Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NFL Off-Season Preview: AFC West Edition

With the NFL Scouting Combine under way and free agency getting close, NFL talk is heating up again. That brings us to Part 3 of our NFL Off-Season Preview. It is time to look at the AFC Tebow. Oh I'm sorry, I mean the AFC West. This division was a big pile of meh last year. The Broncos backed into the division title with an 8-8 record. Two teams fired their head coach while the Chargers retained Norv Turner to the dismay of their fan base. With the emergence of the 49ers in the NFC West, one could argue that this may be the worst division in the NFL. I think the AFC South may be a little worse, but if we are going to argue about that, why would you even continue reading? So lets get to the Preview!

Denver Broncos
2011 Record: 8-8

The Denver Broncos were the talk of the NFL last year. No, it wasn't because of their team play. It was because of one man: Tim Tebow. Tebowmania took over the NFL last year to the point where it became almost impossible to watch any kind of ESPN or NFL Network show without getting sick of hearing Tebow's name. Tebow isn't the traditional type of QB the NFL is used to, but he always found ways to get the Broncos a win. Tebow lead the Steelers to an upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card Playoff Round before being dismantled by the Patriots the next week. The Broncos need to get some pieces on offense to help Tebow. Their defense was decent all year with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervill getting to the QB on a regular basis, but it was torched in both meetings by the Patriots and need to get better in some spots, especially the secondary.

Biggest Question: Can Tebowmania Continue in 2012?
When Tim Tebow took over the starting QB reigns in Week 7 for the Broncos, most people thought it was a prelude to the Broncos tanking and getting in line for Andrew Luck. But to pretty much everyone's surprise, Tebow continued to find ways to win and get the Broncos back in the Playoff hunt. Before losing their final three games of the season, the Broncos won seven out of eight with Tebow under center. His mechanics still need some work. He has a long throwing motion and his accuracy and arm strength are below average at best. Tebow is already working on that this off-season. John Elway says Tebow has earned the right to be the starter heading into training camp, but that the team also needs to bring in a QB or two to compete with Tebow. I still don't think Tebow is the long term answer for the Broncos at QB. When teams figure him out, like they started to at the end of last year, he can't work his magic. Despite Tebow's success, you'd have to figure he will be on a short leash to start the year. If teams get to Tebow early and shut him down, the Broncos offense becomes almost non-existent.

Top 3 Free Agents
1. Matt Prater: Kicker
Just like the Jaguars and Broncos, teams that don't get to the end zone often need to have a reliable kicker that can convert from deep. While Prater was only 19 of 25 this year, he was clutch from deep, going 3 for 4 including hitting a 59 yard field goal to tie the game against Chicago. Prater knows how to kick in the Mile High air and is a valuable asset to the Broncos.

2. Brodrick Bunkley: Defensive Tackle
Bunkley isn't great at getting to the QB, but he is a decent run stuffer up the middle and makes it tough for teams to run on the Broncos inside because of that.

3. Joe Mays: Linebacker
Mays is a decent inside linebacker and was third on the team in tackles. But Mays can't get to the QB either and could be replaced and the loss wouldn't be too noticeable.

Top 3 Needs
1. Cornerback
Champ Bailey is still getting the job done, but he isn't getting any younger. Andre Goodman struggled mightily last year. Both men were burned last year by the Patriots. The Broncos need an upgrade at this position and a healthy dose of young talent from the Draft may help.

2. Offensive Line
Tebow scrambled around a fair amount last year and was sacked 33 times in 11 starts. If Tebow wants to improve as a QB, he will need help from his offensive line. Tebow will need some better protection on his blind side.

3. Wide Receiver
As I said earlier, if Tebow is going to improve he is going to need some more weapons around him. While Demaryius Thomas stepped up last year, Tebow will need more than one WR to throw to and get open.

I really think the Broncos were just a flash in the pan team last year. No one saw Tebow coming, but now that team's can prepare for him they will have a better game plan going into games. The Broncos pass rush will still get to the QB, but they will need to improve their secondary. But this division is in flux right now with no real clear cut favorite in it. If the Broncos get Tebow some better weapons and he improves his mechanics than the Broncos could be right there in the division hunt next year. But I don't know if Tebow can repeat the success he had last year. I expect a slight drop off for the Broncos this year as the Broncos organization and fans start to question whether Tebow can be the QB of the future.

San Diego Chargers
2011 Record: 8-8

The Chargers season can pretty much be broken down into three seasons. Heading into the bye week they were 4-1. It looked like the Chargers were going to avoid their typical slow start under Norv Turner. After the bye week they lost six games in a row. Philip Rivers looked off and the defense had problems stopping people. The Chargers then closed the season out going 4-1 but just missed the Playoffs. Most people thought that it was finally the end of the line for Norv Turner, but they were wrong. Turner was retained because the Chargers felt they couldn't get an upgrade at the coaching position. The Chargers still have a lot of good pieces on their team but they also have some key free agents that may not return. That could change the complexion of the Chargers, but I still think they have the most talent in the division.

