Re: NFL '09-'10 Come Get Some
I do love the NFL. Here is my season breakdown:
AFC – East
Patriots: The question is how will Brady hold up? I’m skeptical, and I can see him having some trouble with his leg. But then again, Brady has never been a physical player, his game is mental, so the drop off should be minor. They should still take the division, even if it’s not with 14 to 16 wins.
Jets: Everyone is enamored by the fact that the Falcons and Ravens both were able to have success with rookie HCs and rookie QBs, and hope that will somehow rub off the on Jets. But the Falcons and Ravens last year were huge exceptions to the norm. I think if the Jets get to 7 or 8 wins, they should call that a major success.
Bills: They’ve fired their OC, cut their starting LT, and canned a decent RB, all in the past week or so. Can you say picking early in April?
Dolphins: They find themselves with the question that the Jets faced every year. If Pennington stay’s healthy, they make the playoffs. If Pennington gets injured, they don’t. And with Brady back in the Pats, they’ll have trouble holding that tie-breaker that let them win the division last season. The question is which Pennington to they get this year? The wining version or the injured version? Odds say Pennington can’t do it two seasons in a row, and the Phins miss the playoffs.
AFC - North
Steelers: Still the best team in the division. Yes, their O-line is a mess, and it will be a struggle to hold it all together all season long, but no one really offers them much of a challenge for the division. Then they’re faced with the question of can they hold it together enough to get through the playoffs.
Ravens: Flaco is set for a let down now that teams have a full year of tape on him. Still, their defense should keep them in the race, and that gives them a decent shot at the division if the Steelers struggle for even a single game.
Bengals: The question is how much more does Marvin Lewis have to screw up to get himself fired?
Browns: They have pretty much nothing to look forward to, other than that they get to play the Bengals for the title of worst team in Ohio. Will Quinn finally take over at starter? Will they ever trade away Quin or Anderson? Will anyone care come December? Will Ohio forget they have two NFL teams?
AFC - South
Titans: Hello let down city. Kerry Collins isn’t their long term answer, and they’ll regret re-signing him (not that they had much of a choice). Their D should still be solid, but it’s not going to give them the division on platter again. Their question will be what the heck are they doing to go with two highly paid sub-par QBs on their roster?
Colts: Losing Marvin Harrison is non-issue. His numbers last season were nothing special; they were on par with most teams #3 WR, and he’s long since been replaced by Wayne. A complete change in coaching staff is going to be different, but this was a friendly changing of the guard, not a blow out of pink slips, so the drop off should be minimal. No one is coming in an installing a whole new system for players to adjust too. They have some issues, and may not dominate the league, but 10+ wins shouldn’t be too difficult. But can they fend off the Texans?
Jaguars: This team loves to be mediocre. They make some impressive wins against good teams, and then fall apart. The question is does Jack Del Rio get shown the door this season, or can he pull enough smoke and mirrors to keep his job intact?
Texans: This team is no longer the punching bag of the league. With one of the best (if not the best) WR in the league, this is a team that will finally be in a play off hunt. The question is how far does that hunt take them?
AFC – West
Chiefs: In 2008, most everyone agree they had the best draft. Now that it’s a year later, it’s time to see how that draft class can develop into a solid team. Some say Matt Cassel’s success in New England last year was due to the team around him and not his talent. Perhaps. But after making the trade, the Chief’s did not offer him a new contract right away, rather they waiting to see how he did in off season work outs and mini-camps. If Piloti thought enough to pay him,that is a sign something is going right there. They were my dark horse to make the playoffs, however firing their OC and having Cassel already inured doesn’t sound like an over .500 season to me.
Chargers: Rivers is on of the better QBs in the NFL right now, and this team is loaded with talent. But despite all this, they only went 8-8 last season and have always managed to screw things up. Still, they should win the division The question is in which round of the playoffs do they choke?
Raiders: Despite three years with high draft choices in a row, this team has failed to address their disaster of an O-line. A quick review of the last few weeks:
The HC has allegedly punched out an assistant.
J. Russel’s work ethic has been questioned.
Back up QB jeff Garcia has been out with an injury, and then was cut.
Every WR on the team has a question mark due to either injury or poor performance.
Their defense is the only thing that will prevent them from having the #1 overall pick in April.
