year –

DeMarcus Ware, LB – Dallas Cowboys

Last year I mentioned on multiple occasions that I believed 2011 would finally be the year that Jared Allen broke through and won his 1st NFL Defensive Player of the Year award after being such a force for so many years in the League (and let’s face it – not giving the award to Allen was a travesty).  Well this year I believe that Ware will finally get his due.  I see Ware getting a minimum of 15.5 sacks this year (and last night’s 2 sack performance making him the 2nd fastest player ever to record 100 sacks) doesn’t hurt matters.  I believe that Dallas wins the East this year and Ware is going to be a big part of that.
Others that will be considered: Jared Allen, DE – Minnesota Vikings;  Aldon Smith, OLB – San Francisco 49ers; Von Miller, LB – Denver Broncos; J.J. Watt, DL – Houston Texans; Patrick Willis, LB – San Francisco 49ers; Patrick Peterson, CB – Arizona Cardinals; & Mario Williams, OLB – Buffalo Bills

 NFL MVP –

Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers

Only two quarterbacks have ever won back-to-back MVP awards, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, but there is no reason to believe that Rodgers can’t duplicate this feat.   The Packers were far and away the best offense in the NFL last season but at the same time, if something were to happen to Rodgers, the Packers would fall off pretty drastically.  I really believe the Packers without Rodgers would be close to the 2011 Colts without Manning.  The Packers figure to be in the thick of things this year and it’s Aaron Rodgers who is going to get them there.

Others that will be considered: Tom Brady, QB – New England Patriots; Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans; Arian Foster, RB – Houston Texans; Matt Ryan, QB – Atlanta Falcons; Tony Romo, QB – Dallas Cowboys; & Ray Rice, RB – Baltimore Ravens

Comeback Player of the Year –

Peyton Manning, QB – Denver Broncos

I’m more than aware that this is an extremely popular pick for this award and while I gave it a lot of thought I came to the conclusion (that like Brett Favre when he went to the Vikings) you can never count Peyton Manning out.   I find it so hard to pick against Peyton Manning that I chose the Broncos to get into the postseason over the Steelers, Bengals, Jets, Chargers, Titans, & Raiders.  There are concerns now but Peyton Manning is going to make Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker into household names.  After everything he has gone through if he can get the Broncos to the playoffs there is no doubt this award will belong to him.

Others that will be considered: Randy Moss, WR – San Francisco 49ers; Eric Berry, S – Kansas City Chiefs; Jamaal Charles, RB – Kansas City Chiefs; Adrian Peterson, RB – Minnesota Vikings; & Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans

Coach of the Year –

Romeo Crennel – Kansas City Chiefs

Now if the carousel of New Orleans Saints coaches can get that team to the playoffs they may be considered but let’s look at the facts: the NFL loves to give this award to rookie head coaches who have success.  Secondly, a team either has to be extremely dominant or go from worst to first (a la a San Francisco 49ers transformation) for a coach to get this award.  While this is Crennel’s 2nd go-around as a head coach, I believe that he will win.  His team finished in last place in the AFC West last year (though they only finished a game behind champion Denver) and the roster is much improved.  On top of that this team is getting Matt Cassel, Tony Moeak, Jamaal Charles, and Eric Berry all back from injury.  I believe that the Chiefs can make some noise in the AFC this year and when they do, Romeo will receive his first Coach of the Year award.

Others that will be considered: Gary Kubiak – Houston Texans; Chan Gailey – Buffalo Bills; Pete Carroll – Seattle Seahawks; Jason Garrett – Dallas Cowboys; Mike McCarthy – Green Bay Packers; & Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons

Executive of the Year –

John Elway, Executive VP of Football Operations – Denver Broncos

Let’s look at everything this guy has done in the last two years.  He took a team that had the #2 overall pick in last year’s draft and got them to the playoffs by playing a running back at QB.   That player started a media blitz that could fill the hole in ESPN programming left behind by Brett Favre’s 17th retirement.  In the process that running back turned QB became the most popular athlete in the Mile High City since well… John Elway.  And then Elway was actually cheered for shipping that QB off to New York (ask the Nuggets how hard it is to ship a beloved Denver athlete to New York) because he brought in the man who in my estimation will one day be, statistically, the best QB of all-time.   He had another great draft and surrounded Manning with young and veteran talent alike.  If the Broncos get back to the playoffs, there is no doubt that Elway should be the Executive of the Year.

