2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 7
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 1

Statistically speaking, you’ll be hard pressed to find a team better than the 2009 TCU Horned Frogs. Finishing first overall in total defense and seventh overall in total offense, the team cruised to a perfect 12-0 regular season. After a tough Fiesta Bowl loss and the departure of some defensive stalwarts, TCU will try to burst the BCS bubble once again.

TCU’s offense finally broke out of the defense’s shadow last season. Senior quarterback Andy Dalton is a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate after being the Mountain West Conference’s (MWC) offensive player of the year. He is a passing and rushing threat that is even more dangerous because of the weapons around him.

Top receivers Jeremy Kerley and Jimmy Young return after combining for over 1,000 yards. Kerley is also a dangerous threat on special teams, returning two punts for touchdowns last year. Antoine Hicks is one of the most efficient scorers in the country, scoring 10 touchdowns on only 32 touches.

TCU Horned Frogs Cheerleader

Sophomore running backs Matthew Tucker and Ed Wesley will split the starting duties. Both are home run threats on every play, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. The offensive line is solid, returning four starters. Mammoth tackle Marcus Cannon moves from the right to left side, and Jack Kirkpatrick will be the anchor at center.

The Horned Frogs’ defense lost their two starting cornerbacks, leading tackler and the leader in sacks. Replacing all of that production will not be easy, but TCU always finds a way to restock with talent.

Defensive tackles Kelly Griffin and Cory Grant will make it hard for opponents to run the ball. Linebackers Tanner Brock and Tank Carder are potential stars, with Carder finishing second on the team in tackles. The five man secondary is led by its three safeties: Alex Ibiloye, Tejay Johnson and Jurell Thompson.

TCU has loads of talent, especially on the offensive side. An opening matchup against Oregon State will set the tone for the year. If they can get past the Beavers, they will have a good chance at having another undefeated season. The only question is whether the defense can play up to last year’s level after losing its stars. No matter what, TCU should make a BCS bowl game once again.

TCU’s odds to win the National Championship: + 1800

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Boise State Broncos 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 10
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 14

The Boise State Broncos are the little team that could. Being from the WAC, the Broncos success was always written off as playing against inferior opponents. In 2010, all that has changed. Boise State opens the preseason at number three in national polls. The days of no respect for the Broncos are long gone.

Boise State had a perfect season in 2009, culminating in a Fiesta bowl win over Texas Christian (TCU). The statistics put up by the blue field warriors are simply stunning. Quarterback Kellen Moore threw for 3,536 yards, 39 touchdowns and only three interceptions. That’s a 13:1 TD to INT ratio…and he was only a sophomore.

Boise State College Football Cheerleader

Moore will have just about all of his starting players back around him, led by wide receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis. The two combined for 142 catches, 1,896 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. The Broncos are also blessed with multiple talented running backs capable of rushing for 100 yards a game.

Jeremy Avery led the team with 1,208 yards rushing, but Doug Martin and D.J. Harper (who missed most of last year with an ACL tear) could also be starters. All three backs averaged over 5.5 yards per carry. A lot of the credit goes to the polished offensive line. The entire starting unit will be back, along with three reserves that have starting experience.

Boise State’s defense was just as good as its offense, it not better. With the exception of cornerback Kyle Wilson, all other starters return to a top 15 unit. Senior defensive end Ryan Winterswyk led the team with nine sacks and is a Defensive Player of the year candidate.

The linebackers are a talented bunch and the secondary is full of accomplished playmakers. Safety Jeron Johnson has led the team in tackles twice, and cornerback Brandyn Thompson was the Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP. The only unproven player is cornerback Jamar Taylor, who will be taking over for Wilson.

Outside of a very difficult opening game against Virginia Tech and a matchup against Oregon State, the rest of the season should be no problem for the Broncos. As dramatic as it may sound, the opening game could make or break their year. No matter what, Boise State has a ton of talent and must be considered among the best teams in the country.

Boise State’s odds to win the National Championship: + 750

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San Diego Chargers 2010-2011 Season Preview

A Look Back – If there’s a team that is expected to win their division this season, it’s the San Diego Chargers. San Diego stormed through the second half of last season to capture the AFC West yet again, and there is no reason not to repeat again. Philips Rivers and the gang are clearly going to be out looking for the best record in the AFC so the road to the Super Bowl can come through Qualcomm Stadium.

