Green Bay Packers 2010-2011 Season Preview

A Look Back – The 2009 Green Bay Packers season had to be considered an encouraging one if you’re a Cheesehead. The Pack are officially back and as dangerous as they ever were from the Brett Favre days. QB Aaron Rodgers looks like the real deal, as last year marked the second straight since effectively starting his career in which he threw for 4,000+ yards. Pair that with a DC Dom Capers stop unit that ended up finishing the season ranked #2 overall at 284.4 yards per game.

Key Addition – OT Brian Bulaga – The Packers didn’t really need a massive offensive lineman to bring with them to the 2010 season, but with aging tackles on both sides of the line, the depth certainly isn’t going to hurt any. Bulaga was tabbed as a potential Top 10 pick in this draft, so for Green Bay to snare him in the back end of the first round was really a steal. Rodgers will appreciate Bulaga’s athleticism against some of the quick defensive ends that this division has to offer.

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Key Loss – DE Aaron Kampman – Truth be told, Kampman was probably at the end of the road in Green Bay anyway. He really wasn’t a great fit in Capers’ 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker, but he wasn’t big enough to play as a down linemen either. Yes, Kampman ended up with 3.5 sacks in just nine starts in 2009, but with names like Barnett, Hawk, and Matthews in this linebacking corps already, this isn’t going to be a tremendous loss. The Pack did a fine job of keeping the rest of this team intact from ’09.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – The defense continues living up to its abilities. Many felt as though this defense overachieved in 2009 by being ranked #2 in the league, especially after watching it get torched for 51 points in the Wild Card round of the playoffs by the Arizona Cardinals. DB Charles Woodson picked off nine passes a year ago, and if he can continue to find that fountain of youth and keep the secondary in order, the Packers are going to be very, very dangerous.

The Crucial Game – Keep a close eye on that game against the Vikings at home on October 24th. Favre got the best of his old mates in both games last year, and that’s what made the difference between winning the NFC North and having to go on the road for the first round of the playoffs. Especially if #4 comes back in purple this season, everyone in Cheesehead Country is going to have this game circled on their calendar, and it becomes all the more important because it will be Green Bay’s fourth home game before Halloween.

Predictions - We love the Packers this year regardless of whether Favre comes back or not. This is a team that is only going to get better offensively for as long as Rodgers keeps showing signs of improvement. Anything less than a dozen wins, even with this atrociously difficult schedule, would be a brutal disappointment.

2010 Green Bay Packers Regular Season Schedule

9/12 @ PHI (Pick)
9/19 vs. BUF
9/27 @ CHI
10/3 vs. DET
10/10 @ WAS
10/17 vs. MIA
10/24 vs. MIN
10/31 @ NYJ
11/7 vs. DAL
Bye
11/21 @ MIN
11/28 @ ATL
12/5 vs. SF
12/12 @ DET
12/19 @ NE
12/26 vs. NYG
1/2 vs. CHI

 

Tennessee Volunteers 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 60
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 22

There are many new faces around the Tennessee Volunteers this year, both on and off the field. After the hasty departure of Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley became the third Volunteer head coach in as many years. He will be taking over a team that lost team leaders all over the field. Quarterback Jonathan Crompton, running back Monterio Hardesty, defensive tackle Dan Williams, safety Eric Berry and others have moved on to the NFL. Can coach Dooley find a way out of this mess?

Starting with the quarterback position, Tennessee finds itself looking for a new leader like so many Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams this year. Junior college transfer Matt Simms (son of former NFL quarterback Phil Simms) will compete with true freshman Tyler Bray. Simms may have the experience, but it looks like Bray has the size (6’6) and arm strength to win the job.

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No matter the quarterback, he will have a terrific receiving corps to work with. Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore combined for over 1,200 yards receiving last year. Add to them Da’Rick Rogers, a five star recruit with 4.4 speed, and Tennessee has a dangerous group of receivers.

