Stokley prevents touchdown celebration

Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley says he provided a little veteran leadership during Sunday night’s win over the Saints, preventing teammates Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker from a touchdown celebration that would have drawn a penalty flag.

Thomas scored a touchdown in the third quarter and tossed the ball to Decker, who stood under the goal post and was about to toss the ball back up in the air, where Thomas could grab it for an alley-oop dunk over the crossbar. But it’s a 15-yard penalty in the NFL for players to engage in coordinated touchdown celebrations, so when Stokley realized what Decker and Thomas were about to do, he ran behind Decker and stole the ball from him, cutting their celebration short.

The 36-year-old Stokley said the 25-year-old Decker and the 24-year-old Thomas were upset with him. But Stokley thinks part of the reason he’s on the Broncos is to be the mature one in the receiving corps.

“I mean, they were mad at me on the sideline for stopping them,” Stokley told Mike Klis of the Denver Post. “It’s tough being a dad sometimes, you know?” Read more…

Peyton Manning: Always expect the unexpected

Peyton Manning

Peyton ManningThrough a string of recent comeback attempts that didn’t pay off, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning kept talking about working through the adversity.

The work paid off Monday, as the Broncos took advantage of a hailstorm of turnovers by the Chargers to score 35 unanswered points in the second half for a huge win.
According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, it was Manning’s 47th game winning drive in the fourth quarter, tying him with Dan Marino for most in NFL history.
“I’ve been a part of some comebacks and you have to have all three phases contribute,” Manning said. “You’ve got to have a tipped ball or a bounce go your way.”
The Broncos got some breaks, with fumbles and interceptions returned for touchdowns. But this was about Manning too, after he went 24-of-30 passing for 309 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. But you couldn’t tell it from his muted reaction, which amazed teammates.
“I’ve never been part of a comeback like that,” tight end Joel Dreessen said. “Peyton, that guy is so humble. I tried to get him fired up about this. I was shaking him, and saying, “What do you think about this, man?’
“All he said was, ‘Good job. Good job.’ “ Read more…

Top defensive lines in the NFL this season

Jason Pierre-Paul

Jason Pierre-PaulThe NFL has quickly morphed into a passing league. Quarterbacks are routinely throwing for more than 4,000 yards in a season. A handful of them even threw for 5,000 yards or more last season. This means that getting to the quarterback is essential. Due to the advent of the spread offense, a defense must rely mostly on the front four to get a pass rush. Which teams do this the best?

New York Giants: The Giants rely so much on their front four for a pass rush. Guys like Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have been dominating the league for years. Their efforts are the reason why they have won two championships in the last five seasons. They scare opposing quarterbacks and keep offensive coordinators up at night trying to game plan for them.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills signed defensive end Mario Williams to a contract worth $100 million in March. They also acquired defensive end Mark Anderson as well. Combined with Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus, the Bills have one of the best front fours in all of football. They started to show some promise with five sacks against the Chiefs two weeks ago.

Denver Broncos: Lead by Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos have a solid front four that can limit your ability to run as well as get to the quarterback. You don’t want to be a quarterback dropping back to pass when that pass rush is coming at you. Throw in linebacker Von Miller and you have a nasty front seven to contend with. Read more…

Peyton Manning’s return gives huge ratings boost

Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos

Last year, Tim Tebow made the Denver Broncos a big television draw. This year,Peyton Manning has made the Broncos an even bigger draw.

NBC announced this morning that the Broncos’ victory over the Steelers on Sunday night, in Manning’s first game back after a year off, yielded an overnight rating of 18.0, which is the highest rating for any prime time regular-season game ever on NBC. The previous best was a 17.7 rating for the 2010 kickoff game, which was an NFC Championship Game rematch between the Super Bowl champion Saints and Brett Favre’s Vikings.

The Steelers-Broncos rating is up 8 percent from last year’s first Sunday Night Football game, the Cowboys at the Jets. That game drew a 16.9 rating.

