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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A short explanation of why I haven’t written anything in two months

I created this blog nearly a year and a half ago at the urging of some family members. Since its inception I have loved nearly every minute of crafting posts, updating the blog, and watching my following grow ever so slightly month by month. It was never large, but dammit, did I take pride in every new follower gained or every day, week, and month I had a jump in page views. There is something to be said for slaving over your creation when it was nothing and watching it become something.

That “something” is what slowly corroded my will, passion, and resolve to analyze sports in the most meaningful way I could. It is what ate away at my desire to spend hours crafting essays I believed were unique, well written, and expressive. Allow me to explain what that “something” is.

I began writing about sports because it seemed like a logical extension of my passion for athletic games of all kinds. I began focusing all my energy on the blog as a means to an end. That end was a career in sports writing. Whereas this blog began as an extension of my passion for sports it evolved into my gateway to the world of sports writing. Working my way through college, enjoying the lifestyle but growing tired of the tedium of “J-school”, I began to think hard work on the blog would equate to instant super stardom in the sports world. “Why not me”? That is the idea that sustained me—that drove me to be better.

But as the months wore on, and I had yet to receive that call from ESPN (surprise, surprise), my desire to continue writing waned. And waned some more. And waned to the point I am at now. A war was waged in my head over the past several months. That war of ideas paralyzed my ability to pursue my craft. Writing just wasn’t fun anymore now that I was writing for a purpose rather than writing for my love of writing (That's a lot of writing!). I constantly thought about the originality of my work, wondered if it stuck out from the millions of other sports blogs that inhabit the internet. I voraciously consumed other blogger’s and columnist's work, and as I read I despaired that there wasn’t a place for me. How could I find my own niche? I’m still not sure I’ve found my niche. At this moment, I don’t really care. I have faith I’ll find it eventually.

A month and a half later, the war is subsiding. It’s not completely gone, but I’ve learned to take solace in the process rather than the end result. I’ve learned to stop believing that everything I put on paper will be perfect. I’ve learned to accept my failures and relish my successes. I finally realize that penning a few posts a week—no matter how in-depth or informative I believe they are—isn’t the golden key to the successful future I so desire. It’s all part of the process, and the process is a grind. At long last, I’ve been begun to enjoy the grind. I hope you will too.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week 14 Picks



Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Jets -10

As poor as the Jets have looked, you don’t honestly believe in Tyler Palko, do you?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Jacksonville Jaguars +9

Josh Freeman is hurting, the Bucs aren’t believing, and Raheem Morris decided it would be a swell idea to instill some discipline in his team for the first time last week. This feels like a rock-bottom loss for the Bucs against Blaine Gabbert, quite possibly the worst starting quarterback in the NFL.

New England Patriots -6.5 @ Washington Redskins

What are the chances Sexy Rexy tosses three touchdowns and throws for 400 yards against the Pat’s putrid defense? In other news, Rob Gronkowski is good. A fascinating race between “Gronk” and Jimmy Graham for the one and only Tight End slot on the All-pro team.

Atlanta Falcons -5 @ Carolina Panthers

It’s a shame Carolina’s defense is so, so, so awful, otherwise they might be my upset pick every Sunday.

Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens -16

Ed Reed can barely contain himself.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Miami Dolphins -3

If you don’t favor the Dolphins here you haven’t watched football in six weeks. Matt Moore is startlingly competent.

Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions -10

I smell a late season Lion’s run! Also, is Ndamukong Suh quickly becoming the most polarizing figure in the league not named Tim Tebow? It’s not just the on field stuff; that car crash in Portland seemed really fishy to me. You can read the details here, but he calls 911, and insists no one is hurt, when, apparently, people were? As pleasant as he seems to be off the football field, are we sure Suh isn’t slightly crazy?

New Orleans Saints -3.5 @ Tennessee Titans

The Saints are still a little bit hard to read. They’ve been inconsistent on the road, and the defense is mediocre. This one settles it—if New Orleans loses we know once and for all that the Saints are the most inconsistent ‘good’ team in the league. I’m interested in the answer.

