“We Defend this House”.
Will Pittsburgh reign as AFC Champs (and Super Bowl Champs for that matter)? Will Brady pump life into the Patriots? Who is this year’s Matt Cassel?
I will give you my answers to these and many other questions in this 2 part series. First up the American Football Conference.
1. New England Patriots –
Offense – This team returns the skinny Wolverine to bring back the Boston boys to the forefront. As usual they are stacked at WR.
Randy Moss (still at his A-Game), Wes Welker and now speedy but ancient Joey Galloway give Brady all the fire power he’ll need. Also the pickup of Fred Taylor really should give there 4-RB community some spice to it. The O-line as usual is in-tacked and looking strong as usual. No one really doubts that this team can play good O-fence.
Defense – This is where the intrigue mounts about whether the Patriots are the same 18 win team or just a regular normal team. The news of the day is Richard Seymour not showing up in Oakland which makes that trade a bit tricky to figure out – will he somehow be sent back to NE? In the end I liked the bold move and the Patriots history of Oakland trades is pretty, pretty good – Randy Moss anyone? Without Seymour this defense is good but very young -Wilfork is a beast up front (not RS though) and in the LB core you’ll see new faces with Tedy Retiring and Vrabel being Traded. There’s Adalius Thomas, Jared Mayo, Derrick Burgess and a bunch of youth – this unit does not and shouldn’t scare anyone. The secondary also lost Mr. Death Rodney Harrison – but they look more stout then the LBs – Meriweather is legit stud at S, Leigh Bodden has played in the nitty gritty weather in Cle and is on the verge of a name making season – also don’t be shocked to see vet Shawn Springs showcase a lot in nickel n dime packages – he’s a big CB with loads of knowledge of good defensive packages (Washington has some great defensive minds over there).
Overall – In the end I see them going 11-5 and having a solid season. Expect the same ol’ dominate passing game and this year an even stronger ground game to run through the AFC East. Former Eagle WR Greg Lewis could be a sneaky fantasy steal if Galloway’s age gets the better of himself.
2. Buffalo Bills –
Offense – Yeah, this isn’t the Dolphins and no I’m not impressed with the Wildcat offense – that is why I like the Bills to slip in and steal second place.
Trent Edwards has a huge weapons – “My Quarter-Back” Terrell Owens,is still a solid wide-out and has no one to bitch to up in Buff-a-lo-hell. They immediately see Lee Evans and Josh Reed drop into there correct #2 and #3 positions – they aren’t 1’s and 2’s. Also watch out for a late season surge when Marshawn Lynch returns to full healthy. Still shocked they let Jason Peters go to Philly – he was a beast on the line – and iffy on that whole O-line unit – but really have to say I like this young offense with TO there to keep them smiling.
Defense – Having two Aarons on the front four is pretty sick – Maybin is going to be a nice addition on that line and should bring some rookie sparks to the whole defense. Still not sold on the LB unit – though Paul “Poz” (stupid nickname by the way) and former Giant/Skin Kawika Mitchel had outstanding seasons and looked great last season. The secondary is where the real stars should come from – CB Leodis McKelvin was Mr. Excitement and makes people forget Nate Clements (sorry 49er fans ur stuck with that guy). Also I really was impressed with FS Donte Whitner he roams well and has some pop to his hits. Doesn’t hurt having an excellent Punter in Moorman and solid kicker in Rian Lindell.
Overall – I have to say this aint Marv Levy’s Super Bowl runner-up teams – but this unit has the talent to really look solid over the next few years and with TO i think that WR core will be a HANDFUL. Watch out for the Bills they aren’t as bad as they looked last season.
3. Miami Dolphins –
Offense – The Wildcat offense is all the rage – but really minus there ability to pull the guards well – this offense can be contained. Ronnie Brown had one AMAZING 5 td game and a decent year – but boy you read about him and it seems like he’s the best RB in the game – not so fast buddy. The WRs on this team aren’t great, Anthony Fasano will have problems repeating his awesome season and this Offense Line is very shaky especially all the former “Raiders” on this team.
Defense – The front line is either old (Jason Ferguson) or unproven (the rest of the guys). The strength of any 3-4 though is the outside linebackers – and this unit is one of the best – Joey Porter and Jason Taylor – when they want to they can dominate a game – but they sometimes rather Dance or talk trash then tackle someone. Luckily the ILBs are solid with Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele (lot of cowgirls on this team – though glad the Great Tuna is not in D-Town tarnishing his amazing career). The secondary have a lot of name but only one legit player in Will Allen – he is one of the best in the AFC (darn Giants should have never let him go). I still think injuries will cripple this team up front and force the defense to play up and with the Pats and Bills airing it out – this team is in trouble.
