NFL Football Preview Preview of upcoming NFL football games. Mon, 26 Jul 2010 17:35:34 +0000 en hourly 1 Boston College Eagles 2010-2011 Season Preview Mon, 26 Jul 2010 17:35:34 +0000 Eric Bokobza

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 98
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 26

The Boston College Eagles had a strong season in 2009, winning eight games and making the Emerald Bowl. Their top flight defense lost some talent, but the team still has what it takes to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

26 year old sophomore quarterback Dave Shinskie returns as the starter. The former baseball player had a decent season last year, throwing for just over 2,000 yards with 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He should be better with another year of experience under his belt. His top receiving target Rich Gunnell, the school’s career leader in receiving yards, is gone. The team’s second leading receiver Colin Larmond will step in to the number one role after gaining 596 yards with a 20.6 yards per catch average.

Regardless of the passing game, the strength of the team is on the ground. The offensive line returns four starters, led by left tackle Anthony Castonzo, and should be one of the best in the conference. Running back Montel Harris is also one of the best in the conference. Harris set freshman and sophomore rushing records at B.C. in his first two years. Last season he gained 1,554 yards on the ground. His projected backup, Rolandan Finch tore his ACL in the spring and will miss the season. Because of this, the depth at the running back position is thin.

Boston College Eagles College Football Cheerleader

The Eagles’ defense was great in 2009. Five starters are gone, including defensive linemen Austin Giles and Jim Ramella. The biggest story of the defense though, is the return of linebacker Mark Herzlich. The 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year sat out all last season while battling and overcoming bone cancer. How he will play in his return is unknown, but the leadership and courage he brings to the team is immeasurable. Joining him in the linebacking corps is Mike Morissey and Luke Kuechly, who finished second in the nation as a freshman with 158 tackles. The rest of the defense should remain solid and keep Boston College in all of its games.

If Shinskie can play better this season and the defensive transitions will not be too much, B.C. is a team to watch out for. A lot of the season rests on the legs of Harris, but the Eagles should again score about 8 or 9 wins this year.

Boston College’s odds to win the ACC: + 800

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Duke Blue Devils 2010-2011 Season Preview Sun, 25 Jul 2010 17:24:55 +0000 Eric Bokobza

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 69
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 61

The Duke Blue Devils are known as a basketball powerhouse. The football team, however, is starting to gain some traction in its efforts to rebuild. Losing starting quarterback Thaddeus Lewis will hurt, but the team still has enough talent to turn some heads in the ACC.

Sean Renfree will be taking over at quarterback for the Blue Devils, but it remains to be seen how effective he will be coming back from a torn ACL. He showed flashes of promise as a redshirt freshman, and Duke hopes he will be able to utilize his talented group of receivers. Wide receivers Donovan Varner, Connor Vernon and Austin Kelly became the first trio in school history to record 50 catches each in the same season. The group is led by Varner, a first team All-ACC pick, who had over 1,000 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns.

The running game desperately needs to improve this year to give Renfree a chance. Last season, the Blue Devils ranked 9th nationally in passing offense, but dead last in rushing. Leading rusher sophomore Desmond Scott, the Durham native, rushed for 262 yards with an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Some of these problems started up front with the offensive line. The line returns a majority of starters from 2009 and must improve if this team is to be successful.
Duke Blue Devils College Football Cheerleader

The defensive line will be the weakest unit on that side of the ball after losing four-year starter Vince Oghobaase and Ayanga Okpokowuruk. Also, John Drew was dismissed from the team for legal reasons after playing in every game as a freshman. Because of this lack of depth on the line, it is likely Duke will switch to a 3-4 system. The team has a very speedy secondary though, so they may make up for a weak pass rush.

Duke has some serious talent, especially on offense. The fate of the team will come down to the play in the trenches, on the offensive and defensive lines. If these units overachieve, the team has a chance to go .500. If they underperform though, this team will once again inhabit the cellar of the conference.

Duke’s odds to win the ACC: + 5000

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Seattle Seahawks 2010-2011 Season Preview Sun, 25 Jul 2010 00:26:09 +0000 Josh

A Look Back – The Jim Mora Jr. experiment certainly didn’t last all that long. After just one disgraceful season at 5-11, the Seahawks canned the younger Mora coach. Now, Seattle went to the collegiate ranks to take HC Pete Carroll from the purgatory known as USC. Carroll took over a team that has a pretty bare cupboard though, and a ton of work is there to be done.

