The Top 5 Biggest NFL Surprises

Only five short weeks into the 2011 season, the NFL has been filled with a plethora of unexpected events. Here are the top 5 surprises so far:

1) The Bills are actually good. With a 4-1 record and convincing wins over the Raiders and Patriots, the Bills look like the real deal. Fred Jackson is averaging nearly 100 rushing yards a game and Ryan Fitzpatrick looks solid if not good. If their defense can step up a little bit, the Bills will continue to pleasantly surprise fans week after week.

2) The Eagles aren't doing so well. The self-proclaimed "Dream Team" is having a living nightmare. A 1-4 start is not the way most analysts and fans saw this season starting. Although they did face decent teams (Falcons, Giants, Bills), most people were clearly expecting more from them. There's still time to turn the season around, but playoff chances are growing slimmer each week.

3) Cam Newton's quick transition to the NFL. He is averaging over 320 passing yards per game and is on pace to break Dan Marino's single season record. Few expected him to throw for over 420 yards in his debut and even fewer expected him to throw for over 430 yards again against the Packers the following week. Not to mention, he's also ran for five rushing touchdowns so far. Based on this, Cam Newton appears to be a legitimate NFL quarterback at the moment. Before you start thinking too highly of Cam, keep in mind interceptions have been a bit of a problem. He's thrown six of them in just five games so far, but interceptions are very typical for rookie quarterbacks.

4) The Lions are 5-0. Here are some fun facts: The Lions have not made the playoffs since 1999. The Lions have not started 3-0 since 1980. The Lions have not started 5-0 since 1956. Despite all of the negative history that surrounds the Lions, they are tied for 1st place in the NFC North with the Packers. Matt Stafford is playing very well with 13 touchdown passes and Calvin Johnson could very well be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL for the time being. With a strong 24-13 win over the Bears last week, the Lions look like they could make a serious push for the playoffs. At the very least they should finish above .500...for the first time since 2000.

5) The NFC West. In the darkest depths of the worst division in the NFL, many would expect to find the 49ers. However, the 49ers actually sit atop the division with a 4-1 record. Their defense is holding opposing teams to just 15.6 points per game and their running game has a spark with Frank Gore in the backfield. The team that most would expect to find in first: The St. Louis Rams, are in last with an 0-4 record. A pitiful defense that allows 28.2 points per game and an even worse offense that has managed to score just 46 points so far this season, potentially makes the Rams the worst team in the NFL at the moment. Even Sam Bradford must shake his head at his 70.8 QB rating.

The Top 5 Biggest NFL Surprises

Only five short weeks into the 2011 season, the NFL has been filled with a plethora of unexpected events. Here are the top 5 surprises so far:

1) The Bills are actually good. With a 4-1 record and convincing wins over the Raiders and Patriots, the Bills look like the real deal. Fred Jackson is averaging nearly 100 rushing yards a game and Ryan Fitzpatrick looks solid, if not good. If their defense can step up a little bit, the Bills will continue to pleasantly surprise fans week after week.

2) The Eagles aren't doing so well. The self-proclaimed "Dream Team" is having a living nightmare. A 1-4 start is not the way most analysts and fans saw this season starting. Although they did face decent teams (Falcons, Giants, Bills), most people were clearly expecting more from them. There's still time to turn the season around, but playoff chances are growing slimmer each week.

3) Cam Newton's quick transition to the NFL. He is averaging over 320 passing yards per game and is on pace to break Dan
Marino's single season record. Few expected him to throw for over 420 yards in his debut and even fewer expected him to throw for over 430 yards again against the Packers the following week. Not to mention, he's also ran for five rushing touchdowns so far. Based on this, Cam Newton appears to be a legitimate NFL quarterback at the moment. Before you start thinking too highly of Cam, keep in mind interceptions have been a bit of a problem. He's thrown six of them in just five games so far, but interceptions are very typical for rookie quarterbacks.

4) The Lions are 5-0. Here are some fun facts: The Lions have not made the
playoffs since 1999. The Lions have not started 3-0 since 1980. The Lions have not started 5-0 since 1956. Despite all of the negative history that surrounds the Lions, they are tied for 1st place in the NFC North with the Packers. Matt Stafford is playing very well with 13 touchdown passes and Calvin Johnson could
very well be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL for the time being. With a strong 24-13 win over the Bears last week, the Lions look like they could make a serious push for the playoffs. At the very least they should finish above .500...for the first time since 2000.

5) The NFC West. In the darkest depths of the worst division in the NFL, many would expect to find the 49ers. However, the 49ers actually sit atop the division with a 4-1 record. Their defense is holding opposing teams to just 15.6 points per game and their running game has a spark with Frank Gore in the backfield. The team that most would expect to find in first: The St. Louis Rams, are in last with an 0-4 record. A pitiful defense that allows 28.2 points per game and an even worse offense that has managed to score just 46 points so far this season, potentially makes the Rams the worst team in the NFL at the moment. Even Sam Bradford must shake his head at his 70.8 QB rating.


Love/Hate Fantasy Football 2011

Welcome to a brand new edition of Fantasy Football for the 2011-2012 season.   I will list a couple of players I think will help you in your league and some you should stay away from in your drafts. Love and Hate Fantasy Football.

Photo courtesy of: themostrequested.tv.com


Larry Fitzgerald (ARI)- I Love him this year.  He will end up top 3 Wr this year. Now that Kevin Kolb is a Cardinal, Fitz is bound to break out again just like he was with Kurt Warner.  He is in his prime, so I suggest taking him quick off your draft boards before anyone else does, cause he is going to be a top fantasy player this year. Prediction: He will lead the league in receptions and targets, will have 10+ Td's and 1000 + yards.

Photo courtesy of: www.mkrob.com
Josh Freeman (TB)- Ended up 7th among Qbs in the NFL last year in his 2nd year.  He is on a very young and explosive offense that is over looked by a lot of people.  He could of ended up in the top 5 last year, he was 2nd among Qbs in rushing yards, but didn’t get enough touchdowns.  So I expect him to rush for more yards and TD’s. He’s got a great receiving core and will be a great late round pick for your QB slot.

Photo courtesy of: cdn.bleacherreport.net
LeGarret Blount (TB)- Also another key part of the Tampa bay Offense, Blount showed owners why they can trust him last season.  6’ foot 247 pound Tail Back and only 24, played only 13 games (started 11) and rushed for 1,007 yards with 6 Tds.  He led the NFL with the most broken tackles and it showed up in this stats.  Now the starting Back for Tampa and getting all the carries, I believe he will be close to top 10 talent and a No. 2 Rb on your Team, Trust me this guy is going to be good.

Photo courtesy of: www.gcobb.com
Jermichael Finley (GB)- I Love Jermichael this year and for years to come.  He isn't getting enough attention he deserves.  His season ended last year in the beginning with an injury.  He was having a break out season last year recording 2 100 + rec, yards in 4 games.   With Aaron Rodgers, Finely will become one of the Leagues best TEs.  Jermichael is the next Antonio Gates, Huge target, great hands, and runs good routes.  Watch out for him this year.