Biggest Question: Was the Chargers Mid-Season Collapse A Sign of Things to Come?
Despite finally coming alive in the final five games of the season, the Charges six game losing streak in the middle of the year has to be a bit concerning. Norv Turner has always been a question mark as a coach, making questionable decisions at certain times. You would have to think that Turner is on a short leash this year. If the Chargers get out to a slow start again, will Turner get the axe? A lot of the problems for the Chargers was their inability to stay healthy. Antonio Gates is constantly hurt. Ryan Matthews has yet to play a full season. The Chargers need to stay healthy for a full season. But even if they do, can they continue to play well with the possibility of losing two very good pieces on offense?

Top 3 Free Agents
1. Vincent Jackson: Wide Receiver
Jackson is a big downfield target and has breakaway speed too. The Chargers are unlikely to use the franchise tag on him and it is likely that he will leave via free agency. The Chargers will miss Jackson's breakaway speed and it could cause their offense to take a step back.

2. Nick Hardwick: Center
Hardwick is one of the best centers in the game and is the anchor of the team's offensive line. Hardwick is only 30 years old, but he already talked about contemplating retirement this off-season. It may be a sign that his heart isn't all into the game anymore.

3. Mike Tolbert: Running Back
Tolbert and Ryan Matthews made a great one-two punch in the backfield for San Diego. Tolbert was a great goal line back for San Diego, accounting for 8 touchdowns. Ryan Matthews has yet to stay healthy for a season, so losing a good back like Tolbert will be difficult for the Chargers to swallow.

Top 3 Needs
1. Linebacker
The Chargers struggled to get to the quarterback last year. Outside of Antwan Barnes, nobody on the team had more than four sacks. That caused the Chargers secondary to get burned repeatedly. The Chargers need to get to the QB if they don't want to get into shootouts all year.

2. Cornerback
Despite the poor pass rushing not helping things, the Chargers secondary still needs some improvements this off-season. Quentin Jammer is getting old and has lost a step in his game.

3. Offensive Line
With Nick Hardwick contemplating retirement as well as Guard Kris Dielman, the Chargers might have some holes to fill on the offensive line. LT Marcus McNeill also has problems staying healthy. Philip Rivers needs to be protected.

If the Chargers can't get some help in free agency, then they may struggle again this year. If they re-sign some key pieces on the offensive line and Mike Tolbert then this team may still be the best in the AFC West. But no matter what, the Chargers need to improve their defense if they want to be competitive this year. If they don't do that then they will constantly be in shootouts, and that will not work if they lose Jackson and Tolbert this off-season.

Oakland Raiders
2011 Record: 8-8

The Raiders had a very tumultuous year last year. They lost their legendary owner Al Davis towards the start of the year. After that, the Raiders won at Houston and things looked to be heading up. But the team lost QB Jason Campbell and traded for Carson Palmer. The Raiders looked on the verge of a potential Playoff birth, but they let that slip away by losing four of their last five games. Many people questioned Hue Jackson's decision making and his want for more of a role in the team's personnel decisions. That lead to Jackson's firing this off-season. Now the team has a new GM, Reggie McKenzie, and a new coach, former Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. The team will have a new philosophy and will be switching to a 3-4 defensive look, but the Raiders have no Draft picks in the first two rounds this year and will struggle to get new talent because of it.

Biggest Question: Can the Raiders Get Through The Season With No Off-Field Distractions?
It almost seems like every year their is some kind of distraction that the Raiders have to deal with off the field. This past year the team had to deal with Hue Jackson getting a hot head and wanting more power in the team's decision making process. At the start of the 2009 season, the team had to deal with allegations that Tom Cable shoved a former coaching assistant and fractured his jaw. While Al Davis was one of the most legendary owners in the NFL, he always did something during the year that drew attention off the field. With a new GM and Coach, maybe the Raiders will finally be able to focus on the field this year with no distractions off it. There is a lot of talent on this team, especially on offense. The team can easily win the AFC West if they put everything together this year.

Top 3 Free Agents
1. Michael Bush: Running Back
Bush filled in very nicely this year for the injured Darren McFadden. Bush ran for just under a thousand yards and scored seven touchdowns. Bush will attract a lot of attention from teams in need of a number one running back. Bush would make a great one-two punch with McFadden and would give the Raiders a dynamic running attack, one that could run for 150 total yards every game.

2. Tyvon Branch: Safety
Branch is one of the better safeties in the NFL. He lead the Raiders with 109 tackles and is a good coverage safety. With the team already transitioning to a 3-4 defense, it can't let one of the stable parts of their defense leave. Losing Branch would create a big hole in the Raiders secondary.

3. Marcel Reece: Fullback
If the Raiders don't re-sign Michale Bush, they better re-sign Marcel Reece. Reece is one of the best fullbacks in the league. He can create holes for McFadden and Bush, and he can also catch passes out of the backfield if necessary. A good fullback can be a great asset to any offense.

