So football’s back… woo-hoo!!! But I don’t care really.
Yeah I’m bitter about my Giants I can’t lie, that’s what happens when you have your top defensive end act salty over not getting a new deal, you lose half of your team to injury in the preseason (its and exaggeration but losing 3 DB’s including your best one Terrell Thomas, your starting middle linebacker, his backup is not fun) and your division rival just bought half of the NFL including your best receiver. Also the fact that your GM just stood there and did nothing about any of this. Not that I’m salty or anything.
The Eagles offseason has put them ahead of the pack as the team to beat in the NFC and the NFL as well. Their acquisitions including Nmandi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Ronnie Brown and Jason Babin help to strengthen a team that won 10 games last year and could have them in prime position to knock over the defending champion Packers.
What you may have forgotten about the Packers is that they won the title last year with a depleted unit as well. starting running back Ryan Grant, tight end Jermichael Finley as well as several others suffered season ending injuries early in season and jeopardized the Packers playoff chances. Aaron Rodgers suffered two concussion last year as well and misses a game due to his injury. Yet they overcame those injuries to steamroll their way to the playoffs and eventually a Super Bowl crown. Now with everyone back healthy how can they not be primed for a second straight run?
That last paragraph gives me hope for the Giants but not really. Especially when the team that we share a stadium with is getting all of the buzz in the city of New York. Whether its Rex Ryan’s mouth, Mark Sanchez on GQ, or obtaining Plaxico Buress the Jets have remained the talk of football in New York and with good reasoning. The Jets have made two straight AFC title games under Ryan and are on the cusp of finally making it to Super Bowl this year… that is if they can’t beat the Patriots.
The Patriots did some retooling themselves after their 28-21 loss to the Jets in the playoffs this past January. They rescued Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth from poor situations in Cincinnati and Washington and Bill Belichick is working them into his system and despite some early concerns about their inability to learn the schemes you know both will be ready and that the Patriots, and Tom Brady will be in line at the top of the heap of the AFC.
So who else has a shot at Super Bowl 46 this year? who’s going to be fun to watch? Who’s not worth our time and who is dead in the water?… well I think I just named the basis for my blog today now didn’t I?
DON’T EVEN BOTHER WATCHING
Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton and AJ Green could hook up to be a great combo in this league… just not this year. Dalton has targets in Green, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Greshiam but the Bengals have no defense to speak of and little depth.
(Side Note: how does Marvin Lewis still have a job? the Bengals have perennially underachieved under him and have had a string of poor behavior from their players. Yet he’s still there without an inkling of heat underneath his seat. Maybe Mike Brown is cheap but he can’t be stupid. If Lewis doesn’t get it done this year or next he’s got to go… right?)
Jacksonville Jaguars: you get on this list for firing your QB 5 days before the opener. That and having no real receivers to speak of after Mike Sims-Walker left for St. Louis and very little on defense. Hi Jack Del Rio, welcome to the hot seat.
Buffalo Bills: name me three Buffalo Bills… don’t worry I’ll wait.
DEAD IN THE WATER
Miami Dolphins: Reggie Bush looks like a new man, Cameron Wake is a top 10 defensive end in the league and the tandem of Vontae Davis and Sean Smith are one of the best in the league at defensive back. So why are they on this list? Chad Henne is their starting QB… no need to elaborate, let’s move on.
Tennessee Titans: Matt Hasselback is a good replacement until Jake Locker is ready to take the reins and Chris Johnson is in the fold again after signing a huge extension. Yet in a division with the Colts and Texans who made strides to get better in terms of depth , the Titans have a ways to go to catch up.
Denver Broncos: I have and always will like Kyle Orton. He is a capable starting QB with enough sense to lead a team to the playoffs. John Fox has made a lot of smart decision this offseason when it came to figuring out a better defensive scheme to make that poor unit better but his best decision was make Orton the starter. Tim Tebow as much as the fans love him is nowhere near ready to be on the field as an NFL starter. Hell Brady Quinn looked better than him this preseason… BRADY QUINN! As much as the fans were calling for Tebow and that John Elway loves him they all need to wake the heck up. Tebow Is not a starting QB in the NFL right now, if you start him you hurt your teams chances at making the playoffs and the Broncos can become a player if their defense holds up.
Oakland Raiders: Yep you’re reading that right. Even with the loss of Asomuha on defense the Raiders have more than enough up front to be scary led by Richard Seymour. My biggest concern with them is if they can score enough points. They have a ton of speed with Jacoby Ford, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Darren McFadden but can it be utilized by any of their QB’s?
Cleveland Browns: they’re not ready to compete this year, but I have a feeling that Colt McCoy and Joe Haden will give teams fits on both ends of the ball. I know Cleveland is wary about expectations but 9-7 isn’t crazy to me.
