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  • Published: Aug 18th, 2013
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Can The Browns Breakthrough In The Tough AFC North?

Can The Browns Breakthrough In The Tough AFC North?

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Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns (Photo credit: zoonabar)

In 2013, the AFC North enters the season as possibly the toughest overall division in the NFL. The division boasts the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the all-time Super Bowl leaders and a popular Super Bowl sleeper pick in 2013. Oh, they also have the Cleveland Browns, who are young and improving, but still waiting for a true breakout season. So can 2013 be the year they start to contend for the playoffs?

Whenever a team is forced to start a rookie quarterback and running back, they are in for a somewhat long season. Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson did a pretty good job in 2012, but they did not have enough help to get them anywhere. With a year under their belt, things could be better for them, with Richardson particularly being seen as someone who can do a job for your team in fantasy football 2013.

After an off-season full of changes at the management and coaching level, the team seems to be quickly adjusting to the new way of doing things. They also have a young core that continues to grow, thanks to quite a few high draft picks in a row. New head coach Rob Chudzinski, along with his coordinators Norv Turner and Ray Horton, hope that their changes in the offseason and during camp will result in a few more wins.

While the Browns will be better, so will the rest of the division. Cincinnati made several improvements to their team, especially offensively, that should put them in the playoff and Super Bowl discussion. Baltimore, even if they have a true Super Bowl hangover, will still be solid, while Pittsburgh is, well, Pittsburgh. Despite an 8-8 season a year ago, the Steelers have had the Browns’ number for quite a few years now, so that will be a tough match-up.

While the other three teams in the division seem to have their quarterback for the foreseeable future, the Browns are still unsure about Weeden. At times, he looked good as a rookie. Other times, he looked like a guy who has already peaked. His play will probably end up determining whether or not the Browns can get into that 8-10 win range, or if another last place finish is in their future.

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  • Published: Jul 22nd, 2013
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Paul Banks and Samantha Bunten join me for NNR Podcasts

Paul Banks and Samantha Bunten join me for NNR Podcasts

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SBurton

 Paul Banks of Sportsbank.net and Chicagonow.com joined me to talk about the NFL, league drug policy and the Browns.

Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports joined me to talk Browns, AFC North and some Tribe talk as well. We also announced that she will be my co-host for the Browns Monday analysis shows this season. Those of you that are regulars know she brings an insight, and sense of humor that is critical to withstand another nail biting year following the Browns.

On Wednesday former Browns QB Kelly Holcomb is scheduled to join us for a special podcast about the mobile QB. Be sure to join us for all of these on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/. He also edits . To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.

My Fearless League Predictions

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It is time again for my fearless attempt (note:  no dart boards were injured during this exercise) to predict the outcome of the 2011 NFL Season.  I know that some of you will doubt my crystal ball but it seldom fails me (except when it needs repair which happens around this time every year).

AFC East

  1. Pats –
    This team has struggled in the playoffs but always has a great regular
    season.  This year it will get to the AFC
    Championship game.
  2. Jets – I wonder how good the O will be because I
    am not sold on QB Sanchez.
  3. Dolphins – This team is without a QB and it will
    show.  Daboll is the OC which is good
    news for the TE’s.
  4. Bills – This team is going to be in the running
    for the 1st pick QB Luck.  But
    will they be willing to pay enough to sign him if they get the 1st
    pick.

AFC North

  1. Steelers – They have a D older than the “over
    the hill gang” of Redskin fame and the window to winning is closing because of
    it.
  2. Ravens – They just can’t seem to find a way beat
    the Steelers and they will not this year.
  3. Browns – They can be 8-8 or better IF they can
    keep QB McCoy healthy.  Otherwise 3-13.
  4. Bengals – This team is in serious trouble with a
    new QB and questions about their D.

