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Path: /college-football/big-12-week-2-preview-and-predictions

The competition wasn't particularly impressive, but Big 12 teams finished Week 1 with a 9-0 record. Eight Big 12 teams are in action this Saturday, with Baylor and West Virginia on a bye week. Non-conference play continues in Week 2, but Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State have key tests against BCS foes.

Other Week 2 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 2

1. Will Iowa State make it two in a row over Iowa?
The last time the Cyclones won back-to-back games against in-state rival Iowa was 2001-02. After last year’s 44-41 win in Ames and a solid opening week victory against Tulsa, Iowa State is in position to make it two in a row over the Hawkeyes. Even though it may seem simple, winning the turnover battle will be crucial to the Cyclones’ victory hopes on Saturday. Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz struggled with interceptions last year but played well in the opener (281 yards, two touchdowns), but he will have a tough matchup against Iowa’s secondary. The Hawkeyes struggled to get their offense on track last week, but running back Damon Bullock will test an Iowa State rush defense that allowed 160 yards to Tulsa last week. Iowa has outscored the Cyclones 52-12 in the last two matchups in Iowa City. However, considering Iowa State had a solid performance in Week 1, look for Saturday’s game to be a lot closer than the recent matchups at Iowa.

2. How will Wes Lunt fare in his first road start?
So far, so good for Wes Lunt as Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback. Of course, the competition in Week 1 was pretty weak, so Saturday’s road test at Arizona will give everyone a better glimpse of Lunt’s ability. Against Savannah State last Saturday, he threw for 129 yards and completed all 11 passes. Although the coaching staff needs to get Lunt some work – especially before Big 12 play arrives – the Cowboys don’t have to lean on the true freshman to win this game. Expect a heavy dose of running back Joseph Randle, while Oklahoma State’s defense will look to continue its opportunistic ways from last season. The Cowboys defense has a tough challenge ahead as it tries to slow down Arizona quarterback Matt Scott (387 yards, two touchdowns against Toledo). Lunt doesn’t need to have a huge game for Oklahoma State to win, but this is his first big test as the starting quarterback.

3. Will Kansas State’s defense struggle to stop Miami?
Coming into the season, Miami was one of the biggest mystery teams in the nation. The Hurricanes returned only nine starters and featured a depth chart littered with youth and inexperience. Miami’s defense struggled to stop Boston College last week, but its offense recorded 415 yards and 41 points – a bad sign for a Kansas State defense that allowed 418 yards to FCS foe Missouri State. The Wildcats’ secondary was a question mark coming into the season and gave up 323 yards last week. Although Miami isn’t one of the nation’s best passing teams, it has a capable quarterback (Stephen Morris) and some receivers capable of making plays on the outside. Expect Kansas State’s defense to get a little help from its offense and quarterback Collin Klein, as the Wildcats should be able to move the ball on Miami’s defense. Kansas State should win this one but concerns about the defense may keep this one close deep into the fourth quarter.

4. Can Texas Tech continue to make progress on defense?
Even though the competition wasn’t the best last Saturday, it was a good sign for Texas Tech that its defense allowed only 84 yards and six points to Northwestern State. The Red Raiders were active around the line of scrimmage, recording nine tackles for a loss and registering one forced fumble. This unit will have another opportunity on Saturday against Texas State to show just how far it has come since last season. The Bobcats will present a tougher challenge, especially after rushing for 248 yards and two touchdowns against Houston last week. If Texas Tech’s defense turns in another stellar effort, it should give the coaching staff confidence they found the right answers in the offseason. The Red Raiders have plenty of firepower on offense but fixing the defense is crucial to get back to a bowl game.

5. Another tuneup for Oklahoma, Texas in Week 2
It’s still another month before Oklahoma and Texas matchup in Dallas, and both teams have a lot of work to do before the Red River Rivalry. The Sooners looked sluggish in the opener against UTEP, while Wyoming gave Texas all it could handle in the first quarter, but the Longhorns eventually pulled away for a 37-17 win. Oklahoma’s passing attack is under the microscope after looking out of rhythm against the Miners. Florida A&M should provide little resistance to the Sooners’ offense, which should allow this group to work out some of the kinks before Big 12 play arrives on Sept. 22. For Texas, this Saturday is all about building more confidence for quarterback David Ash, as well as developing a pecking order at running back. Expect freshman Johnathan Gray to see a bigger role this Saturday, but Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown will likely tote the bulk of the workload. New Mexico thrashed Southern last week but remains one of the worst FBS teams, so Texas should be able to cruise to a 2-0 start.

6. TCU finally kicks off its 2012 season
It’s been an interesting offseason in Fort Worth, from the drug arrests to the move to the Big 12 and a major stadium renovation. After a long offseason and a bye in Week 1, TCU finally kicks off its 2012 season with a matchup against Grambling this Saturday. The Horned Frogs shouldn’t run into much trouble against the Tigers, and this will be a good opportunity to get a look at a revamped offensive line and linebacking corps. TCU’s secondary was a concern last season, but it won’t be tested against a Grambling offense that threw for just 66 yards last week against Alcorn State. The Horned Frogs should cruise to an easy victory, but with Kansas coming up in Week 2, it’s important for some of the inexperienced players to get as many reps as possible.

7. Can Kansas win two games in a row?
Charlie Weis’ debut in Lawrence wasn’t overly impressive, but the Jayhawks snapped a 10-game losing streak by beating South Dakota State 31-17. Running backs Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox each rushed for over 100 yards, while quarterback Dayne Crist had a so-so debut by completing 17 of 36 passes for 169 yards and one score. A bigger issue is the defense, which allowed 411 total yards last week. Saturday’s game against Rice is no cupcake, as the Owls recorded 358 yards and 24 points against UCLA in Week 1. However, Rice’s defense was invisible against the Bruins, allowing a whopping 646 yards and 49 points. The Jayhawks should be able to move the ball at will against the Owls. However, can Kansas’ defense make enough key stops to allow Charlie Weis to begin his tenure in Lawrence at 2-0? 

Week 2 Big 12 Predictions

Big 12 Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Miami (Fla.) at K-State (-7) K-State 35-14 K-State 31-24 K-State 34-27 K-State 34-28
Rice at Kansas (-10) Kansas 28-10 Kansas 27-17 Kansas 41-24 Kansas 41-10
Iowa State at Iowa (-5) Iowa State 21-17 Iowa 27-21 Iowa 27-24 Iowa State 21-20
Tex Tech (-18) at Texas State Tex. Tech 31-24 Tex. Tech 38-10 Tex. Tech 38-17 Tex. Tech 31-17
Florida A&M at Oklahoma Oklahoma 56-10 Oklahoma 49-7 Oklahoma 59-7 Oklahoma 48-13
Grambling at TCU TCU 42-7 TCU 41-10 TCU 52-3 TCU 48-0
New Mexico at Texas (-38) Texas 31-10 Texas 37-7 Texas 48-3 Texas 41-3
Okla. State (-10.5) at Arizona Okla State 35-14 Okla State 34-31 Okla State 38-31 Okla State 34-20
Season Record 9-0 9-0 9-0 9-0


by Steven Lassan


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<p> Big 12 Week 2 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/big-easts-top-storylines-watch-week-2

The first week of the season was probably more eventful than Big East teams would have liked. Pittsburgh lost convincingly to Youngstown State. Syracuse squandered a four-touchdown comeback at home against Northwestern. And Rutgers took its time to put away Tulane.

The second week of the season brings more high-profile matchups, including the first conference game of the season on Thursday. The question is if the Big East is up to the challenge.

Connecticut and Temple won their openers by a combined score of 72-10, but those were against UMass and Villanova. They’ll take on ACC programs this week. USF was uneven on offense against Chattanooga. The Bulls will need to be on the top of their games in a road trip against Nevada. And Syracuse will look for any way possible to stay competitive with USC.

Other Week 2 conference previews and predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big East's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 2

What will we see from the new-look Cincinnati backfield?
The Bearcats didn’t play in the first week of the season, so Cincinnati will show off its new starting backfield for the first time. Senior George Winn is stepping in for Isaiah Pead, who averaged better than six yards per carry in his career. No one is expecting Cincinnati’s running back position to be as explosive as it was a year ago. Instead, Winn will lead a trio of runners, including Jameel Poteat and Ralph David Abernathy IV, who was a standout on special teams a year ago. After two season of Zach Collaros at quarterback, Cincinnati will turn to Munchie Legaux, who completed only 45.9 percent of his passes after taking over for Collaros in the West Virginia game last season. The backfield has been the strength for Cincinnati in most seasons under Butch Jones and predecessor Brian Kelly. For the first time since 2008, Cincinnati is all but starting over.

What signs of optimism can we find at Pittsburgh?
After losing by two touchdowns at home to Youngstown State, Pitt has some major work to do if its going to be a Big East contender -- or even a bowl team.  The Panthers could start 0-3 with a road trip to Cincinnati this week and then Virginia Tech a week later. But it’s worth noting the Pittsburgh defense started four sophomores and two freshmen against Youngstown State. That unit may get better with experience (thought not necessarily after only five days rest against Cincinnati). On offense, the passing game misfired at times, but quarterback Tino Sunseri completed 69.3 percent of his passes and wasn’t sacked. Paul Chryst was pleased with the improvement there, but the most troubling part of the loss was the run game. Youngstown State crowded the line and limited Pitt -- and a healthy Ray Graham -- to 130 rushing yards. Pitt will need more than that to rebound in short order.

Where will USF find answers its ground game?
The Bulls head into a road trip to Nevada with more questions than answers at one of their weakest positions on offense. USF rushed for merely 85 yards and 2.7 yards per carry in the opener against Chattanooga. Moreover, the Bulls left the game with an injury to backup running back Marcus Shaw, who was one of the biggest risers during the preseason. Shaw’s emergence was the impetus behind redshirting Lindsey Lamar, a special teams whiz two years ago who was an odd man out in the running back competition. Lamar is back in the mix with Shaw out with an ankle injury, but Lamar was rusty at the position during the preseason. Demetris Murray, the returning rushing leader, ran for 55 yards against Chattanooga. Meanwhile, Nevada held Cal to 110 rushing yards in its road upset of the Bears last week.

Is Connecticut’s defense really this dominant?
With Yawin Smallwood, Sio Moore, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Trevardo Williams, there’s a lot to like about the Connecticut defense last season, though the numbers didn’t show it, especially against the pass. The Huskies were the nation’s top team on defense last week, albeit against hapless UMass. The Minutemen never advanced the ball beyond their own 38-yard line. Although Connecticut tends to win with a run game and solid defense, the Huskies haven’t finished higher than sixth in the Big East in total defense since 2008. Could this be the group to change that statistic? We’ll get a better idea when Connecticut faces a much tougher challenge against NC State and quarterback Mike Glennon.

What hope does Syracuse have to keep its game against USC competitive?
The Orange is riding a six-game losing streak, the last win a 49-23 upset of West Virginia on Oct. 21. After losing 38-17 to USC last season, Syracuse likely will need to play a near-perfect game to stay competitive with Athlon’s preseason No. 1 team. Syracuse didn’t get that against Northwestern. The Orange allowed Venric Mark to take back two punts for long returns, one for a touchdown. The offense confused a lateral for an incomplete forward pass, allowing an easy defensive touchdown (one of two on the day) for Northwestern. That said, Ryan Nassib ran the new no-huddle offense well, despite absences from left tackle Justin Pugh and wide receiver Alec Lemon. Nassib passed for 470 yards with a touchdown and was sacked only once on 65 pass attempts. Trouble is, he won’t be the top quarterback on the field Saturday.

What does Rutgers need to accomplish in its freebie with Howard?
Considering what happened last week with Youngstown State and Pitt (not to mention Rutgers’ too-close-for-comfort win over Tulane), maybe no game is a freebie. That said, Rutgers clearly has some fine-tuning to do this week against Howard before back-to-back road trips against USF and Arkansas. The Scarlet Knights escaped with a 24-12 win, but the game was 10-6 in the fourth quarter before Brandon James’ pick six. The most glaring issue was Gary Nova’s numbers (11 for 20, 158 yards, one touchdown, one interception) against a Conference USA defense. Kyle Flood praised his play other than a poor decision on the turnover. Rutgers also committed nine penalties and allowed Tulane to convert 8 of 16 third downs. Numbers like that may produce a loss to USF in a week.