The huge TV ratings are evidence of Manning’s stardom, but also another reminder of the incredible popularity of the NFL. In a 500-channel world where TV ratings are in decline for basically everything, the NFL seems immune to that decline. The record ratings numbers just keep coming. Read more…

AFC preseason power rankings

Doug Benc / Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger

As the end of the NFL preseason is quickly approaching, so is the beginning of the 2012 NFL regular season. As there is one week left of preseason football, we are less than 10 days away from the start of the 2012 NFL season. I like to name this period “Week Zero”, as these power rankings are a basic opinion of how I believe the 2012 NFL season will pan out.

In the AFC, many familiar faces and teams will be in the postseason talks once again. The AFC, which is noticeably weaker than the rival NFC, have many teams loaded with potential, but just are not quite there yet. Here are the Week Zero AFC Power Rankings.

16. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

A new head coach (Mike Mularkey), a quarterback still going through growing pains (Blaine Gabbert), a defense on the decline, and one of the best playmakers in the NFL (Maurice Jones-Drew) is holding out for a new contract…yea, 2012 will not be very kind to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Projection: 4-12

15. CLEVELAND BROWNS

The Browns have some bright spots in wide receiver Greg Little, All-Pro offensive tackle Joe Thomas, a defensive line loaded with under-the-radar talent, and two of the most efficient defensive players in the game in linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and cornerback Joe Haden, the problem though? Too young, not ready to compete for a playoff spot yet.

Projection: 4-12

14. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

New Colts franchise quarterback Andrew Luck doesn’t play like an ordinary NFL rookie, but fellow rookies Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and T.Y. Hilton certainly look the part, as the Colts are starting over with new head coach Chuck Pagano and look to be heading in the right direction.

Projection: 5-11

13. MIAMI DOLPHINS

The Dolphins made significant moves in the offseason, trading away star wide receiver Brandon Marshall, cutting former starting quarterback Chad Henne, signing Chad Johnson, cutting Chad Johnson, and trading away cornerback Vontae Davis…the Dolphins will have difficulty finding any kind of identity in 2012.

Projection: 6-10  Read More…

Fantasy Football kickers: The best of the rest

Like we did with tight ends and team defense, we have put together a list of kickers to consider drafting after those in the top tiers are off the board. Those, of course, would include David Akers, Stephen Gostkowski, Sebastian Janikowski, Mason Crosby, and Garrett Hartley-the top five in most leagues. We left out Dan Bailey because he finished third in the league last season in his rookie year and should be considered a top-tier kicker.

And we even threw in some sleepers in this category-perhaps the next Akers or Crosby- because at one point in their careers that’s exactly what they were!

1. Matt Prater-Broncos- Field goal opportunities were at a premium for Prater last season as Denver ranked second in punts in the league. Can’t kick too many F.G. when your team has problems on offense and is forced to punt repeatedly. Once the Broncos brought Peyton Manning on board, they wisely franchised Prater realizing the tremendous talent that he possesses. With a much more potent offense at the ready this season, we think Prater will be a Sleeper candidate. Remember in ’09 he finished the season with 122 fantasy points, just 7 behind Crosby and 27 behind Janikowski, so we know he has the potential.

2. Matt Bryant-Falcons-A team with an explosive offense led by QB Matt Ryan and with weapons such as Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez, Bryant will have ample chances to bring your team fantasy points this season. Among active players, he has led the league in field goal accuracy (91.7%) since 2010. Couple that with the fact that the Falcons will play 10 games indoors this season and there is an excellent case to wait for Bryant who will probably be the 8th-9th Kicker to go off the boards.

3. Alex Henery-Eagles- First and foremost, the Eagles CAN score points! Especially if Michael Vick can remain healthy for most of the season..Henery set an NCAA record last year with Nebraska in field goal accuracy (88.9%) which is why Philly made him their fourth round selection in last year’s draft. Look, he’s on a team where David Akers thrived for years, so there’s no reason to believe that Henery won’t either given his collegiate pedigree. Definitely Sleeper material! Read more…

5 Fantasy Football players that are overrated relative to ADP

Andre Johnson is Overrated in Fantasy Football They say you can’t win your fantasy football league on draft day, but you certainly can lose it. As I said before, fantasy football is all about value. You want to maximize the value of each and every pick. Every time you draft a player a fantasy football bust who doesn’t perform to his draft position, you’re at a disadvantage.

