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Guest Post: ByronVolFan with the 2010 SEC Football Preview

August 6, 2010

Hey there football fiends!

ByronVolFan is back for the fourth year in a row with his SEC Football preview.

2010 SEC Football Preview

by Byron Earnheart aka ByronVolFan of the Gridiron Goddess’ Harem

It is time.  I was watching the re-showing of “America’s Got Talent” last Sunday night (because my wife is 9 months pregnant and controls what we watch) and there it was…the announcement…the NFL’s Hall of Fame Game kicking off in 1 week.  The most useless overhyped football game of all football games…and I nearly cried.  It means my beloved sport…the new American pastime…is coming to recall us back from the brink of becoming a soccer-crazed nation.  Yes, I got soccer fever for awhile, but it left me lagging like a Daniel Lincoln field goal.  The game has abandoned Tiger Woods…LeBron has joined forces in Miami and will forever have any victory tainted by the fact he is on the NBA’s equivalent to the New York Yankees.  What a terrible summer!

But, fear not, Gridiron Goddess fans…there is hope.  She is a bright and shining star beckoning you to stay the course…the North Star in a turbulent sea.  She is football…and she will make you laugh, cry, bleed, and laugh…all at once.  This is especially true for us SEC fanatics.  The time of monitoring spring practice and the idiots who post useless information on the whims of 18 year olds is over.  It is time for football.  It is time to be filled with pride when your team takes the field to defend the honor of your state against those infidels across the state line.  It is a time for revenge or to taste the smarting sting of shameful defeat once more.  But it is time…

So, allow me to set down my mint julep, light a cigar, recline in my rocking chair on the porch in my seersucker pants, and tell you what I think about everything about this upcoming year.

SEC Championship Game:  Alabama over Florida.  This year, it is these two teams at the top and everyone else clawing behind them.  And I hate that.  My Volunteer heart burns at this fact…but it is true.  Alabama is still too good and Florida is too green.  Alabama will have a tougher schedule as the West is much deadlier than the East…but the division titles are these two teams’ to lose.  Don’t be surprised if Urban Meyer cries at the end of this game…partly from chest pains and partly because he realizes he probably should have redshirted Tim Tebow.

Now, in their predicted order of finish within the division, here are my thoughts on the rest of the league by division:

SEC West:

The best division in the league this year and possibly the country.  Yeah, I said it.

1)      Alabama: As stated before, it’s theirs to lose.  2 MONSTER RB’s returning and a VERY adequate and tested quarterback.  On D, I always like stellar linebackers and ‘Bama is stacked there too.  Yes, McClain is gone…but Hightower is a beast too.  Very talented.  Expect the name “Nick” to outpace “Bubba”, “Junior”, “Larry”, “Hank”, and “Garth” in baby names in the state of Alabama in 2011.

2)      Arkansas:  This is the year for them.  If Petrino can get enough credibility to move on to his next mercenary position, this is the year for him to do it.  Mallett is  a stud.  That’s all there is to it.  Don’t be fooled by the Liberty Bowl performance.  I was at that game…and cold doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Nobody could have performed well in those conditions…and ECU isn’t that bad of a team.  Their game, at home, against Bama is for the West…but don’t get too excited.  Key losses in the D-line will hurt and I just don’t see the Hogs stopping Ingram and Co.  But take heart, your “Woooo Pig Soey” (or however you spell that) will be just as ignorant at the Capital One Bowl  or Cotton Bowl as it would be in the Sugar Bowl.

3)      LSU: This is no reflection on my belief in LSU talent or coaching.  As predicted, last year, Les Miles began to show his true ignorance.  This is a team that has been living on borrowed time since Saban left.  “Yeah, but they won a National Title”.  Yes, they have the distinct privilege of being the first 2 loss national champion, violating every reasonable football strategy, and still winning.  There is such a thing as “Reversion to the Mean” in football and when you tempt fate as much as the Miles has…it will bite you as it did last year. ..and last year could have been worse.  LSU was beaten at Mississippi State and if not for a rookie mistake from Mullen with a QB who might be 5’8”, the Bulldogs would have been bowl bound and we might have been talking about the Malzahn era at LSU.

4)      Mississippi State:  See above.  This is a team on the rise.  Great young talent that’s gotten some good game experience and, arguably, one of the top 5 coaches in the SEC.  Mullen did a great job with almost no talent last year and, if not for a freakish defensive play on a questionable offensive call, they would have beaten LSU and been in a bowl.  “But, you attacked Miles’ coaching and praising Mullen’s”.  Yes, because Miles has coached longer, won a title, and is at a “better” program.  I’ll give Mullen one call…Miles has had years of stupidity to prove my point.  Back to State…great QB talent in the hands of a great QB coach…mean defense coached by an up and coming DC.  If you follow Southern football at all, you’ll admit that MTSU had a fairly good defense…well, that guy is at State which means exponentially better players playing in an aggressive style.  Regardless, State will beat Ole Miss and, in any year, that’s all that really matters.

5)      Auburn:  This was the toughest call for me.  For one, I didn’t really watch much of Auburn last year.  They always seemed to be playing when a more interesting game was on.  Yet, they managed to do MUCH better than anyone expected.  I put them behind MS State only because I watched more of them than Auburn.  Truthfully, 3-5 on this list could be put in any order you wish and will probably be close.  I don’t know where the wins/losses will be, but, at first glance, Auburn should pull 7 games out this year.

6)      Ole Miss: My, how the high and mighty have fallen.  Masoli will not save this team.  Name me the last great QB that Nutt ever produced?  Matt Jones, right?  Well, that’s an assumption in calling him a QB and not the precursor to a Wildcat formation.  The amount of talent this team has lost is astounding.  I’m sorry, but this will be a bitter year for the Rebels.  I hope the warm embrace of their new mascot (Which I’m sure will be ridiculous…Admiral Ackbar was almost there!) will keep them warm along with their toddies.  And the really sad thing is that they may start 5-0.  However, it only gets easier when UL Lafayette comes to Oxford.  6-6…and that’s a stretch…but not a good SEC showing.