Will Montel Harris play for Temple? Does Temple need him to beat Maryland?
Montel Harris, who battled injuries throughout his time at Boston College, is facing them again at Temple. The running back is day-to-day after leaving the opener against Villanova with a hamstring injury. Temple did fine without him. Matt Brown rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Chris Coyer rushed for 80 yards and a score. If Harris doesn’t play this week, can Temple defeat Maryland without him? The Terrapins needed a touchdown in the final 9:52 to defeat William & Mary 7-6 last week for the Terrapins’ first win since Oct. 1, 2011. Temple defeated Maryland 38-7 last season with 285 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

How high is Teddy Bridgewater’s ceiling?
With Missouri State on the schedule this week, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will have a chance to put up big numbers again. The game probably won’t be in doubt, but the Cardinals’ opener against Kentucky, in which Bridgewater completed 19 of 21 passes for 232 yards, made us wonder what the quarterback can accomplish this season. For this current group of Big East teams, quarterback development has been incremental at best (see: Daniels, B.J., and Sunseri, Tino). If Bridgewater continues to develop, he could be a jolt of energy for the conference.

by David Fox


Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Pittsburgh (-4.5) at Cincinnati Cincinnati 28-14 Cincinnati 28-24 Pitt 24-20 Cincinnati 24-17
NC State (+5) at UConn NC State 21-10 NC State 31-20 NC State 27-20 UConn 27-24
Maryland (-10) at Temple Temple 14-7 Maryland 14-10 Temple 24-20 Temple 17-14
Howard (off) at Rutgers Rutgers 31-7 Rutgers 31-3 Rutgers 45-3 Rutgers 41-3
USC (+26) vs. Syracuse (N.J.) USC 42-14 USC 55-17 USC 48-20 USC 41-14
Missouri State (off) at Louisville Louisville 56-7 Louisville 28-10 Louisville 48-7 Louisville 44-14
USF (-1) at Nevada Nevada 24-17 Nevada 24-20 Nevada 31-28 Nevada 30-21
Year to date: 6-1 6-1 6-1 6-1

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SEC Week 2 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 2 Upset Picks

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

<p> Big East's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 2</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 05:31
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News, Big East
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-2-upset-predictions

Week 2 of the 2012 college football season doesn’t feature many marquee matchups and with a handful of BCS teams heavily favored, there are few opportunities for upset picks. Athlon’s editors hit on Ohio’s win over Penn State last week but missed on Western Michigan beating Illinois and Indiana State knocking off Indiana.

College Football's Week 2 Upset Picks

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Nebraska (-5.5) at UCLA
If Florida (+1.5) beats Texas A&M or South Florida (+1.5) defeats Nevada, no one will be shocked, but most would be startled if UCLA starts the year 2-0 with an upset win over Nebraska. Jim Mora Jr., has instilled some toughness along both lines of scrimmage and quarterback Brett Hundley has added some much-needed balance to the Bruins offense. Yes, it was Rice, but it was on the road and UCLA's offense looked fantastic. If the Bruins can hold their ground at the point of attack, they have a great chance to pull the upset at home. Especially, if the Cornhuskers are without their offensive heart and soul in star tailback Rex Burkhead. He is questionable with a sprained MCL.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Florida (+1.5) at Texas A&M
With a spread of 1.5 points, this game is essentially a pick’em. Florida did not have a great showing in its Week 1 opener against Bowling Green, while Texas A&M’s game was canceled due to Hurricane Isaac. Although the Gators looked sluggish against the Falcons, their defense should create some problems for Aggies’ quarterback Johnny Manziel in his first start. If Florida can run the ball and keep quarterback Jeff Driskel out of third-and-long situations, I like the Gators to sneak out of College Station with a victory. Considering this is Texas A&M’s first SEC game, there should be a great crowd and a lot of momentum on the Aggies’ sideline. However, I think Florida finds a way to edge out Texas A&M for a 24-20 victory.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Iowa State (+4.5) at Iowa
Iowa State scored a total of 15 points en route to losing three straight to Iowa from 2008-10. Last year, however, the Cyclones erupted for 44 points in a three-point win in Ames. The ’12 season got off to good start offensively for Paul Rhoads’ club. The Clones, a surprising home underdog to Tulsa, rolled up 441 yards in a 38–23 win over the Golden Hurricane. Yards will be tougher to come by in Iowa City this weekend. Iowa gave up only 201 total yards (73 on one play) in an 18–17 win over Northern Illinois in Chicago. Take out that one big play — a run by NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch — and the Iowa defense gave up an average of 2.4 yards per play. Iowa State, however, has a few more weapons than Northern Illinois, which returned only three starters. Steel Jantz played well in the opener, and the Clones have some talented options at tailback.This rivalry game often doesn’t go as expected. This is just a hunch, but I like the Clones on the road. Iowa State 21, Iowa 20

Mark Ross: Louisiana-Lafayette (+3) over Troy
Both teams enter this Sun Belt clash 1-0 as Troy defeated C-USA representative UAB 39-29 on the road, while UL Lafayette shut out FCS member Lamar 40-0 at home last week. Even though the Trojans produced more total offense against seemingly tougher competition in its opener and will be the home team for this conference tilt, I think the Ragin' Cajuns are the more balanced team, which will be the difference in the end. Last season the Cajuns defeated the Trojans 31-17 even though Troy out-gained ULL in terms of total offense. This season's ULL offensive attack is even more potent with senior Blaine Gautier under center and it will be too much for Troy's defense to slow down.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Iowa State (+4.5) over Iowa
The Hawkeyes are coming off a fortuitous 18-17 win over Northern Illinois in Week 1, while the Cyclones had a solid 38-23 victory against Tulsa. ISU quarterback Steele Jantz threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns in the opener, while running back Shontrelle Johnson rushed for 120 yards on just 18 carries. They will face a much tougher defense this week versus Iowa, but I like the offensive balance the Paul Rhoads’ club showed against Tulsa. The Hawkeyes will look for another solid performance from tailback Damon Bullock, who totaled 150 yards and a touchdown versus NIU. The key to winning his year’s Cy-Hawk Trophy will be taking advantage of red-zone opportunities. The Cyclones have shown a penchant for winning as an underdog under Rhoads, and I’ll take Iowa State to make it two in a row over the Hawkeyes by the score of 24-23.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Auburn (+3.5) at Mississippi State
This upset pick was too tantalizing given the recent history of the SEC West rivals: Auburn has won 10 of the last 11 meetings. Although Mississippi State has been within a touchdown or less in four of the last five seasons, Auburn hasn’t lost in Starkville since 2000. Auburn’s game last week wasn’t always pretty -- 528 yards allowed, two turnovers, 11 of 27 passing from Kiehl Frazier -- but Auburn led Clemson by a field goal in the fourth quarter. If Auburn can limit a Clemson offense to field goals for three quarters in a neutral site game, I can get on board with a road upset over Mississippi State. I realize Clemson was without Sammy Watkins, but do the Bulldogs have anyone to match Tajh Boyd or Andre Ellington? I doubt it.

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<p> College Football Week 2 Upset Picks</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 05:05
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-2-plays

In the world of fantasy football, some team owners are relentless in their search for information that will give them a competitive edge over their competition.  Others just simply rely on projections from so-called experts, who try to convince everyone they have devised a computer program that accurately projects player stats by using a scientific formula so complicated that it makes the Drake equation seem elementary.  Eventually, those computer-driven computations prove no more accurate than an old-fashioned gut feeling.  However, in a quest to find a formula for fantasy success, one should just ask the question, “What are the odds?”

Quite simply, Vegas odds could give you all of the necessary insight to make smart roster decisions on a week-to-week basis.  In this weekly article, theCFFsite considers the point spreads and totals(over/under) in order to give our readers a unique perspective into some of the week’s most interesting fantasy matchups.

Week 2

Best Fantasy Matchups(Games with the most fantasy potential)

Fresno State at Oregon

Line:  Oregon -34(O/U-73.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oregon 54-20

Best plays:

Fresno State (QB-Derek Carr, RB-Robbie Rouse, WRs-Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse)

Oregon (QB-Marcus Mariota, RBs-Kenjon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas)

Also consider:

Fresno St (WR-Rashad Evans)

Oregon (WR-Josh Huff, TE-Colt Lyerla)

theCFFsite projects:  Oregon 52-28


Oklahoma State at Arizona

Line:  Oklahoma St -13.5(O/U-70)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oklahoma St 42-28

Best plays:

Oklahoma St (QB-Wes Lunt, RB-Joseph Randle, WRs-Tracy Moore, Charlie Moore, K-Quinn Sharp)

Arizona (QB-Matt Scott, RB-KaDeem Carey, WRs-Dan Buckner, Austin Hill)

Also consider:

Oklahoma St (RB-Jeremy Smith, WRs-Isaiah Anderson, Josh Stewart)

Arizona (WRs-Terrence Miller, Richard Morrison)

theCFFsite projects:  Oklahoma St 48-24


Louisiana at Troy

Line:  Troy -3(O/U-64.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Troy 34-31

Best plays:

Louisiana (QB-Blaine Gautier, RB-Alonzo Harris, WR-Javone Lawson)

Troy (QB-Corey Robinson, RB-Shawn Southward, WR-Chip Reeves)

Also consider:

Louisiana (WR-Harry Peoples, TE-Jacob Maxwell, K-Brett Baer)

Troy (WR-Eric Thomas)

theCFFsite projects:  Louisiana 31-30

Toledo at Wyoming

Line:  Toledo -3.5(O/U-55.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Toledo 30-26

Best plays:

Toledo (RB-David Fluellen, WR-Bernard Reedy)

Wyoming (QB-Brett Smith, RB-Brandon Miller, WR-Robert Herron)

Also consider:

Toledo (RB-Cassius McDowell, WR-Alonzo Russell)

Wyoming (WR-Dominic Rufran)

theCFFsite projects:  Toledo 31-28

One-Sided Matchups(Using the odds to find a dominating ‘D’)

Western Kentucky at Alabama

Line:  Alabama -40(O/U-53.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Alabama 47-7

Stay away from:

Western Kentucky (RB-Antonio Andrews)

theCFFsite projects:  Alabama 48-10

LA-Monroe at Arkansas

Line:  Arkansas -30.5(O/U-57)

Projected score based on point spread:  Arkansas 44-14

Stay away from:

LA-Monroe (RB-Jyruss Edwards)

theCFFsite projects:  Arkansas 52-17


New Mexico at Texas

Line:  Texas -37.5(O/U-53.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Texas 46-8

Stay away from:

New Mexico (RB-Demarcus Rogers)

theCFFsite projects:  Texas 45-7


Michigan State at Central Michigan

Line:  Michigan State -23.5(O/U-48)

Projected score based on point spread:  Michigan State 36-12

Stay away from:

Central Michigan (QB-Ryan Radcliff, RB-Zurlon Tipton, WR-Cody Wilson)

theCFFsite projects:  Michigan State 30-10


Must Watch Games(The games with the biggest headlines)

Georgia at Missouri

Line:  Georgia -3.5(O/U-55)

Projected score based on point spread:  Georgia 29-26

Outlook:  After last week’s performance against Buffalo, we’re not sure that the Bulldogs are ready to visit a team looking to prove they belong in the SEC.     

theCFFsite projects:  Missouri 30-27


Florida at Texas A&M

Line:  Texas A&M -2.5(O/U-53)

Projected score based on point spread:  Texas A&M 28-25

Outlook:  Florida’s advantage is that they have a game under their belt, but the fact that Bowling Green gave the Gators all they could handle makes this decision easy.

theCFFsite projects:  Texas A&M 37-24


theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season:  Straight Up (4-0)  ATS: (3-1)

2011 Season:  Straight Up (40-9) ATS: (35-14)



The College Fantasy Football Site

By:  Joe DiSalvo

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 2 Plays</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 04:07
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-2-sit-or-start

Fantasy owners got burned last week when they decided to bench guys like Ryan Aplin, Jordan Lynch, Nathan Jeffery, and Branden Oliver.  Others got disappointing fantasy performances from preseason favorites like Cobi Hamilton, Cody Hoffman, Jeff Tuel, and David Piland.  Here’s your redemption:  Week 2. 

Week 2 College Fantasy Football Sit or Start


Colby Cameron, QB-LA Tech at Houston

Now that Boise State lost last week at Michigan State, the Bulldogs may have the best chance to bust the BCS, and Cameron has some weapons on the outside.

Derek Carr, QB-Fresno State at Oregon
If the Ducks race out to an early lead, expect Carr to put the ball in the air all night long.

Zac Dysert, QB-Miami, OH vs. Southern Illinois
Dysert put the ball in the air 53 times at Ohio St last week, but only threw for one score.  Expect fewer attempts this week, but the senior quarterback should account for at least two-to-three touchdowns.

Taylor McHargue, QB-Rice at Kansas
South Dakota State ran up 411 yards against Kansas’ defense last week, so we’re confident McHargue will at least duplicate his numbers from a week ago against UCLA.

Matt Brown, RB-Temple vs Maryland
As long as Montel Harris remains on the sideline with a hamstring injury, Brown is a solid fantasy performer.

Brandin Byrd, RB-North Texas vs Texas Southern
Byrd led all Mean Green running backs in rush attempts at LSU and will have a much easier time this week against Texas Southern.

Shawn Southward, RB-Troy vs Louisiana
Southward topped the 200-yard mark last week with 28 carries against UAB.  The Trojans will most likely call upon the junior running back to shoulder the load in what figures to be the biggest Sun Belt Conference matchup of the season.

Johnathan Franklin, RB-UCLA vs Nebraska
Franklin may not run for 200 yards again, but he should find some running room at home against the Huskers.

Ameer Abdullah, RB-Nebraska at UCLA
It is almost certain that Rex Burkhead will sit this one out, so look for the versatile sophomore to fill the void.

Tim Cornett, RB UNLV vs Northern Arizona
We have never recommended starting a UNLV running back in consecutive weeks, but Cornett should top the 100-yard mark again.