Photo courtesy of: blog.nj.com
Mario Manningham (NYG)- Break out player this year.  Will be close to top 10 wide outs and will a No. 2 fantasy starter.  After the Giants offseason with many of their key offensive players gone such as Kevin Boss, and Steve smith, Eli Manning will throw to Mario a lot.  Manningham will be a huge part of the Big Blue’s offense and one of Eli’s Favorite targets along with Hakeem Nicks. I say 1,000+ receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. 


Photo courtesy of: cdn.bleacherreport.net
Matt Forte (Bears)- Not a big fan of Forte and the Bears offense.  Each year I’m losing faith in Jay Cutler, who I Hate this year as well, which leads me to lose confidence in Forte.   Matt Forte probably will be a No. 2 back in fantasy this year, maybe even 3. He’s not that exciting and to me, doesn’t really have the talent to be a legit No. 1 Fantasy starter.   Also in the Offseason the Bears acquired Marion Barber, who might cut into Forte’s playing time. 

Photo courtesy of: www.post-gazette.com
Rashard Mendenhall-(Pit)- A little surprise here.  My reasoning:  Over the past couple years the Steelers have become more of a pass-happy offense with more talented receivers.  I think that Mendenhall will have a good season, with a good amount of Tds, but dont keep your expectations too high. He wont get 20 + carries every game, and to me like Forte, isn’t the most exciting running back.  Even last year only had 3 games with 100 + rushing yards.  I’m not saying don’t pick him, but I wouldn't advise taking him as your first pick.

Others- Jason Witten, DeAngelo Williams, Mariuce Jones - Drew

2011 U.S. Open: How does rain impact the Players and the Tournament?

Photo courtesy of: usopen.org
Treacherous rain cancelled the Open on Tuesday and Wednesday but play continued Thursday during the Quarterfinals.

How does this impact the weekend? Well the 10 year anniversary of the worst terror attack ever in American history is on Sunday. Originally, the finals were supposed to occur that day. Television ratings might be down for the semi-finals and the finals due to the anniversary and all the controversy about another terror attack. Heavy security will settle down citizens and allow a great weekend for tennis.
Getting back to the actual competition, for the first time in 19 years the top 4 mens seeds have made it to the semi-finals. The last time this happened John McEnroe was the worlds number 1. Now its Novak Djokovic of Serbia. Originally predictions had Djokovic and Sharapova as the winners. Now that Maria has been eliminated, it looks as if Serena Williams or Caroline Wozniacki are the front runners, although they play each other, the other side of the bracket doesn’t contain high seeds, or proven winners.
The mens side will definitely be something to watch, although it is 9/11 on the day of the semis, it’s definitely something to tune into or ever check on your mobile phone, or even computer if you’re around a television tune into the open either on ESPN 2 or CBS.
So far it’s been a very exciting couple weeks. Unfortunately 10 years ago 9/11 occurred and now it’s impacted the whole world for the better. It does effect many american players although many have been eliminated, Serena is the only hope left that can bring home a title on sunday. The impact that the rain had on the Open has gone against some players who said that not playing may have impacted their outcome of the tournament. Mentally it’s hard to prepare when it’s unknown if you’re going to play. But the best know how to handle these situations and that’s why the top four mens seeds have made it this far.
We’ll have more after this extensive championship is over, reporting for Got Sports? Blog I’m Zack Smolev. You stay classy.

Season Preview: New York Rangers

Ranger fans better hope Richards doesn't turn out to be Scott Gomez v2. (Photo courtesy of Foxnews.com)
As the 2011-2012 season quickly approaches, I will do an in depth season preview of each team in the Atlantic Division. Today we take a look at a team hoping to make it past the illustrious first round for the first time in a rather long time, the New York Rangers.

Great, terrible, awful, average and terrific are all words that would describe the Rangers 2010-2011 season. Talk about inconsistency. Ultimately in the end, the superb goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist and the hard work of American forward Ryan Callahan was just enough to propel the Rangers into the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the number eight seed.

After avoiding a potential two year hiatus from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Rangers found themselves pinned up  against the Alex Ovechkin led Washington Capitals. However bounces weren't in the Rangers favor, (see link), and everything that could go wrong went wrong, as they were quickly knocked out in a mere five games.

Despite the early first round exit, the Rangers have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming 2011-2012 season.

Young center, Derek Stepan proved he is able to handle second line/third line  duties at the NHL level. He put up a very respectable 45 points in his rookie campaign. Stepan can become a top two-way center in the league if he reaches his full potential; which many believe he will.

As alluded to above, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist put up spectacular numbers once again, the main reason why the Rangers reached the playoffs. At 29 years old, Lundqvist is in his prime, and will be among the top goaltenders for the 2011-2012 season. Can he bring the Rangers to the glory land? He is definitely capable of doing it.

On June 29, the Rangers decided to finally buyout disgruntled center, captain, Chris Drury. Drury's career has been slowed down by numerous injuries, limiting his play and ultimately forcing the Rangers to buy him out. His cap hit of just over seven million dollars was way too much for a guy who put up less than 60 points during his tenure as a Ranger.

Heading into "Free Agency Frenzy", the big name on the market was Brad Richards. Who would be able to sign the playmaker machine to a long term deal? Well whenever theirs a superstar on the market, you can always guarantee that General Manager, Glen Sather and the Rangers will make a push to lockup whoever is available. That was certainly the case this year, and the Rangers came out successful as they signed Richards to a lucrative contract worth 6.667 million dollars for nine years.

Richards should be a good complement to sniper Marian Gaborik, who is looking to have a bounce back season after putting up 48 points in an injury riddled 62 game season.

Following the move the Rangers stayed quiet before resigning the likes of restricted free agents, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. These two gritty forwards have shown they are capable of shutting down other top lines, while producing offensively as well.

Expect Callahan to be made captain of this team. During his young career, he has exhibited qualities worthy of a captain in the National Hockey League.

The Rangers have the talent to make the playoffs, however given the tough division they play in, it will be difficult. However I see head coach John Tortorella leading his team to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Miami Heat's Free Agent Targets

With recent news of the NBA labor negotiations slowly progressing, and hope that the 2011-2012 season could be salvaged, we look at a few players the defending eastern conference champions should take a look at based on need and price range.

