NFL Preseason Week 3: Browns @ Eagles

Cleveland Browns @ Philadelphia Eagles Thurs. Aug. 25, 2011 7:30 p.m. EST

As perhaps two of the most talked about teams during the NFL preseason, the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles are set to go head-to-head on Thursday night in Philly with superstar quarterback Michael Vick looking to redeem himself for his awful performance last week (three interceptions) and up-and-coming quarterback Colt McCoy trying to continue to improve under center for Cleveland.

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The Philadelphia Eagles may have made all sorts of moves in the offseason in order to improve their franchise with additions like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Vince Young, Nnamdi Asomugha, Ronnie Brown and Steve Smith, but they haven’t looked that great on either side of the football in their first two preseason games. This is just the preseason and none of these games count once the regular season gets underway, but with some many new faces in Philly this team wants to fire on all cylinders before Week 1.

With that being said, Michael Vick and company will want to get back on track this Thursday night defending their home field in Philly. Michael Vick is most likely the one player on the Philadelphia Eagles that would like to turn things around immediately after struggling against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week which means the Cleveland Browns defense could have their hands full in the first few series of this preseason showdown.

As for the Cleveland Browns, the struggling NFL franchise has finally seen some light at the end of the

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tunnel with quarterback Colt McCoy coming into his own as the leader of this team and running back Peyton H

illis quickly turning into one of the best players at his position in the NFL. McCoy didn’t really impressive anyone in his rookie season in Cleveland, but Browns president Mike Holmgren didn’t lose faith in the former Texas Longhorn as he saw a lot of potential in the young gunslinger.

In the first two preseason games against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, Colt McCoy has thrown for 235 yards and four touchdowns. These might not be eye-popping numbers for superstar quarterbacks like Michael Vick and Aaron Rodgers, but for second-year quarterback Colt McCoy that is extremely impressive and a good sign of things to come in Cleveland.

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On Thursday night, Colt McCoy will try to keep his foot on the gas pedal when going up against the new-look defense of the Philadelphia Eagles. It might be tough for the promising young quarterback to have a repeat performance this week as he will have Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie staring him down in the Philly secondary.

Colt McCoy and the revamped offense and defense of the Philadelphia Eagles will be what to watch in Thursday night’s showdown between two teams that could very possibly be playoff bound this season. Michael Vick will also be looking to turn some heads in this game which makes this preseason matchup a must see for avid football fans.

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Denver Broncos name Kyle Orton as starting quarterback for Week 1

Last season the Denver Broncos made a bold move by selecting two-time BCS champion and Heisman trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. This move by former head coach Josh McDaniels was heavily criticized by NFL analysts and Broncos fans around the country due to the fact that the consensus was that Tim Tebow was not a quarterback that would be able to transcend his talent on the NFL level.

Despite all the criticized and extra media attention geared towards the Denver Broncos for making the decision to draft the young quarterback with a high draft pick, Tim Tebow embraced the challenge of proving everyone wrong and becoming the starting quarterback of the storied NFL franchise.

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Ever since the retirement of two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback John Elway, the Denver Broncos have been desperately looking for a promising young quarterback to come in and fill Elway’s shoes. The Broncos thought they had found that quarterback in Jay Cutler a few years ago, but the Cutler era in the Mile High City ended when McDaniels came to town and fell out of favor with his quarterback.

After the Denver Broncos traded Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears for Kyle Orton and superstar wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins, the team basically had to start over with Orton under center. Even though there were a lot of doubts that Orton could replace Cutler under center, the veteran quarterback played pretty well and is still considered the best quarterback in Denver.

Once the NFL lockout ended, the quarterback controversy began in the Mile High City with everyone talking about second-year quarterback Tim Tebow becoming the starter and Kyle Orton potentially being traded to the Miami Dolphins.

The trade involving Kyle Orton going to Miami seemed to be set in stone with Dolphins fans getting extremely excited about a proven starter coming to South Beach. Despite most people believing that it was a matter of time before Orton was sent packing, the trade fell apart and the veteran quarterback was right back in the middle of a quarterback controversy in Denver once again.