Houston Texans @ Cincinnati Bengals -2.5

Last Sunday was more of ‘The Steelers are really freaking good’ than ‘The Bengals really suck’. I think they can handle T.J Yates and the perennially hobbled Andre Johnson.

Chicago Bears @ Denver Broncos -5

He hasn’t failed me yet…

San Francisco 49ers -7 @ Arizona Cardinals

Kevin Kolb, however, has…many times.

Buffalo Bills @ San Diego Chargers -1.5

Yes, I really am getting suckered into yet another late season Charger’s run. Philip Rivers finally looked himself against a surprisingly strong Jaguar’s defense.

Oakland Raiders @ Green Bay Packers -10

Carson Palmer might be able to accumulate the passing yards, but he has been known to toss interceptions from time to time. If there’s one thing this much-maligned Packer’s defense is good at, it’s capitalizing on the opponent’s mistakes.

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys -1

Both these teams have split personalities…you never know which one will show up. I’m picking the Cowboys because…well, because I said the Cowboys were the most likely team to make a late season push to the playoffs. But Jason? Next time, try not to ice your own kicker…okay?

St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks -2.5

I continue to be fascinated by Tarvaris Jackson’s competency and mediocrity. He’s bad and good at the same time…

Lock of the Week: Green Bay Packers OVER Oakland Raiders

Upset of the Week: Jacksonville Jaguars OVER Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pounding of the Week: Baltimore Ravens OVER Indianapolis Colts

Last Week: 8-8

Overall: 98-89-8

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week 13 Picks



Carolina Panthers -5 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A mediocre offense versus a God-awful defense. Who breaks first? My money is on the defense that recently allowed the Colts—THE COLTS—to have a fairly productive offensive day.

That's what I wrote BEFORE it was revealed that Quarterback Josh Freeman is inactive. Now, all bets are off. Run wild young Newton, run wild!

Cincinnati Bengals +7 @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Upset of the week time. Pittsburgh’s offense, for whatever reason, hasn’t been playing up to their potential as of late, and in week 10, the Bengals played them tough. Cincinnati is catching Pittsburgh at a great time…

Atlanta Falcons -3.5 @ Houston Texans

I don’t trust T.J Yates. I certainly don’t trust Jake Delhomme.

New York Jets -6.5 @ Washington Redskins

What happened the last time Rex Grossman strung together a handful of quality starts? He threw four interceptions and completed 40 percent of his passes against the Eagles. I think it’s that time of the season again.

Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots -20

It seems like every season Tom Brady just has one of those days where he explodes for six touchdown passes and everyone waxes poetically about the Patriot’s machine. Last season it was a surgeon-like performance against the Jets, and the season before it was a 59-0 thumping of the Titans. Get ready for something like that against the league’s worst pass defense.

Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins -4

I believe in the Dolphins! Also, why hasn’t anyone brought up the fact that Matt Moore has been the second best quarterback in the AFC East this season? 1,600 passing yards, eight touchdowns, five interceptions. He’s thrown seven touchdowns in the past four games. Tony Sparano is forever endowed to Matt Moore for saving his career.

Denver Broncos -2 @ Minnesota Vikings

I BELIEVE IN TIM TEBOW AND WILL NOT STOP BELIEVING NO MATTER HOW HIDEOUS HIS PASSES LOOK, HOW LOOSE HIS SPIRALS ARE, OR HOW OFTEN HE PRAYS ON THE SIDELINES. TEBOW!!!!!! TEBOW!!!!!!! TEBOWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!

Tennessee Titans @ Buffalo Bills -1

The Bills aren’t bad enough to lose five straight, right?

Kansas City Chiefs @ Chicago Bears -5

In a battle of mediocre quarterbacks, Tyler Palko is by far the worst.

Baltimore Ravens -8 @ Cleveland Browns

I suppose it is time for a patented Baltimore road fail after two straight key victories against the Bengals and 49ers. Ah, screw it, I can’t bring myself to pick the Browns. Have you seen Colt McCoy play?

