Sunday, October 23, 2016

2005 Toyota Corolla S: A Comfortable, Gas-Friendly Auto Choice

I purchased my 2005 Toyota Corolla S a little over two years ago when the engine overheated on my a Nissan Sentra I owned. While I can never recommend to anyone to purchase a Nissan product not even a floor mat, I can strongly recommend purchasing Toyota automobiles. I will admit that there was some sale pressure involved after the test drive, especially with it being the end of the month, but I went in expecting that. I was impressed with the Toyota Corolla S enough though, the in the end the sales pressure really wasn’t needed to get the sale. My wife and I went together to test drive the car. We had been considering starting a family at that time, so we wanted to make sure we got a quality car that would last for a long time, and based on their reputation we felt a Toyota product would be a good option.

Looking at the Toyota Corolla S, you will notice it has a sort of sporty look to it when compared to some of the similar cards in it’s class. It also is a step above in the looks appeal factor than it’s fellow Corolla models. When we went to get into the car we were both impressed by the amount of space in the back seat. We felt it would fit a car seat without a problem on one side and a full sized adult on the other side, as well as have room to store objects on the floor on the side of the car seat. There was even plenty of leg room in the back seat when a taller person was driving the car, which can sometimes be an issue with the smaller cars like the Corolla. As I started the car and pulled out into traffic I noticed the nice pick up the car had, which was a plus as merging into high speed traffic was something I dealt with every day on a forty five minute commute each way to work and home. My wife even commented that I might want to be careful with how often she drove it because she could get a speeding ticket easily. The car handled well in the corners, there might have been a slightly feel of a lean as we took sharper curves at high speeds, but nothing that was significant enough to cause a concern.

The sound system in the car is adequate, but not outstanding. I’ve read reports that if you turn the volume up very high for long periods of time the speakers blow a little easier than someone might want if that is how they listen to their music. In that case I suggest getting new speakers from an audio store after you purchase the car., don’t worry about upgrades from the dealer as they are overpriced. The speedometer and other dials on the car were easy to read both during daytime and night time driving conditions. The radio controls are well placed, but taller individuals may find them a little inconvenient with the seat all the way back. Braking times and acceleration for the car were both above average compared with other cars we had test driven.

The car is economical on gas mileage which was a major plus with my commute. I find that if the majority of my driving is at highway speeds I can get close to 36 miles per gallon, while if I’m doing mostly city driving it will be close to 30 miles per gallon. One thing I found out is that the tires that come with the car do not last as long as I might have wished. After about 40,000 miles all four tires had to be replaced. The spark plugs needed replacing around the 35,000 to 40,000 mile range. I have not had any repair concerns with brakes, shocks, etc so I can not give you a review on them, but since I haven’t had any problems in two years I am happy with them.

There are a couple minor complaints I had with the car, but they are nothing significant. First of course was the tire length, that resulted in a $400 replacement cost after two years. Another is that while the heater will warm up the car quickly, it takes longer than ideal for the air conditioner to cool the passenger cabin on those hot summer days. After my wife had our son, we found out that while the car seat fits into the back seat without a problem, it is a little harder to install than in some cars and took time to get it secure. Speaking of child related items, if you plan on using a large stroller keep in mind that it will take the majority of your trunk space in the trunk of the Corolla.

Overall, I’ve been very happy with my 2005 Toyota Corolla S. If you are in the market for a used car that gets good highway and city gas mileage, is not known for significant mechanical problems, and has enough room in the back seat for it to remain comfortable during longer trips then the 2005 Toyota Corolla S is a good choice for you as a vehicle.

Tags:2005 Toyota Corolla S: A Comfortable, Gas-Friendly Auto Choice

2006 Disney World Super Bowl Commercial Brings Back Memories!

For those of us who have been fortunate to enjoy a day or two at Disney World, the 2006 Super Bowl commercial pulls us back to those moments of fun-filled days and excitement while at the park.

Memories of the thrilling rides and the jungle cruise can easily be conjured up from years ago when they created instant excitement and fun. Or maybe it was the fond memories of the soothing boat trip through “It’s a Small World,” with colorfully-dressed dolls proudly wearing their cultural costumes as they sang and danced. Whatever the memory, at Disney World, it was probably a good one.

Drawing on what viewers remember is exactly what the Disney commercial was suppose to do. The usage of black and white footage was effective as it took viewers back to it’s earlier days, when Walt Disney proudly opened his Disney Theme Park.

When watching this commercial, viewers feel nostalgia as they remember their happy moments at Disney. The carefully planned commercial moves from the past to the present. Viewers were able to quickly connect their childhood memories at Disney World to their present-day adult lives. This was a good way for Disney to draw on their adult audience. What parent or grandparent doesn’t want to create fun memories for their child or grandchild.

Disney continues to entertain those who are in need of a few days of enjoyment, even after 50 years. This 2006 Disney World Super Bowl commercial was very effective in creating an interest and desire from viewers to not only relive their old memories at Disney World, but to create new memories for their family.

Tags:2006 Disney World Super Bowl Commercial Brings Back Memories!

