Archive for the Michael Turner Category


NFL Season Opener Week’s Got Me Thinkin’ Bold Prediction Time

Ladies and gentlemen, it is finally here: That week that has me and countless millions of NFL football fans as giddy as little kids on their first trip to the zoo. Season kickoff week.

In honor of such a festive and exciting week, it’s now time to start making those outrageous statements and bold predictions that we all know and love to get everyone all riled up. Without further adieu, the predictions:

 

NFC Rookie of the Year

Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings

As espn.com analyst Gene Wojciechowski put it best…Harvin is Reggie Bush without the bum knee. This kid just needs a sliver of space to make a big play, and in an offense that is simply filled with play-makers, Harvin will be able to, as paradoxical as it sounds, “sneak” into a dynamic role with multiple responsibilities, whether lined up as a wideout, slot man, running back, or even quarterback in the wildcat formation, this kid is a difference maker.

 

Runner Up

Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals

I don’t care how many touchdowns Tim Hightower scored last year, the guy is just not an every down back. Wells has the ability to give the Cardinals consistency in the run, which is a trait that every consistent contender needs. Wells was a steal as the 31st overall pick, which he has shown throughout the preseason.

 

AFC Rookie of the Year

Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Brace yourself, folks. This one’s a two-fer. The first of the two-fer-one prediction: Joseph Addai will not be the starting RB in Indy by the end of the season. Watching the preseason, Addai could be one of the greatest breakout to flop candidates I have seen in a while.

That said, rookie Donald Brown seeks to bring stability back to the running game in Indianapolis after an injury-plagued, and rather unimpressive run by Addai. And after watching some of what he did against Minnesota’s No. 1 rush defense in week one of the preseason, there is no reason to think that this kid has a bright, bright future.

 

Runner Up

Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets

Call me crazy, but there is just something about this guy that reminds me of Matt Ryan. I can barely explain it. The guy just has poise. Not cockiness, not arrogance, but poise. He’s smart, and though admittedly unpolished, the guy looks like he has the level-headed decision-making skills to win football games. Will he be the next Matt Ryan? No, but good enough to get consideration for this award.

 

NFL Most Valuable Player

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Brett Favre will throw the ball. Teams will start to pay for stacking a million guys in the box. Adrian will have a more comfortable time reaching 2,000 yards rushing than he had topping 1,700 last year. End of story.

 

MVP Finalists

New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, San Diego’s Philip Rivers

Coach on the Cutting Block

Denver Broncos’ Josh McDaniels.

I know, I know, the guy is in his first year as a head coach, but Denver has gone from being comfortably mediocre, to dazzlingly terrible in the course of one off-season, and a lot of fingers can point straight to this guy.

Team Most Likely to go From Dud to Stud

San Francisco 49ers

Ever since Mike Singletary took over as interim head coach, the 49ers look different. They play with a purpose. They play to win, no matter what the limited talent on that football team holds. Will they get a playoff berth? Probably not, (although in that division, who knows?) but I could see them finishing at .500, maybe a game higher.

Team Most Likely to go From Stud to Dud

Tie: New York Giants and New York Jets

I remember a point last season after the Jets took down the previously undefeated Tennessee Titans when there was talk of two conference championship games in New York. While the Jets simply lost steam, they still finished a respectable 9-7, and the Giants were ousted one game before the NFC Championship.

The Jets have a young team with less talent than last year in a division where, with the exception of Buffalo, more talent has risen around them.

The Giants lost both of their starting receivers, and I have a feeling that more touches to the football this year in Derrick Ward’s absence might be tougher on Brandon Jacobs, seeing how physically he likes to play the game.

I don’t think the Giants will dip under .500 by any means, but I do not think they will win the division, and the possibility of falling to third is present.

Their defense is still slammin’ however.

 

Breakout Candidates

Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis Colts

With Marvin Harrison out of the mix, Gonzo should have no problem stepping it up to a career best. He was close last year. His time has come.

Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Minnesota Vikings

Shiank quietly built a rather impressive resume last season, and with Tight End-happy Brett Favre throwing the football, Shiancoe should rise to an elite-level Tight End.

Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints

Deuce McAllister is gone and Reggie Bush has proved time and time again that he can’t be relied on for every down, especially with his fragile knees. Thomas scored nine rushing touchdowns and caught three receiving touchdowns in the last weeks of last season on 625 rushing yards. This guy came out of nowhere, and he isn’t going anywhere (save the endzone) soon.

The Playoffs

AFC Wild Card Games

Houston (6) @ San Diego (3)

Baltimore (5) @ Tennessee (4)

AFC Divisional Games

San Diego (3) @ New England (2)

Baltimore (5) @ Pittsburgh (1)

AFC Championship Game

San Diego (3) @ Pittsburgh (1)

 

NFC Wild Card Games

New York Giants (6) @ Philadelphia (3)

Green Bay (5) @ San Francisco (4)

NFC Divisional Games

Philadelphia (3) @ Atlanta (2)

Green Bay (5) @ Minnesota (1)

NFC Championship Game

Atlanta (2) @ Minnesota (1)

Super Bowl Profile

Minnesota Vikings vs. San Diego Chargers

The fantasy Super Bowl in my mind is a game borne out of grudges. The NFC Championship game, according to my prediction, features a burly Vikings defense against an explosive Falcons offense.

The grudge? A rematch from the 1998 Vikings/Falcons NFC Championship game during which the heavily favored 15-1 Vikings lost in overtime to the Falcons.

A fierce running game on both sides of the ball featuring Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Atlanta’s Michael Turner will be an underlying theme.

The determining factor of the game, however, will be which team can run the ball more effectively. With Minnesota’s No. 1 ranked rush defense, and fifth ranked team in sacks, the overwhelming force of Minnesota’s defense should carry them through to the Bowl.

The AFC Championship, however, will be a much more recently acquired grudged, heralding from last year’s AFC Divisional round bout between the Chargers and Steelers in which the Steelers easily handled San Diego.

This prediction is based more along the lines of desire. True, San Diego’s defense looks to be healthier (as well as their star RB, LaDanian Tomlinson) but fundamentally, both teams are nearly identical to last season. The key to success for San Diego is going to be learning to win at Heinz Field. It will be Pennsylvania in the winter time. Cold. 

However, it has been a lot longer since San Diego has tasted the Super Bowl than the Steelers, who just won last season. Both teams have the tools to come out on top. Bottom line is, I think San Diego just might have the competitive edge.

So Vikings and Chargers. Who do I predict will win, you ask? Oh come on, the regular season hasn’t even started yet! It’s a little too early to be making that kind of a bold prediction, don’t you think?

 

 

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The Top Five: Best Running Backs in the NFL

The running back position is in the midst of a huge shift.

One guy can no longer carry the entire load of an offense’s running game throughout a 16—game season. Defenses have gotten too big and fast, and the sustained pounding that one guy takes can effectively end his career.

Larry Johnson, for instance, has not been heard from since the season in which he carried the ball over 400 times. The beating that he took during that season still weighs him down, severely limiting his effectiveness.

Still, even with the increasingly popular running back tandems, there are certain guys who stand out from the crowd by doing it better than everyone else.

I’m a master of brilliant segues.

 

5. Brian Westbrook (Philadelphia Eagles)

78 games started, 5,721 rushing yards, 36 TDs, 4.6 YPC, 401 receptions, 3,609 receiving yards, 9 YPR, 28 TDs, 9,330 scrimmage yards, 64 total TDs, 2-time Pro Bowler and 1-time All-Pro

Westbrook is considered by some as the ultimate weapon.

He can hurt you on the ground, he can hurt you in the passing game, and let’s not forget that he’s one of the best pass-blocking backs in the game. He’s an all-around fantastic running back.

In fact, over the past few years, he’s the only player with 4,000 yards rushing and 3,000 yards receiving.

Yet he has never played in more than 15 games during a season and doesn’t take that much of a beating.

He’s not an up-the-middle kind of runner, and is extremely elusive which allows him to prevent taking the big hit, yet he’s always hurt. It could speak to the guy’s work ethic, but everyone in Philadelphia swears that he’s one of the hardest working guys on the team, so maybe it’s just bad luck.

Either way, the reason that Westbrook is this low is that his vision in between the tackles is below standard. A lot of times you’ll see him run into a pile when there’s a perfect lane just one cut-move to his right or left.

