Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 11:32 AM
So, what looks like the most fun game on this year's just-released 2012 NFL schedule?
Obviously, the talking head folks on the NFL Network and ESPN spent way-too-much time digesting the NFL Week #1 menu that does include dandy matchups aside from that season-opening rare Wednesday night game between the Dallas Cowboys at the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants as we're naturally salivating over San Francisco at Green Bay and the Sunday Night Football prime-time tilt between the Pittsburgh Steelers at QB Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos
But go a bit deeper with the just-announced skeds and you see that the aforementioned G-Bay Packers and the Houston Texans are the league's only two teams that are forced to play three consecutive road games but the "blood boiling" non-divisional games on this 2012 schedule include San Fran at New Orleans on November 25th (or did you forget that epic Niners playoff win last January that included more than a few bone-jarring hits) and how about a pair of other tilts such as the Week #2 clash between the New York Jets at Pittsburgh and the Week #3 Sunday Nighter pitting New England at Baltimore?
Interesting to note that the Giants face the toughest schedule in the NFL this year while last year's Super Bowl-losing Patriots play the easiest schedule ... please don't ask for an explanation but check it out as the Giants will finish the year with six consecutive games against either divisional foes (see at Washington and home to Philadelphia) or non-divisional opponents that all made the playoffs in 2011 (see Green Bay, New Orleans, at Atlanta and at Baltimore). The flip side says the Pats play a dozen teams that didn't make it to the post-season last year and that includes road games at expected weaklings St. Louis and Jacksonville. Might the Pats be back in next year's Super Bowl thanks to the sked-makers while the Giants are kept on the sidelines? Stay tuned.
Obviously, there's a whole lot still swirling around the New Orleans Saints who must play the whole year without head coach Sean Payton and the first six games without interim boss-man Joe Vitt and how 'bout the fact the Saints must play divisional road games in Carolina and Tampa Bay during the sked's first six games (with a Week 6 bye chucked into the mix to further muddle the situation) and N'Orleans must play Atlanta on two "short weeks" this season.
We'll have plenty more to share about this year's NFL schedule in the days and weeks ahead, so make sure you're with us every day here at Jim Sez.
THE NFL DRAFT
CHECKING OUT THE TOP DEFENSIVE TACKLES
Our official NFL Draft coverage at Jim Sez continues today as we bring you our position-by-position analyses - here it's the top DTs. Note that we will have our Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft Preview on Wednesday, April 25th. The NFL Draft will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 26-27-28:
FLETCHER COX, MISS STATE - A dominant force who plays "bigger" than his 6-foot-4, 298-pound frame, this third-year junior probably will wind up playing at approximately 320 pounds come the start of this 2012 NFL season. Last year Cox collected 56 tackles to go along with 5 sacks and he also is a key player on special teams with his five blocked field goals in his Bulldogs career and that included a key FG block against Wake Forest in last year's 23-17 Music City Bowl win. Note that Cox was suspended along with four other teammates for last year's season opener against Memphis for breaking team rules but he is overall a solid citizen who played hard throughout 2011. Appears to be a lock top 10 pick come Draft Night and right now we'd look for him to get tabbed by St. Louis at #6 although he could slip to Kansas City at #11 if those #7-thru-#10 pick teams go offense.
MICHAEL BROCKERS, LSU - No question this 6-foot-6, 322-pounder remains what most folks consider a "work-in-progress" as he's headed to the pros after just his red-shirt sophomore season but there was no arguing the fact that Brockers played his best ball in LSU's biggest games last year and note he registered seven tackles in the Tigers' BCS Championship Game loss to Alabama last January. The size/strength/speed factor probably gets Brockers to be picked right around the #10-through-#12 spots in this NFL Draft but don't be entirely shocked if he leaps right behind the aforementioned Cox on this draft board as he could go to Jacksonville at #7. Plays with a real passion for the game and note that every single NFL team checked in with him for an interview/phone call/etc. the past two months.
DONTARI POE, MEMPHIS - At 6-foot-4, 345 pounds this 22-year-old showed off his strength last year and actually proved to be one of the three strongest players in a football camp last summer plus his recent NFL Combine skills showed he's highly athletic to boot. If Poe has a down side it's that he tends to "over-think" what he is going to do but he shows great burst off the snap and is surprisingly light on his feet. If pro-Poe folks have their way, he'll get snatched up at #11 by the KC Chiefs who are looking for nose tackle help but he also could slide down as far as #21 with Cincinnati.
JEREL WORTHY, MICHIGAN STATE - Gut feeling is that this 6-foot-2, 308-pounder will wind up getting drafted in Round I despite the fact his NFL Combine work wasn't very good and there are questions as to his overall stamina. Still, anyone that watched Michigan State on defense the past couple of years knows that Worthy was a dominant force who swallowed up enemy ball carriers and helped the Spartans last year lead the Big 10 in rushing defense (100.5 yards a game). Love the fact he started 37 games for "Sparty" and so he is a polished performer who played major-conference ball for years and won't be intimidated by the NFL. Best guess right now is Worthy will wind up getting picked by Pittsburgh at #24 or else fall to Denver one slot later.
DEVON STILL, PENN STATE - If this 6-foot-5, 310-pounder falls out of Round I (and we don't believe that he will) than it's likely because of a nagging turf toe injury that could slow him down some come OTAs and mini-camp. Lost amidst all the Penn State craziness last year was the fact Still played great with 17 tackles for losses and 4 ½ sacks. Still's far from a finished product but likely worth a late first-round selection by Green Bay at #28 or maybe Super Bowl loser New England at #31.
NOTE: There's more NFL Draft coverage plus NBA and MLB News & Notes all week/weekend long in these Jim Sez columns.