Thank God that the NFL is starting soon because I'm sick of Tom Cruise have a mid-life crisis because he slept with ONLY three of the most beautiful women in Hollywood over the last 5 years, women being fed up with Brad Pitt because she dumped Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie (which about 99% of the male population would do) and Lindsay Lohan destroying my, I mean, her life by going for the Paris Hilton look. Anyway, football is almost back and in the word of SpongeBob SquarePants "I'M READY!!!"
Let's just say that my predictions last year (in the words of Bill Walton) were just "Terrrrrrrrrible". I had the Chiefs and the Cowboys in the Super Bowl, which caused me to wear the "Peyton Manning, I can't beat the Patriots no matter what I do" face. So here goes nothing...
First the NFC, from what I expect to be the worst team to the best team, with what I think their record is going to be and what player needs to "step-up"
16. San Francisco 49ers (3-13, Kevan Barlow, running back)
It has been just a horrendous 2004-2005 for the city of San Francisco, Pres. Bush got re-elected, Barry Bonds made an ass out of himself by claiming that he "unknowingly" took steroids, Matt Leinart decided to take ballroom dancing instead of going pro (which would have made him a 49er), suffer through the Tim Rattay era while watching in a poor excuse of a stadium (Candlestick Park). Anyway, I like the hiring of Mike Nolan, he's a great strategist, has a good defensive scheme and likes to look good (he tried to convince the NFL to let him wear a suit for the 49ers' opening game in honor of his dad, Dick Nolan, who coached the Niners for seven years and he was denied. I can't believe that Bill Belichick can look like a hobo but no coach can look classy and sharp). Anyway for the players on the 49ers, they all stink with exception to outside linebacker Julian Peterson and tight end Eric Johnson, both of whom have injury problems. I feel bad for Alex Smith because he is going to get beat up more than some white stiff boxing Mike Tyson. Get used to hearing the words "Starting off the NFL Draft will be the San Francisco 49ers".
15. New Orleans Saints (5-11, Aaron Brooks, quarterback)
Remember three years ago when the Chicago Bears had to play at the University of Illinois because Solider Field was being re-built. Well, because they had to play 16 road games that year (because the team had to fly from Chicago to Champagne, IL which is a 45-minute flight) and the results where tragic because the Bears when from 13-3 to 4-12. Why am I mentioning this because, thanks to Katrina, the Saints might have to do the same thing, since the Superdome is unsafe to play in right now and won't be for about a month, even longer. If the Saints can't play in the Superdome they will play in Baton Rouge where Louisiana State is located which is about 125 miles away. Add to the mix that their QB (Brooks) is as conscient as Derek Lowe, a defense that just flat out stinks, and a head coach who is a jerk with out results, I think that will add up to a pretty bad year.
14. Seattle Seahawks (5-11, Peter Warrick, wide receiver)
Michael Irvin said it best about the Seahawks last year "I have never seen a so-called 'good' team drop so many balls". Honestly, the wide receivers made Cosmo Kramer's hands seem reliable, which stinks because dropped passes can't be accepted in a west coast offense because west coast teams often pass on first and second down, which means two dropped passed turns what should be 3rd and 1 to 3rd and 10 with a ticked-off quarterback. So, what did the Seahawks do to fix their pass receiving problems, they cut Koren Robinson, their most gifted receiver and replaced him if the unreliable, shoe-stealing Peter Warrick, whose only started one game over the last two seasons for a team that has gone 16-16 in that span, great job Holgrem. Defensively, they just stink because nobody in their secondary can cover, there's no-one to man the middle (hopefully Massachusetts' own Lofa Tatupu will make that last statement false) and their defensive line is oft-injured. Mr. Holgrem, here is your pink slip.