Overall – Last year was a fluke – the Wildcat will hit a wall this year and not be as effective and this team drops back to there rightful 6-8 win season. Watch out though in the next few years – The Tuna knows how to build a winner – they will win soon enough just not till after Chad Pennington leaves .
4. New York Jets –
Offense – Rookie QB that should have stayed in School – heard and seen it too many times to know there just aren’t that many Matt Ryan’s out there (and Mark Sanchez aint either.) New Defensive Minded Coach doesn’t help either. Do love the drafting of Shonn Green but the rest of this unit just isn’t very good. Brett Farve carried this bunch of scrubs farther then anyone would have guessed. THey return to the cellar as Sanchez tosses 20 plus ints.
Defense – I know the Ryan family are iconic in the game of Defense – but lets be honest here – that Ravens defense was not his creation here merely controlled the amazing group of killers in Baltimore. Is Ryan better then Mangini – NO! This organization made a horrible move and will pay for it with losing season after losing season – Sanchez and company better hope for Bill Cowher to want to be in NYC other wise this team is going to remain in 4th for a while.
1. Indy Colts –
Offense – Last time I check this team still has Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and Joseph Addai. Ad on Anthony Gonzo in place of Marvin “Oops” Harrison, and Donald Brown backing up Addai this offense is still one of the best in the league – and with all the spot light off this team after Tennesse’s terrific season last year – the Colts rebound nicely.
This is reason enough to like this team – Peyton is incredible!! Lets not forget the veteran O-Line – Jeff Saturday is still a top 3 center in this league. This group is going to shock a lot of people. Gonzo will make people FORGET gun-toting Marvin.
Defense – Dwight Freeney is still up front. Gary Brackett is still the MLB and Bob Sanders is still the most underrated player in the NFL (granted his health has really put this season on the damper) like Bulliet and Beathea to fit
in nicely though at S’s. The defense is a solid group though injuries will keep them from winning more then 12 this year.
Overall – Peyton Manning is still the best QB in the game and with the Titans losing key defensive players and the Jags still not really there as a team – the Colts should slide back into there rightful spot at top the AFC South.
2. Houston Texans –
Offense – The Texans have been the sexy pick since they got rid of David Carr. Matt Schaub should scare people with his frequencies to come up lame on plays and not having Sage Rosenfals is spooky. But can anyone argue that Andre Johnson and Steve Slaton don’t give you 8 wins automatically. Slaton is the real deal (I know I loved him on my fantasy team last year) and since he didn’t eat up carries in College he’s still fully healthy!! Owen Daniels at TE and a solid offensive line lead by LT Duane Brown and LG Chester Pitts this team will shock many – including the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS in Week 17 @ Reliant Stadium to clinch a playoff spot.
Defense – This is where the Texans should shock other teams – they are Loaded – Mario Williams (Reggie Bush and Vince Young WHO?) , Okoye (he’s 12 right), Shaun Cody and rookie Connor Barwin makes this unit look stacked. LBs are where they really look good and YOUNG – rookie Brian Cushing joins Mr. Everything DeMeco Ryans and Zac Diles aint bad either. The secondary don’t forget one of the best shut-down corners in the game – Dunta Robinson. Saftey is a little shacky – but this defense sure does look solid.
Overall – Gary Kubiak has slowly built a good group of guys and it’ll translate into success over the next few seasons – This team will win an AFC South Title in the next three years. All the pundits love the Texans, and for good reason – THEY ARE THAT GOOD!!
3. Tennesse Titans –
Offense – Not sure what made Kerry Collins play so well – well yeah I do Lendale White and Chris Johnson made things a lot easier – but this team just doesn’t impress me at all – still not major wideouts for them and no real solid moves to keep this unit strong. Vince Young should have been tradeded for something by now.
Defense – Losing the heart and soul of that unit – is going to show how talented Albert Haynesworth really is. This unit just doesn’t look as kick ass as they did with big ol’ Albert in there stomping on people’s head.
Overall – They won’t do what they did last year – in fact they won’t win 9 games this year. Titans are a mess under all that quality running attack.
4. Jacksonville Jags –
Offense – I really like Jack Del Rio – but whew this unit has never figured it out – I do like going after Torry Holt – he still has a few years but this team just doesn’t look right and with that defense not being what they were 4 years ago this offense has to be counted on way to much. David Garrard will throw ints and he will lose games – he isn’t as consistent as he may look by the stats. They are so decieving.
Defense – Can you name a starter on this group? John Henderson maybe? Reggie Nelson if you’re a Gator fan? They have nothing compared to the rest of the AFC south. Jack Del Rio should have a top 10 defense – and they aren’t anywhere near that.
Overall – 7-9 last year – it’ll be tough to reach that mark this year. Expect Del Rio to be a Defensive Coordinator next season.