Dallas Cowboys -4 @ Arizona Cardinals

I don’t care much for all this BS about how the Cardinals give the Cowboys trouble. Dallas is rolling and Kevin Kolb is starting. As an aside, have we ever been less excited about a starting quarterback making almost $60 million dollars returning to the lineup? I don’t think so.

Green Bay Packers -8 @ New York Giants

I believed in the Giants last week, I really did. I might pull out my hair if the defensive line actually shows up for this one and Brandon Jacobs looks competent. Most unlikely, however.

St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers -11

The Rams average just over 10 points per game on the road. It’s looking more and more unlikely that Sam Bradford will play. The 49ers have arguable the league’s best defense. Must I continue? MUST I?

Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints -7

Apparently, the Saints have a thing for night games. They’ve scored 34, 62, and 49 points on Sunday or Monday Night games this season, so look out.

San Diego Chargers -2.5 @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Yes, in case you were wondering, this really is the Monday Night game. Someone really hates ESPN.

Upset of the Week: Cincinnati Bengals OVER Pittsburgh Steelers

Lock of the Week: Green Bay Packers OVER New York Giants

Pounding of the Week: New England Patriots OVER Indianapolis Colts

Last Week: 10-6

Overall: 90-81-8

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Week 12 Picks



Houston Texans -5.5 @ Jacksonville Jaguars

If you’ve seen Blaine Gabbert play and you’ve seen Houston’s defense, you know why this pick is so easy. Even if it is Matt Leinart at the helm for the Texans…

Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets -2.5

The human brain is an amazing thing, it really is. Sometime over the past seven weeks I thought the Bills were legit because of their offense, thought they were a possible wildcard because of their offense, than now think they will miss the final wildcard spot because of their offense and horrid defense. It was fun while the Bills were gifted piles of tipped ball interceptions, but now that it’s over, we’ve seen what their defense really looks like.

Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals -6

Note to Brown’s management: rookie hazing that borders on mental abuse probably isn’t the most effective way to cultivate your starting quarterback. 

Minnesota Vikings @ Atlanta Falcons -9

In my little Thanksgiving piece I forgot to mention one other thing I’m thankful for: the Atlanta Falcons. Why is that? Because the Falcons are one of the few teams in which we know exactly what we are getting. They’ve got a solid ground game; they’re a decent ball control offense, play solid defense (eighth in the league per DVOA), and boast a relatively efficient passing game. They’re good but not great at anything; a blessing considering the state of the league at this point.

Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams -1

Reports indicate Kevin Kolb will make the start today. I ask you this: is that much of an upgrade from John Skelton? That I’m even asking this question ought to indicate the silliness of Kevin Kolb’s sixty million dollar contract. Oh, and my super sleeper pick…

Carolina Panthers -3 @ Indianapolis Colts

If this game isn’t a 35-32 affair or something close, it really demonstrates Curtis Painter's ineptitude because this is a pairing of the league’s worst two defenses per the Football Outsiders.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3.5 @ Tennessee Titans

Hasselbeck hurt his elbow last week, but not to the point where he will be unable to start against the Bucs. It’s a slippery slope and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a sign of things to come. It’s Matt Hasselbeck we’re talking about, after all.

Chicago Bears -5 @ Oakland Raiders

Oakland’s got a bottom five run defense, perfect for Matt Forte to go to work. Oh, and you just can’t trust Carson Palmer against one of the better defenses in the league.

Washington Redskins @ Seattle Seahawks -2.5

Oof, not exactly America’s Game of the Week. The Seahawks are a different team at home and the Skins’ always find a way to shoot themselves in the foot. Also, I dreamt I was best friends with Brian Orakpo in a past life last night. Weird, right?

Denver Broncos +8 @ San Diego Chargers

Will something bad happen if I continue picking against Tebow and friends? I feel like my Day of Reckoning will be upon me if I don’t right the ship…and soon.

New England Patriots -3 @ Philadelphia Eagles

I had a great joke lined up here about how the Patriots should just go after NBA players to play in their secondary because it would be a hell of a lot better than what they have currently, but then the NBA lockout had to go and actually end. F@#$ the NBA lockout.