Top 3 Needs
1. Nose Tackle
The Raiders don't have a true nose tackle on their team for a switch to a 3-4 defense to work. There are plenty of options available in the Draft and Free Agency.

2. Cornerback
The Raiders already let go Stanford Routt this off-season, and he signed with the Chiefs. Lito Sheppard is also a free agent, and Chris Johnson probably won't be back. The Raiders will need at least one, probably two cornerbacks if they want to have a good secondary this year.

3. Outside Linebacker
Kameron Wimbley can play one outside linebacker spot in the 3-4, but they don't have anyone to play opposite of him. Having two good outside linebackers is very important to the success in a 3-4 defense.

The Raiders have a lot of talent on this team, they just need to find someone to put all the pieces together. The offense has a lot of talent and potentially two good running backs and a good young core of wide receivers. The transition to the 3-4 defense will be key here. If the Raiders struggle with it, then it could be a long season full of shootouts. If they are good, then the Raiders could be the favorites to win the division. If the talent holes are filled on defense with adequate 3-4 personnel, then the Raiders may be the favorites to win the AFC West.

Kansas City Chiefs
2011 Record: 7-9

The Chiefs went through a string of bad luck last year. They lost Safety Eric Berry in the first game for the rest of the season. Then Jamaal Charles went down in the next game with a torn ACL. They then lost Matt Cassel for the year to a broken finger. Todd Haley was fired after the team's Week 14 loss to the Jets and was replaced by Romeo Crennel. In his first game on the job, Crennel lead the Chiefs to a 19-14 victory over the then undefeated Green Bay Packers. In the season finale, Crennel's team held Tim Tebow and the Broncos to only 3 points. The players like Crennel, and that was enough to keep Crennel on the job as head coach. The Chiefs were a division winner in 2010, and they still have some of the same pieces they had from that run. A healthy Chiefs team is full of a lot of talent, and can easily win a wide open AFC West.

Biggest Question: Is Matt Cassel Still the Answer In Kansas City?
Cassel came to Kansas City with a lot of hype after his showing in New England in 2008. He struggled in 2009, but came alive in 2010 with 27 TDs and only 7 interceptions. Last year Cassel struggled, only throwing 10 TDs and 9 interceptions in his nine starts. Cassel has yet to live up to the hype of his 2008 season with New England where he lead the team to an 11-5 record and just missing out on a Playoff berth. A lot of that had to do with what Josh McDaniels did with Cassel. The team brought in Kyle Orton last year after he went down. He played ok, but still couldn't get the team over the hump. The Chiefs may be interested in Peyton Manning. The Chiefs have a good running back in Jamaal Charles and a stud WR in Dwayne Bowe, if he re-signs there. Manning could be intrigued playing in Kansas City. The Chiefs did it once with Joe Montana, why not try it with Manning. If not, this may be Cassel's last chance to succeed as Chiefs quarterback this year.

Top 3 Free Agents
1. Dwayne Bowe: Wide Receiver
Bowe is a great wide receiver, and he would be even better with a just as good complimentary wide out. Could you imagine Manning, Charles, Bowe and Reggie Wane in one offense. Bowe has some work ethic issues at times, including his short hands he had in that missed catch against Pittsburgh. Someone will pay Bowe a lot of money to be there stud WR. He has great size and is a true #1 WR.

2. Brandon Carr: Cornerback
Carr is a very good cornerback. He has great ball-hawking skills and team's refuse to throw the ball his play when playing the Chiefs, which is why some of his stats are so low. He will get #1 CB money on the market. I think the Chiefs will only keep one of Bowe and Carr, not both.

3. Jovan Belcher: Linebacker
Belcher played quite well at the inside linebacker spot for the Chiefs next year. He's a good run stuffer and is still young and is only capable of improving even more. He's a good, young player that the Chiefs shouldn't lose.

Top 3 Needs
1. Offensive Line
Barry Richardson was not very good at right tackle last year. Also, Casey Wiegmann is 39 and is close to retiring this off-season. The Chiefs would like to land one of the top two tackles at the 11 pick, but they will probably be gone by then.

2. Nose Tackle
Kelly Gregg is 36 years old and declining in skills. Just like with the Raiders, there are plenty of options available at this position in free agency.

3. Running Back
While Jamaal Charles is expected to be healthy at the start of the season, running backs are often a bit different when they come back from a torn ACL. The Chiefs might try to Draft Trent Richardson or sign a high end back-up for Charles in free agency.

The Chiefs were very good in 2010, but injuries and bad play slowed them down in 2011. But if the team can return to healthy form in 2012, they may get right back to their division winning ways. The players like Romeo Crennel and you know they will play their hardest for him. If Matt Cassel improves his play, and the Chiefs keep Dwayne Bowe in the fold, they may be the best team in this division.

And there you have it. Next Preview will probably be out this weekend. It will be the NFC West.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

Monday, February 27, 2012

The RAW Truth Review for 2/27/12

Some guy named The Rock tonight is appearing to call out John Cena. Wonder if it will be any good.

