AFC East: Darren Woodson
Studio analyst Darren Woodson pointed to the Kansas City Chiefs. Host Michael Smith thought the Seattle Seahawks were the easiest answer.
Woodson's partner, Marcellus Wiley, had a different idea. And if his nomination wasn't surprising enough, his reasoning should raise eyebrows among AFC East followers.
Wiley picked the New England Patriots.
"Just because they went 14-2 and, to me, with that record they did overachieve," Wiley said. "You remember they lost Randy Moss. Everyone thought the team would take a dip. They rebounded from that, but going into this season you didn't really see the upgrade in the draft.
"I'm just saying other teams out there ... you know the Jets. Hey, the Bills have to be on the rise. They have a lot of weapons. Time for those teams to take a little piece of the Patriots."
Detractors assert the union -- I mean, "trade association" -- wants rookies to throw away a special moment they'll never get back. No walking across the stage. No shaking the commissioner's hand. No putting on his team's ballcap amid the flashbulbs. No holding up the No. 1 jersey.
That would be a shame.
ESPN analyst and former New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi hotly disagrees with the criticism.
In a column for ESPNBoston.com, Bruschi explained his hard-line stance.
What these rookies have to force themselves to realize is that this year in the NFL is more important than them. The NFLPA is fighting not only for their benefit, but for future NFL players who are not even in high school yet. It's what Reggie White did and what Gene Upshaw did.
Bruschi also explained how the decisions of quarterbacks Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert will be in the spotlight even more. They are on the verge of franchise leadership positions, and Bruschi claimed their new teammates would withhold respect.
Bruschi also appeared on a recent episode of "NFL Live" and debated the topic with Darren Woodson.
Bruschi said: "It's unfortunate that they have to do this, but this is the league as it is right now. It's unfortunate that they're so young that they already have to make a statement and already sort of have to choose sides, whether it's the players' association or the NFL. Which event will they go to? But I feel it's their responsibility because of the players that were before them that laid the groundwork for the deal that they're going to have, that they have to show solidarity and be one with the players that aren't going to be there."
Woodson countered: "I look at it and say 'Shame on the NFLPA for even putting these kids in this situation.' There's no way these kids should have to make a choice on whether to go to the draft or not go to a draft or do whatever the NFLPA wants them to do. ... Allow them to go and have a good time with their friends and family and then move on from there. But right now, they are not a part of this union."
ESPN analysts Darren Woodson and Mark Schlereth are at odds in predicting the winner of Monday night's clash between the New York Jets and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium.
Schlereth likes how the Jets match up against a questionable Patriots defense. Woodson believes the game will come down to quarterback play and chooses Tom Brady over Mark Sanchez, especially if the Jets cannot convert third downs. The Jets rank 16th in third-down efficiency.
ESPN analysts Darren Woodson and Mark Schlereth preview Sunday's game between the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins in Sun Life Stadium. Woodson and Schlereth predict the Dolphins to win an old-school, smashmouth showdown.
AFC North blogger James Walker and I debated the merits of each divisional showdown, and readers swelled the comments section underneath with their thoughts.
"NFL Live" host Trey Wingo raised the question with analysts Mark Schlereth and Darren Woodson, who combined for 25 NFL seasons, five Super Bowl titles and seven Pro Bowl selections.
Between these highly credentialed gents, there was no debate.
Schlereth: "I'm going to say right now it's the Jets and the Patriots. I understand the Steelers-Ravens. The Steelers and the Ravens, to me, are two very similar teams, physical teams, knock-you-out teams. You look at [the Jets and Patriots], they're so different. One is very boisterous in the Jets. One is very conservative in New England. The style of football is different as well -- very physical with the Jets, while in New England they want to throw it around."
Woodson: "I agree. I think it's the Jets and the Patriots, and the reason why is there are so many subplots in this. Rex Ryan does a whole lot of talking in the offseason, saying how much they want to beat the Patriots. Spygate in the past, Darrelle Revis taking shots at Randy Moss ... There are so many rivalries within this thing, and it's gotten worse and worse."
ESPN analysts Herm Edwards and Darren Woodson like the Tennessee Titans' acquisition of Randy Moss to loosen up defenses for running back Chris Johnson.
That's why both commentators predict the Miami Dolphins still will be searching for their first home victory after Sunday's game in Sun Life Stadium.
ESPN analyst Herm Edwards dissents from colleague Darren Woodson and emphatically declares "It's time for the Buffalo Bills!" to get their first victory of the season. The Bills host the Detroit Lions in Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday.
Woodson points to Lions receiver Calvin Johnson and rookie defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh as the difference-makers.
Neither Herm Edwards nor Darren Woodson sees the New York Jets being surprised by the Cleveland Browns on Sunday like the New England Patriots were last week.
Both ESPN analysts believe the key to beating the Browns will be eliminating running back Peyton Hillis and forcing young quarterback Colt McCoy to make the plays. Edwards and Woodson predict the Jets' defense will be more than sufficient for the task.
ESPN analysts Darren Woodson and Herm Edwards preview Sunday's big AFC matchup between the New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.
The Patriots' performance last week against the Cleveland Browns alarmed Woodson, while Edwards points to how infrequently the Steelers lose at home. Both experts predict the Patriots will lose two games in a row, which doesn't happen often.
"NFL Live" takes a gander at Sunday afternoon's game between the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome. Studio analysts Mark Schlereth and Darren Woodson each pick the Vikings to win. Schlereth says the Vikings will benefit from the extra days of preparation, having opened their season Sept. 9. Woodson puts the onus on Chad Henne to win the game for Miami because Minnesota's run defense is too tough.
Star cornerback Darrelle Revis, about to reprise his rivalry with New England Patriots receiver Randy Moss on Sunday, was limited in Thursday's practice by a tight hamstring.
You have to wonder if the problem is related to his 36-day holdout. Although Revis was said to have worked out vigorously on his own while missing camp and all four preseason games in a contract dispute, he couldn't have duplicated team sessions.
Before news of Revis' hamstring became known, ESPN analyst Darren Woodson broke down the Revis-Moss matchup.
"I expect they're going to challenge Revis," said Woodson, a five-time Pro Bowl safety for the Dallas Cowboys. "When you talk about Randy Moss, you're not just talking about Randy Moss. You're talking about Tom Brady. Both of these guys are prideful players. Both of these guys are going to accept the challenge.
"I really like this matchup. I think Randy Moss will come out this week and you'll see an much more explosive, animated football player this week."