|2013 NFL Power Rankings: Pre-draft edition||04.24.13 at 10:34 am ET|
It’s that rare time of year when the 32 NFL teams are graded by what they’ve done off the field just as much as what they’ve done on it. The last time we watched football, the Ravens were crowned Super Bowl champs. Since then, the champs have lost six starters on defense and their best pass-catching weapon. The Ray Lewis-less Ravens are at No. 7.
Once the joke of the NFL, the NFC West looks to be the preeminent division in the league. The Niners take the cake at No. 1, and the upgraded Seahawks, third in our rankings, will be a formidable opponent for the defending NFC champs.
The Patriots enter the draft in need of another receiver and a pass-rusher. The departure of Wes Welker has Tom Brady and company down to No. 4.
1. 49ers (11-4-1) — I’d like to hear an argument against the Niners being ranked the No. 1 team. They have a ferocious defense and an offense improved by the reliable Anquan Boldin. Right now San Francisco looks like the team to beat in 2013. (Pick 31 in Round 1 of the draft)
2. Broncos (13-3) — Barring injury to Peyton Manning, the Broncos have the AFC West wrapped up. The addition of Welker will make Denver’s offense even more unstoppable. Is there a better receiving tandem in the league than Demaryius Thomas and Welker? (28)
3. Seahawks (11-5) — After the year Seattle had followed by the offseason improvement, I’d expect nothing less than an NFC championship bid. Like many of the top teams in the NFL, Seattle is strong at defense. The D got even stronger with the addition of Cliff Avril. The Seahawks also strengthened one of their biggest weaknesses by adding Percy Harvin at receiver.
4. Patriots (12-4) — Danny Amendola replacing Welker is not an upgrade. The former Rams receiver may be younger and faster, but Welker offered consistency. He stayed on the field and worked well with Brady and the offense. There will be an adjustment period. The Patriots will go into the season with three talented receiving weapons (Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Amendola), but all three are injury-prone. (29)
5. Packers (11-5) — Injuries plagued the offensive line last season. More depth on the line is important, especially with the Packers in a division where they have to playing against pass-rushers like Ndamukong Suh, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers. (26)
|Boomer Esiason on D&C: Patriots offense best in franchise history||01.14.13 at 9:21 am ET|
CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, following an exciting weekend of playoff action that was capped by the Patriots’ 41-28 victory over the Texans.
Despite losing Rob Gronkowski early in the game, the Patriots found their rhythm on offense and pulled away for the most convincing win of the weekend.
“When I look at the Patriots from an offensive perspective, I think it’s the best team that they’ve ever had — the complement of players,” Esiason said. “Even with Gronkowski out and Danny Woodhead out and Julian Edelman out, guys like Shane Vereen step up, Stevan Ridley had a great game yesterday, there were couple of catches that [Wes] Welker made that we’ve all become used to, and then of course Aaron Hernandez, and you realize how good that offensive line is. I would sit here and argue with anybody: Over the life of the [Tom] Brady-[Bill] Belichick decade here that this is clearly — I don’t want to say clearly — but I feel pretty confident that it’s the best offense they’ve got.”
Added Esiason: “Even without Gronkowski, they’re still putting up 40 points a game. All of that is due in large part to the quarterback that is the ringleader in all of this and was pinpoint with his passing a his accuracy yesterday. There’s no question in my mind that Tom Brady, much like Joe Montana, is in the stratosphere of quarterbacks in the NFL. If we’re talking about who’s better here, who’s better there, winning and championships are the ones that will define that. For Tom Brady, all of those numbers that he has and that he’s compiled speak volumes. You don’t need me to echo them.”
Next up for the Patriots are the Ravens, a rematch of last season’s AFC championship game and possibly Ray Lewis‘ last game before retirement.
“There’s something to be said about playing against Ed Reed and Ray Lewis,” Esiason said. “They may have slowed down, they may be a little bit different, but you know what, they’re smart, they’re cagey, they’ve been through this a million times. And they finally have a quarterback [Joe Flacco], it looks like to me, that is becoming the difference-maker that everybody was hoping he would be maybe a couple of years ago down in Baltimore — just a little bit late, but certainly has played well now in the playoffs two years in a row.”
|Peyton Manning makes one ‘bad throw’ and he is one-and-done again||01.12.13 at 11:01 pm ET|
It’s one of the central themes we’ve heard all week from the Patriots.
