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Season In Review: 32 Storylines From The 2012 NFL Regular Season 0

Posted on January 03, 2013 by Andy Larmand

It’s been a good one and I’m sure I speak for everybody when I say we’re all sad to see it go, but the 2012 NFL season has provided us with exciting finishes, triumphant record-breaking performances, comebacks, winning streaks, losing streaks and of course, replacement officials. Disappointments, pleasant surprises, rookies leading their teams to the playoffs and unspeakable tragedy have all left their marks on the past 17 weeks as well.

Here are 32 of the biggest stories – one about each team – from the 2012 regular season of NFL football.

Ryan Lindley watches as Janoris Jenkins (left) scoots into the endzone, returning another Arizona pass for a touchdown.

Flew into a wall: Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley watches as Janoris Jenkins (left) scoots into the endzone, returning another Arizona pass for a touchdown.

Arizona Cardinals (5-11, 4th in NFC West): Normally, when you lose nine games in a row, that’s the biggest story of the year. That was not the case for the Arizona Cardinals this year, however. Following the rib injury to starting quarterback Kevin Kolb in Week 6, things went from bad to worse in the desert as the Cards spiraled from a 4-0 first place team all the way to the bottom of the NFC West. Arizona’s quarterbacks, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer, were three big reasons why. In that time frame, they combined to go 1-9 and throw 18 interceptions to just three touchdowns. A five-game stretch even resulted in Lindley throwing more touchdowns to opposing teams via interception returns (four) than he threw to his own receivers (zero). A few of the trio’s passing highs included 74, 72 and 64 yards. It probably didn’t help that All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had just 20 catches for 213 yards and no touchdowns in the final seven games of the season. Either they will trust that Kolb will return healthy next season or one would think they spend their first-round pick this spring on a competent quarterback. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired by the team on ‘Black Monday.’

Atlanta Falcons (13-3, 1st in NFC South): The Falcons went 13-3 in 2012 and locked up their second straight No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, but that’s not really news – at least not until they actually do something in the playoffs. Matt Ryan improved his home record to 33-4 in five NFL seasons, but that wasn’t even the biggest thing, in my opinion. For the sixth consecutive season, Roddy White played in all 16 games (hasn’t missed a game in his eight-year career) and put up what would seem like Pro Bowl worthy numbers. He did not make it, however, but teammate Julio Jones did. White had 13 more catches and 153 more yards than Jones on the season. Interesting. In fact, White has finished out of the top 10 in receiving yards just once in the last six seasons (2009). In the last six seasons, he has ended up ninth, eighth, second, 13th, fourth and eighth in the NFL in receiving. He has gone to just three Pro Bowls, however, including one due to an injury of another player. The biggest story out of Atlanta this season may just be the fact that one of the most productive receivers in the league from year to year was snubbed from the Pro Bowl after once again bringing that consistent level of exceptional play. Should he be mad? Yes.

Baltimore Ravens (10-6, 1st in AFC North): It was kind of a tale of two seasons for the AFC North champion Ravens. They began the year 9-2 and were in the driver’s seat in the division as well as in good position in the hunt for a first-round bye. Then came injuries, however. Already without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Terrell Suggs, All-Pro Ray Lewis tore his triceps in Week 6 and was out for the rest of the regular season. In Week 7 against Houston, Suggs would return. Their success in the last few seasons shows the importance of those two players to the team. As if the Lewis wasn’t bad enough, cornerback Lardarius Webb tore his ACL in the same game and he, too, was lost for the year. Lewis is slated to make his return this weekend, but without these three players all on the field in the second half of the year, Baltimore went from a 9-2 team to one with an average 10-6 record. Should they face an early exit in the playoffs, these injuries will have likely given them their death sentence as the up-and-down offense can’t really be counted on.

Buffalo Bills (6-10, 4th in AFC East): As one of the most disappointing teams of 2012, the Buffalo Bills were projected by some to be contenders in the AFC East and perhaps even make the playoffs. That illusion was quickly lost, however, after the team began the year with a 3-6 start, including a 48-28 loss to the Jets on Opening Day. They finished 6-10 at the bottom of the division for the fifth straight year. Buffalo has missed the playoffs in 13 consecutive seasons. Of the six teams that they did beat on the year (the Chiefs, Browns, Cardinals, Dolphins, Jaguars and Jets), not one of them had a winning record. In fact, they had a combined record of 27-69. The defense, which was supposed to be solid with the addition of Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus in his second year, gave up 45-plus points four times on the season as the Bills finished 31st in the league in rush yards against, allowing 145.8 per game. C.J. Spiller did have a solid season as he finished eighth in the league with 1,244 rushing yards, but a knee injury to Fred Jackson really ended up hurting the offense, which finished 19th in the league in total yards. Buffalo fired head coach Chan Gailey on Monday.

Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly led the NFL in tackles this season, but the Panthers still finished below .500.

Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly led the NFL in tackles this season, but the Panthers still finished below .500.

Carolina Panthers (7-9, 2nd in NFC South): For the third straight year the Panthers finished under .500, but for the second straight year they had a dynamic rookie on the field with them. As the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft, linebacker Luke Kuechly not only led the team in tackles, but he led the entire league. He finished the season with 164 while also picking off two passes, recovering three fumbles and deflecting eight passes for the 10th-ranked defense in Carolina. He was not selected to the Pro Bowl, however. Kuechly was so impressive that he may have even slightly overshadowed the sophomore season of Cam Newton, who was just the third quarterback ever to lead his team in rushing yards in a season. With the two of them as their foundation, the future looks bright in Carolina if they can build around them. They could return to the playoffs as early as next year for the first time since 2008.

Chicago Bears (10-6, 3rd in NFC North): You can have a good beginning. And you can have a good end. But if you don’t have a good middle, most of the time, success is not on the horizon. The Chicago Bears found this out the hard way in 2012 as they became just the second team since 1990 (out of 53) to miss the playoffs after starting a season 7-1. Unfortunately for them, they lost five of their next six before finishing the season with two straight wins, but by then, it was too late. Jay Cutler‘s injury had a bit to do with it, but ultimately the offense they put out on the field could not get it done in the second half of the year as they averaged just 17.3 points per game in the final eight weeks of the season. Chicago has now missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons with their only playoff run ending in the NFC Championship Game to the eventual champion Packers two years ago. Head coach Lovie Smith was fired on Monday in a very surprising move that could ultimately result in more bad than good for the team.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, 2nd in AFC North): The Bengals are going to the playoffs for the seconds straight year behind their talented second-year playmakers Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Green really made a leap in his second year as he finished 10th in the league in receiving yards (1,350), tied for fourth in receiving touchdowns (11) and seventh in receptions (97) while making his first trip to the Pro Bowl. He even had a stretch early in the season in which he caught a touchdown pass in nine consecutive games. His 84.4 yards per game also cracked the top 10 in the league. As the team’s biggest name on the offense, Green continued to put up monster numbers even when drawing the best coverage schemes from opposing defenses. His 164 targets in 2012 were tied for fifth in the league behind five of the best receivers of this generation. Green came up seven catches shy of breaking the record for the most receptions by a player in his first two NFL seasons as Cincy opted to rest most of its starters in their season finale. He has a chance to be the most productive receiver in Ohio since Chad Johnson.

Cleveland Browns (5-11, 4th in AFC North): In a backfield that featured two rookie starters in quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson, the Cleveland Browns were not able to avoid a second straight last place finish in the AFC North, but did win one more game than they did last year (four) if that’s any consolation. Richardson broke Jim Brown‘s franchise record for most rushing yards in a season by a rookie with 950 and also scored 12 total touchdowns. He started every game he appeared in and went over 100 yards three times before being forced to miss the team’s final game with an ankle injury. Weeden also missed the season finale with a shoulder injury. In 15 games at quarterback, he was 297-of-517 passing for 3,385 yards and threw 14 touchdowns. If both of them can come back healthy next year and the Browns can put some other pieces of the puzzle together, they look to be able to contend in the tough AFC North in 2013. Head coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert were both fired by the team on Monday.

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A Week For The Record Books: Week 16 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on December 26, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Week 16 gave us plenty of gifts right before Christmas including playoff clinching performances, records being set, quarterback controversies and of course a little Tim Tebow. Like always, it was fun to watch and even more exciting for those lucky enough to be in fantasy championship games.

The Falcons became the first team in the league to reach 13 wins as they got the best of the not-so-mighty Lions, 31-18, to open the week on Thursday/Saturday/Monday Night Football. While their performance was certainly appreciated in Atlanta, it was probably overshadowed around the rest of the country as Calvin Johnson broke the 17-year receiving yards record previously held by Jerry Rice with 11 catches for 225 yards on the night. He surpassed Rice’s record of 1,848 yards and now has 1,892 with one game to go and a real shot at becoming the first ever 2,000-yard receiver. On top of that, Megatron also set NFL records with his eighth straight game of 100-plus receiving yards and fourth straight with 10-plus catches. Matthew Stafford set an NFL record for the most passing yards in a game (443) without throwing a touchdown.

