Every year when the Oscars roll around there is always one acting category that is so loaded with amazing turns that it leads to a deserving performance getting left out completely and an actor or actress not even being nominated. It’s happened to Jim Carrey (The Truman Show, Man on the Moon, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Christian Bale (American Psycho, Rescue Dawn) and Amy Adams (Enchanted, seriously, watch that movie and tell me she didn’t deserve at least a nomination).
In spite of it meaning nothing at all, the NBA All-Star Game actually means something to me. Not like the MLB All-Star game which tries desperately to have meaning yet means nothing. The NBA All-Star Game doesn’t require a representative from every team. There’s only 13 roster spots avaialble and each one is reserved for the best of the best, basically as long as you don’t play for the Warriors you will have a shot at making the team.
The Utah Jazz did something in the last two nights that is going to be tough for any club to accomplish over the next few years. Forget about the comebacks of 22 points and 19 points in a 24 hour time span, the fact that they beat Miami and Orlando on back to back nights is the true shocker. The Lakers could do it. The Celtics could do it. That doesn’t mean they will.
It’s pretty rare when two number one picks make their debut in the same season but that’s exactly what we as fans are burdened with since last year Blake Griffin’s knee exploded into a million pieces. That’s what happens to Clippers. Their knees explode. Portland, coming off a win the night previous against Phoenix, ended up winning the game when the Clippers forgot how to work the ball
This is going to be the most exciting season of my lifetime. Thank goodness too. With a lockout looming, the NBA is going out, temporarily, with a bang. Dwyane Wade and his Superfriends, The Big Three plus Rondo, Dwight Howard supposedly learning how to play offense without dunking, Kevin Durant hoping to lead his team to glory like he led Team USA
Throughout the entire year I will constantly waffle on which sport is my favorite. I love how quickly paced and hard nosed hockey is. I admire the raw athleticism and explosiveness of basketball. Baseball has a natural, almost organic feel to it and the teamwork on the soccer field is something that no sport can duplicate. Ask my on any given day which I enjoy most and I’m likely to change my story like a state’s witness paid off by the mob.
That is until football season rolls around. It probably goes back to when I was growing up in Germany. I can remember watching games with my dad at what was most likely very very late or very very early on the Armed Forces Network and cheering as quietly as we could so we didn’t wake up mom or my baby brother. When I really sit down and think about my favorite sport is, when I break down the positives and negatives of each one, football wins. The raucous cheering, the food during the tailgate, the physicality, the food during the game, the passion of the fans, and the highest of high comedy, Wade Phillips.
I’m ready to soak this season in too. With a lockout on the horizon, I am fully prepared to get as much out of this season as I can. I feel the same way about this season as I did after the last MLB, NBA, and NHL lockout. I’m appreciative. I’m thankful. I’m just so damn happy that football is here today and for the next seven months.
Without further ado, I give you my Charles Oakley NFL Power Rankings. Why name my NFL rankings after an NBA player? Because Oak is that powerful.
32. Buffalo Bills- They lose two home games to Toronto plus they still don’t have a quarterback who can handle the cold and wind in Buffalo. Someone has to be the worst team in the league but not all things are bad Buffalo fans, you’re going to get a strong armed quarterback, either Jake Locker or Andrew Luck.
31. Seattle Seahawks- Isn’t it destiny that they get one of the top two picks in next years draft and keep Jake Locker in Washington? It’s almost perfect. Except for the part where they lose fourteen games this season. Their roster might have the least amount of talent of any in the league and when you couple that with a college coach who didn’t have much success his first stint in the pros, you have a recipe for disaster.
30. Cleveland Browns- I’m not going to make a LeBron James joke. Just know that I’m sorry Cleveland.
29. St. Louis Rams- Sam Bradford gets it. Sign the contract, learn the playbook, and give a damn. Basically do the exact opposite of Jamarcus Russell. He looks good. If only his offensive line looked anything better than bad we could predict some success. I’m just hoping he stays upright, or at the very least, healthy. Thankfully he has a workhorse back that any other offense would revolve around anyway. Stephen Jackson is a rookie quarterback’s dream. “You mean I’m going to get paid to hand off and throw to this guy twenty-eight times per game? Can do coach!”
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- I’m not an avid fantasy player but I can tell you this: If your RB is starting against this team, you will score points. Gerald McCoy will help some but one good player on your defense isn’t going to help when he’s playing with a bunch of players who’ve proven they can’t play at a high level consistently. Josh Freeman was promising at times last season but was also green at times as well. Expect more of the same.
27. Denver Broncos- Personnel moves since Shanahan left:
Traded Jay Cutler for a Kyle Orton, a OLB who couldn’t sack a lunch, and Tim Tebow, who won’t be ready to contribute for at least two or three years.
Traded a first round pick in 2010 for a seventh round pick in 2009.
Traded the most dominant physical, possession receiver in the game for a second rounder this year.
