The long and bumpy road to Super Bowl XLVI

Superbowl XLVI will be the 46th annual edition of the Super Bowl in American football, and the 42nd annual championship game of the modern-era National Football League (NFL). The game is contingent upon the 2011 NFL season being played, which in turn depends on the adoption of a new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the National Football League Players Association before or during the 2011 season. The league has not made public its plans in the event that the season is canceled due to work stoppage; such a season-long strike or lockout has never occurred in the league’s history.

If there is no work stoppage and the game is played as scheduled, it will be held on February 5, 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. This would be the first time that the Super Bowl is held in Indianapolis. This would also be only the fourth time that the Super Bowl is held in a cold-weather city, after Minneapolis’s hosting of Super Bowl XXVI and Detroit’s hosting of Super Bowl XVI and Super Bowl XL.

Early Betting:

Green Bay Packers 7/1
Atlanta Falcons 7/1
New England Patriots 9/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 10/1
Philadelphia Eagles 10/1
New York Jets 12/1
San Diego Chargers 12/1
Baltimore Ravens 14/1
Indianapolis Colts 14/1
New Orleans Saints 14/1
Dallas Cowboys 16/1
New York Giants 18/1
Houston Texans 22/1
San Francisco 49ers 22/1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25/1
Kansas City Chiefs 33/1
Seattle Seahawks 33/1
Oakland Raiders 33/1
Chicago Bears 33/1
Minnesota Vikings 40/1
Denver Broncos 40/1
Tennessee Titans 50/1
Jacksonville Jaguars 50/1
Cincinnati Bengals 66/1
Miami Dolphins 66/1
Arizona Cardinals 66/1
Detroit Lions 66/1
Washington Redskins 80/1
St. Louis Rams 100/1
Cleveland Browns 150/1
Buffalo Bills 150/1
Carolina Panthers 150/1

It’s between the Jets and the Eagles for me. I’m going for the Eagles.

Not sure of anywhere else to post these, some guy’s reimaginings of NFL uniforms if they were redone as soccer jerseys.

New England Patriots…

When is the draft on?

The 2011 NFL Draft will be the 76th annual meeting of National Football League (NFL) franchises to select newly eligible football players. Like the 2010 draft, the 2011 draft will be held at Radio City Music Hall over three days: this year, the first round is scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 28, 2011; the second and third rounds on Friday, April 29; and the final four rounds on Saturday, April 30, 2011

A while away yet. I just got an email from NFL advertising their nightly studio show “Path to the Draft” so I presumed it was fairly imminent.

Who are the big names this year CLD?

The combine is imminent. Probably live on like last year.

Here are the Top 15 guys as rated by

Here’s a look at the top 50 draft prospects as we head towards the combine:

  1. A.J. Green/WR/Georgia: Green is a game-breaking receiver with the skills to be a No. 1 wideout at the next level. He does not possess Calvin Johnson ability but is the best and safest prospect available in April.

  2. Da’Quan Bowers/DE/Clemson: The Tigers’ pass rusher extraordinaire was a force in the ACC from his freshman campaign on. He has all the skills to be an impact lineman at the next level and would do well in a four-man front.

  3. Nick Fairley/DL/Auburn: Fairley was one of the most dominant defensive players in the country last season after breaking into Auburn’s starting lineup. He has the skills to play several positions on the defensive line and can be an immediate starter.

  4. Patrick Peterson/CB/LSU: Scouts graded Peterson as a big-time NFL cornerback the moment he stepped on the field at LSU. He ranks as the top athlete in April’s draft.

  5. Marcell Dareus/DL/Alabama: Dareus was the dominant force on the Alabama defensive line, a unit that has put a lot of talent in the NFL the past two drafts.

  6. Cameron Jordan/DL/California: Jordan finished off a stellar college career by wowing scouts at the Senior Bowl. He’s the top senior prospect.

  7. Prince Amukamara/CB/Nebraska: The Cornhuskers star has been steady and solid the past two seasons. Questions about his speed have arisen as scouts await his combine workout.

  8. Aldon Smith/DE-OLB/Missouri: Smith suffered through the '10 season with injury, yet at times looked like a one-man wrecking crew. Teams must watch the '09 film to see the explosive Smith at his best or they will be doing themselves a disservice.

  9. Von Miller/LB/Texas A&M: He was considered by most as the top 3-4 outside linebacker prospect in the draft. Now Miller ranks as the top 4-3 weak side prospect after a great week at the Senior Bowl.