Key Addition – RB Ryan Mathews – Give the Chargers all the credit in the world for doing what they needed to do on Draft Day, moving up into the middle of the round to snare Mathews from Fresno State. Someone needed to replace RB LaDainian Tomlinson, and leaving all of the pressure on the back of Darren Sproles just didn’t make all that much sense. There’s a reason that Mathews is the overwhelming favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors this season.

San Diego Chargers NFL Cheerleader

Key Loss – DB Antonio Cromartie – Whereas the Chargers successfully replaced their future Hall of Fame running back, they never really did find a way to replace Cromartie in the secondary. This could be the only real hole on a defense which could be fantastic in 2010. The former Florida State Seminole was also a special teams star when need be, which makes him all the more difficult for one man to replace.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – The Bolts stay healthy. Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the best team in the AFC West, and anything less than a division championship would be a bitter disappointment. The only way that the improbable happens is if Rivers, Mathews, and/or a whole slew of people get hurt.

The Crucial Game – On November 18th, the Chargers will travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts. Theoretically, the AFC West will already essentially be wrapped up. With nothing but cupcakes surrounding this game on the schedule, San Diego will have nothing but time on its hands to prepare for this one. The winner of this NFL betting battle in “The Drum” will most likely end up being the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Needless to say, this is of paramount importance.

Predictions - With a potent passing game and a favorable schedule, the San Diego Chargers are going to be a dominating team against the weaker teams that get in their way. The Chargers are +600 in odds to win the AFC and they are +900 to win the Super Bowl. The rest of the AFC might look like a bunch of ants by the time the giants of the conference are done with them this year. At least 12 wins is a reasonable possibility.

2010 San Diego Chargers Regular Season Schedule

9/13 @ KC
9/19 vs. JAC
9/26 @ SEA
10/3 vs. ARI
10/10 @ OAK
10/17 @ STL
10/24 vs. NE
10/31 vs. TEN
11/7 @ HOU
Bye
11/22 vs. DEN
11/28 @ IND
12/5 vs. OAK
12/12 vs. KC
12/16 vs. SF
12/26 @ CIN
1/2 @ DEN

 

Oakland Raiders 2010-2011 Season Preview

A Look Back – Is there a silver and black revival in the cards in 2010? The ’09 NFL betting campaign was a relatively disappointing one for the Oakland Raiders, but a bunch of new faces in the fold could turn this franchise that has fallen upon rough times totally around. There were just no quarterbacks to choose from last season, but QB JaMarcus Russell is now gone, which is going to signal the start of a new era in Oakland.

Key Addition – QB Jason Campbell – Hallelujah! With Russell out of town, the door has swung open once again for the embattled Campbell, who will be on his sixth different offensive scheme in the last seven seasons. Campbell threw for over 3,600 yards a year ago, and bringing numbers anywhere near that to Oakland this season would be a welcome change and turn a dormant offense into one that could actually frighten some foes. It isn’t often that we talk about Al Davis and a great draft day move, but trading a future late round pick for Campbell was a total steal.

Oakland Raiders NFL Cheerleader

Key Loss – LB Kirk Morrison – All things considered, this isn’t the biggest loss in the world for the Raiders. The addition of Rolando McClain in the first round of the NFL Draft was a sign that Oakland’s leading tackler was getting set to be moved. Now, Morrison is Jacksonville’s problem, and it is already becoming apparent that McClain is not just ready to step in, but he is ready to do something that Morrison couldn’t do: Take charge of a defense that badly needed a true captain in its core.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – Campbell can improve the passing game just a tad. He doesn’t need to work miracles. A threat at quarterback will open up the rushing game, which could mean big things for Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. If the running game gets going, the defense will get some rest. Perhaps that means that the Raiders will get to play some games from ahead as well. It all starts on the quarterback’s arm, though. Without Campbell succeeding, Oakland will still be in some trouble.