Pittsburgh Steelers -11 @ Kansas City Chiefs

Tyler Palko threw three interceptions against one of the league’s worst pass defenses Monday Night. Due to the Transitive Property Palko should throw 12 against the Steelers. Wait, is that right? I was never very good at Math…

New York Giants +7 @ New Orleans Saints

The Giants are the opposite of the Saints—we have absolutely no freaking clue what we’re getting. Will it be the clutch offense and unstoppable pass rush that beat the Patriots, Bills, and Dolphins? Or will it be the mistake prone offense and pass rush anemic defense that lost to the Eagles, 49ers, and Seahawks? If it sounds like I’m talking about two teams, I kind of think I am. I’m thoroughly convinced there are actually three Manning brothers: Peyton, Eli, and Eli’s evil twin. Both Eli’s play for the Giants and God decides who he wants to see every Sunday. It’s the only logical explanation. Based on last week’s horrendous offensive performance against the Eagles I would expect the Giants to drop an easy 40 points on the Saints and for the defense to sack Brees seven times.

Upset of the Week: Denver Broncos OVER San Diego Chargers

Pounding of the Week: Pittsburgh Steelers OVER Kansas City Chiefs

Lock of the Week: New York Giants OVER New Orleans Saints

Last Week: 7-6

Overall: 80-75-8

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Basketball? BASKETBALL? BASKETBALL!!!



Five months. Five months of torture. Five months spent posturing, sniping, manipulating, and leading the basketball watching public on a roller coaster of deception.

On two separate occasions we were all but assured a deal was in place, a few remaining issues had to be hammered out, and basketball would be back. Both those times the talks fell through and we were left with a bitter, bitter taste in our mouths. Actually, that's sugar coating it; I felt like David Stern was hammering a nine inch nail through my sternum. Professional basketball is important to me, and without it there is a void within me that can't be filled by college basketball or any other sport.

And now? It's back...

To catch you up on what's going on I've gathered some links from folks on the front lines reporting the new deal. It's a busy time for me right now, but look for some in-depth NBA writing in the coming weeks. After the "Year of Lockouts" I'm looking forward to writing about actual sports and all that entails. I'm a sports writer, not a lawyer.

Here's the folks over at Pro Basketball Talk with some great stuff on how and why the deal was done now...
http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/11/26/why-a-deal-now-pressure-from-the-calendar-mostly/

A useful compilation of what we know about the new deal by Royce Young over at CBS Sports' Basketball Blog, Eye on Basketball...
http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22748484/33505522

Ken Berger, perhaps the best reporter covering the lockout, writes about the settlement here...
http://www.cbssports.com/nba/story/16244293/nba-saves-season-to-have-66game-schedule

Adrian Wojnarowski with another good summation of what took place Friday Night while most of us were still recovering from a Thanksgiving eating frenzy...
http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-wojnarowski_nba_lockout_ends-112611

SOME UPDATES...

Salary Cap Maestro Larry Coon analyzing what we know about the new deal...
http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/lockout-111126/analyzing-new-nba-labor-agreement

The Heat benefit from the new labor deal perhaps more than anyone. Read it here...
http://espn.go.com/nba/truehoop/miamiheat/story/_/id/7283642/nba-owners-concessions-benefit-miami-heat-mike-miller

Henry Abbott on the winners and losers of the new deal...
http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/32302/the-winners-and-losers-of-a-new-cba

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Picks

Let’s see if I can run the table…how cool would that be?



Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions +9

Lions at home, playing the single biggest game of the season, with the chance to knock off their division rival drawing closer by the week to perfection? Could this game get any better? Could this be any bigger for Detroit? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say this is the biggest game the Lions have played in at least two decades. A victory would reaffirm the Lion’s standing as a Super Bowl contender while a loss would indicate they still have a ways to go. The 07’ Patriots taught us that undefeated teams generally start to slow down right round this time, and walking into a buzzsaw in Detroit seems way to perfect.

Miami Dolphins @ Dallas Cowboys -2.5

Don’t be too alarmed that Dallas needed a missed kick in overtime to beat the Redskins…their contests have always been close. Okay, be worried, Matt Moore is coming to town and he shows no mercy. But it’s right around this time the Cowboys make their push for the postseason, and at 6-4 tied with the Giants at the top of the division, it’s now or never.