More Jericho/Punk Promos Please
After recapping Cena's promo last week we find out we are getting a Champion vs Champion re-match. After Punk came out, Chris Jericho interrupted. Jericho asked Punk if he was expecting someone else. Jericho said what he had to say was more important than his match. Jericho said Punk is a good performer but not as good as him. Jericho said Punk isn't the best in the world. Other people would say it for him. He didn't have to write in on a shirt. Jericho said he was part of a different breed. A breed that worked their way up from different parts around the world. A breed that didn't care about backstage politics. And while that got him a bad reputation he didn't care, because he knew he was the best. Jericho said Punk is just like him, a rebel who stood against the grain. Just like Jericho. Punk is a Jericho wannabe.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why The Rock's Response Is Important This Monday

This past Monday on RAW, something incredible happened. John Cena was on my TV, and I didn't want to turn it off. When Cena came out for the second time this past Monday, I was dreading the potential poopy jokes about Rock and the twelve year old jokes that were about to ensue. We've seen so much of that from John Cena in recent years that it is tough not to expect that. If you are a grown adult or lifelong wrestling fan, you normally get that dreaded feeling whenever Cena's music hit.

But to my amazement, Cena didn't bring any of that. He was dead serious with the mic. He went from calling Eve a hoeski to calling out The Rock. It is something I hadn't seen from Cena in years. Cena cut the crap. He didn't beat around the bush. He didn't call Rock a poo-head. He ended the ridiculousness of the Zack Ryder/Eve storyline and went right to business in selling his Wrestlemania match with The Rock. If you weren't excited for these two to tear each other apart on the mic, you are probably ready now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

NFL Off-Season Preview: NFC South Edition

Same division, different conference. It is time for Preview 2 of 8 in my off-season NFL look.

Today we look at the NFC South. This division may be one of the more competitive divisions in football this year. The Saints and the Falcons have been the top dogs in the division for years, but the Panthers may be knocking on the door. Cam Newton showed why he was the #1 overall pick last year, making big plays with his arm and legs. If the Panthers defense can get healthy, they may have a shot at competing for a Playoff spot this year. There were times two years ago that the Buccaneers looked like a young team on the rise, but they took an unexpected nose dive last year and fired Coach Raheem Morris and appear poised for a fresh start with new coach Greg Schiano.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The RAW Truth Review for 2/20/12

Another week brings another LIVE RAW review. Already confirmed is The Undertaker calling out Triple H. Expect the full Wrestlemania hype to begin this week as well with new feuds beginning.

After recapping last week's RAW happenings, they cut to Eve and the Bellas talking. The Bellas asked if Eve was upset over what happened to Zack Ryder last week. Eve laughed, and said that her and Ryder were just friends. Zack never even got to first base! Eve said she used Zack Ryder, and now she has the big fish on her hook. That's John Cena. She asked the Bellas to film her going into Cena's locker room. She turned around and Cena was right there. He shook his head and walked off.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

WWE Elimination Chamber Review

Hello everyone. I will be doing live updates on tonight's WWE Elimination Chamber PPV. Be sure to refresh for updates!

After a nice hype video for the Chamber itself, we are told that the WWE Title Match will start the show. Interesting. Could Cena/Kane end the show? Or will Santino actually main event a PPV???

RAW Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship: Chris Jericho vs The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler vs R-Truth vs Kofi Kingston vs C.M. Punk (c)

Kofi and Punk started the match. Kofi locked in a head lock. They went back and forth on the ropes and then Kofi jumped over the top rope. The two then exchanged some near fall attempts. Kofi hit a high elbow on Punk. Kofi went for the Boom Drop but Punk caught him with a kick. Kofi countered a suplex attempt and dropped Punk on his knee. Punk countered a catapult attempt and catapulted Kofi into the BULLET PROOF LEXON GLASS. Punk then suplexed Kofi on the Chamber floor. Punk worked over Kofi in the ring. Time for another entrant and it was Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler grinded Punk's face against the steel. Ziggler did some crunches on the Chamber wall then hit a leg drop on Punk. Ziggler hit a splash on Kofi in the corner, but missed one on Punk. Kofi and Punk hit clotheslines and bodyslams on Dolph. Both men went for springboards on Dolph, but he ducked and they collided into each other. Nice spot.

NFL Off-Season Preview: AFC South Edition

The NFL season may be over, but the off-season is just getting started!

Starting with this Preview, I will be doing previews of each division this off-season. Expect me to pump out one of these a week. Depending on time I may be able to do two. I love writing about the NFL and I didn't want to stop during the off-season.

Our first preview takes a look at the AFC South. The tide finally turned in the division last year, with the Texans winning their first division title while the Colts, who were mainstays at the top, finished with a 2-14 record and earned the 1st pick in this year's Draft. But of course, the biggest question surrounding the Colts is the future of Peyton Manning. Is Manning healthy? Will he still be a Colt at the start of the year? No one really knows. Then there are the Titans and Jaguars. The Titans improved towards the end of the year but just fell short of the Playoffs and now face a QB controversy heading into the season. The Jaguars, meanwhile, hired Mike Mularkey to be their new coach and try to fix QB Blaine Gabbert.