No. 1: Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's record for receiving yards in a season with 225 in his team's loss to the Falcons Saturday night.

No. 1: Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a season with 225 in his team’s loss to the Falcons Saturday night.

Atlanta did clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with the win. Their two big targets, Roddy White and Julio Jones combined for 15 catches, 224 yards and three touchdowns. White had 100-plus yards and two TD catches in the 1st half alone – the second time he’s done that in his career. Jones now has at least five catches in five straight games and has a touchdown catch in four out of five. Matt Ryan continued his dominance at home as he threw four TD passes and set a new career-high with 31 on the year, tying the Falcons single-season record. He completed his first 12 passes of the game and dating back to last week, had completed 22 straight – a Falcons record – while also tying another career-high with the four touchdown passes. With one reception, Tony Gonzalez has caught a ball in 194 straight games. The Falcons improved to 13-2 and the Lions fell to a disappointing 4-11.

Steven Jackson entered Sunday’s game against the Bucs needing 91 yards for his eighth straight 1,000-yard season, but only got 81 as the Rams won the game 28-13. Rookie Janoris Jenkins returned another interception for a touchdown – his third of the year, which tied the rookie record set back in 1981. Josh Freeman tied the Bucs’ career record for TD throws with 77, but also threw four interceptions in his second consecutive game. He also now holds the Bucs’ single season passing yards record with 3,843 through Sunday. Sam Bradford was not sacked at all for the first time in 31 games. St. Louis improved to 7-7-1 and Tampa fell to 6-9 with their fifth straight loss.

Greg McElroy made the first start of his NFL career as the Jets hosted the Chargers in a battle of disappointing AFC teams. It was the first time since 2009 that Mark Sanchez had not started a game for New York and they looked pretty good on offense to start, driving for two early Shonn Greene touchdown runs. San Diego would come back, however, behind two touchdown passes from Philp Rivers, including one to Antonio Gates, who now stands alone as the Chargers’ all-time leader in touchdown catches with 82, and hand the Jets the loss, 27-17. San Diego sacked McElroy 11 times in the win – the most by a team since 2007. McElroy was the second quarterback since the merger to be sacked 11 times in his first start. The Jets fell to 6-9 and Chargers improved to 6-9 with the win.

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An Exciting Thanksgiving Highlights Week 12 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on November 28, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Golden drumstick: Tom Brady earned Player of the Game honors for his Thanksgiving Night performance in New England’s win over the Jets.

If Thanksgiving isn’t the greatest holiday in the world, then I don’t know what is? What could be better than incredible food cooked by a mother or grandmother, family and friends and getting to watch football all day? Happy Thanksgiving.

The Lions kicked off Week 12 on Thursday afternoon in their 68th straight annual Thanksgiving Day game. They hosted the AFC-leading Texans, fresh off of their 43-point performance against the Jaguars just four days earlier. It was Detroit, however, who got out to a fast start at home as Mikel Leshoure scored a rushing touchdown on their first drive. It was the first 1st quarter rushing TD for the Lions since 2010 and just their second offensive touchdown in the 1st quarter this year. It was also the first rushing touchdown the Texans had allowed all season and the first time Detroit scored an opening-drive TD all year. So they had that to be thankful for.

The lead would not remain, however, and the Lions lost their ninth straight Thanksgiving Day game, 34-31, in overtime. That is good for the longest losing streak on Thanksgiving all-time. Entering the game, teams playing four days after an overtime game since 1987 were 4-13, but the Texans won anyway. Calvin Johnson became the seventh player in NFL history with 7,000 receiving yards in his first six seasons. With a Joique Bell touchdown run in the 4th quarter, the Lions now lead the league with 16 offensive 4th quarter touchdowns this season. With wins in their last two, the Texans improved to 3-7 all-time in overtime games after starting 1-7 in their short history. With 188 yards on Thursday, Andre Johnson now has 461 in his past two contests, the most in consecutive games in NFL history, according to Elias. The overtime period featured two turnovers and two missed field goals before Houston won it. The winning field goal was the first time they led all day. The Texans became the first team ever to win two overtime games in a five-day span.