The East:

It’s Florida’s year…and the rest are there to keep Urban Meyer’s medication flowing.  (That’s just wrong…I’m sorry)

1)      Florida: Tebow is gone but this team is still stacked.  The East is theirs to lose.  Meyer, all health related jokes aside, is a heck of a coach and recruiter.  Kermit the Frog could coach this team and still get it to Atlanta for the SEC game.  Brantley will do just fine at QB and A.J. Jones will be great at LB.  It will be a tougher road than in previous year, sure, but with the East as down as it is…

2)      South Carolina:  Man, this kills me.  Robert Johnson…I mean Coach Spurrier…has got to be on the way out.  What’s he done for the program?  Yet (and this is sad) he has the best returning QB in the East in Garcia.  However, losing a beast like Norwood at LB will be tough, an easy SEC East schedule should make up for that.  Being 2nd in this division is like being 2nd in “Rock of Love”…you’re still nasty and horrible.  (I’ve got to stop watching the reality TV my wife forces on me!)

3)      Georgia: Drunk texting from the AD?!  Nice!  The only way it could be worse would be if their players held up a student while wearing their practice jerseys!  Ha ha ha ha…um, wait a minute, that’s us.  Anyway, what can I say…underperformed last year…but AJ Green, to me, is still a stud.  He’ll get the touches and get yards.  Moving to the 3-4 should be good for a fairly solid LB corp and Easley proved to be fair as the RB.  Don’t get too excited…

4)      Tennessee: I have been dreading this paragraph for months now.  The incident with “he who shall remain nameless” has deeply set my beloved program back.  Bravado is one thing…but making Spurrier’s deal with the devil look innocent is something else entirely.  As Amy is a friend of mine and putting my thoughts and opinions on her website, that’s all I can say about that!  Seriously, this will be one of the “rebuilding years”.  We have the number one punter and kicker coming in, so that’s good.  Seriously, there’s some talent on this team…but too much is untested and green.  The D will be serviceable and if the offense can occasionally get some first downs, we should be fair.  I have no idea how good Dooley will be.  The Big Orange Kool-Aid is like Guinness…the further one gets from Knoxville, the worst it tastes.  If I was hesitant about “he who shall remain nameless” until the first game, (And by and large, I was) then it will take a few games for Dooley.  If you’re looking for some sort of quantitative analysis…we might make a bowl…we might not.  That’s what I got for you there.

5)      Kentucky: Another team on the rise…but just can’t find the apex.  Randall Cobb is coming up on his 15th year in college football and should be good again.  They’ll be like last year…good solid 7 win season but nothing flashy but exceeding expectations and keeping the boosters happy until Calipari can falsify some more SAT scores for his basketball team.

6.) Vanderbilt:  Who cares?  Really, I’m sorry.  I know you lost your beloved coach who barely sniffed at .500 during his time there.  You had Cutler.  You beat Tennessee once.  Good job.  But when I read the returning starters list for the ‘Dores, it’s like reading a list of the Federal Reserve


Guest Post: 2010 Big Ten Preview Part 1

July 30, 2010

Oh No Romo drops into Gridiron Goddess to share his Preview of the Big Ten for 2010.

Big Ten 2010: Eyes on the Bucks


With the season less than a month away, it seems as though Ohio State has its eyes on the prize for another run atop the Big Ten mountain. While they might have received from stiff competition from Iowa last season, hope springs around Columbus at the thought of another BCS berth.

If the Buckeyes hope to succeed, they will need to do so behind third year starter, Terrelle Pryor, who is on the Davey O’Brien watch list. Pryor’s performance in the Rose Bowl Game against Oregon left a strong impression. Will we see that Rose Bowl type of performance this season.

Currently, the Buckeyes are a consensus for the top five in numerous preseason polls, including No. 2 in the Sporting News top 100 poll.  However, how much stock can be put into these preseason polls? The season will surely tell us.

Ohio State in fact opens up the season with their first four games at home, including a showdown with Miami on Sept. 11. The same Miami that is ready to spring back into prominence, led by their own star at quarterback, Jacory Harris.

They’ll face tough road tests against Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Stanzi’s. If all goes well, it could mean another Rose Bowl berth for those Noun Phrases.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Who can forget this wonderful little quote from the Orange Bowl, courtesy of Captain America, Ricky Stanzi, who also finds himself on the Davey O’Brien watchlist. Last season, Stanzi proved that he loves his country and guided the Hawkeyes to a Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech.  I wish I could get him these pants.

Stanzi was among the leaders in interceptions in the conference, last season. If the senior wants to prove himself worth of the O’Brien trophy, he’ll need to step it up a notch.

However, it’s important to note that the Hawkeyes aren’t really known for their passing game. When I think Iowa football, I think defense. Rest assure Hawkeye fans, Iowa’s got the defense to get them to another 10-win season.

The Hawkeyes led the Big Ten last season in passing defense and were third behind Ohio State and Penn State for scoring defense. With Adrian Clayborne back for his senior season, opposing offenses will be watching out, as will the Lombardi Award people.

Homefield will surely factor in for the Hawkeyes, as they get Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State at home. With their defense still well intact, there’s no reason why the Hawkeyes couldn’t win nine games. (But they’ll still lose to Northwestern).

Penn State Nittany Lions

It’s not really a Penn State Preview unless we talk about Joe Paterno. Well, I think the clip should suffice. Despite finishing tied for second in the Big Ten last season, the Nittany Lions found themselves playing in the always popular Capital One Bowl.

The road isn’t much easier this year for Penn State though. The defending national champions, the University of Alabama, will host the Nittany Lions on September 11. Penn State will also have road games against Iowa and Ohio State.

The big question for Penn State will be who starts at quarterback. The choices are reportedly between Matthew McGloin and Kevin Newsome. Right now, odds favor Newsome, but that could change. With only underclassmen quarterbacks on the roster, Penn State has a decision to make on whom gets the chance to lead the Nittany Lions.

Michigan State Spartans

Why does Greg Jones have his own web site? Is this some Heisman ploy? I don’t know, but I know what to use for wallpaper when I get my new laptop.

It will be all on Jones to step it up for the defense this season. The All-American had nine sacks last season, fifth best in the Big Ten. He also led the Big Ten in tackles with 87.

So to sum up the preview for the Spartans in 2010, it’s all about Greg Jones Greg Jones Greg Jones Greg Jones Greg Jones and Greg Jones. I’m sure Mark D’Antonio wishes he could have 11 Greg Jones’ on defense

Wisconsin Badgers

What can be said about the Badgers that hasn’t already been said? Well what has been said about the Badgers? I’m so confused!