13. Chicago Bears (6-10, anyone on offense)
I feel bad for the Bears' head coach Lovie Smith, because he's a great coach who preaches hard work and hustle (which worked for the 2001 Rams), however he just has no talent on his team and the guys who do have some talent often get injured (i.e. quarterback Rex Grossman for the 3rd year in a row and linebacker Brian Urlacher). The funny thing is that Cedric Benson, the Bears' first round pick, realized this and decided that if he's going to suffer with this sorry franchise, than he might as well get paid handsomely. Problem is that, the Bears didn't think so, now Benson is 2nd string to a running back that Bill Simmons once described as "so bad that I couldn't get a 150 yards with him in Madden if there were 15 minutes quarters and the skill level was on rookie" (the running back's name is Thomas Jones), nice plan Cedric. Anyway, I thought Lovie would be able to get the team together and make a surprise playoff run, then the annual Rex Grossman season-ending injury happened, so now that rookie Kyle Orton is running the show, I think most of their games will have similar scores to the Chicago Cubs. The only good thing that might come out of the Bears' season is the first triple-team in NFL history on wide out Mushin Muhammad.
12. St. Louis Rams (7-9, Chris Claiborne and Dexter Coakley, linebackers)
Last year, the Rams might have been the worst team in 5 years to make the playoffs (as evident with their 8-8 record). However, they did win a playoff game (against Seattle) and it seems that the Rams might be pretty good this year. WRONG! This is the Rams, we talking about, the same team that has been coached by the undisciplined Mike Martz for the last five years (if he could actually control himself, he would have led the Rams to at least two more Super Bowl titles), a team that can't stop the run or play special teams (as evident in the NFC divisional playoff game against Atlanta). However, they had all those same problems before, and it didn't hinder them THAT much, right? Well, now there's a new problem, their offensive line is quickly deteriorating because of injuries and age. This is a pressing issue because last year whenever Marc Bugler had a defender in his face, the ball would come out of his hand like a dead duck. The Rams should able to score points, however I don't think that they'll score as many points that they use to in the past.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9, "Cadillac" Williams, running back)
It's funny how things change in 3 years. Gas was under two dollars a gallon, people actually supported the decision to invade Iraq, Jessica Simpson was just a hot singer and Jon Gruden was considered the best coach in the NFL because he led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win. Now, gas is about to be three dollars a gallon, even the Iraq government wants the US out of Iraq soon, Jessica Simpson is the hottest, most famous idiot in the world and Chucky is one losing season away from being fired. Anyway, this year the Bucs might surprise people this year because last year 8 or their 11 loses where by a touchdown or less, they still have Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber on their defense, Brian Griese actually looked pretty good running the offense (he had a 97.5 QB ratings which is pretty good) and they got the Cadillac (probably the best nickname in football history since "He Hate Me") running the ball. However, there are two problems: 1. Swiss cheese has fewer holes than the Bucs' offensive line 2. They don't have a reliable kicker. Sorry, Chucky, if only you had a kicker, I'd put your team in the playoffs, however, I'm not.
10. Green Bay Packers (7-9, the entire secondary)
Brett Favre is just simply amazing. He's started in over 200 consecutive games (a number unheard of from a quarterback), won a record 3 NFL MVP awards in a row, led the Pack from behind to win 4 times last season, has NEVER led the Pack to a losing record since he has been there (which dates back to 1992), and most importantly is still hungry for another championship and loving the game. However, it just seems like that Brett Favre is not the same quarterback that he once was. I remember the game in which Green Bay played Jacksonville last year in Lambeau Field where the temperature was in the teens. In those kinds of games, the opposition shouldn't even show up because #4 was unbeatable in this condition, because he wanted to win more anyone on the field and the ability to put his team on his shoulders and drag them to victory. What happened in this game was that a team from Florida dominated the game and forced Favre into 3 interceptions INSIDE THE 20 in the 4th quarter. The Brett Favre I know would not have done that, but he did and he practically lost the playoff game against the Vikings last year as well. It's sad to say it, but Favre is past his prime and he might be forced out of Green Bay in a few years (in order to make way for 1st round draft choice Aaron Rodgers). The offense is still pretty good in Green Bay (thanks to their great offensive line); however their defense is not as good. The secondary for the Packers, just gives up too many big plays in order for a team to take them seriously. I hate to say it, but Brett Favre will suffer his first losing season in Green Bay.