That’s before we mention last season’s collapse, the same reason Shanahan is gone. They’ve basically turned over all of the key components of their roster so they could go 5-11 this year. Fantastic work you guys. Keep it up.
26. Detroit Lions- I love where this league is headed. I can’t remember when there were this many good quarterbacks in the league at the same time. Old dogs like Manning, McNabb, Brees, and Brady. Young pups like Rodgers, Ryan, Flacco, Stafford, Bradford, and Rivers. Better quarterbacks equal better play. Better play equals better games. It’s simple math.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jones-Drew might be healthy. Their defense might be good. Garrard might be good again. Their young receivers might step up. When you use the word ‘might’ to describe a team so much, they are going to be bad. No ‘might’ about it.
24. Kansas City Chiefs- A little better than last year but not much. Eric Berry is going to be awesome. Dexter McCluster looks solid but their offensive and defensive lines are still terrible. That’s where NFL games are won. I don’t see the Chiefs winning many games this year.
23. Carolina Panthers- John Fox will squeeze as much out of this roster as possible. Unfortunately for him, you can only get so much orange juice out of one or two good oranges. They have a good backfield and a decent enough defense. They’ll be in a lot of close games but they’re not going to win many of them.
22. Chicago Bears- Jay Cutler are a match made in heaven. Or hell. Both maybe? They’re a match. If they did a version of The Dating Game where Jay Cutler had to pick his new offensive coordinator, he’d definitely end up with Martz. He’d ask questions like, “If you were my coordinator, how many times a week would we run the ball?” and “Three touchdowns and two interceptions: Success or needs improvement?” and “If Would you agree the fastest way to the endzone is a straight line?”
Other matches include: Belichick and Brady, Manning and Gruden, and Montana and Walsh. In a related note, Reid and McNabb would never pick each other.
21. Arizona Cardinals- Derek Anderson sucks at playing quarterback in the NFL. He is going to absolutely kill this team most games. He will have a couple games where he throws for 350 yards and four touchddowns but he will essentially murder this team in the first degree. What does that say then about Matt Leinart? It just says he would’ve murdered them, but to a worse more agonizing extent. So instead of killing them with turnovers and bad decisions, Leinart would’ve elected to use a chainsaw.
20. Oakland Raiders- I want to jump on the bandwagon but they are already a little banged up but I can see why people are so high on them. Easy enough schedule, weak division, the Chargers seem to be ripe enough to be picked, and an actual quarterback who cares. They drafted well for the first time in years, Rolando McClain and Lamarr Houston are going to contribute immediately. They have a new offensive coordinator who wants to ‘build a bully’ and the play calling seems more inventive than any time in recent memory. Jason Campbell will bring a some much needed leadership and coolness to the offensive end as well. All that said, I’ll believe it when I see it.
19. Philadelphia Eagles- I see something similar to a few years ago when the Packers handed the keys to the car to Rodgers. Lots of promise but almost every quarterback needs to learn how to win. The only ones who haven’t are Brady and Roethlisberger. Kolb doesn’t strike me as an insta-stud like those guys were.
18. Washington Redskins- Stings, don’t it Andy Reid? McNabb is a good fit for Shanahan. Rollouts and naked boots, commitment to running the ball. Jake Plummer went 13-3 with Shanahan as his coach. The Redskins are in a year of transition for sure but Shanahan will pull some games out just on savvy and experience. They’ll finish ahead of the Eagles because karma wouldn’t have it any other way.
17. Tennessee Titans- I don’t believe in Vince Young. I know he finished 8-2 last year and I know he cares and wants to win but I just can’t get over the fact that he can’t throw the ball accurately down the field. Chris Johnson could carry this team to the playoffs with Young’s help. If Young can’t throw down field still, the Titans are going to be an 8-8 team just like last year.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers- Can’t live with him and can’t live without him. Ironic that we would apply that saying to Roethlisberger. Polamalu has to stay healthy if they are going to climb up the standings in the second half. I think he can but it might be like Tennessee last year (read: too little, too late).
15. Houston Texans- They broke .500 last year! They still missed the playoffs but progress is progress. I like this team a lot and I’d like them even more if they didn’t have to play Indianapolis twice a year. Schaub finally stayed healthy for a full year and they have almost too many options to throw the ball too. Sounds like a good problem to have. The defense still won’t be earth shattering but should be good enough to keep the other team from outscoring them.
14. San Diego Chargers- Missing their best wideout, their best offensive lineman, and traded one of their starting cornerbacks. I think Cromartie is addition by subtraction but they are still less talented going into the season than last year and virtually everyone top team in the AFC got better this offseason. Remember, they won the division at 8-8 two years ago and by all accounts they are worse than they were then.
13. San Francisco 49ers- Patrick Willis is the best linebacker since Ray Lewis in his prime. As pointed out earlier, Jake Plummer went 13-3 one year. Kordell Stewart went 13-3 one year. Alex Smith could go 13-3. They won’t. They’re not that good but they do play in the weakest division and they don’t have any reason to believe that Alex Smith could be good but they could settle for mediocre and finish 9-7 and win their division.