The Crucial Game – San Diego comes to town on October 10th, and this is a game that can change the entire season for the silver and black. The Oakland Raiders have been pushed around year after year in division, and that badly needs to change. Winning that game isn’t unattainable, and if it happens, HC Tom Cable and his Raiders will be well on their way to a very successful season.

Predictions – Playoffs? Don’t totally count out the possibility. Oakland is probably still a year and a couple offensive pieces away from challenging for the AFC West crown, but flirting with .500 is a real possibility. Don’t be shocked to see the silver and black being more than just a doormat of a team in 2010.

2010 Oakland Raiders Regular Season Schedule

9/12 @ TEN
9/19 vs. STL
9/26 @ ARI
10/3 vs. HOU
10/10 vs. SD
10/17 @ SF
10/24 @ DEN
10/31 vs. SEA
11/7 vs. KC
Bye
11/21 @ PIT
11/28 vs. MIA
12/5 @ SD
12/12 @ JAC
12/19 vs. DEN
12/26 vs. IND
1/2 @ KC

 

USC Trojans 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 55
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 40

A tumultuous offseason is almost over for the USC Trojans. Sanctions on their football team have resulted in the loss of scholarships and the inability to play in a bowl game. New head coach Lane Kiffin (one of the most hated men in Tennessee) will not have the easy path to the PAC 10 title that his predecessor did.

Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley played well as a true freshman, throwing for over 2,700 yards and 15 touchdowns. He threw too many interceptions though, but that is normal for a young quarterback and those numbers should decrease this year.

Allen Bradford should take over as the starting running back after the loss of leading rusher Joe McKnight. The senior ran for 668 yards and 8 touchdowns, so he should be a 1,000 yard rusher as the feature back. Redshirt junior Marc Tyler will likely challenge for playing time. Freshman recruit Dillon Baxter is the X factor, a player with tremendous speed that could be a game breaker right away.

USC Trojans Cheerleader

The leading receiver from last year is gone, and there is little depth behind him. Senior Ronald Johnson was the second leading receiver and is the only receiver with significant production returning. A big loss is the defection of top receiving recruit Seantrel Henderson.

Leading tackler safety Taylor Mays is gone, as is the rest of the secondary. The best player left is cornerback Shareece Wright who missed all of 2009 for academic reasons. He is very talented and should be the only star defensive back.

Nick Perry is back at defensive end after tying for the team lead with eight sacks. He will play next to Jurrell Casey, one of the top defensive tackles in the country. The line is very deep and should be a strength of the team. All three starting linebackers return to provide continuity, but after the starters, there is almost no depth.

The 2010 version of the Trojans is far different than previous teams. Questions at head coach, skill positions and the secondary make it hard to think that USC will stroll through the PAC 10 as usual.

USC’s over/under on regular season wins : 9.5

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A Look Back – The Todd Haley experiment probably isn’t going according to plan in Kansas City. The Matt Cassel one isn’t either. Still, with the amount of money committed to Tom Brady’s former backup is too large to bring in another potential starting quarterback that isn’t a lucky draft selection on a poor rookie contract. After a woeful season, the Kansas City Chiefs have to feel like the pieces are starting to fall in place though, which could make for a bright 2010 campaign.

Key Addition – SS Eric Berry – Had Berry played almost any other position, he would’ve been the top pick in the NFL Draft. However, the former Tennessee Volunteer came off the board to the Chiefs early in the first round, and he brings a huge playmaker to that side of the ball. With ball hawking skills and fantastic speed, Berry plays like a corner and is the size of a linebacker. This will be a fun player for DC Romeo Crennel to play with.

Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders

Key Losses – None – When you’re not overly that good to start off with, there aren’t a lot of pieces to the puzzle that could be lost that will hurt the team. All of the core members that Kansas City is trying to build around are back in 2010.

2010 Will Be a Success if... – The team starts to build some momentum. Everyone knows that this isn’t the year that the Kansas City Chiefs are making it to the playoffs, but proving that they aren’t doormats anymore would be a great step in the right direction. There are a bunch of winnable games against decent teams, and at least a few of those need to go in the right direction for Haley to keep his job and for the team to stay united.