Tony Jones, RB-Colorado vs Sacramento State
The Buffaloes struggled to run the ball last week against Colorado State, but don’t give up on Jones just yet.

Nathan Jeffery, RB-UTEP at Ole Miss
After rushing for 177 yards against the Sooners last week, Jeffery could top 1,500 yards rushing this season if he stays healthy.

Noel Grigsby, WR-San Jose State vs UC-Davis
Grigsby’s inability to find the end zone last year kept him off of many fantasy rosters, so it was nice to see him score in Week 1 at Stanford.  We suggest rolling with the junior receiver in Week 2 vs UC-Davis.

Charlie Moore, WR-Oklahoma State @ Arizona
We did not learn anything about the Cowboys last week against Savannah State, but we still like Moore to emerge as a legitimate fantasy factor.

LaRod King, WR-Kentucky vs Kent State
King had 77 yards receiving on 8 catches against a solid Louisville defense in Week 1, so we’re looking for more against the Golden Flashes.


David Piland, QB-Houston vs LA Tech
The Cougars’ loss to Texas State was a shocker and we can promise things will not get any easier against Tech.

Kerwynn Williams, RB-Utah State vs Utah
Williams wasn’t even the leading rusher for the Aggies last week and they will face a stiff test when they host Utah Friday night.

Zurlon Tipton, RB-Central Michigan vs Michigan State
Tipton opened some eyes last week after running for 180 yards and three touchdowns against Southeast Missouri State, but the Chippewas step up in competition this week when they host Michigan State.

Storm Woods, RB-Oregon State vs Wisconsin
Woods may have been named the starter, but we should still see a lot of Malcolm Agnew against the Badgers.

Dominique Whaley, RB-Oklahoma vs Florida A&M
Whaley looked healthy last week, but Damien Williams was the more impressive Sooners running back and could steal more carries from the senior.  Plus, Whaley could exit early if the game gets out of hand against the Rattlers from Florida A&M.

Bishop Sankey, RB-Washington at LSU
Sankey assumed the role as full-time starter when fellow running back Jesse Callier was lost for the season with a torn ACL.  However, running room will be hard to find Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.

Cameron Marshall, RB-Arizona State vs Illinois
We’re not quite sure Marshall is 100% and he’ll go against an Illinois defense that held Western Michigan to negative-6 yards rushing last week.

Rashad Greene vs Savannah State
We learned from the Oklahoma State-Savannah State game last week that Greene will be on the sidelines by halftime.  Can he generate a score or two before an early exit?


Joe DiSalvo

The College Fantasy Football Site

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 2 Sit or Start</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 04:05
Path: /golf/bmw-quoteboard

It's Round 3 of the battle for the FedExCup. Fresh off scorching the TPC Boston layout this past weekend, the best players in the world converge on Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., for the BMW Championship. Here are the top 5 in FedExCup points through the Deutsche Bank Championship:

Player                            Points Behind
1. Rory McIlroy                     --
2. Nick Watney                   1,331
3. Tiger Woods                   1,382
4. Brandt Snedeker             1,605
5. Louis Oosthuizen            1,890

What They're Saying on the eve of the BMW:

Rory McIlroy
On being paired with Tiger Woods at the Deutsche Bank: "I think it definitely creates some more interest for the fans and for golf in general.  I don't see any challenge in it.  I mean, I think it's just good fun.  It's good fun to be out there and have such an atmosphere and such a buzz around a grouping like that, and it's just nice to be a part of."

On being in "the zone": "I think the most important thing when that does happen, you have to realize it's happening and just get out of your own way and just completely just play one shot at a time.  Obviously you're hitting the ball well, you're just trying to hit it in the fairway, hit it on the green, hole the putt, go to the next hole, do it all over again.  That's what you're trying to do.
"There's some weeks where golf does seem as simple as that, and when you're on like that, it's obviously a great feeling.  It's very difficult to play like that all the time, and that's why it's the great players, they learn to win when they're not playing their best.  That's something, I've said this before, that I still feel like I'm learning to do.  I think I sort of did that for a little bit of last week.  I struggled to close out the tournament, but a couple of crucial up‑and‑downs on the way in, which helped, and that's what the great players do; they find a way."

Tiger Woods
On facing personal and professional challenges: "I think it's put a different perspective on things.  Losing a parent and having the birth of two kids put things in better perspective for me.  The wins are fantastic, but the losses aren't what they used to be, because I get to talk to my kids at night.  It makes things‑‑ it puts things in a proper perspective, for sure."

On being golf's first $100 million man: "Well, it just means that I've come along at the right time.  We've had purse increases.  We've had a lot of things go our way.  I've won some tournaments, yes, but as I said last week, Sam Snead won more tournaments than I did, and obviously he didn't make the money that I did, just because it was a different era.  I happened to come along at the right time when TV was booming and our commissioner did some fantastic deals with TV, and our purses just leapt by a lot. I think that all that said, I'm not opposed to it; put it that way."

On the state of his game: "I'm certainly hitting it further and straighter.  I don't curve the ball as much as I used to.  Granted, it's a function of the golf ball just not moving as much, but also I think where I'm coming from, I just don't arc it, I don't come as far from the inside like I used to.  With that being said, my shot pattern is much tighter now.
"And the only thing I really struggle with is my aim, is aiming closer to the middle of the fairway or closer to flags because I'm used to shaping it so much either way.  That's something that's taken me a little while to get accustomed to because I've done it for so long.  It's just an adjustment that I've had to make gradually over time."

Phil Mickelson
On the state of his game: "I think the last three or four months where my game has just been a little south, I was just kind of searching for something different.  I've been trying to piece my game back together.  Finally my irons came back first.  I started hitting a lot of good iron shots.  My driver has now come around where I'm hitting it really well off the tee.  And the last thing was putting, and I feel really good with it.  I feel like the touch is there and it's a very stress‑free way to putt because the ball is starting on line."

On whether Tiger Woods will win more majors: "Oh, yeah, unfortunately. His game looks tremendous."

Defending Champion Justin Rose
"I think low scores for sure.  Any time you give us soft greens, which they are obviously due to the weather, I think when you have soft greens certainly the first couple rounds, and the way things go in a tournament, how long, how difficult a golf course, if it's soft, guys tend to go low."



<br />
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 16:24
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-positional-rankings-week-1

It's been seven long months, but fantasy football and our fantasy football positional rankings are back! 

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2012 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 1 Start or Sit

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 1</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 14:07
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-1

It's been seven long months, but fantasy football and our fantasy football positional rankings are back!

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

As you will see below, Aaron Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP and last season's top fantasy scorer, is not our No. 1 quarterback option in Week 1. The reason why is because Rodgers and the Packers have a tough opening assignment as the San Franciso 49ers, who were the NFC's No. 1 defense in 2011, pay a visit to Lambeau Field. We're not saying you shouldn't start Rodgers, we just like Matthew Stafford at home against St. Louis and Drew Brees in the dome against Washington a little better.

2012 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Matthew Stafford DET vs. STL
2 Drew Brees NO vs. WAS
3 Aaron Rodgers GB vs. SF
4 Tom Brady NE at TEN
5 Cam Newton CAR at TB
6 Michael Vick PHI at CLE
7 Eli Manning NYG vs. DAL (Wed.)
8 Ben Roethlisberger PIT at DEN
9 Matt Ryan ATL at KC
10 Jay Cutler CHI vs. IND
11 Philip Rivers SD at OAK (Mon.)
12 Peyton Manning DEN vs. PIT
13 Tony Romo DAL at NYG (Wed.)
14 Robert Griffin III WAS at NO
15 Matt Schaub HOU vs. MIA
16 Carson Palmer OAK vs. SD (Mon.)
17 Josh Freeman TB vs. CAR
18 Sam Bradford STL at DET
19 Andrew Luck IND at CHI
20 Russell Wilson SEA at ARI
21 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF at NYJ
22 Alex Smith SF at GB
23 Jake Locker TEN vs. NE
24 Andy Dalton CIN at BAL (Mon.)
25 Joe Flacco BAL vs. CIN (Mon.)
26 Christian Ponder MIN vs. JAC

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 1 Start or Sit

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Week 1</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 14:06
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-1

It's been seven long months, but fantasy football and our fantasy football positional rankings are back!

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice were among the top four running backs in fantasy points in last season and all three should pick up where they left off in Week 1.

The other member of this quartet, Maurice Jones-Drew, is nowhere near a must-start even with a seemingly favorable match up in Minnesota. The NFL's leading rusher last season, MJD held out the entire preseason because of a contract dispute resulting in new Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey declaring Rashad Jennings the Week 1 starter. Because of the time missed and his late arrival to Jaguars' camp, there's no guarantee MJD will even get on the field on Sunday.

Plenty of people will be watching the Vikings' sideline as well as Adrian Peterson could make his return from the torn ACL he suffered late last season, or he could watch teammate Toby Gerhart get all the carries. The team has said it won't make a decision on the All-Pro's status until game time on Sunday. Other injury returns to keep an eye on in Week 1 include Matt Forte (sprained MCL), Jamaal Charles (ACL),  Fred Jackson, and rookie Trent Richardson (knee surgery) who may or may not make his NFL debut against Philadelphia.

2012 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Arian Foster HOU vs. MIA
2 LeSean McCoy PHI at CLE
3 Matt Forte CHI vs. IND
4 Ray Rice BAL vs. CIN (Mon.)
5 Darren McFadden OAK vs. SD (Mon.)
6 Chris Johnson TEN vs. NE
7 Marshawn Lynch SEA at ARI
8 Jamaal Charles KC vs. ATL
9 DeMarco Murray DAL at NYG (Wed.)
10 Steven Jackson STL at DET
11 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG vs. DAL (Wed.)
12 Michael Turner ATL at KC
13 Fred Jackson BUF at NYJ
14 Darren Sproles NO vs. WAS
15 Doug Martin TB vs. CAR
16 Frank Gore SF at GB
17 DeAngelo Williams CAR at TB
18 Reggie Bush MIA at HOU
19 Trent Richardson CLE vs. PHI
20 Toby Gerhart MIN vs. JAC
21 Stevan Ridley NE at TEN
22 Kevin Smith DET vs. STL
23 Rashad Jennings JAC at MIN
24 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN at BAL (Mon.)
25 Shonn Greene NYJ vs. BUF
26 Willis McGahee DEN vs. PIT
27 Donald Brown IND at CHI
28 Peyton Hillis KC vs. ATL
29 Ronnie Brown SD at OAK (Mon.)
30 Cedric Benson GB vs. SF
31 Isaac Redman PIT at DEN
32 Beanie Wells ARI vs. SEA
33 Michael Bush CHI vs. IND
34 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC at MIN
35 Ben Tate HOU vs. MIA
36 C.J. Spiller BUF at NYJ
37 Mark Ingram NO vs. WAS
38 Jonathan Stewart CAR at TB
39 Evan Royster WAS at NO
40 David Wilson NYG vs. DAL (Wed.)
41 Jonathan Dwyer PIT at DEN
42 Adrian Peterson MIN vs. JAC
43 Pierre Thomas NO vs. WAS
44 Robert Turbin SEA at ARI
45 Ryan Williams ARI vs. SEA
46 Montario Hardesty CLE vs. PHI
47 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL at KC
48 Roy Helu WAS at NO

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 1 Start or Sit

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Week 1</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 14:05
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-1

It's been seven long months, but fantasy football and our fantasy football positional rankings are back!

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

The good news for fantasy owners was that Hakeem Nicks, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, each of whom dealt with different injuries during the preseason, all played on Wednesday night. The bad news, unfortunately, is that all three of them were out-performed by Kevin Ogletree, who didn't even make our wide receiver rankings (below).

With the Cowboys-Giants opener now in the rear-view mirror, the focus shifts to Sunday's and Monday's games. To that end, Calvin Johnson, who led the league in receiving yards and finished third in touchdowns last season, should get off to another strong start in Week 1 as his Lions host St. Louis. Will other top pass-catchers like Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, Roddy White, Wes Welker, Greg Jennings and others follow suit, or will another "unknown" like Ogletree steal the spotlight?

