Football 101: The 2010 Season From A to Z
The 2010 NFL season is roughly four months away.
Still to come are two-a-days, mini-camps, and preseason games.
The journey to Super Bowl XLV will begin on Sept. 9, 2010, when the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints play host to the Minnesota Vikings in an NFC championship rematch.
But before the season kickoffs, here is everything you need to know, from A to Z, about the upcoming season.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy. The countdown to kickoff is officially underway.
Andre Johnson Will Be Named The 2010 NFL League MVP
Andre Johnson was the third overall pick in the 2003 draft. During his rookie season, Johnson started in all 16 games. He recorded 66 receptions, 976 yards, and 4 touchdowns on the year.
In 2004, Johnson had his breakout season, compiling 1,142 yards and six touchdowns. Johnson was also selected to his first Pro Bowl.
Except for the '05 season, where Johnson played in only 13 games, he has proven to be the best wide receiver in the league. Especially in 2006, when he led the NFL with 103 receptions.
After finishing the 2009 season with 101 catches, 1,569 yards, and a career high nine touchdowns, Johnson became only the second wide receiver to lead the league in receiving yards in consecutive seasons. The other player was Jerry Rice.
Although Johnson is better than Larry Fitzgerald, he has always been overshadowed by Fitzgerald's playmaking ability and spectacular one-handed catches.
There is no debate. 2010 is the year where Johnson becomes the first wide receiver in NFL history, since the installment of the AP MVP award in 1957, to win MVP honors.
Baltimore Will Win The AFC North
Coming off a 9-7 season, the Baltimore Ravens will be flying full speed ahead into playoffs in 2010.
The Ravens arguably had the best off-season, and draft, of any NFL team.
They selected Texas outside linebacker Sergio Kindle, and added Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody to their defensive line.
Most importantly, the Ravens provided quarterback Joe Flacco a number one wide receiver in three time Pro-bowler, Anquan Boldin.
The Ravens, who've had an explosive defense since their Super Bowl championship in 2000, added some much-needed youth to their front seven. Boldin gives them a dangerous offensive threat.
For years, the Ravens relied on their dominant defense.But with a very capable offensive weapon now in Baltimore, expect the AFC North crown to be awarded by week 11.
The Ravens will get to rest up, and start preparing for their Super Bowl championship run.
Chris Johnson Will Not Rush For More Than 1,000 yards
2009 was a record-breaking season for Chris Johnson:
1) In weeks six through 12, Johnson had an active streak of six games over 125 yards, tying the NFL record shared by Earl Campbell and Eric Dickerson
2) Johnson set the single month record for November, rushing for 800 yards. He broke the record previously held by Ricky Williams (797 yards, Nov. 02')
3) Johnson had 3 touchdown runs of 85+ yards, a feat no other player in NFL history ever accomplished
4) Johnson became just the sixth running back in NFL history to reach the 2,000 yard mark, breaking Earl Campbell's franchise rushing record (1,934).
5) Johnson compiled 2,509 yards from scrimmage, breaking Marshall Faulk's previous record of 2,429 yards.
6) Johnson was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year
Johnson had a spectacular 2009 season. But, similar to the previous six 2,000 yard rushers in NFL history, Johnson won't be as fortunate during the 2010 season.
In 1984, Eric Dickerson rushed for 2,105 yards. The following season, he only rushed for 1,234 yards.
In 2003, Jamal Lewis rushed for 2,066 yards. In 2004, he barely rushed for over 1,000 yards (1,006).
In 1997, Barry Sanders rushed for 2,053 yards. Although he didn't reach the 1,500 yard mark, Sanders had a pretty impressive year by rushing for 1,491 yards in 1998.
In 1998, Terrell Davis rushed 2,008 yards. The next season, Davis tore his ACL. He only rushed for 211 yards in four games.
In 1973, O.J. Simpson rushed for 2,003 yards. In 1974, Simpson only rushed for 1,125.
And as we enter the 2010 season, Johnson is looking to replicate his 2,006 yard rushing performance. Unfortunately, Johnson will experience no such luck. Fantasy owners are bound to be disappointed with Johnson this year.
Denver Will Win the AFC West
And Tim Tebow will lead them there.
Watch and enjoy.