9. New York Giants (7-9, Eli Manning, quarterback)
It’s too bad that the Giants showed Jim Fassel the door two years ago, because he would have helped out Eli Manning out a better than Tom Coughlin is doing right now. However that’s in the past. Last year it looked like the Giants were on their way to a surprise playoff run by starting the season with a 5-2 record, then Coach Coughlin benched Kurt Warner for Eli Manning which (along with massive injuries on defense) killed the G-men’s season. This year, I think the Giants are going to get off on a bad start because I still don’t think that Manning is comfortable yet in the Giants’ offense, however I can see him put things together toward the end of the year when the Giants are 4-8 (sort of like what the Saints did last year). The Giants don’t have a good secondary nor a good offense line, which is why I think the Giants will able to showcase some of their good players in their team (i.e. Michael Strahan, free agent linebacker Antonio Pierce and running back Tiki Barber).
8. Detroit Lions (8-8, Joey Harrington, quarterback)
It looks like the Lions are finally ready to go to the playoffs after a 5-year drought, however there’s a problem, his name is Joey Harrington. Harrington has some of the best weapons in the league (wide receiver Roy Williams and running back Kevin Jones); however he just does not seem to use them well. The problem is that whenever he is faced with a pass-rush, he freezes up and doesn’t deliver the ball on target. But that’s what happens, when someone looks like one of the worst actors in Hollywood history (Keanu Reeves). I think Harrington is going to get bench this season then released as Jeff Garcia take control of the offense. Jeff Garcia is a perfect fit for this offense because he had tons of success with the same type of offense in San Francisco. Also, Garcia is a great mobile quarterback as well, which should cover up the fact that the Lions’ offense line is average at best. With Garcia under center expect the Lions to get hot late into the season.
7. Washington Redskins (9-7, Patrick Ramsey, quarterback)
Figuring out the Washington Redskins is as difficult as figuring out why anyone would want to come to WPI. The Redskins have one of the most explosive backs in league, Clinton Portis, a young, accurate, tough gunslinger in Ramsey, a franchise left tackle in Chris Samuels and a very intimidating defense that allowed the fourth fewest points in the league last year. Oh, I forget they also have a head coach who has won three Super Bowls, in Joe Gibbs. On paper, this team is a slam-dunk to make the playoffs; however, paper does not win games. For the last three years, Redskins’ quarterbacks have gotten beat up more than Tina Turner did when she was married to Ike, because no-one on their offensive line could pick up a blitz. Also, Joe Gibbs’s offense requires a bruiser of a runner back (like John "Diesel" Riggins) because more the runs are up the middle and require patience in order to find holes. Portis on the other hand is a small, skinny, speedster that likes to use cut-back lines in order to run up the middle. Also, the ‘Skins’ only deep threat is about 5’9" (Santana Moss), which is not good for a power running team. I think Gibbs will modify is offense a little so Portis can shine, but this team doesn’t have a good kicker which was the reason why they lost 7 games by a touchdown or less and the defense lost some depth due to free agency. I think this team will be like what Jacksonville was last year, being in a close game every week, and win a few games by luck; however by the end of the season the luck will run out.
6. Dallas Cowboys (9-7, PLAYOFFS, Keyshawn Johnson, wide receiver)
I can’t believe that quarterback Drew Bledsoe and Coach Bill Parcells are on the same team again. I remember in an interview about seven years ago, Bledsoe was calling Parcells a dictator and a jerk to play for. Then again, that was seven years ago. For the rest of the Cowboys, this is a talented bunch. On offense, they have a solid offense line, a great tight end in Jason Witten and maybe the next Curtis Martin in running back Julius Jones. Defensive, this was a unit that was #1 two years ago and has made improvements in order to get back on top (by signing free agent cornerback Aaron Glenn and switching to the 3-4). A concern for this team is the receiving corps, when the two projected starters, Johnson and Terry Glenn are 33 and 31, respectively. With old receivers, Bledsoe might not be able to go long, which suits his game best.