1. Samuel Dalembert: For many Heat fans, the 2011 NBA finals were filled with horror and disappointment which exposed many of the team's flaws. One of the major problems not only in that series but throughout the season was the lack of quality production from the center position. Throughout the regular season and up till the eastern conference finals, Head coach Erick Spolestra continued to tinker with the rotation and starting spot. Throughout the year, players like Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamaal Magloire, Erick Dampier, Juwan Howard had their fair chances to bring quality consistent play, but in the end all failed misriably when matched up against the likes of Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and in last June to Tyson Chandler. Although Samuel Dalembert is not near all star level, many believe that he can fill what the Heat need out of a center, which is someone who knows his defensive assignment, crashes the boards, blocks shots and plays off the big 3 on the offensive end. Although there are better big men in this years free agent class, Samuel Dalembert can be an upgrade based on those abilities. Dalembert, who is from Haiti could be interested in playing for the heat due to Miami's haitian population and influence as well as having the chance to compete for an NBA title. With the Heat having salary cap restraints, Dalembert could come cheap at the veterans minimum, which is all the more reason to see him down Biscayne boulevard this upcoming season.

2. Shane Battier: After helping the young Memphis Grizzlies upset the number one seed San Antonio Spurs in the first round, Battier seemingly raised his stock and will be heavily pursued by many teams. Now, many will ask if the Heat have salary cap restraints how would they be able to pursue a free agent that is popular on the market like Battier will be. The answer to that question is simple, Battier who has played on 3 different teams in his 10 year NBA career has not gotten close to winning an NBA title, at age 33 he may not get many more chances. With that being said vets like battier think of winning first and money second. To have an addition like Battier would be great for the Heat, he would be a guy that could spot up and knock down long range shots and match up against some of the premiere perimeter players in the Game like Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose. If battier is truly stern on winning, then joining the heat would be the right move.

3. Tayshaun Prince: Similar to Batter, Prince is a veteran who has been suffering on lottery bound Detroit Pistons teams in the last few seasons that should be looking for a team that can help him get back to his winning ways. Prince at 6 foot 9 inches is a tall athletic combo forward that is a defensive specialist with championship experience. Prince would fit in well as a sixth man who would close out games and bring an offensive boost with his ability to create shots off the dribble as well as knock down the three point shot. Prince who was a teammate of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James on the 2008 U.S. "redeem team " that won gold, could be recruited to try to win his second NBA title on the heat.

4. Michael Redd: Due to injury plagued seasons the last few years, Redd would likely accept an offer for the veteran's minimum from a championship contending team. Like Prince, Redd was also on the "Redeem team" and is friends with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Adding Redd would be a low risk high reward type of player off the bench. At one point Redd was one of the most deadliest shooters in the NBA and spread defenses around the court as soon as he touched the ball. If Redd is able to be 1/4th of what he was in 2004(all star year) then the heat will have a player who could spread the floor on drives and post ups form the big 3.

After the 2011 NBA finals loss many players decided to make a mockery of the Heat due to their feeling of disrespect and hatred, the same players may have themselves competing for roster spot on the very same team.

NBA- Atlanta Hawks Team Outlook

Since the NFL season and has begun and the NBA lockout has just started, there hasn't been much for me to write about, since I am not an avid football fan and don't want to write ignorantly, I give you the NBA team outlook of "next" season.

Photo courtesy of: http://www.sportslogos.net
Expected Team Record- (53-29)
2011 Payroll-$65, 846,237

The Atlanta Hawks the perfect enigma of a basketball team, talented, but overpaid, needing just one move to hoist them into the upper echelon of playoffs teams, a 4th-5h seed, talented to get to the Conference Finals, disappointing in the lack of achievement. Atlanta has some of the most overpaid players in its roster compact together. Led by Joe Johnson with $18,000,000, Josh Smith at $12,400,000, Al Horford $12,000,000, the expiring contract of Kirk Hinrich at $8,000,000, underachiever Marvin Williams at $7,500,000, and Zaza Pachulia at a servicable but nasty $5,000,000. These grotesque numbers are enough to make former co-owners sue each other.

However, with this payroll comes talent. Joe Johnson is a 6-8 SG with ballhandling skills of a PG and the deadly signature J that makes him feared and makes up for his average lateral quickness and athleticism. Josh Smith is an enigma within an enigma, quick enough to play SF, big and bruising enough to play PF. However, he settles too much for outside jumpers when he should do his damage attacking and punishing slower, weaker forwards with his elite athleticism and explosiveness. Al Horford is a Carlos Boozer sized player forced to play C, which will eventually take its toll, he is still however averaging an Allstar berth and 15-10. Kirk Hinrich is a good backup PG who was overpaid, but is expiring. Marvin Williams, although a bust, has still averaged 10-5, which is still not worth his contract. Zaza is a backup C at best, but will still have to do.

In order for the Hawks to push through they must lose some payroll and risk to rise above. They are talented enough to defeat the Magic, push the Bulls into 7 games, and need only one of several things to push them to the finals. Frontcourt size and a servicable PG, one of which could be fulfilled without doing anything in the free agency or draft. Jeff Teague, had flashes of brilliance during the Eastern Semi-finals against D-Rose. Holding his own and helping the Hawks push MVP-led Bulls to seven games. Jeff Teague is athletic and quick, an underrated passer as well. He is unselfish, but prone to mistakes, because he was rarely given playing time. Next season is for him to shine with Jamal Crawford as a FA and Captain Kirk expiring. Next is frontcourt size, Al Horford is barely 6-9 but forced to play C against a weak Eastern conference front court, that still consists of D-12, Bogut, Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah. Keith Benson was drafted to alleviate the cause, but he barely weighs 220 lbs and is a rookie. In order for the Hawks to achieve once again, they will need to rise to the occasion and fulfill these needs.


Hockey World Suffers Another Loss

A team picture of Yaroslavl Lokomotiv (Photo Courtesy of Ontheforecheck.com)
The hockey world has faced yet another tragedy this summer, one that will go down as one of the worst disasters in professional sports history.

On September 7,  Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the Kontinental Hockey League was on a routine flight to Minsk, where they were scheduled to face Dynamo Minsk for the  KHL season opener.

However, after failing to gain altitude upon takeoff, an old private jet,  carrying 45 people crashed into a signal tower prior to the jet splitting into halves in the Volga River, which is located in close proximity to Yaroslavl.

Of the 45 members on the jet, 36 were part of the Lokomotiv organization, while eight were part of the flight crew. All members perished, except for young right wing, Aleksandr Galimov and crew member, Aleksandr Sizov. Galimov  has suffered burns over 90% of his body. He is currently being aided by Vishnevsky Institute in Moscow, and is in critical condition. Sizov is also in "very grave" condition.

Former  allstar, Pavol Demitra, defensemen Karl Rachunek, and Karlis Skarastins were among the group of former NHLers who passed away as a result of the crash.

The KHL hopes to rebuild a team in Yaroslavl to remember all the fatalities in this  towering, unexpected accident. "We will do our best to ensure that hockey in Yaroslavl does not die, and that is continues to live for the people that were on that plane," commented former great Olympic goaltender, Vladislav Tretyak.

The Kontinental Hockey League has suspended the league's actions for the next five days, while it mourns those lost.