I will be doing a team by team preview, with each team's pending big free agents as well as their biggest needs and questions facing them.

Houston Texans
2011 Record: 10-6

Many people thought the Texans would make a big step toward the Playoffs last year, and they did. The Texans won their first Division Title and made the Playoffs for the first time in Franchise history. They did all of that without their star pass rusher Mario Williams. They also lost WR Andre Johnson for most of the season to a hamstring injury and lost QB Matt Schaub for the year with a foot injury. The Texans jumped out to enough of a lead in the AFC South to clinch the division with two weeks to go. They easily handled the Bengals in the Divisional Round and held their own against the Ravens. If Matt Schaub had been in that game, the Texans might have won. T.J. Yates performed adequately in relief of Schaub, but there is no doubt this is Schaub's team. The Texans may experience a slight drop off this coming season, but I would still peg them as the favorites in the AFC South for the time being.

Biggest Question: Will Cap Issues Cause A Big Departure?
The Texans have a lot of free agents and not enough cap room to re-sign all of them. That could lead to a few tricky situations for the Texans. RB Arian Foster is a restricted free agent and the Texans will undoubtedly franchise tag him and ask for the max back if another team signs him to an offer sheet. If another team signs Foster, they will have to surrender a 1st round draft pick. While Ben Tate filled in nicely when Foster went down, he isn't the type of back Foster is.

The bigger issue facing the Texans will be whether or not they can keep DE/OLB Mario Williams. Williams missed most of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Teams will be throwing a ton of money at Williams. And as he showed in his brief time this season, Williams can play OLB in a 3-4 scheme or could easily transition back to DE in a 4-3 scheme. If you ask me, Williams is the crown jewel of the free agent market. That includes if Peyton Manning becomes available. Williams is a game changing pass rusher that makes any defensive front intimidating.

The Texans would like to re-sign two of their interior lineman: Chris Myers and Mike Brisiel. They also have K Neil Rackers to re-sign. It may take a hometown discount to re-sign Williams. He would like to remain a Texan, but of course, that always means at the right price. I see Williams walking to whoever offers him the most money and he feels is close enough to a contender so he can win a Championship. I guess I just listed most of the Texans big free agents so I can skip that part.

Top Needs
1. Wide Receiver
Maybe the Texans finally realize that Andre Johnson is very injury prone. When he went down last year, the team had to rely on Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones to carry the load for the team. When your secondary options can be covered in single coverage, that allows defenses to step up and stop your running game. The Texans could address this in free agency or in the Draft.

2. Nose Tackle
While the Texans defense was strong last year, nose tackle was a weak link of the front seven. Shaun Cody did not provide much of a presence up front for the Texans, only providing 23 tackles and one sack. The Texans would be best to address this position in the Draft. There are plenty of options available in the end of the first round for them to choose from.

3. Interior Lineman
If the Texans are unable to re-sign Myers or Biesiel, then they will need to find replacements for them. The Texans don't have a lot of depth on the offensive line. Wade Smith is also a weak link at LT and the Texans could use an upgrade there.

I think the Texans are still the favorites to win the AFC South next year. If they can find a way to re-sign Mario Williams, then they may be my favorites to win the AFC. The offense is fun to watch and the defense played surprisingly well in their first season in the 3-4 look.

Tennessee Titans
2011 Record: 9-7

The Titans surprised most people with their play this past year. They needed one more win to make the Playoffs, and I'm sure they are kicking themselves for losing to Indianapolis in Week 15. Lots of the Titans early struggles had to do with the slow start of RB Chris Johnson. Johnson held out for most of training camp and was clearly not in game shape come the start of the season. The Titans relied on Matt Hasselbeck at QB for most of the year, but Jake Locker looked ready to be the man in Tennessee at the end of the year. He filled in quite well for Hasselbeck when he went down with an injury. The Titans defense is in need of some changes. They ranked 31st in sacks and 24th in interceptions. They need to address that in the Draft, because they will lose some key defensive pieces in free agency.

Biggest Question: Who Starts at QB Week 1?
Matt Hasselbeck will be 36 at the start of the season and has been injury prone the past few years. While he helped the Titans finish with the record they did, he is also declining in ability and is clearly not the future of the franchise. The Titans drafted Jake Locker in Round One last year. In three real game appearances, Locker threw for 4 touchdowns and looked solid in the pocket. Locker played quite well in relief of Hasselbeck against New Orleans. I'm sure training camp will be used to determine who will be the starter, but I'm pretty sure Jake Locker will be under center for the Titans in Week 1. Locker has more mobility and can make more plays than Hasselbeck will be able to.