AFC South

  1. Texans – The team has a great running game to go
    with an outstanding passing attack.  The
    only question is their D.  Williams as
    OLB?
  2. Colts – The latest on QB Manning is that he will
    be out for a couple of months.  They
    could end up with a top 5 draft pick in 2012 without him.
  3. Titans – RB Johnson is the key.  The O line has to give him just a step and he
    can go all the way.  The D and passing
    attacks keep them from contending.
  4. Jags – Look for this team to be the first choice
    to move to LA.  The city is in a
    financial hole and the team is bereft of talent.

AFC West

  1. Chargers – This team can not possibly get off to
    as bad a start as they have for the last couple of years.  Any improvement in their start will vault
    them into the playoffs.
  2. Chiefs – QB Cassel is hurt and the running game
    alone can not make up for a porous D.
  3. Raiders – I am the only one they did not call to
    play QB.  Key losses cannot be overcome.
  4. Broncos – This team has a long way to go to
    become competitive.

 

NFC East

  1. Eagles – The team has gone all out to win this
    year.  QB Vick will not have as good a
    year as 2010 but the D is better and this is the year.  If not, HC Reid is gone.
  2. Giants – QB Manning is not as good as most think
    and that again prevents them from getting far in the post season.
  3. Cowboys – Owner Jones is still looking for a HC
    that can win.  The problem is JJ is the
    GM and this team is not that good.
  4. Redskins – Another team without a QB.  McNabb was not the answer.  If HC Shanahan doesn’t find the answer soon
    he will be gone as well.

 

NFC North

  1. Packers – Despite a flurry of injuries last year
    the team made the playoffs and won it all.
    Those wounded players are back and the team is better than last year.
  2. Lions – No one is going to want to face the D
    front this season.  If QB Stafford stays
    healthy this team can get into the playoffs.
  3. Bears – HC Smith will likely be replaced if they
    slip below the Lions.  Bye Lovie.
  4. Vikings – The window is now closed on this team
    contending.

 

NFC South

  1. Saints – They will lose game 1 vs the Pack but
    still win the division.  Sproles will
    help this team.
  2. Falcons – Their time will come next year but
    they still have some issues on D.
  3. Bucs – This is the best 3rd place
    team in the league.  They will challenge
    the Falcons next season.
  4. Panthers – They had the top pick and I am not
    sure they used it wisely.  While QB Newton
    will improve this year will he ever be willing to pay the price to become a top
    QB?

 

NFC West

  1. Rams – The D is much better and the O behind QB
    Bradford will flourish.
  2. Cardinals – QB Kolb will make this team better
    but not enough to overtake the Rams.
  3. 49ers – QB Smith is a white flag indicating this
    team might be looking to bring Stanford QB Luck to the team next year.
  4. Seahawks – This is a bad team without a QB.  Jackson couldn’t make it in MN with the best
    RB in the league so how will he do here?
    It won’t be pretty.

That’s what I think.  Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent.

He is a senior writer for http://NFLDraftDog.comand edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.

He edits .
Also listen to the best Sports Talk anywhere on the Internet and hear his sports show Monday-Friday 6-8 PM EST on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/ or http://mooheadradio.com/2.0/.

  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 30th, 2011
  • Category: Football, NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Tonight on the radio version of News, Notes and Rumors

Tonight on the radio version of News, Notes and Rumors

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 At 6:20 Tony Williams of the Metro New York Paper joins me to talk about the NFL and what he saw in the dress rehearsal in week 3.

At 7:15 715 Evan Silva of Rotoworld.com and PFTalkNBC sports joins me to talk about the Browns and the AFC North.

Join us by logging on to http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/ or http://mooheadradio.com/2.0/.

You can be part of the show by calling the Herbalife Hot Line provided by Drew Elkins at 216-539-0607.  If you mention you heard about Mr. Elkins on NNR he will give you a discount on your first order.  Call him at 614-906-2321.

Please also visit Mr. Eller’s group website and sign up for the free newsletter.

Also please visit http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/nfl_retiree_rightsandbenefits/ and let the NFL and NFLPA know how you feel about the needs of the retired players.  Thank you in advance.

I would like to thank Miller Beer for their support of our military.  They donate 10 cents for each bottle cap or pull tab returned to them to give our best and bravest tickets to games and other diversions which they so badly need.

lso we support the USO for all they do in taking care of not only our military around the world but also the loved ones of military families with the everyday issues they face with a Mother or Dad away from home protecting us all.