Here are the victims of the crash. Got Sports?Blog's  Thoughts and Prayers are with the families and friends who lost loved ones.

List Courtesy of ESPN 

List can be found on right side of their respective article.

Vitaly Anikeyenko
Yury Bakhvalov
Aleksandr Belyayev
Mikhail Balandin
Aleksandr Vasyunov
Josef Vasicek
Aleksandr Vyukhin
Robert Dietrich
Pavol Demitra
Andrei Zimin
Marat Kalimulin
Aleksandr Karpovtsev
Aleksandr Kalyanin
Andrei Kiryukhin
Nikita Klyukin
Igor Korolyov
Nikolai Krivonosov
Yevgeny Kunnov
Vyacheslav Kuznetsov
Stefan Liv
Jan Marek
Brad McCrimmon
Sergey Ostapchuk
Vladimir Piskunov
Karel Rachunek
Evgeny Sidorov
Karlis Skrastins
Ruslan Saley
Pavel Snurnitsyn
Daniil Sobchenko
Ivan Tkachenko
Pavel Trakhanov
Igor Urychev
Gennady Churilov
Maksim Shuvalov
Artyom Yarchuk
Andrey Solontsev
Igor Zhevelov
Sergei Zhuravlev
Vladimir Matyushkin
Yelena Sarmatova
Nadezhda Maksumova
Yelena Shavina


NFL Week 1 Predictions

NFL Season is upon us and after a wild offseason there are fantastic match-ups on tab for week 1 including the first game of the season taking place at the home of the defending champions in Green Bay. We will preview one match-up from each time slot and give predictions on the remaining games.

New Orleans at Green Bay, 8:30 Thursday Night:
Preview: The Packers enter the season looking to repeat as champion, returning with even more fire power than last season. Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley return after being out a majority of last season with injury and should make the Green Bay Offense even more explosive than last season

Finley (source: gcobb.com)
The Saints return to the field for the first time since getting embarrassed by the Seahawks in the wild card round of the playoffs last season. They also return a majority of their starters with the big change coming at running back with Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles in and Reggie Bush out, a change that should work in New Orleans favor. Look for both offenses to be sharp from the first kick-off with both teams putting up large offensive numbers. Finley should have an incredible game with the Saints having no answer. Green Bay will send in the better defense giving them the edge in this competition.
Prediction: Green Bay 34, New Orleans 30

Cutler (source: beargoggleson.com)
Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears, 1:00 Sunday:
Preview: One of the first games to kick off on Sunday features two teams that many have picked to reach the NFC championship game. The Falcons enter the game looking to recapture the magic of their 12-4 regular season record last season. The offense returns with additional fire power including Julio Jones at Wide Receiver and Jacquizz Rodgers out of Oregon State at running back. These additions will look to make an impact immediately in Chicago.

Jay Cutler and the Bears return to the field for the first time since losing to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game last season. Jay Cutler will have to win his trust back from the Chicago Fans after removing himself from the Championship Game last season with an injury it appeared he could have played through costing Chicago the game in the process. Atlanta and Chicago both will field potent offenses with Atlanta getting the edge in the offensive department. Chicago will get the edge in defense however, which should make this game a close one with Atlanta coming out on top
Prediction: Atlanta 20, Chicago 19

Remainder of 1:00 Games Predictions:
Cleveland 24, Cincinnati 10: Andy Dalton will have a rough game in his first career start.

Kansas City 27, Buffalo 20: Matt Cassel plays through his rib injury out-dueling Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills in the process

Phildelphia 34, St. Louis 23: Look for St. Louis to give the Eagles a fight before eventually falling behind late in the game.

Tampa Bay 19, Detriot 17: This game will be close, but Tampa Bay should escape with the win at home.

Tennessee 17, Jacksonville 7: This my pick to be the most boring game of the week.

Baltimore 14, Pittsburgh 13: Baltimore narrowly escapes this one getting the edge in this game due to home field advantage.

Houston 35, Indianapolis 10: Without Peyton Manning the Colts do not stand a chance.

McNabb (source: http://beat.bodog.eu)
Minnesota Vikings at San Diego Chargers, 4:15 Sunday:
Preview: This game features two teams hoping to redeem themselves after disappointing 2010 seasons in, which both teams failed to qualify for the playoffs. The Chargers bring back most of their offense with the exception of Darren Sproles who left to join the Saints. Vincent Jackson will be back for the entire season after not reporting until week 10 last year. Ryan Matthews looks to stay healthy after an injury prone rookie season. If the Chargers stay healthy their offense will be dangerous.

The Vikings will be fielding a new look at offense after losing their Quarterback and top Wide Receiver this off-season. Brett Favre retired. (For Now at least) and Sidney Rice took the bigger contract and left Minnesota for Seattle. The Vikings drafted Christian Ponder, but traded for Donavan McNabb who will start this weekend. The offense will be worse then last season meaning the Vikings playoff chances are not favorable. The Chargers should put up big numbers on offense verse a decent Minnesota Defense. Minnesota's offense will start slow while the team adjusts to a new look at offense meaning the Chargers should easily outpace Minnesota early in the game giving them the edge in this matchup.
Prediction: San Diego 27, Minnesota 20

Remainder of 4:15 Games Predictions:
NY Giants 24, Washington 14: The Giants edge out Rex Grossman who will have trouble moving the ball against the Giants D.

San Francisco 20, Seattle 13: Look for the Seahawk's offense to struggle in Travis Jackson's first game at Quarterback in Seattle.

Arizona 24, Carolina 10: Cam Newton will struggle early giving Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald enough time to put the Panthers away early.

Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets, 8:00, Sunday Night:
The Ryan Brothers (source: http://i.cdn.turner.com)
Preview: The Jets once again will be opening in prime time on Sunday Night. They fell short last season losing to the Ravens 10-9 in their first game. The Jets and Cowboys both enter the game after failing to meet expectations last year. The Jets failed to make the Super Bowl and the Cowboys missed the playoffs completely. The Jets enter the game with a recharged receiving corps that will give defenses problems all year long. If Mark Sanchez plays well all season the Jets will be the team to beat in the NFL this season.

This will be Jason Garrett's first game as the permanent head coach of the Cowboys after serving as interim coach last season. Rob Ryan will also be coaching his first game as the Cowboys Defensive Coordinator putting the Ryan brothers against each other. Tony Romo will be returning from injury last season to command the dangerous Cowboys arsenal attack. The Cowboys offense should be firing on all cylinders, but the Jets defense will limit them to the best of their ability. Mark Sanchez should play well enough to put points on the board and eek out a victory for the Jets at home.
Prediction: New York 24, Dallas 20

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 7:00, Monday Night:
Preview: The Miami Dolphins return to the field after a rough offseason that saw them get rejected by Jim Harbaugh to coach the team leaving them with an insulted Tony Sparano still as coach. The team also failed to acquire a new quarterback to give Chad Henne competition and replaced veteran running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams with shaky Reggie Bush and rookie Daniel Thomas. This leaves the Dolphins with a worse offense than they had last season.