The other yearly participant, the Cowboys hosted the Redskins in their annual Thanksgiving Day game. Like the Lions, Dallas dropped their annual contest to the Redskins 38-31. They did, however, come back from down 35-13 in the 4th quarter to make it close. With the loss, Dallas fell to 0-14 in their history when trailing by 25 points or more at the half. It was Tony Romo‘s first career home loss in the month of November (14-1) and his first ever loss on Thanksgiving (5-1). Washington was victorious on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since 1973 and won their first ever game against their division rivals on Turkey Day. Robert Griffin III threw four touchdowns in his first career Thanksgiving Day game.

On Thanksgiving Night, the Jets hosted the Patriots and were thankful when it ended as their division rivals hammered them 49-19. Julian Edelman scored two more touchdowns to bring his total to four in his past two games, which equals his total in his first 45 career games. He became the fourth player in NFL history with a receiving TD, punt return TD and fumble return TD in the same season. In the 2nd quarter, New England scored three touchdowns in 53 seconds, becoming the third team since 1970 to accomplish that, according to Elias. In their past two games, the Patriots have combined for 108 points, which is good for the third-highest two-game stretch in history. Also, the win guaranteed that the 8-3 Pats would be the only team to finish .500 or better in each of the last 12 seasons. Tom Brady threw three TD passes, extending his streak to 43 straight games with at least one.

With a chance to win their sixth straight, the Bucs took on the NFC-leading Falcons at home. Despite three Connor Barth field goals and two Atlanta turnovers, Tampa fell to their NFC South rivals, 24-23. The Bucs had a chance to win six straight games for the first time since their championship season in 2002. In the loss, rookie running back Doug Martin became the first Buccaneers player with 1,000 rushing yards and 9+ rushing touchdowns since 1995. Though they are 9-1, seven of those wins for Atlanta have come by seven points or less.

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Offensive Outbursts And Injured QB’s: Week 10 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on November 15, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Ravens quarterback, Joe Flacco, accounted for four touchdowns, including one rushing, as the Ravens beat up on the Raiders, 55-20 in Baltimore Sunday.

Week 10 of the NFL season saw some of the highest point totals of the year, some of the most significant injuries and a tie. Yeah, there aren’t just ties in fútbol. There’s ties in football too, apparently. Ten teams put up 30 or more points including the Ravens who went nuts for 55 and four starting quarterbacks went down with injuries including Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith and Ben Roethlisberger. There were also some upsets on the day as the Saints held on to end the undefeated season of the Falcons and the Bengals took care of the Super Bowl champion Giants by 18 points.

The Colts and rookie quarterback, Andrew Luck, continued to roll as they handled the Jaguars 27-10 and won their fourth straight to kick off the week on Thursday night. Luck rushed for two touchdowns in a game for the second time this year and now has five rushing TD’s this season. The rest of the Colts’ team has combined for two. Peyton Manning has never rushed for two touchdowns in a game. Luck’s six wins on the year are tied for the second most by a rookie quarterback drafted No. 1 overall. Indy improved to 9-1 on Thursday Night games since the merger, which is the best win percentage of any NFL team.

The Ravens scored a franchise-record 55 points in their win over Oakland, who has still never beaten Baltimore on the road (0-4). Their offensive outburst was sure welcomed as they had scored less than 20 points three times on the year before Sunday. Joe Flacco threw for 341 yards in the win after he had combined to throw for just 300 in the team’s previous two games. The weird thing though was that Carson Palmer threw for 27 more yards than Flacco. The Raiders allowed a franchise-high 48 points through three quarters and the 55 points they gave up was good for a new franchise record. In the win, Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones became the first player in NFL history with two career kickoff returns of at least 105 yards for touchdowns, according to Elias.

Denver was another team to win big as they took care of the Panthers 36-14 while forcing two turnovers and registering two returns (and interception and a punt) for touchdowns on the day. The aforementioned Manning tied Dan Marino for the third-most wins by a quarterback (147) and for the second-most career TD passes with 420. The playoff-bound Broncos improved to 6-3 following their fourth straight win.

The Bucs also put up 34 points in their win over the Chargers and climbed over the .500 mark in the process at 5-4. In fact, the win marked the first ever by Tampa Bay at home against San Diego (1-5). Bucs’ rookie running back, Doug Martin, rushed for 68 yards on the day. Over his last three games, he has accumulated 605 yards from scrimmage, which is a new NFL record.