2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster Motorcycle

Recently, I decided that I want to purchase a used Harley Davidson Sportster motorcycle. It is a goal that I am really working towards achieving. In recent months, I have had the opportunity to ride my good friend’s 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster several times and I’m very glad that he has let me ride it. Not only has riding this motorcycle enhanced my goal of acquiring my own Harley Davidson Sportster, but it has also solidified my thoughts concerning which size Sportster to aspire to own.

Since I am thinly – built, the 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster seems a little bit too heavy for me to ride comfortably and consistently. Enter the Harley Davidson 883 cc Sportster, which is slightly smaller in size then the 1200 cc Sportster motorcycle. In years past, I owned and regularly rode several vintage Triumph motorcycles, which are close in size to the Harley Davidson 883 cc Sportster. While I would like to purchase an 883 cc Sportster, I still look forward to riding my friend’s 2005 Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster any time the opportunity presents itself. Presented here, after riding the motorcycle several times, is one motorcycle afficianado’s consumer product review of the 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster motorcycle.

Looks / Appearance
One of the things that I like most about the 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster motorcycle is the appearance of the bike. Not all 1200 Sportsters look alike. If you look at various Harley Davidson 1200 Sportsters from recent years, you will see obvious differences in the appearance of the various models. These differences include changes in seat, gas tank, wheel, handlebar and other part designs. To me, the sleek, fluid lines of the 2005 Sportster make it a very exciting looking and attractive motorcycle.

Price
Because the 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster motorcycle is now almost five years old, the price being charged for one of them would be reflective of the age of the bike. Because it would obviously be a used motorcycle, the asking price would be set by a private owner or dealership and could fluctuate greatly, based upon wear and condition, geographical location and a host of other factors. Many of the 2005 Harley Davidson 1200 Sportsters that are advertised in newspapers and on line feature asking prices of between $5,000 and $8,500.

Handling
The 2005 HarleyDavidson XL 1200 C Sportster offers very good handling, all around. This bike features a good center of gravity and the weight seems to be evenly – distributed. Acceleration off – the – line is quick and responsive and it maintains a lot of power and torque. The brakes and clutch on the 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster are easy to use and effective and shifting is also easy to do. Overall, this motorcycle is a real pleasure to ride.

Size (Weight / Dimensions)
The engine in the 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster motorcycle is a 1200 cc (73 cubic inch) powerplant. This bike weighs – in at 562 pounds and its overall length is approximately 89 inches, with a wheelbase of a 59 inches. The ground clearance is roughly 4.4 inches and the seat height is approximately 26.5 inches.

Specifications
The V2 engine in the 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster features 76.2 x 96.8 mm (3.0 x 3.8 inches) bore x stroke and 69.00 Nm (7.0 kgf-m or 50.9 ft.lbs) at 4200 RPM torque. This air – cooled motorcycle features a carburettor – based fuel system, with two valves per cylinder. A five – speed transmission and belt drive are featured and the clutch is multi – plate in oil bath. Front and rear brakes are Single disc and the fuel tank holds 4.60 gallons.

Overall Rating
All things considered, the 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster motorcycle is a top – rate motorcycle that is great – looking and always exciting to ride. This motorcycle is highly recommended by this consumer writer.

Sources :
Personal experience with this motorcycle
http://www.bikez.com
http://ift.tt/AeNQJD

Tags:2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster Motorcycle

2005 : The Year in Rock!

Each year in the diverse genre of modern rock music, we acknowledge a combination of accomplished artists and the avant-garde. This past year was no exclusion as proverbial bands dominated the airwaves while obscure bands endeavored for a breakthrough. Bands of familiarity such as Green Day, Foo Fighters, 311, Weezer, and Nine Inch Nails released several hits each as we witnessed solid hits by newer bands such as Crossfade, My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, 10 Years, and Dark New Day.

As Billboard magazine releases their year-end charts, we as listeners often have our own sentiments of what songs were appealing and which songs weren’t. In this review, I have compiled a list of awards for the 2005 year in modern rock.

MODERN ROCK SONG OF THE YEAR-Scars (Papa Roach)
Papa Roach broke on to the rock scene back in 2000 as an explosive hard rock band. While obviously having issues, the group would vent through their music. With the release of ‘Scars’, the lead singer Jacoby Shaddix showed vulnerability as the rocker poured out his heart. The emotion mixed with the rockin’ instrumentals puts the song in an elite class.

Honorable Mention: Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (Green Day), Feel Good Inc. (Gorillaz), The Clincher (Chevelle), The Hand That Feeds (Nine Inch Nails), B.Y.O.B. (System Of A Down), Doesn’t Remind Me (Audioslave), Photograph (Nickelback)

MODERN ROCK GROUP OF THE YEAR – Green Day
Their latest album ‘American Idiot’, which was released in September of 2004, produced three number one songs. The title track ‘American Idiot’ along with ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ and ‘Holiday’ all topped the Modern Rock charts at some point since the album was released. The fourth release ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ peaked in the top five. No other artist’s success was as evident as the success of Green Day in 2005.

