Saturday, April 21, 2012

Just a Quick Rant

Screw the National Hockey League, Brendan Shanahan and the worst commissioner in the history of sport, Gary Bettman.  Guy is an absolute clown.  Only commissioner in my memory to have not only been dumb enough to allow a labor dispute between mostly multimillionaire's to occur, but he did it twice.  The first time the owners locked the players out resulted in a 46 game shortened 95-96 season.  The second time...well, there was no season at all 04-05.  Way to go, jackass.  But I digress......

First point is, and the playoffs have made this all the more clear, if you're a high profile star in the NHL you can do whatever the fuck you want on the ice and get away with it, or atleast avoid a long term suspension, a hefty fine, or even a penalty, or all three if your name is Shea Weber.  Except of course if your name is Nicklas Backstrom or Alex Ovechkin and you play for the Washington Capitals.

Remember back in January when our boy Ovie got the book thrown at him and was suspended for three games for leaving his feet and charging Zbynek Michalek of that whiny team in Pittsburgh?  Yea, no penalty was called on the play.  No one was injured.

Only differnce between Backstrom's and Ovechkin's suspension is Nicky got a match penalty on his crosscheck upstairs on Peverly so Shanahan and Bettman could lean on that crutch and no explanation was needed.  Their hands were essentially tied.   

Shanahan on why Shea Weber was not suspended.  ""I looked at that one and I'm not happy with that play," Shanahan said. "I investigated that hit. I called Detroit that night. I think that [Weber] pushed [Zetterberg's] face in the glass. I was really close to a one-game suspension on that and when I talked to Detroit and I talked to [Ken Holland] he basically said the player was fine."  

In the same interview he explicitly mentions injury as being a contributing factor in suspension or penalty.

Either Shanahan was watching a different game, or the euphemism for basically curbing a guys head on the boards is "pushing his face in the glass" . Definitely an ugly play.  Definitely suspendable.  No one was injured, no penalty was called on the play.  No suspension.  Fine, but have some fucking consistency! 

Carl Hagelin get's three games while Matt Carkner gets one for essentially mugging Brian Boyle.  Andrew Shaw gets three games for running into Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith in a play I've seen countless times go unpunished (last night in Pittsburgh comes to mind).  All three, Hagelin Carkner, Shaw are not household names and they got the book throw at them.   But again, there is no consistency.  On any level.

Second point is what is the deal with the playoff scheduling and why do I feel the Caps are getting hosed?  Only series in the playoffs scheduled to play games on back to back days.  Today's game (Saturday) is at 3 pm.  So make tomorrows game at 7 right?  To accommodate for travel between Boston and D.C. and to allow an extra few hours of rest in a tightly played hard fought playoff series.  No, 3 pm scheduled for Sunday.  Presumably it's a money grab to cash in on the Sunday afternoon crowd.  Coupled with the Pens/Flyers game 6 at noon tomorrow, the NHL could see some pretty good viewing numbers.  But the Caps should not be playing tomorrow in the first place.

As I mentioned, there is the only one first round series to have games on back to back days.  But, but, but, it's the same for both teams.  Go fuck yourself.  Looking at records, the Bruins are 8-4 this year in the second game of back to backers.  Caps..... 5-6-2.  Clear advantage Boston.  Oh, let's schedule the Boston Bruins (an overtly NHL favored city and original six franchise) and the Washington Capitals (a lowly Southeast division dweller with a bunch of Russians that just came on the scene again that the NHL could give two shits about) to play pivotal games 5 and 6 on back to back days (not nights, or staggered).  Thanks Gary Bettman.  Blow me.  End rant.  

Update:  Just saw Rafi Torres got 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa.  While I completely agree with the decision and and I believe goons like Torres and unsuspecting blind side cheap shot hits that result in guys getting stretchered off the ice need to be punished severely, I see this as just another rash, impetuous decision by the NHL brass, pressured by the media firestorm created during the current playoff run to come down hard on someone (preferably not a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins).  In no way will it change the culture in the NHL on hits unless there is some consistency on punishment being dolled out.  No matter who you are.  Or who you play for.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Madden 13 Cover Vote - The Finals

Calvin Johnson or Cam Newton? It's a tough call, and either would make a good pick for the cover of Madden 13. Before I explain my pick and make a prediction, here are the previous winners...