Eli Manning Will Have His Best Season As A New York Giant
Although the New York Giants' 2009 season ended in heartbreak, Eli Manning had a career year. He established career highs with 4,021 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, a 62.3 completion percentage rating, and a passer rating of 93.
And in 2010, Giants fans should expect another MVP type season from Manning.
Second year wide receiver, 6"6' Ramses Barden will be a major factor in the Giants' offense, and will become a threat in the red zone.
Hakeem Nicks is only improving. With the Giants receiving corps coming into their own last year, expect career years from not only them, but from the offensive leader of the team, Eli Manning.
Frank Gore Will Rush For Over 1,800 yards
Since signing a contract extension through 2011, worth $28 million dollars over four years, Gore has not rushed for more than 1,120 yards in a season.
But at the end of 2008, Gore became the first running back in San Francisco 49ers history to rush for 1,000 yards or more in three straight seasons.
Gore had a career high 10 touchdowns last season. And with the addition of rookie offensive lineman Anthony Davis and Mike Lupati, expect more production out of Gore this year.
Along with Michael Crabtree's playmaking ability and offensive threat Vernon Davis, defenses won't be able to "stack" the box against Gore, opening up more space for him to run.
Even with Alex Smith at quarterback, (well, maybe David Carr), Gore will overcome the 49ers decent quarterback play. He'll have a year to remember.
Green Bay Will Win The NFC North
2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson is returning.
And following an 11-5 season, which ended in a wild 51-45 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in the wild card round of the playoffs, the Packers will win at least 12 games this year.
This will lead to a division title.
This past season, Aaron Rodgers made history by becoming the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in each of his first two years as a starter.
After throwing 30 touchdowns this past season, Rodgers will set a career high with over 4,500 yards. He'll lead all quarterbacks in passing yards by season's end.
The Packers inability to play defense cost them the Lombardi Trophy. They had the offense to become Super Bowl champions.
They added depth to their offensive line, drafting Bryan Beluga to protect Rodgers, who was sacked a league-high 51 times.
The Packers have realized offense wins regular season games, while defense wins championships.
If the Packers ever learn to play defense, they might be able to call themselves Super Bowl champions in the near future. Maybe even in 2010.
Houston Will Win The AFC South
For the first time since their inaugural season (2002), the Texans will make the playoffs, en route to winning their first division crown.
Last season, the Texans finished the year with a 9-7 record, tying both AFC wild card winners, the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens.
But the Jets and Ravens made the playoffs, due to their regular season tie-breakers.
But 2009 was not a loss for the Texans. Quarterback Matt Schaub had a record breaking year.
Schaub led all quarterbacks by throwing for 4,770 passing yards, the sixth most in a single season. He set a career high season passer rating of 98.6, while Andre Johnson had another extraordinary season with 1,569 receiving yards and 101 receptions.
The Texans play in 2009 earned head coach Gary Kubiak a contract extension through the 2012 season.
Houston almost made the playoffs last season.
Texans fans can expect a major turnaround this upcoming winter, and a deep playoff run into late January.
Indianapolis Will Not Make The Playoffs
Coming off their seventh consecutive season winning at least 12 games, the Indianapolis Colts will fail to make the playoffs in 2010.
During 2009, the Colts won their 22nd consecutive regular season game, setting a new NFL record for consecutive regular season wins. But the Colts wouldn't head quietly into the playoffs.
Suffering their first loss of the season to the New York Jets, head coach Jim Caldwell decided to rest his starters after the team took the lead, instead of playing for a chance at 16–0.
We all know the Colts advanced to Super Bowl XLIV, and we all know how the game ended for Peyton Manning.
Since 2003, Manning has thrown for over 4,000 yards, all but one-time, and has earned four NFL MVP awards.
But coming off a 4,500 passing yard season, and a 33 touchdown performance, Manning's downfall begins at the start of 2010.
Caldwell experienced nothing but success during the regular season, all the way until a loss in the Super Bowl. But this year, he'll learn what it's like to fail as a head coach in the NFL.
Jared Allen Will Be Named The 2010 Defensive Player Of The Year
Since 2007, Jared Allen has been selected to three consecutive Pro-Bowls, and has been named to three consecutive First-team NFL All-pro teams.
In 2008, Allen recorded 54 tackles, including 14.5 sacks with 3 forced fumbles.
He followed up his '08 season, with another spectacular season in 2009, recording 14.5 sacks.