Running back is another position up in the air after Bryce Brown, last year’s number 1 recruit in the nation, left the team and has not decided if he will return. If he doesn’t come back, junior Tauren Poole will likely bring his 10 carries from 2009 into the starting role.

The defense lost two of its best players from last season, but some quality returning players a great recruiting class may soften the blow. Last year’s sack leader and this year’s captain, Chris Walker, will be back along with linebacker Nick Reveiz to teach the young players. Dooley was able to score the 9th best recruiting class in the country according to ESPN recruiting. In this class is Corey Miller, the prized four star defensive end recruit.

All in all, it looks like there might be too much transition this year to allow the Volunteers to compete in the SEC. With some bright young players however, coach Dooley has the team moving in the right direction and should be a top contender very soon.

Tennessee’s odds to win the Southeastern Conference (SEC): +800

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2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 82
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 15

Once considered an offensive genius, Steve Spurrier and his 2009 South Carolina Gamecocks were downright pitiful. As is so often the case, the problems started up front with the offensive line and trickled down to the rest of the team. South Carolina gave up the most sacks in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and were last in rushing for the third year in a row.

How bad was the Gamecocks’ running game in 2009? The leading rusher was quarterback Stephen Garcia with a whopping 120 yards. That is an embarrassment that Spurrier hopes will be corrected by new offensive line coach Shawn Elliott. Outside of being the leader on the ground, Garcia had a nice season through the air throwing for 2,862 yards and 17 touchdowns. The team’s leading receiver, Alshon Jefferey, also returns to give South Carolina a nice passing game if the offensive line can do its job

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Linebacker Eric Norwood, one of the team’s best all around defenders, has moved on. However, there is still a lot of talent returning to this stingy defense, especially in the secondary. Also, leading tackler from last year Shaq Wilson will be returning and will try to build on his strong play from last season. One area the Gamecock’s defense needs to improve on is turnovers. The defense forced only 17 turnovers the entire season. Winning the turnover battle is so important; if the defense can’t take the ball away it will put their offense in a very difficult position.

Rumors abound that coach Spurrier will take over the play calling duties this season. While he had success in that regard at Florida, he hasn’t been as good since he left Gainesville. In any case, something needs to be done to jump start the running game to keep opposing defenses honest and open the field for Garcia. With a strong defense and some improved offensive line play though, South Carolina should again be fighting for a bowl bid.

South Carolina Gamecocks odds to win the South East Conference (SEC): +800.

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Georgia Bulldogs 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 118
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 96

After going .500 in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in 2009, the Georgia Bulldogs will try to improve on last year’s poor showing by both the offense and defense. The defense gave up more than 30 points four times last season, but hope that a change to a 3-4 defense will solve some of the problems. On offense, the Bulldogs also hope some changes will provide a much needed spark.

Now that quarterback Joe Cox is gone, there is a three man race to take over his spot. Head coach Mark Richt has yet to name a starter, but it looks like it will come down to a choice between junior Logan Gray and redshirt freshman Aaron Murray. The very mobile Murray seems to be the front runner for the position.

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Whoever the quarterback is, they will be throwing to one of the best receivers in the SEC in A.J. Green. Green had over 800 yards receiving last year and looks to build on that strong showing. The running back position is also up for grabs. It is likely that the two leading rushers from last year, Washaun Ealey and Caleb King, will split the carries once again.

The defense lost two of its best players in safety Reshad Jones and linebacker Rennie Curran, the team leaders in interceptions and tackles respectively. Some young players who served as backups last year will be forced to step in and play now. Linebackers Cornelius Washington and Justin Houston are both extremely talented and should become the leaders of this young and changing defense.

To help in the rebuilding process, the Bulldogs scored the 8th best recruiting class in the country according to ESPN recruiting. An impressive nine four star recruits should help coach Richt’s team continue to grow and challenge in the SEC.

