September is ALMOST HERE!!! So not only do we get the joy of seeing millions of kids miserable and whiny back in school, which is always wonderful, but we get the most wonderful day of the year times 17....FOOTBALL SUNDAY!!! There is nothing better then those special, precious days and we value each and every one of them!! This year is going to be a VERY unique football one because of the mass compressed pre-season and loss of OTA's and other valuable pre-season things that got all wiped out by the lockout....but still despite all that I've really had my damned fill of this stupid "we're back" commercials...talk to me about "being back" when you miss some ACTUAL games and maybe even a full season (or two or three if you're the NBA, God willing ) before you start proclaiming some massive comeback would ya??? Anyway here's your first dose of football goodness and wisdom in my look at the AFC!!!
New England: (12-4)
This is gonna sound weird, but it makes sense….the Patriots will be a better team this year, the young defenders will start to season and grow, they made a good addition with Ellis and rolling the dice on Haynesworth (and I’ll take the Evil Emperor coaching him over that goofy-eared retard in Washington too) beefs up the front four….and adding Chad 85 on the offensive side gives them a different weapon that can break some big plays and more importantly, make some room for Wes Welker to do his dinking and dunking all over the place…..but as good and as much of a force as the Pats seem to be this year, can I really say 14-2 again? Even more so with the NFC East on the schedule? Not really…it’s kinda funny how an 11-5 or 12-4 seems more likely with a superior team, but the NFL is whacked out like that….either way I do expect this team to be the top of the AFC East (again)…would be nice if they could win a playoff game for once, and maybe shake the image they’ve earned that if you punch them in the mouth and don’t fall for the bully crap you can beat them….the schedule doesn’t seem too brutal either (the AFC West on the slate helps that), this is still a good team, but the question is, are they an ELITE one? The pieces are there……
NY Jets: (9-7)
Yeah yeah yeah…here he goes again….kicking on the Jets….but let’s be serious here people, the Jets took a pretty decent step in reverse here….the running game isn’t any better, they’re taking a HUGE gamble at WR (and yes given if Plax is in form there’s few better dominant receivers out there, and I’m not worried about the lack of practice, he NEVER practiced as a Giant either), the secondary is the same (yes Revis is Revis, but you can throw underneath on them and Cromartie will get beat as often as he makes a big play)….the LB’s are still eh (least from a pass rush POV), and this team still doesn’t have the guy to go get the QB (which is why I can’t call them an elite defense, to me the most important thing a defense needs is 1-2 guys who can get through and raise hell on a QB), losing Ellis doesn’t help that….back on the offensive side, despite all his big plays in the playoffs….Sanchez is still just a 54% passer who has more INTs then TDs, and the trade-off of Cotchery and Edwards for Plax and Mason is still a step back…losing Brad Smith hurts too because he does a ton of nifty little things for you too, and with Tomlinson a year older, how much more can you expect from him? While I think they’re good enough to be in the Wild Card hunt, it is VERY difficult to get into the playoffs and make a run like they have three years in a row….it might be time for a step back….I just see the Jets as an above-average team and predict them accordingly….
Miami Dolphins: (8-8)
Last year the Dolphins were DESPERATE for some offensive playmakers…none of the receivers stretched the field and no back could make a play past 5 yards….it was ugly, it was methodical and with Chad Henne being as “mistake prone” (to be modest and generous)….it was ugly on the offensive side of the ball…how ugly….the Dolphin fans think Kyle Orton was to be the savior…that’s pretty damned desperate….but sadly for them they didn’t run and steal Orton before Tim Tebow went out on the field and Denver was like “HELL NO we ain’t startin THIS guy, you can’t have Orton”….least for Henne he should have a pretty solid running attack to rely on, Daniel Thomas looks like he’ll carry the workload and Reggie Bush will be there on 3rd downs and passing plays (maybe even as a slot WR), to be the home-run hitter this team’s been lacking for a LONG time (IF he stays healthy)….there’s a lot of things that CAN happen for this team to be good this year but I don’t think there’s enough reason to think they all will fall into place, I called the Jets an above-average team…. Miami looks like an average team to me….so in all irony, the Dolphins get rKO’ed before they even start, right?