Allen set a career high with 4.5 sacks in one game against the Green Bay Packers. He also returned a fumble 52 yards, for the first defensive touchdown of his career, against the St. Louis Rams.
Allen is arguably the best defensive lineman in the NFL. He'll prove that he is the best, when he adds some hardware to his trophy case.
Kurt Warner Will Be Missed In The Desert
Led by Kurt Warner, the Arizona Cardinals have been a staple in the NFC playoffs the past couple of seasons.
In 2008, the Cardinals won the NFC West division title, en route to advancing to their first Super Bowl in franchise history, but lost in Super Bowl XLIII to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The following season, Arizona captured another NFC West division title, and found themselves back in the playoffs.
They would defeat the Green Bay Packers 51-45 in overtime in the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history, but in the NFC divisional round lost to the Super Bowl champions, New Orleans Saints.
Warner then announced his retirement owning the three highest single-game passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history, having one Super Bowl championship (XXXIV), being named Super Bowl XXXIV MVP, and being a two-time NFL league MVP.
But to start the 2010 season, a new era in Cardinals football will begin. Either Matt Leinart or Derek Anderson will be behind center, and that does not bode well for the Cardinals franchise.
In 2007 Leinart suffered a fractured left collarbone which placed him on injured reserve, and has been Warner's backup since his time in the NFL.
Anderson had a career year in 2007 throwing for 3,787 yards, 29 touchdowns along with 19 interceptions, but has struggled since, and signed with the Cardinals via free agency during this off-season.
Fantasy owners should be wary when selecting Larry Fitzgerald this season in this year's fantasy draft. He doesn't have a future Hall of Famer throwing to him, and his numbers will suffer significantly.
Since 2007, Fitzgerald has a total of 35 receiving touchdowns, and has compiled at least 1,000 yards receiving in each of those seasons.
But not this year.
Neither quarterback is capable of putting up Warner-like numbers, and Fitzgerald will not have more than seven touchdown receptions and 600 receiving yards.
The Cardinals will be spending the playoffs watching from home.
London Fletcher Will Lead The NFL In tackles
Currently serving as the defensive captain for the Washington Redskin, London Fletcher was selected to his first Pro Bowl, and finished the 2009 season ranked second in the NFL in tackles (142).
He trailed only trailing Patrick Willis, who finished with 152 tackles on the year.
This past off-season, the Redskins got their quarterback.
I think we all know who he was. But besides the quarterback position, the lack of offensive weapons will prove costly for the 'Skins.
Therefore, new head coach Mike Shanahan, and new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, will turn to defense to win some football games.
Since joining the Skins in 2007, Fletcher's defensive production has only improved, recording an increase in tackles each of his three seasons. This year, they're going to need Fletcher more than ever.
Cornerback Fred Smoot was released in the off-season, and the Redskins head into mini-camp with questions surrounding their $100 million dollar man Albert Haynesworth and his lack of dedication to the team.
Leaving the nation's capital to wait and wonder, what's in store for the 2010 Redskins.
Mike Smith Will Be Named The 2010 Coach Of The Year
In his first season as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Mike Smith took a rookie quarterback (Matt Ryan), free agent running back Michael Turner, and a no-name defense and turned them into a playoff contender.
Managing an 11-5 season in 2008, earning a wild card playoff berth, along with coach of the year honors for Smith, the Falcons did not experience the same success in 2009, due to numerous devastating injuries to defensive players and to stars Turner and Ryan.
Although the Falcons ended the year with a 9-7 record, (the first time in the team's history achieving back-to-back winning seasons) they failed to make the playoffs.
Everyone should expect a bounce-back season from the Falcons in 2010. Because with a healthy Ryan and Turner, the Falcons will not only make the playoffs, but will win the NFC South division.
Ndamukong Suh Will Be Named The 2010 Defensive Rookie Of The Year
Drafted as the number two overall pick in the 2010 draft, the Detroit Lions are bringing in Ndamukong Suh to be a force on a defense that ranked 32nd in the league last year.
Detroit gave up 30.9 points per game, 392.1 total yards per game, and 4.4 yards per carry.
The Lions can ill-afford to have the Outland Trophy winner and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Suh, on the sidelines due to any injury, as they will be relying on him to make an immediate impact.
Suh is seen as an ideal fit at either defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense or as a defensive end in a 3-4 NFL defense.