Broncos: The big question surrounding the Broncos is how long until the fans try to run Josh McDaniels out of town? He’s already on the hot seat for running Cutler out of town. He hired Nolan as DC, who’s trying into install his infamous not-quite-a-3-4 defense. Their only hope is they play the Raiders twice.
NFC – East
NY Giants: With a strong running game, top defense, and QB who’s less prone to mistakes than he used to be, the G-Men are a top favorite to win the NFC-E, but I wouldn’t put much money on that.
Eagles: I don’t adding Vick is going to be a huge factor, other than it gives the team options if McNabb were to be injured. The Eagles are already facing injuries around the roster, but still, they always manage to pull something out to make the playoffs.
I more question if Reid can keep it together before he burns out. A wildcard, if not the division, should be there for them if they stay relatively healthy.
Cowpukes: Will just miss the playoffs by this “-“ much.
Redskins: The team has shown no faith in Jason Cambell as he enters a contract year. It would be hilarious if Cambell played really well, took the team deep into the playoffs, and then walked away on the team that didn’t believe in him. OK, I doubt it will happen, but it would still be hilarious if it happened.
NFC - North
Packers: While critics still say the team would be better off with Favre, Rodgers actually outplayed his former starting QB last season. If their defense can stop being swiss cheese, they should take the division.
Bears: after what seems like an eternity, the team finally has some stability at QB. All signs point to a heated 3-way battle for dominance in their division. Do the Bears have enough? I wouldn’t count them out, but I wouldn’t put any money on them.
Vikings: I don’t buy in the Favre hype for several reasons:
1) He was terrible down the stretch last season
2) He missed all of camp, and doesn’t have much time to learn the playbook and develop chemistry with his team.
3) I don’t think his heart is in it enough for a full season.
Still, having one of the best (if not the best) RB in the league and a good defense will keep them in the division race, but rumors of a divided locker room implies they fall apart down the stretch.
Lions: The good news is most of the players and staff from last year’s 0-16 team are gone, so there should be no hang over from last year. The bad news is the Lions are basically an expansion team in a tough division. Good luck winning more than 4 games.
NFC – South
Panthers: They gave Delhomme way too much money, and basically hoping what they did last year will be good enough for this year. Too bad for them their division foes are actually trying to get better.
Saints: They have one of the better offenses and worst defenses in the league. They’ll have a good season, but how good is going to depend on much their D drags them down.
Bucs: Appear to be rebuilding, won’t win the division but will play spoiler for their opponents down the stretch.
Falcons: With a year of tape on Ryan, the Falcons are not going to surprise teams like they did last year, but they have a better defense than the Saints, and are improving more than the Panthers. Is that enough to win the division?
Seahawks: The Hawks were undone by injuries and a HC who was burned out last season. They are hoping starting healthy with new enthusiasm at the HC position will return them to winners of the west. They are also hoping Jim Mora Jr learned his lesson in Atl about what NOT to do as a head coach. The problem with the Hawks is they are really just trying to get back where they were a few years back when they won the West on a regular basis. The problem is (save 2005) they won the west with 9-7 or 10-6 records, by beating up weak 49er and Cardinals team. Take away 2 or 3 of those wins with an improved 49ers and Cards, and the Hawks are struggling to break .500. And a rash of early injuries before the season has even started does not help.
Cardinals: While most of the media is jumping on the last minute run in the playoffs last year, remember, in the regular season, they only went 9-7. They scored an amazing 427 total points over 16 games, but gave up 426 points, giving them an average margin of victory of 1/16th of a point. Statistically, they were a field goal away from going 7-9. They’ve made few efforts to upgrade their defense, and now have Billy Davis (the fired 49ers former DC) running their defense. While they will continue to score a lot of points, it’s going to be near impossible to go to the playoffs 2 years in a row while giving up that sheer volume of points. Also keep in mind, Kurt Warner has never started 16 games two seasons in a row at any point in his career. 7-9 is more realistic than another 9-7 season.
Rams: This team was terrible in every respect last season, and even some improvements isn’t going to get them more than 4 or 5 wins.
49ers: The team went 7-9 last, improving down the stretch. Not having Nolan holding them back should improve the team two more wins to 9-7, which will be enough to take this weak division. But while I expect the 49ers to win the division, they’ll sadly be blown out in the 1st game of the playoffs 40-3.