5. Arizona Cardinals (9-7, DIVISION WINNERS, Kurt Warner, quarterback)
This might be the first time EVER that the Cardinals are going into the season as the favorites for the division, and why not? The NFC West this year is as strong as wet piece of toilet paper. Also, the Cardinals finally have some players. They have a dangerous wide receiver tandem inAnquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald. They also have a very fast running back in JJ Arrington, who rushed for over 2,000 yards last year at Cal-Berkeley and a two-time MVP taking the snaps in Kurt Warner. Say what you will about Warner, but when he has time, he is dangerous (like he proved at New York last year). Defensively, the Cardinals are pretty loaded with Pro Bowl defensive end Bertrand Berry, young, punishing, athletic linebacker Karlos Dansby and a solid secondary led by underrated safety Robert Griffith and 1st round draft choice Antel Rolle. Lastly, they are coached by Denny Green, who is famous for taking teams that are not that talented into the playoffs. Now, all the Cardinals have to do is convince their own, Bill Bidwell, to stop wearing that stupid bow-tie all the time.
4. Minnesota Vikings (10-6, DIVISION WINNERS, Nate Burleson, wide receiver)
Randy Moss had to go. He’s a punk, jerk and is the locker-room version of the eloba virus, the Vikings are better off without him. Daunte Culpepper threw for 39 touchdowns last year and Moss was injured for 6 games. The Vikes have good receivers already in Burleson, Marcus Robinson, Jermaine Wiggins (tight end) and Kelly Campbell. Defensive, the Vikings made some key additions, by signing defense tackle Pat Williams, linebackers Sam Cowart and Napoleon Harris, cornerback Fred Smoot and safety Darren Sharper. Also, this team is pretty deep at running back. However, I don’t see this winning a playoff game this year because their head coach, Mike Tice, is a moron. The guy has made so many stupid decisions over the last three years; liberals might confuse him with Pres. Bush. Anyway, as long as Tice is the coach, this team will not go deep into the playoffs.
3. Carolina Panthers (10-6, PLAYOFFS, Steve Smith and Rod Gardner, wide receivers)
John Fox is a great coach. Right I think he is the 3rd best coach in the league behind Bill Belichick and Andy Reid. Before, Fox got to Carolina, the Panthers were a nothing franchise going nowhere. Now, they are year-in, year-out contenders. Quarterback Jake Delhomme is a fighter that has a great arm and comes up big when needed. The Panthers' defensive line is as scary as the after effects of a Michael Jackson nosejob, with speed demon Julius Peppers (who should have won Defensive Player of the Year) and big boy Kris Jenkins leding the way. Carolina are facing a couple of problems on offense mainly because of the departure of All-Pro wide reciever Mushin Muhammad. Playing reciever for the Panthers are Steve Smith (who torched the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII, however in 2004 he severly injured his leg in the season-opener), Rod Gardner, who has big-play potential, however he just can't seem to put two good games together while he was in DC. The other offensive problem for the Panthers is who will carry the ball? Last year, the Panthers had to use their back-up FULLBACK (Nick Goings) at tailback last year every other running back on the team got hurt. Goings however did a great job last year by gaining over 800 rushing yards in only 8 starts. This year, Stephan Davis, the brusing running back that seems to fit Fox's running attack perfectly, and DeShaun Foster, the speedster who can make miss like Shaq free throw, are hoping to be at full health once the season start. However, the biggest problem facing the Panthers is...Michael Vick. Vick owns Carolina like the Patriots own Peyton Manning and wasn't any more clear than in Week 15 in 2004 where Vick scored on 4 & Goal from the 12 yard line to send the game into overtime. If the Panthers want to get back to the Super Bowl, they must able to figure out a way to stop Michael Vick.
2. Philly Eagles (11-5, DIVISION WINNERS, QB Donovan McNabb and WR Terrell Owens)
Just when the Kobe-Shaq rivalry was about to clam down, Owens and McNabb started the NFL verison of Kobe and Shaq (well, TO actually started the whole thing because he is a greedy bastard). I really feel bad for Eagles because they can't trade TO because he contract would be helpful to many teams' salary cup status and their locker room. Right now, TO is making over $7 million per year, however, because of his performance last season Owens wanted to be paid Peyton Manning/ Michael Vick money, which is about $12-15 million per year. Don't be surprise if the first and second pass that McNabb throws this year to Owens is high and over the middle, so Owens could get laid out. With all that aside the Eagles still have a fearsome defense, a great head coach, the best kicker in the conference (David Akers) and fans that are rude, obxinous, loud, toutured because they have to live in Philly. I think, thought that the Eagles had their chance last year to win a Super Bowl because of this team...