San Francisco 49ers +7 @ Baltimore Ravens

I don’t trust Alex Smith against Ed Reed and that defense. It has been a great run (and it’s not over) but Smith can’t just be a “game manager” to topple the league’s top defense. Flacco isn’t much better, but at least he’s at home, where he has been his best all season.

That's the case for the Ravens. All season long I've been talking myself out of teams I like into teams I don't like because that's what the conventional wisdom says to do. Not this time! I hate the Ravens, and I think the 49ers are really good, so there...49ers it is.

Six reasons I love Thanksgiving…

1. Smoking the Turkey…


2. Telling everyone I need to take a dump to get out of dish washing duty.


3. Food comas


4. Family


5. Telling everyone watching football is “my job” because I write about it for little monetary gain.


6. Stuffing. I can eat it with anything. My favorite thing is a giant spoonful of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. My mouth is watering just thinking abou it…

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Morning After—Week 11



1. Do the Bills regret spending $59 million on Ryan Fitzpatrick?

Fitzpatrick’s numbers over Buffalo’s three-game losing streak, in which the Bills were outscored 106 to 26: 546 passing yards, 2 touchdown passes and 7 interceptions, and a ghastly 5.4 yards per attempt. If that doesn’t indicate Fitzpatrick’s regression over the latter half of the season, than I don’t know what does. Fitzpatrick’s steadfast refusal to throw the ball down the field has to be concerning for Bills fans, but it’s not like we couldn’t see it coming. He’s never averaged more than 6.9 yards per attempt once during his career.

So, do the Bills regret signing Fitzpatrick to franchise-player type money? In a figurative sense, yes, but monetarily wise? Probably not. According to Pro Football Talk, the Bills could cut or trade Fitzpatrick before the seventh day of the 2012 league year and be exempt from nearly $49 million of it. You can read the details HERE, but suffice to say it’s an extremely team-friendly deal. Imagine this type of deal happening in the NBA…

Some folks (such as NFL.com’s Michael Lombardi) point to Fitzpatrick’s recent struggles as a product of poor pass protection, but I don’t but it. The Football Outsiders have the Bills ranked as the best protecting line in football, and through week 11, Fitzpatrick has been sacked only 11 times—best in the league among Quarterbacks who have started every game. Sacks aren’t the end all-be all of pass rush indicators, but I’ve watched the Bills on numerous occasions, and he’s had time. Please, bring back the FITZMAGIC.

2. Can the Bears succeed without Jay Cutler?



Are you ready for various sports columnists to make the half-hearted case for Jay Cutler as league MVP? It’s coming, believe me. Aaron Rodgers will inevitably win the MVP award as he’s carried the Packers to a perfect record despite one of the league’s worst defenses, but Cutler has been the life force of a very mediocre offense. Matt Forte is a fantastic player, but Chicago’s offense is nothing without Cutler’s incredible arm, mobility, and ability to make plays on the run—which he is forced do to quite often.

Chicago’s offense line has certainly improved from earlier in the season, or last season, where Cutler was sacked a league high 52 times, but Cutler’s skill set is a large part of that improvement. I don’t know if there is anyone with a stronger arm in the league. Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, and Mike Vick may have an argument, but NO ONE can sling the ball down the field with such power and accuracy off balance. Cutler has fast become my favorite quarterback in the league to watch. Talking Heads and Draftnicks are always drawling on about “the velocity” a Quarterback can put on the ball; sometimes, if you look closely, you can actually see the flames emanating from Cutler’s balls.

I’ve seen Caleb Hanie play once, in last season’s NFC championship game. As the Football Outsiders guys write HERE, he played well considering he was up against the league’s best pass defense. Furthermore, the Bears enjoy a weak slate of pass defenses the rest of the way, and Hanie has one of the best safety valves in the league in Matt Forte. But Cutler is the sole reason Chicago’s offensive line has looked semi-competent, and assuming Hanie doesn’t have the same physical abilities as Cutler (a reasonable assumption—few do), he’ll be under constant pressure. Regardless of what happens we're about to learn the real value of one of the most talented Quarterbacks in football.