The Crucial Game – Right off the bat, the Chargers come to town for Monday Night Football. Even though this is the second game of that Monday night, it is still a rare nationally televised duel for the Chiefs. This is one of these aforementioned games that is winnable for Kansas City even though it is a sizeable underdog, even at home. The Bolts are still the behemoths of the AFC West, but they are beatable, especially early in the season away from Qualcomm Stadium.

Predictions – Improvement is likely from last season’s disappointing year, but that doesn’t mean that the Chiefs are playoff contenders quite yet. They are +4500 in odds to win the AFC. A third place finish in the AFC West would be great for a franchise that is still a few pieces to the puzzle away from really being able to do some damage in a relatively tough division.

2010 Kansas City Chiefs Regular Season Schedule

9/13 vs. SD
9/19 @ CLE
9/26 vs. SF
Bye
10/10 @ IND
10/17 @ HOU
10/24 vs. JAC
10/31 vs. BUF
11/7 @ OAK
11/14 @ DEN
11/21 vs. ARI
11/28 @ SEA
12/5 vs. DEN
12/12 @ SD
12/19 @ STL
12/26 vs. TEN
1/2 vs. OAK

 

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 119
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 120

How bad were the Washington State Cougars in 2009? Let’s put it this way; their punter was their player. The team was absolutely horrid on both sides of the ball, and has a lot of work cut out for them to improve upon their one win from a season ago.

There is a little hope for the Cougars, as sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel returns after a week 5 injury cost him the rest of his season. He set a freshman rookie record with 354 yards passing in a game against California before getting injured.

WSU Cougars Cheerleader

The offensive line won’t provide him much help to stay upright. They were among the worst units in the country, getting their quarterbacks sacked more often than any other school in the conference. Jared Karstetter returns after leading the team in receiving with 38 catches for 540 yards.

Running back James Montgomery will try to return after suffering a severe injury after three games last year. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry before going down, much better than any other Cougar running back was able to accomplish.

The only thing worse than the Cougars’ offense was their defense. Junior college transfer Brandon Rankin has been the talk of the offseason, being able to add some punch to the defensive line. Travis Long is developing into a decent defensive end as well.

Alex Hoffman-Ellis returns at linebacker after leading the team in tackles but will be moved to the outside. Mike Ledgerwood will take over his spot in the middle. Chima Nwachukwu will start at safety and is one of the few defenders with legitimate talent and skill.

Only time will tell how well Washington State will play in 2010, but odds are even three wins are a long shot. The team should be more competitive this season, but it will be a long year for the Cougars.

Washington State’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 3000

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2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 90
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 13

Arizona State Sun Devils’ head coach Dennis Erickson probably feels like he is surrounded by fire and brimstone. The Sun Devils started 2009 4-2, only to suffer a six game losing streak; a feat they accomplished two years in a row. With so many changes to his football team, Erickson may be looking for some divine intervention.

Arizona State will look like a very different team in 2010, especially on offense. The starting quarterback, running and wide receivers are all gone. The quarterback spot is still up for grabs between Michigan transfer Steven Threet and incumbents Brock Osweiler and Samson Szakacsy. Each one brings something different to the table, so it will be interesting to see who Erickson will go with.

Arizona State Sun Devils Cheerleaders

Sophomore Cameron Marshall will take over the starting running back duties after rushing for 280 yards as a backup. He will be forced to do a lot of work on his own, as his offensive line is nothing to write home about. The leading returning receiver is Kerry Taylor , who caught 23 passes for 276 yards a season ago. Oregon transfer Aaron Pflugrad will get every opportunity to start on the other side.

The Sun Devils’ defense was terrific last season, but more than half of the starters are gone. The defensive line should be an area of strength, with three players returning. Defensive tackles Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola are great at clogging the middle and getting after the quarterback.

Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict was the PAC 10 Defensive freshman of the year and finished second on the team in tackles. Cornerback Omar Bolden is the leader of the secondary, and is surrounded by a lot of young, inexperienced players.

Arizona State has a lot of holes to fill. Even if their defense can maintain its high level from 2009, the offense looks to be too weak to make any kind of a splash in the PAC 10.