Georgia’s odds to win the Southeastern Conference (SEC): +650

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2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 44
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 21

After losing its starting quarterback and running back from a year ago, the Ole Miss Rebels will have some major changes on offense in 2010. Jevan Snead and Dexter McCluster both left school with NFL dreams and will have to be replaced by young players.

McCluster, who is the only player in Southeastern Conference (SEC) history to rush for 1,000 yards and catch another 500 in the same season, will especially hard to replace. Currently, there are players fighting to take his spot: Brandon Bolden, Rodney Scott and Enrique Davis.

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The quarterback spot is likely to be taken by sophomore Nathan Stanley. This will be Stanley’s first chance as a starter, so there will likely by some growing pains.

Ole Miss’ defense, led by linemen Kentrell Lockett and Jerrell Powe, is definitely the strength of the team. The front four is among the best in the conference and should be able to generate enough pressure on the opposing quarterback to help out a weaker secondary.

The linebackers are a solid group and should have many opportunities to make plays with the guys up front eating up all potential blockers. Two seniors, Jonathan Cornell and Allen Walker, should provide leadership and experience to the defense.

After back to back 9 win seasons, the Rebels are hoping to make a push into double digit wins. With all of the turnover though, it will be difficult for coach Houston Nutt to get his team playing well right out of the gate. Thanks to their strong defense, look for Ole Miss to have a winning season, but not become one of the elite teams in the SEC.

Mississippi’s odds to win the Southeastern Conference (SEC): +3300

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A Look Back – Disaster – That’s probably about the only way that you can sum up the season of the Washington Redskins in 2009. The team looked anemic at best offensively, scoring just 16.6 points per game on the season. The slate has basically been wiped clean though with so many of the players on that team are no longer around, and there is a hope for success in 2010.

Key Addition – QB Donovan McNabb – Any time you can add a franchise quarterback to your roster, even if it is at the tail end of his career, you have to take advantage of it. McNabb led the Philadelphia Eagles to a number of NFC Championship Games, but only one Super Bowl and no titles. Their loss is Washington’s gain. The Redskins have been on the lookout for a quarterback to lead the franchise since the days of Mark Rypien, and the Syracuse product may finally be the answer.

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Key Loss – DT Albert Haynesworth – Okay, so technically at this point, Haynesworth and the Redskins haven’t cut ties yet, but the handwriting is on the wall. The Skins are in search of over 20 million dollars from their franchise defensive tackle, as he doesn’t seem to have any desire to play the nose in new HC Mike Shanahan’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Haynesworth may be doing more than just alienating his teammates. He may be destroying his career. He has clearly become a malcontent in the locker room, and regardless of the fact that he picked up four sacks and had a great year pressuring quarterbacks in 2009, he may find himself unemployed and with no suitors.

2010 Will Be a Success if... – The Redskins start to feel like winners again. It wasn’t that long ago that this team was in the postseason, but the aura in our nation’s capitol is one of defeat and pessimism. The hopes are that a new quarterback and a new head coach can change that. This isn’t a matter of turning the Skins into winners and doing it now, but the team has to feel like it can compete in the NFC East once again.

The Crucial Game – Simply put, the game at Philadelphia on October 3rd is the one that every Redskins fan has circled on the calendar. Do you think that McNabb would love nothing more than to go back into the City of Brotherly Love and dispose of his former mates in front of the same fans that booed him from the moment that he was drafted? To say he’ll be up for that one would be quite the understatement.

Predictions – The division and the rest of the schedule are just too tough for the Redskins to overcome this year. Washington should return to respectability and compete for a playoff spot, but in the end, just finishing at .500 would be considered a success with or without the spot in the playoffs. However, more than likely, another 6-7 win season looks to be on tap in Landover.