Buffalo Bills: (6-10)
A good draft…stability at QB, growth by the young WR’s and hopefully CJ Spiller, a decent defense and the big man they needed up front….could the Bills be ACTUALLY moving in the right direction? (With the way their luck is, by the time this team grows up Fitzpatrick will be too old and they’ll have to start all over, or have moved… imagine the Buffalo sports pain that they finally win a Super Bowl….the year after they move…HA)…hell if Merriman’s back on the sauce again he’s maybe the most dangerous pass rusher in the division, they have a solid secondary….my God, this team may make the leap to pseudo-average even….I’m scared, and I’m not willing to admit that yet, plus a rough schedule and the talent in the rest of the division…I’ll give em two more wins then last year and set them on their way to improving!
Pittsburgh Steelers: (11-5)
Before I start I gotta say I wanna come back in the next life as Byron Leftwich…why you ask? He gets a nice cushy job as the backup QB each year, gets hurt and ends his season, and then gets paid in full for getting snapped in two….I gotta admit that’s kinda awesome (though painful I bet)….it’s hard to remember a team that went to the Super Bowl (not to mention twice in three years) that’s as under the radar, quiet and damn near forgotten as much as this team is (well James Harrison stupid, but truthful, comments aside….I could rant for a week on how Goodell has too much power and is damn near abusing it with his random fines and suspension Gestapo crap like he is….maybe one day I will)…but this team is pretty much intact from it’s Super Bowl run last year (and upgraded the offensive line by simply kicking Flozell Adams to the curb…not to mention all their players are healthy now)…it would be foolish to sell this team short, and I definitely consider them an elite team in the AFC, hard not to with all the weapons on offense and defense they have….
Baltimore Ravens: (11-5) I have to say this pisses me off….I do enjoy goading the Ravens about their pop-gun offense and their statue-esque receivers, and how every year they are nothing more then the Steelers lil bitch, but I don’t know if I can do that this year….the Ravens made a step into having a REAL actual, honest to God, 21st century offense and players to stretch the field….adding Lee Evans at WR gives them a legit, stretch the field offensive WEAPON, purging Todd Heap and McGahee adds speed and skill to this offense (while Ricky wasn’t good in Miami he’s better then McGahee no doubt and he might still have a lil in the tank)…now the defense….while still struggling at corner, all the key pieces are back on the rest of the D…just a year older…how many more years can you squeeze the Ed Reed/Ray Lewis stone till it’s out of gas? (on a funny side note, according to yahoo sports, they don’t use defensive ends… that just made me chuckle, because that reeks of MANTA-VISION!), it is funny how the offense is on the up-swing, while the D is on the down…but still, if this team can avoid Pittsburgh I think they are someone to contend with, but I still give the Steelers the slight edge until proven otherwise…
Cincinnati Bengals: (6-10) This franchise shoots itself in the foot so many times that even Plaxico Burress sits and looks at them and goes DAMN, that's not only gotta hurt, but man you guys are dumb!! Let's talk Carson Palmer shall we?? He decides he wants to take his ball and go home....he's allowed, it's his right....he's tired of this team and it's quest to be almost average (though be fair he HAS been a part of the problem too)....but yet ownership refuses to cut the damn cord and just trade him to better your team (he's good for a 2nd rounder or maybe even two of them), but nooooo Mike Brown's gotta be a 'tard about this and refuse to field offers (or Palmer is more done then we think in the eyes of the league and even a QB-strapped team like Arizona said screw this guy we don't want him, hell if the Raiders though that Pryor was more hopeful then Palmer....no wonder the Bengals circled the wagon and had a temper tantrum)....and then to make it look even DUMBER, they honor Chad 85's request and send HIM to the Patriots (and thank God, this means the death of that HIDEOUS T-Awful show on Vs!!)...but still all this incompetence aside, there still are some pieces here....though Cedric Benson is chilling out in jail now (it's only 20 days, and somehow putting a Bengal in jail brings back memories of this being an average franchise...), I do love to talk on and on about the bad teams don't I??? Despite the Carson-Drama, the Bengals DID do some good in the off-season....the purge of T-Awful was needed, the defense is back and healthy....Bruce Gradkowski is the main reason the Raiders were 8-8 last year, and I've been quietly hearing good things about Andy Dalton and that he might be the real deal (though being the real deal and being good in your rookie year as an NFL QB with no mini-camps and a cup of coffee with the scheme and playbook....good luck...)....and AJ Green as well, there is some reason for hope in Cinci....just not yet, but hell it's more then the Browns got so I'll put them ahead of the land that somehow found a way to even screw up the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame
Cleveland Browns: (5-11)
This is one of those weird-ass teams to figure out (and I have been known to talk long and poetic about the Browns, what can I say, they've been a PRIME source of anti-football for damn near a decade now!!), word out of CLEAVE-land is that Colt McCoy is the real deal, he doesn't make mistakes, he makes the smart throw every time.....that's all peachy and dandy.... but who in the bloody blue hell is he throwing to?? Ben Watson??? HA!!! This WR corps needs a massive upgrade to be considered "the SUCK"....they're BAD folks....yes the running game is still there with "Mr. Madden cover-hex" Peyton Hills, and one of my favorite oddball nicknames "Tuxedo Porn" Montario Hardesty (how the hell did I make up that nickname?? Well he sounds like he got a porno name but it's a classy type porno name, like the porn was filmed in tuxedos and evening dresses with soft music and almost a plot to it, damn I over-analyzed this... must be who I'm hanging out with )....and then there's the defense.... ummm....yeah....they don't even have Sean Rogers' hand to torture Laflamme on field goals anymore....crap when I started this I had them ahead of the Bengals, because of McCoy....damn what the hell was I thinking??? Re-order!