2001 - Eddie George
2002 - Daunte Culpepper
2003 - Marshall Faulk
2004 - Michael Vick
2005 - Ray Lewis
2006 - Donovan McNabb
2007 - Shaun Alexander
2008 - Vince Young
2009 - Brett Favre
2010 - Larry Fitzgerald/Troy Polamalu
2011 - Drew Brees
2012 - Peyton Hillis

As you can see, there have been six quarterbacks on the cover as opposed to .5 receivers. That should weigh in to everyone's decision. But we can't just vote Calvin in because he's a receiver. We have to decide if he's good enough to warrant something that no one who has ever played his position has ever received. Through the Madden cover era, the best wide receiver we've seen has been Randy Moss, who's considered by many people to be the second best receiver to ever play the game behind the Jerry Rice. If Moss never graced the cover, how could Calvin?

Then again, is the Madden cover even about recognizing greatness? This has been going on from 2001-present, yet neither Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, the two guys who have dominated the era, have never been on the cover. The more I look at it, the Madden cover seems to be about three things: 1) Recognizing an outstanding single season performance and 2) Recognizing the "hottest" athlete at the time in both the real NFL and the video game and 3) recognizing recent post-season success

Eddie George's cover came a year after his best statistical performance, when he rushed for 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Daunte Culpepper's came after he burst on the seen as one of the most exciting QBs in the game

Marshall Faulk's came after a hot season and a Super Bowl victory

Michael Vick's came after bursting on the scene as the hottest young QB in real life and especially the video game

Ray Lewis' came after a DPOY award

Donovan McNabb's came after his best statistical season when the Eagles were the most exciting team in the game with him and T.O.

Shaun Alexander's came after his ridiculous 1880 yard, 27 touchdown season

Vince Young's came after an average statistical year, but he was still one of the freshest young stars in the game

Brett Favre's came after this come back year with the Packers when he was the hottest player in the game besides Brady

Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu's cover came after they met in the Super Bowl

Drew Brees' came after his Super Bowl victory

Peyton Hillis' came after his unreal year

So, out of the three categories that all these fall into, who has the edge in each?

Single Season Numbers

Cam Newton - 4,051 yards, 21 tds, 17 ints, 60% completion, 706 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns
Calvin Johnson - 96 receptions, 1,681, 16 touchdowns
The Edge - I'm actually going to go with Calvin...Calvin was 4th in receptions, 1st in yards, and 1st in touchdowns among wide receivers. Cam is 10th in yards and 11th in touchdowns among quarterbacks. He is 1st in rushing yards, and second in the entire league in touchdowns, but how many of those came from the 1 yard line? Calvin's season is more impressive to me.

"Hotter" Athlete

This has got to be Newton. Calvin's been around for five years now, and while he's cool as hell, Newton captivated everyone with his play last year.

Postseason Success

This is obviously Calvin. He was on the better team, but not only did he make it to the playoffs, but he played at the highest level a receiver can play at in that game against the Saints. He was simply un-guardable, catching 12 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns.

My vote goes to Calvin. He beats out Cam in two of the three categories that have decided the previous winners, and he'd be the first of his position to grace the cover alone. Cam will get his cover one way or another, because he's just scratched the surface of his potential. Calvin, however, had one of the best years in recent memory by a receiver last year and took over as the best player at his position.

My prediction is also Calvin. While you might expect Cam to dominate in vote getting, he barely edged out Patrick Willis last week while Calvin easily handled Aaron Rodgers. Here's to hoping we see Megatron on the cover of Madden 13'.

To vote, click here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Washington Redskins 2012 Schedule Breakdown and Predictions

The first installment of the 2012 schedule breakdown, as promised, is the Redskins.  The NFL pundits came out today and said Washington has the 6th easiest schedule for 2012, but I don't see it that way.  This schedule looks menacing, especially down the stretch, but it does begin with relatively winnable games.  So if RG3 is able to adapt to the NFL quickly, this schedule just might work out perfectly for Washington.

This season really could go either way for the Redskins.  Their defensive front 7 is up there with the best in the league, and they finally have some playmaking potential on offense, but I just can't predict success with a patchwork safety tandem and a rookie quarterback.  I think the Redskins will surprise people, and they could win some games that they shouldn't, but they are another year away from competing in the NFC East.