2012 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Calvin Johnson DET vs. STL
2 Andre Johnson HOU vs. MIA
3 Larry Fitzgerald ARI vs. SEA
4 Julio Jones ATL at KC
5 Brandon Marshall CHI vs. IND
6 Victor Cruz NYG vs. DAL (Wed.)
7 Roddy White ATL at KC
8 Wes Welker NE at TEN
9 Greg Jennings GB vs. SF
10 Dez Bryant DAL at NYG (Wed.)
11 A.J. Green CIN at BAL (Mon.)
12 Percy Harvin MIN vs. JAC
13 Antonio Brown PIT at DEN
14 Steve Smith CAR at TB
15 Marques Colston NO vs. WAS
16 Hakeem Nicks NYG vs. DAL (Wed.)
17 Jordy Nelson GB vs. SF
18 Vincent Jackson TB vs. CAR
19 Jeremy Maclin PHI at CLE
20 Dwayne Bowe KC vs. ATL
21 Stevie Johnson BUF at NYJ
22 Torrey Smith BAL vs. CIN (Mon.)
23 Miles Austin DAL at NYG (Wed.)
24 Pierre Garcon WAS at NO
25 Mike Wallace PIT at DEN
26 Eric Decker DEN vs. PIT
27 Reggie Wayne IND at CHI
28 Nate Washington TEN vs. NE
29 Demaryius Thomas DEN vs. PIT
30 DeSean Jackson PHI at CLE
31 Brandon Lloyd NE at TEN
32 Malcom Floyd SD at OAK (Mon.)
33 Santonio Holmes NYJ vs. BUF
34 Robert Meachem SD at OAK (Mon.)
35 Lance Moore NO vs. WAS
36 Michael Crabtree SF at GB
37 Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK vs. SD (Mon.)
38 Justin Blackmon JAC at MIN
39 Titus Young DET vs. STL
40 Danny Amendola STL at DET
41 Denarius Moore OAK vs. SD (Mon.)
42 Kendall Wright TEN vs. NE
43 Sidney Rice SEA at ARI
44 Anquan Boldin BAL vs. CIN (Mon.)
45 Brandon LaFell CAR at TB
46 Greg Little CLE vs. PHI
47 Doug Baldwin SEA at ARI
48 Mike Williams TB vs. CAR
49 Randy Moss SF at GB
50 Laurent Robinson JAC at MIN
51 Randall Cobb GB vs. SF
52 Mario Manningham SF at GB
53 Davone Bess MIA at HOU
54 Jon Baldwin KC vs. ATL
55 Leonard Hankerson WAS at NO
56 Nate Burleson DET vs. STL
57 Rueben Randle NYG vs. DAL (Wed.)
58 Austin Collie IND at CHI
59 Eddie Royal SD at OAK (Mon.)
60 Kevin Walter HOU vs. MIA
61 David Nelson BUF at NYJ
62 Andre Roberts ARI vs. SEA
63 Santana Moss WAS at NO
64 Braylon Edwards SEA at ARI

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 1 Start or Sit

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 1</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 14:03
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-1

It's been seven long months, but fantasy football and our fantasy football positional rankings are back!

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

Surprisingly, Jason Witten did in fact not only suit up, but he played in the Cowboys' opener against the Giants on Wednesday night. Not surprising, however, is that he was for the most part ineffective (2 rec., 10 yards), at least as far as statistics go. Witten's worth and value to the Cowboys' offense and team as a whole, cannot be measured solely with his production on the field.

Similar to Witten, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are two tight ends who are vital to their respective teams' offensive attacks, and along those lines they were the two most dominant tight ends in fantasy football last season. More of the same is expected from the duo in 2012 starting in Week 1 as both have appealing match ups. Gronkowski's teammate Aaron Hernandez, a completely healthy Antonio Gates and Fred Davis, who could become one of Robert Griffn III's favorite tagerts, are just a few other names to keep an eye on over the weekend. 

2012 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Jimmy Graham NO vs. WAS
2 Rob Gronkowski NE at TEN
3 Antonio Gates SD at OAK (Mon.)
4 Vernon Davis SF at GB
5 Fred Davis WAS at NO
6 Aaron Hernandez NE at TEN
7 Jermichael Finley GB vs. SF
8 Brandon Pettigrew DET vs. STL
9 Tony Gonzalez ATL at KC
10 Jared Cook TEN vs. NE
11 Brent Celek PHI at CLE
12 Greg Olsen CAR at TB
13 Jacob Tamme DEN vs. PIT
14 Dustin Keller NYJ vs. BUF
15 Coby Fleener IND at CHI
16 Kyle Rudolph MIN vs. JAC
17 Owen Daniels HOU vs. MIA
18 Jermaine Gresham CIN at BAL (Mon.)
19 Martellus Bennett NYG vs. DAL (Wed.)
20 Scott Chandler BUF at NYJ
21 Heath Miller PIT at DEN
22 Dallas Clark TB vs. CAR
23 Marcedes Lewis JAC at MIN
24 Ed Dickson BAL vs. CIN (Mon.)
25 Anthony Fasano MIA at HOU
26 Tony Moeaki KC vs. ATL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 1 Start or Sit

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings: Week 1</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 14:02
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-1

It's been seven long months, but fantasy football and our fantasy football positional rankings are back!

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

2012 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Stephen Gostkowski NE at TEN
2 Garrett Hartley NO vs. WAS
3 David Akers SF at GB
4 Mason Crosby GB vs. SF
5 Dan Bailey DAL at NYG (Wed.)
6 Sebastian Janikowski OAK vs. SD (Mon.)
7 Alex Henery PHI at CLE
8 Nate Kaeding SD at OAK (Mon.)
9 Jason Hanson DET vs. STL
10 Robbie Gould CHI vs. IND
11 Matt Bryant ATL at KC
12 Matt Prater DEN vs. PIT
13 Justin Tucker BAL vs. CIN (Mon.)
14 Rob Bironas TEN vs. NE
15 Mike Nugent CIN at BAL (Mon.)
16 Billy Cundiff WAS at NO

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 1 Start or Sit

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings: Week 1</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 14:01
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-1

It's been seven long months, but fantasy football and our fantasy football positional rankings are back!

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

2012 NFL Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

1 Houston Texans vs. MIA
2 Philadelphia Eagles at CLE
3 Seattle Seahawks at ARI
4 Chicago Bears vs. IND
5 Baltimore Ravens vs. CIN (Mon.)
6 New York Jets vs. BUF
7 Buffalo Bills at NYJ
8 Detroit Lions vs. STL
9 Pittsburgh Steelers at DEN
10 San Francisco 49ers at GB
11 Atlanta Falcons at KC
12 Green Bay Packers vs. SF
13 Cincinnati Bengals at BAL (Mon.)
14 New York Giants vs. DAL (Wed.)
15 Minnesota Vikings vs. JAC
16 Arizona Cardinals vs. SEA

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points


Additional Week 1 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Week 1 Start or Sit

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 1</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 14:00
Path: /nascar/backseat-drivers-fan-council-25

Trust and belief are core issues the Backseat Drivers Fan Council delves into this week. Members state how much they trust NASCAR in regards to debris cautions. Belief centers on what Fan Council members think about the title chances of Denny Hamlin, who has a series-high four wins, including the last two races. Belief also centers on what they think of Tony Stewart’s various comments last week toward Matt Kenseth and if Stewart will seek revenge. Here’s what members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council had to say on those topics and more.

Do you trust NASCAR on calling debris cautions?

55.9 percent said only part of the time
33.0 percent said yes, all of the time
11.1 percent said no, never

What Fan Council members said:
• I have to be honest here and say that sometimes I think NASCAR throws a caution for no apparent reason to change the outcome of the race ... plain and simple!

• If you can't trust NASCAR then why are you watching?

• How many times does this need to be talked about?! Seriously, I am tired of it! Face it, NASCAR is a dictatorship; they are judge, jury and executioner. They are in business to make money, and what makes money in racing? Excitement! What doesn't make money in racing? Boring-ass, single-file, follow-the-leader (who is eight seconds ahead) racing. So if NASCAR wants to toss out a phantom yellow once in a while to create some action — which creates profits — I am all for it.

• I'm sorry, but I just don't buy the conspiracy theories. There is just too much at stake, financially, for the powers-that-be at NASCAR to go around manipulating results. It's a legitimate sport, not wrestling.

• The lack of consistency has always irked me. If brushing the wall brings out a caution on lap 10, it should bring out a caution on lap 110.

• I do believe that NASCAR does, at times, consider what will make a good TV finish and may be inclined to abuse the caution flag to create that situation. That's my honest opinion, and I hope somebody can argue the other point and change my mind.

• I believe they make mistakes but I also believe that NASCAR has to err on the side of safety and there may be cautions called that are not necessary. However, by and large, they make the right calls most of the time.

• NASCAR is definitely not infallible when it comes to their calls, so they're not going to get it right all the time. But this is racing. You're never going to get it right all the time. And you're never going to please all the fans with the calls — it just can't be done, especially when you consider the coverage that most of us are stuck with. I'm tired of this whole debate.

After scoring two consecutive wins, is Denny Hamlin the championship favorite?

75.1 percent said No
24.9 percent said Yes

What Fan Council members said:
• Denny is too mentally weak. He'll snap and disappoint the team again.

• Hamlin choked the 2010 title away in the final two races after being one of the winningest drivers of that season. Just because he has won two in a row, he looks like the flavor of the month. Remember what happened with Smoke last year? The only favorite is the 48, period.

• That team has not shown the consistency to win the championship so far, but with Darian Grubb as crew chief, who knows?

• With Darian Grubb, a crew chief who did a great job last year with Tony Stewart, on top of the pit box and having momentum heading into the Chase, they could be dangerous.

• I believe this might be Denny's year, he and Darian are really clicking and look very good to win the Championship!

• Serious challenger, but still think JJ is the man to win.

• He hasn't shown the consistency to be the favorite. Betting against Jimmie Johnson in the Chase is the ultimate sucker bet. It’s about time to start singing the praises of Darian Grubb, though — what a 12 months of racing for him!

• Hate to say it, but Dale Jr. is the guy to beat. Top 5s week in and week out.

<p> Dustin Long's Backseat Drivers Fan Council talks about NASCAR debris cautions, Denny Hamlin's Chase expectations, the Tony Stewart/Matt Kenseth beef and racing in Atlanta.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 11:33
Path: /nfl/nfl-preseason-awards

The 2012 NFL season kicks off with a Wednesday night showdown between the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants and their NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys — in the first of 256 regular season games that span from Sept. 4 until Dec. 30.

Before a snap has been taken, Athlon Sports looks into our crystal ball in an attempt to predict who will be award-worthy after the dust settles this season.

Most Valuable Player
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

A-Rodg will look to defend his league MVP award — although he would almost certainly prefer to add another piece of Super Bowl MVP hardware to his trophy case. Last season, Rodgers had career bests across the board — completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 4,643 yards, 45 TDs and six INTs for a 122.5 passer rating in 15 games. He also rushed for 257 yards and three trips to the end zone on the ground. Since taking over for Brett Favre in 2008, Rodgers has averaged 4,259 yards, 33 TDs and nine INTs, while scrambling for another 284 yards and four scores. Those are title belt (and MVP) stats.

Offensive Player of the Year
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions

Megatron has become a big play machine, tallying 96 catches for 1,681 yards (17.5 ypc) and 16 TDs last season. The 6'5", 236-pounder will turn 27 years old on Sept. 29, so his best days should be ahead of him — a terrifying thought for NFC North defensive backs.

Defensive Player of the Year
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants

JPP’s jump from his rookie year to his sophomore season had to be seen to be believed, as he vaulted from a 4.5-sack, 30-tackle situational end to a 16.5-sack, 86-tackle force to be reckoned with. If the third year is a charm for Pierre-Paul, he will be the best in the business.

Offensive Rookie of the Year
Trent Richardson, RB, Browns

Offseason minor knee surgery is reason for minor concern. But T-Rich was back at practice and expected to play in the Browns’ season opener. A healthy Richardson has the power, vision, balance and speed — not to mention a solid O-line to run behind — to take the league by storm.

Defensive Rookie of the Year
Mark Barron, S, Buccaneers

The rookie safety out of Alabama was selected No. 6 overall thanks to his combination of hard hitting, ball-hawking and Nick Saban-approved football IQ. The young Buc got off to a good start, intercepting Tom Brady and returning the pick for a TD during the preseason.

Comeback Player of the Year
Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos

The four-time MVP missed the 2011 season due to (at least) four neck surgeries. And after 14 seasons as an Indianapolis Colt — which included 54,828 yards, 399 TDs and a Super Bowl XLIV victory and MVP — Manning is changing horses in mid-stream. The 36-year-old is now a Denver Bronco, following in the footsteps of two-time Super Bowl champion John Elway — Manning’s new boss and inspiration. Elway won his two Vince Lombardi Trophies at age 37 and 38, respectively.

Coach of the Year
John Fox, Broncos

After deftly dealing with the “Mania” of Tim Tebow’s tenure as well as Peyton Manning’s arrival, Fox deserves to be rewarded if the Broncos are able to put together a repeat playoff run this year.

Executive of the Year
Phil Emery, Bears

In his first offseason as the GM in Chicago, Emery acquired Pro Bowl-caliber receiver Brandon Marshall (who was Jay Cutler’s favorite target when the two were teammates in Denver), re-signed running back Matt Forté and added quality depth through free agency and the draft.

<p> The preseason favorites for MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 10:46
All taxonomy terms: NFL, NFL
Path: /nfl/10-greatest-quarterback-seasons-nfl-history

The word "great" is thrown around the sports arena entirely too liberally. Too many coaches, players, games or teams are considered great. Instead, the word should be reserved for the truly remarkable. Therefore, defining greatness becomes the key, and since there are infinite ways to describe the best, beauty lies solely in the eye of the beholder. Any of the memorable season's produced by the quarterbacks listed below could make a legitimate case to be No. 1.

Heart, toughness, statistical production, winning championships, clutch performances, leadership and overall physical ability are just a few of the ways to quantify greatness. It is using a combination of all these factors — NFL records, team records, wins and losses, championships and personal awards — that Athlon ranks the greatest complete NFL seasons a quarterback has ever had—from Week 1 through Super Sunday.