THEY CAN GO EITHER WAY
Indianapolis Colts: this isn’t just because Peyton Manning will miss the time due to his neck injury it’s because I don’t trust their wide receivers to stay healthy, their secondary to be effective and their front 7 to be consistent. However, if Manning does come back slinging it like he does then none of this will matter.
Kansas City Chiefs: this team would be a contender if someone other than Matt Cassel was their QB. He’s not bad by any means but I think he inhibits them offensively. As for the defense… hey Glenn Dorsey… DO SOMETHING!!!
San Diego Chargers: they’re in good hands with Philip Rivers but consistency on offense worries me. Also can Shaun Phillips make enough plays on defense to make them forget about Shawne Merriman?
EITHER GET IT DONE OR BE DONE
Houston Texans: If they don’t breakthrough this year then it’ll never happen. Peyton’s injured, the Titans and Jags are rebuilding and the Texans stand on the cusp of a divisional title if they can actually man up in big games (hi, Matt Schaub). With Wade Phillips running the defense they should improve and actually be marginally good against the pass. But it really it comes down to this; we’ve been saying now for the last two seasons that this is the year for the Texans… I’m not saying it. Either get it done or start over.
THE ONLY FOUR THAT MATTER
Baltimore Ravens: the only thing that worries me about them is Joe Flacco. After last postseason in Pittsburgh Flacco looks frightened of the moment to me and that could be an issue going down the stretch. Does he have the fortitude to lead the Ravens in late game situations or is he just an average QB? This year we’ll find out.
New York jets: no excuse not to make it all the way this year. they have the experience, the players and the coaching, now they’ve got to get over the hump.
Pittsburgh Steelers: so, you think Dan Rooney is happy that this offseason is over? James Harrison, Hines Ward and Rashard Mendenhall gave him heartburn with their off the field issues and left a stain on the Steeler logo. Well now that it’s over and football is all that matters the focus is there and Mike Tomlin won’t let it slip. The league’s best defense can lead the Steelers back to the promise land and make everyone forget about a forgettable offseason.
New England Patriots: Tom Brady and Bill Belichick after a postseason loss to a divisional rival and all offseason to think about it? yeah, get scared.
CHANGE THE CHANNEL
Washington Redskins: their starter is Rex Grossman, they have no one to run the ball, and they have no real secondary… Washington is counting the days until the Capitals are back.
San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith is still their QB…
THERE’S A CHANCE BUT NOT A GOOD ONE
New York Giants: no depth, no chance. Also… STOP TURNING THE DAMN BALL OVER ALL OF YOU!!!!!!
Carolina Panthers: very young, very raw, but very talented. Give them time to gel and check back next year or the year after.
Minnesota Vikings: Donovan McNabb’s number one receiver is Percy Harvin, Jared Allen is coming off of a poor season and needs a bounce back badly. Sounds like it’ll be a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson this year.
UMMM… I COULDN’T EVEN TELL YOU
Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo is in a make or break year for his career. If he can’t get to the playoffs this year and go deep then the Cowboys will look for a new QB to lead the team in 2012. The problem is does he have everything he needs to succeed around him. who’s the team’s number one running back? Can Dez Bryant step his game up and compliment Miles Austin on the outside? Can their secondary stop anybody? Will Jason Garrett strangle Mike Jenkins by year’s end? I would hate to be in Romo’s position right now.
Arizona Cardinals: Now we get to see what the big deal is with Kevin Kolb. If he’s all that he’s cracked up to be then the Cardinals will contend. If not then Ken Whisenhunt will be feeling a little fire under his seat.
Seattle Seahawks: all of these offseason moves to improve your offense and the best you can do at QB is Tavaris Jackson? Maybe they should’ve resigned Hasselback.
YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID… VERY AFRAID
Detroit Lions: if Matt Stafford can stay healthy… IF… then look out. This is everyone’s chic pick to be the breakout team in the NFL and it’s not hard to see why. The main reason is Ndamukong Suh who is becoming the best defensive player in the NFL leading a defensive line that once it gets Nick Fairley back will be one of the best in the game. However, it comes back to Stafford. He has shown in limited action that he can be a really good QB and can put lots of points on the board with Calvin Johnson. His health decides their season; if he’s healthy then they’re in the playoffs, if not… wait until next year.
St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford almost lead them to the playoffs throwing to Danny Amendola… the defense has been together for a solid three years under Steve Spagnuolo’s complicated scheme and is getting it down to a science… the other three teams in the division are trying to figure themselves out in all areas while the Rams are set in there’s… if they don’t win the NFC West then it’ll be a huge disappointment.