1. Atlanta Falcons (12-4, DIVISION WINNERS, any wide receiver)
Last week, I was watching a preseason game between the Falcons and the Jacksonville Jaguars. What I saw in that was just truly unbelieveable, Michael Vick was actually playing like a real quarterback and was still doing his Superman things (i.e. making Speedy Gonzalez look like a slow poke). Instead of running 30 yards to gain 10 yards (by running around his offensive line), he's running 10 yards to gain 10 yards by looking for a hole in his line and running through it. Also, in the past when there were three guys who surrounded him, he'd try to make something happen and mostly get sacked, now in those situations when he can't escape he just throws the ball away and not risk anything worse than an incompeltion. Michael Vick is becoming a compelte quarterback and it could not have came at a better time for the Falcons. Some people are doubting if the Falcons' passing attack can operate without Peerless Price (the recently released wide receiver). Well, Peerless have contrabuted less to the Falcons than Lisa Simpson does to the Simpsons and Meg Griffith to Family Guy. The Falcons had the best running attack in the NFL last year and have a defense that abuse quarterbacks so much, they should be arrested for it. Also, Jim Mora Jr. is a great coach, with a great background and a lot of common sense. I think the Falcons are the team to beat in the NFC.
NOW TO THE AFC, BUT FIRST HERE ARE SOME INDIVIDUAL PREDICTIONS
MVP: Michael Vick
Offensive Player of the Year: LaDainian Tomlinson
Defensive Player of the Year: Ray Lewis
Offensive Rookie of the Year: JJ Arrington
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Derrick Johnson
Coach of the Year: Jim Mora Jr.
Coaches fired: Mike Holmgren (SEA), Jim Hasslet (NO), Norv Turner (Oak)
AFC TEAMS (IN REVERSE ORDER)
16. Cleveland Browns (2-14, Braylon Edwards, Wide Reciever)
I am very happy that Romeo Crennel got a head coaching job because he has been deserving one for the last three years. However, he inherts a team that just stinks more than the smelly car in Seinfeld. Honestly, I don't think anyone here can name a single player on the Browns (I can name nine, when I usually can name about twenty). The Browns' offense, defense and special teams are awful. However, I felt they had a good draft (selecting quarterback Charlie Frye, cornerback Antonio Perkins and Edwards) and made the right call by signing Joe Andruzzi to lead this young team. This franchise does a future, however, I doubt it, because the Browns are the Browns, they have been jinxed ever since Jim Brown retired. I hope Romeo can succeed where his former boss (Bill Belichick) once failed.
15. Miami Dolphins (4-12, A.J. Feeley, Quarterback)
I still can't believe the following things about the Dolphins:
Hired Nick Saban instead of Jim Bates, who the players loved as their defense coordinator.
Beat the Patriots last year at Miami, in which Bates was head coaching.
Let Ricky Williams back after he betrayed them last year.
Have A.J. Feeley take snaps
Have the ugliest uniforms in the league. What kind of a football wears aqua and orange, it doesn't make any sense.
The Fins are a screwed-up franchise right now and I couldn't be anymore happier, because I hate the Dolphins.
14. Denver Broncos (5-11, Jake Plummer, Quarterback)
Whatever scout told Mike Shannhan that Jake Plummer would help out the Broncos, should be fired. Plummer makes too mistakes in an offense that doesn't allow for mistakes. I know that Plummer threw for over 4000 yards last year, however in every big game that the Broncos were in, Plummer folded like a poker player holding a "7-2". Now, I don't know what Mike Shannhan was thinking when he brought in the reject Cleveland defensive line. Maybe he wanted his team to get the ball more via kickoffs. Or maybe this is another item on a long list of bad personel decisions made since John Elway retired. Mike Shannhan is a great coach however he is a terrible general manager in it's going to do his team in soon, so why not this year?