In the upset of the day, the Saints beat the previously undefeated Falcons at home, 31-27. With a 2nd quarter TD pass to Jimmy Graham, Drew Brees extended his NFL-record streak to 52 straight games with a touchdown pass. Tony Gonzalez caught both his 100th career touchdown and his 1200th career pass in the game for the 8-1 Falcons.  Marques Colston‘s TD catch in the 3rd quarter was the 55th of his career, which tied Deuce McAllister for the most in Saints history. In the past 10 years, Atlanta is now 1-45 when trailing by 11 or more points in the 2nd half.

Drew Brees and the Saints knocked off the undefeated Falcons for their fourth win in five games.

In Foxboro, the Patriots held on to beat the Bills, 37-31, thanks to a late interception by Devin McCourty in the endzone. Tom Brady improved to 20-2 in his career against Buffalo and the team improved to 10-3 under Bill Belichick following a bye week. Like Brees, Brady also kept his consecutive games with a touchdown streak alive at 41, throwing for two on the day. The Pats have never lost to the Bills at Gillette Stadium and Buffalo has not won on the road at New England since Nov. 5, 2000. New England has won 21 straight home games against AFC opponents.

In a division game that the Lions really needed, they fell to Minnesota 34-24 on the road and dropped to 4-5 on the year. Adrian Peterson rushed for 171 yards and became the first Viking in history to rush for 1,000 yards five times. He has had four straight 100 yard games less than a year after major knee surgery and furthered his case for NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Calvin Johnson finally had a huge game as he caught a season-high 12 balls for a season-high 207 yards and tied his season high with one touchdown.

Down south, the Titans had a day they’d like to see more of as Jake Locker returned and led them to a 37-3 beatdown against the Dolphins. He threw for two touchdowns, but just 122 yards in his return to the team. The 34-point loss for Miami marked the first time that they have lost by 34 or more points at home since the Chiefs had their way with them in 1968. Chris Johnson recorded rushing touchdowns in back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 14-15 in 2010.

In the day’s other upset, the Bengals crushed the Giants 31-13. The G-Men fell to 0-6 all-time in Cincinnati and Eli Manning went his third straight game without throwing a touchdown pass (1-2). With two straight losses to open the month, Manning fell to 13-19 in November for his career, but is 27-5 in October. He also became just the fifth QB since 1982 to go three straight games without a touchdown pass at any point during the season after winning the Super Bowl, according to Elias. New York allowed just two 1st quarter touchdowns in their first nine games, but allowed two to the Bengals in the first five minutes of this one. Andy Dalton‘s four TD passes were a career-high for the second-year pro. A.J. Green caught a touchdown pass in his eighth straight game as he looks to keep that streak up on his way to the Pro Bowl.

The other team from New York didn’t fare much better. After predicting his 3-5 Jets would make the playoffs, Antonio Cromartie backed it up by letting the Seahawks get in the endzone four times in Seattle’s 28-7 win over the Jets. New York has lost three straight and in their last two games, they have been outscored 58-16. Sunday marked the first time since 1983 that the Jets and Giants have both lost by 18 or more points on the same day. Since Week 15 last season, the Jets are 3-9. Only the Jags and Browns have worse records during that span.

If you haven’t heard, the 49ers and Rams played to the first tie since the Eagles and Bengals finished 13 all in 2008. The 49ers had won 11 straight home games against division opponents, which was good for the longest active such streak in the NFL. San Fran didn’t get off to a very good start and trailed by 14 after one for the first time since 2006. For the Rams, it would have been the first time since the 2003-04 season that they had won three divisional games in a row. Their punter, Johnny Hekker, became the first punter with two pass completions in a game since 2004. The last time the 49ers finished in a tie was in 1986 and the last time for the Rams was in 1976. Alex Smith left the game for San Francisco with a concussion and is questionable for next week. In an interesting subplot, 1:12 of game clock was used in the 1st half during a measurement that no one seemed to see any reason in stopping the clock. Hmm, that time may have been valuable!

We knew 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh, wasn’t a big fan of losing, but it doesn’t look like he enjoys tying all that much either.

In the primetime slot, the Cowboys and Eagles met with both teams being below .500 for the first time since 1990 with each of them desperately needing a win. With 21 points in 2:35 in the 2nd half, Dallas bested their division rivals 38-23 to improve to 4-5 while Philly fell to 3-6. Since 1990, only 1.4 percent of teams to start a season 3-6 have gone on to make the playoffs. To make things worse for Philly, they lost Michael Vick to a concussion as well. Though listed as doubtful, he hasn’t officially been ruled out for Week 11, but rookie, Nick Foles, is expected to get the start against the Redskins. The Eagles have lost five straight games for the first time since 1998 and for the first time under head coach, Andy Reid.