Brady and Ochocinco (source: http://www.sourcehop.com)
The New England Patriots return for the firs time since getting stunned by the Jets in the playoffs last season. They bring back a core of their team while adding Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth, and former Jets lineman Shaun Ellis. The Patriots will be in the Super Bowl hunt once again this season. The Patriots offense will easily outplay that off the Dolphins. The Dolphins in this game will discover what the rest of the league already knows, Reggie Bush can not be a starting running back in the NFL, while Daniel Thomas will be effective, but not great against the Patriots D. Chad Henne will struggle while Tom Brady succeeds in this game. The game will be a much bigger blow out then the score says with the Patriots dominating all over the ball
Prediction: New England 31, Miami 20

Final Monday Night Game Prediction:
Denver 24, Oakland 17: Kyle Orton does just enough to grab the win for Denver.

~Look for my NFL Article next Tuesday breaking down the week 1 events and news while giving predictions for week 2 as well. Post by Jordan Cole


Philadelphia Phillies: The Rise Of John Mayberry Jr.

                                         (source: phillysportslive.com) 

During today's game against the Braves in an interview, Phillies hitting coach Greg Gross was asked if he saw "this" coming from John Mayberry Jr.

 His answer was, "I wish I could say I did."

 Before this season, John Mayberry Jr. was considered a quadruple-A player; too advanced but the minors but not enough talent to succeed in the majors. 

He was known throughout the organization by his father, John Mayberry Sr., who played 15 MLB seasons and was a two time all-star. 

The past few seasons John Jr. has been called up, but had not shown he could be a starter in the future for the Phillies. 

Now, John's name is almost expected to be on the lineup card every night, taking time in Left Field away from Raul Ibanez. 

 In only 84 games, Mayberry is hitting .262 with 13 HR and 44 RBI. To put these numbers in perspective, in 132 games Jayson Werth only has 18 HR and 52 RBI. 

 Mayberry has proven he deserves to be the starting left fielder over Ibanez with his recent success. Unlike Raul he has shown he can consistently hit left-handed pitchers, which  has earned John most of his playing time.

Mayberry has hit .286 with over half his HR (7) and has recorded 17 RBI against lefties. Ibanez hits only .198 against lefties. 

 It will be interesting to see how Charlie Manuel handles the Mayberry/Ibanez situation towards the end of the season and the playoffs, but recently he has seemed to favor Mayberry.

John Mayberry Jr. hits a walk-off single Opening Day in a comeback victory over the Astros.


Jurgen Klinnsman: Can He Lead?

As many avid soccer fans know, the USA men's soccer team fired previous coach Bob Bradley and hired former german national teamer, Jurgen Klinnsman. Bradley didn't do a terrible job with the talent the team had. He led them to consecutive round of 16s in the 2006 and 2010 world cups. The problem he faced was being a defensive minded coach and thinking of keeping shutouts rather than scoring goals. All this has and will change under new coach Jurgen Klinnsman. Klinnsman himself was a forward and career leader in goals for the german national team in his playing days. Therefore, just by nature he thinks scoring goals. That mentality is the environment he wants this national team and the rest of US soccer. He has said himself that currently the USA team is not a 5 star caliber squad and presently cannot win a world cup. The process of changing USA soccer's mentality will take time; probably not in his USA coaching career, but over decades. Klinnsman is preaching to the players that they shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes and that taking risks is what will help them in the long run. Another philosophy the german has is waiting for the young players to evolve and not rushing them straight into playing time. Under coach Bob Bradley, countless young players were supposed to be "the next Pele" of American soccer and ended up being busts. Klinnsman doesn't want the same thing happening with current MLS players Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea. With Bradley, Agudelo was starting or playing heavily in almost every US game in the past year. Though, so far with Klinnsman, Agudelo has played only a couple dozen minutes combined in two games under the new coach. This mentality should be contagious and will help US soccer in the future. We won't see an instant change like most US fans want, but hopefully by the 2014 world cup we can move up from our current 30th ranked team in the world to be a top 20 team. Klinnsman understands soccer isn't a main sports priority in America, but if the team succeeds it might soon be.

Season Preview: New Jersey Devils

Much of the Devils season rides on this million dollar man (Photo Courtesy of Battleofny.blogspot.com
As the 2011-2012 season quickly approaches, I will do an in depth season preview of each team in the Atlantic Division. Today we take a look at a team that had a roller coaster ride of a season last year, the New Jersey Devils.

The New Jersey Devils hope to avoid a repeat of last season, which saw them fail to qualify the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1996.

An atrocious start to last year's season, which saw the team go 9-22-2, ended up biting the Devils at season's end. Not even the resurgence of Russian star Ilya Kovalchuk and the mastermind coaching of interim head-coach Jacques Lemaire could propel Jersey's Team into the playoffs despite numerous long term winning streaks.

Their were a few bright spots, however, that should be accounted for.

A youth movement was finally installed into the Devils organization after a Zach Parise injury, and the moving of dead weight, Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner forced callups from Albany.
Youngsters Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Joseffson led this group and have proved to Lou Lamiorello that they are capable of playing in the NHL full time this season. Tedenby's marvelous hands, and quickness could lead to a potential 25-30 goal scorer down the road. Josefsson possesses maturity way beyond his years, and is responsible on both sides of the puck.

Providence College graduate, defenseman Mark Fayne turned into an unexpected surprise. He was a constant int the Devils lineup for most of the duration of the 2010-2011 season. He found himself on a defensive pair with veteran Henrik Tallinder. The 24 year old can become a reliable defensive defenseman if he continues on this path.

The Devils offseason started with a bang, as they selected Adam Larsson with their 4th overall selection. After playing in the Swedish Elite League, the best and most prominent league in Sweden,  Larsson may potentially be a regular in the Devil's lineup this season. He certainly has potential to be a top two defenseman. However he is just 18 years old, and going to Albany maybe a more intelligent move.

The Devils had a relatively quiet offseason. They locked up Andy Greene and many other young players in their system.

Greene aspires to have a bounce back season, as he only put up 23 points with a horrendous minus 23. You can't really blame Greene, as that minus stat is a reflection of how bad this team was to begin the season.

On July 19, the Devils went through a rather routine procedure-hiring a new head coach. The Devils haven't been too stable when it comes to coaching. They hired former Florida Panthers head-coach, Peter Deboer. Deboer did exceptionally well, considering the limited talent he had in the sunshine state.

Deboer is a coach who puts on a team that will compete night in night out. Something we haven't really been able to say about Devils teams in years past.

The Devils cleared up much needed cap space when they traded Brian Rolston to the Islanders and bought out longtime d-man, Colin White.

In return for Rolston, the Devils acquired Trent Hunter, but then proceeded to buy out the veteran.