I hope I'm wrong though, so let's look at the schedule game by game.

at New Orleans - W
The more and more I think about this game, the more I believe the Redskins are going to win it.  Sure, it's against the best offense in the league in their Dome where they are virtually unbeatable.  But with the ordeal that the Saints have been through this offseason, it will be so hard for them to come together, especially if the NFL starts dishing out suspensions to their defensive players.  This could be the best team possible for Griffin to begin his career against, not to mention the Saints will have a very small sample size of film on RG3.  Redskins 31, Saints 27

at St. Louis - L
This is a tough one for the Redskins.  St. Louis has all the makings of a surprise team this year, so I think the Redskins lose this one in a tight game.  It all depends on RG3, because I think the Rams have the better supporting cast, especially if they draft a premier weapon for Sam Bradford.  Rams 21, Redskins 20

Cincinnati - W

As much as I hate to say it, I'm expecting a Sophomore slump from Andy Dalton.  He had a great year last year, he has a great work ethic, yet I still can't seem to figure out how exactly he was able to put together the season he had last year.  AJ Green will get back to dominating opposing cornerbacks, and I expect him to make the Pro Bowl once again in Year 2.  Still, the Redskins come away with this one on  an RG3 bomb to Pierre Garcon with 50 seconds left.  Redskins 24, Bengals 17

at Tampa Bay - W
Raheem Morris exacts his revenge on his former the defensive backs coach?  Not exactly your typical Monday headline, but I think the Redskins pull this one out.  Seems like Schiano is cleaning house over in Tampa Bay, with the latest rumor involving Aqib Talib.  Tampa Bay should be one of the worst teams in the league this year, and look for Helu to have a big game in this one.  Redskins 27, Buccaneers 13

Atlanta - L
As boring as Atlanta is, they just don't lose to teams like Washington.  This one could be close, especially if RG3 is feeling it, but the Falcons will come away with the victory, some way or another.  Helu will put up a pedestrian 62 yards on 22 carries, and Redskins fans will wonder why we didn't resign Tim Hightower (assuming we don't).

Minnesota - W
The Redskins could very easily be 5-1 or 1-5 at this point in the season, so I have them sitting pretty at 4-2.  The Vikings are similar to the Redskins, but the Redskins are simply better in every unit, excluding running back.  Look for the front seven to bottle up Peterson, and I fully expect RG3 to explode in this one, after seeing what team's were doing to Minnesota's Cover 2 last year.  This could be the Heisman Trophy winner's coming out party.  Redskins 38, Vikings 24

at NY Giants - L

The Redskins went 2-0 against the Super Bowl champs last year, but it will be tough to continue that success again this year.  Eli Manning proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is an elite quarterback, and the Giants will be the favorite to win the NFC East in 2012.  However, the Redskins could steal one from them at home, building on 2011's success.  Giants 24, Redskins 20

at Pittsburgh - L
Two losses in a row for the Redskins, and they are back at .500.  Just to be clear, this game isn't an automatic loss, as I don't think Pittsburgh is nearly as good as they were a few years ago.  But it will be very tough for Robert Griffin to go into Heinz Field and get the victory.  He could, but odds and history say he won't.  Steelers 17, Redskins 16

Carolina - W

This is the game I am most excited for on the Redskins schedule.  Cam Newton vs. RG3 in a rematch from last year, and I expect both teams to be right in the thick of their divisional races.  The Skins are still steaming from last year's performance, when Cam Newton ran and passed all over them in a near-perfect game.  What was billed as a quarterback battle turns into a runningback's field day, as Helu goes over 200 yards for the first time in his career. Redskins 31, Panthers 28

This is perfect timing for the Redskins bye week.  They are now 5-4, and they are about to dive into a brutal 7 game run to end the season.  Everyone will be well-rested for the Philadelphia game, which turns into a must-win for both teams.  No matter how poorly or well the Redskins are playing at this point in the season, they will control their playoff destiny from here on out, with five games against divisional foes.  That's really all you can ask for.