1. Pittsburgh Steel-urrrrsss –
Offense – Its really hard to not pick Baltimore – but gosh darnit the Steel Nation lost NO-ONE from the Super Bowl Unit and should be better this season with Rashard Mendenhall spelling Willie Parker (by the way Parker has been one of the best Backs the past five years and never gets love – we’ll he is TALENT). THe wideouts look solid with Hines, Santonio, and big ol’ Limas Sweed all give Big Ben many options. And lets not forget Ben’s favorite target – Heath Miller. O yeah great O-line as well – though losting Stapleton to the IR is not good.
Defense – Wow was this the most exciting 3-4 last year. I’ve loved Casey Hampton since he was wearing burnt orange. He is a solid NT!!
Lovable big Boi. Then you look at Lamarr Woodley’s season and realize how good this team is – he wasn’t even the best LB on his own team – James Harrison to me is the most disruptive AFC LB going around. He is so mean looking too.
Gosh he’ll hit anyone. Dawg Pound Beware!! O Yeah and the team still has freaking Samson on it. Troy is second only to Ronnie Lott as best Safteies out of Southern Cal.
Overall – They lost nothing this team will be hard to beat and will stroll into a nice bye week in the playoffs. Steel Curtain is back.
2. Baltimore –
Offense – Harbaugh really orchestrated one of the true marvels last season – anyone pick Flacco – NO THEY DIDN’T. Some may have thought Ryan in Atl was going to be good but these two rookie QBs are really special and they should be just fine in there sophomore years – Though Mr. Mason coming back has a lot to do with Flacco’s continued success – Mason is the heart of the offense and his return keeps this unit going. Ray Rice is the talk of the town and now they have a solid threesome at RB with Willis and FB/RB McClain – this unit is solid and with a big group of O-Linemen – Michael Oher anyone !! BIG BOY. Also watch out for the rebound of TE Todd Heap – he’ll go ahead and grab 80 plus rec and get 1,000 plus yards and 8-12 tds this season.
Defense – If the Yellow and Black don’t have the best defense – then this unit is the best. Ed Reed is the best saftey in the game , Ray Lewis is still solid and Terrell Suggs is as good as any LB in the AFC or NFL. And to be honest Ngati up front is going to end up the best of the bunch – he is a dynamic NT!!
Overall – this team will keep toe-to-toe with Pittsburgh and will join them in the playoffs this season. Great to see the AFC North Battle Between these two is so heated – they hate each other – and they should!!
3. Cleveland Browns –
Offense – I’m not sure why the Jets gave up on Mangini – he is a solid coach and ask for the most out of his players. This team is still trying to figure out the correct signal caller – and to be honest they might as well give Brady a real shot at it. He’s got an arm and Charlie Weis isn’t an idiot. One year with that big fatty can turn you into a solid QB even a great one. Its the rest of the group that isn’t that impressive – Jamal Lewis is starting to lose it – though he was pretty solid last year. I like James Davis but not as my feature back. TE’s suck. WRs are cry-babies who drop the ball at any sign of a CB in the area – Braylon Edwards you are an insult to the M!!! Mangini does have a lot of talent on the O-Line – Joe Thomas, Steinbeck and C Alex Mack look awesome.
Defense – I really love Shaun Rogers but he spent to many years playing for losing teams in Detroit that mentally he doesn’t really care if the Browns win or lose – the LBS have a lot of potential with WImbely and D’Qwell Jackson but the secondary is a bit weak behind Eric Wright. They need a few years and some more draft picks to build something.
Overall – I still picked them higher then the Bungles if that says anything. But 7 wins will be tough for this unit.
4. Cincy Bengals –
Offense – Welcome back Carson Palmer – but all the Troy Aikman-like conversation needs to stop – Troy never endorsed this – For Real – No wonder Ochocinco is nuts – he’s QB like Long Sausage. Also Cedric Benson is he r
eally there RB? Marvin Lewis I’m sorry you ended up in this pit of crap.
Defense – Wow this has been a crazy few years for the Bengals D – life-threatening, suspensions, and just crazyness – Tank Johnson is considered one of the top linemen on this team – REALLY? Roy Williams is a big free-agent pickup – REALLY!!! I do love Dhani Jones – on the Travel Network –
He does Tackle the Globe indeed.
Overall – A mess of a team. A Mess of an a Organization. Hell A mess of a Town.
1. Kanas City Cheifs –
Offense – Yeah like its that big of a surprise – New England Jr. will yield a sold team. Coach Haley is already a star and yes Coaches can influence that big of a change. By Benching your entire WR core and then having them win back there positions – Dwanye Bowe owes Coach Haley all his millions because he would have been another “could have been” story and now he can be a legit WR threat week-to-week. I know the Chargers still have Rivers, Gates and LT. But who really cares – The Cheifs have Mr. Rebound Larry “I like to hit girls” Johnson (whats with the AFC WEst and women – San Diego’s Merriman choking Tila Tequila, why?). I hate LJ – have since he was wearing Penn State Blue and White – but he still can be a solid runner and give this team the ground game Coach Haley needs to unleash that passing attack. Tyler Thigpen can run the show until Cassel returns.