That said, whatever happened to Brooks Bollinger? He had so much hope and then he lost his job to Brett Favre. Granted, it’s not like it was an epic training camp battle.

I didn’t know somebody stole Ron Dayne’s awards. I should really read more Wisconsin news. And who knew that they awarded NFL conference championship rings? I sure didn’t know that for sure.

Michigan Wolverines

I’m not really sure what to say about Michigan. I fear that head coach Rich Rodriguez will force me to work out an extra four hours on Sunday.

And if you’re wondering, yes there is a Fire Rich Rodriguez web site. It’s a good design, but they could have used a better font for the banner. Maybe something a bit lighter..

But enough of the design critique. The real question will be: Tate Forcier or Denard Robinson? Odds favor Forcier, but who knows. This is pretty much a do-or-die season for Rodriguez. The pressure is on him to make the right decision.


Harem of the Goddess: Byron with the 2009 SEC Preview

July 23, 2009

20070817-SEC logoHey Football Fiends!

For the 3rd year in a row my Vol pal Byron is here to provide us with an SEC Preview. So without further ado, I’m turning the reigns over to Bryon Earnheart for the day:

2009 SEC Preview

by Byron Earnheart (one Vol fan who has not yet drank the Kiffin Kool-Aid)

Well college football fans, the time of the year we’ve been looking forward to is drawing nigh.  That’s right, it’s college football time!!  I don’t know about you all, but it couldn’t get here soon enough!  When I’m finding myself actually caring about baseball, I know I’ve been without my football for way too long.  Sadly, golf isn’t even doing it for me anymore…I just need my fix.  I need my Bloody Marys and my “Game Day” and my nachos and my BBQ sandwich and my Miller High Life and my couch and my wife to put up with me lounging on the couch all Saturday.  It’s time sports fans…it’s time.

Since the last SEC preview, I’ve found myself in a bit of a different situation…I got married.  Now, thankfully, she likes football and is somewhat conversational on the subject.  She knows enough about the BCS to pull for the teams for which we need pulling.  She got as excited as I did last year during that TX Tech/Texas game…not that we had anything to gain…but WHAT A GAME!  Every once in awhile, I have to explain to her some rule or why a coach would call a certain play at a certain time in the game, but that’s understandable…and, at least, she puts up with me sitting around hollering at the TV.

So, with the marriage as a theme, I’d like to go through the SEC with some quick-hit thoughts.

Something Ole: Well, not quite “something old…”, but you get the gist.  I’ll say more on this later, but if there’s a team in the SEC (not named Florida) who has the opportunity to excel this year, it’s Ole Miss.  That’s right…Ole Miss.  Great, proven QB…decent coach (my personal opinion of Houston Nutt aside)…favorable schedule…probably a top 15 national ranking.  “Wait”, you may be saying “what about LSU and Alabama?!  Saban is one season away from curing cancer and completely reinventing Western Civilization!”  Well, all of that may be true…but he and Miles both have unproven and young QB’s (not a good thing in this league usually) AND they have to go to Oxford to play.  While Oxford is not as intimidating as Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge, it’s still a road game…and Ole Miss does not have to travel to those aforementioned sights this year.  So, in my opinion, the West is Ole Miss’ to lose.  Will they choke?  Probably so at some point along the way…it’s almost inevitable in this league.  That said…at this stage of the year…it’s their division to lose.

Something New: 3 new coaches are in the SEC now…not to mention the 2 “new” coaches last year (Both Nutt and Petrino seemed to come into situations that were not their making…so, they’re still new to me).  Lane Kiffin, USC’s offensive coordinator when they ruled the world, is at UT and is writing checks that I HOPE his butt can cash.  Dan Mullen is at Mississippi State now hoping to “spread” some of the special sauce that he and Urban Meyer have cooked up over the years.  Gene Chizik joins the SEC at Auburn after he managed to completely stink up Iowa State.  This had to be the most bone-headed hire in the history of the SEC (and I am counting Ed Orgeron in this!), which leads me to my next point…

Something Borrowed: Time and Trouble.  I get the distinct impression that teams now are just borrowing trouble from some of these hires.  Gene Chizik…really?  Why do I get the feeling this has got “Ron Zook” written all over it…maybe even worse.  In the interest of fairness, I’ll throw my beloved Vols here as well.  If Kiffin doesn’t work out, we’re screwed.  Bad.  And when you think about it, that’s two solid programs with a great deal of history that’ve gotten kicked in the nether regions over a dumb hire.   (Gridiron Goddess says: Gee sort of like USC in the 1990s) All of this being said, if they pay off…they’ll pay off huge.  It’s sort of like getting in on a good stock.  If it takes off, you’re a flippin’ genius.  If not, then the bank is coming for your home and Little Junior is not going to college.

Now, why do I care about this in a Preview column?  Because that’s what the fans of these schools with new coaches are watching for.  We want to see improvement.  Most UT fans (the reasonable ones who a) actually went there and b) don’t have “Rocky Top” as car horn or doorbell) aren’t expecting a 12-1 season.  But, perception is on trial this year for at least 5 teams in the league.  We really have no idea what 4-5 teams are going to look like once they step out on the field.  The Court of Public Football Opinion, Southeastern District, is cruel.  Fans are going to want to see improvement.  They’ll want to see close games.  They’ll want to see their teams “in” games that they should not even be in.  We all want what Florida has, what Alabama is building, and what LSU is probably losing…but it can’t happen to everyone…so, someone is borrowing trouble!

Something Blue: So, I’m going to go ahead and spoil the fun and pick Florida and Ole Miss in Atlanta…and you have no idea how much that crawls under my skin.  I hate these two teams passionately.  Why?  I just do.  And what team has a more crystal clear path to the National Championship than Florida?  Let’s review…their ENTIRE D is coming back; they have Tim Tebow who rivals Chuck Norris in freakish talents, and an easy schedule.  Sure, they have LSU in Baton Rouge but, trust me on this, LSU’s Def. Coordinator wouldn’t know what to do with Florida’s offense if he was handed the playbook and given a month to study.  Sure, it’ll be a tight game for 3 quarters but Chavis will start giving the receivers nice 8 yard cushions.  It’ll be so nice to watch another defense implode on itself and not have the accompanying arm pains and shortness of breath.  So, with all of that…Gators, yet again, it’s all you.