Key Addition – RB Leon Washington – … Eventually. Washington showed that he has the spark to be a real threat as a featured back in this league with the New York Jets, and for a running game that ranked 26th in the NFL at 97.9 yards per game, that addition is important. However, there’s a question as to whether or not he’ll be ready for the outset of the year after breaking his leg last season.

Key Loss – OT Walter Jones – The great Walter Jones finally decided to call it a career in the offseason, which prompted the Seahawks to use their first pick in the NFL Draft on OT Russell Okung. The transition from one Hall of Fame caliber tackle to a potential Hall of Fame caliber tackle shouldn’t be a tough one, but that pick could’ve been used for a lot of other positions of need for the Seahawks.

<a href=Seattle Seahawks NFL Cheerleaders” width=”300″ height=”225″ />

2010 Will Be a Success if… – The defense figures out how to get to the quarterback. This was a real problem last season and will likely be a trend once again. Because of the lack of a pass rush, the Seahawks surrendered 245.4 yards per game through the air last year, ranking third to last in the league. That won’t cut it again this season, and Carroll vows to bring a better pass rush to his new home.

The Crucial Game – The home game with San Fran to start the season is paramount. The Niners are the team to beat in the NFC West, and starting the season with a win at home will be crucial, especially with very winnable games coming immediately thereafter. The season badly needs to get off to a good start to get the “12th Man” engaged on a regular basis at Qwest Field.

Predictions – Carroll should improve this team this season, but it isn’t ready to make the jump back to the playoffs by any means. Seattle is still at least two years and a starting quarterback away from making that push again. It seems as though the days of QB Matt Hasselbeck are just about over, though it is clear that the veteran will start the season under center. Either he has to find the Fountain of Youth, or the Seahawks are going to face another disappointing 6-7 win season at best. Their odds to win the NFC are currently +2200.

2010 Seattle Seahawks Regular Season Schedule

9/12 vs. SF
9/19 @ DEN
9/26 vs. SD
10/3 @ STL
10/17 @ CHI
10/24 vs. ARI
10/31 @ OAK
11/7 vs. NYG
11/14 @ ARI
11/21 @ NO
11/28 vs. KC
12/5 vs. CAR
12/12 @ SF
12/19 vs. ATL
12/26 @ TB
1/2 vs. STL

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Virginia Cavaliers 2010-2011 Season Preview Sat, 24 Jul 2010 17:36:00 +0000 Eric Bokobza

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 118
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 52

Is there anyone left on the Virginia Cavaliers’ offense? The team lost its starting quarterback and its top three running backs who were also three of the top four receivers. There is only one skill player left that had significant production in 2009, leading receiver Kris Burd. For a team that won only 3 games last season and has a new head coach, it will be another long season.

It’s rare to see so much offensive production leave a team all at once. Not that Virginia’s offense was any good last year, ranking ahead of only two schools in the nation. It will be up to quarterback Marc Verica to take over for the departed Jameel Sewell. Verica was the starting QB for most of 2008, but saw only mop up duty in 2009. The leading returning rusher from a year ago is Torrey Mack, who gained a total of 73 yards on the ground as a freshman at 3.2 yards per carry. The only relative threat on offense is Burd. He caught 31 passes for 413 yards last season to lead the team. The offensive line is not good, having given up almost 4 sacks a game in 2009.

<a href=Virginia Cavaliers College Football Cheerleader” width=”225″ height=”300″ />

Virginia’s defense was not bad under former head coach Al Groh. This season though, new coach Mike London will be switching to a 4-3 system to improve the overall team speed. Three defensive backs will move to linebacker, Cam Johnson will move from LB to defensive end and Matt Conrath will move inside to defensive tackle. Leading tackler Steve Greer returns along with cornerback Ras-I Dowling. Dowling was named to the Nagurski Trophy Watch List and is without question the Cavaliers’ best player.

Virginia is still in a rebuilding mode and will need to work through some growing pains in 2010. It will be a good opportunity for their young players to gain experience to prepare them for future seasons when they should return to relevance.

Virginia’s odds to win the ACC: + 2000

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San Francisco 49ers 2010-2011 Season Preview Fri, 23 Jul 2010 19:08:43 +0000 MikeRose

A Look Back – The San Francisco 49ers have been the team of “what if” for the past few seasons. What if they had started QB Alex Smith all last season? What if Mike Nolan was fired at the outset of the year in 2008? What if the offensive line had kept Smith upright for the second half of the season? This year should be a lot better than “what if,” though, as the 49ers are heavy favorites to win the NFC West.