Top 3 Free Agents
1. CB Cortland Finnegan
Finnegan is a very good CB but also has a temper and can be a boatload to handle at times. While he is valuable to the Titans, they may not want to deal with his behavioral problems on and off the field. Most people expect him to reunite with his old coach Jeff Fisher in St. Louis.

2. S Michael Griffin
While Griffin finally put together a solid season last year, he still struggled with consistency before this year and there is no guarantee he can repeat the success he had last year. Griffin will probably ask for money based on this year's performance, but the Titans will more than likely not want to give him that kind of money.

3. DT Jason Jones
Jones played well for Coach Jeff Fisher in his defensive scheme, but struggled last year under Mike Munchak's new one. Jones is a wide nine technique, so he would fit well in a place like Philadelphia. He is still young and can still turn into a starting caliber defensive end.

Top Needs
1. Defensive Line
If the Titans want to compete for the AFC South crown they will need to improve their pathetic pass rush. I don't know if they will be players for Mari Williams or Cliff Avril, but they will need an overhaul from somewhere. There are a boatload of pass rushers in this year's Draft and the Titans will try to grab one of them.

2. Cornerback
There will be a big drop off in the secondary if Finnegan leaves. They don't have another corner on their roster capable of replacing his play making ability. A weak secondary and pass rush is a bad combination.

3. Interior Lineman
Eugene Amano is not a very good center, and RG Jake Scott is aging and a free agent. If the team wants Chris Johnson to rebound from an off year, they will need to find interior lineman who can create holes for him. Improving the offensive line will also help Jake Locker under center.

If the Titans can improve their defense, they may be one of those fringe Wild Card candidates again this year. Getting Kenny Britt back will be huge for this team. He was having a monster year before his injury. Chris Johnson should return to the CJ2K of 2010 with a full off-season of preparation. The Titans season will depend on how Jake Locker. If he played like he did for those flashes in 2011, the Titans will be in good shape. How Locker handles the pressure of being a starting NFL QB will determine the Titans season.

Jacksonville Jaguars
2011 Record: 5-11

The Jaguars fired Jack Del Rio just after the midway point of last season. They were looking for an offensive mind to replace him, and they got one with the hiring of Mike Mularkey. Mularkey was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta and had a previous head coaching gig in Buffalo. Being from Buffalo, I can tell you Mularkey got a pretty raw deal here. He got the Bills the closest they have been to the Playoffs in the last decade. Mularkey has a good offensive mind and is a good choice to help mold Blaine Gabbert into a decent NFL QB. The Jaguars are missing a lot of pieces and are not close to contending for a Playoff spot. They have one solid asset, and that is running back Maurice Jones-Drew. He is a workhorse in the backfield.

Biggest Question: Can Blaine Gabbert Turn Into An NFL QB?
The Jaguars drafted Blaine Gabbert to be their franchise QB. They dumped David Garrard before the start of the season and handed the keys over to Gabbert in Week 3. Gabbert never looked comfortable the whole season. Gabbert would look intimidated anytime he saw pressure coming at him. Often times he would thrown off his back foot when faced with a pass rush, something an NFL QB should not do on a regular basis. The problem was that the Jaguars had no one else to turn to. Luke McCown wasn't the answer. He's a free agent this off-season and won't be back. Look for Jacksonville to sign a veteran back-up that will help mentor Gabbert. Mike Mularkey has the task of turning Gabbert around. The first thing he needs to do is get him some better weapons at WR. Gabbert also needs to improve his accuracy in the pocket. Any chance the Jags have this season rests on Gabbert's shoulders.

Top 3 Free Agents
1. Jeremy Mincey: Defensive End
Mincey surprised many people last year with a strong performance. He had eight sacks and 57 tackles, and even forced four fumbles. Mincey was the Jaguars best pass rusher and they need to re-sign him, otherwise they have another need to fill.

2. William Middleton: Cornerback
Middleton played rather well when he stepped in to fill in for the injury-riddled Jaguars secondary. At the age of 26, Middleton is still young and has a lot of potential.

3. Josh Scobee: Kicker
A kicker you say? Scobee was the Jaguars most reliable weapon for points last year. He went 23-for-25 last year and 5-for-6 from 50+ yards. If Gabbert continues to struggle, having a solid kicker will help the Jags put points on the board.

Top Needs
1. Wide Receiver
If Justin Blackmon somehow falls to the Jaguars at the 7th pick they will be sprinting to the podium. It is tough to get free agents to come to Jacksonville. They will more than likely look to add a WR in the 2nd Round and might try to get a veteran free agent or two if possible.

2. Cornerback
Even if the Jaguars re-sign Middleton, they also have Rasheed Mathis who is a free agent. Mathis is 32 and might not want to come back to a young and re-building Jags team.

3. Defensive End
There are a boatload of options for the Jaguars at the #7 pick in the Draft if they want a pass rushing end. The Jaguars need to have more than one pass rusher that can get to the QB and cause some pressure.