Honorable Mention: Nine Inch Nails, System Of A Down, Weezer, Seether, Mudvayne, Foo Fighters, Slipknot

MODERN ROCK BREAKTHROUGH BAND OF THE YEAR –Crossfade
The group Crossfade, from Columbia, South Carolina, broke through in 2005 as they released three hit singles from their album ‘Crossfade’. Their first release ‘Cold’ first hit the local airwaves around early fall of 2004, but once the song caught on nationally, it’s longevity on the modern rock charts lingered on well into 2005. ‘So Far Away’ and ‘Colors’ became their next two releases and were habitually rotated on modern rock radio.

Honorable Mention: Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, The Killers, 10 Years, Dark New Day, Theory Of A Deadman, Avenged Sevenfold

MODERN ROCK BREAKTHROUGH SONG OF THE YEAR – Wasteland (10 Years)
‘Wasteland’ is the groups first release off their album ‘The Autumn Effect’. This song is definitive of modern rock as it strays from the beguiling punk rock sound as well as the choppy heavy metal sound. The song is a good medium between the two styles of rock.

Honorable Mention: No Surprise (Theory Of A Deadman), Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down (Fall Out Boy), Brother (Dark New Day), I’m Not Okay (My Chemical Romance), Bat County (Avenged Sevenfold), When I’m Gone (No Address)

MODERN ROCK DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR- Audioslave
It’s not like Audioslave had a dismal year by any means, but the quality of their album ‘Out Of Exile’ didn’t quite meet up to the expectations as their debut album. When Audioslave released their first album in 2003, the brilliancy of songs such as ‘Cochise’, ‘Like A Stone’, ‘Show Me How To Live’, ‘I Am The Highway’, and ‘What You Are’ reigned the modern rock airwaves as no other band in a long while has been able to release a string of hits such as that. While Audioslave’s latest releases ‘Be Yourself’, ‘Your Time Has Come’, ‘Doesn’t Remind Me’, and ‘Out of Exile’ are brilliant recordings, they are inferior to the list of songs released off of their first album.

Honorable Mention: 3 Doors Down, The White Stripes, Garbage, The Offspring, Alter Bridge

Tags:2005 : The Year in Rock!

2006 Honda Foreman 500S

My newest addition to my list of “Things I own that I can no live without” is my 2006 Honda Foreman 500S. My husband surprised me with this ATV, (all terrain vehicle) or four wheeler, in February 2006. Boy, what a surprise it was.

OK, you are probably thinking, what in the world would possess a 40-something year old woman to even want an ATV, much less put it on her list of things she can not live without. The answer is simple, it allows me to spend more time with my family and spend more time outdoors. You see, my family and I are what you could call ATV enthusiasts. We enjoy trail riding and mud riding on our ATVs. We do not do any of the speed sports; all our ATVs are 4-wheel drive and are not ridden fast. Until I got my Honda Foreman 500S, I had to ride with my husband on his Honda Foreman 450S. Now, momma has her own ride and is enjoying every minute of it.

Now, let me tell you about my 2006 Honda Foreman 500S. The “broom” as it is fondly known, which is another story, has yellow plastic and has 28-inch Swamp Witch tires, mounted on factory wheels. It also has an intake snorkel and yellow Highlifter springs. Just for kicks and good luck, it has a witch that is zip-tied to the snorkel. Hopefully, it will soon have Douglas Rattlesnake wheels.

My Honda Foreman 500S gets more use than just being ridden on the trails. It is also my yard machine. I use it, along with my wagon, to clean up my yard. It works great when I am trimming my trees and cleaning the yard. It is even used to carry the trash cans to the road so the trash truck can pickup the trash.

My favorite time spent riding my Honda Foreman 500S is when I spend several days camping out and trail riding with my family and/or with friends. These weekends are great as we spend quality time together doing things we all enjoy doing; spending time outdoors and riding our ATVs.

My Honda Foreman 500S is on my list of “Things I own that I can’t live without” because of the independence is allows me to have, either on the trail or just around the house. Either place it is awesome, just ask the kids, they ride it whenever they can, and they both have their own ATVs. But, the greatest thing about having this ATV is the thought that went into buying it by my family before I received it. That means more than anything.

Tags:2006 Honda Foreman 500S

2006 NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys Will Be Anything but Boring

The Dallas Cowboys are another team that many “experts” are picking to do some big things in 2006 – and while I think they ‘Boys may be able to improve on their 9-7 season in 2005, I am not prepared to hand them anything on a silver platter, not even a division title.

If everything goes right for Dallas, they could be playing in the season’s final game. However, if things go wrong (which is always a possibility when Terrell Owens is in town) the Cowboys could flame out faster a fizzling firecracker.
Here’s the skinny on the Dallas Cowboys for 2006.

Quarterbacks
As I recently told my good friend, BetUSradio.com host, Matthew Ross, the Cowboys’ quarterback situation is simple. If the Cowboys provide adequate protection for Drew Bledsoe, he can still read the defenses and make the correct throws. As everyone knows, he still has a big arm as well. If Bledsoe doesn’t get protection, you’ll see a lot of sacks, incompletions and interceptions. Incredibly, Bledsoe has been sacked an unfathomable, 189 times the past four seasons.
Backup. Tony Romo may not have attempted a regular season pass in his short professional career, but that might not last much longer. Romo has opened some eyes this preseason and has probably played himself into a good look at the starters position in the near future.