Others that will be considered: Ryan Grigson, GM – Indianapolis Colts; John Schneider, GM – Seattle Seahawks; & Les Snead, GM – St. Louis Rams

2012 NFL Season Predictions

The 2012 season picture is not as clear as 2011 was but I think I can make some sense out of it.  Last season I correctly foresaw the Patriots losing the Super Bowl after beating the Ravens.  I correctly predicted the NFL MVP, Comeback Player of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, and the Executive of the Year.  I correctly predicted 8 out of 12 playoff teams including the Detroit Lions and the Houston Texans.   As I look into the crystal ball I see some divisions with a clear cut winner and many situations like the AFC West last year where the division will be highly contested top to bottom.  I see a team with a 12 year playoff drought finally getting back in and I see a future Hall of Famer winning his first playoff game of his career.  I will include below my regular season rankings, playoff projections, and the worst five teams in the NFL this season.   Overall, I think we’re going to see a lot of interesting things this season and so without much further ado, let me tell you what to expect.

AFC North –

Baltimore Ravens (2)
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns

AFC East –

New England Patriots (3)
Buffalo Bills (5)
New York Jets
Miami Dolphins

AFC South –

Houston Texans (1)
Tennessee Titans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West –

Kansas City Chiefs (4)
Denver Broncos (6)
San Diego Chargers
Oakland Raiders

AFC Playoffs –

Wild Card Round
New England (3) vs. Denver (6)
Kansas City (4) vs. Buffalo (5)

Divisional Round
Houston (1) vs. Kansas City (4)
Baltimore (2) vs. New England (3)

AFC Championship
Houston (1) vs. Baltimore (2)

NFC North –

Green Bay Packers (1)
Chicago Bears (5)
Detroit Lions
Minnesota Vikings

NFC East –

Dallas Cowboys (4)
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

NFC South –

Atlanta Falcons (2)
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina Panthers

NFC West –

San Francisco 49ers (3)
Seattle Seahawks (6)
St. Louis Rams
Arizona Cardinals

NFC Playoffs –

Wild Card Round
San Francisco (3) vs. Seattle (6)
Dallas (4) vs. Chicago (5)

Divisional Round
Green Bay (1) vs. Chicago (5)
Atlanta (2) vs. San Francisco (3)

NFC Championship
Green Bay (1) vs. Atlanta (2)

TOP 5 PICKS of 2013 NFL DRAFT

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Arizona Cardinals
3. Miami Dolphins
4. Cleveland Browns
5. Indianapolis Colts

SUPER BOWL

Green Bay (1) vs. Houston (1)

CHAMPIONS

Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers, Super Bowl MVP

Keep an eye out tomorrow for my postseason award predictions!

 

Cafe 101: The 7th Course

Sports Heaven’s most exclusive restaurant is the Cafe 101. As the name suggests there are only 101 tables, each reserved for the greatest to don that number.

Imagine there’s a sports heaven;
It’s easy if you try.
Where sports’ greatest legends

Depart to when they die.

Imagine all the athletes, of past and present day.

Now imagine a Cafe;
It’s not that hard to do.
There’s only 101 tables;
It’s open to a select few.

Imagine all the athletes, hoping to get a seat.

You may say I’m a dreamer;
But I’m not the only one.
Deciding the greatest athletes by number;
Who get to enter the Cafe 101.

<< 6th COURSE

Well after a long absence highlighted by the postseason push of the NBA and NBA D-League seasons combined with the need to get mock NFL drafts in the hands of all the football fans who read this blog, Cafe 101 is back!  And back in glaring fashion!  Since it’s been awhile you may recall that the premise is that in sports heaven, the Cafe 101 is the most exclusive restaurant with only 101 tables, each table numbered 00 – 99 and reserved for the best athlete to have ever worn that number.  When I went to the random number generator I knew this would be a great article when it gave me #12 but then when the next number I was given was #33?  I knew this post may have the most firepower and debate of any Cafe 101 yet.   Of course these are two numbers that are pretty popular across all of sport and have been worn by the best of the best of the best.  Getting either table will be no easy feat.  Additionally we have some good debate at #63 and #85 so let’s get right to it and see who deserves each table.