Key Additions – OLs Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis – We’ve already mentioned a porous offensive line from last season, but that was addressed by the Niners right away in the NFL Draft. With a pair of first rounders, the Niners took both Iupati and Davis, both of which will immediately step in and start on the offensive line. Both of these linemen are big boys that love to run block, and they should help out RB Frank Gore quite a bit in the rushing game. Expect significantly better than 100.0 YPG on the ground this year.

Key Loss – DB Dre Bly – Bly is returning to Detroit, which is going to leave San Fran with a bit of a hole at the defensive back position. Bly had three picks last season, and he played in all 16 games. However, Bly was only a starter for six games last year and could be dispensable. If this is the biggest loss that the team has to deal with this year, the Niners should be in great shape.

San Francisco 49ers NFL Cheerleader

2010 Will Be a Success if… – The offense really starts to kick it up a notch. Averaging just 290.8 YPG was disgraceful for a team that finished .500 last year, meaning if the offense can start to produce just a little more, San Fran could be incredibly dangerous. Just putting two new offensive linemen in the bunch could make a world of difference. Keep an eye on WR Michael Crabtree as well now that he has an entire training camp under his belt.

The Crucial Game – The home opener this year is incredibly important. In order to give the Niners something positive to go off of, beating the defending champs could be a huge boost. More importantly, it is the only game in the first four weeks of the year played at home, so to keep the fans engaged in San Fran, a victory in that game against the Saints in Week 2 could be huge.

Predictions – The schedule sets up so well for San Francisco this season it isn’t even funny. The rest of the NFC West is in shambles, and playing the NFC South and AFC West should make for a ton of easy games. Finishing with less than ten wins is going to be a disappointment. Not only could the NFC West crown be had, but a bye week isn’t totally out of the question in the playoffs as well. The oddsmakers don’t have a lot of faith in the 49ers once they make the playoffs as they pay +3100 in Super Bowl future lines.

2010 San Francisco 49ers Regular Season Schedule

9/12 @ SEA
9/20 vs. NO
9/26 @ KC
10/3 @ ATL
10/10 vs. PHI
10/17 vs. OAK
10/24 @ CAR
10/31 vs. DEN
11/14 vs. STL
11/21 vs. TB
11/29 @ ARI
12/5 @ GB
12/12 vs. SEA
12/16 @ SD
12/26 @ STL
1/2 vs. ARI

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Arizona Cardinals 2010-2011 Season Preview Thu, 22 Jul 2010 19:01:46 +0000 MikeRose

A Look Back – The Arizona Cardinals proved that their unlikely run to the Super Bowl two years ago wasn’t a fluke. Last year, they finished with a 10-6 record and once again won the NFC West. Though they couldn’t go on the road and win a playoff game again, no one is upset with a first round victory over the Green Bay Packers. The offseason was a tumultuous one though, as the team made a number of moves and gutted the team.

Key Loss – SS Antrel Rolle – Yes, losing QB Kurt Warner hurts, and yes, losing WR Anquan Boldin stings a bit as well, but at least we know that Matt Leinart and Steve Breaston are stepping into those roles respectively. Is there a replacement out there for Rolle? Half of Arizona’s starting secondary from last year was traded at some point during the offseason, which is horrifying news for a team that ranked 20th in the NFL in total defense and 23rd in pass defense.

Arizona Cardinals NFL Cheerleader

Key Addition – LB Joey Porter – HC Ken Whisenhunt renews his ties with an old friend from the Pittsburgh Steelers days by bringing Porter in via free agency. There’s still clearly something left in the tank for the 33 year old, as he racked up 32 sacks in three seasons playing for Miami. There has definitely been some decline, but the prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker will look great in Arizona red. Perhaps his pressure off the end can help mask some of the pains that the secondary will inevitably endure again this year.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – Someone can replace Warner effectively. Notice we said “someone” and not “Leinart.” Backup QB Derek Anderson was brought in from Cleveland to be a security blanket in case something happens to Leinart or he proves to be ineffective. Expect fifth round draft choice John Skelton to have his chances, particularly in the preseason as well. Leinart is too old now to be called a franchise quarterback, and he will have a short leash this year from Whisenhunt, who would probably rather have a different signal caller.