Running Backs
Julius Jones is the guy the Cowboys start at tailback and when he’s healthy, Jones is pretty good. Unfortunately, Jones has never been able to make it through a full season as of yet. No matter, I like the Cowboys other running back, second-year player, Marion Barber, who rushed for nearly 600 yards and five touchdowns last season in a limited role.
If Jones can stay healthy all season, that will only serve to make Bledsoe all the more effective. If Jones goes down again, the Cowboys had better seriously think about making Barber their permanent starter.

Wide Receiver/Tight End
Who needs Terrell Owens when Terry Glenn has been running by dazed defensive backs all preseason like he’s 25-years-old again? Glenn has been nothing short of spectacular and can still perform at a high level, but the addition of Owens, whenever he does get on the field, should make the pair even more formidable. However, I can’t see the Owens-Parcells relationship going beyond 2006, so this may be just a one-year deal for both. Patrick Crayton is the Cowboys’ third receiver and one that is getting better with each game.
The Cowboys also have an excellent receiver in tight end Jason Witten, who should also flourish more with the addition of Owens opening up things considerably more for others.

Offensive Line
The Cowboys offensive line has looked decent during the preseason, but I am reserving all judgment on this unit until at least mid-season.
Kyle Kosier will start at left guard, Flozell Adams at left tackle, Al Johnson at center, Jason Fabini at right tackle and Marco Rivera at right guard. Cohesion could be a problem with this group and if any player in this starting unit suffers a lengthy injury, the ‘Boys offensive line could become a detriment again in 2006.

Defensive Line
I like the Cowboys defensive line, which has a nice mix of veterans sprinkled in with some young talent. Veteran defensive end, Greg Ellis combines with second-year players, Marcus Spears and Chris Canty, to give Dallas a nice trio of pass rushing ends. Jason Ferguson plays the nose tackle in Dallas’ 3-4 system. Jason Hatcher, a third-round pick from Grambling, should also see some time this year in the rotation.

Linebackers
The Cowboys have some talented linebackers, beginning with outside linebackers, DeMarcus Ware and Bobby Carpenter. Inside linebackers, Bradie James and newcomer, Akin Ayodele, should form another competent pair for the Cowboys as well. Rocky Boiman and Al Singleton will also find their way into the Cowboys linebacker rotation.

Defensive Backs
Although cornerback, Terrence Newman hasn’t fulfilled all of the potential that made him such a high first round draft pick two years ago, he and Anthony Henry have combined to make a formidable duo -and along with veteran Aaron Glenn – give the Cowboys three talented cornerbacks.
Safety Roy Williams, is one of the league’s biggest hitters although he can be beaten in coverage at times. Free Safety, Keith Davis is a more cerebral player who makes up for his lack of big-time hitting, with on-field smarts.
Should either of these guys go down, the Cowboys could be in trouble because Lynn Scott and Willie Pile certainly aren’t the answer.

Special Teams
The Cowboys signing of former Indianapolis Colts kicker, Mike Vanderjagt is an acquisition that could put the Cowboys over the top in a close contest that comes down to a field goal.
As good as Vanderjagt is, that’s how maddeningly inconsistent punter, Mat McBriar was last season. If he doesn’t improve, Parcells, who treasures good field position as much as coach, may be looking for a replacement.

Coaching
And speaking of the “Big Tuna,” I know that Parcells signed a two-year contract extension before this season that will run through the 2007 season, but I am going on record right now to say that Parcells could just as easily call it quits after this season than return for another treacherous trek in ’07 – especially if Owens turns out to be as big of a head case as he usually is.

Tags:2006 NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys Will Be Anything but Boring

2006 NFL Preview: AFC West

Denver Broncos
Head Coach: Mike Shanahan
2005 Record: 13-3
Key Additions: RB Mike Bell, WR Javon Walker, DE Kenard Lang
Key Subtractions: RB Mike Anderson, DE Trevor Pryce, TE Jeb Putzier

Offense: Head coach Mike Shanahan and the Denver front office made some interesting changes to an offense that scored over 24 point per games in 2005. The team opted to let No. 1 running back Mike Anderson walk after a 1,000-yard season with 12 TD’s. Prior to training camp, the belief was that Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne would battle it out for the starting job. But Shanahan surprised everyone early in camp by naming undrafted rookie Mike Bell of the University of Arizona as his No. 1 back. Bell will receive handoffs from quarterback Jake Plummer, who will have some pressure on him after the Broncos moved up in the draft to select highly touted quarterback Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt. Cutler may not see the field this season, but it’s no secret that he will be the future in Denver. At wide receiver, the team added Javon Walker through a trade with Green Bay. Walker, who should be back at 100% after tearing his ACL in the second game last season, will be paired with Denver receiving stalwart Rod Smith. Third receiver Ashley Lelie is demanding a trade and his days in Denver could be extinct.

Defense: The Broncos’ defense excelled in 2005, particularly at stopping the run. The team lost defensive end Trevor Pryce in the offseason, but has Courtney Brown, Ebenzer Ekuban, and Kenard Lang to fill his shoes. Gerard Warren and Michael Myers return as starting defensive tackles. The linebacking trio of Al Wilson, Ian Gold, and D.J. Williams remains in tow. The secondary also returns as a whole with Champ Bailey (8 interceptions last season) and Darrent Williams at cornerback and John Lynch and Nick Ferguson (5 interceptions) at safety.