(Side note 2: remember the 2009 NFL Draft where Aaron Curry was the next great NFL linebacker, Brian Cushing was a stud, Rey Maualuga was a huge playmaker in the making and James Laurinaitis had concerns that he wasn’t fast enough to be an effective NFL linebacker? Guess who has become the best young middle linebacker in the league? Yep the slow kid from Ohio State who won two Butkis Awards in college. You know I wonder if scouts actually watch college games sometimes.)
Chicago Bears: Is the defense set? Yes. Is Jay Cutler mentally ready to lead this team after the controversy from the NFC title game? I don’t know. Cutler has always been mercurial and hasn’t seemed like the greatest leader in the world but it’ll tested more than ever this year. he has to have a strong year under center and make very few mistakes and do so without a clear cut number one receiver, no respectable tight end and an agitated Matt Forte. If he can keep it all in line then the memory of him on the sidelines while his team struggles for yardage in the biggest game of the year will be a memory.
THE FIGHT TO THE DEATH FOR THE PLAYOFFS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman, Josh Freeman, Josh Freeman… oh and LeGarrette Blount, Mike Williams and a revamped defense looking to bring back the Warren Sapp days. Their out to prove that last year was not a fluke… and they will.
New Orleans Saints: they couldn’t get over the Super Bowl hangover until it was too late. Plus the fact that they lost to 7-9 Seattle in the playoffs still hurts. Expect them to come out lighting it up from day one with nothing but a Super Bowl on their minds.
Atlanta Falcons: Hi Matt Ryan, welcome to Alex Ovechkin’s world. You play for one of the best teams in the league and you have matched all of your hype except in one area… you can’t get it done in the playoffs. You’ve been twice and gotten beaten up both times. Last year you ran into a smoldering hot Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay and you couldn’t keep up with them. Well guess what Matty Ice, now you have an issue. You’re in your 4th year in the league and are considered an elite QB, so guess what were all expecting you to do now? that’s right, win when it matters. You can win all of the regular season games that you want but if you can’t win the close ones or get to the playoffs and win there then we don’t care. Your mission is to win the NFC South and make a Super Bowl run and nothing less. If you can’t do that then you’ll be sitting next to Ovechkin having a beer and wondering what more do you have to do to make your team elite.
Green Bay Packers: Clay Matthews had 17 sacks last year, mostly on a broken leg… he’s healthy now… every QB in the league just got scared.
THE MIAMI HEAT
Philadelphia Eagles: Vince Young said that they were a super team and with the moves that they made how can you deny that claim? Young, Cromartie, Asomugha, Babin, Brown, Steve Smith and a cast of thousands joined the Eagles within the span of two weeks and expectations catapulted the Eagles to the top of the NFC class. Paper does not make a champion, but it does create some fun banter. Can this team finally gain short yardage with Brown and LeSean McCoy? Can the offensive line protect Michael Vick? With the new additions to the secondary will they be able to stop the pass? We won’t know until week 1 and even then we need more proof. The City of Philadelphia has been all about big name acquisitions this year with the Phillies getting Cliff Lee, the Flyers obtaining goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and now the Eagles with, well everyone. Can they make the title game? Sure. But they have to gel first and get all of their parts in order.
Funny enough… I think that they will, but they won’t win. The Eagles vs. The Patriots sounds like a great matchup for Super Bowl 46 and The Patriots sound like a good winner. The Patriots have lost their swagger from previous years and it shows in their games versus the Jets, Steelers and other in previous years. They are still one of the top teams in the league but they needed to get kicked in the rear to get it together. The Jets provided them with that spark last year and it will carry over into this one.
Well I hope the Patriots enjoy their title run, the Jets enjoy contending, the Eagles enjoy the hype and the Packers enjoy their title defense. I won’t enjoy any of it thanks to the gloomy outlook that the Giants are facing this year. Oh well, it could be worse, I could pick the Bengals to win it all again.
AFC EAST- PATRIOTS
AFC NORTH- STEELERS
AFC SOUTH- TEXANS
AFC WEST- CHARGERS
AFC WILDCARDS- JETS, RAVENS
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP- STEELERS VS. PATRIOTS
NFC EAST- EAGLES
NFC NORTH- PACKERS
NFC SOUTH- SAINTS
NFC WEST- RAMS
NFC WILDCARDS- FALCONS, BUCS
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP- EAGLES VS. PACKERS
SUPER BOWL- PATRIOTS VS. EAGLES
MVP- DREW BREES
DPOY- NDAMUKONG SUH
COACH OF THE YEAR- RAHEEM MORRIS
OROY- MARK INGRAM
DROY- PATRICK PETERSON