Patriots

AFC East Draft Grades

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New England Patriots 
The Patriots are my favorite team to watch draft because even when it seems like the guy they wanted is gone, they still get the guy they want. They always have a well, devised plan and they execute it like no other. More praise goes to Belichick than the front office, after witnessing the failed “Patriot Project” by Scott Pioli with the Chiefs. I digress, the Patriots added two quality receivers in Marshall’s Aaron Dobson (Look up his one handed catch, SICK!) and TCU’s Josh Boyce. Dobson provides a big leaper with deep threat ability, kind of like another former Patriot and Marshall player…. I won’t do it. Boyce will provide a speedy, quick threat in the slot and we know Brady loves his slot receivers. Rutger teammates Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan will provide depth to an often inconsistent Patriots secondary. Scouts believe Harmon has an above average amount of potential. Many experts believe one of the best valued picks for the Patriots was Fighting Illini, Michael Buchanan. Buchanan will play the hybrid linebacker/rush end and hopefully provide a pass rush to a middle of the pack sack team last season.

Overall grade: B

Geno Smith draft

New York Jets
The circus in the New Yorks Jet’s quarterback meeting room added another act, when Geno Smith was selected in the second round. Talk about a rough drop by Smith. New York is a mess. Rex Ryan is searching for tattoo removal services, Mark Sanchez ran into another one of his linemen’s bumber in the parking lot, he fumbled his phone and Tim Tebow is still running through the sprinklers shirtless. Where is the clown? By the way they just traded Darrelle Revis, its not looking good. They add Alabama cornerback Dee Millner, who’s injuries seemed to stack up as his career ended in Tuscaloosa. Sheldon Richardson , who was the only glimmer of light in Mizzou’s SEC debut year, will provide quality depth at the defensive line. Brian Winters has the ability to be quality asset as a starter, or provide much needed depth. A lot of talk will be about what to do with Sanchez and Tebow and Geno and veteran David Garrad joins the Jets organization.
Overall Grade: D+

Miami Dolphins
The Dolphin will be remembered initially in the draft for not what they did get, but what they did not. It was publicly announced that the Chiefs were trying to send Brandon Alberts to Miami, in exchange for their second round pick and other picks possibly. The dolphins refused and opted for the services of Former Volunteer Dallas Thomas. Scouts praised him for his versatility and the ability to play more than one spot on the offensive line . However, many questioned his ability to fill the void left by All-Pro tackle Jake Long (STL). He will definitely need development and time. I do like what they did defensively in adding a potential game changer in Dion Jordan, who will become the sack-mate of current Dolphin, Chris Wake. They add two corners and Florida linebacker, Jelani Jenkins who provide depth.
Overall Grade: C-

Buffalo Bills
The Bills pulled one of the first controversial moves in the draft by taking a quarterback at the sixteen spot. That’s not the surprising thing, most heads jerked when not Smith, not Nassib, nor Jones, Bray, but Manuel. The former signal caller joins the Bills, to become what they believe to be the future of the dismantled franchise. With Kevin Kolb there already, look for Manuel to sit and learn early. Robert Woods and former Texas track/football standout Marquise Goodwin as potential weapons for Kolb/Manuel. Also, they get a quality pass threat in Arkansas Tight End Chris Gragg. Defensively, they address the need for linebacker with the pick up of Kiko Alonso, who showed flashes of play making ability at Oregon. Also, they add two safeties in Duke Williams and Johnathan Meeks in back to back rounds. Manuel and Woods can be big pick ups if developed properly, however the bills have had a tough time of late doing so. Big risk with both.
Overall Grade: C+

Michael Rose

AFC East Projections

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New England Patriots – The Patriots have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.  However, their defense is atrocious being the second worst defense in yards allowed.  The Patriots focused on their defense in this years draft, especially on their pass rushing need.  The Patriots drafted Chandler Jones, a defensive end and Dont’a Hightower a linebacker, both  great at going after the quarterback.  I expect the Patriots defense to be a vastly improved in the 2012 season.

Prediction 13-3

New York  Jets –  The Jets finished a disappointing 8-8 this past season and missed the playoffs.  The Jets will be looking for revenge. The teams defense and offense should improve this season.  The Jets defense was good last season, but the expectations were so high, they could not be achieved.  I expect the Jets to have a top five defense this season.  The offense has been a work and progress these past three years.  They have a young quarterback in Mark Sanchez who shows flashes of being a good NFL quarterback, but isn’t consistent enough yet.   I expect the Jets to run the ball a lot more and have a more balanced offense.

Prediction 11-5

Buffalo Bills- The Bills are going to have a tough time competing in this division.  The bills have a talented team and have an incredibly talented defensive line.  However, the Bills must be more consistent this year.  Last season the Bills started 3-0 beating the Chiefs, Patriots, and Raiders, but they finished the season 6-10.  The Bills must get more offensive playmakers especially at the wide receiver position.  Besides Stevie Johnson, the Bills don’t have another dependable wide receiver.

Prediction 8-8

Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins are going to have a tough time finishing over .500 this year.  They are in a hard division and traded away Brandon Marshall, their best playmaker on offense.  On top of that, the Dolphins will probably be starting a rookie quarterback midway through the season.   The Dolphins will also have an inconsistent defense this season.  The only thing the Dolphins will be able to do well this year is run the ball.