Arizona State’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 1200

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Denver Broncos 2010-2011 Season Preview

A Look Back – When you start 6-0, you had better make the playoffs. However, that’s a memo that the ’09 Denver Broncos never got. Denver became the first team in NFL history to have that epic of a collapse in a season. HC Josh McDaniels created a lot of waves in his first season as a head coach, and the young buck is going to have his work cut out for him this year to try to replace some of the pieces of the puzzle that have left town.

Key Addition – WR Demaryius Thomas – The biggest problem that Thomas is going to have this season is that he has never really had to play in a “real offense.” The gimmicky offense at Georgia Tech saw Thomas be used as nothing more than a deep threat, but he turned that ability into becoming a first round draft choice. The wide receivers in Denver are now incredibly thin, and Thomas at least gives QB Kyle Orton (or QB Tim Tebow) a chance at survival.

Denver Broncos Cheerleader

Key Losses – WR Brandon Marshall and TE Tony Scheffler – Both Marshall and Scheffler were suspended by McDaniels at the end of the ’09 season in the do or die game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos lost that day, and both players were sent out of town relatively quickly. Still, that’s over 150 receptions and over 2,000 receiving yards that just left the Mile High City, and trying to replace those two will be virtually impossible.

2010 Will Be a Success if… - The team doesn’t fall apart at the seams. McDaniels realizes that even though this is only his second season as a head coach, he is on arguably the hottest seat in the league. He absolutely has to find a way to control his team and win some games, or it could be a very, very long season in the Rockies.

The Crucial Game – A Monday nighter in San Diego could prove to be the demise of this team once and for all. McDaniels will be under a tight microscope at that point, and the team will probably be well under .500. A bad loss at Qualcomm is a possibility, but a win could change the whole direction that the team is going in.

Predictions – It won’t happen, though. The Denver Broncos Super Bowl odds are a likely insurmountable +6500. The Denver Broncos just have way too many tough games to try to endure, especially without DE Elvis Dumervil for at least the majority of the season if not its duration. A stretch of games against Indy, Tennessee, Baltimore, and New York will be its undoing. This is a double digit loss team in 2010, which will probably find McDaniels on the unemployment lines by the end of January 2011.

2010 Denver Broncos Regular Season Schedule

9/12 @ JAC
9/19 vs. SEA
9/26 vs. IND
10/3 @ TEN
10/10 @ BAL
10/17 vs. NYJ
10/24 vs. OAK
10/31 @ SF
Bye
11/14 vs. KC
11/22 @ SD
11/28 vs. STL
12/5 @ KC
12/12 @ ARI
12/19 @ OAK
12/26 vs. HOU
1/2 vs. SD

 

California Golden Bears 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 49
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 72

The California Golden Bears lacked consistency during 2009. Cal won three games, lost two (blowouts), won 5 of 6 and then lost 2 more. The team needs to develop a more consistent effort and mindset if they are to have a shot at the PAC 10 title.

California Golden Bears Cheerleader

Senior quarterback Kevin Riley was a true “Jekyll and Hyde” last season. In the wins, he threw 15 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. In the losses, he threw three touchdowns and four interceptions. Junior Marvin Jones is a good receiver, but Riley must develop a rapport with other receivers to take pressure off the running game.

Running back Shane Vereen will step in to replace first round draft pick Jahvid Best. While Vereen doesn’t have the same speed as Best, he proved he is capable of producing last year when he rushed for 952 yards and 12 touchdowns. The offensive line returns four starters, but the unit must do a better job of pass blocking for Riley.

The Bears will continue to run their 3-4 scheme, but will have to replace their defensive tackle and sack leader Tyson Alualu. Veteran Derek Hill will start, but what he can do is unknown. The best pass rusher on the team is defensive end Cameron Jordan. He has tremendous potential, but his work ethic is sometimes lacking.

Leading tackler Mike Mohamed returns and will try to lead an inexperienced group of linebackers. The secondary was weak last year, and will likely be in 2010 as well. Free safety Sean Cattouse is talented but the rest of the unit struggled. Veteran cornerback Darian Hagan must do a better job than he did last year for Cal to avoid giving up too many big plays.

2010 looks like it will be another roller coaster ride for the Bears. Once again, they will rely on a talented running back, but that can only take them so far in their quest for a bowl bid.

California’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 800

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