With that said, here are five fantasy football players that I think are overrated in drafts right now.

1. Maurice Jones-Drew (ADP: 8.5)

Jones-Drew was great last season, but his stats were a bit inflated by a four touchdown game and a 169 yard game in Week 17 when most fantasy leagues don’t play (also his only game with over 125 rushing yards). I’m not sold on Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars offense to keep defenses honest and his holdout doesn’t help his cause. I wouldn’t take Jones-Drew in the first round.

2. Peyton Manning (ADP: 53.6)

He’s had four surgeries on his neck. If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what would. One hit and his season and career could be over. Now you can say that about any player, but if I’m a Manning owner every time he gets I’m holding my breath and praying he gets up.Quarterback is too deep for me to take a chance on Manning.  Read more here…

Note: ADP Data from FantasyPros.com

Peyton still not dialing it up deep

Peyton Manning

Broncos fans welcomed Peyton Manning to his first training camp in Denver with record attendance and all kinds of excitement. He has energized the organization and its fan base. But as we alluded to in our Denver Broncos season preview, unanswered questions about the 36-year-old quarterback remain.

Manning, who underwent four separate neck surgeries between March 2 of 2010 and September 9 of 2011, didn’t do a whole lot of deep-ball passing in OTAs and minicamps. In early July, Mike Klis of the Denver Post guessed Manning was 85 to 90 percent healthy, before suggesting Peyton might never rediscover the remaining 10 to 15 percent. Manning’s arm strength is a question mark, and he hasn’t answered it yet in training camp.

“Manning has looked better than most people believed he would so far,” ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported on SportsCenter Monday morning. ”But here is a little bit of context: Yes, he’s looked good at the line of scrimmage. His balls have had zip. And the majority of them have been caught. But most of those balls have been short and intermediate, with only a handful of them long.”

D.J. Williams accused of cheating three urine tests

Broncos' Williams recovers a fumble and celebrates with Woodyard during the second half of their NFL football game against the Dolphins in MiamiBroncos linebacker D.J. Williams, who is embroiled in a legal fight with the NFL over his looming six-game suspension for violating the league’s policies against banned substances, is accused of repeatedly attempting to cheat the drug testing system.

“The evidence is clear,” hearing officer Harold Henderson wrote, according to documents obtained by the Denver Post, “that Williams was involved in three separate incidents of attempted substitution of a specimen.”
According to the NFL’s version of events, Williams provided urine samples in August and September that the drug-testing lab concluded were something other than human urine. And in an incident in November, Williams was accused by the specimen collector of having a bottle near his waist while submitting the test, perhaps to pour clean urine from someone else into his sample. Williams then refused to give the tester the bottle.
In that incident, the collector said he saw Williams drop the bottle while submitting his urine sample. According to the collector, Williams then kicked the bottle into an area of the Broncos’ locker room where drug testers were not allowed to go. When the tester asked a trainer to go into the locker room and get the bottle, the trainer and Williams returned from the locker room with a different bottle. (Williams claims the bottle contained something legal that he uses for energy and it fell from his pocket during the test, and that he kicked it into the locker room accidentally.) Read more here…

2012 AFC West NFL season preview

peyton-manningFor years, the San Diego Chargers stood as the most fearsome team in the AFC West. The combination of Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson dominated the division. Tomlinson and the team ultimately parted ways in 2010, and since then the division has been somewhat shaky and completely up for grabs. That was never more evident than last season, when three teams in the division finished 8-8 and the Chiefs only finished one game behind at 7-9. Teams from the AFC West will face off against the NFC South and AFC North this season, two divisions that are loaded with talented teams.

As 2011 came to a close, all four teams seemed to be in similar positions, with the Chargers standing as the only team without a question mark at the quarterback position. That all changed when the Colts released Peyton Manning, though. Denver swooped in and signed the four-time MVP.  Read More…

NFL players to watch: Wide Reciever

Eric Decker

As the 2012 season approaches optimism is in the air no matter what team you are pulling for, heck even the Dolphins said they should win the AFC this year!  So as we look forward to this season, I am going to share a short list of players that will be better in 2012.

This week we cover the Wide Receivers!