12. Cincinatti Bengals- Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens, Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, Tank Johnson, Cedric Benson, and Ray Mauluga are all on the same team. This will end badly.
8. New York Giants- I expect a bounce back year from the Giants and I expect Bradshaw to run all over people and I expect them to get revenge in week 1 against a Panthers team that killed them in the final game at the Meadowlands. I’m not buying the Cowboys as well. In fact I’m selling them.
11. The Cowboys, for some reason, are a trendy Super Bowl pick. Why exactly? The last time they were in a meaningful game they lost by about a million points. What have they done to get better? Their offensive line still sucks. They drafted Dez Bryant but there has to be a reason everyone passed on him, right? That’s right, he’s a head case. I can’t wait for Week 1 when Bryant has more catches and yards than Roy Williams and this season goes into a Jerry Maguire like freefall.
10. New York Jets- A lot of momentum because of an appearance in the AFC Championship game followed by an appearance on Hard Knocks. I’ll tell you why I subscribe to the X-Files Seeing is Believing theory: Mark Sanchez is their QB, LaDanian Tomlinson is ten yards beyond washed up, and Antonio Cromartie is one of their starting corners. Do they remember on of the reasons they got as far as they did was because Cromartie made a simple mistake and got burned for it? Third in the division and first in headlines as to why. Note it.
9. Miami Dolphins- They need to stay healthy but they are going to make the playoffs. They added a top-3 receiver, their quarterback is a year older, and therefore wiser, and their offensive and defensive lines are as nasty as ever. Plus they will run the requisite gadget plays to keep teams on their heels. Congratulations to whoever plays the Dolphins this season, you just found yourself in a knife fight.
7. Minnesota Vikings- Favre is banged up and won’t be any healthier after the Saints rough him up tonight. I think they’ll miss Chester Taylor a lot while Gerhart gets used to the regular season speed. I think they’ll miss Sidney Rice more since they won’t have a legitimate deep threat. Adrian Peterson and that defense is a good start but they’ll need contributions from others to avoid falling into the middle of the pack.
6. Atlanta Falcons- If I had any set of stones I’d pick them to win the division. Last year was odd. Turner was hurt. Ryan was making mistakes he didn’t make as a rookie. The defense had too many lapses. The defense won’t be much improved but the offense sure will. If they get a full year from Turner and if Matt Ryan takes the step into upper-echelon quarterback like he seems destined to then we will be looking at Packers and Falcons NFC Championship game.
Before we descend into the top 5, here are my quick picks:
NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Coach of the Year: Steve Spagnuolo
Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers
Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Willis
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Jahvid Best
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Rolando McClain
5. Baltimore Ravens- Baltimore has a good corps of receivers? Their weak point is the secondary? This doesn’t make any sense. I wonder what the weather is like in hell right now. Freezing or almost freezing?
4. New England Patriots- Rated above the Ravens simply because the Patriots will pass all over them. If the Ravens weren’t banged up in the secondary I’d flip flop these two. The Patriots won’t be able to stop anyone at all but can anyone stop them? I say probably not. They might just light the league on fire. They have more weapons than Call of Duty. They’ll be playing Madden pretty much all year long.
3. Green Bay Packers- I love Aaron Rodgers. Even though he’s a year older than me, I’d adopt him if he’d let me. His line is swiss cheese-like but he’s to quick, too smart now to hold on to the ball as long as he was before. I expect big things from you Aaron, don’t let me down.
2. New Orleans Saints- Everything kind of fell right, which has to happen if you want to win a Super Bowl. Favre threw a pick when he hadn’t thrown any all season and Manning threw one in a situation where everyone expected him to pull through. I just want to say I respect the hell out of Drew Brees and I hope they make it back to meet up with the Colts again. That is the matchup I’m hoping for, but not expecting.
1. Indianapolis Colts- “Looked dead, didn’t I? But I wasn’t. But it wasn’t from lack of trying, I can tell you that. Actually, Bill’s last bullet put me in a coma – A coma I was to lie in for four years. When I woke up, I went on what the movie advertisements refer to as a ‘roaring rampage of revenge.’ I roared. And I rampaged. And I got bloody satisfaction. I’ve killed a hell of a lot of people to get to this point, but I have only one more. The last one. The one I’m driving to right now. The only one left. And when I arrive at my destination, I am gonna kill Bill.” Manning is The Bride and everyone else is Bill. Get the picture?
I think this is the closest you can come to winning an NBA Championship without actually winning one. The Warriors have been the definition of whatever is 14 levels below mediocrity (save for a magical playoff run in 2007). One playoff season in the last sixteen seasons. Typing that last sentence actually made me lose vision in my left eye. Prepare yourself for a slew of articles about how great Warriors fans