Added to the fold were tough guys Eric Boulton and former fan favorite, Cam Janssen.

Although they aren't necessarily expected to be in the lineup every night, they shall provide some much needed spark, especially against division rivals.

The biggest transaction the Devils made was the resigning of left winger Zach Parise. The Devils resigned him for just one year for a cap hit of six million. He is eligible to test the market next offseason if not resigned before July 1st, 2012.

Parise suited up for just 13 games in 2010-2011. A torn meniscus forced the former first round draft pick to sit out most of the season.

Expect a big year from Parise, as he hopes to cash in for his next contract, whether it will be with the Devils or not.

Legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur will be entering the final year of his contract (gulp), which annually pays him a little over five million dollars a year.

With three Stanley Cups already on his resume, he hopes to add another before he hangs up the skates. He hopes to regain his dominance in net this year after putting up just 23 wins last season.

The Devils are in a youth movement right now. However, I see this team in the playoffs come mid April. They boost loads of talent. Although they may not claim home ice advantage, they will be among the top eight in the Eastern Conference. 
Let's hope we can see more of these dazzling moves from Mattias Tedenby this upcoming season


College Football Week 1 Wrap-Up

A wild opening weekend in colleges across the country reminded us all why we love college football so much, anything can happen. From the defending champs barely escaping with victory from Utah State to the epic match-up of TCU-Baylor in a game in which TCU refused to go away. Here my quick notes on the games this weekend:
  • Boise State will be making noise again this year about representing a non-BCS conference in the BCS championship game. Boise State will need to go undefeated to even have a chance, but with a rather easy schedule from here on out an undefeated season looks likely for the Broncos this season.
  • Georgia's hopes of a BCS bowl game look like they may be heading out the door. After loosing convincingly to Boise State this weekend they enter next week having to play a very tough South Carolina team. A win there is a must to keep their confidence alive heading into the thick of the season.
  • Chase Keenum is back and could give Houston a chance to go undefeated this season after a thrilling victory over UCLA in week one. Keenum was out all of last season with an ACL injury, but appears to have recovered perfectly.
  • LSU will be fine with out Jordan Jefferson. LSU convincingly beat number 4 Oregon without Jefferson and will be in the national championship hunt even if he is gone all season.
  • The Big East could be competitive again after a down year last season. West Virginia is strong like always and USF looks highly competitive after knocking off Notre Dame this weekend. Rutgers is a dark horse as well after knocking off NCCU 48-0 in game in which the offense and defense were both flawless.
  • Notre Dame once again appears like it will be heading towards another mediocre season after receiving their first loss to USF before they enter an extremely though stretch the next 4 weeks.
  • South Carolina is my dark house to reach the national championship game. When Stephen Garcia is in at Quarterback the offensive is extremely explosive and can score on anyone after putting up 56 points in their week 1 win.

Post by Jordan Cole

Five Teams Who Missed the Playoffs Last Year Who Could Make it This Year

Every Season there are twelve teams who make it to the NFL playoffs. Very often, there are teams who come very close, but fail to make it into the post-season. Here are the five teams who did not make it last year, but have a very good chance of making it this year.

1. St.Louis Rams- Don't get me wrong here. I don't think that the Rams are a great team, or even a very good team for that matter, but in an extremely weak NFC West, I think the Rams can pull off 8 or 9 wins and win the division. After coming so close last season, (they lost their last regular season game which would have clinched the division for them) I think the Rams are destined for the playoffs.
2. Houston Texans- The Texans are a dark-horse team this year which could really make life difficult for many teams. With a dynamic duo of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, an excellent running back (Arian Foster), and a defense that boasts Mario Williams and Brian Cushing, this team might just sneak into a Wild Card game.

3. San Diego Chargers- What happened to the Chargers last season? Despite scoring 119 more points than they allowed, they could only manage a 9-7 record. The only team in the AFC West that should offer the Chargers any trouble is the Chiefs. If the Chargers can manage to win their divisional games against the Chiefs, I see no reason why they can't make the playoffs.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Although they posted a solid 10-6 record last year, the Buccaneers failed to make the playoffs. Even with a tough NFC South division, the Buccaneers are definitely a Wild Card contender. Last season the Packers, Eagles, Giants, and Buccaneers had 10-6 records, however only the Packers and Eagles managed to make the playoffs. This season could be different, however, and it might be the Buccaneers going to the playoffs instead.

5. San Francisco 49ers- The 49ers are hardly the typical playoff team. Their starting quarterback is a well-known bust, their 2010 record was 6-10, and they only managed to win one game on the road last season. But in a division where even a 7-9 record is good enough to earn a playoff spot, why can't the 49ers be a playoff team? They have some solid players on offense including Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Braylon Edwards, and Michael Crabtree, while on defense, they have one of the best linebackers in the NFL: Patrick Willis. If for some reason, the Rams and Seahawks perform below expectations, it could very easily be the 49ers at the top of the NFC West.


Season Preview: New York Islanders

As the 2011-2012 season quickly approaches, I will do an in depth season preview of each team in the Atlantic Divison. Today we take a look at an up and coming hockey club, the New York Islanders.

The New York Islanders finished the 2010-2011 campaign with a medicre 73 points, ahead of only the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference.

However their were a few silver linings in such a dreadful season.

John Tavares avoided the infamous sophmore slump, putting up an impressive 67 points in 79 games.

Tavares was the Islanders first overall selection back in 2009, and is surely living up to expectations.

When the Islanders picked up Michael Grabner off waivers from the Florida Panthers in October, they were expecting a player who could score a timely goal here and there.

Boy did they end up getting lucky. Grabner ended up leading the Isles in goals with 34 and was in the hunt for Rookie of the Year honors all season, but ended up losing to Jeff Skinner.

At the draft, the Islanders made Ryan Strome their fifth overall selection. Strome is a Youtube sensation, known for his slick, and smooth hands. Let's hope he doesn't turn into a former first round draft pick, Rob Schremp.

Unlikely, yes, because Strome has skill in a lot of areas, but I guess anything is possible, right?

The Island was very quiet in the offseason, as they always are, due to money restraints. Garth Snow focused on getting his young guys long term contracts, which he was quite successful in doing.

The most critical news came off ice for the Islanders. Voters rejected an Arena Referendum on August 2nd. This basically means the Islanders will depart Long Island, once their lease is over with the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Islanders did make headline news when they struck a deal with the New Jersey Devils, sending Trent Hunter to Newark for veteran Brian Rolston.

Possibly being relied on more on the Island, can help rejuvenate a career in much need of rejuvenation.

However I see Rolston as a guy who will step up in the locker room and mentor the young Islanders, as the 38 year old winger has seen it all in his lengthy career. Expect an average 15-20 goals from the winger.

Perhaps the biggest move, or non move, is the return of former all-star defenseman, Mark Streit. Streit missed the entire 2010-2011 season, leaving a large whole on the Islanders blue line.