  10. Robert Quinn/DE-OLB/North Carolina: A year ago, many mentioned Quinn’s name in the conversation for the first pick in this year’s draft, but a season-long suspension pushes him out of the top eight.

  11. Blaine Gabbert/QB/Missouri: The Missouri junior is a strong-armed QB, but will need time to acclimate himself to a disciplined NFL passing system.

  12. Tyron Smith/OT/USC: Smith is the number one tackle in the draft. He’s an athletic blocker who possesses the strength to play on the right side as well as the footwork to be a blind-side protector in the NFL.

  13. Cam Newton/QB/Auburn: Newton is all the rage outside of scouting circles but NFL decision-makers are not yet convinced. There’s no doubting his physical skills, but many wonder how long it will take Newton to develop into a disciplined NFL-style passer.

  14. Mark Ingram/RB/Alabama: The '09 Heisman Trophy winner was hobbled by preseason knee surgery and lost an edge on his game last season. Still, Ingram is one of the few complete backs available in this year’s draft.

  15. J.J. Watt/DL/Wisconsin: The former tight end has been a devastating force since moving to the defensive side of the ball. Watt is athletic, powerful and a defender who viciously sacks the quarterback or chases down running backs in pursuit.

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I was sure Cam Newton would be way out in front here. The point about his discipline is a good one though. He tends to do his own thing.

He does his own thing alright but he was so much better than the opposition he was facing that he could afford to. It’s not like he backed himself too much and got caught out.

There’ll be doubters obviously but I suspect someone will take him very early - he’s not the type who people will be indifferent about.

I don’t watch college ball but the NFL pundits are forever saying college QB and NFL QB is like night and day.

Oh someone will take a shot at him alright. There are so many good young QB’s in the game at the moment though. It’s hard to predict where he’ll go

hard to know how Newton will go. For every Vick who is succesful at that style of game, you have a Jamarcus Russell. Tebow was the big QB last year who everyone had different opinions on, but he seems to have done well in the last couple of starts he got and suprised a lot. Think things like that will help Newton move higher up the list of QBs picked. All these hacks go on about playing under centre and throwing mechanics and blah fooking blah, but at the end of it all, its if a player can get a job done, and it can very well be a lottery. Tom Brady went at pick 199. Ryan Leaf went at pick number 2.

Jeremy Shcokey surprisingly released by the Saints yesterday. :o

Can’t see the owners and players agreeing to a deal before the season starts. I would imagine there would be a reduced season, 10 games would be my guess.

As for the odds, I’d take a punt on the Detroit Lions at 66/1 and the St Louis Rams at 100/1. Both teams are on the upgrade and should not be that big. San Diego are surely going to win a Super Bowl sooner or later with the talent they have and 12/1 looks a fair price.

I got an email late last night from Commissioner Goodell informing me that the Players’ Association had withdrawn from negotiations around agreeing a new collective bargaining agreement. What’s going on, brothers? Surely they’ll work something out?

Chad 85 isn’t hanging around to see how the strike ends. He’s off to soccerball.

Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco builds another buzz with MLS tryout

Go ahead and laugh at Chad Ochocinco’s recent announcement he’s going to try out for Sporting Kansas City this week. This marriage, after all, could be just another one of the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver’s publicity stunts combined with the soccer club’s grab for attention.

Know this, too: Many in the soccer community are laughing right along with you. But underneath it all, there’s some curiosity to this situation that goes far beyond that of the opportunity to watch what could become a fiery train wreck.

“All of us who have been involved in the sport always talk about what it would be like if Michael Jordan or one of these great athletes from another sport grew up playing soccer,” University of Missouri-Kansas City men’s soccer coach Rick Benben said. "Someone with that kind of strength, size and speed, what would he look like on the soccer field? I’ll be very curious.

“It might grab the attention of a number of fans who might not necessarily pay attention otherwise. Even for someone like me, that would be the thing. I know the guy is a great athlete, but he hasn’t played the game for a long time. So can he really play at the highest level of our game?”

Benben isn’t the only one wondering. That’s one reason why this experiment is viewed with more tolerance in soccer circles. While so many of this country’s top athletes gravitate to the basketball court or, like Ochocinco, the football field, soccer isn’t about to reject one who wants in, no matter how eccentric or publicity-hungry he might be.