Philadelphia - L

A tough loss for the Redskins, but they just don't have the speed to match up in the secondary, especially at safety.  They are also matched up against a very good defense, who I think will be the 2nd best in the league in 2012, just behind the 49ers.  Eagles 31, Redskins 14

at Dallas - W

A Thanksgiving day battle at Dallas.  There's really nothing better for fans of both teams.  Rivalry renewed this year, as this game will actually have implications.  I think RG3 gets immersed in the rivalry and the spotlight and has a career day, posting season highs in passing yards and touchdowns.  He will throw two long touchdown passes, a la Mark Brunell to Santana Moss in 2005.  Redskins 38, Cowboys 28

NY Giants - W

Another primetime game, another primetime performance from RG3.  This one, however, earns him the nickname Professor Primetime.  The home crowd will really get behind RG3 in this one, as they will finally see the playoffs as a real possibility, but the schedule only gets tougher.  Redskins 28, Giants 13

Baltimore - L
Whatever momentum the Redskins had is crushed against Baltimore, as Flacco puts together one of the better games of the season from a quarterback.  The Redskins have no answer for Baltimore's Run-n-Gun offense, and they are embarrased in the comfort of FedEx.  Baltimore, at this point in the season, looks poised for a Super Bowl run.  Ravens 31, Redskins 10

at Cleveland - W

The Redskins get back on track against an inferior Cleveland team, but not until Cleveland's last second field goal goes clanking off the left upright.  This has truly been an up-and-down year for the Redskins, and fans begin to wonder whether this is, in fact, a sign of destiny.  Redskins 14, Browns 13

at Philadelphia - L

Controlling their own destiny, the Redskins fail to capitalize on a Desean Jackson muffed punt early in the 4th quarter.  The Eagles score on the ensuing possession, and the game sealed after an RG3 interception just two plays later.  The Eagles had the Redskins' number this year, but there is still hope for a wild card spot with a win against Dallas and some help. Eagles 35, Redskins 20

Dallas - L

In one of the better Cowboys/Redskins games in recent memory, Romo and RG3 battle it out for a chance at the playoffs.  The team that wins would still need some help getting in, but the team that loses is out altogether.  Romo leads a game-winning drive in the waning minutes (Weird, right?), and the Cowboys come out on top.  Will they get into the playoffs?  Cowboys 31, Redskins 27

Redskins Final Record 2012: 8-8

Overall, a good season for the Redskins, better than expected.  They will be in control of their own destiny heading into that brutal run after the bye week, but if they get hot and start winning games they shouldn't, they could easily sneak into the playoffs.  I'm exicted to see where the Redskins end up.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Breaking Down the 2012 NFL Schedule

With the release of the NFL 2012 regular season schedules today, we here at 11-on-11 are doing a feature--breaking down every team's schedule in the next month, eventually predicting playoff matchups, and finally choosing our Super Bowl winner.  Basically, we will make it pointless to even watch next year's games, since you will already know who's going to win each one.  Anyway, we will start with the hometown Washington Redskins, and then move through the NFC East, South North and West, then start all over again in the AFC.  So, check back soon for the very first installment.

If you didn't get a chance to see the schedules, here is the link.

PS- This is a very exciting moment.  Let the season speculation begin.  Words can't describe how excited I am, so I'll let Pete Weber do what he does best.

Who do you think you are?  I am.


Follow us on Twitter @11on11Sports

32 Best Quarterbacks in the NFL

Last season we saw the most parity in the NFL than we've seen since the quarterbacks took over the league. As the rules change and the importance of the signal caller continues to grow, teams will continue to search for their guy until one day we have a dream league with 32 legit starting quarterbacks all capable of winning the title. As I compiled this list I concluded that there are currently 16 high caliber starters in the NFL right now, so we're half way there, and we are most likely adding at least two more of those guys this April.

To me, the top six are obvious, and the rest is based off your preference. I value winning and playoff performance more than anything, with statistics and physical capabilities in a close second. I also place a bit of emphasis on potential, because even though this is a list of the best QBs right now, I'd expect a younger guy with potential, say Josh Freeman, to bounce back from a poor season better than a veteran would.

Oh and before we get started, who would've guessed three years ago that both Donovan McNabb and Vince Young would be off this thing entirely?

32 Best Quarterbacks in the NFL

32. Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars/Colt McCoy, Browns - I put them both here because I honestly couldn't decide who was worse. I've seen a decent amount of both of these guys at the pro level, and can safely say that I haven't seen an impressive play from either of them. I guess Gabbert would get the nod just based off potential as he's only played one season, but he was really, really bad last year. I don't see either of these guys going anywhere. Oh and yes, the fact that they're both here does mean that two signal-callers from the same team are on this list. I'll give you one guess.

31. Kevin Kolb, Cardinals- I feel bad for the corn man. McNabb is traded, he's handed the keys to the franchise, he gets a concussion in game one, the Vick thing happens, he's traded and handed the keys to another franchise, plays below par, gets hurt again, and barely survives the year as the starter. This year is Kolb's last chance. It's almost like Stafford last year except we haven't even seen flashes of brilliance from Kolb. We've just heard he has all this potential. I think he can be a starting QB in today's NFL (he'd be a backup in the future perfect league), and having Larry Fitzgerald will certainly help, but he has to prove it this year.

