With or without me: Cushing believes Texans will win Super Bowl

Dolphins Texans Football

Brian Cushing, may be out for the rest of the season but that doesn’t mean he is any less spirited.

The hit from Jets guard Matt Slauson on Texans linebacker Brian Cushing has launched plenty of stories, here and elsewhere.
Was it legal?  Was it clean?  Will the NFL change the rules to make it not legal?
We’ve yet to hear from the guy who received the hit.  And in his first comments since suffering a torn ACL, Cushing didn’t address the hit itself.  Instead, he focused on the future — both for himself and the team.
“Trust me when I say that I’ll be back better than ever next year; but in the meantime, I want to thank my teammates, coaches, and you fans for all the amazing love and support,” Cushing said on his Facebook page.
“Oh, and WE are STILL winning THIS year’s Super Bowl.”
Texans fans will love to hear it, even as they wonder how the Texans will pull it off without Cushing, the leader of the team’s defense.

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings: West Coast the best coast?

NFL Power Rankings

NFL Power Rankings1. Houston Texans (5-0) – One of the most well-rounded teams with a stud at running back in Arian Foster, but in a very easy division and without a signature win, they are first (for now) and are hurting without Brian Cushing.

Remember those cute little puns about the NFC West this past decade or so?  The NFC Worst?  Not anymore.  The NFC West is now the NFC best.  Every single team in the NFC West is above .500 in the division.  Yes, the St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and San Francisco 49ers are all above .500, no other division boasts that.

At the top of the division is one of the best teams in the NFL, the 49ers.  Against the Buffalo Bills, the 49ers racked up 300+ yards passing AND rushing in a 45-3 shellacking.  Read that sentence again.  An incredible feat that has never happened, EVER in the NFL.  In a league that has already transformed into a spread offense, pass happy league, the 49ers run the ball at an amazing clip of 6.1 yards per carry through five games, even when teams know what is coming they cannot stop it.  Since San Francisco lost to the surprising Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers had a wake up call, they have outscored their past two opponents 79-3.  And it hasn’t even felt that close.  Alex Smith leads the NFL in passer rating, yes, THAT Alex Smith and he had his first ever win throwing for 300+ yards and three touchdown passes.

The rest of the division possesses potential top-10 defenses with a lackluster passing game.  The Arizona Cardinals may have the worst offensive line in the NFL, with one of the worst quarterbacks under pressure, Kevin Kolb.  Now with the loss of both starting running backs Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells, the run game will be even less effective for the Cardinals.  But they exhibit an elite defense at all three levels that will keep them in the game and with Patrick Peterson, the most dynamic return man in the game, returning punts and kicks, the Cardinals will compete for a playoff spot.  The Seattle Seahawks also exhibit a great defense that has been lifted to potential greatness with first round pick Bruce Irvin as the bookend pass rusher opposite of Chris Clemons.  The difference between them and the Cardinals is they can actually run the ball.  Marshawn Lynch is a beast and Robert Turbin has potential to be one of the better back-up running backs in the NFL.  The Seahawks weakness is that they lack any kind of passing attack.  Russell Wilson has been a nice story, but he’s a rookie and is holding back the Seahawks, we may see Matt Flynn soon.  Tied for third place with the Seahawks is the St. Louis Rams.  The Rams are building in the right direction, but lack any kind of explosiveness from their skilled positions on offense.  The Rams with multiple early round picks in the coming years will be a force to be reckoned with as long as Sam Bradford transforms from injury riddled “Captain Checkdown” to a more explosive passer.

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings:

2. Atlanta Falcons (5-0) – The Falcons pass game has been incredible and the defensive secondary has really improved, but when they need to run it can you really trust Michael “Where’s My Cheeseburger” Turner?

3. San Francisco 49ers (4-1) – The most balanced offense in the NFL. The offense is catching up to its defense, a loss the Vikes might have been a blessing in disguise.

4. Minnesota Vikings (4-1) – The surprise team in the NFL.  Christian Ponder has developed into a good quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes, and Percy Harvin is turning into an MVP candidate. My Fantasy team thanks you.