Streit is a quality defenseman, who can put up a lot of points for a team that needs more point production from their D corps.

The Islanders hope to be a little bit more stable in net. Last season they went through an absurd amount of six goalies.

This year we expect a different story, as Rick DiPietro is expected to start the season. Hopefully he becomes more careful when dealing with his injury. If you've injury prone, don't get into goalie fight with a guy quite bigger in frame then you. Not the intelligent thing to do, Ricky.

Evgeni Nabokov is expecting to report to training camp for the Islanders after avoiding them last year after they picked him up off waivers.

A DiPietro, Nabokov goaltending duo has the potential to be quite good IF the former can stay healthy.

The New York Islanders will be in the hunt for the playoffs this year. Will they qualify? Probably not. They play in arguably the toughest division in all of sports, the Atlantic Division. They do have the offensive depth, however their defense is lacking a proven defenseman besides for Streit. Give it a couple more years for the Islanders rebuild. Their almost there, Islanders Faithful.

Breaking News: Alex Ovechkin signs with Nike, and is expected to sign with Bauer

BREAKING NEWS: Washington Capitals captain, Alex Ovechkin signs a blockbuster deal with Nike, and is reported to be signing with Bauer on Sep 6 when he will have a press conference and announce his move to Bauer Hockey Company, according to Hockeyworldblog.com.
Here are a couple reasons to believe why he is signing with Bauer. First of all, if you go to Bauer.com the first thing that appears is their new APX skates with Ovechkin's trademark yellow laces. It says "This year will be different," referring to Ovechkin's recent early exits in the postseason.

What does this deal mean? CCM is disappointed that they couldn't provide him with what he wanted, and now they don't have a major athlete to wear your equipment. Bauer is ecstatic. They now have another marque name to add to their list of players such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos and many more.

For NIke they now can use him to endorse every product they have and even may have an shoe line in the future possibly. This deal doesn't mean much to the NHL, but it's huge for Bauer and NIke.

I'm Zack Smolev reporting for Got Sports? Blog. You stay classy.

US Open: Is Roger Federer really past his prime, and is Novak Djokovic for real?

Many critics and sports analysts believe Roger Federer is past his prime and is on his downfall into retirement.
It may seem like it's true since he's fallen two spots in the rankings, but it's not. He still has the great serve he had and the aggressiveness that allows him to attack the net ultimately making him unstoppable. He has lost a step since he's aging but doesn't mean anything for him, tennis players have to be in shape to play due to the long matches, the extreme amount of running, and the movement and strength needed to hit the ball and get to a certain spot on the court to hit the ball.
Roger Federer still has years to come to win more tournaments to continue his hall of fame career, and to try and build u his grand slam titles. He's only 30 years old and has a long time before he may consider retirement. People believe he's past his prime since he hasn't won a major since last year. He may be in a slump but he's not declining in talent. He still is going into the late rounds of tournaments, it's just he's not prepared as well as he was when he was number 1.

Is Novak Djokovic for real? Most definitely, the "Djuggernaut" has been a dominating force the whole season throughout his rise to fame. He's only lost three matches the entire year. Almost as good as John McEnroe's 82-3 season.

Although Djokovic hasn't been known for his dominance until 2011, i believe he has made a name for himself in the tennis world. He will be in the top 5 for years to come, and has already beaten top players such as Federer, Nadal, and Andy Murray more than once.

The problem that people believe will arise is that can he do it again the next year, or will he not be even close. Roger Federer had the same tag on him like Djokovic does. He had a breakout season but critics and analysts weren't sure whether he was a fell good story or if he was the next Pete Sampras. Well now critics are asking themselves the same thing with Djokovic. Will he be the next Roger Federer?

I can assure you right now he is most definitely for real. No question he is the best player in mens tennis at the moment and i believe he will continue his "rule" in the tennis world until he can be beaten. It won't be easy, but ask Roger Federer how he did it in the French Open finals.

These two alog with Rafeal Nadal are the future for tennis. They not only contain superstar talent, but they know how to use it and become the best.

Im Zack Smoelv reporting for Got Sports? Blog. You stay classy.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2011-12 Season

The Pittsburgh Steelers. The most feared team this decade - let alone NFL history. The big question is: Can they, once again, prove themselves an elite football squad?


The Cincinnati Bengals- In 2009, Marvin Lewis, the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, lead them to a 10-6 season. Lewis won the NFL Coach of the Year award that season. That same season, the Bengals swept the AFC North (Steelers, Ravens, and Browns). They lost to the Jets in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Since then, it is fair enough to say that the Bengals have reeked.

Now, the Bengals are in the "rebuilding" process drafting QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green. Prior QB Carson Palmer pretty much left the Bengals to rot this offseason.

The Cleveland Browns- Recently, nothing has been going in favor of Cleveland. LeBron left the Cavaliers, who ended up going a dreaded 19-63. The Cleveland Indians have not been good since their 2007 run to the American League Championship against the Boston Red Sox. Now they are in the rebuilding process just like the Cincinnati Bengals.

Just like the Cavs and The Tribe, the Browns are not looking too
strong. They used to be a dominant force during the "Jim Brown" era and the "Kardiac Kids" era. During the Jim Brown era, the Browns made a run to the Championship game. They lost to the Detroit Lions. During the Kardiac Kids era, their great record was almost topped off by a win against the undefeated Miami Dolphins. They were the closest team to beating that incredible 17-0 Miami Dolphin squad. Since then, the Cleveland Browns have not been too hot.

Baltimore Ravens- In 1995, the Baltimore Ravens came into existence. The very next year, Hall Fame caliber offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden was selected fourth overall in the NFL draft followed by Linebacker Ray Lewis who was drafted just 22 picks later. The Baltimore Ravens's first four years as a gang were not too great. In 2000, Baltimore took the title as Super Bowl champions. Rod Woodson, former Hall of Fame Steeler, and Sam Adams were elected to play in the Pro Bowl that same season along with Defensive Player of the Year Ray Lewis. Since then, the Ravens have been feared as one of the most elite defenses in the NFL.

Steelers Offensive Starting Lineup-

QB- Ben Roethlisberger is most likely a future Hall of Famer. He has always been clutch in the 4th quarter and is known for his powerful arm that can catch any defense off guard. Roethlisberger has not had a bad season yet in his semi-lengthy career. This season he is projected over 4000 passing yards and 25 touchdowns.

Grade: A-

HB- Young Rashard Mendenhall had an unimaginable season last year. He was taken as the Steelers's 1st pick in the 2008 NFL draft. In his rookie season he was injured instantaneously leaving him out for the year. His next season he ran for over 1000 yards and 7 touchdowns. Lat year, he ran for 1200 yards and a whopping 13 touchdowns. This season he is projected once again 1200 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Grade: A

FB- David Johnson is rarely ever used because of Mendenhall's incredible power. The Steelers have no real full back. They only use half backs. This is why they list Johnson as a tight end this season. If they have to place a player in the full back position it would be Johnson though.