Projection: With the other three teams in the division in a transition mode, it’s hard to see the steady Broncos not winning the AFC West. Plummer should be motivated to have a big season with Cutler breathing down his neck. Considering Denver’s history in cultivating running backs, starting an undrafted rookie should not be as scary as it may sound. The defense was dominant at times in 2005 and, if healthy, should repeat its success of a year ago. 12 wins and a potential first round bye could in store for Denver.

Kansas City Chiefs
2005 Record: 10-6
Head Coach: Herman Edwards
Key Additions: CB Ty Law, DE Tamba Hali
Key Subtractions: WR Marc Boerigter, RB Tony Richardson

Offense: Dick Vermeil announced his retirement at the end of the 2005 season, culminating an overall successful run in Kansas City. To replace the Hall of Fame Vermeil, the Chiefs went out and paid a price to wrest Herman Edwards away from the New York Jets. The team hopes Edwards can bring a much needed toughness to the defensive side of the ball. The offense requires little tinkering after another monstrous season. The Chiefs led the league in total yards in ’05, scoring over 25 points per game. Quarterback Trent Green led the offense with another 4,000-yard season. With Priest Holmes out with potential career-threatening injuries, Larry Johnson established himself as one of the top backs in the league with an amazing 1,750 yards and 20 TD’s. The receiving corps remains the same with world class tight end Tony Gonzalez and receivers Eddie Kennison, Samie Parker, and speedster Dante Hall.

Defense: The defense has always been Kansas City’s Achilles’ heel and the organization did little in the offseason to improve the unit. A lot of faith is being put in Edwards’ defense-first mindset to motivate the players. The team did draft defense with its first round pick in defensive end Tamba Hali, who will start with Jaren Allen, who notched 11 sacks in ’05. Kawika Mitchell, team leader in tackles, returns at middle linebacker, flanked by second-year player Derrick Johnson and Kendrell Bell. The team did make a bold move in the secondary by signing Ty Law, who grabbed 10 interceptions last season under Edwards in New York, to play cornerback with Patrick Surtain. Greg Wesley, with his 6 interceptions from last year, starts at free safety while Sammy Knight holds down the strong safety position.

Projection: With so few roster changes, it would be difficult to predict anything but status quo for the Chiefs. The offense will produce copious amounts of yardage and points while the defense could give most of it back. Another 9 or 10 win season is certainly within reach, but the team could again be on the outside looking in at the playoffs in a tough conference.

Oakland Raiders
2005 Record: 4-12
Head Coach: Art Shell
Key Additions: QB Aaron Brooks, CB Tyrone Poole
Key Subtractions: QB Kerry Collins, DB Renaldo Hill, DT Ted Washington

Offense: A dismal 4-12 season prompted owner Al Davis to try a blast from the past and bring back Art Shell, who Davis fired after the 1994 season, as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Shell inherits a troubled team with a new starting quarterback. Aaron Brooks left the New Orleans Saints to sign a two-year in Oakland as a replacement for Kerry Collins. While Brooks has had a poor start to the preseason, he does possess talent and has weapons to work with on the field. None of those weapons is bigger than wide receiver Randy Moss, who caught 8 TD’s and managed over 1,000 yards despite being hampered by injuries most of the season. Defenses double teaming Moss could benefit fellow receivers Doug Gabriel and Ronald Curry. Jerry Porter remains a holdout from the team after demanding a trade. At running back, Lamont Jordan should build on his solid season as a first-year starter where he accumulated 1,025 yards and 9 scores.

Defense: The Raiders were among the worst defensive teams in 2005, ranking 27th out of 32 teams in total defense. The lone bright spot was the play of defensive end Derrick Burgess, who led the entire NFL with 16 sacks. With big Ted Washington gone, Warren Sapp and Tommy Kelly will do their best to plug up the middle at the defensive tackle spot. Danny Clark and Kirk Morrison developed into nice surprises at the linebackers, both notching over 110 tackles. Second round draft pick Thomas Howard of UTEP could get the nod at strongside linebacker. The team’s first round draft pick, defensive back Michael Huff of the University of Texas, will start at strong safety while Stuart Schweigert roams at free safety. Nnamdi Asomugha, Fabian Washington, and Tyrone Poole will battle it out at the cornerback position.

Projection: Much of Oakland’s success in 2006 will depend on how well Aaron Brooks can throw the ball. He can be shaky at times and spectacular other times. Even without Porter, there’s enough on offense where Oakland can score some points. The defense is another story and barring massive improvements across the board, 6 wins should be the limit for the Raiders.