5. New England Patriots (3-2) – Despite being 3-2, the Pats have a solid run game and defense that this team has lacked the past few years. Thankfully Tom Brady’s nose is still intact. Read more…

NFL Power Rankings Week 4: Dirty Birds rise to the top

Michael TurnerWeek 3 was all about the NFC West and of course, the replacement refs. While the refs played an important role in determining the outcomes of several games, mostly in a negative manner, we tried to take that element out and simply go with what we feel should have happened and what we expect to happen in the future. Hopefully that entails the real referees taking the field shortly.

1. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)↑3

Other than the fact that Michael Turner, who did have a good game on Sunday (14-80-1), is on the Falcons they have some of the best playmakers in the league at their respective positions; Matt Ryan is smart enough to know how to utilize each one.

2. Houston Texans (3-0)↑2

The second of just two undefeated teams, the Texans have a great defense and several key players on offense. Matt Schaub won’t throw four touchdowns often, but when he does it’s time to take notice.

3. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)↓1

It was a rough week for the consensus number one team in the league; their defense looked tired; Alex Smith threw his first interception since Thanksgiving; Frank Gore lost the football; overall they just didn’t seem like the team everyone pronounced as “the best in football.” Let’s see if they bounce back against the Jets in week 4.

4. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)↑1

No matter what your feelings are on the game-winning field goal, this team is good and if Joe Flacco continues to play well they will be great. Read more…

2012 NFL Week 2 power rankings: Patriots on top

Tom Brady Wes Welker

Source: AP

1. New England Patriots (1-0) ↔

Stevan Ridley looked good, Gronk and Aaron Hernandez each caught a TD, the defense literally hit the Tennessee Titans in the mouth, and Tom Brady got knocked down and got right back up. This team looks tougher, faster, smarter, and simply better!

2. San Francisco 49ers (1-0)↑2

Speaking of hitting people in the mouth, the 49ers just beat up the Packers in week one. If it wasn’t for a questionable call to overturn a block in the back late in the game on a Randall Cobb punt return for a TD this one could have been really ugly.

3. Green Bay Packers (0-1)↓1

I know it’s tough to believe a team that was beaten up and overwhelmed in week one only falls one spot, but c’mon, it’s the Packers! Aaron Rodgers still threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns against what is arguably the best defense (by far) in the NFL.

4. Houston Texans (1-0)↑1

If the 49ers’ defense is indeed the best in the game the Texans are the second best. The best defense in the AFC recorded three sacks and forced four turnovers against the Dolphins.

5. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)↑6

One of the biggest climbers of the week, the Ravens deserve this spot as I admittedly underestimated what appears to be a top contender in the AFC. That said, they are old on defense and an Ed Reed injury could be severely detrimental to the success of this team.

Is your team’s quarterback at risk for injury in 2012?

Most experts regard the quarterback position as the most important in all of sports. If your team has a great quarterback, a trip to the playoffs is likely. However, a great quarterback does nothing for the team while wearing a sling. Which quarterbacks need to prove that they can stay healthy in 2012?

Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos

Manning has never been chronically injured. However, he did miss all 16 games last season in his final year with the Indianapolis Colts. At the age of 36, he is entering a phase of his career when even a nagging injury will take longer to heal. Considering that he needed three neck fusion surgeries (there was a fourth procedure that went unreported) to get back into playing shape, he may be one hit away from missing all of this season as well. If that happens, the Broncos may be toast. No one thinks Caleb Hanie or Brock Osweiler can lead a team to the playoffs.

Matt Schaub – Houston Texans

Matt Schaub has played in 11 or fewer games in three out of his five seasons with the Texans. Last season, Houston was forced to finish the season with rookie T.J Yates at the quarterback position. He fared OK for a rookie, but Schaub is clearly the type of player at quarterback that the Texans need to lead a balanced attack. In his absence, the Texans have been forced to put more of the burden on running backs Adrian Foster and Ben Tate. If healthy, Schaub has the ability to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season without much effort. Read more…

Top 5 Fantasy Football players in 2012

Rice, Foster, McCoyFantasy Football is upon us, so I thought who wouldn’t want advice from a guy that got second place in his league last year.