One bad decision at the wrong time and your season can come to end before you knew what hit you.
Certainly, that’s what the Patriots must have been thinking to themselves as Peyton Manning made a horrendous decision at the wrong time late in overtime that ended his Super Bowl dreams and those of his Broncos teammates and fans.
Rolling to his right late in the first overtime against the Ravens, Manning decided to force a pass back to the middle of the field to Brandon Stokley on second-and-6 from his own 38. Ravens cornerback Corey Graham undercut Stokley and was in the right place at the right time as the pass hit him right in the stomach as he fell to the ground at the Denver 45.
“Bad throw, probably the decision not great either,” Manning said [watch Peyton Manning's press conference on NFL.com]. “Thought I had him open, didn’t get enough on it. Trying to make a play and certainly a throw I’d like to have back.”
“He was trying to make a play,” Broncos coach John Fox said. “I’m not going to be critical.”
Six plays later, Justin Tucker nailed a 47-yard field-goal to give the Ravens a 38-35 win over the Broncos in double-overtime, and send Baltimore to the AFC championship for the second straight season. They will either play at Gillette Stadium against the Patriots or Reliant Stadium in Houston depending on the outcome of Sunday’s Patriots-Texans game.
So, after being named to the Associated Press All-Pro first team earlier in the day and earning praise for leading the Broncos to a 13-3 season in one of the more remarkable comeback stories in recent NFL history, Manning must now watch the rest of the playoffs again from home.
“I accomplished a lot more this year than I thought I would have,” Manning said of his return from multiple neck surgeries. “I think this team exceed expectations. It’s a hard one to swallow.”
Manning has lost his first game in the playoffs eight times, six of those times he was a prohibitive favorite, including on Saturday when he was close to a double-digit favorite. Manning falls to 9-11 in the playoffs.
Manning finished 28-of-43 passing for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, including one returned by Graham in the first quarter that was returned for Baltimore’s second touchdown of the day. He also had a fumble in the second half that led to a Ray Rice touchdown that tied the game, 28-28.
Manning may well win the NFL MVP award but there’s no comfort in coming up short again when it matters the most.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, playoff edition: Peyton Manning’s Broncos No. 1||01.02.13 at 9:40 am ET|
It’s finally here. The postseason kicks off this Saturday and there are many teams capable of raising the Vince Lombardi trophy in New Orleans. Of the 12 playoff teams, four were not in the postseason last year (Colts, Seahawks, Redskins, Vikings). Three of those teams will have rookie quarterbacks leading the offense. Football fans are in for an entertaining postseason.
Leading the way are the Broncos (1). With 11 straight wins and as the only team to have both a top-five offense and defense, Denver is poised for a deep run. The No. 1 seed in the NFC is at No. 4 in the Power Rankings. The Falcons will enjoy a week off before Matt Ryan attempts to win his first playoff game. The two other teams that will enjoy a first-round bye are the Niners (3) and Patriots (4).
Will wild card weekend produce a few upsets? The Seahawks (6) could deliver one on the road against the Redskins (10).
1. Broncos (13-3) — Peyton Manning has led the Broncos to 11 straight wins and guaranteed Denver home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. The veteran quarterback has done a tremendous job getting the offense in sync. The passing attack is one of the most dynamic in the league. The defense is ranked in the top five of the league as well.
2. 49ers (11-4-1) — One thing to watch is how Justin Smith deals with his triceps injury. The dominant D-lineman is a big reason why the 49ers defense is the best in the league. San Francisco will be facing some high-powered offenses in the postseason and will need Smith to wreak havoc up front like he usually does.
3. Patriots (12-4) — We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, but doesn’t it seem like the Patriots and Broncos are on a collision course for an AFC championship showdown? Grabbing a first-week bye puts the veteran Pats in a great position to return to the Super Bowl. A healthy Rob Gronkowski is key to this team’s success.
4. Falcons (13-3) — The No. 1 seed in the AFC has a lot of doubters. The Falcons have been in this position before and have failed. The difference now is Matt Ryan is playing better, the offensive is filled with explosive playmakers, and new coordinator Mike Nolan has the defense playing inspired football.