So, here, in my predicted order of finish by division, is the SEC.


1) Ole Miss:  I think I’ve explained my reasoning above for this.  I just like a team that’s got a great QB, good depth, able D, good coaching, and a favorable schedule.  Now, they may choke.  But at this point in the year, I just can’t bring myself to say they can’t win the West.

2) Alabama:  Yes, I know Nick Saban is God’s gift to mankind in the South and is the reincarnation of Bear Bryant.  But without a proven QB, even the Bear didn’t win every game.  I like everything about this team but the Ole Miss game and the young QB.

3) Arkansas: Bobby Petrino has proven he can win games, in my opinion, when he’s got the QB.  Mallet is that type of QB if you watched any of his Michigan games.  He’s got the skills (to pay the bills…sorry, couldn’t help it!).  There are some questions on Defense…like are they any good…but, I think the offense could save the team a few times.

4) LSU: I’ve just seen John Chavis’ defenses crumble too many times in the presence of teams that can pass the ball to get too excited.  In addition, Jarrett Lee did nothing to impress me.  I’m going to go out on a limb here…a REALLY big limb…and say that 2009 could be the beginning of the downward slide of LSU.

5) Mississippi State:  As this is my 2nd favorite team in the league, I’m pumped about this year.  This is one of those teams that have to show improvement.  Perception is the name of the game here.  Mullen should bring a great deal of excitement to the team, and, coupled with a punishing RB (pending his DUI situation) and very serviceable D…it might be a decent year…look for them to sneak in the bowl picture.

6) Auburn: Crash and burned, huh Mav?  I just can’t find anything good to say about this team, I’m sorry.  I don’t hate the Tigers.  I just can’t find any reason to put them ahead of anyone in the division.  Gene Chizik?  Really?  That’s who you thought could do a better job than Tuberville?  Last year, Kodi Burns didn’t know whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt.  It was embarrassing.  So, has it gotten better now that you got the Chizik?  The only good thing I can say, seriously, about Auburn, is that acquiring Gus Malzahn will probably save their butts some.  But if he doesn’t have the tools (and Burns did NOTHING to prove that he has the skills), it won’t matter.


1) Florida:  Ok, save me the energy here…does anyone really argue this?  We can argue it if you want to…but you’re wrong.  This team reminds me of stacking your team on NCAA Football on PlayStation, turning it to JV level, and start getting top 5 recruiting classes each year…it’s almost not fun to watch.  And, TRUST ME…this praise is not because I like the Gators.  I hate them passionately!  But they’re really freaking good.

2) Tennessee:  Now, before this gets attacked, let me just say that UT, UGA, and South Carolina (maybe even Vandy) could make a bid here.  Neither of these teams have great QB’s, some have better D’s, some have more favorable schedules.  This really is a testament to how far down the East will be this year.  That said, I am going with my biases here.  While I trust UT’s QB about like I’d trust Simon Cowell to break a smile and say something positive (Dang, my wife’s got me watching American Idol…I’m sorry!).  Crompton just…I can’t even type his name without feeling the bile rise up.  However, the offense is supposedly easier to understand (It’d better be…God knows he shorted enough 5 yard passes last year.  Confusing stuff, I know!!).  The D should be good, and some good RB depth should give us a fighting chance.

3) Georgia: Again, not much difference here in UGA and UT.  Good depth, probably a more suspect D…unproven QB.  But UGA is one of the best coached teams in the league.  They lost a TON of talent though that they can’t easily replace coming out of the gate.  They have the talent…but it’ll take time to develop.

4) South Carolina:  Well, it looks like Garcia’s finally been paroled and allowed to play football again.  I know that was a cheap shot…but given all the crap that Satan…I mean…Spurrier’s dealt over the years, payback’s a mother!  Their D should be fairly solid, however.  I’m very impressed with Norwood as a LB.  He’s probably one of the most underrated players in the league.

5) Vanderbilt: Coming off the bowl win was HUGE for this program.  They always have a fairly decent D but lacking in the skill spots on offense.  Well, this year, they’re bringing back the team leaders in passing and rushing and 2/3 of the leaders in receiving.  Look for them to make some splash…possibly another bowl bid.  Also, as I said above, don’t count them out to be higher than this.  Last year, this team gave Mississippi State and Georgia all either team wanted.  While I’m not a big believer in “moral losses” since you still lose the game…Vandy’s the kind of team with the kind of talent that can slip up on most any team at any time.

6) Kentucky: I sort of miss those few years where Kentucky was good.  Now, I just don’t see it.  I will say that they had a heck of bowl game.  They’ll win games.  They won’t get creamed in every game they play.  A small running game and an average QB won’t move you up this list too much, I’m afraid.  Lost some key defensive players, as well.

So, that’s the year in preview.  I see Ole Miss and Florida going to Nashville with Florida beating them senseless.  Revenge is a tough pill to swallow.  Then, Florida will probably take on the winner of the Texas/Oklahoma game for the national title.  Who will it be?  I don’t care enough about the Big 12 to even begin to guess that.  Both of those teams are good and it’ll probably be a great game either way.

I wish everyone’s team good luck!


Harem of the Gridiron Goddess: Walker Sports on the NFC East

September 4, 2008

Football fiends, friend of the Gridiron Goddess Walker Sports is back to share his views on the NFC East with us. This will conclude the NFL Previews just in time for tonight’s 2008 Season Kick off!

Walker-Sports NFC East Preview

Dallas Cowboys: Yes this team fell short last year, yes their QB spends too much time in the tabloids with his idiot girlfriend, and yes they are everyone’s favorite team to hate. Despite all that, they are the best team in the NFC East 2008 season. The Cowboys bring back the bulk of a squad that went 13-3 last season. Julius Jones is gone which mean teams will see more of Marion Barber III which could be trouble for opposing defenses. Felix Jones was drafted to help take some of the workload off Barber and once he learns the pro game he will look to make an impact with his quick burst.