1. Steve Young, San Francisco, 1994
There hasn't been a more complete NFL season than the year Young and offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan put together in 1994. The 49ers finished the regular season with the best record in the league at 13-3 while Young set an NFL single-season record for efficiency with a 112.8 QB rating, breaking the previous record set by former mentor Joe Montana. He also came 0.3 percentage points from breaking Ken Anderson's NFL mark for completion percent at 70.6 percent (Young's 70.3 percent still sits at No. 4 all-time). He started all 16 games, finished with 3,969 yards and an NFL-best 35 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions. Additionally, Young led the team in rushing touchdowns with seven as he compiled 293 yards on 58 carries. For all of this he earned the NFL MVP, but what made the '94 campaign special is what took place following the regular season. The Niners steam-rolled the Bears, Cowboys and Chargers en route to Young's first Super Bowl — a win commemorated by a record six touchdown passes, 325 yards passing, the MVP trophy and Gary Plummer's famous monkey exorcism. Oh, and No. 8 was the game's leading rusher as well. Young posted 623 yards passing, 128 yards rushing, 11 total touchdowns and nary an interception in San Francisco's three playoff games. It was the finest season a quarterback has ever seen.

2. Kurt Warner, St. Louis, 1999
Part of what makes Warner's '99 campaign so memorable is how the Northern Iowa signal caller ended up a Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP. The undrafted rookie finally broke into the league four years after graduating from UNI and led the inept Rams to the best record in the NFC (13-3) as a first-year starter. The 28-year-old led the NFL in touchdown passes (41), completion rate (65.1 percent), yards per attempt (8.7) and QB rating (109.2) while finishing with a franchise-record 4,353 yards passing. He then proceeded to complete over 81 percent of his passes for 391 yards and five touchdowns in his first career playoff start — a 49-37 win over Minnesota. By the end of Super Bowl XXXIV, Warner had thrown for 414 yards and two touchdowns to earn his second MVP trophy of the season. The huge numbers, the sheer improbability and ultimate victory combined to produce what was nearly the greatest season in history. 

3. Tom Brady, New England, 2007
Today's sports culture values the championship and quarterbacks rarely disagree. So had Brady finished his magical romp through the NFL in 2007, he would be sitting at No. 1 on this list. He is only one of two QBs to ever finish a regular season 16-0 and eventually worked the record to 18-0 before the show-stopping loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII . Brady threw for a franchise record 4,806 yards, good for third all-time in NFL history at the time. His QB rating of 117.2 was second all-time in NFL history and he became the first and only player to ever throw 50 touchdown passes in one season. He threw only eight interceptions and led the league in 11 passing categories. In the postseason, Brady and the Pats took care of business against Jacksonville in the Divisional Round, but the Michigan grad struggled in his final two games of the year. He threw three interceptions and had his second-worst yardage day of the year (209 yards) in the AFC title game win over San Diego. He capped his MVP season with an underwhelming performance against the extraordinary Giants defensive line, costing him his fourth Super Bowl ring and the unbeaten immortality of 19-0.

4. Dan Marino, Miami, 1984
Marino was well ahead of his time back in only his second year in the league. He set an NFL record for passing yards (5,084) that would stand for nearly 30 years and an NFL record for touchdowns (48) that would stand for 20 years. He led the Dolphins to the best record in the AFC at 14-2, claimed the MVP trophy and returned Miami to the Super Bowl where they fell just short of defeating the 18-1 Joe Montana-led 49ers. The Pitt Panther threw for 1,001 yards and eight scores in three postseason games. The 23-year-old with a lightning quick release led the NFL in completions, attempts, QB rating and yards per attempt in a season that totally changed the way the game of football was played. He paved the way for what we see today on Sunday and came up 22 points short of a championship.

5. Joe Montana, San Francisco, 1989
The Golden Domer wasn't ever the most talented or fastest or strongest quarterback on the field, but his 13 regular-season games — and subsequent playoff run — during the 1989 season were as brilliant as most's 16-game seasons. Montana completed 70.2 percent of his passes, led the NFL at 270.8 yards per game and finished with a then-NFL record 112.4 QB rating. His completion rate was second all-time to only Ken Anderson and is still one of only five seasons with a completion rate of better than 70 percent in history. The 49ers finished 11-2 in his 13 starts and 14-2 overall and Montana was the MVP of the league. Montana threw for 3,521 yards, 26 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He also added 227 yards rushing and three more scores on the ground. However, what made No. 16's '89 campaign one of the greatest in history was his thorough destruction of the NFC and Denver Broncos in the postseason. He completed 65 of his 83 passes (78.3 percent) for 800 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero picks, finishing his historic season with arguably the most dominant Super Bowl performance to date by crushing John Elway and company 55-10. Three more games puts Montana over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns and moves him ahead of Marino and Brady on this list.

6. Drew Brees, New Orleans, 2009
One could argue Brees' 2011 season was better, but I am guessing if you ask him which year was better, he would take 2009 everyday and twice on Sunday. He led the NFL in completion rate (70.6 percent), breaking the aforementioned Anderson's NFL single-season record. He also topped the charts in touchdown passes (34) and QB rating (109.6) en route to a 13-3 final record. He finished with 4,388 yards and only 11 interceptions. He then capped the magical New Orleans resurrection with 732 yards passing, eight touchdowns and no interceptions in three playoff wins. His performance in the Super Bowl XLIV win over the Colts and Peyton Manning gave the Saints franchise their first championship. Brees completed 82.1 percent of his passes and claimed the game's MVP honors.

7. Drew Brees, New Orleans, 2011
It is hard to argue that from a statistical perspective, no quarterback has ever had a better regular season than Brees last fall. He set NFL records for completions (468), passing yards (5,476) and completion rate (71.2 percent) while leading the Saints to a 13-3 record. He then proceeded to throw for 928 yards and seven touchdowns in two playoff games. His defense let him down in the postseason and he contributed two of the team's costly five turnovers in the loss to the 49ers.

8. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, 2006
Much like Brees, Manning has had many elite seasons, but two stand above the rest. One in which he broke an NFL record and played at unprecedented levels (see 2004 below) and the other ended with a Super Bowl championship. Much like Brees, the ring gives Manning's '06 campaign the slight edge. He threw for 4,397 yards on 65.0 percent passing and a league-leading 31 touchdown passes. It was also the only year in which No. 18 threw fewer than 10 interceptions (9). His 101.0 QB rating also led the NFL that season and he added four rushing scores for good measure. Manning led his Colts to four postseason wins that year (16-4 overall) and the 29-17 Super Bowl XLI win over Chicago in which he claimed the game's MVP trophy.

9. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, 2011
In a season in which three passers topped 5,000 yards and numerous NFL records were broken, Rodgers' season can get lost in the shuffle. Yet, the Packers passer set every major franchise passing record and led a team that finished 15-1 in the regular season. The year ended with a whimper with Rodgers sitting out the season finale and then losing to the Giants in the first playoff game. But his 4,643 yards, 10.5 yards per attempt and absurd 45:6 TD:INT ratio gave No. 12 the most efficient season in NFL history (122.5 QB rating) — and it earned him the league's MVP trophy. Had he posted Matt Flynn's (480 yards passing, 6 TDs) numbers in the final week of the regular season, he would have hit 50 TDs and topped 5,000 yards. That said, Packers fans will always look at '11 with "what-if" memories.

10. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, 2004
Many believe this season was Manning's best. Statistically speaking it was as he finished the regular season with an NFL-record 49 touchdown passes and 121.1 QB rating to go with 4,557 yards and a 67.6 percent completion rate. The league's MVP was 12-4 and appeared to be headed to his first Super Bowl title until New England completely dominated the Colts in the AFC Divisional round 20-3. Manning's remarkable season ended with only 238 yards passing, no touchdowns and an interception in the disheartening loss to the Patriots.

Others to consider:

Dan Fouts, San Diego, 1981 (10-6, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 4,802 yds (NFL record), 33 TD, 17 INT, 90.6 QB rating

Warren Moon, Houston, 1990 (8-7, Postseason: None)
Stats: 4,689 yds, 33 TD, 13 INT, 96.8 QB rating, 215 rush yds, 2 TD

Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia, 1990 (10-6, Postseason: 0-1)
Stats: 3,466 yds, 30 TD, 13 INT, 91.6 QB rating, 118 att., 942 yds, 5 TD

Brett Favre, Green Bay, 1996 (13-3, Postseason: 3-0) MVP, Super Bowl
Stats: 3,899 yds, 39 TD, 13 INT, 95.8 QB rating, 136 rush yds, 2 TD

Michael Vick, Atlanta, 2004 (11-4, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 2,313 yds, 14 TD, 12 INT, 78.1 QB rating, 120 att., 902 yds, 3 TD

Michael Vick, Atlanta, 2006 (7-9, Postseason: None)
Stats: 2,474 yds, 20 TD, 13 INT, 75.7 QB rating, 123 att., 1,039 yds, 2 TD

Brett Favre, Minnesota, 2009 (12-4, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 4,202 yds, 33 TD, 7 INT, 107.2 QB rating

Michael Vick, Philadelphia, 2010 (8-3, Postseason: 0-1)
Stats: 3,018 yds, 21 TD, 6 INT, 100.2 QB rating, 100 att., 675 yds, 9 TD 

Eli Manning, NY Giants, 2011 (9-7, Postseason: 4-0) Super Bowl
Stats: 4,933 yds, 29 TD, 16 INT, 92.9 QB rating

Tom Brady, New England, 2011 (13-3, Postseason: 2-1)
Stats: 5,235 yds, 39 TD, 12 INT, 105.6 QB rating, 109 rush yds, 3 TD

Cam Newton, Carolina, 2011 (6-10, Postseason: None)
Stats: 4,051 yds, 21 TD, 17 INT, 84.5 QB rating, 126 att., 706 yds, 14 TD

- by Braden Gall


Related 2012 NFL Content:

Athlon Sports NFL Kickoff Power Rankings: Pre-Week 1
Rankings the NFL's Starting Quarterbacks From Best to Worst
Athlon Debate: Which rookie starting QB will win the most games in 2012?
The NFL's Five Biggest Busts of Training Camp
Tim Tebow or Mark Sanchez: Who should start for the Jets? 
The NFL Hot Seat: Which Coaches Need to Win Now?
Athlon Debate: Did being on Hard Knocks help or hurt the Dolphins?

<p> The 10 Greatest Quarterback Seasons in NFL History</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-and-dallas-cowboys-kick-nfl-season

The NFL season is finally here, and the 2012 campaign will begin in grand fashion tonight (8:30 p.m. ET) with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys. The G-men have won five out of the last six meetings over their NFC East rivals, and last year’s December win against Dallas launched a 6-6 team toward the postseason that magically ended with the Lombardi Trophy. The Cowboys have missed the playoffs the last two seasons, and they have only won one postseason game over the last 15 years. Owner Jerry Jones feels the pressure to win now in Big D, and his team will face a New York bunch that has claimed two of the last five Super Bowl titles.

When New York has the ball:
The Giants were all about the passing game last year, with Eli Manning throwing for over 4,900 yards and 29 touchdowns. Receiver Victor Cruz was a breakout sensation in 2011, and Hakeem Nicks is also a force on the outside. New York’s running game ranked last in the NFL a year ago, which led to the first-round selection of tailback David Wilson in the draft. If he and Ahmad Bradshaw can generate a solid rushing attack, the Giants offense will be scary.

The Cowboys were decent on defense last season, but Manning torched them through the air in two losses. Dallas has the ability to get to opposing quarterbacks (42 sacks in 2011), but the play in the secondary must improve. Jones signed free agent cornerback Brandon Carr this offseason and also traded up to draft top college corner Morris Claiborne of LSU. The two new defensive backs will have their work cut out trying to match up with the elusive Cruz and Nicks.

When Dallas has the ball:
Quarterback Tony Romo has the playmaking ability to lead Dallas to the postseason, but the players around him must stay healthy. Running back DeMarco Murray showed flashes of stardom in his rookie season, totaling 135 rushing yards or more in three games. If he can play 16 games this year, the Cowboys should have a formidable attack. Receiver Miles Austin and tight end Jason Witten provide solid pass-catching options but are currently battling injuries, while Dallas hopes this is the season that talented but inconsistent wideout Dez Bryant fulfills his potential.

The Giants struggled on defense for much of the 2011 season but were able to put it together late on their way to a championship. New York is known for its ferocious pass rush, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (16.5 sacks last year) has become a star. He will team with Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka to try and wreak havoc on the Cowboys passing game. If the reworked Dallas offense line can contain the NYG pass rush, Romo should have success down the field against a depleted Giants secondary.

Key Factor:
There are plenty of top players on the injury report for the opener, and each team’s depth will be critical in this game. Dallas will be without key defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, and Witten is doubtful. New York’s defense will miss corner Prince Amukamara, while offensive tackle Will Beatty and Nicks are listed as questionable. The team that can handle its personnel attrition and get contributions from its new players will have a major advantage in this heated NFC East battle.

Giants 27 Cowboys 20

by Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

Related NFL Content

NFL Preseason Power Rankings
5 Reasons Why the Giants Will Repeat as Super Bowl Champions

Which rookie quarterback will win the most games in 2012?