TABLE

TOM BRADY

Quarterback, New England Patriots (2000 – Present)

3x Super Bowl Champion, 2x Super Bowl MVP, 5x AFC Champion, 2x NFL MVP, 3x AFC Offensive Player of the Year, 2x NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 7x Pro-Bowler, 2x 1st Team All-Pro, 2nd Team All-Pro (2005), 2009 Comeback Player of the Year, NFL All-Decade Team (2000′s)

Being a fan of Midwestern sports teams (for the most part) and living just two hours from Boston and 30 minutes from Boston’s greatest propaganda machine ESPN I have grown tired of the hype that surrounds Boston sports teams and athletes.  If Boston has a king though, that man is Tom Brady.  Others may argue with my giving him the honor of being the greatest to ever wear #12 and yes you can argue for others like Terry Bradshaw, Thierry Henry, Jim Kelly, Roger Staubach, etc. but let’s just take a moment to look at what Tom Brady has accomplished.

When I was a child (though they lost the Super Bowl when I was 1 and again when I was 11) the New England Patriots were a joke of an NFL franchise.  Even though they had a championship drought unlike any other, the Boston Red Sox instilled more hope in Boston fans than the Patriots ever would.  Then comes along Tom Brady, a 6th round draft pick out of Michigan who nobody ever expected to start but now we all know the story.  It only took him 131 starts to win 100 games (the fastest to 100 of any QB in NFL history).  His .780 winning percentage over the past 13 seasons is the best all time.  He started off his career with 10 consecutive postseason wins (best all-time).  He has gone undefeated at his home field 5 times in his career.  He threw for 50 touchdowns in 2007 which is an NFL record and his regular season records are unreal.

He is tied for the most postseason wins of all time with Joe Montana.  He is tied for most Super Bowl appearances by a starting quarterback with John Elway (5).  And he is just 1 Super Bowl win away from tying Joe Montana & Terry Bradshaw’s record of 4.   In my opinion, with just one more AFC Championship (although a Super Bowl win would cement this) we might have to consider Tom Brady the greatest quarterback of all-time.  There’s no doubt he is already in the top 5.   While I am not a Tom Brady fan, this table is all about the best and Tom Brady is the greatest athlete to ever wear #12 and he deserves this table.

RUNNER-UP: TERRY BRADSHAW, Pittsburgh Steelers (1970-1983)

ON THE WAITING LIST:  Jim Kelly, Thierry Henry, Dwight Howard, Roger Staubach, Kenny Stabler, Bob Griese, Joe Namath, George Yardley, Dick Barnett, John Stockton, Jarome Iginla, Stan Smyl, Simon Gagne, Colt McCoy (College), Aaron Rodgers, Wade Boggs, Steve Alford (College), Oscar Robertson (College), Roberto Alomar, Randall Cunningham, & Andrew Luck (College)

TOO SOON TO TELL: Andrew Luck (NFL), Colt McCoy (NFL), Percy Harvin, Lamarcus Aldridge, Marques Colston, A.J. Pierzynski, Eric Staal, & Darrius Heyward-Bey

TABLE

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR

Center, Milwaukee Bucks (1969-1975) & Los Angeles Lakers (1975-1989)

6x NBA Champion, 6x NBA MVP, 19x NBA All-Star, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 10x All-NBA 1st Team, 5x All-NBA 2nd Team, 5x NBA All-Defensive 1st Team, 6x NBA All-Defensive 2nd Team, 1970 NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, 3x NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion at UCLA, 3x NCAA Tournament MVP, Naismith College Player of the Year – 1969, No 33. retired by the Bucks and the Lakers, Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee

Like the #12 there is a lot of debate as to who the best to ever wear the #33 is.  And as with #12, where the debate primarily came down to one sport (football), the debate with #33 mainly comes down to basketball.  While for some this would be a difficult decision for me it was pretty easy to give the go ahead to Kareem for Table #33.  After all I believe that, wait a minute let me make this it’s own line.

In my opinion, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the greatest basketball player in history.

There, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way you can understand why I had to go with Kareem.  When someone is the greatest to ever play their respective sport, you have to give them the nod for the table.   Let’s take a look at what Kareem accomplished.  First off, he won an astonishing 3 NCAA Championships in his 4 years at UCLA and on all three occasions was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.  He was the first ever winner of the Naismith College Player of the Year award in 1969.   Abdul-Jabbar was so dominant in college that the NCAA banned the slam dunk after 1967 and did not bring it back for nearly a decade.  He led the Lakers to 5 NBA Championships (and the Bucks to 1) and was twice named the MVP of the NBA Finals.  He was named NBA MVP a record 6 times and to this day is the NBA’s all-time points leader.  And of course who could forget his trademark “Sky hook” that he could shoot with either hand and was virtually impossible to defend.  While many basketball greats have worn #33, I must tip my hat to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

RUNNER-UP (TIE): HONUS WAGNER, Louisville Colonels/Pittsburgh Pirates (1897- 1917) & LARRY BIRD, Boston Celtics (1979-1992)

WAITING LIST: Patrick Ewing, Tony Dorsett, Scottie Pippen, Sammy Baugh, Patrick Roy, Roger Craig, Brian Jordan, Stacey Nuveman, Alonzo Mourning, Henrik Sedin, Grant Hill & Shaquille O’Neal (College)

TO SOON TO TELL: Cliff Lee, Michael Turner, Nick Swisher, & Justin Morneau

TABLE

GENE UPSHAW

Guard, Oakland Raiders (1967-1981)

2x Super Bowl Champion, 1967 AFL Champion,  6x NFL Pro Bowl Selection, 3x All-AFL, 3x First team All-Pro, 1970s NFL All-Decade Team, Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee

Gene Upshaw is one of the greatest guards of all-time and he is the only player in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl with the same team in three different decades.  Upshaw was one of the greatest guards to ever play the game and for 14 years was the cornerstone of a great Raiders offensive line.   It was his domination of Hall of Famer (and owner of Table #88 at the Cafe 101) Alan Page in Super Bowl XI that allowed the Raiders to rush for over 260 yards and win their first title.    He shut down the Eagles’ vaunted defensive line in Super Bowl XV to help the Raiders win another championship.  Upshaw was one of the greatest Division II players of all time and the annual lineman of the year award in Division II is named for him.

RUNNER-UP: WILLIE LANIER, Kansas City Chiefs (1967 – 1977)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Dermontti Dawson, Y.A. Tittle, Mike Munchak, Lee Roy Selmon, and Jeff Saturday

TOO SOON TO TELL: Mike Pouncey

TABLE

JACK YOUNGBLOOD

Defensive End, Los Angeles Rams (1971 – 1984)

7x Pro-Bowl Selection, 5x 1st team All-Pro, 3x 2nd team All-Pro, 7x 1st team All-NFC, 2x 2nd Team All-NFC, 1975 NFL Defensive Lineman of the Year, 2x NFC Defensive Player of the Year, 1971 All-Rookie Team, NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team, St. Louis Rams #85 retired, NFL Hall of Fame inductee, College Football Hall of Fame

When it came to table #85, I knew I had to give it to Jack Youngblood.  There are a lot of great receivers in the game today who wear #85, but Youngblood is one of the greatest pass rushers of all time.  In 202 career games, he had 151.5 sacks.  Not only was he a great pro but he was also one of the best players in the history of Florida Gators football.  In his first full season as a starter with the Rams, he amassed 70 tackles in 11 games played.  In 1973, the Rams were the best defense in the NFL and Youngblood led the way with 16.5 sacks.  The following season the Rams still had the best defense in the NFL.  Few recall that in the 1970’s, the NFL championships were almost always between a combination of the Rams, Cowboys, and Vikings.   Youngblood’s stellar play is what allowed the Rams to have the success they did.  What Youngblood will always be remembered though is his toughness.  During the 1979 postseason, Jack Youngblood played the entire playoffs and Super Bowl with a broken left leg.  No doubt that Youngblood is the best to ever wear #85.

RUNNER-UP: NICK BUONICONTI, Boston Patriots & Miami Dolphins (1962 – 1976)

ON THE WAITING LIST: Mark Duper, Chuck Hughes, Chad Ochocinco, & Derrick Mason

TOO SOON TO TELL: Greg Jennings, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Vernon Davis, & Antonio Gates

Agree? Disagree? Tweet us @can_of_corn using the hashtag #Cafe101 to tell us your picks!

Click to enlarge the seating chart for sports heaven’s most exclusive restaurant

Will your favorite athletes be able to get a table at the Cafe 101?  Please post below or tweet any questions, comments, or snide remarks to @can_of_corn! Thanks for reading!