Shockingly enough for Cowboys fans, Tony Romo went his second straight game without committing a turnover and also recorded his first game this season with multiple TD passes and no interceptions. Big day for Dallas. The Cowboys became the first team since 1966 to score a touchdown on an interception return, a fumble recovery and a punt return in the same quarter.

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NFL Classic Rewind: Palmer Leads Cincy to 4th Quarter Comeback Versus Ravens 79

Posted on November 18, 2011 by A.J. Foss

When he was selected as the #1 overall pick of the 2003 NFL Draft, Carson Palmer was destined to be the savior for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Ever since a 9-7 season and an AFC Central title in 1990, the Bengals did not have a winning season for the next 12 years and had nine seasons with at least 10 losses.

However, the 2003 NFL season brought hope as first-year head coach Marvin Lewis led the Bengals to an 8-8 record with Palmer not starting a single game during the season as he watched Jon Kitna take the reins.

But for the 2004 season, Palmer was given the starting job and led the Bengals and had started all 11 games as Cincinnati was a respectable 5-6 when they traveled to Baltimore to take on their divisional rival, the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens entered the game with a 7-4 record and needing a win to increase their chances of obtaining an AFC Wild Card berth.

The Ravens were still led by their defense that had led them to a Super Bowl title in 2000, but were hoping that they had found their franchise quarterback in Kyle Boller, who was also selected in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

Unlike Palmer, Boller started several games in his rookie season until a thigh injury suffered in the ninth game of the season, knocked him out for the rest of the season.

However, the Ravens still made the playoffs with a 10-6 record and Boller was back as the Ravens’ starting quarterback for the 2004 season, where he started every game when going into the Ravens’ match-up with the Bengals. Read the rest of this entry →

Biggest Winners and Losers (So Far) in the NFL Frenzy 11

Posted on July 28, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Sidney Rice will be going in a new direction as a member of the Seattle Seahawks.

We are just three days into the NFL’s high-end version of a swap meet, but it is already clear that some teams have money to burn and are burning it as quick as they can. It will, of course, be months before we can determine the real winners and losers from these last few days, but here are some of the players and teams that seem to have done well and others that have not fared as well so far.

Smiling All The Way To The Bank

Charles Johnson and DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – Typically one of the stingier teams in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers whipped out the check book to retain two of their top veterans.

Johnson, who is coming off an 11.5 sack season in 2010, was one of the more sought-after players in free agency, but the Panthers didn’t give him any chance to get away as they agreed to a six-year $72 million contract (with #32 million guaranteed) the first day they could talk.

Though he was limited to just six games and 361 yards rushing in 2010, the Panthers agreed to a five-year, $43 million contract ($21 million guaranteed) with Williams. If he is healthy, it is a great move because it gives the Panthers one of the better one-two punches in the league with Williams (1,515 yards rushing in 2008, 1,117 in 2009) and Jonathan Stewart (1,133 yards in 2009, 770 yards in 2010).

Sidney Rice – Seattle Seahawks – Like Williams, Sidney Rice missed much of the 2010 season due to injury and is now being rewarded with a huge contract (five-years for $41 million with $18 million guaranteed). If he is able to repeat the success he had with Minnesota in 2009 (83 catches, 1,312 yards), then the signing will be a good one for Seattle. However, given that in his other three NFL seasons Rice has only 63 catches for 817 yards, you have to wonder at least a little if his success was a result of playing with Brett Favre at the top of his game as much as it was Rice’s ability to be a long-term superstar.

Santonio Holmes – New York Jets – It seems to be a trend that players who didn’t play a full season in 2010 are receiving huge contracts to start 2011. However, unlike Williams and Rice, Santonio Holmes missed four games in 2010 not because of injuries, but because of off the field issues. The New York Jets obviously aren’t concerned about the past as they inked Holmes to a five-year, $50 million contract even though according to the NFL’s conduct policy he is one-strike away from missing an entire season. In just 12 games last season he caught 52 passes for 746 yards and six touchdowns and in 16 games in 2009 had 79 catches for 1,248 yards and 5 touchdowns while with Pittsburgh. Read the rest of this entry →

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