<p> New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys Kick Off the NFL Season</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 08:47
All taxonomy terms: Eli Manning, New York Giants, NFL
Path: /nfl/5-reasons-new-york-giants-will-win-another-super-bowl

Twice in the last five seasons the New York Giants have won the Super Bowl championship, coming virtually out of nowhere with miraculous late-season runs. Each time they left the NFL saying “How the heck did they do that?” Each time they heard cries that they were nothing but a fluke.

But a funny thing happened to the Giants after that first “fluky” championship, when they beat the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. The next season they were the best team in the NFL, by far, for the first 12 games of the season. They were 11-1 before they were derailed with the mother of all distractions, when Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg.
What happened that year is that a talented team had found itself at the end of the 2007 season and grew confident that they could beat anybody in the world. They carried that confidence over into the following season.
And this year, there’s no reason why they can’t do it again.
Assuming no receiver shoots himself in the leg – or the Giants don’t find other ways to shoot themselves in the foot – the truth is they are likely to be among the best teams in football in the 2012 season. They are often dismissed as a team that was 9-7 in 2011, as if their final six games – all wins – somehow don’t count. Their chances are sometimes blown off because things change wildly from year to year in the NFL, ignoring the fact that 19 of their 22 starters were starters for them last year, too.
So can the Giants repeat? Absolutely. Whether they will or not can’t be determined until we all see how healthy they are in December. But here are five big reasons why the Giants’ chances at a back-to-back championship – which would be the crowning achievement of their dynasty – simply can not be dismissed:
1. Eli Manning – I find it hard to believe there’s even a debate anymore about whether Manning is an “elite” quarterback or a Top 5 quarterback or however you want to define him. But even if you disagree with those labels you’d have to be blind not to see how he carried the Giants last year. He had his finest season despite a shaky defense and the NFL’s worst rushing attack. He’s not getting worse at this stage of his career and he’s still got the weapons. And when you have an elite quarterback in the NFL the simple truth is you have a chance to win every game. With Manning the Giants have that chance. And if you need more proof, just go back and look at how terrific he was in the playoffs.
2. The pass rush – As the NFL has transformed into a passing league it’s become about exactly what former Giants GM said it was all about when he first traded for Manning in 2004 – “quarterbacks and pass rushers.” If you have a guy that can throw and you can disrupt the guy throwing on the other side, you’ve got what it takes to win a championship. The Giants have the best 1-2-3 pass rushing punch in the NFL in Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, and it could be dangerous if Pierre-Paul approaches the 20 sacks he seems capable of getting. And oh, by the way, linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka often lines up as the fourth defensive end – his old position – making this pass rush impossible to stop.
3. The running game – They finished dead last in rushing in 2011, but that’s not really a fair stat because they jumped about 20 yards per game down the stretch and into the playoffs. That’s because they got healthier along the offensive line and Ahmad Bradshaw got healthy too, which made all the difference in the world. Now they’ve got an even healthier line – minus starting left tackle Will Beatty (back) – and as long as Bradshaw can shake off a minor hand injury he should be ready to go. More importantly, the lumbering and aging Brandon Jacobs has been replaced by rookie David Wilson, the Giants’ first-round draft pick that GM Jerry Reese calls “a world class athlete.” The Giants have raved about him all summer and Manning thinks he’s the fastest running back they’ve ever had. That’s something, considering fourth-stringer Da’Rel Scott was the fastest running back in the entire 2011 draft class. And if Manning is right, Wilson could help return the rushing game to prominence, like it was in 2008 when the Giants produced two 1,000-yard backs.
4. Martellus Bennett – The people in Dallas may laugh at a player they think was a bust, and his skeptics laugh at his colorful quotes, comedy routine, and the fact that he’s nicknamed himself “The Bearded Ghost” and “The Black Unicorn.” But even he admitted “the funny (stuff) is cool, but it's not what I’m here for. I’m here to make big plays.” Can he? The Giants seem more convinced of that than they’ve been since they had Jeremy Shockey in his prime. Manning said Bennett is “probably more athletic than some of the tight ends we’ve had” – definitely moreso than the overachieving Jake Ballard and the limited Kevin Boss. He might be the first legitimate red-zone threat the Giants have had in years. He’s also a powerful blocker and the first tight end they’ve had with the moves to get open on his own since Shockey was around. Not only does that add a new and welcomed dimension to the Giants’ attack, but it helps make up for the loss of Mario Manningham, whose departure to San Francisco thinned the receiving corps.
5. The chips – They still reside squarely on the champs’ shoulder. If there’s one thing this team has been masterful at in the Tom Coughlin Era it’s been that feeling of “Us against the World.” When it’s there, they use it. When it’s not there, they invent it. They love proving people wrong. Well, right on cue they spent another championship summer hearing how they were a fluke, seeing everyone pick against them, listening to Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and coach Mike McCarthy say they gave the Giants a divisional playoff victory and San Francisco safety Donte Whitner say the Niners did the same in the NFC championship game. Then Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gets into the act vowing to “beat the New York Giants’ ass.” This team was already motivated to try and become a dynasty by winning its third Super Bowl in six seasons, but now it’s got the same chip they had at the end of last season. Nobody believes in these Giants.
And that’s always when they’re at their most dangerous and best.
<p> Why the champs will get another championship ring</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 06:45
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-1-bowl-projections

College football's bowl season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With only one week of results in the books, it's hard to make long-term projections about teams. A team like Houston was expected to win Conference USA's West Division in the preseason but stumbled in the opener against Texas State. For now, the Cougars remain in our projections but that could change after Week 2.

With very little data to work with, the post-Week 1 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections and a small dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks, especially as we see how teams like Houston, UTEP, Miami (Fla.) and Texas Tech perform.

2012-2013 Post-Week 1 College Football Bowl Projections

Bowl Date Tie-In Projected Matchup
New Mexico Dec. 15 MWC vs. Pac-12 Arizona vs. Colorado State
Famous Idaho Potato Dec. 15 MAC vs. WAC Louisiana Tech vs. W. Michigan
Poinsettia Dec. 20 BYU vs. MWC BYU vs. Nevada
Beef 'O'Brady's Dec. 21 Big East vs. C-USA East Carolina vs. Cincinnati
New Orleans Dec. 22 Sun Belt vs. C-USA UL Lafayette vs. Southern Miss
Las Vegas Dec. 22 MWC vs. Pac-12 UCLA vs. Boise State
Hawaii Dec. 24 C-USA vs. MWC Fresno State vs. SMU
Little Caesars Dec. 26 Big Ten vs. MAC Purdue vs. Northern Illinois
Military Dec. 27 ACC vs. Army Marshall* vs. Mississippi State*
Belk Dec. 27 ACC vs. Big East Virginia vs. Pittsburgh
Holiday Dec. 27 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Stanford vs. Baylor
Independence Dec. 28 ACC vs. SEC Miami vs. Texas A&M
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 ACC vs. Big East South Florida vs. Clemson
Meineke Car Care Dec. 28 Big Ten vs. Big 12 TCU vs. Northwestern
Armed Forces Dec. 29 C-USA vs. MWC Houston vs. Wyoming
Kraft Fight Hunger Dec. 29 Pac-12 vs. Navy Navy vs. California
Pinstripe Dec. 29 Big East vs. Big 12 Rutgers vs. Notre Dame
Alamo Dec. 29 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Utah vs. Oklahoma State
Buffalo Wild Wings Dec. 29 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Kansas State vs. Illinois
Music City Dec. 31 SEC vs. ACC Auburn vs. Georgia Tech
Sun Dec. 31 ACC vs. Pac-12 NC State vs. Washington
Liberty Dec. 31 SEC vs. C-USA Tulsa vs. Missouri
Chick-fil-A Dec. 31 ACC vs. SEC Virginia Tech vs. Florida
TicketCity Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. C-USA Texas Tech* vs. UTEP Gator Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Tennessee vs. Iowa
Capital One Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Georgia vs. Wisconsin
Outback Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten South Carolina vs. Michigan State
Cotton Jan. 4 Big 12 vs. SEC West Virginia vs. Arkansas
BBVA Compass Jan. 5 SEC vs. Big East Vanderbilt vs. Connecticut Jan. 6 MAC vs. Sun Belt Arkansas State vs. Ohio
BCS Bowls      
Rose Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Michigan vs. Oregon
Orange Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Florida State vs. Louisville
Sugar Jan. 2 BCS vs. BCS LSU vs. Texas
Fiesta Jan. 3 BCS vs. BCS Oklahoma vs. Nebraska
National Title Jan. 7 BCS vs. BCS USC vs. Alabama

by Steven Lassan


Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat Post-Week 1 Edition
ACC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Big 12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Big East Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
@athlonsteven</a></strong></span></p>" target="_blank">College Football Week 1 Recap

<p> College Football Post-Week 1 Bowl Projections for 2012</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 06:35
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-1-rankings

Week 1 of the college football season is in the books and plenty of coaches are feeling the pressure to win. Kentucky showed some progress in the season opener against Louisville, but Joker Phillips passes Boston College's Frank Spaziani as the No. 1 coach on the hot seat. Some new names have joined the top 20, including Houston's Tony Levine and Colorado's Jon Embree. 

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 1 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week's Rank:
Record at Kentucky: 11-15 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 0-1
Losing handily to a rival is enough for Phillips to claim the top spot after Week 1. The Wildcats showed some signs of life on offense, but the defense had no answer for Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Kentucky should get into the win column against Kent State this Saturday, but Phillips needs to pickup a few wins in SEC play this year.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week's Rank: 1
Record at Boston College: 20-20 (4th season)
2012 Record: 0-1
Spaziani moved down from the No. 1 to the No. 2 spot this week. Although Boston College lost to Miami, the team showed some progress on offense. Hiring Doug Martin as the coordinator seems to be the right answer to develop quarterback Chase Rettig, as he threw for 441 yards and two touchdowns in the opener. Spaziani’s specialty is on defense, which is where the Eagles struggled on Saturday and must improve for Boston College to have any shot at a bowl.

3. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week's Rank:
Record at MTSU: 35-41 (7th season)
2012 Record: 0-1
Stockstill makes a huge jump in the rankings after a Week 1 debacle against McNeese State. The Blue Raiders trailed the Cowboys 24-6 going into the fourth quarter and lost 27-21. MTSU has lost six consecutive season openers under Stockstill and enters Week 2 action with a seven-game losing streak.

4. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week's Rank:
Record at Rice: 23-39 (6th season)
2012 Record: 0-1
Things never got on track for Rice in the season opener, as the Owls fell behind 19-0 to UCLA and did not score a point in the second half to lose 49-24. Rice’s defense did little to slow down the Bruins, allowing 646 yards and 49 points. Quarterback Taylor McHargue turned in a solid effort in a losing cause, but the Owls were simply overmatched. The road doesn’t get any easier for Rice, as they matchup against Kansas, Louisiana Tech, Marshall and Houston over the next few weeks.

5. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week: 7
Record at Central Michigan: 7-18 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-0
For a half, it appeared Central Michigan would fall victim to FCS foe Southeast Missouri State. However, the Chippewas rallied in the final two quarters to win 38-27 and remain unbeaten under Enos in season openers. Despite the victory, it was an overall lackluster showing for Central Michigan, and the schedule gets tougher in Week 2 against Michigan State.

6. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week: 15
Record at California: 79-49 (11th season)
2012 Record: 0-1
Tedford makes a big jump in this week’s poll, climbing from No. 15 in the post-fall practice edition to No. 6 after Saturday’s loss to Nevada. Although the Wolf Pack are one of the top 50 teams in the nation, losing in the home debut after a major stadium renovation is a bad sign. Tedford has recorded a mediocre 12-14 record since 2010 and could be 1-3 after the first four weeks of the season. Tedford has had a successful run in Berkeley, but has the program gone stale?

7. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week:
Record at Idaho: 19-44 (6th season)
2012 Record: 0-1
Eastern Washington is one of the top FCS programs, so it’s really no surprise it won on the road at Idaho. However, it’s another black eye for the Vandals, a program struggling to stay on the FBS level. Idaho has lost 10 out of its last 11 games and it could be a while before it cracks the win column. With Bowling Green, LSU, Wyoming and North Carolina coming up, the Vandals’ best opportunity at a victory is on Oct. 6 against New Mexico State. Akey’s teams have regressed since winning eight contests in 2009, and it’s shaping up to be another long year in Idaho.

8. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week:
Record at Maryland: 3-10 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-0
Edsall’s 2012 opener nearly ended with disaster. The Terrapins squeaked out a lackluster 7-6 victory over FCS opponent William & Mary. Freshman quarterback Perry Hills turned in a so-so debut, completing 16 of 24 passes for 145 yards and three interceptions. While the defense was solid, the offense clearly has some work to do over the next couple of weeks. Maryland’s schedule doesn’t get any easier, as it travels to Philadelphia take on Temple this Saturday.

9. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
Last Week:
Record at Texas Tech: 14-12 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-0
Texas Tech had a successful season opener, easily defeating Northwestern State 44-6. The offense gained 500 yards, while a much-maligned defense allowed only 84 yards and held the Demons to just six points. With matchups against Texas State and New Mexico in the next two weeks, Tuberville should slide down this list. However, Tuberville’s long-term future in Lubbock will be determined on what happens in Big 12 play.