Grade: D

WR- Mike Wallace had a break-out season last year. During his rookie season, the Steelers spotted talent in the young fellow. They realized that he can compliment Roethlisberger's outrageously strong arm. He led the AFC in yards per reception. Last season, Wallace caught for 1200 yards, 10 touchdowns, and led the NFL in yards per reception. This season he is projected 1300 yards and 8 touchdowns. Veteran wideout Hines Ward will retire within the next five or six years and make it to the Hall of Fame, but for now, he is still an NFL elite player. His blocking skills still place him as the best blocking wide receiver in the NFL. Ward is know for being a champion at everything he does, including dancing (2011 Dancing With the Stars winner). Ward is projected just about 700 yards and 5 touchdowns this season. The 3rd starting wide receiver is Antonio Brown. Look out for this young sophomore. His projections are low, but this preseason he is leading the AFC North in reception yards and touchdowns. He also made a clutch catch against the Ravens in the AFC Championship game placing the Steelers in the Super Bowl last year.

Grade: A-

TE- As they say,
"When in doubt pass to Heath." Heath was taken as the Steelers's 1st pick in the 2005 NFL draft. He has always been Roelisberger's most reliable target (possibly even more reliable than Ward). He is projected 550 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Steelers need Heath's help this upcoming season with protection because of the teetering O-line.

Grade: C+

Offensive Line- In the mind of a Steeler fan, the O-line is the most frustrating factor of the team. Yes they do have Pro Bowlers Maurkice Pouncey and Willie Colon, but they also have Chris Kemoeatu, Doug Legursky, and Ramon Foster. Chris Kemoeatu replaced the irreplaceable Alan Faneca in 2008. Kemoeatu's holding count went overboard last year while Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster will be receiving their first job as starting offensive linemen this year. Blocking for Mendenhall is not the problem. The O-line can do that with ease. The real problem is protecting Big Ben. Roethlisberger has been sacked and injured way too many times in the last four seasons in fault of the O-line. If the Steelers want to make another run for the Super Bowl Kemoeatu, Scott, and Foster need to play like fellow teammates Pouncey and Colon (if possible).

Grade: C-

Steelers Defensive Starting Lineup-

Defensive Line- Across the line from right to left goes Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton, and Aaron Smith. You cannot have a more veteran "steel curtain" than this one. Brett Keisel is 32 years old, Casey Hampton is 34, and Aaron Smith is 35. You can pretty much say that this line owns the team. Smith is the eldest player on the whole squad. This is why the Steelers picked Cameron Heyward as their first pick in this year's NFL draft and also selected Ziggy Hood as their first pick in the 2009 draft. There is a chance that Ziggy Hood will start this season over Aaron Smith. It will be a last minute decision. Despite the fact that the D-line is reaching the rebuilding process, they still have some elbow grease left. This is why the Steelers's defense is, once again, projected to be at the top of the NFL.

Grade: B+

Linebackers- The most dominant aspect of the Steelers is by far, without any question, their linebackers. They have too many good linebackers. This is a problem because they want to give young prospect Jason Worlids and veteran Larry Foote some reps. Other than that, some might say that this is the most dominant set of linebackers in NFL history. Starting at left outside linebacker is LaMarr Woodley. Woodley was just signed a 6 year $61.5 million contract! Some might say that he is the heat and soul of the Steelers's linebackers with his incredible capability to sack a quarterback. Next, playing left inside linebacker is James Farrior. He is the worst out of all of their starting linebackers, yet if he were to be placed on any other roster, he would possibly be the best. Young Lawrence Timmons starts at right inside linebacker. He was drafted as the Steeler's 1st pick in the 2007 NFL draft. He had a break-out season last year with 135 tackles! This is why the Steelers rewarded him with a 6 year $50 million extension. Last but not least, James Harrison. He will, like usual, be starting as the right outside linebacker. Harrison is pretty much the most dangerous and feared player in the NFL. He is also one of the best. His sack count goes off the charts every season. This is why he is one of the most valuable players on the Steelers. If anything, these incredible linebackers will play better this year than ever because they all have experience now.

Grade: A+

Cornerbacks- Ike Taylor is one of the most consistent cornerbacks in the league. He has only missed three games in his eight year career. His tackle count is always above 50 (high for a cornerback) and always gets multiple interceptions every season. His average pass deflection per game is 0.98. That is pretty much one per game. On the other hand, Bryant McFadden is unreliable. Before every game, it is announced that one of the key factors for the Steelers's opponent is attacking Bryant McFadden. This is why William Gay may receive a starting role this season instead of McFadden.

Grade: B

Safeties- The Steelers own the best defensive player in the NFL. Troy Polamalu will be starting at strong safety. His ability to view the field, read the quarterback's eyes, and then attack is unnaturally sick. He is getting older though so let's see if he can still be the same player who has has always been. Starting at free safety will be Ryan Clark. Last year he had an incredible 90 tackles along with 2 interceptions. Just like Ike, he is a solid, constant, and reliable player.

Grade: A

Coaching Staff-

Young head coach Mike Tomlin is already an NFL elite coach. Raters place him as the second best active coach (behind Bill Bilichick). Tomlin has already won coach of the year and made it to the Super Bowl twice. In his four years of being the head coach he has led the Steelers to a 10-6 season, a 12-4 season, a 9-7 season, and another 12-4 season. Those are great records. Unarguably the best defensive coordinator of all times is Dick LeBeau. Since he was assigned as the Steelers's defensive coordinator, the points allowed per game is roughly 18 points. Bruce Arians is the offensive coordinator of the Steelers. Arians started his NFL coaching career as the Colts's quarterback coach. Peyton Manning's career started off with a big bang because of Arians. In 2007 the Steelers assigned him as their offensive coordinator. Since then, the Steelers have only been heading in the right direction.

Grade: A

Overall Grade: A-

Predictions Based On Schedule-

The 2011 schedule for the Steelers looks remarkably easy. It starts out somewhat tough, but it gets more and more unchallenging as the season goes on.

Week #1: Ravens (away) Loss
Week #2: Seahawks (home) Win
Week #3: Colts (away) Win
Week #4: Texans (away) Loss
Week #5: Titans (home) Win
Week #6: Jaguars (home) Win
Week #7: Cardinals (away) Win
Week #8: Patriots (home) Loss
Week #9: Ravens (home) Win
Week #10: Bengals (away) Win
Week #11: Bye Week
Week #12: Chiefs (away) Win
Week #13: Bengals (home) Win
Week #14: Browns (home) Win
Week #15: 49ers (away) Win
Week #16: Rams (home) Win
Week #17: Browns (away) Win

Overall Record: 13-3

This Is Got Sports Blog Writer Jordan Kahn.
"It's not ridiculous...it's Got Sports"