“We’ve made great strides in our nation in closing the gap and becoming more competitive in soccer around the world,” Sporting KC assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin said. "But we have to remember that most of these other nations, these power nations, are playing with all their premier athletes.

“There is an intriguing aspect to thinking and dreaming about having Deion Sanders, Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson as wingers running down the flanks on a soccer field. The athleticism of some of these guys is certainly superior to any of the competitors they’d be facing around the world, and that’s not taking anything away from the athleticism the game of soccer demands.”

Soccer has been a passion of Ochocinco’s, back to the time he went by his given name of Johnson. He played soccer before attending high school in Miami and kicked for the football team. He successfully kicked an extra point for the Bengals in a 2009 pre-season game.

Ochocinco counts several professional soccer players as friends. He is frequently seen wearing soccer jerseys.

“I played soccer before football and I was good,” he told Sports Illustrated in a 2006 interview. "That’s where I get my quick feet. My feet are unbelievable. When I got to high school, I had to choose between the sports because they were in the same season.

“I chose football because I saw more opportunity, but it broke my heart. I still follow soccer; I watched every minute of the World Cup. I like to think I play football like Ronaldinho, with the trick moves and the anticipation.”

This might be taken more seriously by the public if not for his penchant for self-promotion. His publicity stunts through the years have ranged from changing his name to the Spanish word for eight five -his Cincinnati uniform number is 85 -to being a celebrity contestant on Dancing with the Stars last year.

Sporting Kansas City has said Ochocinco has assured the team he’s serious about his latest endeavour, something he’s free to pursue with the NFL embroiled in a work stoppage because of labour issues. If that’s the case, nobody sees the harm.

“You see already the amount of attention it’s gotten,” Zavagnin said. "I’m sure people are questioning whether this is just a publicity stunt or actually being taken very seriously. From our end, we’re not going to waste our time during our season to bring in somebody we feel will be counterproductive to preparing for games.

"We’re taking this seriously and we hope he comes in with the same intentions, and from what we understand, he is coming in with the mindset of putting in a good performance and competing for a spot.

“If the mindset of the player coming in is with a professional attitude and his commitment and effort is at a premium, then I think it will be received in a very positive way. But if the player comes in and treats it like a circus, then I think people will get tired of it pretty quickly. The coaches will, too.” Ochocinco’s presence has the chance to be divisive in the Sporting KC locker-room or at least a distraction. The regular season began with Saturday night’s match against Chivas USA in Carson, Calif.

How Ochocinco fits into a locker-room filled with people who have dedicated their professional lives to soccer will depend on his attitude.

“You don’t get to the top of any sport or have the kind of career he’s had in any professional sport without taking your job seriously, without wanting to compete in everything you do, without working hard,” Sporting midfielder Davy Arnaud said. "As long as he’s coming in and working hard and taking it seriously, which I know he will, the guys will be perfectly fine with it.

“The coaches are always looking to improve the team, so we’re used to this. He’s just another guy that’s coming in to try out, just with a little more attention and a little more buzz about it.”

Ochocinco is a superior athlete to many of Sporting KC’s tryout players. But that will carry him only so far.

“You have to be able to do it all at this level of the game,” Arnaud said. “It’s not enough just to be a good athlete.”

Ochocinco also hasn’t played in an organized soccer game in more than 10 years.

“From a purely athletic standpoint, there’s no question about his ability to get up and down the field,” Zavagnin said. "We don’t even have to bring him in to know he’d pass with his speed. It’s just whether he can adapt to the game over the course of 90 minutes and where his endurance level is.

"The physical component is only part of it. I think we’re all interested in seeing what his abilities are with the ball, his technical ability and his awareness within the game. His abilities to connect with other players on the field will be something we’ll be able to evaluate pretty quickly.

“Soccer is unique in that you’re not working for six seconds and then resting for a minute. It’s a continuous activity for 45 minutes, then you get a 15-minute break and play another 45 minutes. Any elite athlete playing in another sport that would come out and train with our team will understand those demands rather quickly. I don’t think Chad will be the exception to that.”

So more than likely, Ochocinco’s pro soccer career will meet the fate of Michael Jordan’s attempt at baseball. Even then, what’s wrong with that?

“I don’t think anything bad can come from this by any means,” Arnaud said.

“People are talking about soccer and the league and Sporting Kansas City. It can’t be a bad thing when people are talking about it.”

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Some wonderful footwork by Chad