The Crucial Game – The only hope that the Cards will have this year is winning the NFC West yet again, and the only way they do that is by holding serve against the 49ers. The home game on Monday Night Football on November 29th is the most important game of the entire season. There are enough winnable games on the slate at the outset of the season to make this one count for keeps. However, if the two teams are on level terms going into January 2nd’s duel in San Fran, that game will clearly take the cake.

Predictions - Though we don’t think much of this team, we know that seven games combined against the Rams, Seahawks, Bucs, Raiders, Chiefs, and Panthers should yield at least six wins or so. Are there any more than that on the slate, though? We tend to think that .500 is a possibility, but it’s hard to put Arizona in the playoffs playing a first place schedule in comparison to San Fran playing a second place one. That’s reflected in their Super Bowl futures which list the Cardinals at +6000.

2010 Arizona Cardinals Regular Season Schedule

9/12 @ STL
9/19 @ ATL
9/26 vs. OAK
10/3 @ SD
10/10 vs. NO
10/24 @ SEA
10/31 vs. TB
11/7 @ MIN
11/14 vs. SEA
11/21 @ KC
11/29 vs. SF
12/5 vs. STL
12/12 vs. DEN
12/19 @ CAR
12/25 vs. DAL
1/2 @ SF

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North Carolina Tar Heels 2010-2011 Season Preview Thu, 22 Jul 2010 16:38:48 +0000 Eric Bokobza

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 108
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 6

The North Carolina Tar Heels were the embodiment of inconsistency in 2009. The offense was pitiful while the defense was outstanding, and the team had multiple winning and losing streaks. Head Coach Butch Davis needs to win now, considering most of his defensive stars will be playing their final season in Chapel Hill.

The Tar Heels’ defense was superb last season. They were the only team in the nation to rank in the top 15 in all important defensive statistics and they return nine starters. Defensive end Robert Quinn returns after recording 11 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He is joined on the line by fellow top NFL prospect Marvin Austin. Linebacker Quan Sturdivant led a solid group of linebackers and was top ten in the ACC with 12 tackles for loss. The secondary starts four seniors who combined for 19 interceptions last year. Deunta Williams is one of the best safeties in the country and cornerbacks Kendrick Burney and Charles Brown are rock solid.

UNC Tar Heels College Football Cheerleader

The defense will have to support North Carolina since their offense is anemic. Senior quarterback T.J. Yates will try to maintain the starting spot after struggling to throw 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last year. Redshirt freshman Bryn Renner will challenge him and could take over the position. The running back duo of Ryan Houston and Shaun Draughn is decent, but won’t scare anyone. Houston, the team’s leading rusher in 2009, averaged only 3.7 yards per carry. The receiving corps is slightly better, headlined by senior Greg Little. He caught 62 passes for 724 yards last season and may be better with a stronger quarterback. The offensive line returns three starters, but is still shaky at best. They need to control the line to give their offense a chance to succeed.

They say defense wins championships. North Carolina is hoping that is the truth. The defense should again be in the top 20 in the country, but their offense must improve to compete with the top teams in the conference.

North Carolina’s odds to win the ACC: +500

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Virginia Tech Hokies 2010-2011 Season Preview Wed, 21 Jul 2010 17:56:21 +0000 Eric Bokobza

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 50
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 12

A high powered offense and a suspect defense. That doesn’t sound like the Virginia Tech Hokies of the past, but it will likely be a good description for the 2010 version. After having lost multiple game changing defensive players, the Hokies will rely on their balanced, intimidating scoring attack.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor Tyrod Taylor will return for his third season as the starter, and he has continued to improve with added playing time. Last season he threw for over 2,300 yards and rushed for 570 more. He is a versatile player that can beat you with his arms or legs. He has a talented stable of receivers at his disposal, led by juniors Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale. The two combined for 1,450 yards receiving and both averaged over 20 yards per reception. The passing game should be even better this year considering the fact defenses will have to devote most of their attention to the running game.

Virginia Tech Hokies College Football Cheerleader

Virginia Tech has arguably the best running back duo in the country in Ryan Williams Ryan Williams and Darren Evans Darren Evans. The ACC rookie of the year in 2009, Williams burst onto the scene with 1,655 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns. Evans, who missed all of 2009 with an ACL injury, rushed for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2008. It is an embarrassment of riches in the backfield for the Hokies. The only area of concern on offense is the left side of the offensive line. The starting guard and tackle are gone, but the team has quality depth and should be fine.