The buzz around the Cowboys this season will be generated around Adam Jones as he looks to return to Pro-Bowl status after a year suspension. Jones will help to sure up a shaky secondary that also features Roy Williams and Terrence Newman. Jones’s biggest impact will likely be seen on special teams where his skills are often over looked. But as long as he is able to make a solid contribution on defense then it could be the Cowboys defense that leads them to the post season success that has eluded the franchise for the last 12 years. The Cowboys have the best line backing core in the league and they will be able to put a lot of pressure on QB’s which will alleviate a lot of pressure on the secondary as they work to gel together.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles had a rough season in 07. Once again injuries kept this team from getting on track. However, coming down the stretch they were as good as any team in the league. McNabb is back (somehow) and he has a lot to prove and he should come out with a chip on his shoulder. Lucky for Donavan he does not have to go it alone, he has arguably the best back in the league behind in Brian Westbrook. These two will once again link up to be one of the most dominate duos in the league.

On the defensive side of the ball the Eagles have what can be considered the best secondary in the league, which should give them plenty of liberty to blitz at will. So they will look to be aggressive once again.

I’m going go ahead and say it, it is now or never for the Eagles. This team has been together more or less since 2000 and although they went to one Super Bowl, that is not the results that a team of this caliber should have. If they miss the post season again then this team should be dismantled, anything short of a Super Bowl appearance and this team should make serious changes, and that means you Donovan.

New York Giants: Yes the Giants are the defending Super Bowl Champions and no one is happier than me that they knocked the Patriots off, that being said that was one of the best and biggest surprise runs in football history they went on to get there. And don’t worry they had plenty of luck along the way. The Giants lost some talent on the defensive line, and it was their D-Line that led the team to the championship. Those holes will not easily be replaced. More important than anything the Giants will have a huge target on their backs because they are the Super Bowl Champions and everyone will want a piece of them. Now just because they are third in the NFC East does not mean they won’t make the post season. Just being the defending champs, playing in the NFC East and having that horrible schedule will just be too much to overcome.

Washington Redskins: The Redskins got to keep their name a little while longer and tat was the only thing that went right for this team during the off-season. The Joe Gibbs era has come to an end as he makes his return to NASCAR and after a process that was very similar to selecting a Pope the Skins landed Jim Zorn, probably the must unlikely candidate on the market. So Zorn is in, but the question has to be asked; for how long? The burning question around the beltway is will Zorn e given a chance to coach, or is he just a placeholder till Cowher comes to town. The sooner that question is answered the faster we will be able to judge this Redskins team.

On offense the Skins will run Zorn’s version of the West Coast Offense which we can assume is similar to the Holmgren version but no one is sure since Zorn has never called a play. More importantly the change means QB Jason Campbell has to learn yet another system making it his fifth in about seven years. He has never played in anything close to the West Coast Offense and he will need to pick it up quickly if he wants to guide his team. Luckily for Washington they already have the personnel that are well suited to execute Zorn’s system. Small speed receivers Moss and Randle El will be able to work well with quick slants ins and outs. Chris Cooley is a great TE who will enjoy working in space and he should see plenty of work. Oddly enough the one weak link may be Clinton Portis. Clinton took a lot of strides last season and the West Coast Offense could be a great fit for him since the blocking will be similar to the one he enjoyed while in Denver. The downside is his hands can be sketchy and that’s not good since he could potentially see a lot more passes.


Harem of the Gridiron Goddess: Walker Sports on the AFC East

September 4, 2008

Football fiends, friend of the Gridiron Goddess Walker Sports is back to share his views on the AFC East with us.

NOTE: Jets preview was written long before the Brett Favre trade.

Walker-Sports AFC East Preview

As we all eagerly wait on the upcoming football season, let’s continue our look around the NFL, today we will switch conferences and take a look at the AFC East. There’s a lot going on in this division, but it’s pretty straight forward to guess what the outcome of this conference will be.

New England Patriots: 17-1 pretty damn good unless that one lost came in the biggest game of the year.A the story as fuel to climb back to the top of the mountain in 08. The Patriots will go to battle with the usual cast of characters. Their offense will have the same quick pace and explosive scoring ability as it did last season. I doubt they will break scoring records like last season, but they will not struggle to get into the endzone. Look for the Pats to change it up the attack plan just a bit this season. They will move Moss around and get him into the slot and let Welker play the outside. While this will cut into Welker’s numbers it will open up more opportunities for Moss. It will be hard for a defense to get a corner and a safety on him when he comes out of the slot where a nickel back or a linebacker would typically be the first line of defense.

On the defensive side the Pats lost some talent in the secondary with the departure of Assante Samuel. However, they were very active in free agency and have found very good replacements and in typical Patriots fashion it will cost the franchise a lot less cash. The biggest pickup in the off season has to be drafting Jerod Mayo at linebacker. Mayo will make an instant impact which the Patriots need since their ageing linebacking core was actually the wink link on their defense last season.

The Patriots will be ale to tear through this weak division and once again take home the title. Division Title that is.

New York Jets: The Jets barely fall into this second spot, and it does not mean they will have a successful all around season. The Jets have questions at QB and they have a bunch of new faces on the offensive line. They are some very talented faces and a solid mix of veterans and young guys. The upside is if the line can gel together, the Jets can potentially make a stable offense, and that could be enough.

Two seasons ago the Jets began to put together a solid defense and while they backtracked a little last season, they will look to rebound in 08. Their defense is good enough to keep them in a lot of games this season, especially when you look around the rest of the division.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills could easily be a huge surprise in 2008, especially if Trent Edwards can completely grasp the system and the league. Last year Edwards burst onto the scene and he showed lot of promise and there is no doubt he will build and grow this season. If he can progress, the Bills have the weapons on offense to make some noise. Marshawn Lynch was a stud in the back field and he will only improve now that he has a better understanding of the blocking schemes and the tempo of the game. Lee Evans is a deep threat receiver who had a down year last season due to erratic play at the QB position. If Edwards can settle down and deliver the ball then Evans could feast from the improved play and have a breakout year.

Miami Dolphins: They went out and drafted the cheapest number one draft pick available. But Jake Long should be able to anchor the line for a long time to come. Too bad no one has a clue who will be under center. What the Dolphins do have going for them is Ronnie Brown. He is a tough runner who can get solid yardage on every carry. If Miami can keep him healthy during the season he will help to jump start what was a terrible (say it like Charles Barkley) offense last season.