San Diego Chargers
2005 Record: 9-7
Head Coach: Marty Schottenheimer
Key Additions: CB Antonio Cromartie, S Marlon McCree
Key Subtractions: QB Drew Brees, WR Reche Caldwell

Offense: A new era will begin in San Diego this season as quarterback Philip Rivers, the 4th overall pick in the 2004 draft, takes over the reigns of the Chargers’ offense. Rivers, who has not started a game in his two years as a pro, replaces Drew Brees, who revitalized the franchise two seasons ago with stellar play and, most importantly, victories. But after handing out a large contract to Rivers as a rookie, the team couldn’t afford another season with two players making big money at the same position. It’s rare that the entire season can rest on the shoulders of one player, but Philips assumes the pressure. The Chargers made hardly any personnel changes on either side of the ball. Superstar running back Ladanian Tomlinson returns and should post 2,000 yards rushing and receiving even in a bad season. Antonio Gates, perhaps the best tight end in the sport, gives the inexperienced Rivers a go-to receiver. Veteran Keenan McCardell and up and comer Eric Parker will start at wide receiver.

Defense: In 2005, the defense for San Diego did yeoman’s work, particular in stuffing the run. The group yielded a league-best 84.3 yards per game on the ground. Luis Castillo and Igor Olshansky rush from the defensive ends position while Jamal Williams penetrates at nose tackles. Donnie Edwards, after a 154-tackle season, returns with Randall Godfrey and Steve Foley as the starting linebackers. Shawne Merriman, with 10.5 sacks in his rookie season, will play the tweener spot again on the D-line and at a linebacker. In the secondary, Quentin Jammer holds down one cornerback spot while first round pick Antonio Cromartie of Florida State and Drayton Florence battle for the second starting spot. Terrence Kiel and Bhawoh Jue start at safeties.

Projection: Philip Rivers will ultimately decide the fate of this football team in 2006. If he stumbles as a first-year starter, which is not out of the question, the Chargers might not be above .500. With the talent at the other 21 positions on the field, the potential exists for a big season if Rivers can find his groove early on. More than likely, Rivers will struggle adapting to the position and the Chargers will take a step back to 6 or 7 wins.

Projected 2006 AFC West Standings:
Denver Broncos: 12-4
Kansas City Chiefs: 9-7
San Diego Chargers: 7-9
Oakland Raiders: 5-11

Tags:2006 NFL Preview: AFC West

2006 NFL Season Preview: Carolina Panthers

With the preseason in full swing and the opening weekend less than a calendar month away, now is the perfect time to glance in at all 32 NFL franchises and get a scoop on what to expect this season. I will be grading every team on all three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. I will also take a look at the coaching staffs of all 32 teams, including the 10 new Head Coaches and evaluate the impact they might have on their team’s success. Then I will outline some key position battles and some names you may or may not know about to watch for the upcoming season.

Even as the Seattle Seahawks were finishing a 34-14 beating of the Carolina Panthers, people all over were already commenting on their prospects for the upcoming 2006 season. Experts and fans alike were impressed with the offensive capabilities of the Panthers to go along with the stout defense that shut out the high-powered New York Giants in the Wildcard round last season. With some of the moves they made, and with Head Coach John Fox still at the head of the charge, the 2006 edition of the Carolina Panthers look to be just as exciting to watch as their 2005 version. They have been the early pick by some experts to be the NFC’s representative for the Super Bowl, seemingly getting just as many nods as the defending NFC Champs, the Seahawks. Their offense only improved by adding more talent at some key skill positions, and their defense remains just a stout as ever. After being the fifth seed in the playoffs a season before, they are looking to be much better.

Offense

John Fox has trusted his offense to Dan Henning for the past four seasons, and Henning has been nothing short of spectacular in the role. Henning has been the key constructor of the offense seeing as Fox has been known throughout his career as a defensive coach. He has taken the Panther offense and made then into one of the strongest offensive attacks in the NFL both on the ground and through the air. With the continued development of the young receivers and a solid quarterback to make sure they can get the ball, and very strong veteran receivers at the top of the lists can make them incredibly dangerous. Meanwhile, the running attack has a number of running backs that can be spectacular in their efforts and dominate teams. With Henning and CO, you can expect another high-powered season from the Panthers offense and that spells trouble for their rivals.

QB: Jake Delhomme is a solid quarterback in NFL terms. He’s been a solid option for the Panthers’ at quarterback since he became the full-time starter in 2003, when the team made its first appearance in the Super Bowl. Delhomme is a strong quarterback who has the ability to make the decisive throws. He’s not physically tall or commanding in the pocket, but don’t let that fool you. He commands the attention of his teammates and he is the leader of the offense. He’s been through it all, including winning a World Bowl in 1999 with the Frankfurt Galaxy, and now he’s gunning for the Super Bowl. With Delhomme, you get a quarterback who doesn’t make silly mistakes but is known to take a chance that he doesn’t want to make. His 11 victories last season set a franchise record for most victories by a starting quarterback in Panthers history and earned his first career Pro-Bowl selection last season. Delhomme will make the plays, that’s key. You love having a playmaker as a quarterback, and Delhomme, quite simply, is exactly that.