30. Christian Ponder, Vikings - Was he worth the twelfth pick in the draft? No. Does he give this team hope? Sort of. Can he develop into a solid starter? Absolutely. I've seen much more from Ponder than these last three guys. He can make the throws, he's athletic, and he seems to play well late in games. He's not special, but he's something.

29. Matt Moore, Dolphins - He's one of those guys that you never want as your teams starter because he's just good enough to get you out of the lottery. Matt Moore is a gamer. He doesn't make it look pretty, but he can make plays when it counts and can win games with a good defense behind him.

28. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills - He's just like Moore except a little more impressive. The Jeremy Lin of the NFL is a feel good story, but the bad news for Bills fans is that I actually think he'll have a good year this year. They've revamped their defense, have Stevie Johnson back and finally seem to have woken up C.J. Spiller. That means no Matt Barkley for the Bills and a mid-first round pick.

27. Carson Palmer, Raiders - Palmer actually looked like his old self in spots last year and helped a sneaky competitive Oakland team finish 8-8. I'm actually fine with Palmer if I'm a Raiders fan, because either he does the same and Oakland is a borderline playoff team, or his shoulder fails him again and you're in the lottery.

26. Matt Flynn, Seahawks - The Seahawks have fancy new jerseys and a fancy new franchise quarterback. Let's just hope this doesn't work out like it did for the other NFC West team that tried to work with an unproven QB (See Kolb, Kevin). Flynn did benefit from the Packers crazy good line and receivers during his run last year, but he was throwing bullets and making plays with his feet, and he's going to a coach that knows how to develop quarterbacks.

25. Sam Bradford, Rams - This ranking is obviously based off potential considering how abysmal Bradford was last year, but I still believe he can be a very good player. He's as accurate as anyone, and just needs a line and some playmakers to stretch the field. Here's to hoping we see Justin Blackmon become a Ram in April.

24. Matt Cassel, Chiefs - Matt Cassel is the last quarterback of anyone on this list that I'd want as my starter. Here's the prime example of the guy that won't take you anywhere, but who also won't let you get the next big thing at QB.

23. Mark Sanchez, Jets - Sanchez has been terrible on a team with a great line, great receivers, and a great running game. It's pathetic. However, I do give him credit for his playoff performances. I believe that in the right situation (say San Fransisco) he could be a Super Bowl winning quarterback with his big game guts. However, unfortunately for him I don't believe he'll even finish the season as a starter because of...

22. Tim Tebow, Jets - Tim Tebow is the least skilled quarterback of anyone on this list. It doesn't matter to me. I'll take elite intangibles and mediocre skills over elite skills and mediocre intangibles any day of the week. Tim Tebow can win a Super Bowl in the NFL, he just can't do it the way other elite quarterbacks can. He needs a great o-line, a great running game, great receivers, and a top 5 defense. Basically, he needs his typical roster from Florida but at the pro level. That sounds pretty obvious, as we would assume that most capable NFL quarterbacks (exhibit A, Alex Smith) should be able to win with a team like that. I understand that, but Tebow does things for your team that others can't do. He gets people to play harder, he doesn't turn the ball over, he wears people down with his running, and he's one of the most clutch players in the game because he wants it more than anyone else on the field.

21. Robert Griffin III, Redskins - If the season started today, I'd want Griffin over any of those guys behind him. He can make every throw in the book, is impressively accurate (especially on those deep balls), and has every intangible you look for as a person. He's going to be the biggest star in the history of Washington sports.

20. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers - This year will be huge for Freeman. He just got Vincent Jackson to compliment Mike Williams, and might get Trent Richardson to compliment Blount in the draft. I like Freeman in big games, and still think he could become the player we thought he would after his great rookie season. He just can't afford another step backward.

19. Matt Hasselbeck, Titans - I love what the Titans are doing. Hasselbeck is as solid of a veteran starter as you could find, and he'll get maybe one or two more seasons to chase a ring before they hand the franchise to Jake Locker, who has all the talent and intangibles you look for but who needs time to learn how to pass from the pocket.