13. Tennessee Titans (6-10, Adam "Pac-man" Jones, cornerback)
This is great, my least favorite team is going to stink this year, like they did last year. Now, the Titans made a great hire in making Norm Crow (the former USC offensive coordainator) offensive coordaniator. With either Steve McNair or Billy Volek, the Titans should score some points because that's what Norm Crow does the best. However the defense is just a "sib" (which is what the PC hockey crowd chants whenever an oppositing goalie lets up a goal). So, here's a gambling tip: bet the over on each Titan game this year.
12. Buffalo Bills (7-9, J.P. Losman, Quarterback)
"True Fact, JP Losman is next Kenny Stablah!"-Mike Fitzgerald
I don't know about that one Fitz. This is coming for a guy that critizied Bill Cowher for picking Ben Roehtlis-something.
11. Oakland Raiders (7-9, Kerry Collins, Quarterback)
What happened to the sliver and the black. They went from constant contender to constant doormate in just two years. And (as always) it's all thanks to Al Davis for letting Jon Gruden go. Now, I know Al likes to give guys second chances however giving a second chance to Norv Turner to head coach against is a sham and a mockery, it's a shamockery!!! He failed in DC, when he was in Miami, he held the offense back because of his inpet play-calling (most notable the 2002 season finale against the Patriots which costed the Dolphins the playoffs). Also, I heard that when he was in a Las Vegas casino playing blackjack, he never ONCE hit on 16. Imagine him trying to convince Randy Moss to hustle on running plays (good luck with that). I think this might tell Kerry Collins to do this "even when Randy is 50 yards downfield and is triple-teamed, I want you to throw it to him because I'm an idiot." and Collins being Collins probably will listen and execute. I thought it was a mistake being in Collins because Rich Gannon was still able to play well and Collins is as good went he is with a good coach and a bunch of talent (like he was in 2000, when the Giants when to the Super Bowl). Also, the defense in Oak-town stinks, however with Randy Moss, the team should be able to put up some points.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8, Cedirck Wilson, Wide Receiver)
Thanks to injuries to running backs Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis, the opening day starter at running for the Steelers is going to be...Willie Parker. I have never of this guy before. Anyway, the Steelers are going to miss Plaxico Burress's ability to strecth defenses. Also, Burress seemed to be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's favorite target, now Roethlisberger must develop a new bond with Wilson and Antwan Randle El. Now, it always seems to me that whenever the Steelers have a good year the previous season, they follow it up with a bad season, mainly because of injuries. I think Roethlisberger is going to be a quarterback however he is going to struggle this year, because teams are starting to figure out how to contain him. Big Ben, I'm sorry that the sophomore jinx is tagging along with you this year.
9. Houston Texans (9-7, Phillip Buchanan, Cornerback)
Youth must be the theme of the Texans this year as they released veteran Pro Bowlers Jamie Sharper and Aaron Glenn. Don't get me wrong having a young team is a thing (the '85 Bears had the youngest team in the league when they won Super Bowl XX). Offensely, this team is pretty scary with gutsy quarterback, David Carr and wide receiver Andre Johnson and bruiser Domanick Davis at running back. The problem with this team is defense, last year their sack leader only had 5.5 (which was done by Kailee Wong and release their best player in Glenn. However, they did make a trade for Buchanan in order to fill that void. The problem is that Buchanan is often hurt and when he is on the field he blows assignments. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good. What makes this team dangerous is the offense trio that I just memtioned and cornerback Dunta Robinson who is coming in his second year. Robinson is a good player that came on pretty strong the last half of the year when he started to adjust to NFL speed. There are some holes on this Texan team (i.e. the defense line), but they should turn some heads this year.
8. Indianpolis Colts (9-7, Peyton Manning, Quarterback)
I don't how many touchdown passes Sussy, I mean, Peyton Manning throws for, if what to be consider a great all-time QB, he needs to beat the Patriots. The problem is, he can't, because the Colts are too subborn to adjust their offense when they go to New England (i.e. keeing an extra blocker for passing downs). Other reasons why the Colts can't be New England is that their defense stinks, their head coach has a history for not winning big games and they are just not tough enough. I think the Colts are going to be focusing on the Week 9 matchup with the Pats' a little too much and forget that they have 7 other games before that. And when they lose, again in Foxboro, this team is just going to hit a wall.