10. Tony Levine, Houston
Last Week: Not ranked
Record at Houston: 1-1
2012 Record: 0-1
Disaster is the only word to describe Levine’s regular season debut at Houston. The Cougars high-powered offense was grounded, scoring only 13 points and managing 326 yards of total offense. The defense was shredded for 248 yards on the ground and forced only one turnover. Only adding to the uneasiness surrounding Levine was the departure of coordinator Mike Nesbitt on Monday. Athlon ranked Levine as one of the worst coaching hires this offseason, and he needs to get Houston pointed back in the right direction before Conference USA play begins. Levine isn't in danger of losing his job anytime during the season, but his tenure at Houston is off to an awful start. 

11. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week:
Record at UNLV: 4-22 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 0-1
After nearly beating Minnesota last Thursday, Hauck moves from No. 9 to No. 11 on this list. The Rebels gave the Golden Gophers all they can handle, giving hope that Hauck can surpass last season’s two wins. The Rebels should get into the win column against Northern Arizona this Saturday.

12. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week:
Record at Syracuse: 17-21 (4th season)
2012 Record: 0-1
Marrone has been on a steady climb in Athlon’s coach on the hot seat rankings since the end of last year. The Orange finished 2011 with a five-game losing streak and opened 2012 with a loss to Northwestern. With a move to the ACC on the horizon for 2013, Syracuse may not want to join a new conference with a coach on the hot seat. Marrone may need to make a bowl to save his job.

13. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Buffalo: 5-20 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 0-1
Quinn opened the season with a loss to Georgia, but the Bulls had a good showing in defeat. Although five wins in just over two years isn’t impressive, Quinn seems to be moving the program in the right direction.

14. George O'Leary, UCF
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UCF: 51-51 (9th season)
2012 Record: 1-0
The Knights turned in one of the most dominating wins in Week 1, beating Akron 56-14. UCF has a tough road trip to Ohio State this Saturday but is a heavy favorite to win the Conference USA title. As long as the Knights reach a bowl game, O’Leary should be safe to return for 2013.

15. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at Colorado: 3-11 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 0-1
Embree didn’t inherit a great situation at Colorado, but the Buffaloes haven’t showed a whole lot of improvement in his tenure. Colorado did win two out of the last three from last season but opened 2012 with a disappointing loss to in-state rival Colorado State. Embree isn’t in any danger of losing his job this year, but this program can’t afford many more years of just three wins.

16. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 12-14 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-0
Dooley is one of the biggest movers on this list, dropping from No. 3 to No. 16 after Friday’s win over NC State. The Volunteers were impressive against the Wolfpack and considering how Florida looked against Bowling Green, it’s not out of the question Tennessee could be 4-0 before playing at Georgia on Sept. 29. Dooley still has a lot to prove, but Friday night's win was a step in the right direction.

17. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Western Michigan: 47-40 (8th season)
2012 Record: 0-1
The Broncos were a trendy upset pick for Week 1 but fell 24-7 to Illinois. Western Michigan has two more shots at pulling off an upset against a BCS team, as it visits Minnesota on Sept. 15 and hosts Connecticut on Sept. 22. Despite the opening week disappointment, the Broncos are considered the favorites to win the MAC’s West Division.

18. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UTEP: 45-53 (9th season)
2012 Record: 0-1
Although it was a losing effort against Oklahoma, Price drops eight spots to No. 18 on the post-week 1 rankings. UTEP gave the Sooners all they could handle and has another shot at an upset against Ole Miss this Saturday. Considering Houston’s struggles against Texas State, the Miners have to be considered one of the favorites to win Conference USA’s West Division.

19. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-29 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-0
The Aggies opened their season with a convincing 49-19 victory over Sacramento State. New Mexico State is a tough job, and the program faces an uncertain future at the FBS level. It’s clear Walker is making progress and would be a surprise if he doesn’t return to Las Cruces for 2013.

20. Dave Clawson, Bowling Green
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Bowling Green: 14-24 (4th season)
2012 Record: 0-1
Clawson probably doesn’t deserve be on this list, especially after nearly leading Bowling Green to a win over Florida in the season opener. However, there are few candidates for this No. 20 ranking, and Clawson’s overall record is 14-24. The Falcons were picked by many to finish in the top three of the MAC East and assuming this team builds off Saturday’s performance, Clawson won’t be moving any higher on this list in 2012.

by Steven Lassan


Related College Football Content

ACC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Big East Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Follow @athlonsteven

" target="_blank">College Football Week 1 Recap

<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 1 Rankings</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-voting-post-week-1

Each week, the Athlon editors vote on the most prestigious award in all of college football. A nine-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports will vote for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the result will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every Wednesday of the regular season.

Voting: Each first place vote gets 10 points. A second place vote gets nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th place vote getting one point.

USC's Matt Barkley did little to hurt his Heisman Trophy campaign with his big win over Hawaii and will remain atop the polls entering Week 2. On the flip side, names like Denard Robinson, Montee Ball, Landry Jones and others took major steps back after struggling on opening weekend.

Only three players landed on all nine ballots and those three names claim the top three spots. Otherwise, this week's voting features plenty of new names after a huge first week of games. Fans can expect more volatility over the next couple of weeks with it leveling out somewhere in the second month of the year.

1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC (7 first place votes)
Season Stats: 23-38, 372 yds, 4 TD, 0 INT
The preseason frontrunner is almost guaranteed a spot in New York come December and throwing for nearly 400 yards and four scores in the Trojans' first blowout victory is the type of weekly output that will all but lock Barkley in as a finalist. The Athlon votes didn't change whatsoever as seven of the nine cast their first place vote for the senior signal caller from USC. And the other two (of which, I am one) gave Barkley second-place votes. Next Game: at Syracuse

  Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. Matt Barkley QB USC 88/90 7 2 - - - 9/9
2. Geno Smith QB West Virginia 78/90 2 6 - - - 9/9
3. Marcus Lattimore RB South Carolina 55/90 - - 4 - 2 9/9
4. Le'Veon Bell RB Michigan St 47/90 - - 3 1 1 8/9
5. Montee Ball RB Wisconsin 34/90 - - - 2 1 6/9
6. De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 28/90 - - 1 1 1 5/9
7. Marqise Lee WR USC 25/90 - - - 1 - 7/9
8. Andre Ellington RB Clemson 25/90 - - 1 1 1 5/9
9. Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 21/90 - - - 1 - 6/9
10. Barrett Jones OL Alabama 14/90 - 1 - - - 2/9
11. Braxton Miller QB Ohio State 13/90 - - - 1 - 4/9
12. Tyler Wilson QB Arkansas 11/90 - - - - - 4/9
13. Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 10/90 - - - - 1 2/9
14. Landry Jones QB Oklahoma 7/90 - - - 1 - 1/9
15. Logan Thomas QB Virginia Tech 6/90 - - - - 1 1/9

Also receiving votes: 16. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama (5 pts), 17. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee (5 pts), 18. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (5 pts), 19. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia (4 pts), 20. Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio (4 pts)

2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (2 first place votes)
Season Stats: 32-36, 323 yds, 4 TD, 0 INT, 8 att., 65 rush yds, TD
For the second straight week, I have voted the Mountaineers quarterback as my No. 1 pick to win the famed stiff-armed trophy. Against an archrival in the season opener, Smith was in midseason form as he scored more touchdowns (5) than he had incompletions. He has more raw ability than Barkley, plays in a more pass-happy system and has one of the only receiving corps that can match the talent and depth of USC's. And the smart money is never on the preseason favorite. Next Game: at James Madison

3. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Season Stats: 23 att., 110 yds, 2 TD, 3 rec., 21 yds
The most talented running back in the nation was back on the field for the first time since last October, but he didn't look like he missed a beat. He was up to his usual gyrating, impossible-to-tackle tricks that eventually led to the Gamecocks only scores against SEC East foe Vanderbilt. Steve Spurrier leaned on him in the second half and Lattimore delivered with the game-winning touchdown and more than a few key third down runs. He, like Smith and Barkley, was on all nine Athlon Heisman ballots. Next Game: East Carolina

4. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michgian State
Season Stats: 44 att., 210 yds, 2 TD, 6 rec., 55 yds
The Michigan State tailback was easily the highest mover on this list and rightly so as he carried his team to one of the biggest wins nationally in Week 1. He also had a mini-Heisman moment when he scored the game-winning touchdown late in the game on national television against a ranked Boise State team. And he shattered his career statistical highs in the process. His previous career highs: 20 attempts, 141 yards, 5 receptions, 49 receiving yards — all of which he broke in one game. Next Game: at Central Michigan

5. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
Season Stats: 32 att., 120 yds, TD, 3 rec., 21 yds
It wasn't a vintage Badger offensive performance, but Ball was still the workhorse. On an offense that clearly misses its quarterback, coordinator and three offensive lineman from last season, Ball's 35 touches stabilized the new-look offense and allowed Wisconsin to hold on for a tight win over Northern Iowa. Next Game: at Oregon State

6. De'Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats: 3 att., 64 yds, TD, 4 rec., 55 yds, 2 TD, 6 PR yds
The Black Mamba was up to his old tricks by scoring three times on seven total offensive touches. He is arguably the most dynamic player in the game today and should see his workload increase as the competition gets tougher. Next Game: Fresno State

7. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Season Stats: 10 rec., 197 yds, 1 KR, 100 yds, TD
Lee was often overshadowed by his counterpart Robert Woods last season, but the super sophomore made a big statement in Week 1. He scored on the first play of the game and then again on a 100-yard kickoff return. His 297 all-purpose yards currently lead the nation. Next Game: at Syracuse

8. Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson
Season Stats: 25 att., 228 yds, 0 TD
The oft-injured tailback was at his best on Saturday night in a huge win over the Auburn Tigers. He is leading the nation in rushing and, should he stay healthy, could be a huge factor in the Heisman race. Next Game: Ball State

9. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
Season Stats: 26-34, 354 yds, 5 TD, 0 INT, 6 att., 10 yds
Martinez was at his all-time best this weekend and it could not have happened at a better time. Nebraska could be without star tailback Rex Burkhead for a few games, which means the offensive onus will fall to T-Mart. His 212.46 QB-rating currently leads the Big Ten. Next Game: at UCLA

10. Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
Season Stats: 232.0 rush ypg, 41.0 ppg, 2.0 sacks allowed per game (Alabama offense)
Okay, there aren't really any great stats to use for offensive lineman, but how about this. Jones is the best player on the best team who played the best against the best competition this weekend. And he is doing it all at his third position. Next Game: Western Kentucky

11. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats: 14-24, 207 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT, 17 att., 161 yds, TD

12. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Season Stats: 19-27, 367 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT, 3 att., minus-2 yds

13. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Season Stats: 15 att., 214 yds, 3 TD, 1 rec., 4 yds

14. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Season Stats: 21-36, 222 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT, 3 att., minus-19 yds

15. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
Season Stats: 21-38, 230 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT, 15 att., 40 yds

- by Braden Gall


Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 1 Recap

ACC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Big East Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Big 12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

Pac-12 East Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

SEC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings 

<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Voting: Post-Week 1</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-week-1-power-rankings

The NFL season officially kicks off tonight with the New York Giants taking on the Dallas Cowboys. To celebrate, Athlon Sports is bringing you the first of many weekly looks at all 32 NFL franchises and where they fall in the most recent Power Rankings:

2012 Athlon Sports NFL Power Rankings and Team Previews:

1. Green Bay Packers (Week 1: SF)
Only question is depth on defense and losing Desmond Bishop hurt. Still led by the best player in the game.

2. San Francisco 49ers (Week 1: at GB)
Gritty defense packaged with stellar OL and caretaker QB. Home field in the NFC is on the line this Sunday.

3. Houston Texans (Week 1: MIA)
Health on offense might be the only concern this team should have entering what could be a landmark 2012 season.

4. New England Patriots (Week 1: at TEN)
Tom Brady has a stacked collection of pass-catchers and the best head coach in the game upgraded the defense.

5. New York Giants (Week 1: DAL)
Can the defending champs stay on top of a league with so many questions on defense?

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 1: at DEN)
The running game needs to be healthy, but Big Ben and aggressive defense still lead the charge.

7. Baltimore Ravens (Week 1: CIN)
Will the preseason offensive philosophy translate to the regular season? Only time will tell.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Week 1: at KC)
Explosive offense could be one of the league's best, so can Mike Nolan improve the defense?

9. Chicago Bears (Week 1: IND)
Jay Cutler and Matt Forte return to the line-up with a loaded defense — which needs a healthy Brian Urlacher.

10. Detroit Lions (Week 1: STL)
Record-setting offense is championship caliber. Has the defense joined the party yet?

11. Denver Broncos (Week 1: PIT)
Could be good enough to earn a bye in the playoffs and has enough holes to finish third in the AFC West.

12. Dallas Cowboys (Week 1: at NYG)
Might be optimistic for a team with issues swirling all over the roster. Can Tony Romo hold them together?

13. New Orleans Saints (Week 1: WAS)
What sort of impact does off-season have on Drew Brees and the Saints playoff hopes?

14. Philadelphia Eagles (Week 1: at CLE)
Michael Vick must stay healthy for this team to make a playoff push. And that has only happened once in his career.