Suh was the first defensive player voted the AP College Football Player of the Year, and according to Mel Kiper Jr., is considered the most dominating defensive tackle in the last thirty years.
Once he steps onto the gridiron, he'll prove how dominant he really is.
Offensive Rookie Of The Year: Dez Bryant
Who were you going to pick?
The first overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft Sam Bradford. That'd be foolish. Bradford will not be the starting quarterback in St. Louis by the end of the year.
How about the ninth overall pick and former 2009 ACC Player of the Year, C.J. Spiller?
Heading into the season, Spiller will be competing with Fred Jackson for the starting role, and let me remind you, Jackson is coming off a season where he became the first player in NFL history with 1000-plus rushing yards and kickoff return yards (1,014) in the same season.
And maybe you'd select Ryan Mathews?
Mathews was drafted to be the number one back in San Diego, but with the San Diego Chargers having a prolific passing offense, Mathews will not be called upon enough to make a impact.
That's leaves Dez Bryant.
He was drafted to replace Roy Williams, who has underperformed since being acquired from the Detroit Lions for a herd of draft picks.
Bryant was the best wide receiver in the draft, and has a rare blend of size, speed, strength and quickness. Bryant was brought into Dallas to become a playmaker, and will certainly show his ability during this season earning him Rookie of the Year honors.
Pittsburgh Steelers Will Earn An AFC Wild Card Berth
Although starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be suspended for the first four to six games of the season without pay due to violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy, the 2008 Super Bowl champions will find themselves back in the playoffs when the season ends.
Byron Leftwich, who was acquired via a trade to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a 2010 seventh-round draft pick, will be competing in mini-camp with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch for the starting quarterback job.
Leftwich will get the nod.
The Steelers will be returning four 2009 Pro-Bowlers: tight end Heath Miller, nose tackle Casey Hampton and linebackers 2008 Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.
But besides relying on their veteran defenders, the Steelers will depend heavily on starting running back, Rashard Mendenhall.
Mendenhall, who was placed on injured reserved in 2008 and finished his rookie season with 58 rushing yards on 19 carries, replaced an injured Willie Parker in week 4 of 2009, and has been the starter since.
Mendenhall finished the season with 1,109 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.
The Steel City is expecting a return to the playoffs, and that is exactly what they're going to get. The Steelers won't win their division, but they'll sneak into the playoffs by earning a wild card berth.
Question: Who Will Win The AFC East?
The Patriots have won all but one division championship since 2003 (Miami Dolphins-2008), but their reign as AFC East kings will soon be coming to an end.
Although the New York Jets season did not end with a Super Bowl championship, 2009 was a magical year for the Jets.
During the off-season, the Jets traded for cornerback Antonio Cromartie and drafted cornerback Kyle Wilson to join Pro-Bowler Darelle Revis, forming the best cornerback tandem in the league
The Jets also acquired via trade wide receiver Santonio Holmes from Pittsburgh and signed former league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, and linebacker Jason Taylor.
Jets fans thought 2009 was great.
2010 is going to be even better.
Randy Moss Will Lead All Wide Receivers In touchdowns
Let me remind you that I previously stated the New England Patriots will not win the AFC East, but that doesn't mean Randy Moss will have a disappointing season.
Moss finished 2009 with 83 receptions for 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl as a replacement for injured teammate Wes Welker.
In 2007, when the Patriots accomplished the perfect 16-0 regular season (we all know what happened in the Super Bowl), Brady and Moss connected for 23 touchdowns, en route to a record-setting season for Brady, throwing for 50 touchdown passes.
Moss might not break his career high of 23 touchdowns in 2010, but he's going to come very close.
Super Bowl XLV Prediction: Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers
For the first time since their Super Bowl XXXV victory over the New York Giants, the Baltimore Ravens will hoist the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl champions.
Super Bowl XLV MVP: Anquan Boldin
Tony Romo Will Have The Greatest Season Of His Career
Last season, Tony Romo finished third in the NFL in passing yards by throwing for 4,483 yards (a single season passing record) and 26 touchdowns, setting multiple team records along the way.
Romo became the first Cowboys quarterback to throw 20 or more touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions in a season. His eight 300-yard games were also a team record, surpassing his own record from 2007.
During the course of the season, Miles Austin became Romo's favorite target, as Austin finished the season leading the NFC with 1,320 receiving yards, and was tied for first in the NFC with 11 receiving touchdowns - only starting 11 games this season.