2010 Washington Redskins Regular Season Schedule

9/12 vs. DAL (-3.5)
9/19 vs. HOU
9/26 @ STL
10/3 @ PHI
10/10 vs. GB
10/17 vs. IND
10/24 @ CHI
10/31 @ DET
Bye
11/15 vs. PHI
11/21 @ TEN
11/28 vs. MIN
12/5 @ NYG
12/12 vs. TB
12/19 @ DAL
12/26 @ JAX
1/2 vs. NYG

 

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 112
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 26

In the Chinese calendar, 2010 is the year of the tiger. Will that be a positive omen for LSU? After just missing double digit wins last year, the LSU Tigers look to use its strong recruiting class to vault itself back into national championship contention.

2009 was surely a disappointment for LSU’s offense. Finishing as one of the worst in the country, the team had a hard time moving the ball all season. Because of an offensive line that was both inexperienced and one of the smallest in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the Tigers could only manage 3.7 yards per carry and allowed 37 sacks. The team is hoping with a full year under their belt and some top recruits, the line will be much improved in 2010.

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Who the line will be blocking for is a big question facing the Tigers. Last year’s starter, Jordan Jefferson, threw for just over 2,000 yards and looked ineffective at many times. Look for junior Jarrett Lee to challenge for the position. Two highly touted running back recruits, Kenny Hilliard and Jeremy Hill, will likely to get a lot of playing time this season with senior Richard Murphy.

The LSU Tigers defense is being described as everything from dominant to fierce. Starting in the secondary, arguably the best in the nation, this defense strikes fear into the hearts of opposing offensive coordinators. Shutdown cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne set the tone for the team. Kelvin Sheppard returns, along with his 110 tackles from last season, to lead a very underrated group of linebackers. Finally the front four, which may be considered the weakest part of the defense, should still be strong after adding five star recruit Anthony Johnson.

Head coach Les Miles did another great job of recruiting in 2010, landing the 2nd best class in the country according to ESPN scouting. If the Tigers can fix their offensive woes and rely on their tough defense, they have a chance to surprise a lot of people and challenge Alabama for the SEC title.

Louisiana State’s odds to win the Southeastern Conference (SEC): +800

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A Look Back – The 2010 season was a smashing success in the eyes of most Dallas Cowboys fans. After all, the team went 11-5, won the NFC East, and ultimately broke the playoff drought by beating the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round of the playoffs before getting smashed by the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round.

Key Addition – WR Dez Bryant – Whereas other teams really did their damage in free agency, the top prize that the Cowboys acquired in the offseason is their newest receiver. Bryant just as easily could’ve been a Top 5 pick in the draft, but when he was still sitting on the board at #24, owner Jerry Jones felt the need to trade up into that slot to grab the former Okie State Cowboy to add to a passing game that is already lethal.

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Key Loss – OT Flozell Adams – Adams felt like he spent 100 years guarding various Dallas quarterbacks. This will be the first time that QB Tony Romo is going to be looking at an offensive line in front of him without Adams playing the anchor at one of the tackle spots. What makes this loss so key is the fact that there really isn’t an “heir apparent” to that position, and it could be one that is rotated amongst a number of players by the time this season is over.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – Bryant doesn’t destroy the chemistry of the offense. Though Jones and HC Wade Phillips love the added weapon to the passing game, this is already an offense that was incredibly explosive. WR Miles Austin ended up scoring 11 touchdowns and had over 1,300 receiving yards on the year, while both Pro Bowl TE Jason Witten and WR Roy Williams are dynamic as well. Add that to a rushing attack that was one of the most feared in the NFC, and the end result was an ‘O’ that put 399.4 yards per game on the board, the second most in the NFL. With Adams out of the picture, the passing game may take a hit, as Romo will have less time to throw the ball, but Bryant has the ability to jump into the slot and immediately make a huge impact as a third receiver, which could open up the field for Witten underneath as a safety valve all day long.

The Crucial Game – It feels like every season, the Cowboys and Eagles end up playing in a game of massive importance in the dying weeks of the year. This year will probably be no exception, as these two teams not only meet once in the last month of the year, but they meet twice. Dallas is most likely going to have to win at least one, if not both of those games to hold off either Philly, New York, or Washington to take down the NFC East title once again.