Eric Decker, Denver Broncos – This young man is very intriguing to me this year and I think he will be one of the biggest surprises of 2012.  Despite playing in the Tim Tebow offense last year, Decker still managed to land at 32nd in fantasy football rankings among wide receivers last season.  With Peyton Manning now under center in Denver the passing game with thrive again.  Most experts are predicting Demaryius Thomas to get the lion’s share of production this year, but I think that will only benefit Decker further.  Thomas is clearly the number one, and Decker will face much more single coverage.  Manning has always found ways to take lesser known players and turn them into production machines, look at Anthony Gonzales, Austin Collie, Brandon Stokley, and Jacob Tamme to name a few.  I would not be surprised to see #87 almost double his numbers from 2011.  He could easily post over 80 receptions, 1,200 yards and at least 12 touchdowns this season.

Titus Young, Detroit Lions – Not often in the NFL do offensive rookies have an immediate impact.  Yes we do see superstars burst onto the scene, but it is definitely not the norm.  Especially on an offense as talent as the Lions.  However, Titus Young was far more productive than many realize.  As a rookie Titus was the 4th highest scoring fantasy player on the Lions offense, and was actually 42nd among all receivers.  The 48 catches for 607 yards and 6 touchdowns was a pretty good start.  Yes Titus showed immaturity over the last 9 months, but all indications out of MoTown are that he has his head screwed on straight.  Reports out of the mini camps are that he has been uncoverable in practices as his offseason work and focus is really showing.  If he can maintain this new level of focus while leaving behind the childish antics, he will explode this season.  I could see over 70 receptions and 1,000 yards with double digit touchdowns for Young this season, as he surpasses Burelson as the team’s number two receiver.

Read more here…

Champ Bailey thinks he’s as good as ever

Champ Bailey

When Champ Bailey entered the NFL in 1999, he was a physical freak of nature whose natural athleticism was so great that at Georgia, he had averaged more than 100 all-purpose yards a game as a part-time player on offense and special teams while playing enough defense to win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as college football’s best defensive player. But now that Bailey is about to turn 34, how does the Broncos’ cornerback now compare to that young player of 13 years ago?

“I am still as good as I was when I was 22 or 23,” Bailey told Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com.

At first blush, that would seem hard to swallow: The reality is that athletes in their mid-30s simply aren’t in their peak physical condition anymore. But Bailey acknowledges that he’s not the same athlete he was when he entered the league. The reason Bailey hasn’t declined, he says, is that he’s mentally stronger than ever. Read more here…

Peyton Manning looks sharp in practice for Broncos

Peyton Manning Broncos

Peyton Manning is the only four-time MVP in NFL history, he’s hoisted a Super Bowl trophy and hosted “Saturday Night Live.”
Yet, he’s never faced scrutiny quite like this.
“I’ve never had to comment before on incompletions in practice, so this is new to me,” the Denver Broncos quarterback said with a chuckle when peppered with questions about some errant deep throws Monday.
“I will say that when you are throwing deep balls, the idea is to take your shot. It’s not the highest percentage play but we’re going to keep throwing them,” Manning said. “As they always say, in a game if you throw five deep balls and you complete one of them, that’s actually a great thing. I mean, you’re taking a shot and trying to send a message to the defense to hopefully back them off.”
Coach John Fox also had some fun with the media’s steely-eyed focus on the Manning’s timing with his receivers on deeper routes.
“You guys obviously pay a little more attention to that than I do, but I think our passing game is way further along than it was this time a year ago, obviously, because we weren’t even here,” Fox said. “Again, we’re not keeping stats now, we’re just installing and getting guys a comfort level.” Read more here…

Heisman quarterbacks don’t always work out in the NFL

This is a journey into the deep dark abyss of college quarterbacks who dominated Saturdays but failed when it came to Sunday in the NFL.  Over the past 12 seasons, ten college quarterbacks have won the Heisman trophy, including Cam Newton, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow,  Matt Leinart, and RGIII.