Now that Austin will be starting in week one, and with the addition of Dez Bryant, expect a career year from Romo en route to an NFC East division title.
Cowboy fans certainly are. You should too.
Umenyiora Will Lead The New York Giants In Sacks
After missing all of the 2008 season due to a torn lateral meniscus which required season-ending surgery, Osi Umenyiora was a disappointment during last season recording only seven sacks.
You can blame former defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, or Umenyiora's inability to return after knee surgery for his lack of production, but for whatever reason, Umenyiora did not produce.
2010 is a new year for Umenyiora, and along with new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, Giants fan will be treated to the 2007 version of Osi.
2007 season: Five forced fumbles, 52 tackles and 13 sacks, earning himself a trip to the Pro Bowl.
During the off-season, sources were indicating that Umenyiora was going to be traded after the Giants selected defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul with the 15th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft.
But Umenyiora is still a Giant, and he should be. Along with Justin Tuck, Umenyiora is the anchor of the defensive line, and the Giants need production from both of them in order to succeed. And if the Giants don't get that, it's going to be a long season.
As a Giants fan, I sure hope that's not the case.
Vince Young Will Finish Top Five In Passing Yards And Touchdown Passes
Head coach Jeff Fisher declared Kerry Collins the Tennessee Titans' starting quarterback for the 2009 season, but after the Titans had a disappointing 0–6 start, Vince Young replaced Collins as the starter.
Young won eight of his ten starts and the Titans became the first team in NFL history to win five straight after losing their first six games.
Young proved last year, he could be a winning quarterback in the league.
Watch as he does it again this year too.
Willis McGahee Will Be The Featured Back In Baltimore This Season
Only three seasons ago, Willis McGahee ran for 1,207 on 294 carries, and scored seven touchdowns for the Baltimore Ravens.
Injuries and the addition of Ray Rice has decreased McGahee's role in Baltimore, and since '07, McGahee has not rushed for more than 671 yards.
McGahee appears to be entering the 2010 season 100 percent healthy.
Although many of you might not believe McGahee can rush for over 1,200 yards this season, I am one of those who not only think he can, but he certainly will.
X-factor For The Miami Dolphins: Brandon Marshall's Behavior
During the '09 season, Brandon Marshall became only the fifth player in NFL history (first Denver Broncos player) to have three consecutive 100 catch seasons, en route to being named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl.
Marshall ended the season tied for third among wide receivers in catches (101), tied for seventh in receiving touchdowns (10), seventh in yards after the catch (527) and fifth in number of times targeted (154).
However, Marshall was benched for the Broncos final regular season game by head coach Josh McDaniels for failing to arrive at a physical therapy session on time.
Fed up by Marshall's off-the-field antics, he was traded to the Miami Dolphins during the off-season.
Marshall was brought to Miami to lead the Dolphins back to the playoffs, and if the elite wide receiver we know of shows up in South Beach this winter, the Dolphins will be a very dangerous team come playoff time.
Year Of the Rookie Quarterback
Sam Bradford will struggle in St. Louis.
Can you expect anything else?
Jimmy Clausen will be named the starting quarterback in Carolina.
Matt Moore or Clausen - Is that really a question?
Colt McCoy will be the starting quarterback in Cleveland by week 6?
He gives the Browns the best opportunity to win.
See: Denver Broncos
Zygi Wilf Will Regret Bringing Brett Favre Back For The 2010 Season
At 41 years old, it's time for Brett Favre to call it a career.
Favre and the Minnesota Vikings season ended in an overtime loss in the NFC championship game, and that should've been the last game of his career.
But, Favre will be returning for the twentieth season of his illustrious career.
Yes, I think Favre will be returning for one more season. Do you think otherwise?
He's coming off one of his greatest statistical seasons, throwing for 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 16 regular season games.
Last week, Favre underwent arthroscopic left ankle surgery on his left ankle, in order to be ready for this season.
Until Favre arrives in Viking mini-camp, many of you will be waiting in anticipation and wondering if Favre will be playing.
Do yourself a favor, don't waste your time.
He's coming back. Favre knows that already, and you should too.
But this season, his return won't be so gracious, as the 2010 season might be Favre's last.
For his sake, let's hope it is, because it's certainly about time.