The one thing Miami has going for them entering next season is the Big Tuna. That’s right Bill Parcells has taken over and he is already making his presence felt. Parcells put Jason Taylor on notice and he has the Dolphins on notice from front office to towel boy. If nothing else, Parcells running the show will insure that everyone puts their best foot forward. He will make the Dolphins raise their level of play unfortunately that level just wont be good enough.


Harem of the Gridiron Goddess: Walker Sports on the NFC South

September 2, 2008

Football fiends, friend of the Gridiron Goddess Walker Sports is back to share his views on the NFC South with us.

Walker-Sports NFC South Preview

After short break Walker-Sports is back and we are picking up right were we left off, talking about football. This time we are looking at the NFC South. Now I’ll be the first one to throw this out, but this may be the worse division in the league. Sorry fans, but I’m just not impressed by this division. Nonetheless let’s take a look and see if we can find some good here.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jeff Garcia looks to be the starting QB in 08, but Tampa has about 5 QB’s on the roster so that can change at any moment. More importantly the Bucs have Cadillac Williams who proved to be a stud in his rookie year. Last season he experienced a bit of sophomore slump but that should behind him. The key to the Bucs success will be their conditioning mainly cans this older team stay healthy for the entire 2008 season. If they can, Tampa will make another trip to the postseason.

New Orleans Saints: The Saints were devastated last season by injuries. The moment that Deuce McAllister went down with a knee injury everyone knew their season would be in jeopardy. Reggie Bush is a talented athlete but he is not an every down back. They need McAllister to come back healthy to run between the tackles and help change the pace in the running game. N.O. Also added Jeremy Shockey to their lineup this week, and he will be a valued addition to a lackluster passing attack. Colston is quickly becoming a top receiver but he is not there yet. Shockey will give Quarterback Drew Brees a needed weapon, and he will serve as a safety valve. The Saints will be a tough out.

Carolina Panthers: Jake Delhomme is returning after missing time last season with elbow surgery. The Panthers will need him to be on target and ready to go if they want to have success this year. Because of his age and the way his body is now breaking down that is why the Panthers have slipped to the third spot on this pole. DeShawn Foster will handle the bulk of the carries, and I believe he is poised for a break out season, after being relegated to returns and spot duty much of last season. Steve Smith is still a threat on the outside although he will never be able to regain the gaudy numbers he put up a couple seasons ago. Despite that he is a still a great deep threat. The Panthers had an eventful off-season that saw them lose the bulk of their defensive line. That is something that will definitely hurt them in the upcoming season. The Panthers went to the Super Bowl because of their defense and if they want to taste any bit of success they will need to rebuild their defense.

Atlanta Falcons: Well the Vick saga is finally behind them. That was followed up by the Bobby Petrino coaching debacle. Needless to say Atlanta has had their share of problems, and they won’t be going away anytime soon. This is a team with two second string QBs and two second string RB’s on the offensive side of the ball. Honestly the defense doesn’t look much better. The best Atlanta can do is hold on tight, wait for next years draft and be glad that Mike Vick’s contract is no longer on the books.


Harem of the Gridiron Goddess: Walker Sports’ AFC South Preview

August 24, 2008

Football fiends, friend of the Gridiron Goddess Walker Sports is back to share his views on the AFC South with us.

Walker-Sports:AFC South Preview

Welcome back everybody, Walker-Sports is back to continue our previews. Our last edition on the NFC South certainly got a solid rise out of Panther nation. Did not realize there were that many Carolina Panther fans on the net. Nonetheless, today we are back and we are talking about the AFC South. This may be the toughest division in league and it will be an entertaining one to watch.

Indianapolis Colts: I don’t care that Peyton had his knee worked on 8 weeks before the season starts. He will be back and at 100% by the time opening day comes around and that is all that really matters. The Colts had a great year last season and that was with two Pro-Bowlers going down with injuries. This year they should have everyone back and ready to play at their highest level and they will need it. Their division is stacked and it’s going to take a lot out of the Colts to win it all. However, they have everything to play for. The energy with the new stadium is good for two maybe even three wins this season. Add in the fact that this is likely head coach Tony Dungy’s last season and you can chalk that up for another two wins.

Bottom line is the Colts can win this division. The key will be avoiding the injury bug.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags have been knocking at the door since about 2005 and this season they will be oh so close to breaking through. Matter of fact if the Jags can sweep Indy (and it’s very possible) I have no doubt that they will win the division and more importantly get a buy in the playoffs. David Garrard stepped up huge last season when he was awarded the starting job during training camp. He made his coming out party in the playoffs last season against the Steelers. I have no doubt he will build on that going into the 08 season. Garrard also has some amazing help in the backfield with him. Fred Taylor is coming off a Pro-Bowl season and despite his injury prone past he will have another great season. Even if he is a bit slow to it, Jacksonville is blessed to have another great back in Maurice Jones-Drew, the toughest little man in the game. Don’t believe me? Just ask Shawne Merriman what this guy can do.

Houston Texans: This is the Texans year. I know that sounds strange, but watch they will make the wild card this season. Last year they showed great improvement, and those young players are finally getting it. The key to the Texans success will depend on them getting stability at the quarterback position. Last season Matt Schaub got the start but injuries sidelined him midway. Sage Rosenfels is there as well, but I can see the Texans dealing him pretty soon especially if Schaub can just be steady. The Schaub to Johnson connection can be dangerous if developed properly. On the other side of the ball, the Texans don’t look so dumb now picking up Mario Williams with the first pick. Williams has matured into a Pro-Bowl caliber player and O-Tackles across the league will have their hands full trying to contain him.

Tennessee Titians: The Titians made it to the playoffs last season, but in 08 they will e the only team in this division to miss out on the post season. This is the make or break year for Vince Young. He showed a lot of promise his rookie season, but failed to advance on that in 07. Now it is year three and it is time to put up. Young is already responsible for Norm Chow going back to the college ranks now we get to see if he is a balla on the field or a coach killer (my guess is the later). Now granted the blame cannot be completely places on Vince, he has no one to throw the ball to. The Titian receivers are amongst the worse in the league. Not to mention the running back situation is not ideal. LenDale White is another 07 draft pick that has failed to live up to expectations (see why that Mario Williams pick was so good now?) and is in danger of eating himself out of a job. The Titians defense will keep them in plenty of games this season and they will probably have a close to .500 record but they just won’t have enough talent to get into the post season.