For replays of recent shows, check out archives of our shows on the VoiceBase player at http://fryingpansports.com/ .

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent.

He is the host of a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com.  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.

He edits .

Questions in the AFC East and North training camps.

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AFC North Training Camp

Note: We will look at all the divisions of the NFL with this same point of view over the next few issues of Fryingpansports.com.

AFC East

Bills

1. How effective with the QB play be? Trent Edwards is the leader going into camp but watch out for former 2nd round pick Brian Brohm. He has the talent to be a starter and Edwards has problems in the clubhouse.

2. “RB? We don’t need no stinkin’ RB!" Marshawn Lynch started his career strong but has made more news off the field than on it in the last 2 years. The Bills took RB C.J. Spiller with their 1st pick but did Lynch get the message? No and Spiller starts.

Dolphins

1. How good will the D be after losing some key players? DT Jason Ferguson retired and they cut LB Jerry Porter and S Gibril Wilson. The D played pretty well last year. Will it survive the losses?

2. How much will RB Ronnie Brown be able to contribute? In addition to an injury last year he faces a DUI issue. The Wildcat is much more effective with both RBs in the backfield.

3. How far has QB Chad Henne come or will former starter Chad Pennington become the starter again? Henne will be as good as the running game allows him to be.

Patriots

1. Have injuries and contract questions reduced Tom Brady’s effectiveness? Brady was clearly not performing at his "pre-injury" level last year.. Will he get back to the 2007 level?

2. Can the Pats O line protect Brady? The line has gotten old and the replacements have been less than stellar. Brady needs protection.

3. How far has the D fallen? Last year the D was exposed by a lack of youth and talent.

Jets

1. How will Sanchez do in year 2? Often 2nd year QBs have a regression. Last year Sanchez was at best OK. He was not asked to do too much. As the Ds focused on the running game, he struggled to get the ball down the field. The team traded for Holmes but he is suspended for the first 4 games. HC Ryan wants to throw more this year but can Sanchez deliver?

2. Will the Jets D continue to improve? The D took major steps forward last year. DE Marques Douglas was expected to do great things in 09 but was a bust. So was ILB Larry Izzo. The top newcomer CB Antonio Cromartie comes with a plane full of baggage. If the D is to improve, it will have to come from some guys on the 09 team developing,

3. Does RB LaDainian Tomlinson have anything left? I don’t think so.

AFC North

Ravens

1. How much will the D fall without S Ed Reed in the backfield full time? The D plays much more aggressively when they have the great eraser in the deep middle. How much can he contribute this year? Is a 6M price tag too much for a part time player?

2. Can the new CBs play up to the level of the front 7? This has the makings of dissention in the locker room if the pass D doesn’t play well.

3. How many balls will WR Anquan Boldin catch? For the last few years the team has not had a true #1 receiver. How much better will the O be? A lot!

Bengals

1. What happens to the running game if RB Cedric Benson is suspended? With QB Palmer having an off year in 09, it was the running of Benson that propelled the O.

2. Will QB Carson Palmer get back to his previous levels of performance or is age beginning to catch up to him? Palmer has not been the same since the injury in the playoff loss to the Steelers.

3. Will the lame duck status of HC Marvin Lewis hold the team back or propel them to new heights to keep their coach? The history of the team indicates that two winning seasons in a row are unlikely.

Browns

Check out my article on the Browns question marks on NFLDraftDog.com under team reports.,

Steelers

1. With QB Ben Roethlisberger being out for 4-6 games, how big a hole will the team be in when he returns. Will he be mentally ready to play? By rule, after training camp ends, he can have no contract with the team at all until he is reinstated by the league. Will the Steelers be out of the race by the time he gets back?

2. Can the running game get back to the old S teeler level without RB Willie Parker? A lot of the trouble in the last few years has been the lack of run blocking by the O line. Can that group come together without OT Willie Colon who is out with an Achilles’ tendon injury. I doubt it.

