We’re about a month away from the most wonderful time of the year, but before we go any further, we’d like to do one thing, as we close the door on the NBA season.
Ed and I have caught hell for not giving the Los Angeles Lakers their due for winning their 15th NBA championship. I’ll speak on behalf of ETSF when I say congratulations to the Lakers for winning the Larry O’Brien trophy. You found a way to beat an overmatched team in the Finals with their starting point guard having a bum shoulder, a Denver Nuggets team who was never the same, once Carmelo Anthony rolled his ankle in Game Three, a Houston Rockets team minus Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo, and Yao Ming, and for beating an underachieving Utah Jazz team. Wow, what a journey.
(Ed's response to that last paragraph - BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!)
Now onto more pressing business; while there are 32 teams in the NFL, there are only about 25% of them who have a real chance to get all the way to the Super Bowl. Sure, you have your Arizona Cardinals’ of the world, but even with them, they were much better than people gave them credit for. If anything, they finally played up to their potential after all these years. I have decided to highlight three players in particular, all top-ten at their position, who will make or break their team’s success this upcoming season.
Philip Rivers - There are times when I truly think people don’t understand how much of a monster Philip Rivers really is. Granted, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle when people had the audacity to suggest he wasn’t even the best quarterback in his division last year, but after looking at his overall season, as well as the playoffs, its evident his play will be the difference between the Chargers being good and being special. LT’s best days are behind him, and while the defense is still solid, it’s going to be on Rivers if the Chargers are going to finally make it back to the Super Bowl. Last year, he threw for 34 touchdowns and only 11 picks, yet people cringe when you list him as a top quarterback in the league. I’ll give them the AFC West right now, just based on the fact that no one else in the division is worth a damn. Besides, they have bigger fish to fry, and it all starts with him. Dare say, he’s the most important player on their team.
Brian Westbrook - One thing I’ll say about Philadelphia is they seem to be doing everything they can to get back to the Super Bowl. They recently restructured Donovan McNabb’s contract, acquired Jason Peters, and drafted Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy (all moves for the offensive side of the ball). However, none of this means anything if Brian Westbrook is not the Westbrook the NFL has come to know and be terrified of. With the exception of McNabb, the Eagles have made moves to get younger on the offensive side of the ball, so they’ll need Westbrook, more than ever, to make the load easier for everyone to carry. We already know they’re in the toughest division in football, where it’s a realistic possibility that three teams can make the playoffs. Honestly, it’s the Eagles division to lose. Even I, as a Cowboys fan, can’t say we did anything spectacular to get better. Hell, the Giants let Plaxico go for nothing, and the Redskins are…well, they’re the Redskins.
Anquan Boldin - For the record, if people want to say Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver in football, that’s fine with me. Personally, I still think that title belongs to Randy Moss, but whatever; it won’t be something I’ll argue to the death, but I hope people realize that a large reason why Fitzgerald is such a beast is due to who’s on the opposite side of him. Why do you think Fitzgerald, along with Kurt Warner, have been willing to restructure their deals, so Boldin will stay? Go ahead and put Steve Breaston on the other side of the field as a number two, and see what happens. I like Breaston, but he’s no Anquan Boldin, and deep-down, the Cardinals better realize that. With Boldin, the Cardinals win the NFC West, no question, and may even get back to the Super Bowl. Without him, they’ll be lucky to be better than San Francisco.
WHO ARE THE OTHER BIG TIME PLAYERS THAT WILL MAKE OR BREAK A TEAM'S SEASON? DELHOMME? T.O.? ROMO? CUTLER? LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS!
PS - Be on the lookout for the ETSF Rookie Diary featuring Jacksonville Jaguars' runningback Rashad Jennings as he looks to make his mark in the league. You can check him out on twitter.com/rashadjennings as he updates daily.