COMMENTARY | As of Wednesday, they were 11- or 12-point underdogs, depending on which betting line you choose to trust. They are going against a team many pundits consider the best in the NFL this year in a place Wikipedia cites as one of the best home-field advantages in pro football history - a league-best home record of 191-65-1 between 1974 and 2006 according to the community portal encyclopedia.
Many people had either the Bengals or Packers in their Super Bowl pick, and it's still possible both teams make it. The road will be tougher for whoever loses on Sunday, however. The Packers and Bengals are each 1-1, and they play in Cincinnati on Sunday. Both teams are among the best 10 in the NFL, and one is going to be 1-2. In the last six seasons, only one team has gotten a playoff bye with five or more losses (the 2010 Chicago Bears). So most likely, the loser of Sunday's game probably needs to go at least 11-2 to get a bye. Many teams have made the Super Bowl without a bye, but the odds grow longer. The Bengals aren't getting much respect. Using the Yahoo Pro Football Pick 'em line, Green Bay is a 2.5-point favorite. Reverse the standard 3-point edge for home field, and that means the Bengals would be 8.5-point underdogs at Lambeau Field? Come on. Way too high. The Redskins were only 7.5-point underdogs at Green Bay last week, and they're terrible right now. The Bengals are a good team, and it appears the Packers will be without safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Casey Hayward again, and also running back Eddie Lacy. Cincinnati's front seven is legit, especially against a Packers' offensive line that is pretty shaky. Cincinnati as a home underdog is the pick, but check the record at the end ... this is obviously for entertainment purposes only. If you're smart. With that, onto the rest of the picks!
Round Pick Overall  1 1 1 Kansas City 1 2 2 Jacksonville 1 3 3 Oakland 1 4 4 Philadelphia 1 5 5 Detroit     1 6 6 Cleveland 1 7 7 Arizona 1 8 8 Buffalo 1 9 9 New York Jets 1 10 10 Tennessee 1 11 11 San Diego 1 12 12 Miami 1 13 13 New York Jets (from Tampa Bay)1 14 14 Carolina 1 15 15 New Orleans 1 16 16 St. Louis 1 17 17 Pittsburgh 1 18 18 Dallas1 19 19 New York Giants 1 20 20 Chicago 1 21 21 Cincinnati 1 22 22 St. ...
Updated 12:21 p.m. ET on Monday, April 15
Updated 12:21 p.m. ET on Monday, April 15
Quarterback Geno Smith spoke out against a harsh scouting Pro Football Weekly assessment that criticized his physical skills, football acumen and leadership ability.
A total of 32 compensatory choices in the 2013 NFL Draft have been awarded to 16 teams, the NFL announced today.   Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four. ...
Free-agent shopping lists are like any other shopping lists -- they come with their own set of busts and bargains. Beyond the lists of obvious high-paid names, there are always those players who -- for whatever reasons -- languish under the radar. Smarter front offices will have beads on these guys, and will have considered scheme fits, off-field track records, and overall salary requests as they look to fill their rosters with depth and breadth at multiple positions. Though a fan might not be terribly excited when his or her team bypasses the big-name guy for a lesser light ... well, sometimes, there is a method to the madness. With the 2013 free agency period just around the corner, here are a few players we think could be real bargains in the right situation. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, (former) New York Giants: Coming off a foot injury, but has been cleared to begin visiting teams. Released by the Giants in early February, but if he comes back healthy, he could be a major bargain and a key cog in somebody's offense. Finished sixth in Football Outsiders' cumulative efficiency metrics in 2012, and fifth in per-play. A complete back who can run, catch, and block. Probably a rotational guy as opposed to an every-down bell cow due to injury history, but he'll be paid like a rotational player and could easily exceed expectations in the right system. Martellus Bennett, TE, New York Giants: Bennett bulked up from his Cowboys days and has become a great run-blocker, but he's also effective as a pass-catcher. Put up career highs in catches (55), targets (90), yards (626), and touchdowns (five) in 2012. If you're looking for a do-it-all tight end in the Zach Miller mold without the high price tag, Bennett might be your man. Allowed two hurries and no sacks in 97 pass-blocking snaps per Pro Football Focus. Delanie Walker, TE, San Francisco 49ers: Interesting situational player who didn't make a host of plays, but made some big ones at the right times. Could be a major part of a power offense in which two-tight end sets play a major role. Per PFF, he ranked first in deep passing efficiency among all qualifying tight ends, with eight catches, 220 yards, and two touchdowns on 11 targets of 20 yards or more. Drops (nine overall in 37 targets) don't help his case as a starter, but he had just one drop on those deep targets. Sebastian Vollmer, OT, New England Patriots: May get paid in the $7-8 million per year area, but if he's healthy (potential back and knee issues), Vollmer is a relative bargain at that price. He's played left and right tackle at an outstanding level, has tremendous athleticism, and given his limited football experience, the best may be yet to come from Vollmer as a pure technician. Gave up six sacks in 2012 per PFF, but that was in 1,111 total snaps at right tackle. Brandon Moore, OG, New York Jets: Grades well as a pass-blocker and road-grader. Age (32) is a concern, but in the right system, could be a real force. Known primarily as the possessor of the rear end that Mark Sanchez ran into for the infamous "Buttfumble" play, but should be known better as the right guard who allowed just two sacks and four quarterback hits in an offense that could be charitably described as a disaster. Israel Idonije, DL, Chicago Bears:
It's not going to be the biggest deal in the next week, but the New Orleans Saints' decision to re-sign Junior Galette, a restricted free-agent defensive end, to a new three-year contract on Saturday could be a major one in the long term. The terms of the deal are not yet disclosed. The re-signing is a big step for a Saints defense that was terrible in 2012, and is trying to regroup under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Under Steve Spagnuolo last season, New Orleans ranked dead last in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics, and allowed an astonishing 440.1 yards per game -- more than 50 yards per game more than the second-worst New York Giants. Gallete, however, was a standout when healthy. In just 12 games, he amassed a career-high five sacks, and ranked fourth overall in Pro Football Focus' Pass-Rushing Productivity statistic among 4-3 defensive ends. He put up 30 total pressures on just 187 pass-rush snaps, and can be expected to grab a more prominent role in Ryan's more aggressive and multi-front defense. This despite missing four games late in the season with a sprained ankle. The 6-foot-2, 257-pound Galette should be expected to see time at defensive end and pass-rushing outside linebacker. "You sit there and look and Junior Galette and Martez Wilson and think, 'Man, if we could get these guys on the field as outside linebackers, we could have a 3-4 front and we could have Will [Smith] at defensive end,' " Saints linebacker Scott Shanle said after Sean Payton made the call to fire Spagnuolo. "We just had so many combinations that a 3-4 package would make sense. Obviously, Steve wasn't going to do that. That's what he's never done."
There are some contract issues to work out long term with WRs Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, but otherwise things are in pretty solid shape. QB Eli Manning just turned 32 and remains in great physical condition despite starting 135 consecutive games. The team makes sure he’s well-protected — most of the time — and the developing run game takes a little pressure off him.

Next Page »