7. San Diego Chargers (9-7, Nate Kaeding, Kicker)
Right now, I don't like the Chargers because they suspended their game-breaking tight end Antonio Gates for the season-opener because he did not want to be paid the league minimum this year. The guy single-handedly got the Chargers' passing attack going and the organization rewards him by giving him peanuts. This is one of the few times when I agree with a player's reason to hold-out. Anyway, this team has loads of talent on offense and defense, however they are weak on special teams and it wasn't any more clearer in the wild card game last year with the Jets, they basically costed them the game (their kicker Kaeding, missed a 40-yarder that would have beaten the Jets). When the team talks about the game with the Jets, I just get the feeling that most of them have not gotten over the game. Don't be surprised if this team loses a fair share of close games this year.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, PLAYOFFS, the defense)
During the second half of last year, the Bengals were as good as any team and an offense that was borderline unstoppable. Carson Palmer was coming into his own, Chad Johnson was torching defenses and running back Rudi Johnson gained a team record 1,454 yards last year. The problem for the Bengals is their defense, which was not that good last year, although they had (and still do) two good cornerbacks in Troy James and Deltha O'Neal. However, the Bengals' head coach, Marvin Lewis, is a defensive mastermind and will figure out a way to make this defense a top-10 unit. The Cincinnati Bengals will finally end their 15-year playoff drought (in 15 years we've seen 3 US Presidents, gas prices jump up four-fold, had two wars with Iraq, experience two boy-band eras and nine NBA championships won by Phil Jackson).
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6, DIVISION WINNERS, the recievers)
I'm being a little bias here since Quarterback Bryon "Last minute" Leftwich is my favorite current player right now, however, I truly feel that this team is destined for good things this year. They made a great move by installing a new offense in which suits Leftwich's strengths, which throwing the ball more down field. In the preseason, Leftwich look great, he was accurate with his passes, he was making great decisions and he was having fun. Now, if Leftwich is going to have some fun in the playoffs, his receiver must step-up from last year as they led the league in dropped passes. This is why the Jaguars selected wide receiver Matt Jones, who is probably the fastest white guy in America. In the game against the Falcons, Jones made a diving one-handed catch that was thrown 40 yards behind him. Matt Jones has a great future in the NFL. Defensively, the Jaguars have the best tandem of defensive tackles in the league with Marcus Stourd and "Big" John Henderson (the reason why the call him "Big" is that he is 6'7" and weight 335 pounds). A funny thing about "Big" John is that he has the best pre-game ritual, where he get slapped (full-force) in the face by a trainer and roars after each hit, it is very funny to watch. Anyway, the Jags' have a great coach in Jack Del Rio, he is a great motiavor and has a lot of common sense. If running back Fred Taylor stays healthy this season, the Jaguars will be a very dangerous team.
4. New York Jets (10-6, PLAYOFFS, Ty Law, Cornerback)
I can't believe the criticism Chad Pennington is getting for not being healthy. He's probably the most accurate passer in the league and is very intellengent and is now reunited with his favorite receiver Laveranues Coles. The Jets also picked up tight end Doug Jolley from Oakland, who is a good receiving tight end that should open-up the outside for Pennington to throw to. They also they the returning rushing champion, Curtis Martin, who nearly rushed for 1700 yards, who should have a great season. Defensely, this is a young unit that stepped-up last year, which was evident as Jonathan Vilma was named Defensive Rookie of the Year. Now, they have added all-pro cornerback, Ty Law who is out to prove that he still can be an eilte cornerback. Personally, I think that Ty Law still a little left in the tank to make a big contrabution to the Jets. The Jets made a great draft choice in selecting kicker Matt Nugent to replace Doug "Dead Man Walking" Brien who could have sent the Jets to the AFC title game if he
had not missed two field goals against the Steelers. The Jets are a good team, might actually challenge the Patriots for the division titile.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5, DIVISION WINNERS, Kendrall Bell, Linebacker)
Last year, I thought the Chiefs did enough to help their defense by bring in Guther Cunningham as defensive coordinator, I was wrong. However, the Chiefs realized they were wrong and made some moves to sure up their porous defense. They traded to get defensive backs Patrick Sutrain and Sammy Knight, they signed Pro Bowler Kendrall Bell, who is out to prove something this year after his missed multiple games last year, and drafted the most altheltic defensive player in linebacker Derrick Johnson, who has look awfully good in training camp this year. Offensively, the Chiefs are set, they've had the #1 offense in the league for the last two years and everybody is back. Priest Holmes, might be coming off an injury-filled 2004 season, but Priest should be 100% if he isn't then 1st round draft choice, Larry Johnson should pick up the slack like he did last year. Then again any running back can pick up the slack behind the Chiefs' offensive line, whom I feel is the best offensive line in the entire league. Now, Dick Vermeil just needs to stop crying and enjoy this season.