Predictions – Seeing this team win 11 games with this schedule would be very, very impressive, and though we think that Dallas does have the goods to be the best team in the conference, that the record may not necessarily indicate it by the end of the season. Still, we think that the Cowboys are good for ten wins, and at bare minimum a playoff spot, mostly likely as the NFC East title holders.

2010 Dallas Cowboys Regular Season Schedule

9/12 @ WAS (+3.5)
9/19 vs. CHI
9/26 @ HOU
BYE
10/10 vs. TEN
10/17 @ MIN
10/25 vs. NYG
10/31 vs. JAX
11/7 @ GB
11/14 @ NYG
11/21 vs. DET
11/25 vs. NO
12/5 @ IND
12/12 vs. PHI
12/19 vs. WAS
12/25 @ ARI
1/2 @ PHI

 

Auburn Tigers 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 16
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 68

Gene Chizik and his crew have some work ahead of them, but at least they all know each other. The Auburn Tigers coaching staff is the only one in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) that returns every member from a year ago. They look to build on an 8 win season, including an Outback bowl win over Northwestern.

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Two significant contributors to the Tigers will be missing this year in quarterback Chris Todd and running back Ben Tate. Tate, a second round pick in the 2010 NFL draft, rushed for over 1,400 yards last season.

On the bright side, it seems as though Auburn may have their replacements all set. Sophmore Onterrio McCalebb had more than 600 yards rushing last year and should be able to fill in nicely for Tate.

Under center is a little more up for grabs, but it appears junior college transfer Cameron Newton will win the job. A former Florida gator before off the field issues got him kicked off the team; he led his team to a junior college national championship in 2009.

Both of these new starters will be greatly aided by a strong offensive line. Starting four seniors, the line should be the strength of the team and give Newton and McCalebb time to step in to their starting roles.

Auburn’s defense needed a major upgrade after a poor showing last year and the loss of its best players to the NFL. Defensive back Walter McFadden had six interceptions in 2009 to lead his team, and Antonio Coleman led the SEC with 10 sacks.

The Auburn Tigers do have some hope though, with a very strong recruiting class stepping in. The Tigers class was ranked 9th in the nation by ESPN recruiting. In all, the Tigers added 32 scholarship athletes which should provide much needed depth to the linebacking corps.

The 2010 Tigers look like a solid team that is poised to make a run in the SEC. Questions at quarterback and on defense will have to be answered, but look for the Tigers to again have a winning record in 2010.

Auburn’s odds to win the Southeastern Conference (SEC): +500

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Alabama Crimson Tide 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 42
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 2

The Alabama Crimson Tide experienced a tidal wave of success in 2009. Alabama, led by head coach Nick Saban, had a perfect 14-0 season and won the BCS National Championship. The question for 2010-2011 is, can they do it again?

The Tide’s offense returns almost everyone from last season. Efficient and reliable senior quarterback Greg McElroy, who threw only four interceptions all of last season, will be back to run the offense.

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Heisman trophy winning running back Mark Ingram, and star backup Trent Richardson, return to lead one of the nation’s strongest rushing attacks. The two combined for over 2,100 yards with almost 6 yards per carry. Capable receivers Julio Jones and Marquis Maze are also in place to help ‘Bama’s offense pick up where it left off last year.

The defensive side of the ball, on the other hand, is in for some major changes. Some key contributors to a defense that ranked second overall in the nation left to the NFL. These include linebacker Rolando McClain, defensive tackle Terrence Cody and starting cornerbacks Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson. The team still has a lot of talent left, including linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Mark Barron, the team’s top tackler who added seven interceptions (tied for 4th in the nation). Also, some of this loss of talent will be offset by another strong recruiting class, ranked third in the country by ESPN recruiting.

It is never easy to win back to back national championships, but the Alabama Crimson Tide are poised to make a strong run at it. If new recruits and other underclassmen can step up on defense, there is no stopping this tidal wave.

Alabama’s odds to win the Southeastern Conference (SEC): +100

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