Football is back again folks. Tonight the Giants and Cowboys will slug it out and start the season on a Wednesday, just as tradition would call for. This weeks Pigskin Chronicles will be much like last weeks, Marooned Gopher (see his background here) will give some thoughts on the world of the NFL then I will also give my own thoughts.
After giving some fantasy advice last week along with Ben, I had some random thoughts about the upcoming season and some things that bothered me. With that said, here's my take on a few NFL topics.
1. Which second year QB will have a better sophomore campaign...Ponder or Gabbert?- I know Peter King has praised Blaine Gabbert for how good he's played in the pre-season, but does anyone really believe the former Mizzou Tiger is gonna make drastic improvements or take the Jaguars anywhere this season? I'll cut Gabby some slack because he had no wide receiver talent around him last year, but Jax has definitely upgraded that position with the additions of Laurent Robinson and 1st round draft pick Justin Blackmon. Even with those upgrades, the Jags will be going nowhere without offensive centerpiece MJD. Good luck Gabbert and this year, work on not falling backwards before throwing anytime someone has a clear path to you on the blitz.
As for Ponder, he'll have Adrian Peterson back and though he had his struggles last year, he showed glimpses of future success (something I never saw Gabbert do). Ponder's first start against Green Bay was a success and if not for a few rookie mistakes against Denver (and the Vikes D secondary blowing assignments left and right), Tebow Mania would've been over a lot earlier. Ponder has played solid in the pre-season and his scrambling ability is really underrated. With a better line with Kalil at tackle and Johnson at guard, I expect #7 to sit back in the pocket a bit more and look to Rudolph and Harvin a lot.
I'm not expecting major improvements from either QB, but I feel Ponder has a lot more weapons around him and will outperform Gabbert in 2012. SHould be interesting to see these two face-off in week 1.
2. Why did Madden 13 only give Kyle Rudolph an overall rating of 79? Rudy......Rudy....Rudy.....had one of the lowest drop percentages in the league last year and flashed some big play ability in 2011. Rudy only caught 26 passes last year, but at 6'6 he will be a huge match-up advantage for the Vikes going up against any linebacker in the league. Many experts are expecting a big season for their former Notre Dame product and I fully agree with that. Rudy definitely should have been rated at least an 82 or 83 Madden. Anything less than that is puzzling in my opinion. Also, why do the Vikes white jerseys have yellow collars in Madden? After watching the last pre-season game against the Texans, the collars were purple. Madden, you owe the Vikes two apologies for two major blunders. Other than that, the game is awesome.
3. When will the Jets find a QB who can actually play the position well? Mark Sanchez will never be a good qb and I'm surprised the Jets keep giving him every opportunity to lead their offense. Bringing in Tebow does not solve the problem, it only complicates it because you have to decide which QB is the lesser of two evils and start him. If I were the green and white, I'd start calling Washington and see if 4th round pick Kirk Cousins is available. If Washington were willing to trade, I'd give Cousins the keys to the car and let him play because he can only do better than Tebow and Sanchez because they set the bar so low. The Jets D is still solid, but with an underperforming ground game and two terrible qbs leading this team, I expect a 7-9 season for Rex Ryan's team at best.
4. Perfection for the Pats? CBSSportsline predicts the Patriots to go 16-0 this season. Are they for real? Did anyone see that shoddy O-line play against Tampa Bay in the pre-season? Last I checked, the Bucs were not an elite defensive front. Sure the Pats will easily win their division, but 16-0? This team isn't nearly as good as the 16-0 team with Randy Moss having a monster season. One thing I'm interested to see with this team is who will be a better fantasy player by season's end...Gronk or Hernandez? Gronk is the favorite, but my gut tells me Hernandez might surprise Gronk with his new contract in hand.
Ben's Jazz -
The Vikings - Jags game this weekend is of interest to many STOB'ers, mainly because most of them are Vikings fans. Yet, if you are a fantasy football player this game could be very interesting to you as well if you are the owner of Adrian Peterson or Maurice Jones Drew. Peterson is a game time decision recovering from his knee injury last year. MJD is likely to play, but nobody knows how much as he comes back from his contract holdout. If you want my advice, try to stay away from the RB situations of both teams for this game. Unfortunately Mrs. Duke, my wife, can't avoid it and due to drafting MJD and the injured Ryan Mathews she has to start some backups at RB this weekend to start off her fantasy football career.
She has picked up Rashad Jennings and Toby Gerhart to start. Will they get enough carries from their superstar counterparts to make this a winning situation for Mrs. Duke? Who the hell knows? It isn't a great situation to be in, relying on backups when the superstars are technically "available".
As for my situation, if you monitor my Twitter account (@BenMac_STOB) you would have seen last night that my main fantasy concern is Romo vs. RG-3 starting this week. I am now leaning RG-3. We will revisit both of these decisions next week to see how Mrs. Duke and I did.
NFL Story Linkage -
Witten to sign waiver to play? - Jason Witten suffered a lacerated spleen during the preseason. Now that doesn't sound good to me, but Romo's security blanket will take the team and team doctors off the hook if he is allowed to play tonight and were to re-injure his spleen by signing a waiver. Seems extreme, but to me if you have to sign a waiver you likely shouldn't be allowed to play. Then again, with the way the NFL is getting sued for ex-player injuries, the entire league maybe signing waivers prior to each game soon.
Rex Ryan lies...and is into feet - Really Rex? Mark Sanchez is a strength for your squad? Really? His numbers are very similar to Tarvaris Jackson's...only with a worse completion percentage.
Somebody tell John Harbaugh about Megatron - I get it, you're in the AFC so you don't get to see the Detroit Lions play maybe as often John, but AJ Green ain't no Megatron.
100 facts about NYG vs. Dallas matchups, probably only 99 more than you want - The fact that a few of these "facts" refer to Live! with Kelly Ripa should be a sign. #1 fact is, "The Cowboys went 0-11-1 during their inaugural season in 1960. That one tie? Of course it came against the Giants." Oh...spoiler alert.
Enjoy the game tonight!