In space, he may be the best back in the league, however he’s less effective when it comes to “moving in a phone booth,” as they say.

 

4. LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers)

127 games started, 11,760 rushing yards, 126 TDs, 4.4 YPC, 510 receptions, 3,801 yards, 7.5 YPR, 15 TDs, 15,561 scrimmage yards, 141 total touchdowns, 5-time Pro Bowler and 3-time All-Pro

Personally, I don’t understand all of the criticism that L.T. has received over the past several months.

If you look at his body of work, he’s astounding. He’s missed one game, which was back in 2004, and has never rushed for less than 1,000 yards in any year since coming into the league eight years ago. He also completes at least 10 rushing touchdowns in a season, as well as a minimum 300 receiving yards.

Even last year, that everyone says was so terrible, was a decent year for any running back.

1,110 yards rushing, 11 TDs, 52 receptions, 426 yards, and a touchdown. The only bad part about last season was his 3.8 YPC, which admittedly is weak, but it’s also not bad considering he played through the entire season with nagging injuries.

If L.T. can put up those kind of numbers while playing hurt, coming back healthy this season should scare any defense unlucky enough to face him.

 

3. Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons)

17 games started, 2,956 rushing yards, 23 TDs, 4.9 YPC, 17 receptions, 112 receiving yards, 6.6 YPR, 3,068 scrimmage yards, 23 total touchdowns, 1-time Pro Bowler and 1-time All-Pro

Michael “The Burner” Turner finally got a chance to emerge from the shadow of the great LaDainian Tomlinson and show the league what he can do.

Apparently, he can do a lot.

In his first season as a starter, Turner was able to rack up almost 1,700 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, while earning a Pro Bowl nod and being selected to the All-Pro team.

He’s not much of a receiver out of the backfield, which is why the Falcons have Jerious Norwood, but it’s fine because Turner makes up for it on the ground.

Just like Adrian Peterson (expect to see that name again) he can plow a guy over, or run away from a defensive back. His speed is unbelievable for a guy who is closing in on 240 pounds, the size of most fullbacks.

Look for Turner to continue his success and become a mainstay in discussions like these, and in the Pro Bowl/All-Pro clubs.

 

2. DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers)

18 games started, 2,733 rushing yards, 23 TDs, 5.1 YPC, 78 receptions, 609 receiving yards, 7.8 YPR, 4 TDs, 3,342 scrimmage yards, 27 total touchdowns

If there ever was a Pro Bowl snub, this guy is it.

Coming off a year in which he ran for over 1,500 yards and accounted for 18 touchdowns on the ground, DeAngelo Williams missed the Pro Bowl.

By the way, last season was his first as a full-time starter.

Williams showed the speed, quickness, agility, and vision needed to be a running back in today’s NFL. He could make even the best of corners and safeties look foolish in the open field, while also using his 5’8″ 210—pound frame to barrel over the biggest linebackers.

He and Jonathan Stewart combined for perhaps the best running back tandem in the league, but a lot of Stewart’s success could be attributed to Williams’ intimidation of opponents.

In a few years, expect Williams to draw comparisons to guys like L.T. and Brian Westbrook in their early days, if he isn’t already.

 

1. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings)

24 games started, 3,101 rushing yards, 22 TDs, 5.2 YPC, 40 receptions, 393 receiving yards, 9.8 YPR, 1 TD, 3,494 scrimmage yards, 23 total touchdowns, 2-time Pro Bowler and 1-time All-Pro

This pick is a no-brainer, and I’m not sure that there’s a journalist out there willing to stake their reputation on not putting this guy as No. 1.

He’s an absolutely unbelievable talent. He can become a power runner if that’s what you need, or he can run away from you in the open field and make the entire defensive secondary look like high school kids.

He’s already drawing comparisons to guys like Earl Campbell and Jim Brown, and merits every one.

He’s a nightmare for defenses and is already setting records in the NFL. For instance, in his rookie season he broke Jamal Lewis’ mark of 295 rushing yards in a single game by rushing for 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers.

Yes, in his rookie season.

This kid will only get better, and while he does have some things to work on, he should have no problem being remembered as one of the greats when his time is up.

Which, unfortunately for the rest of the league, isn’t for quite some time.

 

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