3. Kevin Smith is the absurdity of this NFL season in a nutshell…

Let’s approach this from a fantasy perspective: in 2009 Kevin Smith was, on average, selected in the third round, 34th overall according to the Fantasy Football Draft Calculator. But he tore his ACL later in 2009, struggled to fully recover in 2010, and frankly never really looked like the player he was at Central Florida. In his last year of college football, Smith ran for over 2,500 yards and 29 touchdowns—Superstar numbers.

Now consider the day he had on Sunday: 16 carries for 140 yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 4 catches for 61 yards and a receiving touchdown. Smith, who hasn’t looked like a remotely competent professional football player in two years, had the best rushing performance of the day Sunday, and one of the best of 2011. It makes one throw their hands in the air, exclaim “por que?!” to whatever higher being they worship, and wonder at the absurdity of the NFL. It’s good to have you back Kevin Smith, but please, don’t kill my fantasy football team next time, okay?

4. For the love of God, the 2011 Packers aren’t as good—or better—than the 07’ Patriots…

I’ve wrote that Aaron Rodgers is having the best season a quarterback ever has in past columns—even better than Tom Brady’s legendary 2007 performance. But really, this Packers team is NOT the 07’ Patriots.

Let’s start with their respective running games. The 2011 Packers are the 7th most efficient running team according to the Football Outsiders and 21st overall in terms of total yards. They make the most of their opportunities, but aren’t exactly killing it on the ground. Pretty much what you would expect from a pass-first offense with a Quarterback like Aaron Rodgers. The 2007 Patriots were the 2nd most efficient running team per the Football Outsiders and 13th overall in terms of total yards. A little better than the Packers but pretty much the same story.

So what about the defenses? The Packers possess the league’s 27th ranked defense, below the much maligned Patriots, Bills, and Broncos defensive squads. They’ve given up 390 yards per game, 21 points per game, and 3,918 total yards—30th in the league. The only reason they’re not worse is because they’ve got a +12 turnover differential and are second in the league in takeaways. The 2007 Patriots had the league’s 12th ranked defense. They allowed 288 yards per game, 17 points per game, and 4,613 total yards—third in the league. They were one of the best pass defenses in the NFL that year if you can believe it.

Furthermore, through the first ten weeks of the season Green Bay has, per DVOA, faced on average the 22nd ranked defense while in the same time period New England faced on average the 16th ranked defense. And through those first ten weeks, the 07’ Patriot’s offense was more prolific, scoring a staggering 41 pointer per game. The Packers have managed “only” 35 points per game.

So what can we take away here? The Packers boast an incredible offense, led by a Quarterback having an all-time season carrying a mediocre defense that couldn’t stop a nose bleed. The 07’ Patriots boasted a competent defense, one of the best passing defenses in the league, and statistically speaking, the best offensive attack ever. And that offense, ohhh that offense. I’ve never seen a team blitz the league with such ferocity like those 07’ Pats, and I’ve never been so damn sure that a team couldn’t lose. I’ve never seen a team operate with such precision, such surety, such explosiveness as those 18-1 Pats, and I’m just not getting that feeling from the Packers.

But hey, maybe I’m just a homer…

5. Andy Dalton is…spectacular.



I wrote about how excited Bengals fans should be about Andy Dalton and A.J Green after week five. Incredibly, they’re even better now. I thought Andy Dalton had his best game Sunday against the Ravens despite throwing three interceptions in a losing effort. It looks to me like all the criticism Dalton took about his arm strength before the draft was completely unfounded…the man can sling it. Some of the deep balls he threw against the Ravens were jaw-dropping—Dalton’s accuracy is outstanding. Consider Dalton’s huge day against the Ravens, than remember he was playing the best defense in the NFL without his top receiver, rookie wideout A.J Green. In the 2012 draft the Bengals have their own first round pick plus one from the Raiders. Two first round picks after the year they drafted their franchise quarterback and wide receiver? The Bengals are primed for the best two years of drafting in league history.