Harem of the Goddess post: Walker Sports with AFC North preview

August 9, 2008

Football fiends, friend of the Gridiron Goddess Walker Sports is back to share his views on the AFC North with us.

Walker-Sports AFC North Preview

In our ongoing effort to cover the entire NFL we pick up our coverage with the focus on the AFC North. This is perhaps the most confusing division in the league. Confusing because teams go from worse to first in seemingly no time, and the fall from the top is just as quick.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Always consistent, always in the mix, always there. It seems like every year these guys are ready to make a play and be a contender. This year is absolutely no different. They have all the same weapons back again. Big Ben, Hines Ward, Willie Parker and company are locked, loaded and ready to bring it. A big addition during the off-season was drafting Rashard Mendenhall as a running back. While he won’t be a superstar this season, he will be able to provide Willie Parker a break, which will keep his legs fresh especially coming down the end stretch of the season. A big key for the Steelers will be the health of their defense. Mainly the health of Troy Polamalu is the big concern. Last season Troy was in and out of the lineup with injuries, and it hurt the overall continuity of the defense. Much like Bob Sanders in Indy, Polamalu is a key part to the Steelers defense. His ability to be at the line of scrimmage at the snap and then drop back into coverage and not miss a beat cannot be emphasized enough. If he can stay healthy and remain on the field then the Steelers will once again find themselves in the mix.

Cincinnati Bengals: This has to be one of the most difficult choices I’ve had to make so far. There are plenty of underlying issues with this team that could easily tear it apart well, before they ever take the field. Obviously I am talking about Chad Johnson who is currently at camp but not participating because of his bum ankle. The relationship between Palmer and Johnson’s has to be considered strained at best and the same could be said with Johnson’s relationship with Coach Marvin Lewis. What the Bengals do have going for them is T.J. Houshmandzada who has become one of the best receivers in the league and his numbers will continue to be up there next season. The problem with the Bengals offense is in their backfield. The two headed monster of Rudi Johnson and Chris Perry has failed to produce at the exponential rate that makes them a true threat.

Oh yeah… they still can’t stop anyone on defense either. So expect to see another 56-48 shoot out with the Browns.

Cleveland Browns: A lot of people have the Browns as the breakout team of 08. I see them playing more like the 49’ers did in 07 in the wake of a great 06 season. Bottom line is there will be a let down. The Browns will play a tougher schedule this season (the NFC East), and the rest of the league knows what to expect. Derek Anderson had a phenomenal year last season and established himself as the starting QB. However, he will have to continue to play at an exceptional rate if he wants to keep the job. Brady Quinn is still lurking in the shadows and you can bet that as soon as Anderson begins to flounder, that the fans will be chanting Quinn’s name. The Browns added Donte’ Stallworth at wide out, but he has largely been an underachieving player even in New England last season. It will be interesting to see if getting the paycheck will inspire him to play at the top of his game or will he continue to be lackluster. The Browns defense has undergone little change over the summer, and so they will continue to struggle there. Last year was a great story and this was a fun team to watch, but it’s just asking too much to have them repeat.

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are in a rebuilding process so one cannot expect much from them in the upcoming season. A New head coach, probably a new starting QB (by week 5, I’m guessing) and some new faces on the O-Line. Not a good combination for one of the traditionally worse offenses in football. Add to that the Ravens defense is an aging group. They have added a couple young players over the past couple seasons, but unfortunately their talent level is not to the level that the Ravens are used to. If the Ravens want to avoid the disaster they experienced last season they will need their defense to play closer to their 01 level than 07. Also getting Flacco up to speed as quickly as possible will be in the team’s best interest.


Harem of the Goddess Post: Walker Sports on the NFC North

August 7, 2008

Football fiends, friend of the Gridiron Goddess Walker Sports is back to share his views on the NFC North with us.

Walker-Sports:NFC North Preview

Welcome back everybody. Walker-Sports NFL Preview is in full swing. Today we will attempt to tackle the confusing NFC North. By this time everyone knows about the Brett Favre saga and obviously that has a huge impact on the outcome in the division. Nonetheless, Walker-Sports think we know where Brett will end up, and so we feel safe moving ahead and forecasting the division.

Minnesota Vikings: This is a team that has been in the headlines since the Favre controversy began to kick up back in early July. However, even without the services of number 4 the Vikings are a stacked team that took enormous steps in the right direction last season, and there is no doubt they will build on that in 2008. Adrian Peterson is obviously a Pro-Bowl player and an absolute stud. As long as he can stay healthy (and that is a big if) the Vikings have a chance to control the ball and stay in any game. Tavaris Jackson will be called on to play quarterback and honestly he is not very good. No other way to put it, watching his mechanics it is obvious that he has some problems with his throwing motion. In addition he struggles reading coverage’s and making decisions under pressure. Throw in the fact that his targets are not at the elite level and the Vikings passing game will struggle to get anything done. On defense, the Vikings are young but maturing very quickly. Their linebacking core has gelled very well in the last 12 months and will be a force to be reckoned with, the question is will their offense leave them in a good enough position to perform?

Green Bay Packers:
Walker-Sports realize that Favre won’t be there this season, but Aaron Rodgers has shown the potential to be a solid starting QB. And if he cannot get the job done there is a good chance that Chris Simms or Brian Griese will be there to back him up (oops did we just say where Brett is going?). The real key signing the Packers have to make is getting Ryan Grant back onto the field. When Grant emerged as the starter last season, he gave the Packers offense the stability they needed to make it to within a throw of the Super Bowl. I love the core of receivers Green Bay has. Their ability to take a short route and turn it into a big game is something that every team should look for. I’m also in love with the Packers defense I believe this is one of the most overlooked units in the league. Considering their opposition in the NFC North, they should have another standout year. The only reason I don’t like the Packers to win this division is because of the early season distraction of Brett, and a second possible QB switch.

