Thursday, August 28, 2014

CMass Football Preview: The 2014 St. Peter-Marian Guardians

SPM junior quarterback Seamus Leary will lead a re-tooled Guardian attack.
By Mike Uva (@mike_uva)

The St. Peter Marian Guardians have unfinished business heading into the 2014 season after finishing 8-3 a year ago, with two of those games decided by a point a piece.

Despite graduating a plethora of seniors, SPM players echoed the same message that the expectations this season are higher than they’ve ever been. Here’s a look what to expect from the Guardians in 2014.

Long And Suite Preview: The NFC North

Jared Allen and Julius Peppers both changed teams this summer. But they both stayed in the division. Which one will have a bigger impact? And will it lead to a division title?
By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Would you have guessed that the NFC North was tied for the 2nd-worst cumulative record of any division in the league last year (only the AFC South was worse)? Would you believe that the division had the worst cumulative SRS score in the entire league? Would you believe that they were the only division in football to have all four teams post a negative SRS?

It seems improbable that a division with so many blue-blood teams would go belly up like that, but it did.

Granted, there were some extenuating circumstances. The Packers were 6-2 when Aaron Rodgers played all four quarters. They were 2-5-1 when he didn't. They had three different backup quarterbacks start in a span of four weeks, including the was-somehow-still-employed Seneca Wallace. The Bears, long known for stellar defenses, suffered a rash of injuries on that side of the ball and saw the entire unit fall into a tailspin. The Lions, for the umpteenth year in a row, couldn't find much success running the ball and couldn't find a reliable second receiver to compliment Calvin Johnson. And the Vikings, well, they started Josh Freeman for a game. That really sums up their season.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Long and Suite Preview: The College Football Playoff and Heisman Race

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will chase a national championship and Heisman Trophy in 2014.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe) with a cameo from Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin)

I've written enough introductions, so let's jump right into things. You can find all of my conference previews, along with my "Group of Five" and Independents preview, below.

Pac-12

Big XII

Big Ten

ACC and Notre Dame

SEC

Group of Five/Independents


Now, let's get to our national outlook.

Bob Lobel: Jimmy Garoppolo's Magical Preseason


By Bob Lobel (@boblobel)

Jimmy Football is the heir apparent, apparently. 

This is what our eyes tell us from three preseason friendlies with the Patriots playing one more. And that one more will supposedly be the Jimmy Garoppolo coming out party. Seriously, other than the Mankins trade, has there been any other story line out of Foxboro than the back up quarterback contest?

We all know why this has become so important. 

Long And Suite Preview: The AFC South

Andrew Luck is the best quarterback in the division. But can he stay upright long enough for the Colts to take advantage?
By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

The AFC South was a joke last season. They had the worst cumulative record (24-40) of any division in football. In fact, it was the worst cumulative record of any division from any year since the 2008 NFC West (22-42).

It was a weird season. The Colts beat each of the three best teams in football (Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco), then lost to the Rams and Cardinals by a combined 59 points. The Texans went 2-14, but five of those losses came by three points or less, and they under-performed their expected record (based on point differential) by a full two wins. The Jaguars went 4-12, but three of those wins came against the other crap teams in the division (two against Houston, one against Tennessee), and the other came against Cleveland. And none of the wins were by more than a touchdown. They lost their first eight games by an average of 22.5 points. That's some world-class suck. The Titans were your generic average team. They beat the crap teams and lost to the good teams. The only really surprising result was beating the Chargers.

The division should improve this year top to bottom. The two divisions they played last year were the AFC West and NFC West, far and away the two best divisions in football. The four teams in the AFC South played the four hardest schedules in the AFC (Houston played the hardest, then Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Tennessee). This year, they'll play the NFC East (which could under-whelm again), and AFC North (ditto), offering an easier path towards respectability.