The often dominant Virginia Tech defense may not be as strong as in past years. Six starters from last year are gone, including three defensive lineman and leading tackler Cody Grimm. Lombardi Watch List member linebacker Barquell Rivers may miss the start of the season due to a torn quadriceps injury. With the holes in the front seven, the secondary has become the strength of the squad. Cornerback Rashad Carmichael is one of the best in the country and Jayron Hosley should get the start opposite him.

The Hokies have the offensive talent to do some big things this year. It is clear they will put up a lot of points this, but will the defense be able to stop anyone? The team opens the season against a tough Boise State team so it won’t take long to learn if this team is a contender or pretender.

Virginia Tech’s odds to win the ACC: +400

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Miami Hurricanes 2010-2011 Season Preview Tue, 20 Jul 2010 18:11:07 +0000 Eric Bokobza

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 45
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 29

The Miami Hurricanes are hoping 2010 will be the year they return to national prominence. The five time national champion returns most of its key players after having a nine win season in 2009. Head Coach Randy Shannon just got a new contract extension and the school hopes he can continue to build on what he started.

There is a lot of talk in Coral Gables about a possible Heisman trophy for quarterback Jacory Harris. Last season he threw for over 3,300 yards and 24 touchdowns but also 17 interceptions, second most in the nation. The Canes think offseason thumb surgery will help his accuracy and limit turnovers this year. He has a deep group of receivers, led by senior Leonard Hankerson. Harris spread the ball around well last year, with seven receivers having over 200 yards receiving. The loss of tight end Jimmy Graham puts into question how much production will come from that position. Richard Gordon, the most experienced tight end, has only four career catches.

Miami Hurricanes College Football Cheerleader

Miami will use the running game heavily to provide balance for Harris. Graig Cooper will miss at least part of the season from an injury suffered in last year’s bowl game, so Damien Berry will be the starter. He had an impressive 6.6 yards per carry, and has quality backups in Mike James and Lamar Miller. The offensive line is an area of concern, ranking 100th in sacks allowed, that must improve for the Canes to be successful.

All ACC junior cornerback Brandon Harris headlines the defense after the loss of middle linebacker Darryl Sharpton. The rest of the secondary is very solid and will be a strength of the team. The defensive line is extremely deep. Defensive end Allen Bailey returns after he led the team in sacks. Linebacker Sean Spence will try to regain his ACC defensive rookie of the year form in 2008, but the bigger question is who will take over the middle spot vacated by Sharpton?

The Hurricanes could be on the brink of a championship season. They have a balanced attack and a solid defense. Jacory Harris is the key to the season though. As he goes, so will the Hurricanes.

Miami’s odds to win the ACC: +250.

See all of our 2010-2011 college football season previews.

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Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 2010-2011 Season Preview Mon, 19 Jul 2010 18:10:22 +0000 Eric Bokobza

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 26
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 54

Last season’s Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) champions, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, were both exciting and boring at the same time. Their triple option offense had its share of big plays, but it is predicated on running the ball and chewing up the clock. The Yellow Jackets ranked third in the nation in time of possession and averaged 56 rushes per game.

Georgia Tech College Football Cheerleader

The offense will continue to utilize the same style of attack, even without stars Jonathan Dwyer (running back) and Demariyus Thomas (wide receiver). Thankfully for Tech though, quarterback Josh Nesbitt is still in Atlanta to lead the offense. He threw for 1,701 yards last year, but more impressively ran for 1,037 with 18 touchdowns.

Anthony Allen will take over the number one running back job after averaging an eye-popping 9.7 yards per carry on 64 attempts. Roddy Jones and Embry Peeples will also have larger roles in the offense. Losing Thomas and his 46 catches hurts, especially since entire rest of the team had only 32. The team is hoping Stephen Hill will be able to step in and provide the offense some balance.

Georgia Tech’s defense is switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme. This move makes sense considering the depth at linebacker and the lack thereof on the line. Sack specialist Derrick Morgan moved on to the NFL, but eight starters return from last season. Brad Jefferson, last year’s leading tackler, will move into one of the inside linebacker spots. The secondary is solid, with Mario Butler serving as a true shutdown corner. The main question is, who will provide the pass rush now that Morgan is gone?

The Yellow Jackets lost a lot of talent from last year’s championship team, but have some players ready to step in. The rest of the conference has continued to improve, but if Nesbitt stays healthy and a replacement for Morgan is found, this team will again be in the hunt for the ACC title.

Georgia Tech’s odds to win the ACC: +1000.

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