Winning is an honor that recognizes an athlete as the best of the best as related to college football.  Unfortunately this coveted collegiate prize has been somewhat of a curse for quarterbacks; a stigma that says you’re the best in college but not good enough for the NFL.  Since 2000, of the nine quarterback Heisman winners, all have gone on to have some interaction with the NFL. Unfortunately for Cam Newton, their track records aren’t in his favor, or are they?  Let’s take a look, and you decide.

#9 –  2000 Heisman Trophy winner, Chris Weinke, Florida State

Weinke Spent seven years in the NFL from 2000-2007 with the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers.  His career statistics were 15 TD, 26 interceptions, 3,904 passing yards, and a 62.2 passer rating.  For his lack of contributions in the NFL, Chris Weinke was a BUST!

#8 – 2001 Heisman Trophy winner, Eric Crouch, Nebraska 

Coming out of college at 5’11 it was thought that Crouch was too small to play NFL quarterback.  He was originally drafted by the St Louis Rams as a wide receiver where during his one season with the team he racked up a whopping zero receptions.  In 2005 Crouch attempted a comeback signing with the Kansas City Chiefs but was sent to NFL Europe where he played safety.  Eric Crouch was a BUST!

#7 – 2002 Heisman Trophy winner, Carson Palmer, USC

To date, Carson Palmer has spent eight seasons in the NFL with the Bengals and a few games with the Oakland Raiders. He has thrown for over 22,000 yards, 154 touchdowns with an 86.9 passer rating.  He is the only Bengals quarterback to pass for over 4000 yards in two seasons.  His accomplishments make Carson Palmer a BEAST!

#6 – 2003 Heisman Trophy winner, Jason White, Oklahoma 

 White is the only of our Heisman heroes to go undrafted.  He tried out with the Chiefs but the team did not sign him.  He again tried out with the Titans and this  time he was offered a contract but instead decided to leave the game of football  because of his bad knees.  Jason White is without a doubt a BUST!

#5 – 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, Matt Leinart, USC

Matt, Matt, Matt…To date, Matt Leinart has five years in the NFL with theArizona Cardinals and the Houston Texans. In those five years he has thrown for less than 4,000 yards with 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.  Coming out of college most thought he’d be the next great thing but this guy wasn’t fooled!  He proved he wasn’t hungry for the NFL when he opted to return to USC for a final year after back to back Rose Bowl and National Championship victories and a Heisman Trophy.  Although his career isn’t over it’s not going anywhere fast and because of that, Matt Leinart is a Big Time BUST!

 #4 –  2006 Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Smith, Ohio State 

After four years in the league Troy Smith threw eight touchdowns and five interceptions with the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers before signing with Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. The highlight of Troy’s career was a sideline blowup with last season with then 49ers Head Coach, Mike Singletary.  Troy Smith was a BUST!

  #3 – 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow, Florida 

Tebow is only entering his third season in the NFL.  Tebow led the Broncos into the playoffs and stunned the Steelers but would eventually lose to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. After John Elway stated he was going to help Tebow, something better came along and Tebow was traded to the New York Jets.  Although the jury is still out on Tebow as to whether or not he can be a successful NFL quarterback, Tebow gets the benefit of the doubt and a PUSH!

 #2 – 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, Sam Bradford, Oklahoma 

In his rookie season Bradford threw 18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and accumulated just over 3,500 passing yards.  Despite his 76.5 passer rating, Fantastic Sam almost led the hapless St. Louis Rams to the playoffs in 2010.  Bradford definitely has tremendous upside but has not improved upon his rookie numbers in 2011.  Although his time is short, we’ve seen enough of Bradford to classify him as a BEAST!

 #1 – 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton, Auburn 

And then there was one!  Fasten you seatbelts this one’s gonna get a little bumpy. With virtually no off-season to prepare due to the lockout, Cam Newton entered the NFL pre-season in a quarterback competition with Jimmy Clausen.  Despite his poor statistical pre-season the Panthers decided his time was now, and the keys to the franchise were handed to the rookie. What did Cam do? He broke the rookie record for passing yards in his first game. He also broke the NFL record for rushing touchdowns as a quarterback.

Of the previous eight quarterbacks, all were Heisman winners, but only two, were the number one overall pick in their respective NFL Drafts.  They were, Sam Bradford and Carson Palmer; two of the three beasts on this list.