The Jaguars are a young, re-building team that doesn't show any signs of being competitive this year. Even if Gabbert does improve, I don't think they have any shot of finishing over .500 barring some big off-season acquisitions. Jacksonville will go through some pains this season and will probably not be too fun to watch. But that shouldn't be a worry for the 50 or so fans they actually have.

Indianapolis Colts
2011 Record: 2-14

We apparently found out this past season that one player can mean that much to a team. When Peyton Manning couldn't go this season, the entire team struggled. The offense had no leader and could not score points. The defense was then put in a bad situation and they suffered as a result. The defense also suffered through a handful of injuries at the linebacker and cornerback position. That resulted in the Colts getting the 1st overall pick in this Year's Draft, and the right to draft QB Andrew Luck. That obviously creates a dilemma with Luck and Manning. Luck isn't the type of prospect that you want sitting for a couple of years. Luck is ready to play now. The Colts also have a new coach in former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. Pagano will bring a new attitude to the Colts, much different than the bland and boring Jim Caldwell.

Biggest Question: Do I Even Have to State It? Two Words: Peyton Manning!
Everyday there is a different story out regarding Peyton Manning. Some days he is back to 100% and ready to play. Other days he can't throw a ball for the life of him and has to retire. Then Peyton and Colts owner Jim Irsay are negotiating, then they aren't. Peyton Manning is one of my favorite athletes ever, but even I am starting to get sick of all of the Peyton talk. They key date is March 8. That is when Peyton is due his $28 million roster bonus. If Manning can't prove that he is healthy, there is no way the Colts pay him that. The Colts know what they are getting with Andrew Luck, and they won't hesitate to cut or trade Peyton if he isn't 100%. My gut tells me Peyton won't be a Colt next year. It is just way too much money to commit to a QB who may never be fully healthy ever again.

Top 3 Free Agents
1. Reggie Wayne: Wide Receiver
Wayne has been the go to WR for Peyton ever since Marvin Harrison left. Wayne is going to be 34 at the start of the season and while he says he would come back to be a part of the re-build, I find it highly unlikely the Colts retain him. Wayne will catch on with a Championship caliber team.

2. Pierre Garcon: Wide Receiver
Garcon turned out to be the Colts most valuable WR last year. He lead the team in receiving yards and receptions. He is a speed WR who can burn defenders and would help Luck greatly.

3. Robert Mathis: Defensive End
Dwight Freeney is the Colts top pass rusher, but Mathis isn't too shabby either. He is over 30 but still has the speed to get to the QB and will attract some attention this off-season. I doubt Mathis comes back to Indy if they are re-building, but it will be interesting to see if Mathis can produce on a consistent basis without Dwight Freeney on the opposite end of him.

Top Needs
1. Interior Lineman
Center Jeff Saturday and Guards Mike Pollack and Ryan Diem are all free agents. Saturday will more than likely follow Peyton wherever he goes. Even if the Colts re-sign one or both guards, they still need to get better upfront, otherwise Andrew Luck won't have much of a career in the NFL.

2. Secondary
The Colts cornerbacks and safeties may be the worst starters in the league. They were consistently burned on a regular basis all year. Teams could pick them apart with ease. Somehow they need to get better, especially at the cornerback position.

3. Wide Receiver
Along with Wayne and Garcon, Anthony Gonzalez is also a free agent. That would leave Austin Collie and Blair White as the team's starters. Some WRs might look forward to playing with a young phenom like Andrew Luck, but those types probably wouldn't help the Colts win. Luck needs weapons though if he is going to be good in his first year.

The Colts are a re-building team, but the future will be bright with Andrew Luck. Luck will be under center for this team for years, very similar to Peyton Manning. If the Colts build around him right then they will be back to the top of the league in the next five years. But Luck needs a strong supporting cast, and that has to start with a strong Draft class this year.

There you have it. The first of eight Division previews. Don't know which Division will be next, but look for it during the middle of next week.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

Thursday, February 16, 2012

WWE Elimination Chamber Preview

Yes, that's right. There is a WWE PPV this Sunday. It is the most RUTHLESS structure in WWE. Two matches in one show too. This Sunday is the WWE Elimination Chamber PPV. If you ask me, it is one of the weakest Elimination Chamber PPV line-ups in a while. And that all has to do with the lack of star power in both Chamber matches, especially in the Smackdown one now that Randy Orton has been taken out of the match. And Orton's replacement is an absolute joke.

Even with the "debate" this past Monday on RAW, there are only two real threats to walk out of the RAW Chamber match as WWE Champion. Oh, and then there is the great conclusion to the John Cena/Kane saga when they go at it in an Ambulance Match. That whole drama took another interesting twist this past week on RAW. Then there is some Divas Match too.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The RAW Truth Review for 2/13/12

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! This week, Shawn Michaels is on to talk to Triple H about The Undertaker. If Shawn Michaels is on, the show at least gets a 5 from me.

After re-capping Kane's creepy Eve encounter last week, we cut to an unnecessary close-up of Kane. Kane said two things will happen tonight: Cena will embrace the hate, and someone will take a ride in an ambulance.