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With the talk of Tim Tebow becoming the starter and the future face of the franchise, the consensus was that it wouldn’t be long before Tebow was bumped up to the number one spot on the depth chart by new head coach John Fox. Even though it seemed like a forgone conclusion, the fact remained that Kyle Orton was the best option and now has officially been named the Denver Broncos starting quarterback.

Not only is the quarterback controversy in the Mile High City finally over with Kyle Orton winning the starter role once again, but now Tim Tebow has become the third quarterback on the depth chart behind Brady Quinn. This came as more of a surprise that Orton getting the starting job as Tebow was thought to have made some strides during the preseason, but it appears he has only made matters worse with poor play in practice and two better quarterbacks ahead of him.

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NFL Preseason Week 1: Jets @ Texans

Monday Night Football: New York Jets at Houston Texans Mon. Aug. 15, 2011 8 p.m. EST

One of the best all-around teams in the NFL over the past two seasons has been without doubt the New York Jets. With flamboyant and outspoken head coach Rex Ryan calling the shots from the sidelines, quarterback Mark Sanchez improving with every game under center and the defense being amongst the league’s elite, the New York Jets are a legitimate Super Bowl title contender every single season.

Obviously, the New York Jets have their eyes on the prize once again heading into this upcoming NFL regular season with a Super Bowl title in their crosshairs. Even though the New York Jets didn’t make blockbuster trades or free agent signings like the Philadelphia Eagles did during the offseason, Rex Ryan and company did bring in some players that will definitely help this team moving forward.

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Perhaps the best move the Jets made in free agency was re-signing former Super Bowl MVP wide receiver Santonio Holmes. With Holmes back for at least the next five years, Sanchez will have that go-to guy in the passing game, but he will also have some veterans to throw to in Derrick Mason and Plaxico Burress.

The New York Jets neglected to bring back free agent wide receiver Braylon Edwards (San Francisco 49ers) and chose to go with Derrick Mason formerly of the Baltimore Ravens and Plaxico Burress formerly of the New York Giants. Burress may be a gamble since he hasn’t played in two years, but still a solid athlete in the passing game at the second or third option. Mason is an aging wideout past his prime, but also a solid option for Mark Sanchez in the offense.

All these new faces for the New York Jets will come together to start the preseason on the first Monday Night Football game of the year against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.

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Last season was a promising look at things to come for the Houston Texans as they quickly became a legitimate threat to dethrone the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South division. With running back Arian Foster coming to life in the Texans’ backfield, the Houston offense was near unstoppable with the passing game amongst the best in the league led by quarterback Matt Schaub and perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson and the running game turning into one of the league’s elite led by Foster.

Whether or not the Houston Texans can keep their foot on the gas pedal this season and finally make it into the playoffs remains to be seen, but things are definitely looking up in Houston and as long as they can stay healthy they will be a threat to win the AFC South division title.

Unfortunately, Arian Foster will not be playing on Monday night against the New York Jets as he has gone down with a hamstring injury. This injury could keep him out of the preseason, but he should be ready for the regular season next month.

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Philadelphia Eagles sign Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith

Heading into NFL free agency, the New York Giants had two big decisions to make at the wide receiver position. The first decision they had to make was whether or not to bring back veteran wideout Plaxico Burress who was recently released from prison and had missed the last two seasons as a result. Even though Burress had gotten a lot of buzz around the NFL in terms of teams interested in signing the veteran, the Giants weren’t sold on the fact that they should bring him back as he did cause some problems in New York before being sent to prison.

Despite head coach Tom Coughlin meeting with Plaxico Burress to see where his head is at and reportedly offering him a new contract to come back to New York, the one-time Super Bowl champion decided to sign with the New York Jets.

Once the New York Giants missed out or declined to re-sign Plaxico Burress, the boys from the Big Apple were thought to make a move to re-sign Pro Bowl wide

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receiver Steve Smith. With Smith being the favorite target quarterback Eli Manning in the passing game, many people believed that there was no way they would let the star wideout go anywhere else.