5. Packers (11-5) — No one wants to play the Packers in the playoffs, but Green Bay is vulnerable with a beat-up offensive line, shaky defense, and only one guaranteed game on the friendly confines of the frozen tundra.
|Poll: Who do you think is NFL MVP?||11.30.12 at 1:03 pm ET|
Is Tom Brady the most valuable player in the NFL right now? Will he win the award? Our DJ Bean takes an in-depth look here. But we want your vote.
|Tom Brady probably won’t greet Andrew Luck before the game: ‘I tend to keep to myself’||11.15.12 at 7:11 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s not that Tom Brady has anything against Andrew Luck. It’s just that come Sundays, it’s all business for him.
Brady hinted Thursday that he’ll likely save the well wishes and small talk for after their game.
“I don’t know. We’ll see,” Brady said when asked. “Usually, I don’t go out too early anymore. I tend to just keep to myself.
Luck, during a conference call on Wednesday, indicated he had never met Brady. It was Peyton Manning who, in 2001, when Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe, introduced himself before a game at Foxboro.
“Yeah, I remember I was out there warming up for the game and he came over and he said, ‘Hey Tom, I’m Peyton,’” Brady recalled Thursday.
“Obviously, it’s something I probably couldn’t repeat but that was – we’ve become friends since,” Brady chuckled. “Andrew is obviously playing very well and they’re 6-3 and they’re doing a great job and he’s had a great season. That’s part of the challenge this weekend.”
How does Brady feel on turning the page on this rivalry from Peyton Manning to a new, young gun? His answer says it all.
“My focus has been on what that defense does. It’s always the Colts defense and it’s always centered around two players and those two guys are still there. That’s really the challenge for us this week, is trying to figure out how to block that entire front. There are a lot of different looks from the last time we played them, trying to understand the scheme and how they’re doing things but they’re good and they really rush the passer and that’s a big challenge.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Boomer Esiason on D&C: Aqib Talib ‘definitely a very different sort’||11.05.12 at 9:50 am ET|
CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan and recapped Week 9 in the NFL, touching on the Colts, the Falcons, the Buccaneers, Peyton Manning and more news from around the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Patriots traded for suspended Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib last week, and Esiason said it’s up to the team to convince him to heed the Patriot Way.
“If he stays out of trouble, he will [be successful],” Esiason said. “I know what they’re banking on here. They’re banking on the locker room, they’re banking on the organization. … This Aqib Talib kid is definitely a very different sort, very, very different. Hopefully up in Foxboro, he’s not going to get himself in trouble. This is what you call rolling the dice.”
The Colts posted a 23-20 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday behind Andrew Luck’s rookie-record 433-yard game. Esiason said the way ailing coach Chuck Pagano addressed the team following the game in the locker room was very impressive.
“The Andrew Luck-Chuck Pagano show was something special,” Esiason said. “I picked Miami to win the game yesterday. … Andrew Luck doing what he did, throwing for as many yards as he did, setting a rookie record in a single game and then tying Peyton Manning for most 300-yard games in a season at the number four. How lucky are the Indianapolis Colts fans to be able to go from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck. Hopefully a career of greatness that we’ll see there.
“The Chuck Pagano thing, for anybody who knows anybody whose ever dealt with cancer, to see him in the locker room after that game to talk about his daughter’s weddings and things of that nature, just gave me chills. So I would say that was really impressive.”
Eli Manning had a tough game on Sunday, throwing for just 125 yards with an interception in the Giants’ 24-20 loss to the Steelers.
“I thought the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to beat the New York Giants, because the Steelers now, whether you love them or hate them, these are the Steelers that we know and love or hate,” Esiason said. “They’re coming back defensively. Big Ben [Roethlisberger] is doing exactly what he does in games in which they win — he extends plays and makes throws and stands in there in the face of the pass rush. He’s as brave as any quarterback in football and he showed that yesterday.
“And the Giants, Eli Manning hasn’t played that well the last couple weeks. They won a game in Dallas, they won a game at home against [Robert Griffin III], but when you take a look at the stats and you see the yards that opposing offenses are putting up against that defense, it wasn’t shocking to me that the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Giants yesterday.”
2013 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2013 NFL DRAFT
- Dwight Freeney Signs With Chargers; Pats Showed 'Last Minute Interest'
- USA Today: Gronkowski Dealing With Back Issue, Could Face (Another)...
- Patriots Sign Second-Round Pick Jamie Collins
- New England Patriots Links 5/17/13 - Hightower Understands Work Ethic...
- Rapoport: Gronkowski Forearm Surgery 'Imminent'; Likely To Be Monday
- Kyle Love Claimed By Jaguars; Joins Brandon Deaderick
- On Kyle Love