Chicago Bears: It’s amazing that the Bears front office is able to remain employed. The Bears have been searching for a starting QB since 2000 and yet again the chose not to draft anyone who could step in and fill that role. Instead they used a coin flip to decide if Grossman or Orton would take the opening snaps in training camp. Not exactly the vote of confidence you want if you’re a QB. In addition the Bears allowed themselves to be held hostage by Devin Hester who held out to get a bigger deal, then insisted that he did not want to play offense. Hope he takes a look at Dante Hall’s career as a one dimensional return man. All around poor moves by the front office will cost them sooner than later. Nonetheless the Bears are back and their defense should be healthy. This will at least keep them competitive throughout the season. Look for them to slush their way through the division and miss out on the post season.

Detroit Lions: Jon Kitna made a promise and for a brief moment it looked as if he was going to live up to it. However, reality set in, and the Lions stumbled down the stretch to a 7-9 season. I’ve said it 1000 times Jon Kitna is the QB to get you up to the mountain top but he cannot cross over. 8-8 is the max he can give a team and because of that the Lions will continue to suffer in mediocrity. Granted the full blame cannot all be placed on Kina, the Lions running game is non existent and the slew of highly rated draft picks at wideouts continue to underachieve. The Lions will have a few moments when they look like gang busters this season, but they will not be able to maintain that level of excellence over the long haul and they will once again fall short of making the post season.


A Harem of the Gridiron Goddess post: Walker Sports on ACC Preview 2008 – Coastal Division

July 12, 2008

Gridiron Goddess welcomes back Walker Sports with his ACC Coastal Division Preview.

Your ACC Preview – Coastal Division

by Walker Sports

Welcome back to part two of Walker-Sports ACC preview. In this section we will take a look at the Coastal Division. Of the two divisions the Coatal is without a doubt the tightest, and will prove to be the most competitive. It could also make for some interesting results come November once all these teams have tangled and a couple upsets go down.

Virginia Tech Hokies: The Hokies have been a terror to the ACC since the day they arrived in the league. They have played in 3 out of 4 ACC Championships. There is no doubt the ACC made the right move bringing these guys in. This year the Hokies are likely the only legitimate threat to the Clemson Tigers if the two can meet in the ACC Championship game. However, this year will take a little more effort than Beamer and company are used to. The Hokies lost several key players on both sides of the ball including star running back Brandon Ore and linebackers Xavier Adibi. The Hokies will also continue their battle at quarterback that began last season between Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor. Lucky for the Hokies they have the best of both worlds with these guys, Glennon being a scrambler and Taylor a drop back passer.

No matter who is at the helm at QB you can bank that Virginia Tech will play solid defense and great special teams. That will make them a top contender in the ACC and a possible factor in the BCS.

Record: 10-2

Key Games: East Carolina, Nebraska, Florida State

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Change was the theme of the off-season for the Yellow Jackets. Paul Johnson’s option offense scared off a couple players, but they will be stronger because of it. Josh Nesbitt will be charged with running the offensive this season, and he has the tools to make it happen, if he stays healthy, a groin injury has sidelined him for much of the spring.

What the Rambling Wreck will do very well this year, is attack opposing offenses. The Yellow Jackets have one of the top ends and one of the top tackles in the league, Michael Johnson and Vance Walker will test any offensive line. The D-Line alone will keep the Yellow Jackets in most any game they play this season.

Record: 7-5

Key Games: Florida State, Mississippi State, Georgia

Miami Hurricanes: Don’t go crazy with this one, the ‘Canes fell into this spot by accident, not because they have done anything special. Miami will be pretty much all freshmen or first year players. Lucky for them their freshmen tend to be better than an average teams seniors.

The Hurricanes are moving in the right direction, and they appear to be doing it the right way. That meant getting rid of a lot of players and coaches. That will lead to disappointment in the short term, but if the Alumni can hang in there and just trust in their coach, they will find themselves back on track, especially with this talented group of freshmen.

Record: 7-5

Key Games: UCF, Virginia, Texas A&M

Virginia Cavaliers: Al Groh must go, was the chant heard round Charlottesville after an embarrassing opening lost on the road to Wyoming. However, a 9-4 campaign seemed to make many Cavalier fans forget Groh’s shortcomings and he even received a contract extension. However, after a meltdown in the Gator Bowl and an embarrassing off season that saw seven players kicked out of school perhaps Groh’s job should still be on the line.

Despite all the setbacks the Cavaliers are looking to employ a more wide open attack and actually toss the ball down field some this year, Combine a revamped passing game with the return of Cedric Peermen and Mikell Simpson at running back and the Cav’s could have a decent offense, but don’t hold your breath.

Seven wins this season would be a phenomenal achievement. (Your Gridiron Goddess says: ESPECIALLY since they open their season against USC.)

Record 6-6

Key Games: Miami, East Carolina, Clemson, USC

North Carolina Tar Heels: Butch Davis is entering his second year as head coach in Chapel Hill, and while that does mean something, Davis alone is not enough to put the Tar Heels back on the winning track. The Heels will be much better than their 4-8 mark of their last year, however due to a tough schedule; the improvement may not be seen in the win column. Out of conference games against Rutgers, Notre Dame and UConn can mean trouble for the Heels.

The bulk of their success will depend on how their backfield gels together. Greg Little is the sophomore who moved to tailback from receiver late last year and he will carry the load this season. T.J. Yates is supposed to be the starter at QB comes August, but he has not thrown much at all since shoulder surgery in December. If he is unable to go the Tar Heels will depend on backups Paulus and Sexton to step up and run the offense.

Record: 5-7

Key Games: UConn, Boston College, North Carolina State

Duke Blue Devils: I won’t lie this is just hard to do because, I don’t want to be too tongue and cheek, and Walker-Sports is not about sugar coat anything, so sorry Blue Devil fans. David Cuttcliffe has challenged his team to improve their fitness, and their team speed. To this point the team has responded well. However, Duke simply does not have the athletes to compete at the high levels of the ACC. Nonetheless, the Blue Devils will be an improved team.
Record: 2-10

Key Games, James Madison, Northwestern

ACC Championship Game: Clemson vs. Virginia Tech

Clemson wins ACC Title and Tommy Bowden goes to the Orange Bowl where the ACC can hopefully regain some respect on the national level.

That’s it for me, hope you enjoyed the preview feel free to drop a line with your comments. This is going to be a special year in college football, there’s a lot of variables out there, and a lot of new faces on the scene so buckle up and get ready for what will be a hellUVA a ride.