18. Alex Smith, 49ers - This is pretty low for a guy who went to the NFC Championship game and barely lost, but I just feel about him the same way I feel about Mark Sanchez. I don't think he wins games if he's not surrounded by the right people, and I can't consider a guy like that elite, or even in the top half of the league. I'm very interested to see if Smith can do it again this year.

17. Andrew Luck, Colts - As a DC native, I used to joke with my friends that Luck could've been the starting quarterback of the Redskins three years ago. But I honestly don't believe I'm overrating him at all by putting him here. He's the best quarterback prospect I've ever seen, and he's the most NFL ready. People are calling for him to be a bust and are trying to make the case for RG3 over him only because we've known about him for so long and he's not that sexy. Sure, I don't know how he or any prospect will translate to the pro game. But I do know that he's as accurate as any quarterback I've ever seen, has as strong an arm as almost anyone (if you still don't believe this, watch him throw a 60 yard bomb from his knees as a sophomore or watch him throw it 70 yards into the wind on his pro day), is a tough, hard nosed football player, is a big time leader, and can already command an offense like a veteran.

16. Andy Dalton, Bengals - Dalton surprised everyone with his stellar play as a rookie, and while some of it had to do with A.J. Green, he earned himself this ranking. What I like most about him is his competitiveness. He's been a winner his entire life and doesn't look like he'll be slowing down any time soon. And it doesn't hurt that he's deadly accurate.

15. Jay Cutler, Bears - Cutler is incredibly talented. He'll never be ranked that highly in lists like these, but he makes you nervous every time you play his team because he's as reckless at Brett Favre and has the arm of John Elway. I don't think it would surprise anyone if Cutler turned it on at the right time and took the Bears deep in the playoffs.

14. Matt Schaub, Texans - Everything was set up perfectly. The sherif was out of town. The Texans were playing out of their minds. There wasn't a dominant team in the NFL. Matt Schaub couldn't have dreamed up a better opportunity than the one he had last year. And then he got hurt. Hopefully he can bounce back this year on what should be another strong Texans squad.

13. Cam Newton, Panthers - If this seems high, just remember that he threw for 4,000 yards 21 touchdowns and ran for 700 yards and 14 touchdowns AS A ROOKIE. This guy is going to change the NFL, and could be in the top five of this list after next season. He just has to learn how win, which shouldn't be too hard because he has great intangibles and has won a championship on every other level.

12. Tony Romo, Cowboys - I'm just so over Romo. I get that he's very good. He's accurate, can make all the throws, and is a big time gamer. But this year is really put up or shut up time for the Cowboys, and while I can definitely see it happening, I can also see them falling flat on their faces. Again.

11. Michael Vick, Eagles - It was tough between Vick and the guy in front of him, but I just can't put this guy as high as his talent indicates until he stays healthy and takes care of the football. Vick and the Eagles offense can score from anywhere at any time, but they have to play smarter if they want to put it all together. Hopefully that's what they do in year two of the Dream Team, because the Giants and Cowboys are obviously still tough and the Skins are on the upswing.

10. Phillip Rivers, Chargers - Rivers was incredibly terrible last year, but I think like Vick in Philly it was more of a team implosion than a representation of the quarterback. Rivers still throws the best deep ball in the game, and is still that fiery competitor that many NFL analysts picked to lead the Chargers to the Super Bowl last season. He better clean up his act this year, though, because there's a new sherif in the AFC West.

9. Matt Ryan, Falcons - Maybe Andy Dalton shouldn't be too pumped about his great rookie year, because all it does is crank up expectations like it did for Matt Ryan. For all the people waiting for Ryan to actually win some big games, remember that he's only 26. That's scary.

8. Matthew Stafford, Lions - This is pretty bold after only one year, but Stafford finally showed us last year why he was one of the most hyped quarterbacks to come along in some time. He has an absolute cannon, and he plays the game fearlessly. Having the best receiver in the game definitely helps, but this guy has an enormous ceiling. I'm looking forward to a long Packers-Lions rivalry.

7. Joe Flacco, Ravens - I'm sure many people will disagree with this because Flacco is perhaps the least sexy quarterback we've ever seen, but consider these points. 1) He plays in a vertical offense that focuses on the running game which will never pump up his stats, 2) He consistently wins games as the Ravens defense continues to decline and 3) He's the most underrated clutch performer in the NFL. For all intents and purposes, Joe Flacco beat the Patriots with a perfect back shoulder throw with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship. It's not his fault that Lee Evans dropped that ball, or that Sterling Moore made the play of his career. Flacco should have won that game. He should've beaten Brady toe to toe. He didn't, and that's why he's number 7, but it's also why he shouldn't be number 13, you know?

