Maiocco: 2011 Super Bowl, MVP predictions

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Maiocco: 2011 Super Bowl, MVP predictions

Sep. 5, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com

AFC

East
1) New England Patriots
2) New York Jets (Wild card)
3) Buffalo Bills
4) Miami Dolphins

North
1) Pittsburgh Steelers
2) Baltimore Ravens (Wild card)
3) Cleveland Browns
4) Cincinnati Bengals
South
1) Houston Texans
2) Jacksonville Jaguars
3) Tennessee Titans
4) Indianapolis Colts

West
1) San Diego Chargers
2) Oakland Raiders
3) Kansas City Chiefs
4) Denver Broncos

Wildcard round
Steelers over Jets, Chargers over Ravens

Divisional round
Texans over Chargers, Patriots over Steelers

AFC Championship Game
Texans over Patriots

NFC

East
1) Dallas Cowboys
2) Philadelphia Eagles (Wild card)
3) New York Giants
4) Washington Redskins

North
1) Green Bay Packers
2) Detroit Lions
3) Chicago Bears
4) Minnesota Vikings

South
1) Atlanta Falcons
2) New Orleans Saints (Wild card)
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4) Carolina Panthers

West
1) St. Louis Rams
2) Arizona Cardinals
3) San Francisco 49ers
4) Seattle Seahawks

Wildcard round
Saints over Cowboys, Eagles over Rams

Divisional round
Saints over Packeers, Falcons over Eagles
NFC Championship Game
Saints over Falcons

Super Bowl XLII
Saints over Texans

Regular Season Awards

MVP: Houston Quarterback Matt Schaub
The Texans are set up to experience success for the first time in their history, and the quarterback will lead the way. Schaub threw 24 touchdowns and 12 interception last season, and his production is going way up this season. Houston is not lacking for talent around Schaub, either. Andre Johnson is one of the top two receivers in the game. Running back Arian Foster, when he gets healthy, is a dual threat out, and Owen Daniels will be one of the top pass-catching tight ends in the league.

Offensive player of the year: Green Bay Quarterback Aaron Rodgers
Generally, the MVP and the offensive player of the year are the same person. Just consider this as a chance to hedge my bet. The Chico native entered the conversation as one of the top five quarterbacks in the league last season while leading the Packers to the Super Bowl title. And he is still getting better.
Defensive player of the year: Dallas Linebacker DeMarcus Ware
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has one of the game's great players, and he's going to use him at every position in the Cowboys' front seven to generate heat on the quarterback. And that's something Ware knows how to do. He has 80 sacks in six NFL seasons, including 46.5 in the past three years. He'll single-handedly neutralize Philadelphia's Michael Vick and bring a division title to the Cowboys.

Offensive rookie of the year: New Orleans Running Back Mark Ingram
He'll begin the season sharing time with Pierre Thomas, but Ingram will gradually get more and more action as a major part of the offense. Ingram will take the heat off quarterback Drew Brees, as the Saints will feature a well-rounded offense. And he'll be money in short-yardage situations. Go ahead and ring him up for 16 touchdowns and a little more hardware to go along with his Heisman Trophy of a couple years ago.

Defensive rookie of the year: Houston Defensive End J.J. Watt
At 6-5, 290, he's a great fit for Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme. His adjustment has been remarkable smooth, as he quickly nailed down a starting job. He probably won't be a double-digit sack artist, but the push he provides will open things up for his teammates. The Texans' pass defense will improve dramatically, and Watt be a rock against the run.Comeback player of the year: Minnesota Quarterback Donovan McNabb
Yes, McNabb is still in the NFL. And while the Vikings are going to fall on some hard times, McNabb will post solid numbers and rebound from an embarrassing one-year fiasco in Washington under Mike Shanahan. McNabb's play will make it difficult for rookie quarterback Christian Ponder to get onto the field.

Coach of the year: Houston Texans' Gary Kubiak
Move over Colts, there's the makings of a new dynasty in the AFC South. Kubiak has himself an MVP candidate at quarterback (Schaub), an outstanding wide receiver (Johnson) who's not a diva, and a league rushing leader (Foster) who did not hold out for a new contract. In other words, he's done a great job of keeping this team focused on winning games and getting to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

York: 49ers do not expect short-term benefits from Raiders' move to Vegas

York: 49ers do not expect short-term benefits from Raiders' move to Vegas

PHOENIX – CEO Jed York said he does not expect the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas to have a significant short-term benefit for the 49ers.