Indianapolis Colts: (9-7)
God this is a tough one to figure out...all the injured players are either healthy or GONE (yes I'm looking at you Bob Sanders)....well except for ONE....yeah I dog Peyton for his playoff efforts (and well I SHOULD), but there is no QB in NFL history who's a better regular season MASTER then he is....and he's taken some sub-par teams and gotten them to the point that he gets exposed in the show....and if you take 18 off the depth chart in Indy and this team will make the Carolina Panthers look STACKED, so as much as you want to break this team down and look across the board and depth chart...it all matters to how high of a level Peyton's at, and the last time he missed the pre-season it took 3-4 weeks to get back into it....and there's no guarantee he'll even be there for week 1....this could get ugly.....if I had ANY faith in any other team in this division I'd say it's a no-playoff year for the Colts....but I don't.....figure it takes Manning 4 weeks to be ok, and then they go 7-4 in that run....andyou get about what I think of this team this year....
Houston Texans: (8-8)
I admit it when I was writing this preview I skipped over Houston and Indy....I avoided them....I even stopped and made breakfast and washed my dishes....these were the two teams I wasn't looking forward to doing....I think you can see why with Indy, and I wrote enough about them above this.....sh!t I even stalled to the point I started watching TNA Wrestling....and then Hulk Hogan started talking about wrestling again....that was enough fail to get me ready to talk Houston Texans!!! This team has the talent but they are plagued by idiot coaching, a lack of killer instinct and general softness all around.... and their answer....is bring in coach hugs and kisses to run the defense?? (Yes I'm not big on a DC that doesn't believe in turnovers in the modern day NFL, and Wade's openly said he doesn't preach turnovers....and people wonder why the Cowboys D failed so often....) yes they made some improvements and it's the same old Texans....which means I look at the Colts, take their record and give the Texans one less win, because that's how the soft and gutless roll....one....game.... short!!
Jacksonville Jaguars: (6-10)
I know you're not supposed to value pre-season, but when you're watching the Jags on pre-season and their OWN announce team is pounding on how awful the first team has been in the last three games and the Rams look like it's Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Holt and Bruce on the field....and David Garrard is on the ground more then the football....if this team didn't have MJ-D I'd be looking at 3 wins for this team, you look at the offense and the only reason we even know Mike Thomas is he caught a Hail Mary on accident (nice draft pick there Masked ), Lewis is a good underneath player at TE, but Jesus this team has more vanilla then an ice cream shop! The defense has a few players....but this team is just too bland as a whole for me to really care about them..... I do like Del Rio, he's a tough and feisty coach who gets a lot from his team, but you can polish and shine a turd all you want, but at the end of the day it's still a big bag of sh!t and it's gonna be a stinky bag...least I had running water all week so I could flush it and not have the stink fester
Tennessee Titans: (4-12)
You'd think with how I bashed the Jags I'd have them in last place, but GOOD GOD look how bad this team is and how player by player this team has been gutted and it's almost time to start over here....could you imagine if Chris Johnson said "screw this year" and sat out?? This team would be 0-16 Lions bad, the WRs (oh Kenny Britt, the Pride and Joy of Bayonne indeed, need I say more??) suck and while I like Matt Hasselbeck, he's getting old and if he still had it, no doubt he'd have stayed in Seattle....he's here to do nothing more then mentor Locker and spare him a class A beatdown in his rookie year... the defense reeks of "transition" to me and when you lose a high caliber coach like Jeff Fisher it is time to rip it down and hope CJ is still 2k when you fix this mess and it won't be done this year.... hell might not even be in 2 years....take the under on the Titans wins and run from this potential anti-football weekly candidate!