1. Arian Foster, RB – Houston Texans.  Despite only coming in third in the Lensless Glasses Power Rankings in 2012 behind LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, Arian Foster comes in number one in my top fantasy football players this year, thankfully ESPN agrees with me. Despite starting off slow with a hamstring injury in his first three games in 2011 and sitting out the final game of the year, Foster still rushed for over 1,200 yards and scored 10 touchdowns while scoring double digits in 10 of his games.  Foster also adds legitimate receiving points with over 600 yards receiving last year.  The Houston Texans will rely on the running game more in 2012 since their passing game will take a small hit without a legit number two receiver next to Andre Johnson, who has had trouble staying healthy the past few years.  If Foster can stay healthy, there’s no reason he can’t put up even bigger numbers and help you win your fantasy league.

2. Cam Newton, QB – Carolina Panthers.  After being drafted first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton slides a spot in my 2012 top fantasy football players to number two overall, and jumps ahead of Aaron Rodgers as my top quarterback in 2012.  Last year, Newton came out the gates hot, passing for 854 yards in his first two games, but slowed down considerably with just over 228 passing yards per game.  Newton’s real value is his dual-threat ability.  He ran for 14 touchdowns, second most in the NFL and more than Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, and Ray Rice.  If Newton can maintain his rushing totals, avoids the sophomore slump and puts up huge numbers this year, you may be rockin’ bigger pearly whites than he does. And Alex Smith still thinks he can’t win games, pshhh. Read more…

2012 NFL player props: Top 10 value picks

calvin johnson

These picks are far from locks but if you are looking for value then you’re in the right spot.

10. 2012 NFL MVP – Odds to Win | Arian Foster 15/1

I think the Texans will be a team to watch this year; they have a great defense and Andre Johnson is healthy, for now. Arian Foster is arguably the most dynamic running back in football and if he ends up putting up the numbers like he did in 2010 (2,220 total yards and 12 total TDS) the Texans may very well make the playoffs, and Foster the MVP.

9. Who will lead the league in Receiving Yards? | Brandon Marshall 16/1

He’s not the number one value pick for this category, but he has great potential and even better odds. In his last season playing with Jay Cutler (2008) Marshall recorded 104 catches and 1,265 yards, good for 3rd and 7th respectively. I expect Marshall to have a huge year and it could earn you some nice green.

8. Offensive Rookie of the Year – Odds to Win | Doug Martin 14/1

While Andrew Luck (9/4) and Robert Griffin III (9/2) are the obvious favorites for the oddsmakers, Martin may very well be the one who has the most positive impact. Rookie running backs are often the ones to make the transition from college to pro look the most seamless, and as of now it appears Martin will get the starting job.

7. Who will lead the league in Receiving Yards? | Roddy White 18/1

With Julio Jones around Roddy White’s chances of winning this title are decreasing every year. White finished 2nd in 2010 and 8th last season, so while oddsmakers have this about right, the potential is certainly there. Without being able to double-team Roddy opposing defenses are going to give Matt Ryan’s number one plenty of opportunities this season.

6. Who will lead the league in Passing Yards? | Aaron Rodgers 11/2

Believe it or not Rodgers is listed behind Brees (9/2) and Brady (19/4) as far as potential for throwing the most passing yards. The Packers’ quarterback and fantasy football stud has never led the league in passing and this leads me to believe this is going to be his year. Read more here…

Brian Cushing released from the hospital


Getty Images

Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing is out of the hospital.

Cushing checked in on Tuesday night with an illness that coach Gary Kubiak described as flu-like symptoms. Cushing has recovered enough to get back on his feet and Kubiak is hopeful that he’ll be back with the team on Thursday afternoon.