After all, there appears to be a clear delineation between the two fan bases.

“The easy thing to say is this is a great financial gain for the 49ers, which just isn’t the case,” York said from the NFL owners meetings on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

The Raiders moved from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982, leaving the 49ers as the only NFL act in the Bay Area for 13 seasons. During that time the 49ers won four Super Bowls. But there were few tangible benefits to the 49ers that were directly associated with the Raiders' absence from the market.

“You did not see a huge increase in ticket revenue, sponsorship revenue, even in terms of overall exposure in the market, because I think Raiders fans and 49ers fans are just a different group of folks,” York said. “The Raiders fans aren’t necessarily loyal to a certain geographic location. They’re loyal to the Raiders. I think you’ll see those fans follow the Raiders to Las Vegas.”

York said “20-plus percent” of the 49ers’ season-ticket holders live in Alameda County. He said the only change he envisions would be the expansion of some of the 49ers’ philanthropic efforts to some of the East Bay’s underserved communities.

The 49ers’ home, Levi’s Stadium, was built with the design of accommodating two home teams. While the NFL might have preferred the 49ers and Raiders to forge a relationship with a shared stadium, like the New York Giants and Jets, the Raiders never seriously considered a move to the South Bay.

“We had the conversation with Mark (Davis), but when the stadium was up and running in Santa Clara, and Levi’s was really going, it really is the 49ers’ stadium,” York said. “I think there was a little hesitancy of truly being a tenant in somebody else’s stadium, which certainly makes sense that it wasn’t high on their priority list.”

The Raiders figure to remain in the Bay Area for three seasons until their new home in Southern Nevada is ready for NFL action. The Raiders have a lease at the Oakland Coliseum for the 2017 and ’18 seasons. Davis expressed a preference to extend the lease to 2019.

The 49ers would be open to discussing the possibility of the Raiders’ use of Levi’s Stadium – seemingly as a last resort for both sides.

“If that was an opportunity, we’d certainly sit down and discuss it,” York said. “But I think there are a lot of moving pieces right now and it’s really conjecture to talk about 2019 at this point when they’d still obviously prefer to stay at the Coliseum.”

Hue Jackson: Browns 'not in the mood' to sign Kaepernick

Hue Jackson: Browns 'not in the mood' to sign Kaepernick

PHOENIX – Cleveland coach Hue Jackson, whose team reportedly had some level of interest in Colin Kaepernick a year ago, has not seriously considered adding the free-agent quarterback to his weak quarterback position this offseason.

“We haven’t done any homework for this year,” Jackson said Tuesday morning at the NFL owners meetings. “My homework would’ve been for 2011 on Colin. We haven’t done much more since then, to be very honest with you. So, because, there are some other guys we’re chasing.

“It doesn’t mean that we won’t go back and re-visit him. It all depends on how everything shakes out over the next several weeks.”

Kaepernick, who entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2011, remains unsigned three weeks after teams were allowed to begin discussions with free agents. The 49ers have not shown any interest in re-signing Kaepernick, who threw 16 touchdowns with four interceptions for a passer rating of 90.7 in 11 starts in 2016.

The 49ers gave Kaepernick permission a year ago to seek a trade. The Denver Broncos and Browns were the teams most closely connected with Kaepernick.

“It didn’t get really that deep,” Jackson said. “I know everybody was reporting that we were in it. I don’t think it was as deep as people said it was. It was always kind of known that he was not leaving. So your work has to be done when you know there’s a legitimate opportunity for things to happen. What I know of Colin is what I know. I have not studied him much since the time when he was coming out.”

The Broncos and 49ers had the framework of a deal worked out, but the trade hit a dead end when Kaepernick, the Broncos and the 49ers could not settle issues surrounding the guaranteed money on Kaepernick’s contract.

The 49ers and Kaepernick renegotiated his contract in October, which enabled Kaepernick to opt out of his deal and become a free agent this month.

The lack of apparent interest in Kaepernick around the NFL appears to have multiple layers. Some teams are not interested because they have no need at quarterback. Some teams do not run offensive systems that would appear to suit Kaepernick. And other teams might not be interested in adding a player who created a controversy last season with his decision to kneel during the national anthem as a protest against racial inequality in the United States.

When asked if he considers the off-the-field aspect associated with Kaepernick, Jackson answered, “I think we will consider it if that was somebody that we were going to target. We’re just not in that mood right now.”