Here are the top 10 players in the NFL … the ones who make a difference, the guys who can make a big play and change a game in an instant (sorry Terrell, you’re too unstable to make this list) …
1 (tie). Tom Brady, QB, Patriots and Peyton Manning, QB, Colts … Both teams would be in the basement without these guys … Brady, 31, Manning, 32, both in their prime.
3. Randy Moss, WR, Patriots … What a joke, last year’s talk that he had “slowed down” … How about 98 receptions, 23 TD ???
4. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings … Fast, flashy, explosive (5.6 yards per attempt).
5. Jared Allen, DE, Vikings … Best pass rusher in the league … 15.5 sacks last year, could have even more this year along with better DTs.
6. Demarcus Ware, OLB, Cowboys … 14 sacks, you always have to count them.
7. Devin Hester, KR, Bears … Can score in the blink of an eye … six TDs back last year … destroy opponents’ kicking plans.
8. Antonio Cromartie, CB, Chargers … Best DB in the league … 10 interceptions on the run last season.
9. Jason Taylor, DE, Redskins … What a mistake the Dolphins made in changing it … turning moves enhanced by the television dance?
10. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers … In the Manning-Brady class when he’s … heavy when he’s not … he must be faster, more decisive.
COULD LIST: Shawn Merriman, OLB, Chargers (Lawrence Taylor plays the same but injured knee doesn’t bode well), Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles (will the fat new contract stimulate or relax him?), Shaun Rogers, DT, Browns (beast if motivated), Richard Seymour, DT, Patriots (if healthy), Dwight Freeney, DE, Colts (can he come back?), Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (has one more great season on him?) , Jeremy Shockey, TE, Saints (has a dream guy in Drew Brees to pitch to him).
EMERGING YOUNG BOYS: Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns (spectacular but must hold on to the ball), Andre Johnson, WR, Texans (60 receptions in an injury-plagued year), Ted Ginn, WR, Dolphins (explosive in college, do you? why not in the NFL??), Gaines Adams, DE, Bucs (could replace Sapp, Brooks as the next great player in Tampa Bay’s defense), Patrick Willis, MLB, 49ers (6-1, 240 and fast) .
ONCE GREAT, DESCENDING: Ray Lewis, Ravens (suddenly 33 and slowing down), Brian Urlacher, Bears (too beaten up … old man of 30), LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers (21st century best running back) but he’s turned 29 … too many carries by now), Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers (hard to move when you’re 260 pounds and your big toe hurts), Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts (36 and limping), Brett Favre, QB, Jets (last season was a fluke).