2. New England Patriots (12-4, DIVISION WINNERS, Chad Brown, Linebacker)
What hasn't been said about the Patriots, they always succeed when they to, they have a quarterback who is as cool as a cuecumber in Corey Dillon, a running back who melts time in Corey Dillon, a deep receiving corp, a great defensive line and secondary, the best coach in the game and the most clutch kicker in NFL history. With all that said, I don't think that the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl this year because of the situation at middle linebacker. Tedy Bruschi was the Patriots best run stuffer and was the unquestioned leader of the league's best defense. Without Bruschi, I think the Patriots are going to struggle (like they did in 2002) to stop the run. Personally, I think the Patriots should switch to a 4-3 defensive aligment because the Patriots are deep at defensive tackle (with Vince Wilfork and Keith Taylor). In the preseason, Chad Brown did not seem comfortable in the Patriots' defense, for the Pats' sake, he better come up to speed some. Charlie Weis leaving is going to hurt the Patriots a bit because he was Tom Brady's mentor and he called the plays. Now, Belichick is going to call the plays himself. The last time a head coach did not use an offensive coordinator was when Tom Coughlin did it for the Jaguars in 2000, the results were not good. And one more thing, no team has ever won three straight Super Bowls.
1. Baltimore Ravens (12-4, DIVISION WINNERS, QB Kyle Boller and RB Jamal Lewis)
Twenty years ago, Buddy Ryan unleashed a defensive scheme that make quarterbacks crap their pants, it was called the "46 Defense" and it was the main reason why the Bears won Super Bowl XX. Now, Buddy's son, Rex is going to use the same scheme that his father used. This is incrediblely important because this means that Ray Lewis won't have to fight double team because there are 3 lineman covering the middle of the offensive line and there are two outside linebackers on the strong side to take away the outside run. Ray Lewis will have the entire field to himself and I will be surprise if doesn't have over 200 tackles this year. For the rest of the defense, they should terrorize offenses with five, six and seven men pass russes. The secondary is the best in the league with Pro Bowlers Samari Rolle and Chris McAllister playing cornerback and returning NFL defensive player of the year Ed Reed at safety. Offensely, some people curious if Kyle Boller is going to be a good quarterback and if Jamal Lewis can regain his running form after being in the pokey for 4 months. For Boller, he looked pretty good towards the end of 2004 and the Ravens front office finally gave him some weapons to use by signing Pro Bowler Derrick Mason and drafting wide receiver Mark Clayton. Also, Pro Bowler tight end Todd Heap should finally be healthy enough to make a big impact this year. For Lewis, I don't think he is going to be in top form because spending 4 months in jail makes you fat and out-of-shape. However, the Ravens have a good running back backing-up Lewis in Chaz Taylor. This preseason, Taylor averaged 7 yards a carry and according some scouts, could be a starter for half the teams in the league. Ravens are more dangerous than they ever have been before.
NFC WILD CARD:
Minnestoa over Dallas, Carolina over Arizona
AFC WILD CARD:
New York over Jacksonville, Kansas City over Cincinnati
Philly over Minnestoa, Atlanta over Carolina
New England over Kansas City, Baltimore over New York
Baltimore over New England, Atlanta over Philly
SUPER BOWL XL:
Baltimore 19, Atlanta 13 with Ray Lewis winning his second Super Bowl MVP and establishing himself as the greatest defensive player ever.