15. Cincinnati Bengals (Week 1: at BAL)
Fundamentally sound, uninpiring team will prove to be very competitive week-in and week-out.

16. San Diego Chargers (Week 1: at OAK)
Norv Turner begins a critical season needing a playoff berth to save his job in San Deigo.

17. Tennessee Titans (Week 1: NE)
Can sneaky good defensive line make up for young, inexperienced offense in Nashville?

18. Buffalo Bills (Week 1: at NYJ)
Defense should be markedly improved, so can offense stay consistent for 16 weeks?

19. New York Jets (Week 1: BUF)
You have to have (Tim Tebow) thick skin to pick this team (Tim Tebow) to make the playoffs (Tim Tebow).

20. Carolina Panthers (Week 1: at TB)
Will all of that talent translate into wins...or just statistics? The defense should only get better.

21. Seattle Seahawks (Week 1: at ARI)
Is Russell Wilson ready to lead a team with a developing defense into the playoff mix?

22. Washington Redskins (Week 1: at NO)
The Skins should be better with RG3, but how much better? He needs some help.

23. Oakland Raiders (Week 1: SD)
An intriguing team with some upside — if the coaching staff develops quickly.

24. Kansas City Chiefs (Week 1: ATL)
Like the rest of the West: A team with nice pieces and interesting upside but lots of question marks.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 1: CAR)
Josh Freeman and a host of young players will attempt to ease Greg Schiano into pro game.

26. Arizona Cardinals (Week 1: SEA)
Offensive line issues could end this season before it begins while solid defense is wasted.

27. Indianapolis Colts (Week 1: at CHI)
Already up a few spots from the preseason due to quick development of stellar rookie class.

28. Miami Dolphins (Week 1: at HOU)
A completely non-descript team that will have loads of growing pains. Both on and off the field.

29. St. Louis Rams (Week 1: at DET)
The offense should be healthier and more talented, but this team will struggle.

30. Cleveland Browns (Week 1: PHI)
Can rookie backfield help the Browns out of the cellar? Only time will tell.

31. Minnesota Vikings (Week 1: JAC)
All-Day Peterson is back but this team has major issues on defense.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 1: at MIN)
Getting MoJo Drew back was huge, but it will be a long year in Jacksonville.

-by Braden Gall


Relate 2012 NFL Content:

Rankings the NFL's Starting Quarterbacks From Best to Worst
Athlon Debate: Which rookie starting QB will win the most games in 2012?

The NFL's Five Biggest Busts of Training Camp

Tim Tebow or Mark Sanchez: Who should start for the Jets? 

The NFL Hot Seat: Which Coaches Need to Win Now?

Athlon Debate: Did being on Hard Knocks help or hurt the Dolphins?

<p> <em style="font-size: 14px; ">Athlon Sports weekly look at all 32 NFL franchises and where they fall in the most recent Power Rankings</em></p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-bcs-crasher-stock-report
Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns against Penn State on Saturday.

Although last season marked the first time since 2003 the BCS bowls lacked a team from outside of the six automatic-qualifying conferences, the scene around Mountain West, Conference USA and MAC remained intriguing until the final weeks of the season.

Both Boise State and Houston had big-time bowl games in their sights until their first (and only) losses of the season

With teams like TCU and Utah now in automatic-qualifying conferences and Boise State seemingly out of the picture after a loss to Michigan State, the BCS crasher -- if there will be one -- will come from a new source. Unless, of course, Notre Dame reaches its first BCS game since the 2006 season.

We understand the big leagues tend to dominate the airwaves, and figuring who’s hot and who’s not outside of the mainstream can be tough task. We’re here to help parse through some of the movers and shakers out side of the six major conferences. Whether it’s Notre Dame’s bid for a BCS bid or a key weeknight high-scoring MAC game, we’ll keep you up to date in the BCS Crasher Stock Report.

Last week:
Defeated Penn State 24-14
The Bobcats’ win at Penn State was hardly a fluke. Ohio outgained Penn State 316-130 in the second half. The Bobcats were able to move the ball methodically on the Nittany Lions’ defense, using scoring drives of 12, eight and 14 plays (plus an 11-play drive that ended on a missed field goal). The backfield duo of quarterback Tyler Tettleton and Beau Blankenship -- both of whom hail from Norman (Okla.) North High School -- accounted for 480 yards of total offense on Saturday. This could be the toughest test for Ohio until a potential MAC Championship Game.
This week: New Mexico State

Last week: Defeated Washington State 30-6
BYU carried its momentum from the final months of last season into the opener against Washington State. The BYU defense had little trouble containing Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel behind the pass rush of Kyle Van Noy. Tuel finished with two interceptions and was sacked three times as Wazzu failed to score an offensive touchdown. BYU quarterback Riley Nelson made easy work of a porous Washington State defense, but the Cougars showed an intriguing wrinkle by using freshman Taysom Hill in red zone situations. Hill, who committed to Stanford out of high school before signing with BYU after an LDS mission, threw an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
This week: Weber State

Last week:
Defeated Cal 31-24
Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault will hope a victory over Cal is a harbinger of sorts. The last time Nevada defeated the Bears in 2010, the Wolf Pack finished the season 13-1. Nevada may have received a helping hand when the Bears started Allan Bridgford over Zach Maynard for disciplinary reasons. Bridgford started 2-for-9 for six yards as Nevada jumped to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Maynard led a comeback, but Nevada still broke a tie in the final minute of the fourth quarter. In quarterback Cody Fajardo and running back Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada has a backfield capable of putting up numbers similar to the 2010 team.
This week: USF

Notre Dame
Last week:
Defeated Navy 50-10
The Notre Dame-Navy series has returned to normalcy with the Irish defeating the Midshipmen by at least 40 point in each of the last two seasons. In Dublin, Everett Golson had a good showing in his first career game, completing 12 of 18 passes for 144 yards with a touchdown, but he also threw an interception in the red zone. Notre Dame didn’t miss suspended running back Cierre Wood with Theo Riddick, George Atkinson III and Cam McDaniel combining for 265 yards and four touchdowns on 37 carries. Up next, Notre Dame will face Purdue -- and jet lag.
This week: Purdue

Louisiana Tech
Last week:
Louisiana Tech lost its chance to make an opening week statement when its opener with Texas A&M was postponed to Oct. 13. After Houston lost at home to Texas State in the opener, Louisiana Tech’s first game looks a little less imposing than it once did. The Bulldogs will face Rice on Sept. 15 before facing three major conference teams (at Illinois, at Virginia, Texas A&M) in a four-weeks span.
This week: at Houston

Boise State
Last week:
Lost to Michigan State 17-13
The Broncos failed to score an offensive touchdown for the first time since 1997, and the defense allowed Le’Veon Bell to put up 265 of the Spartans’ 461 yards from scrimmage. Still, the Broncos went on the road with a bunch of new starters and lost by only four points. Boise State has plenty of room to grow -- especially on offense where the Broncos rushed for only 1.5 yards per carry an completed fewer than half their passes -- before facing BYU on Sept. 20.
This week: Idle

Utah at Utah State (Friday): Utah State has not defeated Utah since 1997, but Gary Andersen is working to close the gap.
USF at Nevada: Back-to-back wins over major conference programs is realistic for Chris Ault’s crew.
Air Force at Michigan: Falcons RBCody Getz rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries against Idaho State last week.

The fallout from Houston’s 30-13 loss to FBS newcomer Texas State was swift as offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt resigned under pressure by Monday. First-year coach Tony Levine would like to see Charlie Sims more involved. Will he get his wish this week against BYU?

Southern Miss: In the first game without Larry Fedora and quarterback Austin Davis, Southern Miss amassed only 75 passing yards and 7 of 19 completions from three quarterbacks in a 49-20 loss to Nebraska. The defense allowed 632 yards to a Nebraska offense that played most of the game without Rex Burkhead.

FIU: Mario Cristobal has FIU as a fast-rising program in the Sun Belt, but the Golden Panthers lost 46-26 at Duke on Saturday. Remember, this was a program that has played in back-to-back bowl games and upset Louisville a year ago.

Jahwan Edwards, Ball State

Ball State opened the season with a 37-26 conference win over Eastern Michigan on Thursday, powered by Edwards. A year after rushing for 786 yards and 11 touchdowns, Edwards ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries in the opener. Edwards will face Clemson this week, meaning the game will feature two of the six players who topped 200 yards in Week 1 (Edwards and Andre Ellington).

by David Fox


<p> College Football: BCS Crasher Stock Report</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 05:45
Path: /nascar/nascar-horsepower-rankings-12

1. Jimmie Johnson  Denny Hamlin may be the hottest driver on the Cup circuit at the moment, but Johnson’s team will still be the one everyone keeps an eye on going into the Chase.

2. Denny Hamlin  Became the first driver since Tony Stewart in last season’s playoffs to score consecutive wins on the Cup circuit, with victories at Bristol and Atlanta. This is not the Denny Hamlin of 2011, folks.

3. Brad Keselowski  Throw out Keselowski’s disastrous night in Bristol (which is a real rarity) and you’ll find a driver with eight straight runs of ninth or better. Along with Johnson and Hamlin, he has to be a title favorite.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Persevered for a respectable seventh-place showing on what was shaping up to be an off night in Atlanta. The consistency is unquestioned, but can Junior post a couple wins in the Chase?

5. Greg Biffle  Was expecting more out of the points leader at the fast and slick Atlanta track. That said, his team of intermediate-track specialists will be ready for the Chase kickoff at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway.

6. Martin Truex Jr.  Victory slips through Truex’s fingers once again. He and the No. 56 team’s performance in the closing laps at Atlanta are what separate the “title contenders” from the “playoff participants.”

7. Matt Kenseth  One has to wonder how his Roush Fenway bunch will react now that Kenseth has walked the halls and officially announced his Joe Gibbs Racing relationship.

8. Clint Bowyer  Moved into the top 10 from a rear-of-the-field starting spot at Atlanta before battery issues cost him three laps. Could Bowyer be a guy who breaks up the Kyle Busch/Jeff Gordon battle royal in Richmond?

<p> Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski challenge Jimmie Johnson for the top spot in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 17:28
Path: /nascar/nascar-news-notes-kenseth-jgr-official-logano-penske

As a Green Bay Packers fan, Matt Kenseth knows the shock many had seeing quarterback Brett Favre wear another team’s uniform. Kenseth says he doesn’t think his fans will be as shocked with his new look at Joe Gibbs Racing next season after being with car owner Jack Roush’s team since 1999.

“I’ve had about 25 different uniforms in the last two years,” Kenseth said, exaggerating the numerous sponsors cobbled together to fund his Cup team. “I think most of my fans eventually are going to appreciate only having two different uniforms and paint jobs next year instead of 10. I’m really looking forward to the stability of the sponsorship and the team.”

What had been known for some time became official Tuesday when Joe Gibbs Racing introduced Kenseth as its driver for next season. Kenseth replaces Joey Logano, who is headed to drive the No. 22 car at Penske Racing in 2013. Home Depot and Dollar General will sponsor Kenseth’s No. 20 car. Jason Ratcliff will serve as his crew chief.

Team officials said having the 40-year-old Kenseth replace the 22-year-old Logano was good for the company’s future.

“It doesn’t matter what age you are, it doesn’t matter your experience, the question is are you good and can you communicate and can you be a part of a team?” said J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing. “I think Matt will fit that well for Denny (Hamlin) and for Kyle (Busch).”

Gibbs said that with Kenseth coming over, the team wanted Logano to do a full Nationwide schedule next season and some Cup races, but once the Penske ride opened, knew that they couldn’t compete with that. Gibbs could only offer such a program to Logano because of what sponsorship the team had available.

“We love Joey, he’s been here a long time, so we have a real fondness for him, but at the same time we understand that when he has an opportunity there, it’s hard to pass that up,” Gibbs said.

Kenseth said his focus the rest of this season is winning the championship at Roush Fenway Racing. Once his Roush contract ends, he’ll plan to spend as much time as possible with Ratfcliff and discuss the car and their program

“I know without a doubt it is the right place for me,” Kenseth said of moving to Joe Gibbs Racing next season.

DOWN TO TWO  Officially eight drivers have a chance to gain a wild card spot at Richmond and make the Chase, but Kyle Busch admits he thinks it will be between he and Jeff Gordon for the final playoff spot. Kasey Kahne, who has two wins, is expected to make the Chase, most likely via the other wild card spot.

Busch leads Gordon by 12 points heading into Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway, the final one before the Chase field is set. Only once in 15 races they’ve raced each other at Richmond has Gordon finished more than 12 spots ahead of Busch. Also, Busch’s career average finish at Richmond is 4.7 (four wins). Gordon’s average finish in those 15 races is 17.0 (zero wins).

Busch said he doesn’t anticipate needing reports during the race to keep up with what Gordon is doing.

“If (Gordon) is front of me and I can’t see him, obviously we’re not having a good enough night, but if (Gordon) is in front of us and I can see him, I think everything will be fine,” Busch said.

<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long reports on Matt Kenseth signing with Joe Gibbs Racing, Joey Logano going to Penske Racing and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase wild card battle between Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 16:52