Defense – LSU rook Tyson Jackson could have a Mario Williams type rookie season. Throw in LSU-teammate Glenn Dorsey and this Chief front line looks a bit to Cajun-Flavored – but both those guys will wreck shop against the AFC West – especially former Tiger JaMarcus Russell. Adding vet LB Mike Vrabel gives them leadership and motivation – especially when you see him next to the heart of the defense Derrick Johnson. The Secondary had two rookie starters in Brandon Flowers and Carr – both return and both are good. P Dustin Colquitt is very much a factor and can pin any team deep.
Overall – I know this team won’t win 11 games – but you may only need 9 to win this crap shoot. Really have to say that good coaching wins out and this bunch of misfits are the shocker of the AFC this year. They’ll beat teams and they’ll look good doing it. Dwayne Bowe turns into the star he’s so far showed glimpses of being.
2. San Diego Chargers-
Offense – Philip Rivers is a punk. But is also a solid QB. And he does have Antonio Gates. Chris Chambers should do better with another Southern Cali summer. LT should bounce back and this team’s best move was to not let Darren Sproles find a way out of the Diego. The Offense is solid but still not GREAT and Coach Schott – just seems like he’s still wishing John Elway had never ended up in Denver. Schott I think lost this team the year they we’re Super Bowl Ready and did NOTHING.
Defense – What the hell is wrong with Merriman? The Defense wasn’t right without him last year and now they may have to deal with him wearing suits to the court house. IDIOT! I really like DE Luis Castillo – he’s a real beast and still very young. Also Cromartie really has the chance to be the best CB in the game – he is so darn athletic. This team has studs – but without Merriman they lose there fire. They are beatable with out him as well.
Overall – They’re good enough to beat Denver and Oakland but not much else in the AFC – by far the AFC West is the worst division in FOOTBALL.
3. Denver –
Offense – Um why again did they trade Cutler but not Marshall? Um why did they fire Mike and hire Mr. Puberty?
How is this guy the head coach of the Denver Broncos? I just can’t like this team. Kyle Orton a QB – no more Shannahan lead Running Backs – sorry Knowshown you could have been a star with Mike on the sidelines. Good luck trying to get the ball in this pass happy offense. Though Tony Sheffler – like him a bunch. What else they got?
Three brand new starters in the 3-4 up front – SCARY!! DJ Williams is solid LB, but who will help surround him at LBs? Champ Bailey is still great – but if your name isn’t Deion Sanders then you aren’t going to carry a defense all by yourself – and no Champ isn’t Deion.
Brian Dawkins is a bit to old to ask to lead this bunch of no-names.
Overall – I’m not sure how they won’t end up 4th – but guess Oakland is that bad.
Offense – so much history – a tuck rule away from haulting one of football’s greatest dynasties (New England got so lucky with that CRAP call – imagine Charles Woodson being a hero and not the guy who got robbed by the refs). Darren McFadden has the look of a superstar – to bad there is nothing around him. Why did they release Jeff Garcia a week before the season started – I didn’t see JaMarcus Russell do anything to make Garcia expendable. This offense is a mess and no Michael Crabtree wouldn’t have made a diffference – and yes he is an idiot for sitting out cuz he wasn’t drafted by Al Davis (count yourself lucky – you Dallasite). Heyward-Bey has speed but seriously what else? Can you name the other starting WR? Zack Miller at TE is solid but that is all that is good on this Offense.
Defense – Coach Ultimate Fighter Tom Cable has a lot to work with – but only if Richard Seymour shows up – otherwise you’re looking at Greg Ellis as your top down linemen REALLY!!??? The LBs are good – UTEP kid Thomas Howard really has a lot of talent and Morrison in the Middle aint bad. The secondary is really the only place that has real good talent. Asomugha is possibly the best shut-down corner in the game – at least he’s paid like it. Can you name the other starters? Didn’t think so. How about Hiram Eugene at FS – who? At least Sebastian Janikowski is still on the team for the occasional drunk entertainment story. Al Davis – can you hire back John Madden – he’s not doing much anymore.
Overall – how the hell did they win 4 games last year? How the hell have they stayed in Oakland this long – isn’t it time for Al – 15 year move? I miss the days when the Silver and Black were good. At Least we’ll see Darth Vader at least once on TV.
Meeting of GREATS!!
Hope you enjoyed the run down. Tomorrow get ready for NFC run down and then Thursday I’ll give my predictions on the playoffs, awards, top players and fun stories to watch for.
Please feel free to rip me apart – but did you see what John Clayton predicted – Gosh I hate that guy.