A Debate to Find Out Who Is Clearly An Afterthought
All of the Elimination Chamber participants were in the ring, apparently for a debate and to say why they will win the Elimination Chamber match. Before C.M. Punk could talk, John Laurinaitis came out and said he was thankful to be back as WWE RAW GM. Jerry Lawler asked how Punk feels about the odds being against him in the Elimination Chamber. Punk wanted to say three things. He promised the debate would not end in violence. Then to SnickelFritz John Laurinaitis, he congratulated him on remaining in power. He said all Ace has done is a lot of begging. Third, Punk said he knew he was going to win because he is the best wrestler in the world. Jerry asked for Dolph's rebuttal. Vickie said there should be no booing allowed. Ziggler said everyone knows he is a better wrestler than Punk and he backs it up every night, and unlike R-Truth, he knows what state they are in.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Downfall of the Gimmick Match in the WWE

Next Sunday, the WWE will bring us the Elimination Chamber PPV. Two Chamber matches in one show. The month after Wrestlemania, the WWE has Extreme Rules, where every match has a stipulation. In July? WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs. How about October? WWE Hell In A Cell. That's four PPVs that have their own specialty or gimmick matches.

This is something that I know has bothered a lot of fans for a long time. Over the last couple of years, the WWE has essentially killed the gimmick match concept. Do you remember a time when these matches actually meant something? The one that is the biggest problem to me is the Hell In A Cell PPV. To me, that match should be the end all be all of a feud. It is the match that eliminates pretty much all outside interference. It allows two wrestlers to go at it, one-on-one, and just absolutely destroy each other, with the winner finally being able to claim that he came out on top. Remember the first Hell In A Cell match with Undertaker and Shawn Michaels? That was a blood bath. It actually looked like hell. HBK was bleeding like a stuffed pig. It was brutal. Then there was Triple H/Cactus Jack at No Way Out 2000. Mick Foley took some brutal bumps in that match, just like the on he took against the Undertaker at King of the Ring 1998. The Undertaker has been in a handful of Hell In A Cell matches. He ended his feuds with Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Edge in all of those matches.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The RAW Truth Review for 2/6/12

I will once again be updating live RAW Results as they go on. I'm expecting a bit of a let down after last week's very good show.

Hey, Wrestling Makes the WORLD NEWS After All!
After re-capping The Undertaker/HHH ending to RAW last week, Triple H came out to start the show. HHH said he was out there last week to fire John Laurinaitis. He called Laurinaitis an ass-kisser and weasel. HHH said there is nothing redeeming about him. He said Laurinaitis was making a last minute plea to the Board of Directors to save his job. HHH said he was out there to talk about The Undertaker. It was the first time he had been seen since Wrestlemania, where he was carried from the ring for the first time. HHH said Undertaker is the only guy in this business that he is still in awe of when he comes out to the ring. HHH said Taker's glare at the Wrestlemania sign meant more than words could say. But last week when Taker came out, there was no look of awe, no fear. HHH actually felt sorry for Taker. HHH said he chooses to remember the Undertaker in a certain way, and they cut to a video package of Taker highlights. HHH said that is how he chooses to remember Taker, not like this. He then cut to a video package of Taker being carried off on a cart last year. HHH said with all due respect, he has to turn down his Mania challenge. HHH said that if he did it again he would end Taker's career, and that he respects him too much to do that. HHH pointed at the sign and said that this isn't happening.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Wrestlemania Super Bowl

It is Super Bowl week. If you watch ESPN you know that. About half of SportsCenter for the last week has been Patriots/Giants talk. My Super Bowl Preview is up so take a look at it.

Often, people say that Wrestlemania is the Super Bowl of the WWE and Sports Entertainment. There is no denying that fact. Wrestlemania is held in large stadiums every year and they either sell-out the stadium or come very close to it. The fact that the WWE can still get that many people into one place with wrestling not as popular as it once was says a couple things. It says that WWE still has a ton of loyal fans willing to come out to Wrestlemania no matter what. I went to Atlanta for Wrestlemania last year and it was a great experience. Once in a lifetime. I really wanted to go this year, but the monetary funds were not there for me. Selling out a large stadium also shows that people will travel out to Wrestlemania if the card looks like a "big time" card, like this year's certainly does. We are getting Rock/Cena, HHH/Taker, Punk/Jericho and possibly Shaq/Big Show. That looks like a mega card certainly worthy of a Super Bowl like title.

Super Bowl XLVI Preview

It is almost here. The day every football fan waits for. A day where even non-football fans sit down and enjoy the game of football.

Super Bowl 46 is this Sunday, and it is a match-up that at least NBC, and I'm sure the NFL is happy about. The New York Giants and New England Patriots go at it this Sunday in Indianapolis, with the winner being Champions of the NFL. Why does NBC, the NFL and the advertisers love this match-up? It's simple: New York vs Boston, two of the biggest markets in the USA.