6. Ben Roethelisberger, Steelers - Ben's one of those guys that you want to rank people over until you remember his resume. He's got two Super Bowls (even though everyone has forgotten he played horribly in the first one), is as clutch as it gets, and is as accurate a quarterback you'll find when a play breaks down. With a great head coach and defense, he'll have plenty of chances to get that third ring and cement his legacy as the greatest Steelers signal caller ever.

5. Eli Manning, Giants - Good for you Eli. You're the dumbest looking player in the league, you play in the most pressure packed city in the world of sports, and you have to live up to the legacy of your last name, carried on by your older brother who's one of the best players to ever play. Yet you keep proving everyone wrong when they least expect it. I still can't put him over the sherif, but while he'll never be as talented as his older brother he's definitely more clutch.

4. Peyton Manning, Broncos - This is quite the ranking for someone who missed all of last season and who many analysts predicted would retire this offseason. However, all signs currently point to Manning being 100% for opening day, and a 100% Peyton Manning deserves this spot. He's the best regular season quarterback of all time, and single-handedly changed the game with the way he broke down defenses. He just needs that second ring to go down as the greatest.

3. Drew Brees, Saints - Seriously, what the hell are the Saints thinking? This has been a nightmare of an offseason for New Orleans, yet they can't find a way to sign the person that means more to their franchise than any player they've ever had. And he's coming of his best season and shows no signs of slowing down.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers - I absolutely love the way that Aaron Rodgers plays quarterback. He's a baller. He knifes the ball from all sorts of angles and makes plays that only he can. It's like he's Brett Favre except precise and calculated. I really feel like everything went wrong at the wrong time in the 49ers, and fully expect the Pack to make another strong title run this year.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots - He lost another Super Bowl, but his body of work combined with his recent play demand this ranking. He's 34 and turning 35 in August, so the door is slowly closing on the Brady-Belichick regime. He's probably got two more shots at the title before he's on the downswing of his career, and one more championship could make him the best ever. It'll be fun watching it all unfold.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

No one's Burfict?

Back in January, 11-on-11 put out our second Mock Draft, featuring Vontaze Burfict as a first round pick,  going to the New York Giants.  Fast forward three months, and Burfict has all but destroyed his chances of being drafted at all, let alone meeting the standards of the lofty draft rating we gave him in January.

It was obvious throughout college that this guy had skill, but he was always known as a loose cannon with a bad attitude.  This side of Burfict first came out during media sessions at the NFL Combine.  Even before the Combine had started, Mike Mayock, who I would regard as one of the better talent evaluators out there, said that he didn't think Burfict was a first-round pick "at all."

Then comes the combine, and Burfict has a chance to make Mayock bite his tongue.  Instead, he posts laughable 40 times of 4.93 and 5.10, all but solidfying Mayock's claim.  Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports, who was present at the combine, said of Burfict, "I'm not sure any player here sparked a worse reaction than Vontaze Burfict.  I wouldn't touch him.  The guy is completely out of control.  There's no way you could trust him."  Harsh words, indeed.

The scary part about Burfict is that everyone, excluding Mayock, shed a negative light on his character, rather than his football instincts.  And with so many players having off-the-field issues in today's NFL, teams simply cannot take the risk on a guy who could blow up any second.  You need to be able to trust your personnel.

Couple that with a below average Combine, bad words from former coaches and NFL scouts, and a lack of endorsements from essentially everyone who has been around this kid, and he looks destined to fall out of the draft all together.

It seems as though this guy became a Youtube sensation, with his hard hits and carefree demeanor on the field, that no one cared enough to look and see if this guy was actually the real deal, until recently.  And while I do believe that Burfict was a good football player at some point in his college career, he had his worst season ever this past year, and it seems that his coaches have chalked it up to a bad work ethic.  So, why waste even a late round pick on this guy?

Well, it seems as though no team will.  Burfict hasn't received a single invitation for a private workout or a team visit, and it doesn't look like that will change in the next two weeks.

This story brings to mind the old saying, "No one's perfect,"  but, while Burfict, this guy is so far from perfect, that it's very hard to ignore his shortcomings and take a chance on him.

Look for Burfict to go undrafted on the 28th, to the chagrin of his Youtube faithful.

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