Kubiak isn’t ruling Cushing out of Saturday’s preseason opener against the Panthers. If Cushing continues to feel well, it sounds like he’s going to play.  Read more…

Fantasy Football defense, special teams: What you should know

Just like with all position players, there are an élite amount of DST (defense and special teams) and the question that remains is who are the best of the rest? Our top six DST include the 49ers, Packers, Giants, Patriots, Ravens, and the Jets.   Once they’re off the board, we have put together a list of other DST and list why they should be considered for your team…

Philadelphia Eagles– Even though they play in one of the more competitive divisions in the NFL, we’re picking the DST of the Eagles as sleepers this season. They had a usually poor start last year but in the final weeks they came on strong and became more of the Eagles D of old. They made some great moves in the off-season to help fortify their defense-moves like the additions of rookie linemen Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry as well as linebacker DeMeco Ryans should put the Eagles back into defensive relevancy which has always been a major part of their game.

Houston Texans– With DeMeco Ryans going to Philadelphia and former 1st rounder Mario Williams shuffling off to Buffalo, any other team would be in for a long season, but this is a defense that’s got Wade Phillips at the helm and they’re coming off their best defensive season in their franchise’s history! This season, instead of being great they’ll be just ‘very good’ which is all you want for your team because you don’t need the best DST to win your league. Read more here…

Texans’ Wade Phillips thinks J.J. Watt is a future Hall of Famer


JJ Watt

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


Defensive end J.J. Watt closed last season with a flourish and now his defensive coordinator with the Texans is making bold statements about where Watt’s career can take him.

Wade Phillips sounded a bit like another son of a former NFL head coach when talking about Watt at Texans training camp. Rex Ryan would certainly appreciate Phillips putting Watt in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after just one year on the job.

“He’s going to be a bust — not a first-round bust but a bust in the Hall of Fame,” Phillips said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “The only players I’ve seen that can do what he can do with his intensity can be found in Canton.”  Read More…

AFC South: TTR’s game changers

Join us as TTR Game Changers takes a tour through all 32 teams, identifying one player from every squad that I believe has a great chance of being a game changer in 2012.  To see the full series click here.

Houston Texans – When Wade Philips came aboard in Houston, he did the unimaginable.  He took that miserable squad and turned them into a dominant defense.  Transforming a defense alone is hard, especially when shifting to a new philosophy.  When they made that shift, they wisely drafted Brooks Reed out of Arizona State.  In some scouting circles he was considered a poor man’s Clay Matthews.  Well, poor or not, he played above expectations last year down the stretch as he got more playing time.  This year with Mario Williams gone, he will start opposite the emergent Connor Barwin, to help for one of the newest pass rushing duos in the NFL.  Barwin believes the sky is the limit for Reed, who is currently believed to be the strongest guy on the teamafter an amazing off season.  I expect Reed to build on his dominant post season performances  from the get go in 2012.  Reed and Barwin could surprise this year with 10 plus sacks each.
Tennessee Titans –  Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t like what the Titans are doing.  I don’t fully understand how they are trying to build this team.  It seems like each year they are letting go of players, while only pulling in a modicum of talent to replace them.  They do have some core players left on both sides of the ball, but it appears that it is becoming slim pickins.  This is a hard selection for me to make, because there are a few players that I go back and forth on.  I like Akeem Ayers potential, but I think he needs to develop a little more, and he may not have a lot of help on that side of the ball this season. Read more here…

Not again: Andre Johnson tweaks groin

Andre JohnsonWhen Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson left practice early on Sunday everyone said that it was just a minor injury.

That probably didn’t stop too many Texans fans from holding their breath until they got something more substantive about Johnson’s status.

His injuries robbed the Texans of one of their biggest weapons for a big chunk of last season and optimism about this year would come crashing down if word came that Johnson would miss a significant amount of time again.

Exhalation may commence. Johnson spoke to the media on Sunday afternoon and reinforced the earlier belief that the injury wasn’t something of great concern. Read more here..

Mike Sims-Walker could sign with the Texans

Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville

Veteran free-agent wide out Mike Sims-Walker will work out on Wednesday for the defending AFC South champions, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Sims-Walker played four games with the Rams last year before being released and returning to Jacksonville last season.  After two games back with the Jaguars, a knee injury landed him on injured reserve.
In 2009, Sims-Walker made a big splash with 63 catches for 869 receiving yards and seven touchdowns for the Jaguars.  The next season, his production dropped by 20 catches and more than 300 yards, but he added another seven touchdowns.