3. How much will S Troy Polamalu be able to play this year. Without him, the Steeler D is just average.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on ;and edits .

  • Author:
  • Published: Oct 24th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Around the NFL for 10/24/09

Around the NFL for 10/24/09

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nfl

There are some critical games this weekend that will define the leaders at the half way post of the season.

Vikes @ Steelers

The Steelers are behind the Bengals by virtue of their loss to Cincy a couple of weeks ago. They need to keep winning not only to insure they win the AFC North but because they don’t want to go to either Indy or New England in the playoffs. This will be a real test for them. They have not been dominate on the ground for a couple of years and it won’t do much against one of the best D lines in the league. The Steelers will rely on the arm of Roethlisberger. On D they will have to balance their efforts to both control the running of Peterson and the passing of Favre.

The Vikes will be at a disadvantage against the pass as all pro DB Winfield is out for the game. Look for them to rely more on the run with AP and keep the Steeler O off the field. The O line of the Vikes has not produced up to their billing blocking for the run. AP is averaging only 5.1 which is below his lofty standards. The line will have to get to the linebackers if AP is going to be successful.

The Vikes passing game has not produced the yards per game that Favre is used to but he has no complaints. The best WR is Rice who averages over 17 yards per catch. Harvin is expected to play and he is outstanding as well. The Vikes should win this game on the road and keep their record perfect.

Falcons @ Cowboys

The Falcons come off an exciting win over the Bears and will face the division leading Saints next week. That is a classic sandwich game. The Birds will have to be focused on this game because the Boys are dangerous particularly at home. The Bird O is only average because the running game has not been up to what it produced last year. RB Turner was outstanding last year but is only averaging 3.5 per carry this season. Part of that is due to a chest injury that has limited his practice. Another aspect is that teams are game planning to stop him after his first big year as a starter. The result is that they are getting less than 100 yards per game on the ground. That puts a lot more pressure on the passing game of QB Ryan.

The Falcons D has played well at times but tends to struggle against really good teams that can run the ball. To make matters worse, they have lost both starting S. The front 7 will have to keep the Boys ground game under control and put pressure on the QB.

The Boys have been as inconsistent as any team in the league. QB Romo is struggling but the team passes almost twice as often as they run despite both backs averaging more than 5 yards per attempt. Romo will have to stop throwing picks and get more accurate in the 4th quarter. He has not come through in close games and that is preventing him from getting into the top 10 of NFL QBs.

The D has been playing OK but not great. The team is 3-2 and needs to keep winning to stay competitive in the NFC East. The Falcons will win when Romo throws another pick late in the game.

Bears @ Bengals

Both teams come in needing a win. The Bears are in 3rd behind both the Pack and the Vikes at 3-2 2.5 games behind the latter. They suffered a tough loss last week at Atlanta. While the passing game has been fine with QB Cutler, the running game has struggled. RB Forte is averaging a poor 3.4 per carry. That has resulted in the Bears averaging less than 90 yards per game rushing. They have to do better.

The Bear D has had a lot of injuries losing MLB Urlacker to the IR and star DT Harris is doubtful for the game. Because of the injuries the Bears will struggle to stop the running game of the Bengals averaging 113 yards per game.

The Bengals were playing very well but looked more like the Bungles in a loss last week to the Texans. That cost them sole possession of 1st place in the AFC North. The Steelers are just a half game behind in the tie breaker because they lost to Cincy. The O is going to have to give Palmer better protection than they did last week. RB Benson has been a jewel. He has given the team the first real rushing threat in several years.

This game will tell us which Bengals team is likely to play the rest of the season. Is it the team that beat the Steelers and Ravens or the one that blew the game to the Texans? I think it is the former and the Bengals win at home.

Saints @ Dolphins

The Dolphin D won’t be able to handle the O of New Orleans and the Saints win.

Cards @ Giants

I love QB Warner. He is one of the best in the league. But the Arizona D is so inconsistent that I can’t bet on the Cards getting the win on the east coast. The Giants win in a shoot out.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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