Prediction 4-12

Connor Willsey

Super Bowl Poll

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Jonathan Zinser: Giants 24 Pats 14

Sam Young: Patriots 24 Giants 20

Chris Caffrey: Giants 24 Patriots 20

Zac Hardwick: Patriots 24 Giants 21

Spencer Montgomery: Patriots 31 Giants 24

Tyler Howard: Patriots 27 Giants 24

Blase Capelli: Giants 24 Patriots 21

Briek Pauwels: Patriots 31 Giants 21

AFC, NFC Championship Game Predictions

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I’ve got to get something off my chest. My last predictions had some flaws in them, and I apologize. Regardless, I still have four of my six predictions alive, and 4/6 equals 2/3 which is two times 1/3 which happens to be the number of predictions Blase got right in last weeks round of playoff games (Boom). Because of this, I strongly advise you to read this over Blase’s predictions. So, for this round of playoff games, I thought I’d bring in my expertise and give you a proven experts opinion on these games.

Patriots vs. Ravens, Sunday 3:00 pm

This game has quite the odd vibe to it. On one hand, you’ve got the Patriots who had an extremely impressive win against the Broncos and on the other, you’ve got the Ravens who struggled to get by the Texans who was quarterbacked by T.J. Yates. Based on conventional wisdom, one should conclude that the Pats should win, but conventional wisdom is often predictable and under thought. So, I compare the thoughts of the average sports fan with my thinking.

Conventional thinking: Wow, this is not going to be a game. God’s nephew vs. T-Sizzle? T-Sizzle, wait a minute, isn’t that Taylor Swift’s rap name? I mean God’s nephew did make the Mile-High Messiah look like Harold Camping (the guy who predicted the world was going to end last May), so Brady will probably make Flacco look like some hillbilly with a hideous Fu Manchu… oh wait. On top of all that, they’re playing in Foxboro, which makes the Ravens chances of succeeding similar to Charles Barkley’s chances of losing weight. The only thing shocking about this matchup is that the Patriots are only 7 point favorites. This will be a blowout.

Dear Joe Flacco, please shave, from all the viewers who don't want to gauge their eyes out watching the game this weekend. Photo from: baltimoresun.com

My thinking: Wow, this is going to be a great game. God’s nephew vs. T-Sizzle… Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, Cheeseburger (Ngata’s nickname for Terrence Cody) and, of course, Ray Rice. Brady has put this team on his back for so long that he probably has some form of chronic back pain that I’m sure one of the Ravens’ defensive menaces will bring out by the end of the game. The Pats may be 13-3 this year, but they haven’t beaten anyone with a winning record all year (even the Broncos finished 9-9). They only played two playoff teams  (besides the Broncos, but their hardly considered playoff caliber) during the regular season (Giants and Steelers) and lost them both. Also, their defense is awful. People (including Ed Reed) have been giving Flacco beef all week for his inability to score against the Texans last weekend, when really no one has been able to score on the Texans all year. The Texans have given up the 4th fewest points all year only behind the Ravens, Steelers, and 49ers, and only 12 points more then the Ravens. I still don’t think the Ravens will light up the Patriots offensively, but I can easily see them scoring over 30 points which will be more then the Ravens are going to give up to the Pats.

Ravens-24 Patriots-20

49ers vs. Giants, Sunday 6:30 pm

What’s not to like about this matchup. Two premier franchises, each led by two back-to-back #1 overall draft picks, going head to head in one of the most historic stadiums around today with stellar defenses on both squads. Just thinking about it gives me a quarter-chub, and if you think that’s weird, you’re right. As you may know from reading my previous article, I have been on the Giants bandwagon for quite some time now, and when I should be saying, “Told you so,” I’m saying  “Get me off this bus.”

Last weekend, I sat down to watch the Packers-Giants game in my basement and something felt really out-of-place. It was a similar feeling to watching Two and a Half Men with Ashton Kutcher instead of Charlie Sheen. I knew something was up and then when the Packers kicked that onside kick in the second quarter, it all clicked. The 15-1 Packers, and #1 seed in the NFC, were playing like they were underdogs. Onside kicks in the second quarter are only acceptable in two situations: a) you’re trying to surprise a team that has been called better then you by everyone all week(i.e. the Saints vs. Colts in the 2010 Super Bowl) or b) you’re clinically insane (there are still no examples of this occurring in the NFL). After doing some research, I figured out that Mike McCarthy isn’t insane and that the Packers were the favorites in the game, so it wasn’t any of those situations. But I thought some more and can now say that the Packers kicked an onside kick because Mike McCarthy is kind of insane and people were kind of saying the Packers might lose. As a result, the Giants were able to beat the former world champions without much of an effort. To most, this was a very convincing win, but to me it just didn’t seem right.

The 49ers, on the other hand, had a very impressive win last weekend. Alex Smith finally looked like the Steve Young that everyone expected him to be as the #1 draft pick back in 2005. On top of that, they beat the Saints, the team that I predicted to win the Super Bowl. Going in to the playoffs, we all knew that the 49ers could play defense. All they needed to become Super Bowl contenders was solid play from Alex Smith, and I saw more than that last week.

In the end, I think the 49ers win this game because of the other Smiths, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith on the defensive line. These two feed of the success of the secondary and likewise for the secondary. If the secondary, lead by sudden stud in Carlos Rogers, is blanketing the Giants receivers, you know one of the Smiths will get to Eli, whereas if the Smiths apply pressure on Eli, their secondary is more then capable then picking off a hurried throw. Because of this, I give the edge to the 49ers.

49ers-20 Giants-17

Chris Caffrey