San Diego Chargers: (11-5)
The Lord of No Rings (as well earned a name for a GM as I can remember) might have actually learned his lesson last year....he fvcked around and played low-ball with this team making Vincent Jackson and LT McNeil miss much time and it hurt their offense....hell it probably cost them the playoffs between pissing off his players and putting a lesser product on the field.....enter 2011, and enter Bob Sanders (who watch him be healthy now that he's out of Indy) and Takeo Spikes to fill key holes on the defense and more importantly patching up a special teams that would allow return TDs to a Special Olympics team last season....the offense is good and deep, Philip Rivers is an elite QB...it's ok...admit it, the kid has skill and guts, he's never truly had a full team of awesome around him, he does on offense now...this team might just be one more pass rusher away from being a top-end team in the AFC and people will say Norv Turner isn't the guy to take this team far as well, but there is something to be said for winning the AFC West as many times as they have under him....and I admit I kinda like the Chargers, mostly because I'm a Philip Rivers guy, and I think lesson was learned last year on fraking around in September with wins and losses....hell maybe they even win a playoff game this year under Norv.....
Kansas City Chiefs: (7-9)
Every year the NFL analysts talk about"5 in, 5 out" (of the teams that make the playoffs, 5 miss and 5 new teams replace them)....and usually the first team on the "Out List" is the Chiefs...and I can't say I blame them, the Chiefs got much help from the Chargers to make the playoffs, I'm not sold on Matt Cassel as a capable NFL QB, yes this team can run the ball and they have weapons in Bowe and Mr. Miyagi (the TE), McCluster and Thomas Jones/Jamaal Charles are beastly backs...but as balanced as the offense is (despite the QB)...the defense is still "meh" at best.... hell they got exposed by the Ravens and that pop-gun offense last year, and really were that one team that made the playoffs last year that didn't deserve it (yes I know Seattle was there too, but they won a playoff game that sorta justified it)....if the defense gets better I'll look silly here....that won't be the first or the last time....but I ain't buying what the Chiefs are selling....there's no clicking here!
Denver Broncos: (7-9)
John Fox was convinced that Tim Teebow was gonna be his starter this year.... until he showed up to camp and saw this guy throw a football....how bad does it look for Teebow? When they played Dallas in the first pre-season game the Cowboys announcers called him (AND...I .....QUOTE: "the most inaccurate QB they ever saw warm up on an NFL Field"....ouch)...hell Madden 12 has a tutorial how they talk about consistent players and how the solid guys will be awesome each week and then "there are some players who you never know what you will get from them each week"....and guess who they show getting pelted and then intercepted?? Yeup....Tim Teebow!! Hell to make it worse in the life of Teebow, Brady Quinn who can't hit a toilet when he's pissing, passed him on the depth chart...least Kyle Orton is steady and solid when healthy and not playing for a coach who's team mutinied on him....solid WR's and Backs....TE could use some love and Fox who is a defensive guy has some tools to work with on the defense....and really this team wasn't as putrid as they ended up, it's just McDaniel drove this team face first into the ground....and starting your season with Joke-land, Cinci and the Titans is a good way to get out of the box early...and this schedule isn't brutal (as dangerous as it is to play the "schedule game" on Sept 2), you should see a much less-awful team in Denver this year.....
Oakland Raiders: (5-11)
Man you'd think the way people left the Raiders that fans were shooting at the PLAYERS and not at other fans during the pre-season right?? The flood gates opened and half this team washed away....you knew Nnmandi was out the door, but geesh...they lost their best QB, the head coach got purged for delusions of average-dom.... it's damn near amazing they can put a full team on the field with the way people fled the Bay area and came East (maybe a hint for a few people I know too....*whistles*), there still are some pieces here....the D-Line is back, the skill positions should be OK with D-Mac, and Jacoby Ford is a guy I'm a fan of (ok he's an awesome slot WR in Madden and I got attached ), Murphy is OK, and I like to bash Heyward-Bay because he lets me hate on Michael Bay and NOT have to sit through painful cinematic rapes called Transformers "movies" ....and oh my God, they could start 2-0 (Denver and a 5-star anti-football GEM with Buffalo in week 2, and yes I WILL wear the Trent Edwards jersey....in public....for this one ), the schedule isn't brutal....but this team played a bit over their heads last year (though I did call 8-8 for them last year).... I think it's step back time....and those games with Denver should be deliciously brutal to watch .....if Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller and Capt Checkdown himself weren't the QBs I might be higher on this team......