RB/FB: Running back should be an interesting position for the Panthers. For the second straight year, the Panthers selected a running back on the first day, with Eric Shelton in the second round in 2005 and DeAngelo Williams in 2006. Williams, however, was considered by many the best back in the draft not named Reggie Bush. Williams will give the Panthers yet another option in a somewhat crowded backfield. This is necessary,. however, due to the injury problems which have plagued their running backs over the years. Incumbent starter DeShaun Foster has been injury prone in his NFL career but did break out last season before suffering an injury against the Bears in the divisional round of the 2005 playoffs. Foster is expected to be the starter going in with his ability to run and mix it up with speed and power along with his receiving ability, but the prospects of those other backs in the system should worry him a bit. Don’t forget about Shelton, who is healthy following spending his rookie season on the injured reserve with a injured left foot and has the size to be a short-yardage back, or Nick Goings, who has been awesome in replacement of Foster and Stephen Davis the season before. Fullback is held down by Brad Hoover, although Goings could have time there as well just to get him some playing time.

WR/TE: Steve Smith was the top receiver in the NFL last season, a remarkable comeback after missing the majority of the 2004 season with a broken left fibula. When he’s on the field, as he was in 2005, he’s so dangerous because of his ability to get open. His size doesn’t factor into the equation at all, especially in the NFL’s new age of tall and strong receivers. Smith is able to get into the middle and make the tough catches or get behind the secondary and burn you for six just as easily. Add to that the added improvements of both Keary Colbert and Drew Carter this preseason and the signing of Keyshawn Johnson. Johnson gives the Panthers an extra dangerous number two receiver, a guy who will also go up the middle and make the tough grab and be an exceptional possession receiver for the Panthers. He will make the defenses they face play him right and not cheat over to help against Steve Smith, which should in turn open things up for both receivers. At tight end, it looks like Michael Gaines has finally fully supplanted veteran TE Kris Mangum as the starter for the Panthers. He’s a big strong blocking TE who showed us last season some above average soft hands and an ability to make contributions in the passing game.

OL: They lack the depth that had been their staple over the past few seasons, but that doesn’t mean that the starting five aren’t still one of the strongest and most cohesive units in the NFL. Center Justin Hartwig is new from Tennessee, where he started 47 games for them over the past three seasons. He’s a strong run-blocker who possesses a high intelligence for reading defenses and making excellent reads for the rest of the line. On his left are Travelle Wharton at tackle and Pro-Bowl Mike Wahle at guard. After playing left guard the season before last, moved successfully and played all 16 games at left tackle last season. Very versatile and agile, Wharton provides good blindside protection for Delhomme. Wahle, meanwhile, made the Pro-Bowl last season and started all 16 games last season after coming from Green Bay as a free-agent in 2005. He is incredibly strong and is known to knock defenders off their line with remarkable ease. The right side is just as strong, with Evan Mathis and Jordan Gross. Mathis will be a new starter on the offensive line, but saw game action in 9 games as a rookie last season, mostly on special teams. He’s athletic and should work well with the rest of the unit. Gross has been consistent for the Panthers since being drafted by them in the first-round in 2003. He’s started all 48 regular season games and all 7 postseason games since he entered the league.
Overall Grade: A

Defense

Even with the explosive offense, the defense is still probably the key unit for the Panthers. They are so talented and have so many playmakers that they are just as dangerous defensively as they are offensively. With Mike Trgovac, they have one of the best defensive minds in the NFL who has constructed one of the most feared defenses in the league. This defense allowed only 16 points a game and 283 yards a game. They are athletic up front, solid and quick in the middle, and agile in the secondary. John Fox made sure that in building the Panthers he would have a defense that would be the strength of the team. Fox and the Panthers are definitely subscribers to the belief that defenses win championships.

DL: They got two of the best ends in the league in Mike Rucker and Julius Peppers. Peppers in considered to be one of the best defensive lineman in the game, and rightfully so. He’s got the speed of a skill position player and the strength of an interior lineman, something that is very rare in the NFL. He can get off the line faster than most and knows how to beat an opposing tackle with an assortment of moves. Entering his 5th NFL season with 40.5 sacks to his name and 13 forced fumbles. Rucker is solid on the other end, though not receiving as much credit as his counterpart or even Kris Jenkins on the inside. Rucker can also get to the quarterback efficiently and does so often because of the play of his linemates to occupy the linemen. Jenkins is coming back from injuries in each of his last two seasons, but he is one of the NFL’s best when he’s healthy. A great run-stopper who can get some pressure on the quarterback on occasion, Jenkins can give you the best of both worlds from the inside of the line. Maake Kemoeatu will be the other interior lineman after spending last season with Baltimore. Known mostly as a run-stopper, they expect he will fill that gap and make it easier for the defense to cycle opposing running backs to a linebacker free in a gap.

LB: Dan Morgan still leads this unit in the middle. Morgan has been a mainstay for the Panther defense for the better part of five seasons now. Morgan is a deceptively fast linebacker who just makes plays for the defense on a consistent basis and rarely finds himself out of position. He’s the leader of the defense when it comes to making reads, at least in the front seven. Expect 2005 first-round pick Thomas Davis to assume the starting strongside linebacker spot fulltime for the Panthers this season. He’s an incredibly gifted athlete who’s got a knack for making plays and now that Will Witherspoon is gone you should expect him to get into the starting lineup permanently. The battle for the weak side is especially difficult, but it looks like Na’il Diggs has the inside track due to his size and ability against the run.