Unfortunately, despite the New York Giants being interested in re-signing Steve Smith, the team really didn’t have much of a chance to do so. The Philadelphia Eagles on the other hand were able to swoop in and add yet another Pro Bowler to their roster by signing Steve Smith to a one-year deal.

This move to sign Smith was a surprise to say the least for the Eagles as it appeared that Andy Reid and company were content with their new roster. Apparently, that wasn’t the case as they were able to give superstar quarterback one more weapon in the passing game.

It would be hard to argue at this point in time that the Philadelphia Eagles aren’t the big winners of the NFL free agency. The one move everyone anticipated the Eagles making was trading backup quarterback Kevin Kolb to a team in desperate need of a starting quarterback. Shortly after teams were allowed to trade players, the Arizona Cardinals acquired Kevin Kolb and sent corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the Philadelphia Eagles.

This move alone was a giant step in the right direction as the Eagles had upgraded their defense, but they weren’t done there as they signed arguably the most sought after free agent available in superstar corner Nnamdi Asomugha formerly of the Oakland Raiders. As if that weren’t enough, the Eagles went out and made some considerable upgrades to their offense as well by signing quarterback Vince Young, running back Ronnie Brown and now adding wide receiver Steve Smith.

Needless to say, the Philadelphia Eagles are ready to contend for a Super Bowl title this season and have arguably the most talented team in the NFL on both sides of the football. It will be interesting to see if these moves work out or end up blowing up in Andy Reid’s face.

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2011-2012 NFL Regular Season Preview NFC North

Minnesota Vikings (6-10)

The Brett Favre era in Minnesota is officially over, but now the franchise will be handed over to another veteran quarterback in Donovan McNabb. Even though McNabb will bring experience and leadership at the quarterback position this season, the Vikings will be without their best wide receiver in the passing game in Sidney Rice.

With Sidney Rice signing free agent deal with the Seattle Seahawks, Percy Harvin will be the number one option in the passing game and potentially Donovan McNabb’s new favorite target. Along with McNabb and Harvin, the Vikings still have arguably the best running back in the game in Adrian Peterson coming out of the back which could make this a scary offense for any team to face.

Despite the addition of Donovan McNabb which is a step up at the quarterback position, I believe the Minnesota Vikings will struggle and fail to make the playoffs for the second straight season.

Green Bay Packers (10-6, Super Bowl title)

Coming into this NFL regular season, the Green Bay Packers will be the team to beat in the NFL and will be much healthier than they were at the end of last season. With important offensive players like tight end Jermichael Finley and running back Ryan Grant getting back on the field, the Packers will be even better on offense this season as quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have to put the team on his back to score points every single week.

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Along with a potent offense, the Packers will still have one of the best defenses in the league with long-haired Clay Matthews leading the way. If Matthews can have even half the season he had last year, the Cheese Heads will be having another successful season defensively and might be on their way to a Super Bowl repeat.

Chicago Bears (11-5, Division title)

Last season the Chicago Bears were the best team in the NFC North division during the regular season. Quarterback Jay Cutler seemed to come into his own under center in the Windy City and the Bears continued the tradition of having a lockdown defense with perennial Pro Bowler Brian Urlacher and new addition Julius Peppers leading the way.

This year it should be more of the same for the Bears as they could very well be playoff bound once again, but I am not convinced they can compete with the division rival Packers in the division or in the playoffs.

Detroit Lions (6-10)

As arguably the most talented young team in the NFL today, the Detroit Lions are a team on the rise and could be headed towards their first successful season since the Barry Sanders era in the Motor City.

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With quarterback Matthew Stafford back healthy and surrounded by extremely talented players on both sides of the football, this team is primed for greatness. Whether or not this season is the year the Lions breakout of their funk remains to be seen, but they could surprise some people this season by being the Packers best competition in the NFC North division.

Division Winner Prediction: Green Bay Packers

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