DB: Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas make for solid corners in this defense. Gamble is true to his name, but only makes smart gambles on coverage that more often than not pay off in huge dividends for the Panthers. He’s got great closing speed and has some of the best instincts in the NFC in terms of playing the ball or the receiver. Lucas, meanwhile, is the shutdown corner of the Panthers. Teams cannot avoid his side anymore with Gamble getting better and thus have to challenge Lucas more than they would like. Reggie Howard and rookie Richard Marshall are in a heated battle for the nickel position. The safeties as of right now are veterans Mike Minter and Shaun Williams. Williams is in this position because Colin Branch is still recovering from an injury and they really aren’t too sure about the timetable for his return.
Overall Grade: A

Special Teams

K: John Kasay has been the only kicker that the Panthers have ever known in their history, and that probably won’t change this season. Kasay, an established veteran, is a kicker that the Panthers have grown to trust him in all types of situations. He’s got a decent leg, but the accuracy is what keeps him employed. He’s a solid kicker who rarely misses from inside 40 yards and can be consistent enough from outside 40 to be stronger.

P: Jason Baker will handle the punting duties once again. He’s had the best net average in the NFC and third-best in the NFL. He will also serve as the kickoff specialist, so that ensures him a job for another season. He’s a solid punter, a guy who handles directional kicking well but might not have the leg strength that others possess.
Overall Grade: B+

Coaching Staff

John Fox has been one of the best Head Coaches in the league. He led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in just his second season and then after narrowly missing the postseason in 2004, returned the Panthers to the postseason again in 2005 and made the NFC championship game. He’s a young coach who has a fiery personality just right for the system in Carolina. He’s made it acceptable to be emotional on and off the field and that fuels his players. Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning has been the main architect for the Panthers strong offense, and Defensive Coordinator Mike Trgovac has led their strong defense just as well. Trgovac is considered one of the best defensive minds in the NFL by most experts.
Overall Grade: A

Postion Battles to Watch

WR: It’ll be interesting for who will be the next receiver behind Smith and Johnson. Both Colbert and Carter are having excellent preseasons and you could make a strong case for either to assume the spot. It might not matter too much tot eh Panthers because they should use the four receiver sets a lot with Johnson.

WLB: The weakside linebacker spot is another hotly contested position for the Panthers. Na’il Diggs is the favorite because the coaches prefer his size and run-stopping ability to the challenger, Keith Adams. Adams has also performed well so far in the camp and in the preseason so they haven’t quite made the decision just yet.

CB: Nickel corner is also a big competition between rookie Richard Marshall and veteran Reggie Howard. Marshall has had lapses in coverage at times in the preseason. Howard doesn’t possess the speed you would want from a corner, but he’s solid and doesn’t make as many mental errors as rookie Marshall does.

Player to Watch

Chris Gamble, CB/KR: The real reason I suggest you watch Gamble this year is because of his importance to the return game of the Panthers. I doubt they really want to have Steve Smith returning too many kicks this year, and with Gamble they have another player who can perform that function for them. Gamble has also been steadily improving in passing defense and gives them a corner who compliments veteran Ken Lucas.

Bold Predictions
Record:
12-4, NFC South Champs
Offensive MVP: Steve Smith
Defensive MVP: Mike Minter

Tags:2006 NFL Season Preview: Carolina Panthers

2006 Countdown to Beaujolais Nouveau is On!

The youngsters have stored away their scariest costumes and the annual night of trick or treating is past.

Fun as that is for children, for many adults, Halloween is the just the final stepping stone to the release of Beaujolais Nouveau, a tradition they relish just as the children enjoy their candies.

By French law, Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be released until the third Thursday in November (Nov. 16, this year), so those who are bent on a taste of the 2006 vintage often begin their official countdowns on November 1.

The wine is more properly termed Beaujolais Primeur, because by French and European rules, a wine released during the period between its harvest and a date in the following spring, is termed primeur. A wine released during the period between its own and the following years harvest, is termed nouveau.

The marketing savvy of Georges Duboeuf is credited for the rise in poularity of this annual ritual and for the rise in consumption of the Beaujolais Nouveau wine, too (from one million bollles 45 years ago go more than 17 million bottles today).

What makes Beaujolais Nouveau so popular in the U.S. where consumption of red wine is less than 30 percent?

Simply put, Beaujolais Nouveau is as about as close to white wine as a red wine can get. Due to the way it is made – pressed early after only three days – the phenolic compounds, in particular the astringent tannins, normally found in red wines, isn’t there, leaving an easy to drink, fruity wine.

This, coupled with the fact that it tastes best when chilled, makes for a festive wine to be gulped rather than sipped, enjoyed in high spirits rather than analyzed. Also, it makes a great transitional wine for anyone wanting to move from white to red wines.
And who can think of a more appropriate Thanksgiving dinner wine? After all, Thanksgiving is all about the harvest and Beaujolais Nouveau follows suit.

As one writer put it, the race from grape to glass may be silly, but half the fun is knowing that on the same night, in homes, cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and bistros around the world, the same celebration is taking place.
It hasn’t the pedigree to be a classic wine, but it is always good.

Any other opinion you may regard as boorish and uninformed and goodness knows, we don’t want THAT now, do we?

Tags:2006 Countdown to Beaujolais Nouveau is On!

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